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View Full Version : "Hmph. Let me show you what TRUE weapon mastery means."



Larkas
2012-05-02, 01:51 PM
INTRODUCTION

The year was 1995. The book "Player's Option: Combat and Tactics" had just been released, and Fighter's players all over felt their characters could suddenly be much better at the thing they did best: kicking some butt in the battlefield. The change wasn't of paradigm, neither was it of tools. A very sensible system of weapon mastery, the next step after weapon specialization, had just been released. And it was very good.

Let's leap 17 years into the future. (Man, has it really been that long?) Not only has a new version of the game we love come and gone but a 5th edition is in the making. Lots of people didn't really make the transition to 4th edition for many reasons, though, and the 3rd edition is very much played, having gone through a revision both by first and third party producers. In this, Fighters became major generalists when it came to... Well, fighting, but they never shone again. For some time I didn't quite get it: why did I have so much fun playing Fighters back in the day and now I felt they are lackluster at best?

Mainly, that seems to be caused by the design choices made for the class. Fighters were to become major generalists: they can pick from many feats to make into their "class features". While that's is all well and dandy in theory, when it comes to reality, it just didn't work. Class features are almost always more interesting, if not straight out stronger, than feats. That actually makes sense for the other classes: they already have class features, so it's okay for the latter to not be as nice as the former. But that's not the case when we talk about the Fighter: feats ARE his class features, the same feats that are available to everyone else. So how to balance that? How to make feats that are good enough as class features for the Fighter but not unbalancing to the other classes? One way was to make feats specific for the Fighter class. And so it was done. And, boy, was it a let down. They are no better than "general" feats at all, and are all around not worth it. With all those new spells introduced for casters, you'd think the same would be done for Fighter feats... Alas, it was not to be. Fighters don't bring anything of note to the table even when they are doing what they should do best.

Recently, in a thread about Weapon Specialization (one of those sad Fighter feats), Eldariel (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=13153012&postcount=2) brought up that it would be nice if 3rd edition Fighters had something along the lines of the aforementioned weapon mastery AD&D Fighters had all those years ago. Then I kept thinking: why not? Those options could be incorporated into 3E with very minor modifications. I got to working, and this is what I came up with. These are not feats (though they may count as such): they are actual class feature the Fighter should always have had. And this is not an Alternative Class Feature either: it is something I feel should be added to the Fighter altogether. Will this increase the Fighter power level? Yes, it will. That is not intended, these changes were aimed at making the Fighter more interesting. But if the increase in power is a collateral damage, so be it, the Fighter, as it is, is too weak to stand in its own two feet, anyways.

DESIGNER'S NOTES

The system introduced below presumes the use of weapon group proficiencies, presented in Unearthed Arcana and available here (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/variant/buildingCharacters/weaponGroupFeats.htm). This is needed because in AD&D you began play being proficient in very few weapons (four at most, if you were a Fighter), and spent weapon proficiency slots in order to become specialized with a weapon. I seek to emulate that behavior with this. Don't worry, though, this variant system certainly have its merits, and, as you can see below, you gain more weapon group feats every few levels.

As I mentioned above, this is meant to be as direct a translation of the AD&D system as possible. It is also meant to help single-class Fighters as much as possible, so I tried to discourage one-level-dipping as much as possible. As such, I couldn't give an extra attack at first level, and had to push it to 5th level instead.

THE CRUNCH

In addition to his regular class features, the Fighter gains the following:


Weapon Student

At 5th level, and every five levels thereafter, the Fighter gains proficiency with one weapon group of his choice, as though he had chosen a Weapon Group feat.




Weapon Specialist

Whenever you would gain proficiency with a weapon group due to the Weapon Student class feature, you may choose to focus your training with a specific weapon instead. You forgo learning how to properly use a slew of new armaments, but can fight much more accurately with that singular weapon.

Prerequisite: Weapon Focus with selected weapon.

Benefit: You gain Weapon Specialization with the selected weapon as a bonus feat, even if you do not have the normal prerequisites for that feat.

Special: This feature can only be chosen once.

A Fighter can take this feature at 1st character level by forgoing one of the weapon group proficiencies normally acquired by his class at 1st level (starting play with proficiency with three weapon groups instead of the normal four).




Weapon Master

Whenever you would gain proficiency with a weapon group due to the Weapon Student class feature, you may choose to devote even more effort to your chosen weapon instead. You become a master in its use, and can strike with a precision not available to regular warriors, and fight even more efficiently.

Prerequisite: Weapon Focus with selected weapon, Weapon Specialization with selected weapon.

Benefit: You gain a +2 bonus on all attack rolls and +1 bonus on all damage rolls you make using the selected weapon. Furthermore, when using that weapon, you may make one extra attack per round at your lowest base attack bonus, but this attack takes a 5 penalty.

Special: These bonuses stack with bonuses from other sources, such as those from Weapon Focus and Weapon Specialization.

This feature counts as both Greater Weapon Focus and Greater Weapon Specialization for the purposes of fulfilling prerequisites, but doesn't impede you from selecting those as feats.

This feature can only be chosen once.




Weapon High Master

Whenever you would gain proficiency with a weapon group due to the Weapon Student class feature, you may choose to continue in the path of mastery with your chosen weapon instead. You use that weapon with almost unnatural grace and precision.

Prerequisite: Weapon Focus with selected weapon, Weapon Specialization with selected weapon, Weapon Master of the selected weapon.

