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


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ECMO3

Hero
Glances at Eldritch Knight And be usable? Hard. Very, very hard.

I'm still bucking for a full-on fighter/magic-user class myself.
What is wrong with Eldritch Knight?

Also you can always multiclass. Eldritch Kinght-Abjuration is a pretty awesome combo. War Magic would work well too if you want something more straightforward.
 

Art Waring

Redlined Ratrod
What if they opened up design space to let subclass features replace class features? Give up your action surge for beast companion, give up second wind for some kind of maneuver your beast could learn to protect allies or take down a weakened opponent. I think it sounds neat.
Pathfinder did this with ACF's, or Alternate Class Features, they predated 5e, and IMO I think they were adapted into 5e for its class archetypes. Its interesting how games can evolve with some competition. I think they work well either way.

Basically, you choose your alternate class, like the arcane trickster for the Rogue, switching out class features of your choice for abilities that better match the desired archetype.
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
I think that it could be done if there were some structural changes to allow for Subclasses that could, optionally, have a greater impact on play style. But throw some primal magic at a fighter, give them some skill expertise in survival and stealth, and let them pick a quarry when you roll initiative and give a bonus die of damage against their quarry? Well hell, that’s pretty ranger-y to me.

Paladin may be trickier, but could be pulled off with multiple subclasses. I think a divine half-caster with some supportive abilities would hit most of the beats.
So each oath is a subclass and also core class features to replace some parts of the fighter hmmmm
Now that I think about it, bump up eldritch knight to half caster arcane progression, then have ranger as half caster primal and Paladin as half caster divine… I like how that ends up looking.
I think it might be possible but I also think tricky is it's name-o. Many but not all of the archetypes/subclasses are really just pre-planned multi-classing by a different name. (4e had some themes which if you used the power swapping a lot will feel like the same / but it was a choice in effect replacing a core class power/feature with one from your theme. 5e does have a pretty flexible multiclassing already but isnt careful of making a level X ability the same potency as another level X ability.

Step one I think is making sure the base fighter is flexible enough to cover the martial aspects of those classes and leaves room for the subclass effects.
 
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SakanaSensei

Adventurer
I went ahead and made a mock up of the idea for folding the ranger into the fighter as a subclass, although it uses a different paradigm than current subclasses. Mostly a thought experiment, my commute to work this morning was full of ideas.

 

bloodtide

Adventurer
Some I use are:

*Shields shall be sundered- You get the usual -1 to your AC with a shield. However, any time you take damage, you can opt instead to say your shield absorbed the force of the blow. The shield is shattered and must be discarded, but you don't take any damage from that hit. It's quick, it's easy, and it's valuable.

The Combat Maneuver System--After an attacker rolls for damage, they *can propose a maneuver. The defender may choose whether to accept the maneuver or take the damage. On a critical the maneuver is a complete success, and the declared result occurs.
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
Some I use are:

*Shields shall be sundered- You get the usual -1 to your AC with a shield. However, any time you take damage, you can opt instead to say your shield absorbed the force of the blow. The shield is shattered and must be discarded, but you don't take any damage from that hit. It's quick, it's easy, and it's valuable.
I thought of allowing one to cancel a critical hit by sacrificing the shield (usually a shields straps are what is broken and damaged severely enough it will need repaired) and if the shield is magical it may resist sundering with a saving throw based on their users str ....
 

Much of the techniques I use to boost martials are difficult to apply universally, but here are a couple.

1. I make efforts to give martials greater story focus

The fighter is one campaign took the noble background and the rest of the party were commoners. In a War of the Roses inspired campaign, that meant a lot of social interactions were principally with the fighter, even if the hard had better social skills.

In another Middle-Eastern campaign, the fighter was a fire genasi. Guess who was related to the overrarching villain. Also, being a fire genasi meant that they had to act as the face with respect to the many creatures they encountered who only spoke Primordial.

2. Spells sinks and environmental effects

I try to use environmental effects to make spellcasters use slots and to encourage multiple small spells rather than 1 encounter-ending spell.

When they spent several days on the plane of fire, the Wizard had to upcast (homebrew) Endure Elements at 3rd level on all non-fire resistent characters to avoid burning. This also cut down on the “every turn my owl familiar Flybys the monster to give advantage” because the wizard was unwilling to commit additional 3rd level slots on the familiars.

Also, casting non-cantrip spells in many places had a 1 in 4 chance of triggering a wild surge (my own homebrew table), thus making spellcasters more cautious with their high level spells.

3. “Yes, and…” and “No, because…”

I don’t like using this tool, but I still do on occasion. Unorthodox use of skills by anyone tend to receive a lot of slack. Unorthodox use of magic has me pulling out the spell description and 1) checking to see if anything is contraindicated; and 2) even if it isn’t, making an on-the-spot evaluation whether that use is “too powerful” for the level.

