August 23, 2016

Buried Treasures: The Warlord

Welcome, one and all to Buried Treasures (name pending), our new feature here on MFoV! You all voted for a martial class, and we aim to deliver!

Our goal with this new column is to adopt a more Unearthed Arcana style to class building; that is, develop a more or less complete class, take a nice chunk of it, and make it available for you all to view, critique, playtest, and entirely break. It is our hope that this will lead to a more balanced, effective, and intuitive new class, and fewer post-releace balance changes and fixes.

The first up on offer is the Warlord. While sharing a name and general concept with the 4e class, this is not an adaptation. The concept here was to create a fully martial class that had both battlefield control and party support abilities, while still being fun to play. My initial draft was fully functional, and seemed to be balanced, but it felt bland, and was lacking some real punch: fighters had more attacks, bards and clerics have spells, barbarians have rage, etc. To that end, the warlord has something that no other class has: A cohort!

A cohort, in this sense, is another creature of one of the standard races, who increases in power as you gain levels in the warlord class. While not specifically gaining PC levels themselves, they gain abilities from a specific class based on the warlord subclass you choose.

All in all, we hope this is something that interests you, and we eagerly anticipate your feedback!

(Dev note: I wasn't able to copy over the stat blocks for the specific races into the google doc, so for the time being, use the basic stat blocks for each race shown in the Monster Manual)


  1. I picture playing this character as a clingy, duplicitous ex-slattern, who has manipulated her dragon banner barbarian in to fighting for her. He thinks it’s love, she’d replace him without a second thought if he died. He’s fighting for her honor and the thrill of adventure. She’s in it for the money. She never uses the attack action, donating them to him, and can dump her strength, focusing on charisma based skills.

    I’d play it!

  2. Some quick feedback:
    -Eagle is mentioned, but missing
    -Cohorts feel slightly tacked on
    -I slightly suggest to allow standard point buy Stat gen for cohorts to promote diversity; else there is a clear few 'best' and 'worst'options for each Banner, which is one of the issues with BM ranger
    -Needs monster cohort option
    -Would appreciate a variant with Battlemaster basically replacing Cohorts
    -Feels like an odd Bard/Fighter mix
    -Lacks punch, often has to give up own action to use class features

    1. I agree with a lot of these points -- though we should discuss solutions more in depth. I recommend we migrate discussion to the subreddit.

    2. Some food for thought before my break ends- when I think of 'Warlord' and what it means to me, this quote sums it up perfectly: "If you do things well, do them better. Be daring, be first, be different, be just."

    3. Quick answers to some questions:

      - Eagle is written, but is not currently included for sake of simplicity (for the time being)

      - Cohorts are part of v2 of this class. The Bannemen ability initially allowed you to select a number of your companions, who were then always considered in range of your warlord abilities and could be commanded to attack as a bonus action.

      - I don't really disagree with you about the standard point buy. I went this route for simplicities sake. That, and having to do stat generation and whatnot for your cohort would make it quite a bit more complicated.

      - Monster cohort would be a specific Banner.

      - So, no cohort, but you get Maneuvers? Hmm. Have to think on that. Warlords are leaders of men, and I really like the idea of a Class that always has a companion that really grows with then (as opposed to the Ranger, who really doesnt).

      - it is intended to be a non-magical mix of bard and fighter, so you're right on the money.

      - Agreed. The concept is to have the Cohort do a lot of the heavy lifting, while you support him from the sidelines. Think of this whole class much more like the Pathfinder Summoner, only with less 8 legged dragon snakes.

    4. See, I feel that the big issue here is that 5e is not made to handle the action economy of two full PCs (which is what the Cohort as illustrated by you in other comments is.) You won't be able to make it satisfactory - it will either be too weak/lacking in versmillitude (BM Ranger) or too strong (Warlord).

      The idea I had instead was to consider that the 'intelligent tactician' is very much realized by Battlemaster but 5e lacks a class with the identity of someone who 'leads from the front'; a Bravura, if you will.

      You want this class to be a martial party support without spells, but at present he lacks 'punch' - the cohort steals the spotlight.

      I would instead give him Maneuvers and a unique mechanic, which I will call Bravura Points/Dice.

      Taking a nod from the Pathfinder version of Warlord, I feel this class can be made most unique by creating a Risk / Rake / Reward subsystem.

      Basically, a Risk is trigged as a Bonus Action or Reaction and corresponds to a specific event. You made the neccessary role and add your Proff bonud if you dont already or double if you do. If you suceed, you gain the listed reward; if you fail, you suffer the Rake. The rake is always the same: disadvantage on all rolls until the end of your next turn.

      Two example Risks:

      -You and One or More allies who can see and hear you are subjected to the same spell or effect; Make your saving throw first before anyone elses; If you succeed, your allies add your Cha mod to their saves.

      -You attempt Push an enemy; If you succeed, they are pushed up to 15 feet and one ally who can see and hear you may make an attack against them.

      Under this revision, each Banner would offer a unique and exlusive Maneuver and Risk.

    5. Slight brainfart- the push reward would add your Cha to their Hit or Damage, whichever you feel more balanced

    6. I had initially thought of using maneuvers/some other sort of useage-based thing, but again, trying to shy away from big lists of things.

      I think we have a good direction for making this more useable. I don't particularly think that going the maneuver route is the right answer, since the lead from the front, maneuver using leader is already present in the Battlemaster, but I might take a swing at it.