Benefit: You get a +2 bonus on initiative checks when using the selected weapon. Furthermore, when using the weapon you selected, your threat range is doubled.

Special: These bonuses stack with bonuses from other sources, such as those from Improved Critical and Improved Initiative.

This feature can only be chosen once.




Weapon Grand Master

Whenever you would gain proficiency with a weapon group due to the Weapon Student class feature, you may choose to achieve the pinnacle of mastery with your chosen weapon instead. A Grand Master is an extremely dangerous opponent, attacking with speed and force generally reserved to greater beings.

Prerequisite: Weapon Focus with selected weapon, Weapon Specialization with selected weapon, Weapon Master of the selected weapon, Weapon High Master of the selected weapon.

Benefit: You may make one extra attack per round at your lowest base attack bonus when using the selected weapon, but this attack takes a 10 penalty. Furthermore, that weapons deals damage as if it were one size category larger.

Special: This extra attack is in addition to the one available to Weapon Masters.

This feature can only be chosen once.


FURTHER CHANGES

This is a stand-alone variant, but it certainly doesn't need to be used alone. In fact, short of complete overhauls of the class, this can be used with any other variant of the class. I specially suggest doing something about skills, such as increasing gains to 4 points/level and giving Listen, Spot, Knowledge and Diplomacy as class skills. This is outside the scope of this variant, though.

With this variant in play, the monk might get comparatively worse than it already is. I suggest giving it at least full BAB progression (i.e.: BAB = level).

PARTING WORDS

This concept can clearly be expanded upon. You could sacrifice weapon groups for more weapon-based fighter feats, such as Melee Weapon Mastery. You could even sacrifice them for a Pounce-like feature with a weapon you're both focused and specialized on. I decided to leave these out for now, as I just wanted to emulate the options from AD&D.

On a side note, NeoSeraphi recently tried his hand at something related (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=241549). Be sure to check it out.

Lastly, PEACH! If you have any ideas or questions, please, share them, be it on the system itself or on the terrible formatting of the post :smallcool:

Larkas
2012-05-02, 01:52 PM
Reserved for good measure.

Lans
2012-05-03, 08:12 AM
Correct me if I'm wrong, but if your attack range is 20/15/10/5/0/-5, do the last two interatives really matter? Maybe make it into a flurry type or make it equal to the last two instead.

Larkas
2012-05-03, 11:32 AM
Actually, I have striven to make it as unlike the flurry mechanic as possible, since that would have the undesired effect of making the Monk even more useless. But I'll try to expose the merits of the system as it is now anyways.

Extra attacks are never useless, specially if they are made without taxing the other attacks. You would be hitting easy-to-hit targets with more attacks and would still be hitting hard-to-hit targets with the same difficulty as usual, with the added bonus of the possibility of hitting the latter with more attacks, even if only on the eventuality of a critical. Put another way: a low chance to hit is better than a lack of chance to hit.

Also, lower down on the Mastery tree, you have a flat +3 to hit all attacks, so the progression would actually be 23/18/13/8/3/-2. That is an actual bonus, since Fighters who are playing "for real" very rarely bother to take Weapon Focus, let alone Greater Weapon Focus. I could increase that bonus to a flat +5, but I wanted to leave enough incentives for the player to take Melee Weapon Mastery as a feat: saying these bonuses don't stack with those given by that feat would defeat this purpose, and saying they DO stack would be increasing the bonus too much.

I could say that the last attack is at -5 instead of -10, but I fear anything bigger than that might make it too good. Also, I'm a sucker for symmetry =D

Ziegander
2012-05-17, 07:25 PM
That is an actual bonus, since Fighters who are playing "for real" very rarely bother to take Weapon Focus, let alone Greater Weapon Focus.

Except that in order for them to get any benefit out of your variant at all they are required to set one of their feats on fire to take Weapon Focus (probably at 1st level).

What I'm seeing is, over the course of 20 levels, for each feat you set on fire, you gain, when wielding a single Focused weapon, +3 to attack and damage rolls, +2 to initiative, doubled threat range, one size increase, and two extra attacks that you are likely to never hit with (save for natural 20s). That feels decidedly "meh" to me, but, when compared with other feats, is sort of worth it. Unfortunately, it's basically the same (except that it trades some attack and damage bonus for unreliable extra attacks) as simply giving the Fighter the Weapon Focus chain for free, an age-old "fix" that doesn't really fix anything at all.

Fighters can hit stuff fairly well enough as-is, and fairly hard as well. The problem is that combat is not decided merely by the highest attack and damage bonuses coupled with the most attacks. There is a lot more to it than that, but Fighters have nothing else. This variant doesn't add anything to the Fighter other than moar attack, moar damage.

Larkas
2012-05-17, 07:40 PM
@Ziegander: How do I put this...

I agree entirely with you. I still think it is a nice boost for the Fighter, but it doesn't work as far as fixes go.

On its defense: It requires Weapon Focus, sure, but gives you some nice things. And the fact that it's a pretty straightforward and "correct" port from AD&D is a bonus. Okay, maybe I am eleven years late in presenting this.

Anyways, take it for what it is: a small bonus to the Fighter, and only that. In retrospect, I don't think I'm particularly proud of it, but it isn't a total crap either. But that was on my head for so long that I had to take it out somehow. I just hope someone, anyone, has any use for this :smallsmile: