D&D 5E [+]What does your "complex fighter" look like?

James Gasik

Legend
On the other hand, you can play a Fighter who has all the brain power of a slice of Swiss cheese, takes a subclass with no real decision points, and has no tactical acumen beyond "swing big sword at bad guy"...
 

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Undrave

Hero
That doesn't give the number of options, though. You're gimping fighters by doing that. But if you reaaaaaaly want to do it that way. Wizards get spellcasting as their feature, so the number of spells per level aren't part of that. So all of their spells from levels 1-20 = 1 feature. You would have to count that as only 1 feature at level 20, not 27(number of spell slots). See what I mean? ;)

I don't see how anyone can in all honesty say that spellcasting is just one feature.

I agree.

While I won't count every single spell or spell slot, I do think counting access to each spell level and ritual casting works as 10 features (cantrips would make it 11, which I didn't count before).

IMO it is like counting Extra Attack (2) and Extra Attack (3) as separate from Extra Attack.
Yeah I would count each level and ritual casting as 1 feature each, and Extra Attack is just 1 feature.
 

Celebrim

Legend
I wonder if the issue is 5E isn't tactical enough for the intellectual take on combat to work really?

Certainly a big part of making the fighter work is having sufficient crunch available to everyone, fighter or not, in the combat system. It's not usually enough to just rework the class itself. Spells are part of the class description of spell-casters so if you want to rework spell-casters a big part of that is dealing with spells. If you want to rework the fighter, the combat system is part of the class description of the fighter so there has to be a basic maneuver system in place to begin with that the fighter can expand on as the one that is good at it.

This means having things like grapple, trip, clench, shove, tackle, throw, disarm, shield bash, shield wall, fighting in ranks, distract, feint, etc. built into the system at a decent level of complexity so that you can say things like "The fighter adds some bonus on all combat maneuvers or to resist all combat maneuvers" starting right at 1st level or at least that you can have feats available to do that sort of thing if you don't do it as a core class power (because not every fighting style, say an archer, benefits from it so configurability is key). The fewer levers you have to pull on in the system, the harder it is to write combat feats/maneuvers that do interesting things without creating unwanted silos that break the kindergartener rule that basic fictional positioning shouldn't require a class power or other chargen resource.
 

That could be the main function of the superiority die, then. The fighter has them, and when they perform a maneuver as a skilled practitioner they add a d6 to their check. Or whatever value it is at. That's already done for a few of them, obviously, but this could be a useful generalization.

Battlemasters know three maneuvers at 3rd level, and then two more at 7th, 10th, and 15th level. Since we're talking about have the Battle master be the base class, then we should have these three maneuvers at 1st level. Presumably, we are keeping the six other maneuvers to be learned through the fighter's progression through the levels.

Should there be more maneuvers learned, though feats or in the base class? If there are extra maneuvers, should be take into account the subclass, or simply layer it on?
 
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Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Yeah I would count each level and ritual casting as 1 feature each, and Extra Attack is just 1 feature.

Mod Note:
The thread is not about wizard features. Folks were removed from the thread last night because they couldn't stop talking about wizard features.

Please don't continue. Thanks.
 

Celebrim

Legend
Should there be more maneuvers learned, though feats or in the base class? If there are extra maneuvers, should be take into account the subclass, or simply layer it on?

My preference is to have a big pool of maneuvers and to have a fighter know all of them with maneuvers the fighter doesn't know just cost an extra dice to perform. Most maneuvers should represent rather generic combat abilities, which for the battlemaster they already do so that's good. So in my system it would be much less a matter of 'maneuvers known' than maneuvers you are proficient in.

I'm not a huge fan of subclasses. To me if your class needs subclasses, it suggests your feat system isn't very robust and your classes aren't very flexible. To me writing a subclass is almost a cop-out, suggesting the designer wanted to deliberately limit player options in order to reduce the amount of thought and play testing needed to write out good rules.

Feats should either improve how good you are at a maneuver, or interact with the maneuver system or the combat system. For example, "Whenever you score a critical hit on a foe, you gain a bonus superiority die which you may use in the same combat." is the sort of thing that to me is a Feat and not a maneuver.

I've had a lot of success with Feats that represent some sort of martial tradition such as "Skirmisher", "Heavy Infantry", "Gladiator", "Duelist", "Hoplite", "Assault Trooper", "Legionnaire" or whatever. Among the things I like about them is that they are not only descriptive of the fighter's experience and have mythic resonance through referencing some real world fighting style, but they make imagining low level armies pretty straightforward. Typically they give relatively small circumstantial bonuses in two or three areas.
 

Undrave

Hero
(Guess I missed some stuff last night, sorry!)


Ya know, I’m not a big fan of superiority dice… I just feel like they focus too much attention on sheer damage instead of the interesting effects found in the maneuvers. Damage’s not exactly a department the Fighter is missing out on, but it’s valued so much that they only get a handful of dice. I’d rather get the maneuvers at-will without the extra damage.

It’d be a lot more fun if superiority dice were just completely divorced from maneuvers and just be a different thing where the Fighter can throw some extra D6/D8/D10 to their damage in a similar way to a Paladin’s Smite (call it ‘extra effort’ if you want).
 