4. Standard “restrictive magic” rulings

Verbal and somatic components are clearly magic and cannot be disguised.
Casting a spell in a social situation without the consent of everyone present is akin to drawing a deadly weapon. People are likely to treat it like an active shooter situation. This even applies to spells like Tongues or Comprehend Languages, so you better communicate your intent before starting to chant ominous words.
Spell effects are obvious. Even mindless creatures affected by booming blade understand that they will take additional damage if they move. If a spell allows another creature to take an action to free an ally from the spell, the course of action and its effect is obvious to the creature.

5. Extensive use of non-spellcasting features
I try to ensure that racial features, backgrounds, skills and non-spellcasting class features come into play often and have a substantial effect.

6. Proficiency die (not yet implemented)
I’m considering using the proficiency die variant from the DMG for attack rolls, skills and saving throws, except that the proficiency die does not improve with level. Also implementing preset ways to increase your proficiency die in combat (such as flanking and magic weapons).

This should strengthen martials (because proficiency on attacks is relatively easy to increase) while reducing the consistency of spells (since saving throws tend both higher and more variable), thereby encouraging the use of more low-level spells, than encounter-ending high level spells.
 


Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
I went ahead and made a mock up of the idea for folding the ranger into the fighter as a subclass, although it uses a different paradigm than current subclasses. Mostly a thought experiment, my commute to work this morning was full of ideas.

I think the shifts in paradigm you are using is different enough to make analysis harder... avoiding level dipping I think is important and not assuming people are ok with removing the multiclassing
(but given the traps in multiclassing I can see why some do) and the anything you can do I can do better which happens when its easy to poach.
Level Up removed/split up the action surge into maneuvers which in effect meant the capability only be used for weapon based attacks and movement effects not spell casting ie its a martial ability. Making the two level dip less attractive. One could I suppose split all proficiency with armor into 1 level worth so that your plate only comes online when you can actually afford it LOL.
 
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NotAYakk

Legend
Give every PC a power source as part of character creation, or in T1. This is why the PC is capable of gaining levels and reaching demigod levels of power in a single campaign.

This is true of every PC - Wizards, Warlocks, Sorcerers, Fighters, Rangers, etc.

The character may not know what the power source is (hidden destiny), or might know. That is fluff.

Then attach cool stuff to the Power Source x Class combination.

Note that, as the Power Source justifies your ability to gain class levels, this requires that the Power Source actually justify it if you multiclass. Or you, in game play, gain access to another Power Source.

It is 1000% easier to justify cool non-combat abilities/boons for the destined reborn king than it is for a random fighter.

This does mean that "I'm just a mercenary who is just that tough" isn't a character concept that works. But that is true; "just a town guard" isn't a demigod just because they killed a few dozen orcs and lived to tell the tale. In that case, it is my job as the DM to power-source up the "just a tough dude" in play.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
Mod Note:

Just a gentle reminder: this is a (+) thread, so let’s keep focused on positives and please minimize the snark.
 

Mod Note:

Just a gentle reminder: this is a (+) thread, so let’s keep focused on positives and please minimize the snark.
This is proof that mundane ability to snark at stuff can derail complex situations/plans. DMs can make enemies act unoptimally / give them penalties if a PC makes a good crack!
 

Jack Daniel

dice-universe.blogspot.com
Not strictly relevant to 5e perhaps, but here's how I run OD&D fighters these days:


LevelXP RequiredLevel TitleHPTHAC0SaveSpecial AbilitiesChainmail Combat
1st0Veteran81914Set Spear Maneuver1 Man +1
2nd2,000Warrior121914Lance Charge Maneuver2 Men +1
3rd4,000Swordsman161813Improved Parry Maneuver3 Men or Hero −1
4th8,000Hero201713Heroic Fray4 Men or Hero
5th16,000Swashbuckler241712Improved Disarm Maneuver5 Men or Hero +1
6th32,000Gladiator281611Smash Maneuver6 Men or Hero +1
7th64,000Champion321511Multiple Attacks (3 / 2 rounds)7 Men or Superhero −1
8th125,000Superhero361410Sweep Attack8 Men or Superhero
9th250,000Lord*401310Detect Invisible within 30'9 Men or Superhero +1
10th500,000Overlord44129Frightful Presence10 Men or Superhero +1

* Lordship permits the fighter to build a castle, raise an army, clear a fiefdom, and attract a taxable peasantry.

(And it's worth noting that every special ability or combat maneuver that I've spread out over ten levels is something that old-school fighters already have in some form or another; it's just that they're normally concentrated at levels 1 and 7–9.)

