D&D 5E The Warrior (or how to balance martial's and casters)


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FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
@dave2008

My houserule was for tier 3 and 4 as my take is martials and casters are balanced enough in tier 1 and most of tier 2. The exploits for tier 3 and 4 haven't been created yet, so it's impossible to tell if this will be balanced there or not. I'll take a fresh look once those are posted.

I will add that it feels rather 4e-esque in martial/caster sameyness to me. In that vein I'm afraid it feels far to magical (which I believe is your intent) and thus it does nothing to address my issues with Martial(Fighter, Barbarian, etc)/Caster Balance in tier 3 and 4.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
Option 1 is what the "Fighter" class is for. The "Warrior" is not a replacement for the fighter, it is in addition too. If people don't want a martial with this type of flexibility - don't use it.

Option 2 is covered by this class.

So I don't really see those as problems at all.

Sure, but I am not going to worry about 1 spell. That hardly invalidates this approach IMO. If that is really a concern, make wish a 10th level spell that you can only get via an epic boon (which it probably should be).

So I guess see your 3 problems as fairly minor to non-existent.
I think you dismissed the criticism far too quickly and a bit unfairly.

1. This does not balance the Fighter or other martial classes, leaving the players wanting that kind of fictional flavor to be 'weak'.
2. This class is a purely magical Fighter (which is cool in it's own right), but fails the fictional flavor many players are looking for.
3. Wish is kind of the extreme example. Let's talk good 4th+ level spells that will be hard to justify replicating for a 'magical fighter'. I listed a couple of the more difficult to replicate spells (not all because I don't want to overwhelm the discussion).

Level 4
Polymorph
Summon Greater Demon

Level 5
Raise Dead
Wall of Force

Level 6
Mass Suggestion
Wind Walk

Level 7
Teleport
Forcecage

Level 8
Dominate Monster
Maze

Level 9
Wish
Shapechange
Meteor Swarm

I'm interested to see how close your 'Warrior' class comes to those kinds of effects.
 

Jer

Legend
Supporter
I like the overall idea. Personally I think it needs a name change tho since Warrior has already been snagged for the sidekick class.

One thing that I might suggest is to consider not having your exploits with a slot system but instead just have a (fewer) number of "Stamina Points" and let them be spent at the highest level of Gambit known (similar to the Warlock, though measured against the Wizard/Sorcerer capabilities since there's no equivalent of Invocations). Possibly having a slightly different way to activate Gambits of 6-9th level (since that's where the perspective on spells "change" - like how the Sorcerer isn't allowed to spend spell points to get extra slots of 6th level or higher, and how the Warlock's level progression stops with 5th levels spells). That would make it feel a bit more like a class that is doing its own thing.
 

DND_Reborn

Legend
Again? Another thread for another "fighter" class...

How many times are we going to rehash this issue?

@dave2008 I admire the effort, and you know I normally like helping with house-rules and new material, but I just can't go over this again... Sorry.
 

dave2008

Legend
Again? Another thread for another "fighter" class...

How many times are we going to rehash this issue?

@dave2008 I admire the effort, and you know I normally like helping with house-rules and new material, but I just can't go over this again... Sorry.
No worries, this wasn't for you! IIRC, your sensibilities are more low magic like mine. My approach, if anything, would be to nerf casters a bit rather than make martials superheroes.
 

dave2008

Legend
@dave2008

My houserule was for tier 3 and 4 as my take is martials and casters are balanced enough in tier 1 and most of tier 2. The exploits for tier 3 and 4 haven't been created yet, so it's impossible to tell if this will be balanced there or not. I'll take a fresh look once those are posted.
Yes, I tapped out at about 3am (starting working this about 11pm)
I will add that it feels rather 4e-esque in martial/caster sameyness to me. In that vein I'm afraid it feels far to magical (which I believe is your intent) and thus it does nothing to address my issues with Martial(Fighter, Barbarian, etc)/Caster Balance in tier 3 and 4.
Yes, it is very 4e-esque. That is intentional as it seemed like that is what @ehren37 was looking for and I made this for them. However, I do plan to update this to use the spell point system (conceptually) in the DMG to remove some of the sameyness issue.

