D&D 5E Would you allow switching shield proficiency for Agonizing Blast as a DM?

jgsugden

Legend
I'd say no. They are not equivalent, and it provides a significant upgrade in power to the PC for no cost. You're adding a lot of damage each round, especially as they advance in level. I am pretty open minded about about these types of swaps, but you're asked to make a commitement to the class in order to get this benefit, and they are not making that commitement.

In this circumstance, I would allow them to trade out blade flourish or their fighting style for an invocation, but they'd still need to qualify for it. Otherwise, they'd need to devote the levels to hexblade to get the invocations.

On a side note: When players want to dip for Hexblade in my games, I make sure they understand that they're making a deal when they take a level of Warlock, and that has consequences. The deal isn't always with a sentient weapon from the Shadowfell - but it is something dark and powerful - and the PCs are expected to live up to the terms of the deal. The deal will be negotiated witht he PC (usually on a high level - not detailed) and will impact the campaign. These deals are RPG gold - but you need to make sure the warlock feels like a warlock .... not an eldritch archer with few spells.
 

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my defualt is to say no... and remind him at 5th level (1/4) he gets a feat he can take the invocation as a feat (Eldritch disciple I think)

edit: and I would tell him to ignore builds like that... take his second level of warlock for gods sake...

Which would be better anyway on most levels. A second short rest recharge spell and 2 invocations are very good.
He won't even notice a big difference at level 5, since 2 agonizing blasts + hex will keep the damage on par with normal weapon users and the second invocation can be a great utility asset.
I also would not worry about not getting an extra feat on lvl 19.
A hexblade/sword bard does not need a lot besides charisma and 14 dexterity. So you can take 2 feats without worrying (if you do worry usually if your mainstats are not 20)
 



Horwath

Hero
A fighter gets three. They may only use 1 of those.
for most fighters, heavy armor can stay unused 100% of the time, that is why I said that heavy armor should be replaced with skill proficiency.

outside if that, even if you are high dex archer, you can utilize medium armor and shields a lot.

with 16 starting dex, breastplate will do you more good than studded leather, and later you have options to use both light and medium magic armor(whatever gives more), for heavy you just have to wait for mithral fullplate.

And you will not be able to use your longbow every time, then rapier+shield is better than just rapier or two shortswords
 

Ulorian

Adventurer
Right, because being able to paint is just like being mechanically harder to hit. That is not a sidegrade. A sidegrade needs a mechanical combat bonus to be comparable or a significant out of combat mechanical boost. Painting tools ain't it.
I think the point that @ECMO3 was making was that for this particular character (who is explicitly not using a shield, so this class feature is useless in that sense), switching for proficiency in painter's tools is a sidegrade.
 

billd91

Hobbit on Quest (he/him)
You can add me to the chorus of No on this one. Basically, this is a question of trading in something the PC would have gotten very cheaply for something significantly more expensive (a whole level or feat). If getting the extra damage on eldritch blasts is that important to the player, they should pay the cost. Besides, they could then pick up another invocation that could be very helpful to them or bard-thematic-friendly like devil's sight, beast speech, or eyes of the rune keeper.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
I think the point that @ECMO3 was making was that for this particular character (who is explicitly not using a shield, so this class feature is useless in that sense), switching for proficiency in painter's tools is a sidegrade.
But it isn't, because if this character does not make the switch, having the proficiency means that shields are usable in an emergency with no penalty, and emergencies happen. So it's not a sidegrade unless the painters tools will add +2 to AC in an emergency.
 


Ulorian

Adventurer
But it isn't, because if this character does not make the switch, having the proficiency means that shields are usable in an emergency with no penalty, and emergencies happen. So it's not a sidegrade unless the painters tools will add +2 to AC in an emergency.
That's true... not a direct sidegrade. But I think you understand the intent of the original statement now?
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
But it isn't, because if this character does not make the switch, having the proficiency means that shields are usable in an emergency with no penalty, and emergencies happen. So it's not a sidegrade unless the painters tools will add +2 to AC in an emergency.
I mean the painters tools could be the only solution to the painting troll. (Only killable by drawing a good enough painting of fire).