I don't use DCC "Mighty Deeds of Arms"; but I do use the OSR blogsphere's "super simple combat maneuvers" method (because it's extremely simple, naturally self-regulating, and it's usable by all classes, but since it's based on the normal attack and damage mechanics, fighters are always going to be better at it). Though I do call them stunts to distinguish them from the defined maneuvers that fighters get at various experience levels.

A healthy spread of defined maneuvers that are either fighter-exclusive or that fighters are just plain better at, plus the aforementioned system of freeform stunts that fighters are also just plain better at, goes a long way to keeping things more interesting in combat than just "I hit, roll damage." And as for out-of-combat, when the wizards are throwing around cool spells… that old melody always comes backs to warm the cockles of my cold, dead heart: castle, army, fiefdom, peasants, that scream from Zep's "Immigrant Song"!
 
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SakanaSensei

Adventurer
Not strictly relevant to 5e perhaps, but here's how I run OD&D fighters these days:


LevelXP RequiredLevel TitleHPTHAC0SaveSpecial AbilitiesChainmail Combat
1st0Veteran81914Set Spear Maneuver1 Man +1
2nd2,000Warrior121914Lance Charge Maneuver2 Men +1
3rd4,000Swordsman161813Improved Parry Maneuver3 Men or Hero −1
4th8,000Hero201713Heroic Fray4 Men or Hero
5th16,000Swashbuckler241712Improved Disarm Maneuver5 Men or Hero +1
6th32,000Gladiator281611Smash Maneuver6 Men or Hero +1
7th64,000Champion321511Multiple Attacks (3 / 2 rounds)7 Men or Superhero −1
8th125,000Superhero361410Sweep Attack8 Men or Superhero
9th250,000Lord*401310Detect Invisible within 30'9 Men or Superhero +1
10th500,000Overlord44129Frightful Presence10 Men or Superhero +1

* Lordship permits the fighter to build a castle, raise an army, clear a fiefdom, and attract a taxable peasantry.

(And it's worth noting that every special ability or combat maneuver that I've spread out over ten levels is something that old-school fighters already have in some form or another; it's just that they're normally concentrated at levels 1 and 7–9.)

I don't use DCC "Mighty Deeds of Arms"; but I do use the OSR blogsphere's "super simple combat maneuvers" method (because it's extremely simple, naturally self-regulating, and it's usable by all classes, but since it's based on the normal attack and damage mechanics, fighters are always going to be better at it). Though I do call them stunts to distinguish them from the defined maneuvers that fighters get at various experience levels.

A healthy spread of defined maneuvers that are either fighter-exclusive or that fighters are just plain better at, plus the aforementioned system of freeform stunts that fighters are also just plain better at, goes a long way to keeping things more interesting in combat than just "I hit, roll damage." And as for out-of-combat, when the wizards are throwing around cool spells… that old melody always comes backs to warm the cockles of my cold, dead heart: castle, army, fiefdom, peasants, that scream from Zep's "Immigrant Song"!
I posted that OSR blog article when I found it a little ways back, and the more I think about it the more I like it. I think I might replace mighty deeds with it just because it’s so got dang elegant.
 

Fanaelialae

Legend
I posted that OSR blog article when I found it a little ways back, and the more I think about it the more I like it. I think I might replace mighty deeds with it just because it’s so got dang elegant.
I agree that it is elegant, but IMO, you'd probably need to change more for it to work with the fighter. The problem with the fighter is that they don't typically do a heck of a lot of damage with any individual hit.

Would the 100+ HP dragon like to take 10 damage or be shot through the wing and be forced to land? If my dragon has more than 10 hp remaining, then I (as the DM) will always opt for taking the damage (unless I'm simply giving the fighter a pass).

Rogues, otoh, would be pretty good at dishing out special effects via this rule, but would probably just opt to deal damage rather than stunt (unless the stunt is simply a "how do you want to finish him" style thing where you force the guard against the wall instead of killing him).

My first thought for the fighter is adding a feature that, when stunting, makes the proposal either the stunt, or a multiple of the normal damage.

Weapon Master
When you declaring a stunt, you may use this ability. If the target opts to take the damage instead of the effect, they take double damage. At 5th level this increases to triple damage. At 11th level it increases to quadruple damage. At 17th level it increases to quintuple damage. After using this feature a number of times equal to your proficiency modifier, you cannot use it again until after you take a long rest.

Otherwise, you're basically adding a module to the game that (numerous) other classes are better at taking advantage of, which makes it anything other than a fighter buff (IMO). The above proposed fighter ability actively pushes the fighter player to use the stunt module, since even if the creature opts to take the damage, it's more damage than they would have otherwise taken.
 

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