Celebrim

Legend
Ya know, I’m not a big fan of superiority dice… I just feel like they focus too much attention on sheer damage instead of the interesting effects found in the maneuvers. Damage’s not exactly a department the Fighter is missing out on, but it’s valued so much that they only get a handful of dice. I’d rather get the maneuvers at-will without the extra damage.

I agree in general, although some sort currency is often a good way to ensure the same one manuever isn't spammed out endlessly, most of that criticism is fair.

But I think the bigger problem here is with the writing of maneuvers. Feats and maneuvers are some of the hardest things to write well in D&D game design because they are terse. And terse things take more skill than things that aren't, but unfortunately people think because they are terse they take less thought rather than more.

A good example of what I consider to be a problem here is the Feint maneuver which just is straight upside without any situational qualifiers and really could be written as basically anything ("Power Attack", "Blade Mastery", "Secret Technique") because the mechanics of gaining advantage and doing extra damage are just so generic and flavorless. And that gets back to if your combat system lacks basic crunch, then their aren't many levers to pull. And really, to me the feint maneuver is so straight foward that I imagine it pretty dominates over the situational ones in terms of how often people spend dice on it. This is a maneuver that is screaming for a Wisdom save from the target just to keep it balanced with the other options rather than something more generic like spending your bonus action, especially if you are already paying currency for it. Then at least there is some flavor to it.
 

DND_Reborn

The High Aldwin
This is a maneuver that is screaming for a Wisdom save from the target just to keep it balanced with the other options rather than something more generic like spending your bonus action, especially if you are already paying currency for it. Then at least there is some flavor to it.
The problem I have with such ideas is it involves another die roll, either contested or not, which slows things down--but then some people don't like the idea of a maneuver (such as Feint) being automatic either.

It makes design more difficult: which way do you go?
 


Someone was talking about having them in a post a few months ago. They're not available from WotC anymore though.
That's unfortunate. I'm not that proficient with the Wayback Machine.

Ya know, I’m not a big fan of superiority dice… It’d be a lot more fun if superiority dice were just completely divorced from maneuvers and just be a different thing where the Fighter can throw some extra D6/D8/D10 to their damage in a similar way to a Paladin’s Smite (call it ‘extra effort’ if you want).
Having messed around with Lancer a bit (fun game!), I appreciate how they manage their Advantage / Disadvantage system. Their rolls use a d20, but it is not a d20 system. Each level of Adv/Dis grants you a +/- d6 to the roll. They cancel out as you would expect. If you gain more advantage, you would, say, roll 2d6 and apply the highest, not the total, to the d20. That could be a useful application of "tactical" dice, and be able to add to attack, damage, AC, saves, movement (1 corresponds to 5', 2 to 10', &c.).

My preference is to have a big pool of maneuvers and to have a fighter know all of them with maneuvers the fighter doesn't know just cost an extra dice to perform. Most maneuvers should represent rather generic combat abilities, which for the battlemaster they already do so that's good. So in my system it would be much less a matter of 'maneuvers known' than maneuvers you are proficient in.
Right, I can see that. Both the fighter with his glave and the wizard with his staff can trip a goblin. But, the fighter with his greater strength and higher skill (attack bonus) is more likely to succeed. Those who have trained in polearm tactics (knows the maneuver) can do so with greater skill (and can potentially apply dice, do some damage along with tripping, and so on).

I've had a lot of success with Feats that represent some sort of martial tradition such as "Skirmisher", "Heavy Infantry", "Gladiator", "Duelist", "Hoplite", "Assault Trooper", "Legionnaire" or whatever. Among the things I like about them is that they are not only descriptive of the fighter's experience and have mythic resonance through referencing some real world fighting style, but they make imagining low level armies pretty straightforward. Typically they give relatively small circumstantial bonuses in two or three areas.
I can see that. I do have subclasses do the heavy lifting for my fighting guilds (Order of the Gorgon, &c.), but I can see feats be useful for fighting styles or upgrading to uncanny physical feats.
 

DND_Reborn

The High Aldwin
Why can't people just roll their maneuver dice at the same time as the attack?

The Pearl d20 is attack, the Jade is maneuver. Done.
Honestly, I don't know why rolling multiple dice like this annoys me, but it does.

I had a player who liked to roll his attack roll and damage roll together to speed things up. It always bothered me. I know rationally it is a good practice, but for whatever irrational reason is just bugs me. 🤷‍♂️
 

Celebrim

Legend
It makes design more difficult: which way do you go?

Design is always difficult. Ignoring the issues just means you have a thoughtless design.

The worst thing combat can be is an exercise where everything takes turn throwing their dice, adding the resulting numbers, and the side that exceeds some total first wins. It involves no choices and no imagination, and it very strongly resembles the sort of combat we had when I was a 10 year old DM running Basic D&D.

If the aesthetic that you are going for is really simple and basic "fast" combat then sure, you can minimize the dice rolling and the choices and leave all of combat up to added flavor. But eventually adding that flavor gets to be a chore because what everyone is doing is redundant so saying what they are doing gets redundant as well.

"I roll to hit. Hit. I do 9 damage."

For 6-8 hours. Sure, you got through 6-8 combats but do you remember any thing that happened in any of them?
 

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