Utility Talents for Fighters: Rules Module

Utility Talents for Fighters

This is a rules module for the 5e Fighter class that is meant to provide out of combat utility for Fighters. It can be used in several ways:
  • Veteran (Sub-Class): The Veteran is a Martial Archetype, granting a choice of a talent at levels 3, 7, 10, 15, and 18. This option allows a player to choose to diminish their Fighter's combat efficacy in exchange for out of combat utility.
  • Additional Features: Alternately, you could give every fighter some talents for free. A good guideline would be giving a heroic talent at each level they'd gain a martial archetype feature (see above). This option increases the out of combat utility of all PC Fighters.
  • Talents as Feats: Alternately, you might allow a Fighter to choose a talent instead of gaining an ability score improvement (or feat) at levels 4, 6, 8, 12, 14, 16, and 19.

Here is the first draft of talents so far...

[sblock=List of Talents]
  1. Arms Lore
  2. Assured Athlete
  3. Burden Bearer
  4. Campaigner
  5. Daring Adventurer
  6. Evaluate Combatant
  7. Expedition Leader
  8. Followers
  9. Inexhaustible
  10. Military Contacts
  11. Stand Your Ground
  12. Steely Reputation
  13. Weapons of Labor
[/sblock]

Arms Lore
You know the proper names of armor components, know the difference between a guisarme and a halbred, and can recite legends about many famous pieces of arms and armor. When encountering a weapon or suit of armor for the first time, you may ask one of the following questions, which the DM must answer to the best of his or her ability:
  • What is this weapon or armor's name, who crafted it, and who was its most recent wielder?
  • What magical properties does this weapon or armor have, and how are they activated or attuned to?
  • Would this weapon be particularly effective against (insert a creature type here)? Alternately, would this armor be particularly effective against (insert damage or attack type here)?

Assured Athlete
Years of climbing steep slopes, riding across rugged lands, and leaping from rocky ledges have left you able to do such things in your sleep. Gain proficiency in Athletics, and if you are already proficient double your proficiency bonus. In addition, you can use a passive score for Strength (Athletics) checks even when under pressure; if your score equals or exceeds the Difficulty, you automatically succeed.

Burden Bearer
Few understand the burden you carry, weighing upon your warrior's spirit every day. You are as accustomed to carrying a heavy pack full of gear, as you are accustomed to shouldering the suffering of your companions. Increase your carrying capacity, maximum lift weight, and encumbrance threshold as if your Strength were 4 points higher. Also, when adjacent to an ally you may take a bonus action to take on a condition they suffer if it makes sense in the narrative for you to do so (e.g. sucking poison from a wound, or empathizing with them to take their emotional distress as your own). The condition moves from them to you.

Campaigner
When you first encounter a military encampment, fortification, or military unit, you may ask one of these questions, which the DM must answer to the best of his or her ability:
  • What is the name of the unit, what is its banner, and who is its commander?
  • About how many soldiers are there, and what is their overall strength, morale, and fighting readiness?
  • Are there any holes in their defense or weak points in their logistics I might exploit?

Daring Adventurer
You are always the first to leap headlong into danger, and somehow you have a knack for surviving the worst. Gain the following benefits:
  • Treat your Strength score as 4 points higher for purposes of determining how far or how high you can jump.
  • When you are not surprised by a fall (e.g. pushed or jumping off a cliff you can see, rather than falling down a pit trap), reduce the falling damage you take by 3d6 damage.
  • Add your proficiency bonus to saving throws against fear (usually Wisdom).

Evaluate Combatant
Your experienced eye can pick out details about a combatant that others might overlook. Once per round as a bonus action, you can evaluate a creature's combat ability as a free action provided you've had the opportunity to watch them for a bit or seen them in a fight. You may ask one of the following questions:
  • What is their Challenge rating?
  • What is their AC?
  • What saving throws are they proficient in?
  • Do I recognize their fighting style from a certain geography or mentor?
  • Are they proficient with the weapon or armor they wield?

