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


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ECMO3

Hero
this is odd someone else said this in another thread, I thought warlock was the best middle of the road balanced class...
The good warlocks are good above average classes, the poor ones are below average. As a multiclass option though Undead and Genie are top flight on a 1 or 2 level dip. I would add hexblade to that list as well on a Paladin multiclass.

I don't know if it is really because they are warlocks or because they are whiners. I have played Warlocks, including weak Warlocks. and have had fun.

One hypothesis is that new players do not fully consider the limited spell slots or the mechanic of only having higher level spell slots. When playing a Warlock you need something other than your spells, it does not work well as a pseudo wizard or sorcerer. Having 2 high level spells per short rest means they have more "crowd pleasers" than any class assuming multiple short rests, however if they throw a leveled spell they either have to go nova or they are wasting power. While a 10th level wizard might throw a 1st level burning hands to finish off a Troll near the end of a fight, the Warlock does not have that option, he has to go with a 5th level spell or downselect to a cantrip or weapon attack. This also means low level out of combat spells like comprehend languages have a very high cost to cast.

That is just a hypothesis, I can't say that is the reason why and if you understand the mechanics going in you can work around them.
 

Oofta

Legend
I don't do anything mechanical, I don't think it's necessary.

But I'm responding because I do make sure that everyone shares the spotlight. There's a lot of ways of doing that, both in and out of combat. Have stories and subplots revolve them.

In combat set up situations that play to their strengths. Let them block the portal, have the bad guys attack them, let them be the front line, at least now and then.

I also note what proficiencies and tools the PCs have and ensure that they come into play.

Obviously this applies to all PCs. But I think the DM is at least in part responsible for the player's enjoyment. No rule changes required. In my experience if someone is playing a fighter it's because that's what they want. Sometimes the DM just needs to play into the character the player built.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
We removed feats. A bit counterintuitive but that made martials feel alot better, keeping most classes/subclasses far more in line with each other, and without feats like resilient con casters felt alot more vulnerable to losing concentration which helped balance significantly.

Later iterations we went from outright banning feats to allowing a small curated list of feats on a limited basis.
 

ECMO3

Hero
We removed feats. A bit counterintuitive but that made martials feel alot better, keeping most classes/subclasses far more in line with each other, and without feats like resilient con casters felt alot more vulnerable to losing concentration which helped balance significantly.
Since feats are optional this isn't really even a house rule.

Personally I love feats and probably would not play in a game without feats, but I have also never taken resilient constitution and it is not a feat like to take personally (on a caster or other character).

Usually I am getting a feat to do something cool or out of character - Fey Touched is the most common feat I take, usually with an off-list spell like Hex or Dissonant Whispers. Magic initiate, martial adept, shadow touched, telepathic, telekenetic and gift of the gem dragon are probably the next most common I take after FT. I have taken warcaster, sharpshooter, skill expert, Dragonfear and lucky as well. I think those are all the feats I have taken since 2018.
 
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SakanaSensei

Adventurer
We removed feats. A bit counterintuitive but that made martials feel alot better, keeping most classes/subclasses far more in line with each other, and without feats like resilient con casters felt alot more vulnerable to losing concentration which helped balance significantly.

Later iterations we went from outright banning feats to allowing a small curated list of feats on a limited basis.
Interesting. I've always seen feats as one of the only ways martials can keep up/shine in fights, usually in the form of things like Sharpshooter or Great Weapon Master. I've also never had a spellcaster use Resilient Constitution, though, so maybe my players not being optimizers has kept that from being a problem.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
Interesting. I've always seen feats as one of the only ways martials can keep up/shine in fights, usually in the form of things like Sharpshooter or Great Weapon Master. I've also never had a spellcaster use Resilient Constitution, though, so maybe my players not being optimizers has kept that from being a problem.
What feats do your casters take?
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
We removed feats. A bit counterintuitive but that made martials feel alot better, keeping most classes/subclasses far more in line with each other, and without feats like resilient con casters felt alot more vulnerable to losing concentration which helped balance significantly.

