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View Full Version : D&D 5e/Next Brawler (5e Fighter Variant/Kit)



LordFluffy
2016-04-03, 05:28 PM
The idea of a strength based, primarily empty handed warrior has been on the minds of a lot of people since 5e came out. Proably more since the second season of Daredevil started. Or maybe that last part is just me. The easy option is play a monk, hamstring yourself by focusing on strength and just kind of pretend on the rest. Either that or play a fighter, take tavern brawler and never entirely get the experience you were after.

Or, you homebrew.

My thought is that Brawler doesn't require an entire base class. The concept, I think, is more similar to fighters than to monks (or barbarians, even).

What I was thinking is that you could do a variant on the fighter and the result would be a back alley brawler of our collective dreams.

Changes to Fighter base class:

Armor: Light, medium armors
Weapons: Simple, Improvised
1st Level: Brawling and Call Out replace Fighting style

Brawling:

At 1st level, your practice of bare knuckle boxing gives you mastery of combat styles that use unarmed strikes, improvised weapons, and any simple melee weapons.
You gain the following benefits while wearing no, light, or medium armor, with no shield and using only your hands, simple melee weapons or improvised weapons:
You can roll a d4 in place of the normal damage of your unarmed strike or improvised weapon. This die changes as you gain fighter levels; use the Martial Arts table of the Monk class, using your fighter level for the monk level.
When you use the Attack action with an unarmed, a simple melee weapon, or an improvised weapon on your turn, you can make one unarmed strike or attack with an improvised weapon as a bonus action. For example, if you take the Attack action and attack with a quarterstaff, you can also make an unarmed strike as a bonus action, assuming you havenít already taken a bonus action this turn.


Call Out:

When a fight starts, but before initiative is rolled, you may choose one opponent. If you do, your initiative count is one better than that opponent, whatever their roll. You may not use this ability again until after you have had a short rest.



Why two abilities?

Brawling is martial arts without the option to use dexterity and with proficiency in improvised weapons, which still feels like a step down. I wanted to give them a second bump that uncoupled them from initiative. Against a single foe, it's a very, very powerful ability, against a group, it helps's the Brawler say, "That one's mine."

Plus, compensating for lost proficiencies.

Opinions appreciated.

Final Hyena
2016-04-03, 10:47 PM
My question, is why this over a monk? They seem to be rather similar.

ThePurple
2016-04-03, 11:32 PM
I'm not sure how this would work in 5e, but one of the houserules/rewrites I've been considering for non-monk unarmed/unarmored fighters is including 2 new feats: unarmed combat and unarmored defense.

Unarmed combat allows you act as if you were armed with any melee weapon (without the reach property) that you proficient with when making an unarmed attack (so, if you were making an attack while unarmed but were proficient in the longsword, you could treat it in all mechanical aspects as if you were using a longsword; you could even act as if you were dual wielding by using a longsword and an unarmed "short sword" or two unarmed "daggers", however you feel; you could also use an unarmed "greatsword", but you wouldn't be able to use an unarmed "greatsword" and a "shortsword" at the same time because the greatsword is two handed). Changing which weapon you are acting as if you are using is a minor action. I could feasibly see including shields on that list as well to indicate learning to use one arm in a defensive manner.

When you roll initiative, unarmored defense allows you to act as if you were in any one armor that you are proficient with whenever you are not wearing any armor (so, if you were in a robe but proficient with plate, you would get the AC bonus from being in plate but also get the speed and skill penalties that go with it) until the end of the encounter.

The idea for this is largely based off of the wuxia genre where combat styles are more synonymous with weapon and armor proficiency than combat styles as implemented in most PnP games and unarmed combat is used as a replacement for weapons in pretty much any combat style, not just the monk or brawlers (you could have unarmed rogues that you call ninjas, without forcing them to use a completely different class or weird class abilities to access unarmed combat). It also helps that it fuses quite seamlessly with pretty much any game with armed and armored combatants since it's basically the same as refluffing your unarmed limbs to use the mechanics of any weapon you could fill that limb with. You also pay for the advantage by spending a feat on it, so it still has some cost associated with the benefit.

