Hipsters & Dragons

Because roleplaying is social, creative, fun… and kinda cool!

9 Powerful New Weapon Feats

Hi guys, I’ve recently crafted 9 new weapon feats for 5e D&D, to fill in the gaps left by Crossbow Expert, Defensive Duellist, Great Weapon Master, Polearm Master and Sharp Shooter.

You can skip right ahead to the following feats:

Or, if you have a couple of minutes spare, you can read about the process that led me there…

New Weapon Properties Fail to Excite…

A while back I tried to add some realism and complexity to weapons in 5th edition, and create mechanic distinctions between the list of arms in the Player’s Handbook, so as to offer players a meaningful choice when selecting their equipment. The result was 19 new weapon qualities that meant no single weapon was exactly the same.

New weapon properties are not for everyone, it seems!

I was really pleased with my creation, but the response so far has been underwhelming. A blog comment that missed the point, and some average comments/reviews on the DMs Guild. Even my own gaming table didn’t seem particularly interested in the fact their weapons were now more interesting.

People Don’t Like Rules Changes…

Over the last few years I’ve written new adventures, lore and rules for 5e Dungeons & Dragons, either as a blogger or for the DMs Guild, and it’s noticeable that messing around with the game’s existing mechanics is by far the least popular thing you can do as a D&D creator.

People start with the viewpoint that the official rules are the word of God, and anything you do to try to fix/improve them is tantamount to heresy – to the extent that sometimes impressive feats of mental agility are performed to defend their flaws and foibles (“D&D shouldn’t try to be realistic”, “it’s perfectly balanced”, “it’s not balanced, but it’s better that way” … whatever serves the argument basically. Note: I’m a massive fan of the system, I just believe certain aspects ought to be revised a little).

Don’t be giving me none of your house rules…

If the likes of Hypnotic Pattern or Banishment (to name two of my pet peeves) were not in the official rules, and you – as an outsider – tried to insert them, you’d be torn apart for your poor grasp of the 5th edition design principles and inability to balance new mechanics. But people will defend these poorly designed spells to the hilt, simply because they ARE in the official rules.

Aside from the fact that people want to play the ‘official’ version of the game, many DMs and players are loathe to add any additional complexity to their game, rating 5e’s simplicity as one of its key draws. Give them an extra table to consult, or – god forbid – an additional die roll or two, as I did with my new weapon properties, and your ideas will be dismissed almost out of hand.

While I have a different philosophy, I totally understand people who prefer things official and simple, and so I went back to the drawing board. And I think I came back with something better…

Weapon Feats: A More Elegant Solution

The failure of my new weapon properties to excite the D&D masses left with me a problem, as I still want my weapon choice to mean something – it drives me a little crazy that wielding a mace in Dungeons & Dragons is almost identical to wielding a quarterstaff, shortsword, scimitar or spear. Yes it’s simple, but it’s also excruciatingly dull.

And then I had an idea.

How about conjuring up some “Weapon Mastery Feats” to fill in all the gaps left behind by Great Weapon Master, Polearm Master, Sharp Shooter etc. in the Player’s Handbook, as an optional way of making your weapon choice mean something?

The great thing about feats is only the people interested in them have to learn them, and the DM doesn’t have to remember that the scimitar has the parry property for all their NPCs for example (as with my previous, properties-driven attempt to address this problem).

Feats are little add ons that add curated complexity to a narrow niche within the game, and we can usually trust the player with the feat to deal with them, meaning the rules burden for the rest of the gaming table is very light indeed.

Hopefully these feats can prove the ‘elegant’ solution that achieves my goal (and those who share my passion for weapons!) and meets the demand of the majority of 5e players and DMs, without forcing anyone to rethink the game.

