5E Obvious synergies you never realized

Sacrosanct

Legend
So it just hit me. I noticed that the polearm mastery feat in Beyond is different than my PHB. I guess it got errata'd that spears now apply with that feat. So immediately my mind went to the following synergy:

spear + shield
polearm mastery
dueling fighting style

So you get the AC bonus with the shield (and can get shield mastery down the line), and get 2 attacks per round. One at 1d6+2(dueling)+3(str), and one at 1d4+2+3. 6-11pts and 6-9 pts each round? That seems...a lot for a first level variant human fighter. Along with the high AC to boot. And the extra AoO due to the feat.


So what synergies were pretty obvious that you never really noticed before, or it took a while to notice them?
 

RogueJK

It's not "Rouge"... That's makeup.
Yep, you sacrifice the Reach of a two-handed polearm for the extra AC bonus of the shield and a bit more damage on the bonus attack. Base damage of the primary attack is the same, with 1d10 averaging 5.5 and 1d6+2 averaging the same. Damage on the bonus attack is +2 higher. And in a pinch, you can throw the spear.

However, there are some downsides. The effective AC bonus is actually only +1, compared to a two-handed polearm user with Defensive fighting style. And if you're a spellcaster, this may force you into having to take Warcaster, since you won't have a free hand like a two-handed polearm user. Plus you can't use Great Weapon Master with the spear/shield combo, which limits a dedicated melee fighter's potential damage output.



One synergy that I rarely see discussed is a Dwarven Monk with the Dwarven Fortitude feat. This combo allows you to spend 1 Ki point to gain a Bonus Action Dodge plus 1 HD of healing. Combined with the Extra HP and higher CON of a Hill Dwarf, and the extra tankiness of the Long Death Monk, it could make for a quite tanky Monk.
 
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NotAYakk

Adventurer
Yep, you sacrifice the Reach of a two-handed polearm for the extra AC of the shield. Base damage is the same, with 1d10 averaging 5.5 and 1d6+2 averaging the same.
I think you missed the +2 on the polearm master bonus action attack.

A Defensive Glaive grants 1d10+3 and 1d4+3 (total of 14) and +1 AC and reach. A dueling spear+shield grants 1d6+5 and 1d4+5 (total of 16) and +2 AC.

So, at level 1, you have to give up 2 damage and 1 AC in exchange for reach.

The (eventual) GWM or Sentinal leverage does show up with the two-handed polearm. And the Shield Master shove feat for the spear PAM extra attack runs into the problem that they both consume your bonus action.
 

RogueJK

It's not "Rouge"... That's makeup.
Yep. I was editing my post when you posted.

I think the best way to leverage this would likely be to take advantage of the Variant Class Features UA that allows you to swap out Fighting Styles when you gain a new level. Start out with the Spear+Shield+Dueling combo at lower levels, when the extra +1 AC and +2 damage will be more noticeable. And then at something like level 8, once you have a higher attack bonus, Extra Attack, and access to other means to help mitigate the -5 to hit, swap the Dueling fighting style for Defensive, swap the spear for a glaive/halberd, and take the Great Weapon Master feat.
 

MonkeezOnFire

Adventurer
Druid wildshaping allows you to keep any class feature that the new form would be capable of. Animals can get mad [citation needed]. Therefore, a moon druid multiclassed with barbarian is capable of maintaining rage while in their beast form inflating their effective hp pool even further.
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
I think you missed the +2 on the polearm master bonus action attack.

A Defensive Glaive grants 1d10+3 and 1d4+3 (total of 14) and +1 AC and reach. A dueling spear+shield grants 1d6+5 and 1d4+5 (total of 16) and +2 AC.

So, at level 1, you have to give up 2 damage and 1 AC in exchange for reach.

The (eventual) GWM or Sentinal leverage does show up with the two-handed polearm. And the Shield Master shove feat for the spear PAM extra attack runs into the problem that they both consume your bonus action.
Of note, while you're giving up 5ft of extra reach with every attack, you do have the option of even greater reach with a spear, because you can throw it. Carry a half dozen spears, and you can throw and use in melee back and forth as needed, all while keeping the same damage for the basic attack, rather than a dedicated polearm master who probably isn't getting nearly as many bonuses to hit and damage when they switch to a ranged weapon.
 