I think you desires are more low magic like mine. Therefore the method to balance is to reduce the magic using classes. I already gave my response on different ways to do that in your thread.
 

dave2008

Legend
I like the overall idea. Personally I think it needs a name change tho since Warrior has already been snagged for the sidekick class.
Yes this was just a quick idea. If I were to publish this a new name would be good. Any suggestions.
One thing that I might suggest is to consider not having your exploits with a slot system but instead just have a (fewer) number of "Stamina Points" and let them be spent at the highest level of Gambit known (similar to the Warlock, though measured against the Wizard/Sorcerer capabilities since there's no equivalent of Invocations). Possibly having a slightly different way to activate Gambits of 6-9th level (since that's where the perspective on spells "change" - like how the Sorcerer isn't allowed to spend spell points to get extra slots of 6th level or higher, and how the Warlock's level progression stops with 5th levels spells). That would make it feel a bit more like a class that is doing its own thing.
This is just a quick proof of concept. I plan to probably update to run of the spell point system (conceptually) in the DMG to make it less samey.
 

dave2008

Legend
I'd play that!

I'd have gone with the warlock chassis myself, putting things fighting styles instead of the pact boon.
Then you have Invocation that could replicate some out-of-combat boons or weapon specializations or improved saves.
That sounds like a good option too. The wizard was mentioned in the other thread as the metric, so that is what I used. That and it seemed really easy to make a wizard into a martial. Also, this is still in the beginning stages. I plan to diverge more from the wizard in the future.
 

dave2008

Legend
I think you dismissed the criticism far too quickly and a bit unfairly.

1. This does not balance the Fighter or other martial classes, leaving the players wanting that kind of fictional flavor to be 'weak'.
If that was @overgeeked 's point I missed that. I am not trying to balance other classes with this thread. I am trying to create the martial class that @ehren37 was looking for in your thread. It needs to be balanced with the Wizard, not Fighter. That is a different can of worms and not the intent of this project.
2. This class is a purely magical Fighter (which is cool in it's own right), but fails the fictional flavor many players are looking for.
See my response to #1 above. That is not the intent of this project (mundane fighter). I already gave my suggestions on how to do that (balance Mundane Fighter and Wizard/Magic Users) in your thread.
3. Wish is kind of the extreme example. Let's talk good 4th+ level spells that will be hard to justify replicating for a 'magical fighter'. I listed a couple of the more difficult to replicate spells (not all because I don't want to overwhelm the discussion).

Level 4
Polymorph
Summon Greater Demon
Not sure yet, but they would be tackled by Martial Traditions I am not focusing on in this first past. Though I am not trying to do everything a Wizard can do, I mean no other class has that versatility. I have given this class things the Wizard doesn't get, so there needs to be some give somewhere.
Level 5
Raise Dead
Wall of Force

Level 6
Mass Suggestion
Wind Walk

Level 7
Teleport
Forcecage

Level 8
Dominate Monster
Maze
I have ideas for some of these; however, my response is mostly the same as my response to the 4th level spells.
Level 9
Wish
Shapechange
Meteor Swarm
I'm not planning to tackle Wish. But I have an idea for Meteor Swarm. I think something like Shapechange is doable, but it would be a different school of Exploits than what I am doing right now.
I'm interested to see how close your 'Warrior' class comes to those kinds of effects.
Me too! FYI, I plan to have this first past "proof-of-concept" completed this weekend. It will not address everything you discuss, but it show the direction.
 

DND_Reborn

Legend
No worries, this wasn't for you!
I know. I just know we have both contributed to each others' concepts helpfully in the past and I wanted to express why I just don't feel the need to rehash this again.

