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On GWF and a versatile fighting style

Tony Vargas

Adventurer
What does that leave fighters if you take away their abilities to damage? ...
In short, leave the fighters something that makes them great. They don't get high level spells or super nova strike capabilities. Just let them hit pretty hard (but not smite or assassin hard) when they use the tools they have (maneuvers, fighting spirit, familiars positioning themselves, etc.).
Wow, when you put it that way, the fighter sounds, not at all great.
 

Toledo

Villager
Nah, I moved away from the bonus-action power attack as soon as I got to the berserker barbarian, which is literally the first class/subclass presented in the PHB!

It never was about hate; it was an exploration on approaching the Two-Weapon Fighting conundrum (which cannot do any of the things you mentioned above) from a different angle. (BTW, your Crossbow Expert ranger is also dependent on its BA, as it basically is TWF for ranged weapons). But posting here usually triggers new ideas, or at least brings me further, aside, or above my original train of thoughts.

Nevertheless, in the present set-up, other combat styles have a hard time competing with GWM (and its little brother Sharpshooter), partly because it specifically doesn't monopolize your bonus action.
I was just joking about the hater business, hope that came across well.


I understand about the concerns for GWM and sharpshooter (which is actually the big brother when the Archery style is picked). The one handed close combat weapons (including the versatile ones) can't compete for damage with regards to GWM or SS, when those are functioning well.

However, I think the GWM and SS bring the fighters/rangers/paladins (non-smiting)/barbarians into the damage range of mages and rogues. Therefore it isn't GWM/SS which are too weak, it's the fact that the one-handed versions are too weak to start with.

How about this for versatile: "Versatile weapons when used two-handed become heavy weapons." That's it.

This would allow a long sword to be used with a shield, or if the player wants to go for big damage, they could take GWM for damage. That would be D8+strength+10 if they wanted to hit hard. Still a bit less than 2D6+strength+10, but a noticeable bump. That would make Anduril and Aragorn swing very hard.
 

Toledo

Villager
Wow, when you put it that way, the fighter sounds, not at all great.
I found than fighters (assuming causing more than 10-12 points of damage is considered fun) need magical weapons and/or class features/feats to be fun in a fight. In my experience, the class features and the feats are needed together, or the fighter is kind of blah. I can't imagine having a non-feat fighter in a game with assassins and mages. Unless the fighter has a great (special) magical weapon, the fighter wouldn't have a chance to shine in the thing they are supposed to do well....fight.

I mean look at a two-handed great sword at Level 11, with a Samurai. 7 points of damage for a sword (avg) with 5 for strength. 12 points of damage, maybe hitting three times a round. Great. That's kind of insignificant in the output I see elsewhere.
 
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Tony Vargas

Adventurer
I found than fighters (assuming causing more than 10-12 points of damage is considered fun) need magical weapons and/or class features/feats to be fun in a fight.
I'm not sure any particular range of integers is automatically fun.

In my experience, the class features and the feats are needed together, or the fighter is kind of blah. I can't imagine having a non-feat fighter in a game with assassins and mages. Unless the fighter has a great (special) magical weapon, the fighter wouldn't have a chance to shine in the thing they are supposed to do well....fight.
The fighter /is/ supposed to be "Best at Fighting" (with weapons) (without magic). Feats and magic items shouldn't be required for that. If that's the case, a tweak to the standard rules (before feats, w/o items) might well be in order.
 

Toledo

Villager
I'm not sure any particular range of integers is automatically fun.

The fighter /is/ supposed to be "Best at Fighting" (with weapons) (without magic). Feats and magic items shouldn't be required for that. If that's the case, a tweak to the standard rules (before feats, w/o items) might well be in order.
I agree about integers; I was just using that to say that being outclassed in your primary skill isn't fun.

I agree that if feats aren't considered/used, fighters could use a bump as written. Or other classes could get nixed a bit.
 

Dausuul

Legend
Nice ideas!

I do think that a versatile fighting style should focus on versatility: You have a weapon that you can wield in one or two hands, and you get different benefits depending on which you pick. Ideally this would be a round-by-round decision, where you flip back and forth between two hands and one.

Maybe something like this:

Versatile Fighting Style

  • When wielding a versatile weapon in two hands, you gain +2 to damage rolls with that weapon.
  • When you take the Attack action with a versatile weapon wielded in one hand and nothing in the other hand, you can make a grapple or shove attempt as a bonus action.