You could also create a wuxia style game very effectively by giving out the two feats for free at level 1 rather than requiring players to spend their feats on them, but that's only really appropriate in that genre's context.

LordFluffy
2016-04-03, 11:52 PM
My question, is why this over a monk? They seem to be rather similar.
Purely flavor.

There is very little mechanical reason to run a strength based monk and some GM's don't like putting a class inspired by Asian culture into a pseudo-European fantasy setting.

Final Hyena
2016-04-05, 12:07 AM
Purely flavor.

There is very little mechanical reason to run a strength based monk and some GM's don't like putting a class inspired by Asian culture into a pseudo-European fantasy setting.

Perhaps allowing a monk to apply str and wisdom to his ac would be an easier fix?

As for the culture they're both guys who go around punching people, you are free to flavour it as eastern martial arts or brawling skill as you wish.

LordFluffy
2016-04-05, 09:32 AM
Perhaps allowing a monk to apply str and wisdom to his ac would be an easier fix?

As for the culture they're both guys who go around punching people, you are free to flavour it as eastern martial arts or brawling skill as you wish.
I don't know if it'd be any easier.

The big differences:
Monks are no better with improvised weapons than anyone else. They're very dex focused; changing it in one area would not really alter that. The idea of a brawler in a chain shirt appeals to me. There are monk abilities later on that very much don't feel brawler-ish.

I see reskinning as viable in some circumstances, but in others (like this one), I feel like it is concept stretched until it begins to impinge on mechanical balance and advantage.

Really what I'm looking for is if the trade offs for my above suggestions appear balanced and playable, not so much whether or not the concept is "necessary" or if there's another way to make it happen. I'm just asking about this way.

I've seen people write up similar concepts as base classes, complete with Superiority dice abilities and other contrivances, as well as just posing the question of how you'd do such a character. The other night, I was watching season two of Daredevil, saw a scene where he is using two improvised weapons and wearing armor, an was reminded of the discussion, so I wrote up the post.

What do you think of it?

Final Hyena
2016-04-05, 10:06 AM
The big differences:
Monks are no better with improvised weapons than anyone else. They're very dex focused; changing it in one area would not really alter that. The idea of a brawler in a chain shirt appeals to me. There are monk abilities later on that very much don't feel brawler-ish.

Firstly why the talk about improvised weapons? Honestly what's the point of that when they'll never be better than your fists.

The only monk features that use dex are their ac and deflect arrows, make them rely on str and maybe give them some other minor bonus to make up for the loss of initiative and dex saves which are better than str saves, maybe just give em medium armour + wisdom for ac.

LordFluffy
2016-04-05, 10:34 AM
Firstly why the talk about improvised weapons? Honestly what's the point of that when they'll never be better than your fists.
And a short sword will never be more than 1d6+Stat... unless it's used by a monk.

Improvised weapons feel more ruff and tumble, bar brawl than graceful actions with kamas and nunchaku. Having an ability make them more effective doesn't seem out of bounds and could be all sorts of Jackie Chan kind of fun.

Furthermore, why are you asking a question like this in a Homebrew forum? The answer for most questions like this are "I think it's cool and fits the concept I had in mind". It's kind of like asking "Why do you want to have fun in a manner different from what I am used to?"

Lastly, the scene I was inspired by. DD is using a length of chain and a handgun that has been duct taped to his right hand.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q0CvkiPS5Ks

I think that looks pretty awesome. I'd like to do it in D&D 5e. When I watched it, I saw things that looked like Second Wind (more than Unarmored defense or flurry of blows), plus battlemaster maneuvers, and the whole fighting style felt more "fighter" than "monk" to me. (One could probably build a DD like character as a fighter/monk MC, of course, but I prefer to avoid MC when I can for character concepts).


