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D&D 5E Thoughts on Improving Martials

ECMO3

Adventurer
Still missing
stunned
restrained
blinded
frightened
incapacitated
vulnerable to a specific damage type

slowly but surely we are heading to 4ed!

Stunned: This is extremely powerful and I am not sure it is true that you should be able to do this.

Restrained: The rune knight can do this using the fire rune. Any other fighter can do it using a battlemaster maneuver. Any class can do this using grapple

Blinded: Arcane Archer can do this using attack action. Other characters can do it with improvised actions

Frightened: Any fighter can do this through battlemaster maneuvers

Incpacitated: The Rune Knight can do this with the stone rune. Also technically any character can do this by reducing the opponent to zero hps.

Vulnerable to a specific damage type: This one I don't think you can do with a fighter (or with most classes)
 
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Quickleaf

Legend
@Steampunkette Here's an idea! If we're imagining "martial characters" as a kind of loosely related cluster of character classes, in the same way that we might use the term "casters" to refer to bards, clerics, druids, wizards, and so forth, then what is their unifying principle?

For casters, the unifying principle is spells organized into 8 spell schools: Abjuration, Conjuration, Divination, Enchantment, Evocation, Illusion, Necromancy, and Transmutation. Those 8 schools basically define what is possible for a "caster" to achieve with magic.

Not that we need to reinvent "not spells" by another name, nor even creative an exhaustive list of maneuvers, but what I think is interesting is the application of an organizing principle. Those 8 spell schools get to the heart of what D&D casters do.

What ~8 categories could we use to organize the way we think about what "martial characters" can do?

For example: Infiltration, Leadership, etc.
 

ECMO3

Adventurer
The proposal is to allow fighters to deal damage AND trip.
You can do that every turn with the shield master feat. They can also do it limited amounts with the battlmaster maneuvers.

I think this would make a great homebrew feat if you want to do it without a shield. Maybe:

Two-Handed flourish: When you hit a target with a melee attack using a weapon with two hands you can use attempt to shove as a bonus action. While holding a melee weapon with two hands you can attempt to reduce the damage when hit with a missile weapon. As a reaction, make an attack roll and if the result is higher than the attackers attack roll reduce the damage by the difference between the attacker's roll and your attack roll.

I think that would be good as a feat and comparable to other feats.
 
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Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
@Quickleaf Casters unifying identity is "Casts Spells". Only Wizards care about schools. Clerics are more interested in Domains, Warlocks more interested in Pact Spells, etc.

The unifying function of martials is "Hits Things" either with weapons or bare hands but not spellcasting.

And then Gish is "Hits things -and- Casts spells"

If I were so inclined as to create a "List of Maneuvers" for each class I could dive into piles of historical study of different fighting styles from around the globe. Or just use the A5e options that provide dozens of different combat maneuvers for various concepts. That's not my intention, here. It's to create a simple framework that everyone can use at any point to give Martial characters other combat options beyond "Hit things" and "Sacrifice all your damage to apply one of two effects"

Something simple and easy that works as a rule of thumb for adjudicating stuff that might come up in combat.
 

Quickleaf

Legend
Oh ok. Never mind then. I thought you were interested in discussing non-combat things for "martial characters" to do, and I was inviting creative inquiry in that vein. My mistake.
 

Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
Oh ok. Never mind then. I thought you were interested in discussing non-combat things for "martial characters" to do, and I was inviting creative inquiry in that vein. My mistake.
Ohhh... I thought you were referring to the idea of maneuvers by school, as has come up previously in this thread. I apologize.

That's my mistake, Quickleaf.

I'm keenly interested in your noncombat idea, though I'm not sure I grasp what you're carrying and where.
 

Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
The issue with creating those "8 Schools" would be that every one of them would just translate to a set of skills.

Infiltration as Stealth and Deception, maybe Disguise kit. Leadership as Persuade and Intimidation, maybe Deception... etc etc etc.

Because skills are meant to be 5e's version of 2e's noncombat proficiencies -plus- all of the old Thieves Skills put together in one comprehensive "Everything that isn't combat" setup, it's damnably hard to break it apart in a nonmagical way.
 