A versatile fighter just wanting to lay down DPR would go two-handed; you get 90% of the base damage of a greatsword specialist, which is decent. In exchange for that 10%, however, you also get the option to go one-handed and use a tactical maneuver (which competes for your bonus action, limiting use).

The details would need testing and tweaking, but there's the basic idea.
 
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snickersnax

Explorer
How about this for versatile: "Versatile weapons when used two-handed become heavy weapons." That's it.
This leaves small characters getting disadvantage when using a versatile weapon two-handed, but not one-handed which is a bit counter-intuitive.

I like adding an extra property to versatile, but in the following way:

quarterstaves, spears and tridents: gain reach when used two-handed

longswords: gain finesse when used two handed ( meshes well with elven and rogue proficiency)

battleaxes and warhammers: These weapons qualify for GWM -5/+10 when used two-handed.
 

Laurefindel

Explorer
I was just joking about the hater business, hope that came across well.
I imagined so. We're cool :)
However, I think the GWM and SS bring the fighters/rangers/paladins (non-smiting)/barbarians into the damage range of mages and rogues. Therefore it isn't GWM/SS which are too weak, it's the fact that the one-handed versions are too weak to start with.

How about this for versatile: "Versatile weapons when used two-handed become heavy weapons." That's it.

This would allow a long sword to be used with a shield, or if the player wants to go for big damage, they could take GWM for damage. That would be D8+strength+10 if they wanted to hit hard. Still a bit less than 2D6+strength+10, but a noticeable bump. That would make Anduril and Aragorn swing very hard.
That was our de-facto "fix" for my Mad-Martigan inspired longsword fighter in my last game (actually we just added heavy or versatile to the GWM feat). I wonder if it would cause havoc in the hands of a spear-wielding monk or kensai? It would also make the finesse moonblade and sunblade mighty tempting too for dex-based fighters. It would allow small races to use GWM without disadvantage I guess.
 

Laurefindel

Explorer
This leaves small characters getting disadvantage when using a versatile weapon two-handed, but not one-handed which is a bit counter-intuitive.

I like adding an extra property to versatile, but in the following way:

quarterstaves, spears and tridents: gain reach when used two-handed

longswords: gain finesse when used two handed ( meshes well with elven and rogue proficiency)

battleaxes and warhammers: These weapons qualify for GWM -5/+10 when used two-handed.
So "don't tweak the versatile style, tweak the versatile property". Interesting avenue
 

Toledo

Villager
I don't personally think the small races should have access to GWM or versatile weapons to start with. The Gnomes and Halflings are only 30-40 pounds as it is. I know it's a fantasy game, and the suspensions to disbelief are infinite, but this really bothers me. No way a little person who weighs 40 pounds should be able swing a blade effectively that is 50% larger than them.

I generally have my characters dislike all gnomes in my campaigns for this reason. At least most halflings I see played don't go for big weapons, so they don't bother me as much.
 

snickersnax

Explorer
I don't personally think the small races should have access to GWM or versatile weapons to start with. The Gnomes and Halflings are only 30-40 pounds as it is. I know it's a fantasy game, and the suspensions to disbelief are infinite, but this really bothers me. No way a little person who weighs 40 pounds should be able swing a blade effectively that is 50% larger than them.

I generally have my characters dislike all gnomes in my campaigns for this reason. At least most halflings I see played don't go for big weapons, so they don't bother me as much.
I can certainly relate to that opinion about small races, I feel similarly about halflings and gnomes, but RAW: small races already do have access to versatile weapons and GWM, and they can can use heavy weapons already too, but just take a disadvantage penalty.

A halfling barbarian recklessly using a greataxe has advantage/ disadvantage cancelled, could take GWM and be "immune" to any additional disadvantage penalties from other sources.
 

Ristamar

Explorer
If I wanted to enhance the usefulness of the Versatile weapon property in my games with a simple fix, I'd consider making one modification to the Great Weapon Master feat:

Great Weapon Master

  • [*=1]On your turn, when you score a critical hit with a melee weapon or reduce a creature to 0 hit points with one, you can make one melee weapon attack as a bonus action.
    [*=1]Before you make a melee attack with a heavy two-handed weapon with which you are proficient, you can choose to take a -5 penalty to the attack roll. If you do so and the attack hits, it deals +10 damage.

This change would also allow the greatclub*, quarterstaff, spear, battleaxe, longsword, trident, and warhammer to be used with GWM when they are wielded with two hands.

