Fighter Weapon Expert | New Player Option for Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition (Includes 27 New Weapons, 1 New Feat, and Optional Rules for Exotic Weapons)

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Playtest Content

The material here is presented for playtesting and to spark your imagination. These game mechanics are in draft form, usable in your campaign but not refined by
final game design and editing. They aren’t officially part of the game.

Constructive feedback is welcome and appreciated in either comments or social media. If you can give me a valid reason with examples why something is off, 9/10 I’m likely to make changes to the content and credit you for doing so. Otherwise, feedback without anything to back it up gets ignored (or at most a smile emoji like this 🙂 ) Thanks!

Design Notes

This one I’ve been stewing on ever since it was first suggested on my Instagram. There really aren’t “exotic weapons” in Fifth Edition, at least not like the ones that were in 3.5. And from what I’ve read in Unearthed Arcana, Mike Mearls isn’t too keen on limiting players to individual weapons in modern design.

There are a couple things I know I want to do with this class:

  • First, I want to create a few new “exotic” weapons. I currently have a request to create a three-part staff anyways, so that should be fun.
  • I wanted the class to have a lot of nifty features that are good for mob control, but the trouble with that is that it a) begins looking too much like a monk and b) battlemaster’s got that territory pretty well covered. Therefore, I need to do something that’s outside of those.
  • No fiddly bits. I’m not a fan of adding in points or “battle dice” mechanics. It feels like an unnecessary complication.
  • One big thing I’d love to include is a performance element to the fighter. Basically, they do all kinds of cool tricks with their weapons and they can “bewilder” their enemy, making it difficult to tell where the attack is coming from.

This class took a lot of work to put together as you can probably tell by the 4,000+ word count.

I had to reintroduce a number of weapons that haven’t been around since 3rd. The trick with that was making them different enough that they didn’t merely duplicate the effects of existing Fifth Edition weapons. Therefore, I gave them a new group of properties known as Weapon Expert Properties (WEPs). I added those to the new weapons as well as those already found in the PHB. Many of these WEPs duplicate what came before in 3rd (although nerfed in a few areas).

The trick with all the new WEPs was making sure they didn’t nullify the features of certain classes, particularly Barbarian Brutal Critical and Champion Fighter’s Improved and Superior Critical. Fortunately, since the WEP is limited to two weapons if you take th feat it’s not as powerful as it would be the similar subclass features.

Barbarians pick up Brutal Critical when they hit 9th level. Does that mean it’s too powerful to give someone with the right feat or subclass combo a similar power? I say no, and here’s why.

First, the barbarian 9th level Brutal Critical trait is sort of a “weak” power compared to the rest of what the barbarian gets. Let’s do some math. A barbarian only has a 5% chance to score a critical hit (unless it’s picked up a few levels of fighter along the way, but even then that chance only increases to 10%). When the barbarian does score a critical hit, at most it deals an extra 6.5 damage. That’s an effective 0.325 increase in damage output from a barbarian. Even with the improved critical feature tossed in, that’s only an increase of 0.65 in damage output. Let’s say that the barbarian had advantage every single turn, too. And hell, we’ll even toss in improved critical. That’s a 36% chance of scoring a critical hit which seems pretty rad. However, that’s still only a 2.34 increase in overall damage output and that’s only in totally optimal conditions. To put it in perspective, a 10th-level Storm Herald barbarian deals 4 fire damage to all creatures within 10 feet of it for an average of 8 damage per turn. So yeah, as far as class features go, Brutal Critical kinda sucks. And ditto Improved Critical/Superior Critical (I’m just going to throw it out there: the Fighter Champion Martial Archetype blows goats).

Second, half-orcs get a similar power at creation. So who cares? Also, keep in mind that every class has access to these Weapon Expert Features (see the new feat below) if you use these optional rules.

Superior critical might seem overpowered, but you will quickly notice that it only works on weapons that have 1d6 damage or lower. The (super sucky) Champion can use greatswords, mauls, whatever it likes with this power. Not the case with those who pick up a feat or the Weapon Expert Martial Archetype.

The trip attack just adds a different way to perform the shove attack (using your weapon attack versus a Strength check). When a 10th level fighter has it, it gets advantage but by that level, it damn well should since it’s exchanging damage for a prone target.

Disarm’s WEP gives advantage from jump street, however, disarm is usually more of a nuisance than anything since you can simply pick your weapon back up as part of your move. Weapon Expert fighters can toss the weapon away which helps alleviate this, but again, that’s not ’til 10th.

