October 18, 2016

Buried Treasures #2: The Warlord 1 - 20

Greetings, all!

The Palm of Vecna back for another edition of Buried Treasures, this time featuring all 20 levels of the Warlord in addition to all three banners: Lion, Eagle, and Dragon.
     Since the initial introduction of the warlord, WotC was kind enough to drop the newly revised ranger on us, complete with a new way to do the animal companion. The cohort structure of the Warlord was and always had been based on the PHB ranger's animal companion, so it seemed only natural to lean hard into the new companion rules and mirror them almost entirely. This, of course, leads to some interesting design changes (the dropping of Extra Attack, for one), but I have a feeling that these changes will keep the warlord and his/her cohort feeling interesting and strong.

Changes:
  • Cohorts now act entirely on their own initiative, but you control their actions.  
  • Rally only works on creatures below half their health.
  • Extra Attack replaced by Coordinated Assault
  • Adjustments to the banner abilities to fit the new ability structure
  • Bannerman ability split into Bannerman and Bannerman's Loyalty
  • Rules for building cohorts added
  • Levels 11 - 20 now available
  • Dragon, Eagle, and Lion banners now available

Please enjoy, and feel free to ask as many questions as possible. Like before, this is not playtested, merely balanced via numbers and thought experiment. Please playtest it as much as you can, break it in half, and send me the parts back so that we can make a stronger product!


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(By the way, sorry about the delays, folks: as much as I enjoy doing this, life gets in the way of fun stuff sometimes)

42 comments:

  1. I really, really like this now. The first iteration I didnt, mostly due to the cohort action economy. This is much better. That said, I feel like the class is too reliant on the rally dice. Almost all of their class and archetype features use them. I realize they regenerate on a short rest, but they are a finite resource.

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    1. I agree. It'll take playtesting to figure out which (if any) of those abilities should be moved to a 1/short or 1/long rest mechanic.

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    2. You know my general opinion on this, I think, but I'll state it for the class: generally, at-will or passive abilities are more fun than rest based ones, even if they're a little weaker. They help to define things in a more persistent way, and provide a new tool for the player to use in more circumstances. Especially for martial characters, whose abilities shouldn't dry up as easily through use, I would suggest leaning in this direction.

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  2. I'll leave a couple of general thoughts here as I read this:

    Fighting Style: Since this character leans more in the direction of battlefield commander, rather than fighting expert, I feel like it should have fewer fighting styles to choose from.

    Bannermen: I would probably merge this feature and Bannerman's Loyalty, for simplicity's sake. It'll need some minor rewording, but not much.

    Inspiring Leader: On paper, this ability seems reasonably balanced, but in practice, I think it might be a bit of a pain to implement. Playtesting might be necessary, but it might be a little inelegant for actual table play. After all, by this level, you already have a feature which heals your allies, and this requires some addition for everyone playing.

    It might be interesting to play with the idea of moving fervent commander to this level, giving your allies a damage boost at the beginning of combat, and strengthening the damage of Coordinated Assault.

    Blitz: I'm a little confused by this. At first blush, it would seem to give you another attack -- two from your cohort (one from this ability, and one from Coordinated Assault) and one from your Attack action. However, this isn't the case, since both of these abilities use your cohort's reaction. If the intent is to use them on different creatures, why not just reuse Coordinated Assault, and improve it to allow two creatures to attack at once?

    Fervent Commander: 13th level seems like a weird spot to add such a large damage buff, especially so soon after you get Blitz. What's the thinking on this?

    Demoralize + Immortal General: These seem really dull paired next to one another, since they don't provide a difference in kind. They're both high-level abilities that burn rally dice for a buff/debuff. They might work better if shuffled around, but a better solution might be to scrap demoralize and replace it with a more passive debuff -- perhaps one that uses your bonus action, so you have to choose whether to attack or debuff an enemy on your turn.

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    1. @ Fighting Style: Hmm...I'll play with it a bit. I may drop one or two of them.

