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

The idea is clever, 4ed use it right from the start.
Using the same frame for different class and make spells, powers, exploits equals in power level.
The OP present the Warrior, but the same process can be applied to Rogue, paladin, Ranger, monk.
And we can redo the same work using the Warlock frame to add more diversity.
it will produce balanced classes, as 4ed was balanced.
The draw back is the feeling of sameness, but if classes balance is a major concern that could help solve it.
 

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James Gasik

Legend
Supporter
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...
You and I are on the same page. A Fighter with a Rod of Lordly Might, a Helm of Brilliance, or Plate Mail of Etherealness can get a lot of work done, who needs skills or finger wiggling!
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
Just adding some Bard- and Cleric- spell based martial exploits could probably do that quite well.
Spells that represent morale, inspiration, vigilance, and similar probably can work as-is as exploits.

I think a healing exploit should distinguish between vigor before reaching zero points versus medical triage after incurring a lethal injury at zero hit points.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
Once the exploit list at each slot level fill out, it will be interesting how the class compares to Fighter and Wizard at the highest tiers, 13 to 16 and 17 to 20.

Maybe the Foresight spell works as-is as a slot 9 exploit.
 

James Gasik

Legend
Supporter
I imagine the worst-case scenario is, the Warrior will overall be about the same as the Fighter, but certainly be better in clutch situations. And better at handling challenges the Fighter is bad at, like dealing with large groups of enemies quickly, since AoE attacks are not their forte.

I think it's odd that the Ranger is the one with Horde Breaker and Whirlwind, yet I have never seen a melee Ranger.
 


Thanks for the post! I realize this is totally a quick and dirty WIP, so please accept my feedback not as a knock.

I dig a number of the higher level exploits! Dashing Strike is pretty rad, basically a twisty lightning bolt. I think its pretty balanced against LB with the lower damage, but open to some shenanigans w great weapon master, and it moves you as well.

I'm of the opinion that it's probably too weak via action economy for some of them. Bladesingers get to attack twice and can swap an attack for a cantrip, so can take advantage of blade shield, while the warrior cannot. More of these should be paired to the attack action, or take a bonus action to "cast". Armor of Agathys, for example, is better than Iron Defense. Sure, ID gets an extra few HP at first level, but that's pretty small for the lack of scaling and retaliation damage, and not really worth a turn putting up in a fight (circling back to action economy).

Re flexibility - It doesnt have wizard flexibility, unless they get to repick their play book every day and there's some spells I dont think a martial should be able to duplicate (teleport, summon demons, etc), otherwise I'd just play a full caster. Valor Bards are a 9 level caster with 2 attacks at 6th level, can attack and cast in the same round at 14th, on top of a host of bard goodies.

I personally think the Warlock is a really underused chassis that allows a lot of flexibility and expansion via both spells and invocations. The automatic scaling of the gambits (with fewer slots available at any time) coupled with boons replacing invocations has a ton of potential and allow individual player to set the mythic dial where they want for their character.
 

dave2008

Legend
Thanks for the post! I realize this is totally a quick and dirty WIP, so please accept my feedback not as a knock.

I dig a number of the higher level exploits! Dashing Strike is pretty rad, basically a twisty lightning bolt. I think its pretty balanced against LB with the lower damage, but open to some shenanigans w great weapon master, and it moves you as well.

I'm of the opinion that it's probably too weak via action economy for some of them. Bladesingers get to attack twice and can swap an attack for a cantrip, so can take advantage of blade shield, while the warrior cannot. More of these should be paired to the attack action, or take a bonus action to "cast". Armor of Agathys, for example, is better than Iron Defense. Sure, ID gets an extra few HP at first level, but that's pretty small for the lack of scaling and retaliation damage, and not really worth a turn putting up in a fight (circling back to action economy).

Re flexibility - It doesnt have wizard flexibility, unless they get to repick their play book every day and there's some spells I dont think a martial should be able to duplicate (teleport, summon demons, etc), otherwise I'd just play a full caster. Valor Bards are a 9 level caster with 2 attacks at 6th level, can attack and cast in the same round at 14th, on top of a host of bard goodies.

I personally think the Warlock is a really underused chassis that allows a lot of flexibility and expansion via both spells and invocations. The automatic scaling of the gambits (with fewer slots available at any time) coupled with boons replacing invocations has a ton of potential and allow individual player to set the mythic dial where they want for their character.
Well there is still a lot to go. I need to get a taste of all level's of exploits drafted and then I will start looking at ways to differentiate this more from the wizard. However, the whole point as to basis on the wizard chasis as that seemed to be what you were using in your example.
 

TwoSix

Unserious gamer
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...
To add onto that, you could also keep overall spell slot progression the same, but slow down spell learning and availability. Have higher level spells available as treasure.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
The following is a martial cantrip, sotospeak, being a nonmagical at-will at slot 0.

Tentatively, the nonmagical martial spell schools are Tactics and Morale.

Note. While not applicable for this cantrip, a cantrip that modifies a weapon attack would list "weapon", "melee weapon", or "ranged weapon" as a spell component.

This 5e Surveyal cantrip compares to 4e Commanders Strike and Direct the Strike in the PH1 and MP2.