Expedition Leader
You are skilled at organizing large expeditions, and have an instinct to look out for your companions' well being. While exploring or traveling, you may choose to aid one ally, shouldering burdens for them and catching them when they stumble; that ally gains advantage on their Constitution checks against exhaustion while you aid them. In addition, when you are leading the party during overland travel, increase the party's travel time to 10 hours (instead of 8) before needing to make exhaustion checks. You must be leading them and have made preparations to have this benefit, ensuring everything is packed and strapped right, all pack animals are properly cared for, everyone remembers to drink water, telling a well-timed joke when morale is flagging, and so forth.

Followers
You've attracted a small group of loyal followers, equal in number to your proficiency bonus plus your Charisma modifier (e.g. a 7th level fighter with 12 Charisma would attract 4 followers). These followers must each have a Challenge value no greater than 1/2; good choices include Acolyte, Guard, Noble, Scout, Thug, or Wolf. Though they may fight alongside you, replacing them if they die should not be an easy task, perhaps requiring 200 days of downtime attracting new followers or performing a quest. Think about where these NPCs have come from and what has drawn them to serve you.

Inexhaustible
You've been pushed to the brink of human limits before and you will not falter. Add your proficiency bonus to all Constitution checks. Additionally, whenever you suffer a level of exhaustion, you only suffer hindrances of the next level up (e.g. no hindrances at Level One, disadvantage on ability checks at Level Two, and so on). Your exhaustion track goes to Level Seven, which means death for you (instead of Level Six).

Military Contacts
Whether or not you still serve in the military, at one time you did and you still possess contacts with a military organization. Think on the nature of the organization. Once per long rest when you can get in touch with your contacts you can request one of the following:
  • Gain an audience with a military leader.
  • Requisition military equipment not normally available to adventurers, though there will likely be a cost and conditions to its use. Examples of such equipment might include Greek Fire, a trebuchet, a battering ram, military caltrops, or other gear depending on the campaign setting.
  • Request a map of a territory patrolled by the military organization and safer passage thru that territory.

Stand Your Ground
You are as stubborn as they come, both on the battlefield and off. As a move, you can assume a stance that lasts until you willingly move. While in this stance, attacks to trip you, knock you prone, or force you to move are disadvantaged, and reduce all forced movement against you by 5 feet. Additionally, gain proficiency in Diplomacy, or if you already have proficiency, double your proficiency bonus to Diplomacy; your style of diplomacy is to pick a position and to defend it come hell or high water.

Steely Reputation
Folks know not to mess with you, owing to a well-deserved reputation. Are you known as a steely killer or implacable foe? Think of what your reputation is and how you earned it. Gain proficiency in Intimidate, or if you already have proficiency, double your proficiency bonus to Intimidate. In addition, once per long rest in a settlement, you may call upon one of these boons:
  • Gain free room and board, as well as free stabling of a pack animal.
  • Convince common thugs or bandits to back down from a fight.
  • Convince local authorities to look the other way or grant you leniency regarding a minor infraction, like forgetting to peacebond your weapon, breaking curfew, or cracking some skulls at the tavern.

Weapons of Labor
You've spent many hours felling trees for military use, repairing damaged arms and armor between battles, and performing other physical labors. When you wield a weapon for a non-combat application, you have advantage on the corresponding check and deal double damage to any objects. This includes using an axe to chop a wooden gate, pick to break stone, hammer to forge armor, sickle or scythe to thresh grain, etc. In addition, you may apply your proficiency bonus to any check pertaining to the lore or performing of a laborious task like carpentry, farming, masonry, mining, etc.
 
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I just want to say, I love this, and thank you for making the effort! I would definitely consider using these for Fighters (and perhaps others as Feats) in my campaign, probably give out one for free at 1, 3 and 7, and let them be taken as Feats as well (if people wanted more).

(PS - Ever played Dungeon World? The structure of some of these really reminds me of it.)
 