Is +2ac and painters tools now on the same sidegrade level as they both serve an emergency purpose.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
That's true... not a direct sidegrade. But I think you understand the intent of the original statement now?
I understood it, but didn't agree with it for the reasons I stated. I also don't see the addition of Agonizing Blast as unbalancing, so I don't see a reason to say no to the swap on the basis of balance or side/upgrade. That said, if the same thing can be accomplished through the rules at first level, such as by picking Alt Human, then that's the way the player should go. Special swaps should be for when you can't achieve your concept another way.
 


Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
If someone wants to use a powergaming build from the internet they deserve to be beaten with a RAW rod.

If someone comes up with an imaginative concept, then they get cut some slack.
to be fair, the idea of a bard-hexblade combo has been out there for a number of years now - heck I have a character I was going to use on EN world in a PBP game what was just that (I ended up going wit a different design).

The reason why this build exists is because the single class college of sword is a bit... underwhelming.
 

Hi!
From a DM's perspective:

A player wants to play a Hexblade 1 / Swords Bard 19.
But he doesn't like using a shield on this character.
First, he imagines the character fighting more like Witcher Geralt of Rivia with all the fast, acrobatic 1.5 handed swordsplay.
Second, using a shield makes the character complicated in terms of hand usage and spell focuses.

Would you as a DM allow the player to swap shield proficiency for Agonizing Blast on level one?
Note: We're not talking about whether such homebrewed swaps should be used at all, just about this specific change.

Agonizing Blast would need a second level of Warlock or a feat usually, so it is something powerful to add.
On the other hand, losing shield proficiency is no small thing in terms of power level.
Also, the character would still be in melee a lot, Eldritch Blast would still remain a backup "weapon".
The change is meant for flavor, not for powercreep.

Thoughts? Would you allow it?
I would, especially because I believe this change would actually weaken the character.
I would not allow it, but I would suggest coming up with a "versatile combat style" that the player could pick up with a feat.
Maybe a straight +1 to AC and all Str and Dex based rolls (attack, damage, ability checks and saves) while using a one-handed weapon in one or two hands and nothing else.
 

ECMO3

Hero
same question can be asked;

why the hell would someone spend time to train something that you will not use ever.
better yet, how can you be trained in heavy armor if no one is using it?

and elves are just example, I would say that that is a good option for dwarves also.

And with Tasha's, we are seeing that thing will go in direction of exchanging "useless" features.
It started with racials, we might see it with class features, like 3.5e/PF1.
Because a fighter by definition is a master of armor and weapons. More than any other class, that is their profession and that is why they would train to use it.

Should we let them trade trident proficiency and proficiency in blowguns because they would never use those weapons?

Tashas does allow racial proficiency swapping, but not swapping for class and I don't think you will see a move to allowing swaps of class proficiencies.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
A barbarian gets Unarmed Defense and Armor Proficiencies - they can't use both together but they don't get to sub one out for something else.

When you include that they do gain some benefit from not using the shield - the free hand for casting - that detracts from the idea even more.

If I was going to do it, I'd most likely do a more like-for-like. Okay, you lose shield proficiency but gain +1 AC when you aren't restrained (to represent the acrobatics).
 

lingual

Adventurer
I unterstand now how much of a "can of worms" situation this is.
The PAM fighter might just ask what he gets for his shields proficiency he doesn't use either...

I thought it was ok, because the build was specifically designed to do more damage with a sword then EB+AB and also designed to be rather tanky, relying on the shield quite a bit. So it would be more of a sidegrade than an upgrade.

Thank you all for the insights! đź‘Ť
Just tell the players that they're optimized enough. I played a similarly "optimized" character once (glam metal bard) - who also didn't use a shield. A shield might cover up that beautiful face. Vanity was just far more important than that plus 2 to AC. Vince Neil or Paul Stanley would NEVER use a shield.
 

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