Unearthed Arcana: Weapon Feats by Mike Mearls

Now that I’ve done some research, I see I’m not the first person to think of this… Mike Mearls himself had a go at brewing up some new weapon feats back in 2016. Now I’ve always got a lot of time for what the Mearls has to say… but overall I’m not a huge fan of what he came up with on this occasion. He turns to +1 bonuses a lot, which I find rather boring and flavourless, with a high fiddle to reward ratio, and some of the other mechanics seem a bit clumsy too. But certainly there are some good ideas in the mix, so go read

Hipsters & Dragons’ New Weapon Feats

– Design Principles

If we think about what a weapon master can do in combat with their chosen tool, then we start to think about the tricks and stunts already covered by the Battle Master archetype’s maneuvers. Indeed, the idea of this post actually came to me when I was trying to devise a Whip Master feat for an Indiana Jones style explorer… I wanted to be able to disarm, trip and distract with my whip… which naturally led me to the Martial Adept feat, and its access to the aforementioned manoeuvres.

But while Martial Adept would give me some of the capabilities I’m looking for, it doesn’t for example cover swinging from trees and chandeliers (important oversight if you want to play Indiana Jones). Plus one superiority die alone is a bit underwhelming.

My solution then was to create a new Whip Master feat, by fusing a constant benefit of using a whip, with a more focused version of Martial Adept, with just access to maneuvers that make sense for this particular weapon. The result is, I think, a really cool feat (you can find it below), that offers plenty of flexibility in combat situations, which still falls within the power balance of a 5e feat.

Indeed, I was so pleased with the result, that I almost immediately saw in it the solution to making other weapons way cooler. And thus, the Whip Master feat gave me my formula for virtually all of the Weapon Master Feats you can now find below.

Power Balance

In terms of balance, I’ve tried pitching all of these as being better than a simple +1 to hit and attack, that an improved attribute would get you (otherwise what would be the point in taking the feat, when +2 Strength/Dex would get you that bonus, as well as one to your saving throws, and related skills etc.?), without ever outperforming the Polearm Master feat, which is probably the most powerful combat feat out there and the top level of what a feat should do.

So, now that you understand my thought process, I hope you enjoy these feats…

Axe Master

You gain the following benefits:

  • When you attack with an axe, your critical range extends by 1 and you score a critical hit on a 19 or 20.
  • You learn two maneuvers of the Battle Master archetype from the following list, which you can perform with an axe: Distracting Strike, Menacing Attack, Parry (Handaxe only), Pushing Attack, Sweeping Attack (Battleaxe and Greataxe only), Trip Attack, Brace (UA)*. If a maneuver requires your target to make a saving throw to resist the maneuver’s effects, the saving throw DC equals 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Strength modifier.
  • You gain one superiority dice, which is a d6. A die is expended when you use it. You regain your expended superiority dice when you finish a short or long rest.

*Plus Blinding Strike, Combination Attack, Crippling Attack, Defensive Stance, Disabling Strike, Preemptive Strike (Handaxe only), Showboating Attack and Whirlwind Defense (Battleaxe and Greataxe only) if you want to include my homebrew manoeuvres in your game.

Rocking and rolling with Ragnar and Rollo…

Design Notes: When I think of axes I think of brutal, top heavy weapons with a lot of hitting power, and probably your go-to weapon if you want to hack off a limb. Those medieval headsmen chose axes for a reason, right? I think the easiest way to reflect that is via an extended critical range… especially as who doesn’t love an extended critical range? Now, criticals as written are not that powerful, but many D&D playing tables have house rules that boost them considerably. If, for example, you play that on a crit you do max damage + normal damage (instead of normal damage x 2), you might want to consider if crits scored with this feat are just double the dice, rolling both of them – depending on how powerful you want to make this feat.