      @ Bannermen: This is in line with the new Animal Companion. I generally like it because it keeps the two parts of the ability (getting a cohort and getting a new one if they die, and what abilities the cohort gets). Again, i'm going to wait to see other's feelings on this.

      @ Inspiring Leader: This ability is basically just a better version of the Feat, which makes sense (in tat its a class ability and not a freely acceptable feat). In fact, i think I need to change the name, because I'm pretty sure the feat is called Inspiring Leader.

      @ Blitz: The real important part here is the movement, because this is the only means by which you can move an ally off-turn

      @ Fervent Commander: I'm going to be switching this and blitz around, to havethe damage curve be more in line with the cleric.

      @ Demo and IG: I think this'll be alright. they're broken up by about 3 levels, one of which gets you a banner ability.

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    2. @ fighting style: great weapon because of dragon, archery because of eagle, and defense/ protection because of lion?

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    3. Well, lion would also include dueling.

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    4. I actually think Dueling ought to be dropped. The class is flavored around fighting as a unit, not one-on-one.

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    5. You're correct, but dueling would be the option to take if you wanted to get some extra damage out of a lance, which fits the theme as well.

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    6. I agree with the rest of the comments on this, there are too many fighting styles. And again, to agree with the rest, dueling should likely be dropped. As much as the idea of picking dueling to go with a lance, the idea of a mounted lance user doesn't fit with a commander of men. A lancer would charge into a line to break it, but doing so isolates him which is against the idea of the Warlord. The Warlord should empower others to break the line, following right behind with the rest of his men to take advantage of the weakness the lancer gave.
      I almost want to say take away two weapon fighting too, but while that style doesn't seem to go with any of the banner themes, I hate to reduce the effectiveness of player that uses that style.

      Also in the wording for White Lion Charge I would suggest changing the wording of the second sentence to: "Once per turn after using the dash action, you may expend a rally die when making a melee weapon attack. Add the rally die to the damage roll of that attack."
      That should make the sentence flow better and make more sense to readers.

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    7. See, I think I disagree with your suggestion about which to remove, as I think that TWF fits the theme less than Dueling does. In the end I may drop both, since this guy's is, in fact, not a fighter.

      Archery - important for eagle
      GWF - important for dragon
      Protection - fits the theme
      Defense - pretty much always an option

      I like the idea of keeping dueling, because it feels like this guy should be sword and board most of the time, but perhaps he himself should focus on the tanker aspects of that.

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  3. I know Coordinated Assault is built from the reworked ranger feature, but I would like to see it changed to "ally" rather than "cohort". I was a fan of 4e's warlord, and his ability to help the other players shine. That kind of cooperation play is a good feeling at the table.

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  4. I'm on mobile most of the time so I can't tell whether non-digits can comment on the doc.

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    1. I think everyone has view only permissions

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    2. Yes we have view only permissions. Just got to my laptop to check.

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    3. The link is a view-only link, which is absolutely what I intended.

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  5. So there aren't any cohorts listed, right? I see the "build your own" but want to make sure I'm not missing something (since it sounds as if there are some listed).

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    1. There will be. I havent made those stat blocks yet, but they will be in the final product

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  6. What's with the cohort progression? Is there any logic to this that I'm not seeing?

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    1. For one, evenly spacing out the abilities over 17 levels. For two, a cohort should have about roughly half the power of the class that it's emulating at level 20.

      Neither the Lion cohort nor the Dragon cohort get extra attack, so they gain a little boost in slightly higher level abilities (higher than half level rage damage for the dragon, a second use of second wind for the lion). Beyond that, the lion has abilities comparable to a 10th - 12th level fighter at level 20, the eagle has +5d6 sneak attack like a 9th level rogue (but also gets the archery fighting style), and the dragon gets 5 rages per day like a 12th level barbarian.

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  7. Would Blitz allow a mounted cohort to make his mount move does it apply only to the cohort specifically?

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  8. IIRC, you can either use your movement or your mount's movement whenever you move. Blitz would allow for this.

