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5E Working on a Warlord Full Class

the Jester

Legend
One of my biggest disappointments in 5e is the lack of an actual warlord base class. I know that there are a ton of ways to do a warlord lite, or to splash a bit of warlord into a character, but none of them really scratch the itch for me.

What I want out of the warlord is complicated. Obviously, it's basically the 4e class, but not exactly. I want a truly martial, nonmagical option for a class whose shtick is to enhance and enable others, who does it as well as the other classes do their shtick- but that doesn't tread on other classes' toes, and that doesn't tread on verisimilitude (martial healing, I'm looking at you). I want a class that can include the lazylord archetype- the character who looks like a helpless princess or princeling but who is actually really helpful by means of their ally-enabling abilities.

So I've been working on this for a few weeks, and what I have so far is all untested and first draft (in some cases, maybe draft 1.1 after some feedback on one of my discord channels). But I'd like to draw on the wisdom of the crowd here and get some feedback. All that said, here's what I have so far.

Here's the basic "pre-class feature" stuff:

WARLORD
A warlord is an accomplished leader who directs his or her allies, issuing commands and bolstering companions with his or her own tactical acumen. Some warlords lead from the front, while others direct allies from the rear. Some even appear like helpless bystanders who only shout encouragement to friendly figures, but this is deceptive. Even the warlord who is least inclined to take part in battle directly greatly aids his or her companions.

CREATING A WARLORD
When you build your warlord, consider how you became a leader of others. Were you born into the nobility and raised to lead? Did you study in a martial academy or with an army of soldiers, either promoted through the ranks or proving yourself as a common soldier? Perhaps a great general, mercenary captain, or other authority figure took you under their wing. Maybe you are a helpless-looking princess or merchant who inspires others to exceed their normal abilities because of their apparent inability to defend themselves. The exact details are up to you, but the key thing that sets your warlord apart is the ability to goad your friends to achieve greater things than they could otherwise.

QUICK BUILD
You can make a warlord quickly by following these suggestions. First, make Intelligence or Charisma your highest ability score, depending on whether you want to be a tactical warlord or an inspiring warlord [Note: terminology will change after more development]. Your next highest scores should be the other of the two aforementioned ability scores and Strength or Dexterity, depending on whether you intend to engage in melee or ranged combat yourself (or melee with finesse weapons). Second, choose either the Noble or the Soldier background.

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 and medium armor, shields
Weapons: Simple weapons, martial weapons
Tools: None
Saving Throws: Intelligence, Wisdom

Skills: Choose two skills from Animal Handling, Athletics, History, Intimidation, Medicine, and Persuasion.

EQUIPMENT
You start with the following equipment, in addition to the equipment granted by your background:
  • (a) Scale mail or (b) studded leather armor
  • (a) A martial weapon and a shield or (b) two martial weapons
  • (a) A light crossbow and 20 bolts or (b) two javelins
  • (a) A diplomat's pack or (b) an explorer's pack
 

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the Jester

Legend
Here are the class features I've worked on so far:

LEADERSHIP DICE (lvl 1): You have a pool of leadership dice whose number and type is dependent on your warlord level. Many of your warlord abilities are based on these dice. Many of the uses of these dice don't reduce your leadership dice pool, but some do. If your leadership dice pool is reduced, all rolls of your leadership dice use the reduced dice pool. You regain expended leadership dice when you complete a short or long rest.

DIRECT ATTACK (lvl 1): When you take the Attack action on your turn, you can give up one of your attacks to grant a willing creature within 60' that can see or hear you an attack. When you do so, that creature uses its reaction to make a single weapon attack.

INSPIRING WORD (lvl 1): By using a bonus action to call out encouragement to an ally that can hear you, you can grant it temporary hit points equal to the roll of one of your leadership dice. Doing so depletes your leadership dice pool by one die.

As you grow more experienced, you inspiring words become more potent. Beginning at 9th level, you can roll two leadership dice when you use this ability, at 13th level, you can roll three, and at 18th level, you can roll four. When you do so, you still only deplete your leadership dice pool by one die.