Damage increase covers most of the bludgeoning weapons in the game, effectively giving each an additional 1-2 points of damage on a hit. Where it really shines is higher levels when you can break armor with it.

I egregiously stole the UA’s rules for flails where it gets around shields. Thanks, Mike.

Double weapons use the dual wielding rules and eat up action economy.

Throw multiple is interesting because it lets you throw a second dart or shuriken with one throw. Interestingly, this one is probably more powerful than the others since it allows an extra 1-2.5 average damage without a critical hit and it’s a ranged attack. Still, when using darts or shurikens, the average damage output is only 5 per turn plus the thrower’s Dex modifier. Nothing to write home about.

Knock-out lets you knock people unconscious a la the sleep spell. I wanted to include non-lethal weapons because, well, saps and bolas are cool.

To accompany the new weapons, I came up with a new feat. Because the “Weapon Mastery” feat merely gives you proficiency with four weapons (the name really overhypes it), I had to name the new feat “Weapon Grandmastery.” I would have preferred to just call it “Weapon Expertise” but oh well.

Okay, now comes the fun part: the Weapon Expert Martial Archetype. Along with weapon expertise feature that gives you access to the WEPs, I’ve tossed in smith tools and Performance proficiencies.

Also, at 3rd, you have a cool power where you can use your bonus action to twirl your weapon around to confuse your opponent, giving yourself advantage until the end of your turn. It’s limited to three uses per day. I just love the idea of a fighter flipping his sword around and shit, making the enemy utter an Owen Wilson-esque “woooowww” right before the fighter cuts him down.

At 7th, you pick up an ability that lets you exchange up to two weapons you are holding for two different ones as a bonus action. It might seem arbitrary, but it’s useful for this subclass considering that normally you can only sheathe or draw one weapon as part of your move. In order to draw another or sheathe a second weapon, you have to use your action.

Also at 7th, you have the ability to customize your weapon. This is more for flavor than anything.

At 10th, you get to increase your attack options with your selected WEP weapons, essentially focusing on one of the weapon expert proficiencies itself. In other words, you become “master of tripping” or “master of brutal criticals” and gain powers at 10th and 18th level.

Finally, at 15th, if you start a combat round without one of your flashy moves uses, you earn one back.

Optional Weapon Rules

At your GM’s discretion, your campaign may use the following optional rules and weapons.

Optional Rule: Weapon Expert Properties

In addition to the properties normally offered by the weapons listed in the PHB, certain weapons have weapon expert properties as well. In order to use the weapon expert property of a weapon, you must have a feat or class feature that gives you access to it.

Damage Increase. You may roll a different damage die when you hit with the weapon. The new damage die appears in parentheses next to the property.

Disarm. You have advantage on your attack rolls when you make a disarm attempt using this weapon (see page 271 of the DMG).

Double-Sided. Once per turn when you use the Attack action using this weapon, you can make one weapon attack with the other end of this weapon as a bonus action. You don’t add your ability modifier to the damage of the bonus attack unless that modifier is negative. A damage value in parentheses appears with the property–the damage when the weapon is used while making the bonus attack.

Fierce Critical. You can roll one additional weapon damage die when determining the extra damage for a critical hit with a melee attack.  If you have a class feature or other effect that gives you additional weapon damage dice on a critical hit such as a Barbarian’s Brutal Critical feature, you add the dice together. For example, a 13th-level Barbarian that is an expert with a scythe rolls three additional weapon damage dice on a critical hit for a total of 7d4 (2d4 for the weapon x 2 + 2d4 for the Barbarian Brutal Critical Feature + 1d4 for the Fierce Critical weapon expert property).

Ignore Shield. You gain a +2 bonus on attack rolls with this weapon against any target using a shield.

Improved Critical. Your weapon attacks with this weapon score a critical hit on a roll of 19 or 20. If you have a class feature that also gives you improved or superior critical such as the Champion martial archetype, the effects do not stack. Select the range you wish when you make an attack.

Knock Out. You can attempt to knock a creature unconscious. On a successful critical hit with this weapon, the target must succeed on a Constitution saving throw with a DC equal to 8 + the damage taken. On a failed save, the target falls unconscious until it takes damage, someone uses an action to shake or slap it awake, or 1 hour passes.

Superior Critical. Your weapon attacks with this weapon score a critical hit on a roll of 18-20. If you have a class feature that also gives you improved or superior critical such as the Champion martial archetype, the effects do not stack. Select the range you wish when you make an attack.

