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13th Age Warlord + Escalation Die from 13th Age

THEMNGMNT

Adventurer
First post! Count me among those who would like to see a 5E version of the warlord. So here goes. This warlord has a limited number of features, but those features create a large number of choices each round. I think it’s ideal for the player with an interest in tactical combat while remaining true to the streamlined spirit of 5E. Central to this version of the warlord is an idea stolen from 13th Age: the escalation die. I think it’s a mechanic that perfectly fits the warlord’s flavor. Let’s see if you agree!


CLASS FEATURES
As a warlord, you gain the following class features.

Hit Points Hit Dice: 1d10 per warlord level
Hit Points at 1st Level: 10 + your Constitution modifier
Hit Points at Higher Levels: 1d10 (or 6) + your Constitution modifier per warlord level after 1st
Proficiencies
Armor: Light armor, Medium armor, shields
Weapons: Simple weapons, martial weapons
Saving Throws: Constitution, Intelligence
Skills: Choose two from Acrobatics, Athletics, Diplomacy, Intimidation, Medicine, Perception, Persuasion.

EQUIPMENT
You start with the following equipment, in addition to the equipment granted by your background.
• (a) scale mail or (b) leather armor, longbow, and 20 arrows
• (a) a martial weapon and a shield or (b) two martial weapons
• (a) a light crossbow and 20 bolts or (b) two handaxes
• (a) a dungeoneer’s pack or (b) an explorer’s pack


ESCALATION
Beginning at 1st level, you gain an escalation bonus starting on the first round of combat. The bonus starts at +1 and increases by an additional +1 each round of combat. The escalation bonus may never be higher than your proficiency bonus. As a bonus action, you grant the escalation bonus to one ally who can see or hear you. The ally may add the bonus to one roll on their next turn, including attack rolls, damage rolls, saving throws, and skill checks.

FIGHTING STYLE
At 2nd level, choose from one of the following fighting styles: Archery, Defense, Dueling, Great Weapon Fighting, Protection, Two Weapon Fighting.

ABILITY SCORE IMPROVEMENT
Gained at 4th, 6th, 8th, 12th, 14th, 16th, and 19th level.

TURN THE TIDE
At 10th level, you may grant the escalation bonus to all allies who can see or hear you. Allies who choose to use the escalation bonus must all use it on a type of roll determined by you: an attack roll, damage roll, saving throw, or skill check. This ability refreshes on a long rest.

At 15th level, this ability refreshes after a short or long rest.

At 20th level, all allies who can see or hear you gain the escalation bonus on all rolls they make during their turn. This ability refreshes after a short or long rest.

STRATEGY OF THE WARLORD
At 3rd level, choose from either the Bravura, Inspiring, or Tactical strategies.


BRAVURA
Bravura warlords prefer to lead from the front, aiding allies while remaining in the thick of combat.

BRAVURA ESCALATION
Beginning at 3rd level, you may add your Strength or Dexterity modifier (your choice) to the escalation bonus. You may do this a number of times equal to that same ability modifier. This ability refreshes after a short or long rest.

BRAVURA OFFENSE
Beginning at 3rd level, rather than granting the escalation bonus to your allies, you can instead choose to add the bonus to your own attack rolls, damage rolls, saving throws, or skill checks.

BRAVURA ARMOR
At 3rd level, you gain proficiency in heavy armor.

BRAVURA SKILLS
At 3rd level, you gain proficiency in one of the following skills, if you are not already proficient: Acrobatics, Athletics, Intimidation.

BRAVURA ATTACK
Beginning at 5th level, when you Attack on your turn, you may immediately use Help as a free action to aid one ally who can see or hear you. Alternately, you can attack twice, instead of once, whenever you take the Attack action on your turn.

ADDITIONAL FIGHTING STYLE
At 11th level, you can choose a second fighting style.


INSPIRING
Inspiring warlords are masters of bolstering and rallying allies to increase their survivability.