Later iterations we went from outright banning feats to allowing a small curated list of feats on a limited basis.
Wow that is counter intuitive... especially since the highest impact feats I was considering making selectable martial class features instead.
 


ECMO3

Hero
What feats do your casters take?

I left off Warcaster, I did take that once too. I took Warcaster after I already had Fey Touched and dissonant whispers and I was playing in a game where the DM rules movement from DW causes a AOO (I've seen DMs go both ways on that).

I multiclass a lot so it is difficult to say "caster" but the last 7 characters who had 3rd level slots took the following:

Human Tempest Cleric7/Fathomless Warlock1 - Fey Touched (wisdom, dissonant whispers), Warcaster

Vampir Shadow Sorcerer 1/Undead Warlock 6 - Shadow Touched (charisma, cause Fear)

Drow Bladesinger 8/Undead Warlock 2 - Fey Touched (intelligence, Hex), Shadow Touched (intelligence, False Life)

Dragonborn Fey Wanderer 7/Whispers Bard 4 - Dragonfear (charisma, forgot about this one too), Wisdom ASI

Goblin Rogue1/Fey Wanderer 13 - Shadow Touched (wisdom, cause fear), Telepathic (wisdom), Gift of the Gem Dragon (wisdom)

Human Bladesinger 9/Arcane Trickster 4 - Fey Touched (intelligence, Hex), shadow touched (intelligence, cause fear), telepathic (intelligence), dexterity ASI.

Another thing the constitution on these characters was all fairly low - the cleric had a 12 constitution, the Vampir had a 14 on rolled stats (and had warlock as her first class), the rest of them had a 10.

Most of the other feats I mentioned (martial adept, magic initiate, lucky, sharpshooter), those I usually take on classes that are primarily martial, although I take Fey Touched a lot on those classes too.
 
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MGibster

Legend
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.
Primarily this is what I'd like. I care less about whether the Fighter is as destructive as the Warlock or Wizard and more about what they can offer outside of combat.
 

SakanaSensei

Adventurer
Primarily this is what I'd like. I care less about whether the Fighter is as destructive as the Warlock or Wizard and more about what they can offer outside of combat.
Would you handle that with extra proficiencies to keep it simple, or something else from a different product/homebrew?
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
I don't do anything mechanical, I don't think it's necessary.
Mod Note:
The question in the OP was:

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

If you are not going to answer that question, it is time to excuse yourself from the thread.
 

MGibster

Legend
Would you handle that with extra proficiencies to keep it simple, or something else from a different product/homebrew?
It might be something so simple as giving Fighters more skill points and a broader range of skills they might be proficient with. Part of the problem with D&D, is that some classes, say the Wizard and Warlock, have skills linked to attributes that are useful for them both in combat and out of combat. A Wizard has a high intelligence which translates into good bonuses for knowledge based skills and a Warlock's charisma helps them with social interactions. The Fighter typically has a charisma and intelligence bonus of zero in my experience. What happens very often in my experience, is that a lot of players automatically defer to other PCs during social encounters on account of "My character isn't good at talking."

Deferring to other characters certainly makes sense in some contexts, but it's not something that should be incentivized in my opinion. Role playing is arguably a more important aspect of the game than it was thirty years ago and every character should be good at socializing. Not necessarily in the same way or in all situations, but sometimes.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
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... :(

Mod Note:
Then don't. I mean, you won't be able to in this discussion any more, but in the future....

Folks, if you aren't on board with the point of the discussion, maybe consider that it isn't the thread for you.
 

Micah Sweet

Legend
I help martials primarily by running Level Up and encouraging the use of it's fighter, berserker, adept, marshal, ranger, and rogue classes (none of whom require spellcasting).
 