Bludgeoning Master

You gain the following benefits:

  • When you make an attack roll with a weapon that deals bludgeoning damage and you miss by 1, you hit instead, dealing half your usual damage.
  • When you score a critical hit with a weapon that deals bludgeoning damage, if the target is a Large-sized creature or smaller, it must succeed on a Constitution saving throw or be knocked prone. If the saving throw fails by 5 or more, the target is also stunned until the end of your next turn. The saving throw DC equals 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Strength modifier.
  • You learn two maneuvers of the Battle Master archetype from the following list, which you can perform while wielding a bludgeoning weapon: Distracting Strike, Menacing Attack, Pushing Attack, Sweeping Attack (maul only), Trip Attack, Brace (UA)*. If a maneuver requires your target to make a saving throw to resist the maneuver’s effects, the saving throw DC equals 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Strength modifier.
  • You gain one superiority dice, which is a d6. A die is expended when you use it. You regain your expended superiority dice when you finish a short or long rest.

*Plus Combination Attack, Crippling Attack, Whirlwind Defence (maul only) from my homebrew manoeuvres.

Mauls. Because, why complicate things?

Design Notes: Critics will say the miss by 1 is fiddly, but when you’re that close to hitting you always do the maths, so you know. And halving damage is something we should be used to with Dexterity saving throws etc.. What I like about it is that clerics often fight with blunt weapons and this pairs well with the war cleric’s Divine Strike ability, or even the paladin’s Divine Smite (my intention is that damage dice from divine powers would do full damage. On the subject of Divine Smite though, that’s something that’s in desperate need of a nerf IMHO). Anyhow I have actually playtested this rule a lot, as it was a property I gave to all bludgeoning weapons in my Dragon Heist campaign, and it worked really well.

Fencing Master

Prerequisite: Dexterity 13 or higher

When wielding a rapier or scimitar, you gain the following benefits:

  • When a creature hits you with a melee attack which you can see, you can use your reaction to add your proficiency bonus to your AC for that attack, potentially parrying the blow. If this parry causes the attack to miss you, and you have the Defensive Duelist feat, you may also make one melee attack against that creature, as part of the same reaction.
  • You learn two maneuvers of the Battle Master archetype from the following list, which you can perform with a rapier or scimitar: Disarming Attack, Distracting Strike, Feinting Attack, Lunging Attack, Parry, Precision Attack, Pushing Attack, Riposte, Sweeping Attack, Tripping Attack, Brace (UA)*. If a maneuver requires your target to make a saving throw to resist the maneuver’s effects, the saving throw DC equals 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Strength modifier or Dexterity modifier (your choice).
  • You gain one superiority dice, which is a d6. A die is expended when you use it. You regain your expended superiority dice when you finish a short or long rest.

*Plus Acrobatic Attack, Acrobatic Defense, Blinding Strike, Combination Attack, Crippling Attack, Defensive Feint, Defensive Stance, Disabling Strike, Preemptive Strike, Showboating Attack, and Whirlwind Defense, if you want to include these new Battle Master maneuvers.

Thrust, parry, riposte, repeat… every rapier fight ever!

Design Notes: When my PC fights with a scimitar or a rapier, I want to do three things… parry, riposte and disarm! The Defensive Duelist feat allows you to one of those things, and the Martial Adept feat allows you to do the other two, but only once per short rest. I’ve combined the two into one feat, but not wanting to throw Defensive Duellist on the scrap heap, I’ve brewed in an integration of DD that really gets this feat combo purring with more frequent ripostes. Swashbucklers, you’re welcome!

Flail Master

You gain the following benefits:

  • When you take the attack action using a flail, you may disregard a shield’s bonus to a creature’s AC on one of your weapon attacks.
  • When you score a critical hit with a flail, if the target is a Large-sized creature or smaller, it must succeed on a Constitution saving throw, or be knocked prone. If the saving throw fails by 5 or more, the target is also stunned until the end of your next turn. The saving throw DC equals 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Strength modifier.
  • You learn two maneuvers of the Battle Master archetype from the following list, which you can perform with a flail: Disarming Attack, Distracting Strike, Lunging Attack, Menacing Attack, Trip Attack, Brace (UA)*. If a maneuver requires your target to make a saving throw to resist the maneuver’s effects, the saving throw DC equals 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Strength modifier.
  • You gain 1 superiority die (1d6) to perform these maneuvers, which you regain at the end of a short or long rest.