INSPIRING ESCALATION
Beginning at 3rd level, you may add your Charisma modifier to the escalation bonus. You may do this a number of times equal to your Charisma modifier. This ability refreshes after a short or long rest.

INSPIRING RALLY
Beginning at 3rd level, you may use your reaction to rally your allies. All allies who can see or hear you may immediately spend one hit die, adding the escalation bonus + your Charisma modifier to the hit points they recover. You may use this a number of times equal to your Charisma modifier. This ability refreshes after a long rest. Beginning at 11th level, this ability refreshes after a short or long rest.

INSPIRING SKILLS
At 3rd level, you gain proficiency in one of the following skills, if you are not already proficient: Diplomacy, Intimidation, Medicine, Persuasion.

INSPIRING ATTACK
Beginning at 5th level, when you Attack, one ally of your choice may gain temporary hit points equal to the escalation bonus + your Charisma modifier. Alternately, they may use a reaction to reroll a saving throw, adding the escalation bonus + your Charisma modifier to the roll.


TACTICAL
Tactical warlords are masters of the battlefield, using their acumen to help allies and hinder enemies.

TACTICAL ESCALATION
Beginning at 3rd level, you may add your Intelligence modifier to the escalation bonus. You may do this a number of times equal to your Intelligence modifier. This ability refreshes after a short or long rest.

TACTICAL DEFENSE
Beginning at 3rd level, as a reaction, you can choose to reduce one attack roll, damage roll, saving throw, or skill check of one enemy who can see or hear you by an amount equal to the escalation bonus + your Intelligence modifier. You may use this a number of times equal to your Intelligence modifier. This ability refreshes after a long rest. Beginning at 11th level, this ability refreshes after a short or long rest.

TACTICAL SKILLS
At 3rd level, you gain proficiency in two of the following skills, if you are not already proficient: Arcana, History, Insight, Perception, Religion.

TACTICAL ATTACK
Beginning at 5th level, when you Attack, one ally may immediately use their reaction to make one weapon attack, one cantrip attack, or take the Dash, Disengage, or Use Object action.
 
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Alright, commenting as I go--88 views (including my first view) and no replies is just a shame, and I'd rather not see this disappear in silence. Welcome to the forum, by the way!

My first thought: d10 HP? Seems a bit much. Personally, I'd recommend going d8, and making one of the perks of a particular subclass (or subclasses) be +1 HP per level (as the Dragon Sorcerer ability)--call it "Calisthenics" or something! :p The result is effectively the same mathematically, and identical for characters that take the static value. (Technically, there's a miniscule chance of getting enough 9 or 10 rolls to give a particular character more HP, but it's so unlikely in the long-run as to not matter.) Moving on...

Armor proficiencies make sense. Wish 5e had retained the light/heavy shield distinction, it'd help differentiate Warlords from Fighters. Not sure I like the "all martial weapons" thing. That, too, seems like a good place for helping the different Warlord subclasses feel distinct. Perhaps I'm overly enthused with the idea of making subclasses mean a lot for Warlords. *shrug* Saving throws, class skills, and equipment all seem fine, given the proficiencies chosen, so I don't really have any comments there.

Fighting style of course makes sense. The only change I'd make is dropping Defense and Greatweapon (and maybe Protection--I just don't see Warlords as Defenders, though others have assured me they make decent off-Defenders in 4e), and instead giving a simple Warlord-esque one. Not sure what form it would take, though, so think of this more as a speculative "what you could do" rather than a critical "what you should do" idea.

*Not* happy with the feats-as-a-Fighter. Not because I'm against handing out feats. I think feats are halfway decent in 5e, and am...not pleased with having to choose between +2 to a stat and a cool-flavorful feat (like Keen Mind, Actor, or even Linguist). I'm simply against it because so many people hawk "you get two extra feats!" as an ENORMOUSLY important Fighter feature. If we're trying to convince people that the Warlord is its own class, not merely a reskinned Fighter, we can't afford to ape something that is seen as so fundamentally Fighter-y (no matter how much I dislike how 5e handles it).

