• Welcome to this new upgrade of the site. We are now on a totally different software platform. Many things will be different, and bugs are expected. Certain areas (like downloads and reviews) will take longer to import. As always, please use the Meta Forum for site queries or bug reports. Note that we (the mods and admins) are also learning the new software.
  • The RSS feed for the news page has changed. Use this link. The old one displays the forums, not the news.

5E Show me how to build a defender....

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
Mage Hand Press has a really nice Warden class that's probably the closest I've seen to fitting the 4e defender paradigm; unfortunately it's still limited to Patreon subscribers.
My gameworld has a hmmmmm archetype? That sometimes were called justiciars originally like police back in the ancient times but many of them became more like personal guards in modern times. Green Knights were one such group who I sort of hedged as being like druid/fighters when it was 1e days. But the Warden in 4e was associated with the Nature magic / sort of Druidic branch it fit rather well.

Is this like those Wardens?
 

Tony Vargas

Adventurer
There is a fun issue... your intimidation or even active interference against nearby enemies cannot will not interfere with casters they are immune.
Not that many monsters cast spells.

There is a Mage Slayer Feat, though, that well, just read it... I mean, a 5e caster in a world where everything had Mage Slayer would still have it easier than an old-school magic-user.
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
Not that many monsters cast spells.

There is a Mage Slayer Feat, though, that well, just read it... I mean, a 5e caster in a world where everything had Mage Slayer would still have it easier than an old-school magic-user.
That might be ok if something is rare enough it isn't something to count on or worry too much over ... however it REALLY REALLY seems strange a mage is immune to the interference of the Cavalier adjacent to them. Hard to imagine they cannot ... something about mechanics being unnecessarily different, yada yada yada memory escapes me.

Mage slayer looks like it has some bite against adjacent casters but not much benefit for the targets of their spells.

A level 6 Paladin letting allies gain a bonus on saving throws based on their charisma is interesting.
 

Xaelvaen

Explorer
I think well done homebrew is on the table
There's a simple homebrew idea we employ for 5E - 'Take the Attack'.

Take the Attack (Reaction) : When an ally adjacent to you would be attacked by an enemy, you can move in the way of the blow, and the attack roll targets you instead.

We make this simple option so literally anyone, from any class, can have heroic 'save the squishy' moments. Stick the ability on a Full-Plate and Shield-wearing defender, and it is a significant boon, especially after magic items are taken into account.
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
There's a simple homebrew idea we employ for 5E - 'Take the Attack'.

Take the Attack (Reaction) : When an ally adjacent to you would be attacked by an enemy, you can move in the way of the blow, and the attack roll targets you instead.

We make this simple option so literally anyone, from any class, can have heroic 'save the squishy' moments. Stick the ability on a Full-Plate and Shield-wearing defender, and it is a significant boon, especially after magic items are taken into account.
I do like that quite a bit... I have been thinking for quite a while that a lot of fiction has heros who do little tidbits that might be seen as overlapping on the specialists. Many times it includes characters inspiring their allies but yes this is definitely another, a dive in front of an attack seems viable (you could even add some small movement if you accept being prone afterwards)...

Although it usually seems to be an attack where they were certain to be hit,\ Why not make it "Taking the hit" and make it after a hit has been determined and you get no defense against it.

I do not think any of this detracts from the existence of others specialists can still make sense even with other options around.
 
Last edited:

Xaelvaen

Explorer
I do like that quite a bit... I have been thinking for quite a while that a lot of fiction has heros who do little tidbits that might be seen as overlapping on the specialists. Many times it includes characters inspiring their allies but yes a dive in front of an attack seems viable (you could even add some small movement if you accept being prone afterwards)...

Although it usually seems to be an attack where they were certain to be hit,\ Why not make it "Taking the hit" and make it after a hit has been determined and you get no defense against it.

