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


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.

log in or register to remove this ad


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.

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.


The High Aldwin
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.

Last edited:

Art Waring

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.

An Advertisement