* Not a Versatile weapon



Alternatively, if you'd rather not let the Small races benefit from GWM without penalty, modify the Great Weapon Fighting style instead:

Great Weapon Fighting
When you roll a 1 or 2 on a damage die for an attack you make with a melee weapon that you are wielding with two hands, you can reroll the die and must use the new roll, even if the new roll is a 1 or a 2. The weapon must have the two-handed or versatile property for you to gain this benefit. A weapon with the versatile property is considered to be Heavy when wielded with two hands if you are Medium or larger.
 

Laurefindel

Explorer
If I wanted to enhance the usefulness of the Versatile weapon property in my games with a simple fix, I'd consider making one modification to the Great Weapon Master feat:

Great Weapon Master


  • [*=1]On your turn, when you score a critical hit with a melee weapon or reduce a creature to 0 hit points with one, you can make one melee weapon attack as a bonus action.
    [*=1]Before you make a melee attack with a heavy two-handed weapon with which you are proficient, you can choose to take a -5 penalty to the attack roll. If you do so and the attack hits, it deals +10 damage.

This change would also allow the greatclub*, quarterstaff, spear, battleaxe, longsword, trident, and warhammer to be used with GWM when they are wielded with two hands.

* Not a Versatile weapon



Alternatively, if you'd rather not let the Small races benefit from GWM without penalty, modify the Great Weapon Fighting style instead:
Great Weapon Fighting
When you roll a 1 or 2 on a damage die for an attack you make with a melee weapon that you are wielding with two hands, you can reroll the die and must use the new roll, even if the new roll is a 1 or a 2. The weapon must have the two-handed or versatile property for you to gain this benefit. A weapon with the versatile property is considered to be Heavy when wielded with two hands if you are Medium or larger.
versatile weapons do not possess the two-handed quality, but "an attack with a heavy melee weapon wielded with two hands" would work. If you want to avoid the whole "but i'm wielding my dagger with two hands!", you could also use:

Before you make a melee attack with a heavy two-handed weapon or versatile weapon wielded with two hands with which you are proficient, you can choose to take a -5 penalty to the attack roll. If you do so and the attack hits, it deals +10 damage.

That was our de-facto application in my last game but as it was said above, it would enable monks to use GWM and combine it with martial arts, enable GWM for small-sized creatures, and enable GWM with finesse moonblades and sunblades. I'm trying to think of other implications, but those were the main ones we identified (and just shrugged off) last time we did that.

This way we can send GWM longsword-wielding gnome paladins toward Lowkey and watch them vanish under his aura of denial. Or wrath. Or censure. Regardless, it's bound to be a good show!
 
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I would really like a versatile fighting style, but I haven't come up with a solution yet. I have come up with some parameters to use to help come up with a solution though.

First, I’ll start with some assumptions:

1) Don’t worry about feats. Yes, there are issues, and there are plenty of different house rules depending how you want to fix it (nerf the strong ones vs. buff the weak ones, etc). I’m going assume that you can take care of that balance completely within the feats themselves, so they aren’t relevant for fighting styles themselves.

2) Math needs to fit. Let’s run some numbers to have a basis of comparison with other fighting styles.
With Dueling style you have 6.5 damage and +2 AC.
With Great Weapon style you have either 7.3 damage, or 8.3 damage (depending on whether you are wielding a d12 or a 2d6 weapon).
So we know we need to keep damage below 7.3, and probably shouldn’t give better AC than the +1 with a shield you are using with Dueling style.
It’s also important that we don’t inadvertently make a stacking problem with other fighting styles. For instance, if you could stake the +2 from Dueling with versatile damage, you’d end up with 7.5 – stronger than a greataxe with Great Weapon style.

3) Characters aren’t usually going to switch their armaments. You aren’t going to put on or take of a shield in a battle, and you really aren’t going to be considering each round whether a +1 AC or +1 damage is ideal. So we can’t have those as the primary meat of the features.

Personally, the versatile discussion for me is less about being able to use a shield or not, and more about character style. I want to be able to forgo a shield, and make attacks alternatively one or two handed—not be stuck with using my versatile weapon two-handed as an alternate Great Weapon style.

In that light, I’ll suggest a couple of frameworks (not specific numbers/effects) that might work.

A) There should probably be a passive benefit for the style. This applies regardless of how your are wielding the weapon, and depending on it’s nature might even work with a shield.