The only monk features that use dex are their ac and deflect arrows, make them rely on str and maybe give them some other minor bonus to make up for the loss of initiative and dex saves which are better than str saves, maybe just give em medium armour + wisdom for ac.
So your critique is that I should homebrew a different way, altering monk rather than fighter?

Is there anything wrong with my suggestions or are they just not what you would do?

Final Hyena
2016-04-05, 11:09 AM
BIG ol why snip

I asked why you brought up improvised weapons because you said


The big differences:
Monks are no better with improvised weapons than anyone else. They're very dex focused; changing it in one area would not really alter that. The idea of a brawler in a chain shirt appeals to me. There are monk abilities later on that very much don't feel brawler-ish.

Which didn't really lead on from the last thing I asked.


Perhaps allowing a monk to apply str and wisdom to his ac would be an easier fix?

As for the culture they're both guys who go around punching people, you are free to flavour it as eastern martial arts or brawling skill as you wish.


So your critique is that I should homebrew a different way, altering monk rather than fighter?

Not exactly, I merely pointed out that when you said monks were dex focused it's very easy to change this, but changing a fighter to be good with unarmed is a lil bit trickier. your current class is honestly a lil bit sub bar. also using improvised weapons are no better than a fist.

If that's the theme you want how about giving every new improvised weapon a bonus affect/extra damage and making picking up improvised weapon infinitely free as long as you hit someone with the last improvised weapon you picked up.

LordFluffy
2016-04-05, 11:18 AM
...I merely pointed out that when you said monks were dex focused it's very easy to change this, but changing a fighter to be good with unarmed is a lil bit trickier. your current class is honestly a lil bit sub bar.

How so?


also using improvised weapons are no better than a fist.
In the rule I wrote above, improvised weapons do damage for Brawlers like monk weapons do damage for Monks. A high level monk will do 1d8 with his hands or a short sword, but that won't stop him from using a short sword if he feels like it.


If that's the theme you want how about giving every new improvised weapon a bonus affect/extra damage and making picking up improvised weapon infinitely free as long as you hit someone with the last improvised weapon you picked up.
That feels a lot clunkier to me than what I suggested.

Final Hyena
2016-04-05, 11:42 AM
How so?

A monk is set up to do most of what you want, if this isn't obvious by you literally copy and pasting the brawling feature from the monk class I don't know what is.



In the rule I wrote above, improvised weapons do damage for Brawlers like monk weapons do damage for Monks. A high level monk will do 1d8 with his hands or a short sword, but that won't stop him from using a short sword if he feels like it.
Yes but you wanted to encourage improvised weapons, this "class" doesn't encourage only enable improvised weapons.



That feels a lot clunkier to me than what I suggested.
I was trying to get it with the feel of grabbing an odd weapon, but you damage it when you hit someone with it as it's not designed to be a weapon, but the complexity does go against the 5E philosophy. Perhaps a simple +2 damage with improvised weapons would be nicer.

LordFluffy
2016-04-05, 12:31 PM
A monk is set up to do most of what you want, if this isn't obvious by you literally copy and pasting the brawling feature from the monk class I don't know what is.
No, why is it sub-par was my question. That's the kind of feedback I'm actually looking for.


Yes but you wanted to encourage improvised weapons, this "class" doesn't encourage only enable improvised weapons.
Letting people add prof/stat to improvised weapons should be enough, I think. Unless a GM rules that a particularly large item does more than 1d4 it will be the same as if they use hands or feet (unless there's a reason they don't want to touch the target), but they also have recourse to simple weapons.


I was trying to get it with the feel of grabbing an odd weapon, but you damage it when you hit someone with it as it's not designed to be a weapon, but the complexity does go against the 5E philosophy. Perhaps a simple +2 damage with improvised weapons would be nicer.
I'd rather let them add prof/stat and make a bonus attack, similar to martial arts.

Final Hyena
2016-04-05, 01:07 PM
No, why is it sub-par was my question.

It's essentially a dual wielding fighter except that at the lower levels it's behind with the martial arts compared to a weapon and levels 5+ dual wielding fighter falls behind the other kinds pretty significantly.
Then you add in no heavy armour.