IIRC, your sensibilities are more low magic like mine. My approach, if anything, would be to nerf casters a bit rather than make martials superheroes.
Yes, I prefer low magic in general, and nerfing casters is really my main approach more than making martials magical (e.g. superheroes). That being said, I do think martials should be more heroic and my homebrew has always expressed that.

Anyway, good luck with your class!
 

Stalker0

Legend
I think this is the ultimate example of "if you can't beat them, join them." At the end of the day, this is a martial wizard, which is fine, but I don't think its really a "martial" in the way that many people are looking for when they start those threads..

After doing my own martial vs caster threads a little while back, the brainstorm that came out of it, was using the notion of "epic boons" to round out martial classes. It provides them powers that while aren't always comparable to casters, are abilities that are at-will, very powerful, and "cool" in a way spells are not.

For example, maybe an 11th level fighter gets to choose an epic boon, another at 15th, etc etc. It could be the ones from the DMG or a tailored list. The advantage of this is:
  • Its simple. You don't have to start from scratch, its just an augment.
  • Its flexible. The player gets to choose, which always provides investment and lets them tailor their character the way they want.
  • Its narratively controllable: One thing you can do is create multiple lists of boons for the tier of power you want. If you want fighters to only be Achilles, then they choose from the lower list (which is not as narratively breaking). If you want thor, fighters can choose from the higher list and start flying and such. Ultimately I think this is CRITICAL, as people simply do not agree on what power level a high level fighter should have....so the easiest way to fix that is give them the option to choose their power level and let each group sort it out themselves.
 

dave2008

Legend
I think this is the ultimate example of "if you can't beat them, join them." At the end of the day, this is a martial wizard, which is fine, but I don't think its really a "martial" in the way that many people are looking for when they start those threads..
Yes, this isn't for those. It is specifically a "request" from a specific poster. It is not meant to appeal to those you want a more mundane martial / traditional.
After doing my own martial vs caster threads a little while back, the brainstorm that came out of it, was using the notion of "epic boons" to round out martial classes. It provides them powers that while aren't always comparable to casters, are abilities that are at-will, very powerful, and "cool" in a way spells are not.

For example, maybe an 11th level fighter gets to choose an epic boon, another at 15th, etc etc. It could be the ones from the DMG or a tailored list. The advantage of this is:
  • Its simple. You don't have to start from scratch, its just an augment.
  • Its flexible. The player gets to choose, which always provides investment and lets them tailor their character the way they want.
  • Its narratively controllable: One thing you can do is create multiple lists of boons for the tier of power you want. If you want fighters to only be Achilles, then they choose from the lower list (which is not as narratively breaking). If you want thor, fighters can choose from the higher list and start flying and such. Ultimately I think this is CRITICAL, as people simply do not agree on what power level a high level fighter should have....so the easiest way to fix that is give them the option to choose their power level and let each group sort it out themselves.
I think that is a great way of doing it. In the thread I linked to in the OP I suggested something similar. Though I referenced PF Mythic rules as an example IIRC. Not sure if I mentioned boons in that thread, but I have elsewhere.
 

Looks interesting! I must admit, I was working on something similar (and with nowhere near your productivity) but I used a Warlock chassis instead.
In terms of the Martial Exploits at higher level, you can probably at least start with spells like Blade Wind Strike, where the wizard gets to do things that fairly directly encroach on the martial theme. Dragging in spells from other spell lists is probably acceptable since it isn't going to end up with anything like the sheer breadth of wizard spells anyway.
 

James Gasik

Legend
Supporter
Boons is certainly a way to solve the problem. AD&D solved it with magic items. But 5e doesn't want characters to lug around a lot of magic items, which always confused me. Why? No I'm serious, how many magic items a character has access to is 100% DM dependent- and WotC assures us that magic items are optional content (even if they dance around this topic in Xanathar's). So why are there rules for attunements at all?
 

dave2008

Legend
Looks interesting! I must admit, I was working on something similar (and with nowhere near your productivity) but I used a Warlock chassis instead.
In terms of the Martial Exploits at higher level, you can probably at least start with spells like Blade Wind Strike, where the wizard gets to do things that fairly directly encroach on the martial theme. Dragging in spells from other spell lists is probably acceptable since it isn't going to end up with anything like the sheer breadth of wizard spells anyway.
I'm going to keep plugging away. I hope to have this draft complete by the weekend then start adding more exploits and tweaking to be a little less obvious as a Wizard rip off.
 