Raith5

Adventurer
I agree with the premises of the OP but what about developing an array of combat stances? One of things I like about playing a Barbarian rather than a fighter is the choice to do reckless strike option. I think it the kind of chance choice weighty enough to keep me engaged and feel like my decisions are more the thoughtlessly rolling a die without going too far down the 4e pathway.

I dont disagree about increasing the role of conditions for martials or having maneuvers which impose conditions - but stances may be a practical way to manage this further depth.
 


Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Then swing on the goddamn chandelier

Mod Note:

You seem more than disgruntled. Could you perhaps stop taking that frustration out on people, please?

Because, I gotta tell you, getting aggressively in people's faces generally convinces them that you're a pain, not that you're correct. So please bring it down several notches. Thanks.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
My take. 5e Martials cannot be improved without a complete class rewrite. The quasi solutions are only play through level 10 and learn to live with it. While you may be less effective than Wizard's it's not like you are ineffective. Except if you are out of combat, where the Wizards familiar is probably of more use than you.
 


Tinker-TDC

Explorer
I agree with the premises of the OP but what about developing an array of combat stances? One of things I like about playing a Barbarian rather than a fighter is the choice to do reckless strike option. I think it the kind of chance choice weighty enough to keep me engaged and feel like my decisions are more the thoughtlessly rolling a die without going too far down the 4e pathway.

I dont disagree about increasing the role of conditions for martials or having maneuvers which impose conditions - but stances may be a practical way to manage this further depth.
One thing we've done in my game is changing "Fighting Style" to "Stance" where you just choose which Fighting Style you have and can change it as a Bonus Action. It feels like the change would make Martials super-strong but really it just gives the vibe of, "Oh, this person is just better at weapons than normal people!" It legit makes Fighter, Ranger, and Paladin feel like they have a 'unifying factor' better than just being able to handle a sword.

In-depth stances would need some higher-level ones to compete with spellcasting at higher levels but it does really just make all the Fighting Style classes feel like they know what they're doing.
 


doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
So one of the biggest problems in 5e is how limited Martial type characters (Fighter, Barbarian, and Ranger, to a lesser degree Monk, Rogue, and Paladin) can be both in combat effects (not effectiveness) and out of combat interactions. We see this sort of thing discussed obliquely in things like Spellcasting discussion threads, often discussing how OP Spellcasters are.

5e at it's base "Attempts" to offer alternatives by allowing players to sacrifice attacks from their attack action to initiate grapples or push targets, but very little else that doesn't require a Subclass. Advanced 5e provides each class a list of potential Combat Maneuvers from which they can select a handful over the course of their leveling and have a limited number of uses per turn, creating a new, separate, economy.

What if, instead, we made it so that Combat Maneuvers (Like Grapple or Shove) didn't negate your damage potential from a given attack based on your level?

For example, a Shove attempt at level 1 could deal your Strength Modifier in damage. If you have Extra Attack, 1d6+Strength. If you gain 2 or more attacks from Extra Attack, 1d6+Str+Proficiency Bonus. (I chose 1d6 because Monks deal 1d6 with unarmed strikes at level 5, so it isn't stronger for a monk to spend all their attacks on Shoves)

A Fighter might still miss out on bonus damage from their weapon, but it would certainly make combat maneuvers more attractive. Particularly if we expand those combat maneuvers to cover additional situations, or more accurately use a simple method that can be adapted to other options, such as Dirty Tricks, Disarming targets, or Tripping them as the Player makes suggestions and the DM determines whether it's valid. (No disarming a Dragon of it's claws, for example... unless the DM is cool with lopping off limbs!)

Forced movement, temporary shutdown of Legendary Action options, removing the target's ability to perform reactions, throwing sand in their eyes to give them disadvantage on perception checks and attack rolls for a round... Lots of options for Players to creatively use the Combat Maneuver option, and potentially increase the damage die, effect, or saving throw DC through environmental actions. Such as swinging on a chandelier to "Shove" a target resulting in the target getting pushed farther, taking two dice of damage, or having a +2 higher DC for the Strength Save to resist.

This would put a bit more weight on the shoulders of martial characters who intend to do more than strike their target, but so long as the method of handling the maneuvers is simple (A saving throw or skill check against a fixed DC to avoid either the effect or the damage) it shouldn't be significantly troublesome.

You could even create Feats or Class Features that allow a subclass to explicitly use a Combat Maneuver as a Bonus Action, or possibly reaction.