I do not think any of this detracts from the existence of others specialists can still make sense even with other options around.
A lot of time it does turn out as 'Taking the Hit', but I just like giving my shield-bearers a glimmer of hope that their AC 21 instead of the AC 18 Rogue will make the difference haha. Seriously though, that 3 points has -sometimes- saved anyone from taking damage. However, if you want it more toned down, we've used 'Take the Hit' as well, especially when we don't really have a tank in the party.
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
A lot of time it does turn out as 'Taking the Hit', but I just like giving my shield-bearers a glimmer of hope that their AC 21 instead of the AC 18 Rogue will make the difference haha. Seriously though, that 3 points has -sometimes- saved anyone from taking damage. However, if you want it more toned down, we've used 'Take the Hit' as well, especially when we don't really have a tank in the party.
Hmmm.. I was just thinking that a reaction is such a commodity using it when the enemy might not even hit would feel lame.
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
Parrying an attack against ones ally for that shield user might be... a somewhat different thought. You trade out your shield bonus to improve an allies armor class not your own... you no longer get the bonus till the end of your turn.
 

Xaelvaen

Explorer
Hmmm.. I was just thinking that a reaction is such a commodity using it when the enemy might not even hit would feel lame.
Ahh, now I understand.

When we use this function, I just let the players know "Goblin is hitting squishy." They don't know the numbers, but know it will be a hit. Then the intervening person can decide whether or not to spend their reaction. They don't get to know if it is a Critical Hit, obviously - but it'll never be a wasted reaction. When it comes to those sort of things, I always believe in player agency. Never been fond of the 'disadvantage to the triggering attack' that the Shield style gives, so I'm a bit more lenient when I play rules-lite games I suppose.
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
Ahh, now I understand.

When we use this function, I just let the players know "Goblin is hitting squishy." They don't know the numbers, but know it will be a hit. Then the intervening person can decide whether or not to spend their reaction.
Ah that works and is a compromise removing my criticism.
 

FrogReaver

Explorer
The best out of the box defender I can think of is:

Barbarian 3 / Swashbuckler X

From level 1 progression
Barbarian 1 -> Rogue 3 (swashbuckler) -> Barbarian 3 -> Rogue X

Your goal is to scale your opportunity attack to be nearly just as strong as your attack action. You have the reckless attack feature to help make yourself a more tempting target if enemies start ignoring you. If you find melee allies are focusing on the same enemy as you then take the sentinel feat and you can even help defend them. (If you desire the feat you may go rogue 4 first to pick it up).

For added fun take expertise athletics and get to barbarian 5 for extra attack and grapple enemies and then attack them.
 
Last edited:

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
The best out of the box defender I can think of is:

Barbarian 3 / Swashbuckler X

From level 1 progression
Barbarian 1 -> Rogue 3 (swashbuckler) -> Barbarian 3 -> Rogue X

Your goal is to scale your opportunity attack to be nearly just as strong as your attack action. You have the reckless attack feature to help make yourself a more tempting target if enemies start ignoring you. If you find melee allies are focusing on the same enemy as you then take the sentinel feat and you can even help defend them. (If you desire the feat you may go rogue 4 first to pick it up).
Or go variant human I think.
For added fun take expertise athletics and get to barbarian 5 for extra attack and grapple enemies and then attack them.
Interesting and a different take. Interestingly intricate level progression

Makes me think of Conan almost ;)

What would be your best level 5?
 

FrogReaver

Explorer
Or go variant human I think.


Interesting and a different take. Interestingly intricate level progression

Makes me think of Conan almost ;)

What would be your best level 5?
To fully flesh out the defender idea.

Variant Human with sentinel

Barbarian 2 / Rogue Swashbuckler 3

Str 14
Dex 14
Con 16
Mental stats however you prefer

You do 3d6+4 damage on your first hit and on an OA.
You can either use a shield for a total of 19 ac (assuming best medium armor)
You can dual wield for more sneak attacks (since you rage on first turn you don't need the dual wield feat to draw both weapons at the same time. You just draw your 2nd sword on your 2nd turn when you can use it)
You can have a free hand and occasionally grapple an enemy

If needed you are solid with a bow. Bonus action hide + sneak attack.

