Thursday, January 26, 2017

Martial Archetype: Brawler [ROUGH DRAFT]

It occurred to me that I haven't done many fighters. I mean, I haven't done any barbarians, monks, druids, rangers, or wizards yet, but only having one fighter Martial Archetype still feels like a glaring oversight.

This one draws inspiration from the "Brawling Fighter" presented in 4e's Martial Power 2, which was easily my favorite fighter to come out of 4th edition. At face value, it was a fighter that had a dash of controller in it, a martial weapon-user that could punch or grab with a free hand, dealing damage while keeping enemies close. As an added bonus, with a simple monk multiclass feat (which were a terrible idea from a game design perspective, but I digress), you could make a perfectly serviceable fistfighter or wrestler.

The biggest challenge here was keeping this option distinct from the monk, and having it be decidedly a fighter. I feel I accomplished this pretty well, even if I did horn in on monk territory here and there, but look it over and tell me what you think.


  • Scaling unarmed strike and unarmored defense, to keep yourself light, agile, and aggressive. 
  • Three viable fighting styles! Either two-weapon fight with fists, hold a weapon in one hand like a duelist, or wear light armor for additional defense.
  • A variety of features centered around core combat maneuvers, such as grapple, shove, and dodge.
  • Builds well with unarmed-centric feats, specifically Grappler and Tavern Brawler.
  • Unarmed strike is always wacky, it not being a weapon attack and all. It might interact poorly with something in a way I haven't thought of. 
  • There are a lot of qualifiers in play (when doing X and not wearing Y), and I might've fudged something up somewhere. 


  1. Fisticuffs: The issue i have is the rules of both "weapons" in two-weapon fighting being light. I think you should add the light quality to your unarmed strikes. Also even if you do make unarmed strikes light. The weapon you are holding in your other hand must also be light(this might be a good thing for balance, i am not sure).

    Dodge and Weave: I don't think this feature needs any change.

    Impressive Physique: Im not sure about giving a fighter a natural magic weapon. It does not feel right on a fighter. I feel maybe a side bar about magic weapons that buff unarmed strikes such as a magical pair of brass knuckles might be a better idea. I just don't think it makes sense for a fighter.

    Fracas: I don't see anything wrong with this mechanic.

    Fistfighters Momentum: With this feature i again see no major issue.

    Fists of Fury: No major issue.

    1. >Fisticuffs

      I'd prefer against adding weapon properties to unarmed strikes, as they're explicitly not weapons. I realize I've done that before with the Ninja, but this time around I'm trying keep them truer to what they are as RAW, while still making them work with existing features.

      >Impressive Physique

      Adding brass/spiked knuckles is something I considered earlier on, but I'm not sure I want to go that route. I'd either have to give the knuckles a damage die that would interfere with the scaling of unarmed strike, or I'd have to give them a flat +1/+2 whatever to damage. In either case, they'd exist in kind of an awkward place.

      Speaking of awkward places, I'm not thrilled with making the damage magical here. It seems way too close to the monk's kit. However, given that there's no ability to make your fists silver, adamantine, or to target them with spells like Magic Weapon, I feel like this is probably the only way to go.

      I could switch it around though, say something like "your unarmed strike ignores damage resistance as if it was magical," though that's pretty much doing the same thing.

  2. Fighters are tough options to design because the three presented in the PHB all support a wide variety of fighting styles. My beef with this is that it doesn't support that idea and the variation presented here could be better achieve with some casual monk flavoring. This is sort of like Barbarian and Monk hybrid, where a multiclass of the two might just do what this wants to do easier.

    I like the design space explored with Fracas and Fistfighter's Momentum (temp HP on fighter feature use and the Grapple as a Reaction), but am not sure the rest fits for the fighter class.

    One other mechanical complaint is the need for a strong Str, Dex, Cha and Con to utilize the features gained here. I'd either give the Cha to AC or move a Con or different feature altogether for 7.