The Escalation Die is...interesting. I'm of two minds on it--specifically the Prof score cap. On the one hand, it's limited in a nice, scaling way, so you don't get crazy-ridiculous benefits early on, nor totally weaksauce benefits later. On the other hand, that feels like something of a minor bonus compared to stuff like the Diviner's Portent or (especially) the Bard's Inspiration dice. Though since this is the ultra-generic, I suppose I should hold off criticism until I see the subclass additions.

I...don't know how to feel about the basic class giving no features whatsoever between level 3 and level 10(!), and only gives three features (10, 15, and 20 capstone) beyond that. Should I assume this is to compensate for the extra feats at 6 and 14? If so, well, you already know how I feel about that. I'd prefer giving specific, preferably non-combat-related features at 6 and 12, personally. Though, being fair to you, this is not much different from what the Fighter gets, just skewed to high levels for when the features kick in, instead of low ones with boosts later on.

On the bright side, your 20 capstone is actually goddamn useful. I cannot tell you how much it bothers/annoys/"offends" me that the capstones of most 5e classes are ALMOST COMPLETELY WORTHLESS most of the time. Bards, for instance, get almost nothing out of 19th or 20th level--they'd be far better served starting as Clerics or Fighters and then MCing to Bard (or MCing to Sorcerer/Warlock for a couple levels for blasty goodness).

Bravura:
Well, okay, jeez, concerns ALLAYED about the seemingly small size of the bonus. Now I'm concerned that it's too much. I had had a lot more analysis, but now I'm realizing--this bonus is meant to "replace" the spells a Bard (or perhaps Cleric) would get. It seems a little overpowered as it stands, though, since now Dex gives (essentially) a souped-up Bardic Inspiration, and how big the bonus is, on top of all the other awesome things that Dex does. It seems like a better plan to make the bonus size be defined by one stat (perhaps Str-or-Dex), while the frequency is defined by another stat (such as Charisma).

REALLY not sure how I feel about Bravura Offense. Seems to be far too convenient a bonus-damage source. Otherwise, the rest of the features seem alright--except that "Bravura Attack" should have the Extra Attack part split out as its own feature (the standard for all classes that get it), with "Bravura Attack" being an additional benefit on top. Otherwise, you risk making Warlord 5 a potentially game-breaking multiclass, since the non-stacking rule technically only applies to "Extra Attack" specifically.

Also...why does the Bravura style get another feature at 11, when no other style does? That seems...wrong. Unless I'm missing something?

Inspiring:
Seems alright, though that's a pretty fat chunk of bonus HP handed out. Potentially as much as 11+(hit die result). That said, it's not much different from Song of Rest, but harder to use, so perhaps it's actually balanced. Also, kinda sucks that healing is EXCLUSIVELY for Inspiring. Makes the other Warlords not very useful if the party doesn't have a healer. That could just be my distrust of "PURE mitigation instead of any healing whatsoever" talking....but yeah, a Bravura or Tactical Warlord is gonna be a hard sell if nobody else feels like playing a "healer." Also kinda sucks that healing (and save-granting) is...well, literally IT for the Inspiring Warlord.

Tactical:

Actually...pretty good. Tactical Attack is nice. Of course, it suffers from the same issue that all reaction-based features suffer from (bye-bye opportunity attacks), but otherwise it's good. One possible option: an ally can use a free action to do those things, if they have not yet used their reaction this round. That way, it doesn't negate the ability to do other things, but has SOME restriction associated with its use. Also, would've been nice to see SOME kind of initiative-related benefit. Even something as simple as "once per long rest, you can expend a use of your Tactical Defense to grant all allies that can see or hear you a bonus to their Initiative equal to half your Proficiency modifier, rounded down." That's just sort of spitballed, so I have no idea how good it is, but it's a small olive branch to the 4e Tactical Warlord.