The more important factor is this character will feel like a defender from level 1+
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
I've been trying to whack together a build that forces enemies to attack you (Sentinel, plus 3 levels of Cavalier fighter), while also making it a bad idea to attack you (Armor of Agathys, Hellish Rebuke, Shadows of Moil).

Half Elf [Warlock 9/ Cavalier 4] seems to work pretty good. Blade Pact, Hexblade, Sentinel, HAM, EA + PAM. Bonus points if you have a friendly Cleric nearby to cast Warding Bond on you.

AoA gives you 25 temp HP and deals 25 damage to anyone that hits you. Shadows of Moil gives you advantage to hit (Tri-vantage thanks to EA feat) and disadvantage to be hit, plus it renders you immune to a ton of abilities (seeing as you cant be seen anymore), and it deals +2d8 necrotic to anyone that hits you.

Creatures you threaten have disadvantage to attack anyone other than you (and provoke an AoO and a special bonus action attack from you if they do so). They also provoke an Attack if they leave your reach, or when they enter it.

If they attack you (and you have Warding bond up) it's likely at disadvantage vs a high AC, and even if they hit, they take 25 cold damage (+2d8 necrotic) each time they do.
My first personal character for the last edition was a swordmage with white lotus riposte trivially created at level 1. Do a swordburst damaging a bunch then if they attack they get porcupined with force blades back
 

Zardnaar

Explorer
Probably for you a variant human with sentinel feat plus Battlemaster Fighter.

At level 4 take
Polearm Master if you want to double down on the striker thing

Healer
If you want to double down on the leader thing

The feat that grants bm dice if you want more warlord

Inspiring leader if you have say 14 charisma or higher and you want a slightly different leader.

Either plus one AC fighting style or duelist if you go sword and board.
 

FrogReaver

Explorer
Probably for you a variant human with sentinel feat plus Battlemaster Fighter.

At level 4 take
Polearm Master if you want to double down on the striker thing

Healer
If you want to double down on the leader thing

The feat that grants bm dice if you want more warlord

Inspiring leader if you have say 14 charisma or higher and you want a slightly different leader.

Either plus one AC fighting style or duelist if you go sword and board.
Are you trying to make a 4e style defender or a 4e style leader?
 

Flamestrike

Registered User
Parrying an attack against ones ally for that shield user might be... a somewhat different thought. You trade out your shield bonus to improve an allies armor class not your own... you no longer get the bonus till the end of your turn.
There is a Fighting Style for that - Protection.

Its an amazing Fighting style, that is often overlooked for Defence.

At-will (uses your reaction) disadvantage to an attack against an ally is huge.

A shield wall of 10 spear+shield guys with that Fighting style, in 2 ranks of 5 x 5, imposing disadvantage on all incoming attacks against each other.

The guys in the front rank have between 3 and 5 adjacent allies with that fighting style (on either side, and behind them) each.

Disadvantage is worth around -5 to an attack roll, and it reduces the chance of a crit from 1/20 to 1/400. It also negates sneak attacks; which while it doesnt happen often, is huge when it does happen.

Im seeing Greek Hoplites in ranks wearing half plate (greaves, helm, breastplate) and shields, the Protection F/S plus Spears and the PAM feat (as humans). AC's of 19, with disadvantage to hit them, getting 2 attacks back on you with spears and reaction attacks when you charge the phalanx.
 

Paul Farquhar

Explorer
Thanks to those who actually contributed on this thread without playing accusatory MMO games

There is nothing wrong with MMOs using Taunt. It is a perfecly resonable solution to practical limitations of the game engine.

The problem comes when you import it back into PnP, and hence simplify the far more sophisticated tactics the medium allows.

This thread demonstrates it. In 4e you have ONE option for making a defender. In 5e you have many options. In 4e you have ONE option for making a leader, in 5e you have many options.

In 4e you have ONE tactic that works in any situation. In 5e you need to employ different tactics depending on if you are in an enclosed dungeon or out in the open, if you are fighting brawlers, archers, wizards or flyers.
 

Advertisement

Top