RogueJK

It's not "Rouge"... That's makeup.
rather than a dedicated polearm master who probably isn't getting nearly as many bonuses to hit and damage when they switch to a ranged weapon.
A dedicated polearm user can still switch to a thrown weapon (even a spear) and get the same STR bonus to hit and damage as a dedicated spear user.

They'd only be missing out on the extra +2 damage from Dueling, which interestingly still applies to a thrown melee weapon, per Sage Advice:

Does the Dueling Style apply its bonus to a thrown melee weapon?

Yes.
— Jeremy Crawford (@JeremyECrawford) October 6, 2015
 

NotAYakk

Adventurer
Druid wildshaping allows you to keep any class feature that the new form would be capable of. Animals can get mad [citation needed]. Therefore, a moon druid multiclassed with barbarian is capable of maintaining rage while in their beast form inflating their effective hp pool even further.
Sure, but the best druid spells are concentration, and raging barbarians cannot concentrate.

A normal moon druid can drop a concentration spell, transform, fight, get hurt, lose concentration, transform back and drop a new concentration spell, and repeat.

A moonbarian cannot. Their druid spellcasting slots are inefficiently used, and they need to boost druid levels to make their animal form suck less.
 

Esker

Abventuree
Two things I don't see discussed, or hardly ever:

1. Fear spell with either Sentinel or War Caster+Booming Blade. They have to use their action to dash and move away from you "unless there is nowhere to move", provoking opportunity attacks. With Sentinel, if you hit, they can't actually move, but (I would argue) doesn't change whether there is anywhere to move. So you automatically get an AoO every round. Of course you can often accomplish this by chasing after them if you have good mobility.

With War Caster + Booming Blade, your opportunity attack does a boatload of damage if they move, which they have to do.

I suppose this is most effective on an Arcane Trickster, since rogues can get a lot out of AoOs, and the AT is the one that can pick up Fear (eventually). Plus with a familiar you can keep an ally next to them all the time so you always qualify for sneak attack.

2. Two casters, one with Wall of Force, and another with a spell (like Wall of Fire or similar) that does damage every round that you are standing in a certain place. Wall of Force is already great, but it's mostly a divide and conquer spell, since you can't cast through it. But if you have an ally first create a danger zone which you can then trap someone in, they just... take damage every round for ten rounds and can't do anything. And they didn't even get a save.
 

MonkeezOnFire

Adventurer
Sure, but the best druid spells are concentration, and raging barbarians cannot concentrate.

A normal moon druid can drop a concentration spell, transform, fight, get hurt, lose concentration, transform back and drop a new concentration spell, and repeat.

A moonbarian cannot. Their druid spellcasting slots are inefficiently used, and they need to boost druid levels to make their animal form suck less.
The person in our party did it so that the druid was the dip and mostly focused on barbarian so the lack of magic wasn't much of an issue. Spell slots were mostly used for utility or out of combat or healing. Damage wasn't amazing compared to my single classed paladin but the character was basically unkillable.
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
A moonbarian cannot. Their druid spellcasting slots are inefficiently used, and they need to boost druid levels to make their animal form suck less.
I don't know about that. I played a barbarian/moon druid (basically Barak from the Belgariad). I used the spell slots to heal myself in bear form often, and since I had resistance, it was essentially double the healing for the same slot.
 

Esker

Abventuree
The person in our party did it so that the druid was the dip and mostly focused on barbarian so the lack of magic wasn't much of an issue. Spell slots were mostly used for utility or out of combat or healing. Damage wasn't amazing compared to my single classed paladin but the character was basically unkillable.
If you're wildshaping into CR 1 creatures at high levels though, you're taking a big hit to your offensive potential when wildshaped, and in terms of added HP, you've got to take 4 off the top due to trading two d12 hit die levels for two d8 hit die levels, and most of the rest probably are rendered meaningless due presumably having a lower AC than you would as a person.
 