Vaalingrade

Legend
I'm in the process of pulling the entire system apart, breaking traditional class features into feats, creating a Technique system with more than two dozen techniques, ignoring tradition and the man at the gym to make it possible to build an effective version of anything from 'punchy dude' to 'incredible hulk who smashes the ground when he misses, grabs and throws enemies across the battlefield and finishes with a thunderclap' and have them be balanced against each other. Monk Archer Ranger, thug rogue -- all got consumed by the Combatant.

Then I went and made magic, masterwork and tech weapons for them to use, with abilities that change how you play by enhancing what you already do or giving you even more versatility. Oh, and there's not empty +X. Every superior weapon actually does something.

I gave the Combatant a reasonable amount of skills too.

Then I grabbed the Rogue. Usually the most balanced class in any edition, I unmarried them from Trapfinding and Sneak attack, and opened up their options with skill tricks and gave them access to Techniques as well. On top of that, their feat loadout now includes anything that can be considered seated in Skill, including improvised weapons, woodcraft, trapmaking, chemistry and device users, acrobats, etc. The Rogue ate Ranger, Alchemist, Artificer.

Then as for the other classes, I made it easy to steal their stuff.

Want a spell? Take a feat. Now you have the spell.

Want the ability to channel divinity? Take a feat. Now you can channel divinity.

Bardic music? Feat.

Rituals? Feat, then buy them.

It goes the other way too. Sneak attack die? Feat. Weapon of Choice, armor or weapon profs? Feat, feat feat.

I'm making martials feel better by making everyone feel better by making it possible to build exactly what you want.
 

cbwjm

Legend
I don't do anything... mostly because I kept forgetting. I have some manoeuvres/stances that I was thinking of giving out when a class gains a fighting style (so mostly fighters, paladins, rangers, but also a swords bard and any other subclass that grants one), and for barbarians I was gonna give warcries and rage abilities.

Fighters would gain increased use of manoeuvres, learning more at level 5, and gaining the ability to use one as a reaction. Otherwise they were typically something that could replace one attack.
 

DrunkonDuty

he/him
Give them a cup of tea and a biscuit. (That's a cookie for our American Cousins.)

Thinking a bit deeper... I do like to have options for any character I play.* So I'd give them manoeuvres and such. Like maybe some sort of feats that give them more options and special abilities. Basically I'd just re-invent DND 3e. Or maybe PF 2e.




*This lack of interesting options is where 5e leaves colder than a dead halibut on an ice flow.
 

SakanaSensei

Adventurer
I'm in the process of pulling the entire system apart, breaking traditional class features into feats, creating a Technique system with more than two dozen techniques, ignoring tradition and the man at the gym to make it possible to build an effective version of anything from 'punchy dude' to 'incredible hulk who smashes the ground when he misses, grabs and throws enemies across the battlefield and finishes with a thunderclap' and have them be balanced against each other. Monk Archer Ranger, thug rogue -- all got consumed by the Combatant.

Then I went and made magic, masterwork and tech weapons for them to use, with abilities that change how you play by enhancing what you already do or giving you even more versatility. Oh, and there's not empty +X. Every superior weapon actually does something.

I gave the Combatant a reasonable amount of skills too.

Then I grabbed the Rogue. Usually the most balanced class in any edition, I unmarried them from Trapfinding and Sneak attack, and opened up their options with skill tricks and gave them access to Techniques as well. On top of that, their feat loadout now includes anything that can be considered seated in Skill, including improvised weapons, woodcraft, trapmaking, chemistry and device users, acrobats, etc. The Rogue ate Ranger, Alchemist, Artificer.

Then as for the other classes, I made it easy to steal their stuff.

Want a spell? Take a feat. Now you have the spell.

Want the ability to channel divinity? Take a feat. Now you can channel divinity.

Bardic music? Feat.

Rituals? Feat, then buy them.

It goes the other way too. Sneak attack die? Feat. Weapon of Choice, armor or weapon profs? Feat, feat feat.

I'm making martials feel better by making everyone feel better by making it possible to build exactly what you want.
Sounds pretty dope. Is this just for your home game, or is it going to become a product?
 

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