    Just some thoughts. Neat ideas for sure

    1. >Monk-Barbarian

      Refluffing is always on my mind, but having to refluff both Rage and Ki to get some happy median seems nightmarish at best. Not to mention you're then stuck with playing a berserking rage-warrior who is somehow disciplined enough in mind and body to use Ki.

      Refluffing is kind of a tricky line to draw, anyway. You could easily achieve a paladin with a refluffed cleric, for example, or achieve a trickster cleric with a rogue/cleric multiclass. You can make anything into anything else, if you're willing to adequately retool the mechanics.

      When there's an idea that seems divergent enough from what existing options offer, that's when I'm willing to homebrew. In this case, using just core you'll either be fistfighting as a ki-reliant spiritualist, or as a multiclassed mess that's at least a little bit ki-reliant spiritualist. I wanted something outside of that.

      >Fighting Styles

      This is a legitimate point, though. I should open up the available fighting styles and try to address at least most of them. I'm not sure I can make Archery or Great Weapon Fighting work in there, but I can at least make Defense and Protection more reasonable.

      Conversely, maybe I could build some of this into a unique fighting style. That'd certainly take the pressure off the rest of the class option.

      >CHA being important

      I'm not sure I see that - if anything, this class option as written seems to trivialize CHA, replacing it with STR.

      STR/DEX/CON isn't an awful spread, especially not for a fighter. Most classes are at least tangentially CON/DEX reliant, and a fighter gets an almost insane amount of ASIs to help compensate for this additional reliance.

      The niche of this option needs to be adjusted a bit, I think, but there's almost certainly a way of doing that.

  3. I REALLY liked this class, it fits well with the fighter, but i think maybe it should a little extra something, like Fighting Stances. You could use select 3 Stances from a list and you could use a bonus action to adopt that stance and it would give you bonuses depending on the stance, like +1 to AC, Advantage on Grapple checks or even spell-like abilities, like "casting" Compelled Duel or Freedom of Movement.

    1. Also, Impressive Physique is aces. Loved It.

    2. Stances would be a cool thing to add. I'm not sure how much wiggle room this option has in it right now, but that's something I'll keep in mind while revising.

  4. I like the idea behind the class option, and glad to see you acknowledging the other classes as well. In regards to Nils' suggestion on Fisticuffs, I feel that it depends on the direction you want to go with it. Monks on the whole can make their unarmed strikes with any part of their body, essentially, allowing them to wield a quarterstaff two-handed and still Flurry with their unarmed strike. However, I feel like the mechanic as a whole could be simplified if you just state that you need a free hand to take advantage of the bonus action unarmed strike attack, as opposed to referring to obscure things that some players may not be able to parse well. Additionally, I'd reword "open hand" to "free hand" to match the wording on the grappling rules.

    Just a couple things I've noticed on Fracas, is I believe it should say "shove attempt" instead of "shove," stating that you still have to roll to be able to shove that creature and perhaps tie it to a size category. Additionally, just a thing I wanted to point out that could be seriously debilitating to a creature is that shove attempts can also be used to shove prone, so if you only get one hit with advantage and succeed on the shove check, you can get advantage on the rest of your strikes against the prone creature. If this is an unintended side effect, you could remedy it by just saying that the shove attempt can only be made to shove a creature away. Also, the opportunity attack may need to have a little "within 5 feet of you" bit added to it, so some people don't interpret Polearm Master/Sentinel builds a certain way. A very niche nitpick, but just one of the things I've noticed.

    Once again, great work! Glad to see you back at it more regularly.

    1. >Verbage

      You're right with open vs free hand, I'll amend that. I definitely need to simplify this and make it more user-friendly, it references a lot of obscure mechanics that make it hard to pick up and play.


      Yeah, the intent was that the shove be an automatic success, because I didn't want to have to make the player roll an extra time to hit. I should probably add verbage like "give up advantage" to make the attempted shove-hit have some cost.

      I'm aware of the prone component, you can actually see that in play in the first bit of the flavor text. Looking back, it would make a great deal of sense to give up advantage to attempt to confer advantage on attacks from additional players. It'd be a solid tactical choice, something I'm always a fan of.