*Plus Crippling Attack, Showboating Attack and Whirlwind Defence from these new maneuvers.

The real flail was a two-handed peasant’s weapon. But that’s less fun!

Design Notes: For ages I’ve been debating how to get across (what I see as) the flail’s main advantage, the ability to strike over or around a shield. A plus 1 is very meh, but clearly a shield is still useful so a +2 is too strong. When I came upon the solution I knew it was right (It was originally once per round, but after a suggestion in the comments section I amended to once per attack action, to fit in with action surge). The rest is similar to the Bludgeoning Master feat, and so I feel there’s a nice balance between the feats – which is important. I want to create a fun choice for players, not make one weapon, and its corresponding feat, way more attractive than the others.

Knife Thrower

You gain the following benefits:

  • When you take the Attack action to make a thrown weapon attack with a dagger, you may make an additional thrown dagger attack as part of the same action, drawing a fresh weapon as part of any attack roll.
  • You learn two maneuvers of the Battle Master archetype from the following list, which you can perform in conjunction with a thrown dagger attack: Disarming Attack, Distracting Attack and Precision Attack*. If a maneuver requires your target to make a saving throw to resist the maneuver’s effects, the saving throw DC equals 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Strength modifier.
  • You gain 1 superiority die (1d6) to perform these maneuvers, which you regain at the end of a short or long rest.

*Plus Blinding Attack and Disabling Attack from this list.

Design Notes: You could rename this Shuriken Master for a ninja-themed Dungeons & Dragons campaign! My first attempt at this feat offered a +2 bonus to attack, but really, when playing a knife thrower, the fantasy is all about making as many attacks as possible – like this guy. This feat also assumes that you can make a bonus action attack with a second weapon, as per the rules of two-handed fighting, while for rogues who want to be sure of getting their Sneak Attack damage you might want to check out the Aim feature that came out in Unearthed Arcana a while back. While I primarily had rogues in mind for the feat, a monk can replace the dagger’s paltry d4 with their Martial Arts die… bringing this back to a ninja-style shuriken master! UPDATE: I had included some Sharp Shooter-esque properties into this feat, but now I realise you can use Sharp Shooter with thrown dagger attacks anyway, so I removed those to avoid the overlap. Instead you’ve got a deadly combo now, by picking both feats! Look out multiverse…

Morningstar Master

You gain the following benefits:

  • When you score a critical hit with a morningstar, you roll one additional weapon damage die when determining the damage. Additionally, if the target is a Large-sized creature or smaller, it must succeed on a Constitution saving throw or be knocked prone. If the saving throw fails by 5 or more, the target is also stunned until the end of your next turn. The saving throw DC equals 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Strength modifier.
  • You learn two maneuvers of the Battle Master archetype from the following list, which you can perform while wielding a bludgeoning weapon: Distracting Strike, Menacing Attack, Pushing Attack, Trip Attack, Brace (UA)*. If a maneuver requires your target to make a saving throw to resist the maneuver’s effects, the saving throw DC equals 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Strength modifier.
  • You gain one superiority dice, which is a d6. A die is expended when you use it. You regain your expended superiority dice when you finish a short or long rest.

*Plus Combination Attack, Crippling Attack, Disabling Strike and Showboating Attack from my homebrew maneuvers.

Design Notes: More or less the same as Bludgeoning Master, I felt the morningstar needed its own feat, so I gave it a little twist. Now there’s a bit of mechanical difference between wielding a warhammer, flail or morningstar, plus the Battle Master maneuvers offer a chance to personalise your capabilities further. If I were to give this feat a tiny lift, I would impose disadvantage on the saving throw against the effects of Menacing Attack made by a Morningstar Master.