COMMANDING PRESENCE (lvl 2): By virtue of your leadership ability, you improve your allies' abilities in combat. While you are not incapacitated, you can grant allies within 60' that can see or hear you certain benefits, depending on the nature of your commanding presence. Choose one of the following options. Once you make this choice, it can't be changed.
  • Bravura Presence: While you are in combat, when an allied creature hits an enemy with an attack, you can use your reaction to move directly toward that enemy a number of feet equal to the roll of your leadership dice. You may choose to do so without provoking opportunity attacks, but doing so depletes your leadership dice pool by one die. In addition, if an ally incapacitates or kills an enemy with an attack, you can use your reaction to allow it to immediately move a number of feet directly toward an enemy equal to the roll of your leadership dice. You may choose to allow it to do so without provoking opportunity attacks, but doing so depletes your leadership dice pool by one die.
  • Insightful Presence: When you or an ally would be surprised, you can deplete your leadership dice pool by one die to negate that creature's surprise. You can deplete your pool by multiple dice to negate surprise on multiple creatures. In addition, when you or an ally makes an Insight, Investigation, or Perception check in combat, you can use your reaction to roll your leadership dice and add the highest one as a bonus to that check.
  • Inspiring Presence: While in combat, when an allied creature moves, you can use your reaction to give that creature a bonus to speed equal to a roll of your leadership dice. In addition, when an ally makes a saving throw, you can use your reaction to give it a bonus to the save equal to the roll of one of your leadership dice, but this depletes your leadership dice pool by one die.
  • Resourceful Presence: When an ally takes its turn in combat, you can use your reaction to increase its speed by a number of feet equal to the roll of your leadership dice. In addition, if an ally scores a critical hit in combat, you can use your reaction to roll your leadership dice and add each die to either the damage dealt or to the severity of the critical (choosing before you know what the severity dice will be). Doing so depletes your leadership dice pool by one die. [Note: Critical severity is tied to a "colorful critical hit" system that I use in my game.]
  • Tactical Presence: When you and your allies roll for initiative, you roll your leadership dice. You can add each die to the initiative of yourself or one ally. You can add more than one die to a single creature's initiative, but can add each die to only one initiative. In addition, when an ally uses the Attack action to attack a creature that has not yet acted in combat or that your ally is flanking, you can use your reaction to allow it to make one extra attack against that creature with that action, but this depletes your leadership dice pool by one die.
GET UP! (lvl 2): As long as you have at least one leadership die in your pool, you can use your action to bring a creature within 5' of you that is at 0 hit points back into the fight. For the next minute or until it takes damage and has no temporary hit points, that creature remains conscious despite being at 0 hit points, and it can act normally. The creature retains any failed or successful death saves, and it continues to make death saves, but it can't fail unless it takes damage again.

LEADERSHIP STYLE (lvl 3): At 3rd level, you choose a leadership style that informs how you direct your companions (and possibly yourself) in battle. [Note: I have only barely begun to work on these; this is most of where the Int vs. Cha warlord division is going to lie.)

ABILITY SCORE INCREASE (lvl 4 etc): When you reach 4th level, and again at 8th, 12th, 16th, and 19th level, you can increase one ability score of your choice by 2, or you can increase two ability scores of your choice by 1. As normal, you can't increase an ability score above 20 using this feature. [Note: This schedule is tentative, pending what level other class features slot in at.]

COMBAT LEADER (lvl 5): Beginning at 5th level, you can exhort your allies to deal more damage in combat. Once per round, when an ally within 60' that can see or hear you hits with a weapon attack, you can roll one of your leadership dice and add the result to the damage of the ally's attack. The damage is the same type as that dealt by the attack.

At 11th level, you can use this ability twice per round, but only once per ally. At 17th level, you can use it three times per round, but only once per ally.
[Note: This is the warlord's version of extra attack or increased cantrip damage.]

SHAKE IT OFF (lvl 5): Beginning at 5th level, you can use your action to help a creature within 30' that can see or hear you to throw off conditions and effects. The creature makes a save against one condition or effect of your choice that a saving throw can end (whether made automatically on the creature's turn, as an action on its turn, or under certain conditions) or an effect that will end automatically during the next turn of the target or creator of the effect. After the creature rolls its saving throw but before you know whether it succeeds or fails, you may roll one of your leadership dice and add it to the result, but doing so depletes your leadership dice pool by one die.