      I think that if we can make the cohort a major part of the class, It'll both work and be interesting. The issue with the Beastmaster is that the beast is Wholly tacked on: the cohort feels that way now, but it can be integrated better and made to work more cleanly

  3. While I like this concept here are a few quick notes I made reading through it once:
    -Is there only going to be one Cohort per banner? If so, that means that, as shardin said, there is clearly going to be a 'best' and 'worst' option for the banner to choose.
    -The fact that you have to give up your own action to use your cohort is exactly the reason why BM ranger is often considered such a bad archetype. At least in my group(s). Maybe change this to a bonus action(which is what we homeruled it as in my main group for BM ranger).
    -How about giving him a class ability that allows him to order a single ally to move/act on his turn? Thinking of the 3.5e Marshal. Maybe this could be a banner. Instead of gaining a cohort, he instead gains other abilities that allow him to order his party/allies around.

    1. I have yet to dig into this in depth (I'll be able to do that tonight), but I don't know if its a good idea to make the Cohorts thing something you can totally opt out of, in favor of other features. Like, imagine if a bard could just replace their inspiration dice. Wouldn't that undermine the system a little?

    2. Yes, and no. Yes, in the respect that if Cohorts are /all/ that makes the Warlord unique then it undermines them to remove them.

      No, in that as per UA:Modifying Classes, you can remove a Bard's Inspiration Die they are still a 9th tier caster who can poach from other spell lists, has a different list than Sorcerer, get is arguably one step below the rogue as a Skill Monkey, ect...

      I have an alternative idea to cohorts I will type up after work on the subreddit.

    3. Alright, some clarifications to the whole cohort thing:

      - You only get one cohort. As opposed to developing a whole "build a cohort" system, which would be overly complicated and against the build design for the class, your banner simply determines the set abilities your cohort gets, and they don't change.

      - You do NOT have to give up your attacks to make your cohort attack, you simply are able to. Cohorts act on their own initiative and get their own actions. On your turn, if you want, you can give up your attacks to make them swing OR specifically command them to do something: if you dont, they simply act as any other creature in combat would, attacking and defending as they see fit.

      - that's not a bad idea as a banner. There are only two for now (though Eagle is written, I only wanted to include a small chunk at the moment), but the concept is very modular.

  4. Unbowed seems a little powerful as even paladins don't get immunity to frightened until level 10, and immunity to charm is very much a small subset of a couple of classes. To get both as a flat immunity is very powerful, and you can pass along a bonus to allies as well...I worry that that ability is too good. I think lowering it to advantage with the ability to allow allies to re-roll with the rally dice might make it a little less over the top.
    Unbroken seems like it should take a bonus action to use based on the overall ability economy that 5e has cultivated.

    As for the cohorts, having them as a free acting character in addition to everything that the Warlord does is very broken. Regardless of level that's adding a lot of damage and ability potential. The ranger beastmaster, arguably the closest class to this idea, has it set that the companion can't attack unless the ranger gives up an attack so as to not cause an unbalanced amount of extra damage from one character. Granted the beastmaster archetype has tried so hard to make the animal companion not overpowered that it is very under powered, but with the right work, that also can be fixed. I have made a homebrew to help address this issue and I think that similar ideas could go into the design of the cohort so it has so oomph without being essentially 2 characters for the price of one.
    More or less you would make a bunch of race and stat combinations that the players would decide from, and each race would have a unique ability to help you chose one that fits you playstyle and make it feel unique against other choices. For example a half-orc cohort could have the relentless endurance ability, or a human cohort could aid in specific skill checks, or an elf cohort could have a cantrip, etc. Something to make it stand out, be useful, but not broken.

    Link to homebrew -

    1. Definitely not denying that the cohort is very, very strong in it's current incarnation. The general issue is that, overall, without a cohort (or something in it's place) this guy came off about as powerful as a valor Bard with no spells. since that's the case, I felt I had some room to work by making the cohort ability very strong, at least much stronger than the beastmaster pet (since its a more integral part of the class).

    2. To me, the cohort fill the same roll as a beastmaster pet, in that you get both at level 3. The main difference is that the Warlord is designed around having a "pet" while the ranger has the option of a pet, but can just a easily go without.
      It also seems that many people have the wrong assumptions about what a pet can do on a players turn. For example, a pet has it's own reactions, movement, and most things you can do as a bonus action. They only thing a pet can't do is attack when the player is attacking, meaning that if a cohort emulated this behavior, they could do everything a normal player character would except attack freely.

      My suggestion for a cohort could go one of two ways:
      1) treat it like a better version of the ranger animal companion (see my link to homebrew) but give it more human like special abilities and actions to make it feel less like something controlled and more like a lower ranking soldier who follows orders. In this scenario I would say that if the Warlord takes a full attack action, you could spend a bonus action to inspire the cohort to make an attack (kind of like if you were dual wielding almost). You could still sacrifice attacks to allow the cohort to attack, and they would be able to grow in attack ability based on the banner chosen.
      2) Have the Warlord gain attack progression like a full caster (no extra attack at level 5) and the cohort gets its own full round action, maybe even act separately with the Warlord's rally ability used to move the cohort, or possibly allies, around on the initiative order, and lots of battlefield control abilities, collaborative abilities, etc. This would make him more of an army general and a tactician.

  5. I think this class needs to be less about healing and having a cohort and more about tactical combat for your team. Things like bonuses for clever positioning etc.

    A few examples:
    Flanking bonus: When you and an ally are adjacent to the same enemy you gain advantage on your attack rolls.
    Shieldmates: When wielding a shield adjacent allies add your shield bonus to their ac.
    High ground: Ranged attacks are made with advantage against targets at a lower elevation.
    Frontlines: Your allies gain full cover when blocked by a friendly creature.

    That's my suggestion. It would five the class unique, flavorful, and powerful abilties.