B) There should be an active feature that requires you to attack with two hands. Note: this isn’t about deciding whether you are wielding your weapon one or two handed—we don’t want that to be a thing. Rather it just means that you have to empty your other hand for the attack. (This means you are operating the same as a normal two-handed weapon wielder is for these purposes: you can hold a two-handed weapon in one hand, you just can’t make an attack with it that way, so you would have to drop whatever you were holding/grappling, etc, if you wanted to attack.)

C) This style should be competitive with the other styles, but should appeal to those who want to fight with a versatile weapon, sometimes striking with one hand and sometimes with another, rather than those who want to fight another way. Sword and board fighters shouldn’t be taking this instead of Dueling or Protection because it seems better, neither should greataxe fighters be taking this instead of Great Weapon style (though it might be close there, since d12 weapons gain significantly less than 2d6 weapons from the style).

I’ll let others see if they can think of something, since I don’t really have anything satisfying that’s occurred to me yet. Having two different benefits is already more complex than existing fighting styles, so we want to simplify it as much as possible while avoiding any interaction issues.
 

Ristamar

Explorer
That was our de-facto application in my last game but as it was said above, it would enable monks to use GWM and combine it with martial arts, enable GWM for small-sized creatures, and enable GWM with finesse moonblades and sunblades. I'm trying to think of other implications, but those were the main ones we identified (and just shrugged off) last time we did that.
Good point. The Fighting Style fix (keeping GWM in its original form) would address the Small creature concern, but not the Monk issue. I wouldn't find the finesse Sun Blade/Moon Blade use to be a problem. If it's truly a concern, have the finesse property replace the versatile property.

This wording would circumvent the Monk GWM issue, but it's a little more finicky:


Great Weapon Fighting
When you roll a 1 or 2 on a damage die for an attack you make with a melee weapon that you are wielding with two hands, you can reroll the die and must use the new roll, even if the new roll is a 1 or a 2. The weapon must have the two-handed or versatile property for you to gain this benefit. A martial weapon with the versatile property is considered to be Heavy when wielded with two hands if you are Medium or larger.


As a side benefit, this also provides some minor mechanical differentiation between the Spear and Trident.
 
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FrogReaver

Explorer
Versatile = the worst weapon property ever invented. Who on earth is going to take a -2 penalty to AC for +1 avg dmg per hit.
 

FrogReaver

Explorer
Versatile = the worst weapon property ever invented. Who on earth is going to take a -2 penalty to AC for +1 avg dmg per hit.
The solution. Versatile fighting style:

You gain +2 damage when using a versatile weapon with 2 hands. You gain +2 AC when using a versatile weapon with nothing in your other hand.
 

Laurefindel

Explorer
I would really like a versatile fighting style, but I haven't come up with a solution yet. I have come up with some parameters to use to help come up with a solution though.

First, I’ll start with some assumptions:

1) Don’t worry about feats. Yes, there are issues, and there are plenty of different house rules depending how you want to fix it (nerf the strong ones vs. buff the weak ones, etc). I’m going assume that you can take care of that balance completely within the feats themselves, so they aren’t relevant for fighting styles themselves.

2) Math needs to fit. Let’s run some numbers to have a basis of comparison with other fighting styles.
With Dueling style you have 6.5 damage and +2 AC.
With Great Weapon style you have either 7.3 damage, or 8.3 damage (depending on whether you are wielding a d12 or a 2d6 weapon).
So we know we need to keep damage below 7.3, and probably shouldn’t give better AC than the +1 with a shield you are using with Dueling style.
It’s also important that we don’t inadvertently make a stacking problem with other fighting styles. For instance, if you could stake the +2 from Dueling with versatile damage, you’d end up with 7.5 – stronger than a greataxe with Great Weapon style.

3) Characters aren’t usually going to switch their armaments. You aren’t going to put on or take of a shield in a battle, and you really aren’t going to be considering each round whether a +1 AC or +1 damage is ideal. So we can’t have those as the primary meat of the features.

Personally, the versatile discussion for me is less about being able to use a shield or not, and more about character style. I want to be able to forgo a shield, and make attacks alternatively one or two handed—not be stuck with using my versatile weapon two-handed as an alternate Great Weapon style.

In that light, I’ll suggest a couple of frameworks (not specific numbers/effects) that might work.

A) There should probably be a passive benefit for the style. This applies regardless of how your are wielding the weapon, and depending on it’s nature might even work with a shield.

B) There should be an active feature that requires you to attack with two hands. Note: this isn’t about deciding whether you are wielding your weapon one or two handed—we don’t want that to be a thing. Rather it just means that you have to empty your other hand for the attack. (This means you are operating the same as a normal two-handed weapon wielder is for these purposes: you can hold a two-handed weapon in one hand, you just can’t make an attack with it that way, so you would have to drop whatever you were holding/grappling, etc, if you wanted to attack.)

C) This style should be competitive with the other styles, but should appeal to those who want to fight with a versatile weapon, sometimes striking with one hand and sometimes with another, rather than those who want to fight another way. Sword and board fighters shouldn’t be taking this instead of Dueling or Protection because it seems better, neither should greataxe fighters be taking this instead of Great Weapon style (though it might be close there, since d12 weapons gain significantly less than 2d6 weapons from the style).

I’ll let others see if they can think of something, since I don’t really have anything satisfying that’s occurred to me yet. Having two different benefits is already more complex than existing fighting styles, so we want to simplify it as much as possible while avoiding any interaction issues.
THAT is a nice recap, thank you. And yes, I agree with all of your points, and I too am struggling to come with something satisfying.

With a +1 bonus to damage (using d10 versatile damage), you have a range of 2-11 with an average of 6.5, vs a range of 3-10 with avg 6.5 for base damage and dueling fighting style. Same average, more swing both ways; we're cool. A great axe (without combat style) still has the same average with a bit more swing over versatile (1-12). So far this is looking good.

Even with GWF on top, it comes to an average just about 7.3 IIRC. I'm ok with that considering this is stacking 2 combat styles, but the [other] ability of a versatile combat style shouldn't be more advantageous than great axe + GWF + [another combat style]. Of the present list, only defense can stack with GWF, so that benefit shouldn't exceed +1 AC or something equivalent. My original proposition was just that; +1 AC. Since this fighting style would be mutually exclusive with the +2 AC from shields, I feel the defense fighting style still has a solid niche for tanky characters.

So just as efficient, a bit geared toward defense; that fits my vision of Aragorn and Conan. But the hidden advantage of the great axe in this scenario is that it qualifies for Great Weapon Master, just like the hidden advantage of dueling lies in Shield Master (or duelist). But those are feats, so any "hidden advantage" versatile weapons could have can be included in a Versatile Weapon Master feat. Food for thoughts for latter.

But that is only addressing the 2-handed use of versatile, and I feel "something" should also distinguish 1-handed use. This may be misguided, but i persist for the moment. Whatever it is, it could stack with dueling or protection, so no damage bonus and ideally no use of reaction. So far I had identified +1 to hit, which is equivalent to +1 AC, and re-roll "1" on attack rolls, which is a trick not yet covered by fighting styles (kind of GWF applied to attack rolls rather than damage rolls).

There is a few more things this thread brought up. I need to go over it again and cogitate...
 
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Xeviat

Explorer
I liked the idea for push and grab as a bonus action when wielded in one hand, and +2 damage when wielded in two hands. 7.5 would beat out the 1d12 with great weapon fighting, but that style already scales poorly compared to duelist.
 

77IM

Explorer!!!
One archetype that D&D handles poorly is the fighter who has "moderate" Strength AND Dexterity. (The mechanics really reward you for picking only one of Str and Dex and pumping it into the stratosphere, while dumping the other.) So I've always wondered if Versatile Style could be for them. For example,

Expert Style: When you make a melee attack with a versatile weapon you are wielding in both hands, you may add double your proficiency bonus to an attack roll. If you do so, then don't add your ability modifier to the attack roll unless it's negative, and add both your Strength and Dexterity modifiers to the damage roll.​

...That's kind of a mouthful, but the net is that your total attack bonus lags slightly behind a maxed-out point-buy character until 17th level when it reaches +12 (the normal character would only have +11 at that point). But it's only slightly behind. And your damage potential could be enormous (if you are maxing both Str and Dex), typical (if you have a moderate Str and Dex), or poor (if you actually have a terrible Str and Dex: that's now an option, too).

All of those scenarios seem like good trade-offs; pumping both scores is costly, while dumping both can get you great scores elsewhere. In fact, the only people this style really doesn't benefit is someone with the typical ability modifier progression of +3/+4/+5 at 1st/4th/8th levels.
 

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