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  9. Overall, I find this a large disappointment.

    The cohort focus bogs down the class, and I would never play or allow this at any of my tables.

    Why would I want to be a class who gets a Lite version of another class, having to roleplay two characters, ect? When I could be an actual barbarian, fighter, or rogue?

    The fact they get a neutered default array for their companion, have to pay several thousand gold to rez their 'second character' with no actual means to do so without derailing a quest or session is insulting, when you say it is based on the BM ranger version. Beast Conclave pays /25g/ and does it during a long rest, anywhere and any time.

    The class is pidgeonholed into a 'best option' based on their banner, with no wiggle room. Ranger, Fighter, Rogue, Paladin, Barbarian... All of the other martials are free to choose how they want to fight regardless of subclass - you can have Bow using EKs right alongside Sword and Board or Great Weapon fighters.

    Their equipment package is trash. I say the same thing about Ranger's default package, take the gold every time. The fact they have to choose a weapon you preselected for them or downgrade to a simple weapon until they find a shop with the weapon they want AND enough money to buy it is toxic in a game based around Player Choice.

    This is all in spite of the fact that players are at the /whim of the GM/ to find enough gold for their desired weapon or find a hoard big enough to rez their pal.

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    1. Now, I don't agree with all of your points, but you do make a very good point about resurrection. We definitely should include rules that make it easier to recruit a new companion, should yours die, or make it very hard for your companion to actually die while you're still living.

      That being said, you're not going to love this class if you don't buy into the idea of having a cohort. You're also not going to like Bards if you don't like the idea of Inspiration dice.

      Lastly, I don't think the intent is to roleplay your cohort; they're more like an NPC.

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    2. Exactly this. Now, to make a specific point: getting a new cohort, in this case, costs you nothing. The problem lies in the fact that this class is inherently non-magical: being able to resurrect your dead comrade is a much more daunting proposition than summoning the spirit of your fey wolf, especially when you don't know any magic yourself. The real reason I put the bit about raising your cohort is that people will surely want to for story reasons, not simply mechanical.

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    3. I'm actually going to try and address your points one by one, so maybe you can see where some of the design decision's came from.

      @cohort: So, will you not allow/do you not allow beast masters? If so, why? I don't mean this to be snide, I just want to get to what specifically you think bogs down the mechanic.

      As well, I can certainly understand why you wouldn't want to play this if you didn't want a pet, but that seems to be more of a preference than a specific flaw with the class.

      @stats: you might have missed an important point: the cohort adds your prof. bonus to his AC, Damage rolls, and saving throws. Giving it a standard array would allow it to flatly outclass other actual party members.

      @best version: this is a legit concern. Primarily, this stems from the fact that each banner is tied to the kind of fighting that warlord chooses to do. That said, it's something that I could work on, if there is enough

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    4. @equipment: yes, you are correct. That's a change that I had neglected, as I had copy-pasted it from the craftsman a while back, and kept forgetting to fix it. I'll make a change to that to day.

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  10. Darken the skies seems like it would be extremely overpowered in parties with large numbers of members, especially with no short/long rest limit.

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    1. My first thought was that a warlock with that ability just needs an army. A necromancer wizard would suffice. There is no range limit, so if it is my ally, it could make an attack. Perhaps make it allies you can see or allies within 60 feet?

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    2. ..that actually was the intent of the ability, but I didn't really consider it much for the fact that parties large enough for it to be a problem are rare.

      That said, yeah, a range limit might be appropriate.

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    3. My point there was that since there was no range limit, a single warlord could cause an entire legion to attack at once. Even if you were to pull a Gird and arm the peasants, 5000 Commoners attacking at once is still deadly. Additionally, no range limit means a pc on the other side of the world could technically attack when I use that ability.

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  11. this may have just be a copy paste error but did you mean to give it proficiency to Ac for the cohort. I like the idea of fervent commander but it could become ridiculous if you are in a party of fighters of if the is more than one Warlord in your party. while I get the theme of the I would be nice to have a choice of whether the rogue is a close or medium ranged fighter by giving them a choice of two-weapon fighting or archery. would be nice for the cohort of the lion banner to auto get Wisdom (handle animal) proficiency since it can be very important when mounted. I am not really sure about balance or how they fit in at later levels features just thoughts.