Short Blades Master

When you attack with a dagger or shortsword, you gain the following benefits:

  • You have advantage on attack rolls against a creature you are grappling, as well as against creatures that are grappling you.
  • When you have advantage on a melee attack roll, and you hit, you can reroll 1s and 2s on your damage dice. You must use the new roll, even if it is a 1 or a 2.
  • You learn two maneuvers of the Battle Master archetype from the following list, which you can perform with a dagger or shortsword: Disarming Attack, Distracting Strike, Evasive Footwork, Feinting Attack, Precision Attack and Riposte*. If a maneuver requires your target to make a saving throw to resist the maneuver’s effects, the saving throw DC equals 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Strength or Dexterity modifier (your choice).
  • You gain one superiority dice, which is a d6. A die is expended when you use it. You regain your expended superiority dice when you finish a short or long rest.

*Plus Acrobatic Attack, Acrobatic Defense, Blinding Strike, Combination Attack, Defensive Feint, Disabling Strike and Preemptive Strike from these homebrew Battle Master maneuvers.

Young Guns are having some fun!

Design Notes: For me short blades are useful for either very close work, which I reflect in the first effect of this feat, or for dealing a deadly blow to a prone or surprised opponent, reflected in point two. I felt that in order to compete with a +2 Dexterity score increase, there was still room for a superiority die in the feat.

Spear Master

When you wield a javelin or spear, you gain the following benefits:

  • Your weapon reach extends to 10 feet, and other creatures provoke an opportunity attack from you when they enter that reach.
  • When you have advantage on an attack roll, or you move at least 20 feet in a straight line before making your attack, and you hit, then you roll an additional die, equal to the weapon’s usual damage die, when determining the attack’s damage.
  • You either gain a +2 bonus to range attack rolls, or you learn two maneuvers of the Battle Master archetype from the following list, which you can perform with a javelin or spear: Distracting Strike, Feinting Attack, Lunging Attack, Pushing Attack, Riposte and Trip Attack*. If a maneuver requires your target to make a saving throw to resist the maneuver’s effects, the saving throw DC equals 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Strength modifier.
  • You gain one superiority dice to fuel your known maneuvers, which is a d6. A die is expended when you use it. You regain your expended superiority dice when you finish a short or long rest.

*Plus Acrobatic Defense, Blinding Strike, Crippling Attack, Defensive Feint, Defensive Stance, Disabling Strike and Preemptive Strike from these maneuvers.

If it’s good enough for the Unsullied…

Design Notes: There’s a bit of confusion over the spear in the official rules for me. Originally it was left out of the Polearm Master feat, and then it was included by virtue of an Errata update of the Player’s Handbookan Errata update of the Player’s Handbook. However there should clearly be the stipulation that the spear needs to be wielded two-handed in order to benefit from the bonus action attack of the feat… unless we’re to imagine that spear wielders in D&D now twirl their weapons like they’re in a marching band. Anyway, for wielding a spear in two hands probably best to take PAM, but if you want to build a kick ass one-handed spear wielder, here we go…

Sword Master

You gain the following benefits:

  • You learn three maneuvers of the Battle Master archetype from the following list, which you can perform while wielding a longsword or greatsword: Disarming Attack, Distracting Strike, Feinting Attack, Lunging Attack, Menacing Attack, Parry, Precision Attack, Pushing Attack, Riposte, Sweeping Attack, Tripping Attack and Brace (UA)*. If a maneuver requires your target to make a saving throw to resist the maneuver’s effects, the saving throw DC equals 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Strength modifier.
  • You gain two superiority dice, which are d6s. A die is expended when you use it. You regain one expended superiority dice when you finish a short rest, and two expended superiority dice when you finish a long rest.