MonkeezOnFire

Adventurer
If you're wildshaping into CR 1 creatures at high levels though, you're taking a big hit to your offensive potential when wildshaped, and in terms of added HP, you've got to take 4 off the top due to trading two d12 hit die levels for two d8 hit die levels, and most of the rest probably are rendered meaningless due presumably having a lower AC than you would as a person.
Turning into a CR 1 creature while retaining the vast majority of your barbarian class features. Our DM ruled that there's no reason a tiger wouldn't still be able to use rage, extra attack, reckless attack, unarmored defense, fast movement and the like.

So yea you're getting two attacks at +5 to hit, 1d10+3 damage instead of +7 to hit, 1d12+4 damage which isn't amazing but it's not that bad considering everyone else in our party was tuned to deal damage.
 

NotAYakk

Adventurer
So wildshape (giant octopus) gives you 52 HP as a minor action. It also grabs as an attack, but a +5 to hit attack.

You can, however, shape into an octopus at the end of a turn after beating on something and use it to soak 104 HP of damage. Then dismiss it on your next turn and attack. Then repeat another time.

Not bad, 208 HP of soak.
 

Esker

Abventuree
Turning into a CR 1 creature while retaining the vast majority of your barbarian class features. Our DM ruled that there's no reason a tiger wouldn't still be able to use rage, extra attack, reckless attack, unarmored defense, fast movement and the like.
Sure, I was already taking that into consideration. Keep in mind that unarmored defense will be based on your beast DEX and CON. If you're a tiger you get +2 for AC 14. Presumably as a barbarian you would have had at least 16 or 17.

So yea you're getting two attacks at +5 to hit, 1d10+3 damage instead of +7 to hit, 1d12+4 damage which isn't amazing but it's not that bad considering everyone else in our party was tuned to deal damage.
It's about a 5 point delta in average DPR. Of course, if you took GWM it's quite a bit more than that since a tiger can't wield a greataxe.
 

Esker

Abventuree
So wildshape (giant octopus) gives you 52 HP as a minor action. It also grabs as an attack, but a +5 to hit attack.

You can, however, shape into an octopus at the end of a turn after beating on something and use it to soak 104 HP of damage.
Well, true, you can re-up on the HP multiple times. If the enemies have a +5 to hit you as well, though, the difference between the octopus's AC 12 and the barbarian's AC 17 (say) is about 1.6 vs 2.2 attacks per hit, so those octopus HP are only worth about 2/3 of a barbarian HP each.
 

NotAYakk

Adventurer
Well, true, you can re-up on the HP multiple times. If the enemies have a +5 to hit you as well, though, the difference between the octopus's AC 12 and the barbarian's AC 17 (say) is about 1.6 vs 2.2 attacks per hit, so those octopus HP are only worth about 2/3 of a barbarian HP each.
But by level 20, most will hit your barbarian AC. So HP is HP. And 52 (x2) is still decent.

It gets better if your DM allows the +2 HP feat to work (16x2 more HP!)
 

Esker

Abventuree
But by level 20, most will hit your barbarian AC. So HP is HP. And 52 (x2) is still decent.

It gets better if your DM allows the +2 HP feat to work (16x2 more HP!)
I wouldn't use level 20 as the go-to comparison point. But yes, the "discount factor" gets closer to 100% as attack bonuses go up, especially if you're attacking recklessly.

Applying Tough to beast form seems a bit cheesy, but even by a liberal reading, beasts don't have levels.

I guess the other point to make is that the extra HP only matter if the raging barbarian would have gone down in the first place, which is less and less likely as you go up in levels.
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
A dedicated polearm user can still switch to a thrown weapon (even a spear) and get the same STR bonus to hit and damage as a dedicated spear user.

They'd only be missing out on the extra +2 damage from Dueling, which interestingly still applies to a thrown melee weapon, per Sage Advice:

Also, it’s not just a +1 AC difference either, especially at higher levels. I think it’s a safe bet you’d have a magic shield at some point. Either a better AC, or another benefit, or both.
 

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