Oh, and one more thing- the leadership dice pool goes like this:

lvl 1- 2d6
lvl 2- 3d6
lvl 5- 3d8
lvl 6- 4d8
lvl 9- 5d8
lvl 12- 5d10
lvl 14- 6d10
lvl 18- 6d12
lvl 20- 7d12
 


NotAYakk

Legend
I'm going to suggest the same rotation I've suggested to other people.

In general, 5e classes and subclasses are either how you combat or why you combat. Classes where both the class and subclass are how you combat tend to be a bit hollow (the Fighter is an example of this).

Warlord is a how you combat. If you rotate subclasses from being clones of 4e to being why you warlord I suspect you'll get a lot more inspiration for "utility" (ie, non-combat) mechanics.

Grizzled Sergent
Aspiring Ruler
True Believer
Academic Strategist

You can remap those back to your "Presence"s, but they should also inspire features that aren't "more combat tweaks" or "combat support" for the PC to get access to.
 
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NotAYakk

Legend
Oh, and you really need to either have rolling the dice expend it, or split the leadership die from your points.

The point of a dice pool is that you roll and expend. Half of your abilities roll different numbers of dice than they expend.

This the Ki - Martial Arts system. Ki aren't a Martial Arts die pool, they are points. The impact is usually, but not always, measured by the Martial Arts die size.

BM is a die pool. Every single BM maneuver rolls 1 maneuver die and consumes it.
 

In another thread the Idea arose that a warlord uses superiority dice. That would be plain and simple and conpatible with the martial adept feat which finally would not only tie into a subclass but a full class. The battlemaster would me a multiclass light warlord.
So just swap leadership dice with superiority dice an warlord appropriate maneuvers. I think retconning superiority dice to be a base class ability would be a great Idea, since superiority dice were a great Idea to begin with.
 



Will these abilities affect characters who are higher level? For example, can a 2nd level Warlord tell a 20th level Barbarian to "Get up!" and it will work?


😇
 

GSHamster

Adventurer
It is a little confusing sometimes rolling one leadership die, and sometimes rolling the entire pool. I think you should pick one of the two and balance around that.
 


the Jester

Legend
Oh, and you really need to either have rolling the dice expend it, or split the leadership die from your points.

Why?

The point of a dice pool is that you roll and expend. Half of your abilities roll different numbers of dice than they expend.

I mean, that CAN be the point, but I don't see why it must be.

One of the things about martial abilities is that it can strain credibility if they can't be used often, sometimes at will. I want many of the warlord abilities to be available essentially at will unless the warlord has run him or herself ragged. The stuff that depletes your leadership dice pool is the stuff that has a bigger impact than the rest.

So far, I believe the only thing that isn't "roll one die" or "roll all the dice" is inspiring word- which needs to have some degree of scaling by level to maintain its worth, but without being too good. Is the issue you see here that it's too complex to keep track of what uses how many dice? Or is it just a personal preference? Or something else I'm overlooking?

This the Ki - Martial Arts system. Ki aren't a Martial Arts die pool, they are points. The impact is usually, but not always, measured by the Martial Arts die size.

BM is a die pool. Every single BM maneuver rolls 1 maneuver die and consumes it.

Sure, but that doesn't mean that all systems have to match one or the other of those.

All that said, this is all still first draft stuff, so I may end up changing it like you suggest. I just don't think there's a compelling reason to do so.
 



Marandahir

Crown-Forester
I'm going to suggest the same rotation I've suggested to other people.

In general, 5e classes and subclasses are either how you combat or why you combat. Classes where both the class and subclass are how you combat tend to be a bit hollow (the Fighter is an example of this).

Warlord is a how you combat. If you rotate subclasses from being clones of 4e to being why you warlord I suspect you'll get a lot more inspiration for "utility" (ie, non-combat) mechanics.

Grizzled Sergent
Aspiring Ruler
True Believer
Academic Strategist

You can remap those back to your "Presence"s, but they should also inspire features that aren't "more combat tweaks" or "combat support" for the PC to get access to.

Cannot emphasize this enough. If you just map the 4e builds as subclasses, you don't really have room to grow the Warlord. Better to think of Marshal Archetypes (see what I did there) that align on-top of the Warlord. Otherwise you get the question, "Why is this a Warlord and not the Barbarian, or the Paladin, or the Bard, or the Cleric, or the Fighter?"

