D&D 5E (+) So, what have you done to make martials feel better?

SakanaSensei

Adventurer
Over the past few weeks, the forums have had a glut of people going back and forth on the caster/martial divide. At this point it's starting to get exhausting, and I'm just a passive observer! No one changes their mind, it often feels like people are aiming for zingers more than actual understanding, and the mods have had to come in multiple times just to tell people to be civil.

All over wiggle fingers versus sword swinging.

So, with this thread, I'd like to ask: for those of you who find martial characters in fifth edition underwhelming, what 3rd party product or homebrew have you used, or want to use, to try to make the issue feel better at the table? I'll lead with a few examples that I've used or am intending on implementing soon. I'll admit this is mostly combat focused stuff from me: my players are generally fine with spells being plot coupons, but there's been some disappointment when people both don't have plot coupons and also aren't a top performer in a fight, and I've found it easiest to just juice combat abilities.

1) Mighty Deeds of Valor from Dungeon Crawl Classics, adjusted. In my current campaign, I've got a player that is currently using this modified rule that allows him, in a fight, to add cool stuff to his attacks. From a power perspective, this usually ends up being like Battlemaster maneuvers without bonus damage; Shoves, Trips, Grapples, Disarms, etc. added onto his normal attack damage. For this campaign, he's rolling a Proficiency Die along with his attacks, and whenever it comes up a 4 or higher, he gets to add a little something to his strike. So far it's been such a hit that I'm planning on making it a universal system for weapon attacks going forward, although I may change "Proficiency Die comes up 4 or higher" to "your attack roll exceeds the target's AC by 5 or more" just to make it a little simpler.

2) Shock Damage from Worlds/Stars Without Number, adjusted. I like that in WWN and SWN, melee combat feels as dangerous as I think it should. For my next campaign, which will be sci-fantasy in 5E, I want to incentivize melee combat still being a valid option, and let's face it, Strength is kind of a weak stat. So my plan is to have "misses" in melee be more like indirect hits that still deal damage equal to your Strength modifier.

3) Use of minions from MCDM's Flee, Mortals! This book isn't out yet, but the preview materials for the project so far are great fun to use, once you get used to how they had to finagle 5E's rules to fit this 4E concept. Basically, minions have a small health pool (for goblins it's 7, I think?) Any weapon attack automatically kills a minion, no matter how much damage it actually ends up doing. If you exceed the minion's health pool, you get to kill another minion in range. Exceed the health pool by more than double? That's three minions down in a swing. I've used these to great effect over the past several months, and I can't see myself going back to not having some of these guys in every fight. They really do a good job of letting my martials feel powerful.

4) Alternative flanking rules, adjusted from the video game Triangle Strategy. Despite being perhaps the most unfortunately, boringly named game I've seen in years, TS had a really neat idea that I liked and am looking forward to trying out. When you are flanking a creature and they take a hit from someone on the opposite side, characters in position make an attack. I'm thinking of using this idea to allow people to use their reaction to make an opportunity attack while flanking.
 

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SakanaSensei

Adventurer
Most folks will talk about combat stuff, but I want more in the other pillars. I know they are beefing backgrounds and that will help, but still the fighter could use some out of combat utility and social buffs.
Have you used any homebrew or 3PP to achieve these goals? I'm just assuming at this point that WotC isn't going to give it to us.
 



kigmatzomat

Explorer
I want the opposite, more non-combat capabilities for warriors. They are pretty good at slugging things. Give them more skills. Give fighters a choice between expertise in Athletics, Intimidation or Animal Handling. Barbarians should get expertise in Nature, Survival or Animal Handling. Tool proficencies should be more common.

You should be able to drop a Barbarian in a forest with little more than a hand axe and come back three months later to find a cabin, a smoke house, stone tipped weapons behind every third tree and a spiked pit trap with your name on it.
 


DND_Reborn

The High Aldwin
Threadcrapping
Sorry, I've posted in so many threads so many times for things to help martials, particularly fighters, to help players feel better about them, I just can't do it again... :(

EDIT: Since this post was flagged for threadcrapping, I would like to make something clear: I have posted numerous times about this topic in other threads and fully support it. A search for "Fighter" in the title on this forum brings up threads addressing this issue, one I started near the top of the list.