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    1. Generally, if two characters grant the same bonus, it doesn't stack. Multiple warlords shouldn't be an issue.

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    2. So, as I mentioned before, I went HARD towards the Animal companion route, and they get to add your prof. bonus to AC. A thing I literally didn't think about until just now is that I said it as a flat AC bonus, which means a Lion cohort with plate armor and a shield would eventually end up with an AC of 26. I may just change that to say that a cohort can use your proficiency bonus in place of their dexterity modifier when calculating their AC.

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  12. Which would still give the cohort ac 26 with plate and shied, since they can't add dexterity anyway :P. Also, again a question on Blitz: what if the cohort doesn't end up adjacent to an enemy but can still attack attack them (Reach weapon)? This is especially important if your cohort uses a lance, since you have disadvantage if the enemy is within 5 ft of you.

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  13. Ah ha, use prof IN PLACE of dexterity. Wouldn't effect plate, cause that sets your AC.

    And that's a great point. I'll change to to read "if your cohort ends his movement with that creature in his reach"...or something like that.

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  14. I want to start by saying I do really like this class, but I also feel that the subclasses limit things more than they should. Rather than having one that focuses on ranged, one that focuses on mounted and so forth, I would like to see the banners be more about overall style.

    I have two large suggestions and a small one:

    Rework Subclasses for Flexibility:
    The banner be focused more on a tactical viewpoint than a combat view point. Lion is honor, eagle is guerilla tactics, and dragon is power. Maybe a warlord of the eagle could use a rapier, and maybe a warlord of the lion uses a bow, but their approach to how they face their enemies, or how they encourage their troops to do so, changes based on their style.

    I think this would bit better with how other classes work. Eldritch knights can exist using all sorts of different weapons. Likewise, you could have different warlords with different favored weapons that believe in fighting honorably or striking quickly.

    Allow Bannermen to Vary
    The bannermen could be flexible. I would suggest that any banner can take on any of the types of bannermen. This could even allow you to create some other types. Since they all gain abilities at the same level, its not like they would outclass each other. A warlord of the lion may want appreciate having a sniper to support his troops from the local watch tower, or a warlord of the eagle banner could find that a cavalier is perfect for hit and run tactics.

    This would also help out in roleplay. You may not always find a cavalier looking to sign up in the local tavern, but you could potentially find one of the three (or more) types.

    Less Rally Die Cost
    This is my smaller suggestion. It seems like everything requires a rally die to do. While that increases the tactical feeling of having to decide how to spend your rally dice, it also just feels like everything is all just the same feature. I'd look into mixing it up. Maybe some aura-like abilities so those around you in combat just gain a bonus for your presence?

    Overall, I do really like what you've done here. If my suggestions aren't what you're going for, I understand, I just thought I'd toss them out.

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    1. I actually agree with you on the flexibility point. I may end up treating the banner like your Patron and the Bannerman like you pact boon, if i put it in warlock terms.

      I'm going to be shifting one or two of those abilities to Short Rest/Passive bonuses, so don't worry about that.

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    2. I think the idea of separating it out like a warlock would be great. I enjoyed the 3.5 Marshal in concept and always wished it was a little better and I liked the 4.0 warlord as a class option. I've seen a few attempts to homebrew warlord/marshal in 5e and this idea is my favorite so far. The bannermen especially are great, as they give a nice "cohort" that's not too crazy in power. I'm very excited to see where this goes. Thanks!

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  15. I feel like Rally is deceptively bad: the best use of a healing ability is often to get the unconscious player off the ground, but it only works on allies that can see and hear you. Adding to that, the fact it only works when an ally is at half-health or less means you're waiting for someone to get into the danger zone before healing them. I feel like it really needs to be usable on downed pcs, honestly.

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