Lets compare a THF vs a brawler

Level 1

B/T
AC 16/16
Damage d6+d4+6/2d6+3+1.33
average 12/11.33

At this level both classes are very similar, the problem comes when the fighter gets more attacks

Level 2
action surge
damage d6+3/2d6+3+1.33
average 6.5/11.33

To make up for action surge you need an average of 7 attacks (to be fair not crazy).

Level 5
AC 17/17
Damage 3d6+12/4d6+8+2.66
average 22.5/24.66
Surge 2d6+8/4d6+8+2.66
average 15/24.66

As you can see THF has caught up and has the advantage in average damage as well as superior surge

I know what you're thinking that damage die with more attacks will make up for it in the long term!

Level 11
AC 17/18
Damage 4d8+20/6d6+15+4
Average 28/40
Surge 3d6+15/6d6+15+4
average 25.5/40

As you can see the gap is only getting worse also that heavy armour has taken the lead.

But you retort, you forgot about "Call Out" that's great, yes and no. I balanced it against the fact that if you want to use your second wind you lose an attack whereas the THF doesn't.
Overall this is something that is pretty much TWF, maybe a bit better, but TWF is not great for fighters.

LordFluffy
2016-04-05, 01:31 PM
It's essentially a dual wielding fighter except that at the lower levels it's behind with the martial arts compared to a weapon and levels 5+ dual wielding fighter falls behind the other kinds pretty significantly.
Then you add in no heavy armour.

Lets compare a THF vs a brawler

Level 1

B/T
AC 16/16
Damage d6+d4+6/2d6+3+1.33
average 12/11.33

At this level both classes are very similar, the problem comes when the fighter gets more attacks

Level 2
action surge
damage d6+3/2d6+3+1.33
average 6.5/11.33

To make up for action surge you need an average of 7 attacks (to be fair not crazy).

Level 5
AC 17/17
Damage 3d6+12/4d6+8+2.66
average 22.5/24.66
Surge 2d6+8/4d6+8+2.66
average 15/24.66

As you can see THF has caught up and has the advantage in average damage as well as superior surge

I know what you're thinking that damage die with more attacks will make up for it in the long term!

Level 11
AC 17/18
Damage 4d8+20/6d6+15+4
Average 28/40
Surge 3d6+15/6d6+15+4
average 25.5/40

As you can see the gap is only getting worse also that heavy armour has taken the lead.

But you retort, you forgot about "Call Out" that's great, yes and no. I balanced it against the fact that if you want to use your second wind you lose an attack whereas the THF doesn't.
Overall this is something that is pretty much TWF, maybe a bit better, but TWF is not great for fighters.
EDIT: Never mind what I just wrote, it's just improvised and unarmed, so your numbers are right.

Okay, I'll give that some thought.

PoeticDwarf
2016-04-05, 01:50 PM
It is pretty cool (although call out doesn't help without metagaming) . But this is also a variant monk. It must getting something more unique instead of action surge as grappling ir tripping better so it isn't just a slightly better fighter or a monk with WAY more dpr. More HP and less mobility

LordFluffy
2016-04-07, 02:51 PM
Of a note, these guys (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?483779-Sterling-Vermin-presents-the-Penultimate-Pugilist-a-monk-variant-class!) may have a better answer, though theirs is a base class (which I still think is overkill) and is based off of the Monk chassis.

Submortimer
2016-04-07, 06:07 PM
My thought is that Brawler doesn't require an entire base class. The concept, I think, is more similar to fighters than to monks (or barbarians, even).


I agree with you:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B_73NA7vK-0ORlBNdFMydEprWVU/view?pli=1

PoeticDwarf
2016-04-08, 01:03 AM
I agree with you:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B_73NA7vK-0ORlBNdFMydEprWVU/view?pli=1

This one is pretty nice, not perfect but very cool

Submortimer
2016-04-08, 09:08 AM
This one is pretty nice, not perfect but very cool

MY WORK "NOT PERFECT"?! BLASPHEMY, BLASPHEMY I SAY!