I really didn't think my post above would be offensive to anyone. I showed how in the past I have supported this position, but to those you might have taken offense, I apologize.

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Art Waring

Redlined Ratrod
what 3rd party product or homebrew have you used, or want to use, to try to make the issue feel better at the table?

I posted in one of the threads about some possible solutions, but it kind of got lost in the shuffle:

I am putting the finishing touches on a complex martial class that has seen years of playtesting, complete with its own power point system, over 80 abilities to choose from the "generalist" list, and currently a dozen subclasses, each with their own list of abilities to choose from in addition to the generalist list.

The class can focus on being a striker/ skirmisher, or a tank, or a support martial, but not all at once, with a limited number of ability slots.

Included are several non-combat abilities for added utility.

Players who have tried it say its a blast to play. My design goals are a bit different however than just "solving" any particular issue, and focusing on giving the class a range of tools to choose from to suit their preference in tactics and playstyle.
 

SakanaSensei

Adventurer
I posted in one of the threads about some possible solutions, but it kind of got lost in the shuffle:

I am putting the finishing touches on a complex martial class that has seen years of playtesting, complete with its own power point system, over 80 abilities to choose from the "generalist" list, and currently a dozen subclasses, each with their own list of abilities to choose from in addition to the generalist list.

The class can focus on being a striker/ skirmisher, or a tank, or a support martial, but not all at once, with a limited number of ability slots.

Included are several non-combat abilities for added utility.

Players who have tried it say its a blast to play. My design goals are a bit different however than just "solving" any particular issue, and focusing on giving the class a range of tools to choose from to suit their preference in tactics and playstyle.
Yeah, that's kind of why I wanted to make a separate thread for "solutions" to be in one spot, because it's very easy for things to just get lost in the middle of people arguing.
 

SakanaSensei

Adventurer
Class sounds like it could be a blast! I'd love to see it sometime, please make a post whenever it's feature complete and for sale somewhere.
 



SakanaSensei

Adventurer
Just use the A5e versions of the classes.

Martial Maneuvers for every martial, plus social and exploration pillar mechanics baked into the class.

Easy Peasy.
For the people that like A5E, this is a really great option for sure. Maneuvers ended up being just a little too fiddly for my group this campaign (30 sessions now), but I can 100% see it working out better for groups that want a little more crunch.
 

Art Waring

Redlined Ratrod
Class sounds like it could be a blast! I'd love to see it sometime, please make a post whenever it's feature complete and for sale somewhere.
We are currently going through the coloring process for the art, then some formatting/ layout and we should be ready, I'll let you know when its done!

Competition on the visual side of game design is really high at the moment, so we are taking our time getting everything right.
 

ECMO3

Hero
The Martials in my campaigns are pretty happy already. The guys who hate life and complain are the Warlocks for some reason.

I am currently DMing one campaign and playing in 4. Everyone seems to be having fun except for the Warlock in two of the campaigns (both where I am a player). We had a Bard who backed out of a game too, but that was a few weeks ago.

My characters are all multiclassed. I am running:

Vampir Shadow Sorcerer 1/Undead Warlock 6

Human Shadow Sorcerer 1/Arcane Trickster 5/Arcane Archer 6

Shadar-Kai Bladesinger 2/Cavalier 3

Half Elf Scout Rogue 8/Twilight Cleric 2

I would argue the two that are underlined are mostly "Martials" as they only have 1st level spell slots at 10th and 11th levels and I am having a lot of fun with them.

Fun fact - Of all those characters only the Sorcerer/Warlock has more than a 16 in their main stat (she is a rocking a 20 charisma). The Sorc/Rogue/Fighter has an 8 strength, 16 dex and 14 charisma, The Fighter/Wizard has an 8 strength, 16 dex, 16 intelligence and the Rogue/Cleric has a 16 dex, 14 Wisdom. The last two do have gauntlets of ogre power though, so their 8 plays like a 19 for the cost of attunement. So not only are these characters not OP spell casters, they are mostly not even optimized in their respective builds .... and they are all loads of fun to play.

I really need to play a good Goblin Fey Wanderer Ranger again. That is the most fun class I have played in 5E. Human Bladesinger/Arcane Trickster is probably second but I have played enough of them lately to scratch that itch.
 
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