D&D 5E The Magical Martial

Vaalingrade

Legend
Implausible to the point of well - it's "magical" isn't it? How else can you explain it?
Not magical; fantastic.

Things can be over the top and unrealistic and implausible without being magical.

A character can be able to leap 20 feet, cut a giant in half with a karate chop and land in a cool pose and NONE of that be magical, but instead be because they are a fantastic warrior in a world of fantasy.
 

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FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
The problem comes from bounded accuracy. A Martial can be a demigod in combat because of HP and damage growths, but since their d20 rolls don't grow in the same way, their out-of-combat abilities don't meaningfully improve.

They can 1v1 a giant but can't lift a boulder.
Right, fighters don’t have to be as physically strong as a giant to defeat them in combat.
 

Clint_L

Legend
I don't see "keeping up with casters" being a problem. Different classes are good at different things, but I'll take my level 10 monk (we're using the 2024 rules) against any level 10 caster in a duel 9 times out of 10. They probably won't even get a turn.
 

Stormonu

Legend
Just to be obvious, I want to point out that CR does not equal Character level (character level is a bit lower than CR, see the scout vs. a 1st level character for example).

That said, I can definitely see martial characters who follow a path where they gain abilities similar to certain monsters they affiliate with. Could be done with the current system via feats, but a better solution might actually be a sort of prestige class (though that's a slippery slope in that all classes could claim they should get as well).

Some creatures I could see where PCs get or mimic abilities:

Animal Lords (such as the Cat or Mouse Lord)
Angels/Archons
Beholders
Devils
Demons
Dryads/Sylph/Nymph
Elementals
Genies
Hags
Leprechauns
Lich/Demilich
Lycanthropes
Mind Flayers
Dragons
Giants
Griffons/Sphinx
Treants (the old Greenwood Ranger kit from 2E, for example)
Trolls
Unicorns/Ki-rin
Vampires
Yugoloths
 

That said, I can definitely see martial characters who follow a path where they gain abilities similar to certain monsters they affiliate with.
One way a martial in PF1 could do this would be gaining the Eldritch Heritage, Improved Eldritch Heritage and Greater Eldritch Heritage feats. These feats would allow a martial to gain a bloodline power from a particular sorcerer bloodline without taking up levels as a sorcerer.
 

Raiztt

Adventurer
In an other thread on Strength, the strongest reallife powerlifter can quantify roughly about: +4 Strength +4 Proficiency.

In other words, roughly "middle tier", levels 9 thru 12.

D&D character classes need to develop capabilities way far beyond this. Higher tiers are unreal.
Excellent argument for the game capping out around 9 - 12.

Incidentally, we know that the vast majority of games never get beyond this point.
 

dave2008

Legend
I have said this several times (and this is basically how we treat it), but I wish the game explicitly stated that lvls 1-10 are "mundane" and levels 11-20 are "supernatural." So lvls 1-10 might get you batman levels of ability, while 11-20 gets you Sampson, Theseus, or beyond levels of ability.

To be clear I don't think this currently fits with any existing edition, but I would love to reorganize D&D around this concept. If I have get around to my 5e hack, that is how I would frame it.
 
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Stalker0

Legend
So it is true that even martials around 10ish levels develop combat abilities that are beyond anything a real world human could do.

But part of this is also how combat is modeled in dnd. Hp are a very abstract concept, as is an Attack roll all said and done. What does "damage" mean? Does it mean my fighter literally does hit with the same blunt force as a storm giant club? Or does it mean that they are just so precise with their strikes that I can knick your key artery, even through that touch giant skin of yours?

Because damage is so abstract, we don't really have any qualms with high level characters doing a ton of it. So it doesn't feel magical in the same way as "I am no longer bound to gravity thanks to the fly spell".
 

Stalker0

Legend
I have said this several times (and this basically how we treat it), but I wish the game explicitly stated that lvls 1-10 are "mundane" and levels 11-20 are "supernatural." So lvls 1-10 might get you batman levels of ability, while 11-20 gets you Sampson, Theseus, or beyond levels of ability.

To be clear I don't think this currently fits with any existing edition, but I would love to reorganize D&D around this concept. If I have get around to my 5e hack, that is how I would frame it.
Agreed, this is another thing 4e got right. The notion of the "paragon tier" explicitly noted to the players "hey you all are 10th level now....you aren't just people anymore, your something more now, so choose a paragon option with some zany stuff"
 

I'm A Banana

Potassium-Rich
Maybe other martials should perhaps have some flavors from powerful monsters they could best, or emulates? The Monk's hydra style? The dragon fighter? Etc etc? I must admit at the instant I struggle to come up with concrete examples. But surely, this could perhaps make high level martials more interesting, and keep up in a way with the casters.
One of the weirdest things to me in D&D is this kind of cultural bias against having martial characters (especially fighters and rogues) be inherently magical, in the sense that they have clearly supernatural powers that are clearly not of the common world. Like, I can't give my Fighter healing word. And if I have a bard with healing word, they're definitely NOT a fighter. Which seems absolutely bonkers to me. In a world with dragons and giants and gods of war, we're saying that a Fighter can't be magical? That they slay a dragon purely with "extraordinary mundane" prowess? Do we need the Warlord to shout your HP back, or is it OK to have a martial warrior who can shout and magically heal your wounds in this fantasy world where magic can heal wounds?

I also think that if you drop the expectation that a Fighter can't have something magical, you end up helping with some of the "martial problem," as now you can have per-day or per-short-rest effects that follow the rules of magic rather than the rules of what we expect "training" to do. Most issues with martial dailies or damage-on-a-miss disappears once you stop trying to justify it as "an exceptional feat of martial skill" and just embrace the idea that "it's magic, kids."

I think monster abilities are probably a rich mine, but I'd hesitate to just poach from statblocks wholesale. An effect that gives you a STR of 24 might be "giant strength," you might have a fear effect like "dragon's fear," but my main point of comparison would be spells, since those are intended for PC use, and not monster abilities.
 

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