*Plus Acrobatic Attack, Acrobatic Defense, Blinding Strike, Combination Attack, Crippling Attack, Defensive Feint, Defensive Stance, Disabling Strike, Preemptive Strike, Showboating Attack, and Whirlwind Defense, if you want to include my homebrew manoeuvres.

Before winter came….

Design Notes: Obviously this is a doubled up version of Martial Adept, with the justification that it’s limited to only two weapons and you can’t choose every single maneuver available (plus Martial Adept is not that good, so we can afford to take a liberty here!). Mostly I wanted to reflect the versatility of swords in combat… they don’t hit as hard as a top heavy axe or mace, but they are faster to swing, easier to parry and counter with, and they are sharp all over. I was hesitant to include greatsword in this feat, as the arguably overpowered Great Weapon Master feat already exists, but since I included greataxe in my Axe Master feat, and the maul in the Bludgeoning Master feat I figured it was only fair. This is a nice feat for someone like a ranger or barbarian who wants to have a bit more versatility and choice in combat. UPDATE. I’ve been thinking that since most combats only last a couple of rounds, and typically parties are able to rest between combats, that two superiority dice makes this feat a bit too strong, and compromises The Battle Master a bit too much. Therefore I’ve made it that while a Sword Master starts with two superiority dice, they can only recover 1 per short rest. It’s a little untidy, esp. as there’s nothing in RAW to stop players taking two short rests in a row (no doubt this is what led to those weird healing rules, I don’t like much!). Let me know your thoughts in the comments… are two superiority dice per rest any more powerful than Polearm Master feat?

Whip Master

You gain the following benefits:

  • You gain proficiency in the whip. If you are already proficient with a whip you gain a +2 bonus to your attack rolls with a whip.
  • You may use a bonus action to wrap your whip around a beam, branch or similar object within range and swing up to 10 feet. Each foot you swing costs one foot of movement.
  • You learn two maneuvers of the Battle Master archetype from the following list, which you can perform with a whip: Disarming Attack, Distracting Strike, Lunging Attack, Sweeping Attack, Trip Attack and Brace (UA)*. If a maneuver requires your target to make a saving throw to resist the maneuver’s effects, the saving throw DC equals 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Strength or Dexterity modifier (your choice).
  • You gain two superiority dice, which are d6s. A die is expended when you use it. You regain one expended superiority dice when you finish a short rest, and two expended superiority dice when you finish a long rest.

*Plus Blinding Strike and Disabling Strike from this list.

Whip it real good…

Design Notes: When trying to build an Indiana Jones character for a Tomb of Annihilation campaign, I realised IJ was a rogue… and rogues don’t have proficiency in whips, hence I had to build that into the feat. Of course that raises the problem that a rogue can now do their sneak attack damage with a whip, which is a bit silly for me… as a DM, I’d probably offer half damage on sneak attack dice. Presumably most rogues will fight with a weapon + whip anyhow, dealing their SA damage with a shortsword most of the time. I hesitated over giving Whip Masters two superiority dice, but the swinging bonus action is incredibly situational (you could even remove it from the feat, and just improvise such actions), so I think the feat is balanced ok against the other feats, given than whips only do d4 damage and there aren’t many magic whips out there! (Check out Esquiel’s Guide to Magic Weapons if you need some!). I did finally add the same restriction to recovering expended dice, as the Sword Master feat, for the same reasons given previously.

Missing Feats…

So I didn’t quite get around to sickle, trident and war pick, nor blow gun, darts, net or sling, but between the martial feats in the Player’s Handbook and these, I think 95% of people’s weapon fantasies should be covered by now!

I may well come and finish the job over time.

Bonus Martial Feat

I think there might be room for a feat that makes one-handed fighting a viable option.

Duelling Master

You favour balance, manoeuvrability and improvisation in combat.

  • When you use the Attack action to attack with a one-handed weapon, and you are holding nothing in your other hand, you may use a bonus action to either make an additional melee weapon attack, or to make an attack with your free hand (either unarmed strike or grapple attack).