I'm A Banana

Potassium-Rich
I like these, but I kind of wish I didn't have to give up being a Champion or a Battle Master (or a feat) to get it.

"Either I can deal more damage to monsters, OR, I can tell you who made a that bohemian ear-spoon." Not exactly the greatest trade-off.
 
I just want to say, I love this, and thank you for making the effort! I would definitely consider using these for Fighters (and perhaps others as Feats) in my campaign, probably give out one for free at 1, 3 and 7, and let them be taken as Feats as well (if people wanted more).

(PS - Ever played Dungeon World? The structure of some of these really reminds me of it.)
Thanks! Yeah the structured questions in Dungeon World definitely were inspiration.

I like these, but I kind of wish I didn't have to give up being a Champion or a Battle Master (or a feat) to get it.

"Either I can deal more damage to monsters, OR, I can tell you who made a that bohemian ear-spoon." Not exactly the greatest trade-off.
You did see I listed 3 possible ways to use these utility talents, right? I left it up to the DM as it should be. If you want to add this directly to the Fighter without sacrificing combat efficacy no problem, choose option #2 or #3.

Anyone have feedback on the individual talents?
 

I'm A Banana

Potassium-Rich
You did see I listed 3 possible ways to use these utility talents, right? I left it up to the DM as it should be. If you want to add this directly to the Fighter without sacrificing combat efficacy no problem, choose option #2 or #3.
Option 3 is still a pretty significant opportunity cost, and #2 doesn't feel like a system to me as much as just "*shrug* lets just make the Fighter better."

I think the thing is that many of these don't feel like class features as much as they feel like "+1 Backgrounds" or "Skill Upgrades" or maybe slightly weak feats. Class features even for a Cha monkey like the bard have little to do with world lore or character allies. They're mechanical grist for adventuring-day mechanics. Some of these might fit, but others...aren't necessarily things that come up in adventuring on the regular. I think I'd prefer to either see these downgraded to skill uses or background features, or upgraded to be full-on feats and worth it (in that they'll also do something significant and narrow to help you murderize dragons).

Anyone have feedback on the individual talents?
I'll give it a pass whynot!

  • Arms Lore is flavorful, but not of great use (a short rest reveals all magic item properties anyway, and the first question is not something that a lot of DMs work out in detail for every weapon or armor that comes into play). C+
  • Assured Athlete is cool, but it sounds like it stacks with expertise?! Oof. B
  • Burden Bearer asks me to make too many DM judgement calls and as an at-will ability it feels pretty open to spamming. It'd work at the right table though. C-
  • Campaigner hits some of the same problems as Arms Lore in that these are a lot of details I might not've thought about as a DM. In practical terms, it's just asking me to stop telling the story and figure out how to answer the Q's. C-
  • Daring Adventurer is a little fiddly (+4 strength for jumping), but the meat of it is proficiency on saves vs. fear, which is cool. B
  • Evaluate Combatant can be useful, but it combos it with some of the problems of above abilities in that I will just stumble in play to answer some of those questions. C+
  • Expedition Leader is flavorful, but a little weaksauce. B-
  • Followers is nice, but could be more sensible. What, I need to pay for these half-dozen mooks to booze it up at the tavern if I want to use them as largely ineffective cannon-fodder? C+
  • Inexhaustible isn't bad, but proficiency on Con checks just makes me want to take a level of fighter if I'm a melee wizard. B
  • Military Contacts mostly dodges the issues of some of the above of being flow-stopping DM-stumpers, but it's awfully situational. C.
  • Stand Your Ground is reasonable for a low-grade ability aside from the stacking with expertise. B-
  • Steely Reputation oh hai Pirate background. And a Pirate with this ability? Ummm...? B
  • Weapons of Labor is adorable, but not really THAT useful unless your doughty dragon-slaying knight spends a lot of time also being a lumberjack (and that's OK, if you sleep all night and you work all day). C-
 

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