In summary: Make it less Fighter-y, even if that means granting some more benefits. Consider coming up with Cool Things Warlords could get, especially non-combat related. Kinda sucks how heavily siloed healing and save-granting is, and how little Inspiring can do otherwise. You advertise having 'few options but many choices,' but it really sounds like Inspiring doesn't have many choices, unless I'm missing something. I do like the fundamental idea of the escalation die as a class mechanic--it's simple, it has something of a rational basis (a plan comes together with time), it's meaningful but capped, etc. I'm not completely sold on some of the execution though.
 

GreenTengu

Adventurer
I think you need to run the numbers. They are all worthlessly weak compared to any other class unless your combat lasts a long time, longer than it is really meant to last-- at least at any level except maybe 3-5.

And of these three pretty bad options, the Bravura is massively better than the other two simply because you get to use Strength or Dexterity which is a stat that is actually going to help you with the actions you are performing every round while the other two require you to invest in a stat that you are not going to otherwise be using... and the special ability you get for it is not remotely better enough than the Bravura to make up for splitting your attribute points into an otherwise worthless stat.

And, not only that, but the Bravura exclusively gets another ability at level 11 even though it was already the best one by a long shot. Sure, the other two get to use their special abilities 3x as often, but the Bravura one was already a bonus you could use constantly.

But, again, they are all pitifully underpowered. But, more than that, I wouldn't want to see the concept of Escalation die become a class thing. It feels like you have greatly misunderstood the purpose of the tool-- the tool was to make combats more dramatic by having the heroes come from behind in every combat encounter. The idea of escalation could be dropped into D&D 5E pretty easily-- you just need to start at a -1 or -2.

It is a nice try, but you really need to run the numbers a bit better and really consider more how attributes either synchronize or don't synchronize with what else you are going to be having the character do.
 
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The escalation die is a cool mechanic, but like greater tactical emphasis, faces an uphill battle(npi) when trying to adapt it to 5e, because of 5e's fast-combat mandate. An escalation die mechanic just won't have a chance to matter, because the combat will be over so quickly.

The obvious place to start is to have fewer but larger & more challenging combats per day. The problem with that is that such combats are exactly where spells get trotted out, not only claiming the nebulous 'spotlight,' but likely shortening the combat rather than lengthening it.

You might be able to overcome 5e's predilection for short combats, but it would be a lot of effort to make one mechanic work. If you were doing it anyway, a number of classes might have features that could key off or manipulate the escalation die.

That's a thought: you could add the escalation die mechanic, port it prettymuch straight from 13A. It won't have much impact because 5e combats are already short, but it might occasionally help out a low-level party that'd otherwise wipe. Then you can give specific classes or sub-classes ways of boosting the escalation die. Seems appropriate for both inspiration and tactics.
 
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mellored

Explorer
The escalation die is a cool mechanic, but like greater tactical emphasis, faces an uphill battle(npi) when trying to adapt it to 5e, because of 5e's fast-combat mandate. An escalation die mechanic just won't have a chance to matter, because the combat will be over before so quickly.
Agreed.

Also "round of combat" is pretty ambiguous.

That said, if you could start the escalation pre-battle by sneaking up and study the opponents... then you'd have something.
 

MoutonRustique

Explorer
Instead of a pure "escalation die" you could have an "available option coin" - every round, you turn the coin over. (flip at start?)

If it's heads you can do X and Y, if it's tails, you can do Y and Z (for instance).

Also, in D&D, usually, the first rounds are the most important. Because of this, the "buildup" mechanic is a cool idea that never really works - having your big "Sha-Bang" happen on round 4 means that you're probably dealing 40 dmg to a creature with 20 hp left...

If you're dead-set on using an incremental path, it needs to climb pretty fast : something along the lines of +0/+2/+4/+6/+2/+4/+6/etc... at least!
 