Design Notes: At first glance this might seem a little overpowered, but then if we consider that Polearm Master feat allows you to attack with 1d10 (main attack) + 1d4 (bonus attack), at 10 feet range, adding your Strength bonus to both, AND get opportunity attacks on those entering your reach, I think this feat falls just short of that.

Your Thoughts?

So, do you like these? Would you use them in your game? I’d be interested to know your feedback and anything you’ve done or tried related to weapons in 5th edition… please pipe up in the comments section below!

Let’s Stay in Touch!

Between bashing out new Battle Master maneuvers and fine tuning all of the above feats, not to mention playing in two campaigns and DMing a third, I’ve been spending a crazy about of time thinking about, playing and creating stuff around Dungeons & Dragons recently. (My rent-paying projects all involve tourism… so I’ve basically been unemployed since March. Many thanks to the Wuhan Food Market Sanitation & Standards Office for these fun, financially crippling times!).

Anyhow, if you like 75% of what I’m doing here (I’m not expecting us to agree on everything!), I’d LOVE for you to become a subscriber (see sidebar) or to stay in touch via Facebook… or even share this blog with some of your D&D-loving friends… it would motivate me to keep investing time in this little blog, and give you guys a bit of extra D&D reading once or twice a month.

Coming soon, I’ve got a HUGE post on Dragon Heist, half written, plus new posts on how to play both Indiana Jones and Gogo Yubari in 5th edition (with an awesome new Meteor Hammer Master feat inspired by everyone’s favourite school girl!).

And sometime in 2020 I’m going to be publishing a sequel to Dragon Heist that I think is going to blow your mind! It’s a pulp fantasy mini-setting and adventure in one, with gritty combats and great intrigue. But that’s all I can say for now…

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4 Comments

  1. Dennis

    I’ve dreamed up my own versions of the the UA weapon feats but they aren’t quite ready to be used in game yet. I don’t like the maneuver dice mechanic, but that’s my personal preference not an inherent problem with the idea. I suspect some will see it as overpowered, but I’m not inclined to worry too much about game balance.

    Axe Master: How does the extended critical range combine with the extended critical range from the Champion subclass? If there’s no benefit from combining them players will be resentful. If it stacks many will say a critical range of 18-20 (15%) for levels 3 through 14, and 17-20 (20%) for levels 15+ is overpowered.

    Fencing Master: Is it too much like the Duelist subclass? How would it combine with that subclass and the Defensive Duelist feat?

    Flail Master: I like the disregard shield bonus once per round mechanic. I’d be tempted to make it once per attack action (for synergy with Action Surge).

    Short Blades Master: It makes a dagger specialist a lot more viable.

    Spear Master: I’m not sure this is necessary as Polearm Master has been errata’d to include the spear. I’d additionally rule that the spear is a reach weapon.

    Sword Master: I’d have it make all swords (short, long, great) finesse weapons for the character, making all swords not just the rapier, good primary weapons for Dexterity based martial classes. Then reduce the number of maneuver to dice to 1.

    Whip Master: Flavourful and makes the whip a more viable choice.

    I believe the blow gun, darts, and sling benefit from Sharpshooter and so arguably don’t need their own feat. I’d lump the war pick in with the warhammer – historically most warhammers comnbined a flat bludgeoning face and a vicious spike. How about a feat that combines trident and net as the Retiarus seems to be the archtype for trident fighting.

    • duncan

      Hey Dennis

      Thanks for taking the time to feedback on these!

      Let me try to answer your concerns.

      Axe Master – the intention was that the critical range extends by 1 (maybe I’ll change the jargon, or put something in the design notes to clarify that!). Aside from the fact that no one I’ve played with, or watched online even, has ever played a Champion (they seem like a good class for newbie, beer and pretzels player, but otherwise they are rather dull!), I don’t think the additional range overpowers them. Effectively it’s an additional 5% chance of doing an additional 3.5, 4.5 or 6.5 damage, depending on the axe in question. Of course if you play max. damage on a critical or you use the Lingering Injuries table in the DMG (or a substitute table) then it could be overpowered! But I think DMs can make a call about whether this extended range would include those extras.