Jer

Legend
Supporter
So why are there rules for attunements at all?
Design by committee and evolution of the ruleset combined I suspect. 3e had the "Christmas Tree Effect" that people complained about because magic items became "less magic" and also gave lots of dinky bonuses that needed to be accounted for. 4e restricted the number of magic items a character could have to try to account for that issue, and also making an assumption that characters would be getting them on a schedule, and there was some pushback on both of these things. 5e tries to solve this "problem" (for folks who think it's a problem) by using Attunement and having "powerful" items require Attunement and limiting Attunement slots, even thought 5e's design philosophy is to restrict magic items by making them the DM's perogative to hand out rather than being balanced for PCs getting magic items.

You can just get rid of Attunement and as long as the DM doesn't think there's a problem there's no problem. I think allowing non-full casters to get extra Attunement slots on the same schedule that casters get spell slots of levels 6-9 (and then also providing them with magic items or boons to fill those slots) is something I'm going to try in the next high level 5e game I run.
 

James Gasik

Legend
Supporter
Design by committee and evolution of the ruleset combined I suspect. 3e had the "Christmas Tree Effect" that people complained about because magic items became "less magic" and also gave lots of dinky bonuses that needed to be accounted for. 4e restricted the number of magic items a character could have to try to account for that issue, and also making an assumption that characters would be getting them on a schedule, and there was some pushback on both of these things. 5e tries to solve this "problem" (for folks who think it's a problem) by using Attunement and having "powerful" items require Attunement and limiting Attunement slots, even thought 5e's design philosophy is to restrict magic items by making them the DM's perogative to hand out rather than being balanced for PCs getting magic items.

You can just get rid of Attunement and as long as the DM doesn't think there's a problem there's no problem. I think allowing non-full casters to get extra Attunement slots on the same schedule that casters get spell slots of levels 6-9 (and then also providing them with magic items or boons to fill those slots) is something I'm going to try in the next high level 5e game I run.
I mean, it worked in past editions. The example I bring up a lot is when Gary talks about intelligent magic swords, and how their myriad magical abilities specifically exist to give Fighters a boost. D&D has always been a game about cool swag, and that swag giving you an edge, especially in older editions where your class might not really give you much to work with beyond "more hit points, better fighting ability" as you level, and maybe a "get some henchmen followers if you sink a lot of money into it", which is pretty much campaign-dependent.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
Ok, in response to @ehren37 ( and for @Micah Sweet ; @James Gasik ; and @vincegetorix ) over at @FrogReaver‘s thread: A Simple Houserule for Martial / Caster balance, I decide to make a 5e martial class the is balanced with capabilities of a Wizard. The quickest and easiest method I could think of was to start with a Wizard and replace spellcasting with Martial Exploits. This is a work in progress. As I get more into it, I hope to stray a little father from the initial simple concept (convert a wizard to a fighter) to it give more of a traditional fighter feel, while retainning the balance we are looking for. So, without further ado, I give you:

Warrior (1.0)

View attachment 154988

Class Features
As a Warrior, you gain the following Class Features.

Hit Points
Hit Dice: 1d8 per Warrior level
Hit Points at 1st Level: 8 + your Constitution modifier
Hit Points at Higher Levels: 1d8 (or 5) + your Constitution modifier per Warrior level after 1st

Starting Proficiencies
You are proficient with the following items, in addition to any Proficiencies provided by your race or Background.

Armor: Light and Medium Armor
Weapons: Simple weapons and one martial weapon of your choice
Tools: none
Saving Throws: Strength, Constitution
Skills: Choose two from Acrobatics, Animal Handling, Athletics, History, Insight, Intimidation, Perception, and Survival

Equipment
You start with the following equipment, in addition to the equipment granted by your background:
  • (a) chain mail or (b) leather armor, shortbow, and 20 arrows
  • (a) a martial weapon and a shield or (b) two simple weapons
  • (a) a light crossbow and 20 bolts or (b) two handaxes
  • (a) a dungeoneer’s pack or (b) an explorer’s pack
Martial Exploits
As a Student of the Martial Arts, you have a Manual containing Exploits that show the first glimmerings of your true power.

Gambits
At 1st Level, you know three Gambits of your choice from the Warrior exploit list. You learn additional Warrior Gambits of your choice at higher levels, as shown in the Gambits Known column of the Warrior table.

Manual
At 1st Level, you have a training manual containing six 1st-level Warrior Exploits of your choice. Your Manual is the Repository of the Warrior Exploits you know, except your Gambits, which are fixed in your mind and body.

Training and using Exploits
The Warrior table shows how many Stamina Slots you have to use your Exploits of 1st Level and higher. To use one of these exploits, you must expend a slot of the exploit's level or higher. You regain all expended Stamina Slots when you finish a Long Rest.

You prepare the list of Warrior Exploits that are available for you to use. To do so, choose a number of Warrior Exploits from your Manual equal to your Intelligence or Wisdom modifier + your Warrior level (minimum of one exploit). The Exploits must be of a level for which you have Stamina Slots.

For example, if you're a 3rd-level Warrior, you have four 1st-level and two 2nd-level Stamina Slots. With a Wisdom of 16, your list of prepared Exploits can include six Exploits of 1st or 2nd Level, in any combination, chosen from your Manual. If you prepare the 1st-level exploit Thunderous Strikes, you can use it using a 1st-level or a 2nd-level slot. Using the exploit doesn't remove it from your list of trained Exploits.

You can change your list of prepared Exploits when you finish a Long Rest. Preparing a new list of Warrior Exploits requires time spent studying your Manual and memorizing the forms you must use to execute the exploit: at least 1 minute per exploit Level for each exploit on your list.

Martial Exploit Ability
Strength or Dexterity, your choice, is your Martial Exploit ability for your Warrior Exploits, since you learn your Exploits through dedicated training. You use your Strength or Dexterity whenever an exploit refers to your Martial Exploit ability. In addition, you use your Strength or Dexterity modifier when setting the saving throw DC for a Warrior exploit you use and when making an Attack roll with one.

Exploit save DC = 8 + your Proficiency Bonus + your Strength or Dexterity modifier
Exploit Attack modifier = your Proficiency Bonus + your Strength or Dexterity modifier

Learning Exploits of 1st Level and Higher
Each time you gain a Warrior level, you can add two Warrior Exploits of your choice to your Manual for free. Each of these Exploits must be of a level for which you have Stamina Slots, as shown on the Warrior table. On your Adventures, you might find other Exploits that you can add to your Manual (see “Your Martial Manual”).

Martial Recovery
You have learned to regain some of your stamina. Once per day when you finish a Short Rest, you can choose expended Stamina Slots to recover. The Stamina Slots can have a combined level that is equal to or less than half your Warrior level (rounded up), and none of the slots can be 6th Level or higher.

For example, if you’re a 4th-level Warrior, you can recover up to two levels worth of Stamina Slots. You can recover either a 2nd-level stamina slot or two 1st-level Stamina Slots.

Martial Tradition
When you reach 2nd Level, you choose a Martial Tradition, shaping your practice of martial arts through a school of training, such as the School of Explosive Strikes. Your choice grants you features at 2nd Level and again at 6th, 10th, and 14th level.

Ability Score Improvement
When you reach 4th Level, and again at 8th, 12th, 16th, and 19th level, you can increase one ability score of your choice by 2, or you can increase two Ability Scores of your choice by 1. As normal, you can’t increase an ability score above 20 using this feature.

Martial Mastery
At 18th level, you have achieved such mastery over certain Exploits that you can use them at will. Choose a 1st-level Warrior exploit and a 2nd-level Warrior exploit that are in your Manual. You can use those Exploits at their lowest level without expending a stamina slot when you have them prepared. If you want to use either exploit at a higher level, you must expend a stamina slot as normal.

By spending 8 hours in study, you can exchange one or both of the Exploits you chose for different Exploits of the same levels.

Signature Exploits
When you reach 20th level, you gain mastery over two powerful Exploits and can execute them with little effort. Choose two 3rd-level Warrior Exploits in your Manual as your signature Exploits. You always have these Exploits prepared, they don't count against the number of Exploits you have prepared, and you can execute each of them once at 3rd Level without expending a stamina slot. When you do so, you can't do so again until you finish a short or Long Rest.

If you want to execute either exploit at a higher level, you must expend a stamina slot as normal.

Martial Traditions
The study of Martial Arts is ancient, stretching back to the beginning or mortal adventures. It is firmly established in fantasy gaming worlds, with various traditions dedicated to its complex study.

The Martial Traditions revolve around the Schools of Martial Arts. Warriors through the ages have cataloged thousands of Exploits, developed by distinguished schools. In some places, these traditions are literally schools. In other institutions, the schools are more like academic departments, with rival faculties competing for Students and funding. Even warriors who train Apprentices in the solitude of their own towers use the division of martial arts into schools as a learning device, since the Exploits of each school require mastery of different Techniques.

School of Explosive Strikes
Fluff text here about the school.

Superior Striker
When you adopt this tradition at 2nd level, you gain proficiency with martial weapons. You also gain proficiency in the Athletics skill. If you already have proficiency in Athletics, you gain Expertise instead.

Precise Strikes
Beginning at 2nd Level, when you execute an Explosive Strikes exploit that affects other Creatures that you can see, you can choose a number of them equal to 1 + the exploit’s level. The chosen Creatures automatically succeed on their Saving Throws against the exploit, and they take no damage if they would normally take half damage on a successful save.

Potent Gambit
Starting at 6th Level, your damaging Gambits affect even Creatures that avoid the brunt of the Effect. When a creature succeeds on a saving throw against your gambit, the creature takes half the gambit’s damage (if any) but suffers no additional Effect from the gambit.

Empowered Strikes
Beginning at 10th level, you can add your Strength or Dexterity modifier to one damage roll of any Warrior Explosive Strike exploit you execute.

Overexert
Starting at 14th level, you can increase the power of your simpler Exploits. When you execute a Warrior exploit of 1st through 5th Level that deals damage, you can deal maximum damage with that exploit.

The first time you do so, you suffer no adverse Effect. If you use this feature again before you finish a Long Rest, you take 1 level of exhaustion for each level of the exploit, immediately after you execute it. This damage ignores Resistance and immunity.
A 5e Warlord might work well with "martial spell" exploit slots, upto slot 9.
 

Jer

Legend
Supporter
I mean, it worked in past editions. The example I bring up a lot is when Gary talks about intelligent magic swords, and how their myriad magical abilities specifically exist to give Fighters a boost. D&D has always been a game about cool swag, and that swag giving you an edge, especially in older editions where your class might not really give you much to work with beyond "more hit points, better fighting ability" as you level, and maybe a "get some henchmen followers if you sink a lot of money into it", which is pretty much campaign-dependent.
Right - that's where I keep circling around with a lot of these discussions about the imbalance between martial and caster characters. Everyone was looking for magic loot back then - that staff of the magi for a magic user was no slouch - but the Fighters IME wanted it more. Because having a spear and magic helmet that could do something cool was a fun part of the game.

I'm starting to think that levels 10+ just need more magic items and boons for the non-casters, rather than a major re-working of class abilities. I'm going to keep mulling this over...
 

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