Also, in D&D, usually, the first rounds are the most important.
Nod, which is another way games tend to deviate from the genres that inspire them. In genre, the monster or other bad guys display a lot of power early in the battle, and the heroes have to rally or come from behind or whatever. Sometimes it's really blatant, the BBEG kicks the hero around like a tin can, but then the hero has a moment with a sidekick or cut scene recalling what he's fighting for, and all of a sudden the villains the tin can for no discernible reason. ;P

In games, players managing limited resources soon realize that it's better to blow a big one up-front and make a short fight of it. You take less damage and don't have spend even more resources healing, just for one obvious reason. In D&D, specifically, powerful daily resources and the fact that hp loss imposes no penalties mitigate against late-blooming tactics or tropes like 'feeling out the enemy.'


Anyway, 13A goes out of it's way to model such genre bits. The escalation die is one way it does that, and also, incidentally, helps with 'faster combat,' but with less risk of rocket-tag, by ratcheting up the effectiveness of the PCs when a combat might otherwise turn into a slog.
 

THEMNGMNT

Adventurer
I appreciate the great feedback from everyone. XP awarded!

EzekialRaiden, thanks for the in-depth response. I will try to put some more thought into how to differentiate the subclasses.

TheHobgoblin, I'm not sure I agree with your analysis. My warlord is meant to be a frontline combatant. The tactical subclass grants actions to allies, the inspiring subclass heals allies, and the bravura subclass self-buffs. That gives the bravura warlord better offensive output, but at the cost of a less effective party. So I don't think it's overpowered so much as built for a different type of playstyle. But, I absolutely agree that the math needs some work.

Tony Vargas, I don't always agree with your posts, but many times I do. So your input is valuable. Perhaps the escalation die isn't a great fit for 5E. But I'm not ready to give up yet.

Mellored, I know you've spent a lot of time thinking about the warlord and I always find your analysis of mechanics to be spot on.

MoutonRustique, I'm not certain how to escalate quickly without breaking bounded accuracy. Like others have noted, the math needs some analysis.

Thank you!
 
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Tony Vargas, I don't always agree with your posts, but many times I do. So your input is valuable. Perhaps the escalation die isn't a great fit for 5E. But I'm not ready to give up yet.
A big selling point of 5e is how much the DM can change it up, even without explicitly re-writing a bunch of rules (just by contriving situations and making rulings). Swimming against the 'fast combat' current may be a particularly hard thing to do that way, but it's not going to be impossible, and I didn't mean not to bother...

If you do resort to significant house rules to produce longer/more 'interesting' combats, and get the escalation die to mean more, you might as well take it a bit farther and add some more tactical interest to other classes, as well, perhaps by leveraging that mechanic. For instance, you could modify some short-rest-recharge resources to recharge once/encounter if you can roll under the escalation die, or let a start-of-combat ability re-set when the escalation die hits a certain value, like 5 or 6. That sort of thing.
 
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mellored

Explorer
A bit more feed back...

I do like the escalation mechanic for the warlord from a fluff perspective.
The longer you fight, the more you get to know your opponent, and the more advatage you have.

IMO:

Make getting the bonus a bonus action. This will help prevent stacking with other classes features.
Also maxing it at Int modifier rather then proficency. This both adds flavor, and pulls stats away from Str or the like.

1: Battle Study: You can spend a bonus action to study a creature who is in combat and gain insight into their weaknesses and then share it with your allies. You and each of your allies who can see and hear you gain +1 to hit attack rolls against the creature. This can stack up to your Int modifier. This bonus last until you take a long rest.

Later add some additional ways to increase the bonus, letting it go up faster.

3:
Guerrilla: You can use battle study (max 1) against a creature who you are hidden. In addition, your allies do not need to hear you to get the bonus.
Bravado: When you are attacked by a creature, you can use your reaction to use battle study on them.
Banner: You can use an action in addition to your bonus action to study.

5: Fast study: The first time you use battle study on a creature increase the bonus to 2.

And then expand the benefits of battle study.

11: In addition to the other effects, you and your allies gain +1 to saving throws for against the target for each battle study.


Those are just examples.
 
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