      Fencing Master – Oooh, I haven’t heard of the Duelist subclass, and I can’t find it online. Is it Unearthed Arcana or in a book? I would have thought the Swashbuckler pretty much covers duelling! Regarding the Defensive Duellist, the idea is that whichever you take first gives you the parry skill, and then whichever you take second enables the parry + riposte. I built it this way, so you don’t have to take DD at all, or at least you don’t have to take it first.

      Flail Master – hmmm, yes now I’m tempted to make it once per Attack action too. Maybe I will go and amend that, after a little more thought.

      Spear Master – if you check my design notes here, you’ll see I’ve covered this point. Since there’s no way I’d allow a bonus action attack with the spear butt when it’s wielded one handed, and wielded two handed you’d rather choose a weapon that does a d10 to go with your Polearm Master feat. That’s why I think there’s room for this feat, focusing on a one-handed spear wielder. Actually it’s one of my favourites, as it offers situational damage boosts which are at least partly under the players control (ie. not reliant on rolling a 19 or 20 etc.). I’m thinking about adding the Reach property to this feat now that you suggest it!

      Sword Master – I did actually think of making a longsword only feat that offered it the finesse quality. (I certainly would never offer the greatsword it… although then again maybe you could grant greatsword finesse with a feat, if you set a Strength minimum of 13 for example). But overall if you give the Dex based fighter longswords and greatswords to play with, then aren’t you waving goodbye to the Strength based fighter? Which should be the dominant model here. Another option might be – plus 1 to Dex or Str and the superiority die? Or I could build in a limited Defensive Duelist-style parry… add your proficiency bonus to your AC but only a number of times equal to your Dex modifier per rest….?

      You’re probably right about darts and slings… and blow gun maybe relies more on a Poison Kit proficiency anyway. Now that I think about it, I would put in war pick with the Morningstar feat actually, offering a brutal critical effect, rather than a impactful miss that the warhammer gets via the Bludgeoning feat.

      A Gladiator feat that combines trident and net would be really cool! The net is a weird weapon that complicates the game a bit, but might be fun to experiment.

      Thanks again for the comment!

      • Dennis

        Champion isn’t exactly the most popular Fighter archetype, but I think it would be great, both thematically and in rules synergy, for a Fighter with a few levels of Barbarian. The Barbarian’s Reckless Attack gives advantage on attack rolls, while Champion gives an extended critical range, combined the result should be a lot of criticals.

        Swashbuckler… That’s the one I meant. Not sure what I confused it with.

        Polearm Master, both pre and post errata, includes the quarterstaff which can be wielded one handed. The feat’s extra attack nicely represents real world techniques which require wielding the weapon in two hands…. I think I’d edit Polearm Master so that (at least) the extra attack requires wielding the weapon two-handed, and have Spear Master require wielding handed.

        With Spear Master focused on single handed wielding I’d have it apply to melee attacks with javalins as well.

        I’m considering ruling that the spear is a always a reach weapon (without requiring a feat) as this reflects real world usage both single and dual handed.

        Strength based melee attacks is a D&D’ism based on Victorian prejudice that medieval weapons were crude and heavy, so I’m wouldn’t miss the Strength based fighter much… That said the Polearm Master + Sentinel combo should be enough to keep Strength based fighter builds alive and well.

        The Morningstar feat looks to me like good place for the war pick to me as well.

  2. I am newbie to DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS, And learning as many stuff i can learn about this sensation. I found your article very responsive and easy to understand. Got my knowledge enhanced regarding the weapons feat and their creation. I will be looking for some more articles on your site thanks for this lovely post.

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