Out of combat functions are trickier. And should probably be tied to individual class identities. If anyone has suggestions, I'd love to hear them. But I think I might include this general improvement to combat maneuvers in my games going forward, including those involving Advanced 5e/LevelUp play, since it has a "Combat Maneuver DC" built in to make the whole matter easier.

Bonus Points: It encourages Strength Martial Builds for people who want to do a bunch of Combat Maneuvers. Including Strong Monks.
My initial idea in reaction to this is;

1. Give everyone the ability to trade an attack for a special attack, and you lose the damage die from the attack but gain the special attack effect.

2. Expand special attacks, including taking ideas from Kobold Press' Beyond Damage Dice series of articles and book.

3. Add the ability to Mark as a special attack, with at least 2 outcomes. Mark lasts until the end of your next turn.
3a. Defensive Mark, redesigned from the pretty bad DMG mark, but not as good as the Cavalier's mark.
3b. Offensive Mark, allows an opportunity attack on a specific condition, such as "if they cast a spell" or "if they come within my reach" or "once I have them grappled".
3ba. Edit Mage Slayer, and some other reaction attack abilities, to allow interruption, so that they are better than this general ability. That is, Mage Slayer would allow you to interrupt a teleport spell as a reaction, potentially causing them to lose the spell. This would give martials who invest in this tactic the ability to shut down casters.
3c. Precise mark, you cannot have disadvantage on attacks against the target while they are marked by you.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
One thing we've done in my game is changing "Fighting Style" to "Stance" where you just choose which Fighting Style you have and can change it as a Bonus Action. It feels like the change would make Martials super-strong but really it just gives the vibe of, "Oh, this person is just better at weapons than normal people!" It legit makes Fighter, Ranger, and Paladin feel like they have a 'unifying factor' better than just being able to handle a sword.

In-depth stances would need some higher-level ones to compete with spellcasting at higher levels but it does really just make all the Fighting Style classes feel like they know what they're doing.
Okay and also this. For sure.

Along with editing two weapon fighting to be:

No investment: works as per RAW

Fighting Style: Doesn't use your bonus action

With Feat: Add the RAW benefit of the TWF fighting style to the feat.
 

Raith5

Adventurer
What would the stances do, @Raith5?

I have not teased it out myself in play or theory - and I am sure I have seen this idea expressed by others. But I think a stance is is where you have one fighting style in operation which has some advantages (and possible disadvantages) - so the tactical choice is what style is appropriate to the threat/opponents and context. The more strategic choice is what sort stances are appropriate to the character (class and equipment).

So a stance could offer an offensive approach or another offers defensive benefits is an option - maybe a Paladin could gain benefit against undead because of their faith or a Ranger because knowledge of a favored enemy.

The idea of using a bonus option to set up a stance as described by Tinker-TDC makes sense
 

Stances were a really good idea from 4E, that would be good to bring back.

They were simple enough Essentials, so it's not as if they were especially complicated.

Here's some ideas:
Guardian Stance: When you hit en enemy while in this stance you may may use your reaction to make a melee attack if they move or if they make an opportunity attack against someone other than you before the start of your next turn. At higher levels, while in this stance, your opportunity attaks are made with the following additional damage:
5th:+1d8
11th: +2d8
17th: +3d8
Cleaving Stance: While in this stance and making a melee attack with a non-finesse weapon, if you score a critical hit or reduce an enemy to 0 hit points you may use your bonus action to make a melee attack against the same or different enemy.
Pushing Stance: While in this stance and using a shield you may take the shove action as a bonus action provided you first hit with a melee attack on your turn.
Commanders stance: When you reduce an enemy to 0 hit points while in this stance you may spend your Second Wind as a Free Action. One ally within 10 feet may then choose to either regain an equal number of hit points or make a melee attack as a reaction. In addition, if you use your action surge while in this stance one ally make a melee attack as a reaction in addition to the normal effect of your action surge.
Reaping Stance: While you are in this stance and do not have disadvantage, an enemy you miss with a melee attack takes damage equal to your Strength modifier.
Hungry wolf stance: While you are in this stance, your allies have advantage against any enemy you hit with a melee attack until the start of your next turn.
Mobile Stance: When you hit with a melee attack while in this stance you may disengage as a free action.
 
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