But yeah, I agree. I like it, it does what I want it to, I just wish I could make it a little more elegant.

Oramac
2016-04-08, 09:58 AM
Perhaps allowing a monk to apply str and wisdom to his ac would be an easier fix?

This was my initial thought. Just let the Monk use strength instead of Dex.

PotatoGolem
2016-04-08, 10:48 AM
Ok, to actually critique the kit as opposed to complaining about why you decided to do it:

1) This needs to have your unarmed attacks count as magical at 6th level, like a monk. Otherwise, you'll never be able to beat a werewolf to death. And that would be sad.

2) Improvised weapons do need a buff. Monks use weapons because they find a cool magic monk weapon. No one makes Flaming Ale Mugs, except maybe gnomes. And even then, not more than once. The simplest route I can see is making an improvised weapon deal damage one die up from your martial arts die. Makes them better than your fists, but you still use your fists for the bonus action attack. Plus, improvised weapons can break.

Sindeloke
2016-04-08, 09:38 PM
I have a feat for improvised weapon fighting that gives you an advantage on your first attack with a specific improvised weapon (sort of like a mini surprise round based on the fact that no one expects you to suddenly try to hit them with a chair). It encourages players to keep grabbing different weapons throughout the fight, which in turn can encourage creative weapon properties ("I guess I grab that ladder - can I use it to increase my speed this round, Jackie Chan style?" "I hit at him with the candlestick - it seems like it would grab a weapon really well, can I have advantage on a disarm attempt?"). If they're constantly trying to grab new things, players are thinking about unorthodox objects instead of just chair legs and big sticks, and they'll do a lot of the work of special weapon features for you.

yaunti
2016-12-06, 08:30 PM
I have always used unarmed combat with my fighters from first to 3.5 . i have also always used my armor with my unarmed strike. If batman does a forarm strike his unarmed skill would be added to that armor he is wearing.

I also used to use bucklers as they allowed me to keep my hands free but i would add the shield bash with my unarmed strike damage.

Fighters should start with unarmed strike. What kind of fighter doesnt know how to use the weapons hes born with, His fists. Monks should be better with punches and kicks but fighters should have a d4 unless they take some archtype that trains in it.

Ive always taken a fighter over a monk because a fighter gets the weapon proficinces and fineses which i used for unarmed strike. Plus the armor. I would wear leather or scale until i could get high level exotic armor.

I played my fighters like a wrestler, puglist or a fighter who wanted to be a monk but was too chaotic to learn anything but fighting techniques.

I like the ability of quievering palm but dont need it. all i would take a monk for is the unarmed damage rolls. I hate the KI part of monk and could do without all the other monk abilities. That is why i would take a unarmed fighter over unarmwd monk. Even if it was capped at a D8 damage.

DandDwiki had a custom archtype similar to this.

CunningKindred
2016-12-07, 10:25 AM
I think a fighter archetype which uses brawling sounds like a fine idea. I've known lots of players that would love to play that.

I do think it would be better to fit your idea within the pre-existing framework of the class though. Don't change the fighter's proficiencies. Just write a nice, simple, unarmed fighting style and an improvised fighting style. Both would be cool for lots of players. Then write a fighter archetype which can pick up the second fighting style at 3rd level and gets some augments further along to make them a major contender for unarmed combat.

I would probably not give them magical unarmed attacks (that is the monk's territory) but perhaps - if your game is one where magical attacks are a must by 6th or so level - write some special gauntlets/glove/etc magic items which he could find in place of a magical weapon, to provide the same benefit.

Llama513
2016-12-07, 10:58 AM
Firstly why the talk about improvised weapons? Honestly what's the point of that when they'll never be better than your fists.

The only monk features that use dex are their ac and deflect arrows, make them rely on str and maybe give them some other minor bonus to make up for the loss of initiative and dex saves which are better than str saves, maybe just give em medium armour + wisdom for ac.

And all of their attacks, as all of their weapons are considered Finesse for them