SURVEYAL
Tactics cantrip

Performance: 1 action
Range: 300 feet
Components: V or S
Duration: Instantaneous

Your real-time surveyal of the battle in progress heightens the responsiveness of your combat unit, to target opportune vulnerabilities in the defenses of hostiles.

One ally within far range (300 feet), who can see you or hear you, can as a reaction make one at-will action (such as a weapon attack, a cantrip, or grappling) against one target of your choice. Your ally resolves this attack.
 
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dave2008

Legend
OK, I have finished version 1.0 of the Warrior. I have added a few more gambits and made a few Exploits for every level. I also decided to try out prerequisites for the Exploits as a replacement for spell components. We will see if the idea sticks.

What is next? Well I have a few ideas:
  • Revise the structure of the Exploits to not be slots, but Stamina Points. This will be based on the Spell Point Variant rule in the DMG. Hopefully this will help with the "sameyness" @FrogReaver mentioned.
  • Develop the Marital Traditions. I want to define this a bit more and make them more impactful than Wizard Schools. I want to redefine the traditions based broadly around martial arts tropes.
  • Add more Exploits! Hopefully when this is complete I will achieve the versatility that @ehren37 was looking for.
 

dave2008

Legend
The following is a martial cantrip, sotospeak, being a nonmagical at-will at slot 0.

Tentatively, the nonmagical martial spell schools are Tactics and Morale.

Note. While not applicable for this cantrip, a cantrip that modifies a weapon attack would list "weapon", "melee weapon", or "ranged weapon" as a spell component.

This 5e Surveyal cantrip compares to 4e Commanders Strike and Direct the Strike in the PH1 and MP2.



SURVEYAL
Tactics cantrip

Performance: 1 action
Range: 300 feet
Components: V or S
Duration: Instantaneous

Your real-time surveyal of the battle in progress heightens the responsiveness of your combat unit, to target opportune vulnerabilities in the defenses of hostiles.

One ally within far range (300 feet), who can see you or hear you, can as a reaction make one at-will attack (such as from a weapon, a cantrip, or grappling) against one target of your choice. Your ally resolves this attack.
Love it! I added a version call "Survey the Battlefield" to the Gambits section. Thank you for the suggestion!
 

dave2008

Legend
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.
 

James Gasik

Legend
Supporter
I find that complaint about "sameyness" amusing. Nothing against Frogreaver's opinion, but during the "What's the Big Deal about Psionics" discussion, a lot of people seemed to resent the idea of creating a Psionic class that had unique mechanics compared to spellcasters.
 

dave2008

Legend
I find that complaint about "sameyness" amusing. Nothing against Frogreaver's opinion, but during the "What's the Big Deal about Psionics" discussion, a lot of people seemed to resent the idea of creating a Psionic class that had unique mechanics compared to spellcasters.
Conversely, there are some that want every class to have unique mechanics.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
I find that complaint about "sameyness" amusing. Nothing against Frogreaver's opinion, but during the "What's the Big Deal about Psionics" discussion, a lot of people seemed to resent the idea of creating a Psionic class that had unique mechanics compared to spellcasters.
I agree.

The accusation of "sameyness" comes across as more mature if distinguishing between mechanics and flavor.

Relating to factions among psionics fans there are those who want standard mechanics and those who want irregular mechanics. From a design perspective, irregular mechanics are highly problematic, necessarily redundant and virtually impossible to balance well with the standard mechanics. But, for some players a mechanical variety appeals to them.

The 5e balance complaints between Wizard and Fighter are, precisely, because the two classes use different mechanics that are difficult to balance with each other.

In any case, 4e design uses the same highly standardized mechanics for all classes. In this context, to describe the 4e mechanics as samey is not unfair. But its balance between classes is the best of any edition of D&D.

Moreover, the consistency of the mechanics across classes made it easy to reflavor the mechanics. Thus 4e is extremely flavorful, with a virtually limitless diversity of character concepts that felt extremely different from each other, even unique.

When it comes to 4e, the flavor of 4e is the opposite of samey.
 

The idea is clever, 4ed use it right from the start.
Using the same frame for different class and make spells, powers, exploits equals in power level.
The OP present the Warrior, but the same process can be applied to Rogue, paladin, Ranger, monk.
And we can redo the same work using the Warlock frame to add more diversity.
it will produce balanced classes, as 4ed was balanced.
The draw back is the feeling of sameness, but if classes balance is a major concern that could help solve it.
For an individual, perhaps. But as a whole, I think the feeling of sameless was and is a major concern
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
Revise the structure of the Exploits to not be slots, but Stamina Points. This will be based on the Spell Point Variant rule in the DMG.
Heh, if only, the 5e spell point system didnt hurt the eyes!


I think you should use the official Wizard spell point system, because official and Wizard.

But hopefully, the spell point system gets an update in the future that makes spell points more user friendly and more convenient on the fly with less chart consulting calculations.

When the update happens, the Warrior stamina points can update too.
 

dave2008

Legend
I have now updated the Warrior to 2.0.

The only change thus far is to revise the slot based mechanic of 1.0 to a Stamina Point (SP) based mechanic derived form the Spell Point variant rule in the DMG. Each exploit now has a SP cost.
 

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