The answer to the above is that all of them do commandery things, but this is a class all about commanding. But if it's all about commanding and then different ways you command, then there's limited room for growth. Better to think about "this is the Knight Commander" this is the "Strategist Commander" this is the Slightly divine Commander, this is the slightly Arcane commander, this is the slightly primal commander, etc. There's plenty of room to grow if you try to think of war-leader archetypes rather than just Int-Warlord, Cha-Warlord, Wis-Warlord.

Early 4e was trying to give you the tools to make your own characters from the build-specific class features. So all back-row cha warlords are Inspiring, while all front-row cha warlords are Bravura (and same thing for Wis - Insightful vs Skirmishing respectively, while Tactical was Int and Resourceful was a compromise between Cha and Int). These don't really tell you a story about that build, it just gives you the tools to make your own story.

This is a BIG part of why 4e was criticized as being a WoW-clone etc - the builds just weren't grounded in archetypes (for many classes) until Essentials rolled around and focused on story over function. It was like 3.5e CharOps wrapped up into a package deal instead of providing us options that are jumping off for stories.

5e class and subclass design are about "what stories do I want to tell with my character and do I have a good-enough option to jump at it from?"

To WotC, they seem to have decided spreading the Warlord out among the classes is the "good-enough" way (with Battle Master, Banneret, Valour Bard, War Cleric, Mastermind, etc filing the niches of the class stories). But if you're going to try to create a unified Warlord class, you could either pull some of those subclass concepts INTO the Warlord, or try to carve out new niche stories that reflect real world commanders from history & fictional commander archetypes we know and love. Then you can map those to the Presences of 4e, but story really should come first if the class is not defined by story.
 
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NotAYakk

Legend
Superiority dice are physical things. You have some next to you. You pick up one, roll it, and put it aside.

The kinetic part of the "pool of dice" is mapped to a physical pool of dice. Your resource is your object.

What you have, above, is a point system that pretends to be a "pool of dice". It isn't. It is points, and a dice size.

Points and a die size are fine, but they aren't a die pool.
 


Marandahir

Crown-Forester
Have you seen EN5ider's "Noble" class, which appeared in the Masterclass Codex?

I have - it's an interesting thought experiment on a 5e Warlord, but ultimately hollow with little room for expansion IMHO.

The Noble tries to be both a story-based and mechanics-based class (like the Fighter does). This left it with 3 subclasses and never an expansion article because Noble itself is a very limited story concept (seeing as it's already multiple Backgrounds, to boot!).
 

Undrave

Hero
Man... your thread already get more participation than most of the times I posted my own Warlord class... I'm kinda jealous...

It's also because I have my own class that I don't know how to properly critique your stuff, because my own perspective would warp it. I just want to say that just because a mechanic doesn't work like the rest of 5e (like your abilities sometimes depleting dice and sometimes not) doesn't mean it shouldn't exist. I would say to maybe review your wording to match up with 5e's vocabulary a bit better?

I went with a system somewhat similar to yours, but mine generates their ressources by interacting with the combat in some way. I wanted an At-Will class based off of the Rogue, so it's a different feel than being short-rest based.

I will say I feel like the Presences are a bit scattershot. They affect different things at different times... I think it'd be easier for a player to better judge what is the best one for them if they all had similar interaction points.

Also, I would give it an extra skill or maybe a pick of tool proficiency. And I'd put Insight on the class skill list.

No. Combat Leader is the equivalent of extra attack for them. Some subclasses might get a fighting style, but it's pointless for the lazylord, so it won't be part of the base class.

Defense would be a good fighting style for the Lazylord. A flat +1 to AC would be welcomed.

I didn't even consider Fighting style for mine (I mean, the Rogue doesn't get it)

Cannot emphasize this enough. If you just map the 4e builds as subclasses, you don't really have room to grow the Warlord. Better to think of Marshal Archetypes (see what I did there) that align on-top of the Warlord. Otherwise you get the question, "Why is this a Warlord and not the Barbarian, or the Paladin, or the Bard, or the Cleric, or the Fighter?"

That's a good point!

When I wanted inspiration I went to look at 4e Paragon Paths, also made a 'White Raven' tradition since it was a name that came up often in 4e powers, and I considered the type of job in a war that specific Warlord would have. It's why I have some that specialize in directing ranged attacks and other that specialize in directing anti-caster troops.
 

Presents for Goblins

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