Thrown. The weapon gains the thrown property as detailed on page 147 of the PHB.

Throw Multiple. Once per turn when you use the Attack action to throw this weapon at a creature within your normal range, you may throw one more weapon of the same type at the same time. You can direct the extra weapon at the same target or a different target within 5 feet of the first target; the additional target must still be within your normal range. Make a separate attack roll for each thrown weapon. You don’t add your ability modifier to the damage of the extra attacks unless that modifier is negative

Trip. You can use this weapon to attempt to knock a creature prone. To make a trip attempt, you make an attack roll contested by the target’s Strength (Athletics) check or Dexterity (Acrobatics) checks. If you win the contest, the attack causes no damage or other ill effects, but the defender falls prone in its space.

The target has advantage on its ability check if it is larger than you, or disadvantage if it is smaller.

Weapon Expert Properties

Name Weapon Expert Properties
Simple Melee Weapons
Club Damage increase (1d6)
Dagger Improved critical
Greatclub Damage increase (1d10)
Handaxe Improved critical
Javelin Fierce critical
Light hammer Damage increase (1d6)
Mace Damage increase (1d8)
Quarterstaff Double-sided (1d6)
Sickle Improved critical
Spear Fierce critical
Simple Ranged Weapons
Crossbow, light Improved critical
Dart Throw multiple
Shortbow Fierce critical
Sling Fierce critical
Martial Melee Weapons
Battleaxe Fierce critical
Flail Ignore shield
Glaive Fierce critical
Greataxe Fierce critical
Greatsword Improved critical
Halberd Fierce critical
Lance Fierce critical
Longsword Improved critical
Maul Damage increase (2d8)
Morningstar Damage increase (1d10)
Pike Fierce critical
Rapier Improved critical
Scimitar Superior critical
Shortsword Superior critical
Trident Disarm, fierce critical
War pick Fierce critical
Warhammer Fierce critical
Whip Disarm, trip
Martial Ranged Weapons
Blowgun Improved critical
Crossbow, hand Improved critical
Crossbow, heavy Improved critical
Longbow Fierce critical
Net

Exotic Weapons

Listed below on the Exotic Weapons table are new weapons options which, at your DM’s discretion, your character may use in addition to those normally offered.

New Weapon Properties

The following weapon properties are in addition to those listed in the PHB.

Monk Weapon. If you have levels in the Monk class, this weapon is considered a simple melee weapon when you wield it.

Nonlethal. You can not use this weapon to deal lethal damage. Whenever you reduce a creature to 0 hit points with an attack using a weapon with this property, the creature falls unconscious but is stable.

Exotic Weapons

Name Cost Dmg Wt Properties Weapon Expert Properties
Simple Melee Weapons
Kukri 8 gp 1d4 s 2 lbs. Finesse, light Superior critical
Light pick 4 gp 1d4 p 3 lbs. Light Fierce critical
Punching Dagger 2 gp 1d4 p 1 lb. Finesse, light Fierce critical
Sap 1 gp 1d6 b 2 lbs. Light, nonlethal Knock-out
Martial Melee Weapons
Bastard sword 35 gp 1d10 s 6 lbs. Heavy, versatile (1d12) Improved critical
Dire flail 90 gp 1d8 b 10 lbs. Heavy, two-handed
Double-sided (1d8), ignore shield
Dwarven urgosh 50 gp 1d8 s 12 lbs. Heavy, two-handed
Double-sided (1d8), fierce critical
Dwarven waraxe 30 gp 1d10 s 8 lbs. Heavy, versatile (1d12) Fierce critical
Falchion 75 gp 2d4 s 8 lbs. Heavy, two-handed Improved critical
Gnome hooked hammer 20 gp 1d8 p 6 lbs. Two-handed
Double-sided (1d6), fierce critical
Guisarme 9 gp 2d4 s 12 lbs. Heavy, reach, two-handed Fierce critical
Heavy Flail 15 gp 1d10 b 10 lbs. Heavy, two-handed Disarm, ignore shield
Kama 2 gp 1d6 s 2 lbs. Light, monk weapon Trip
Nunchaku 2 gp 1d6 b 2 lbs. Light, monk weapon Ignore shield
Orc double-axe 60 gp 1d8 s 15 lbs. Heavy, two-handed
Double-sided (1d8), fierce critical
Ranseur 10 gp 2d4 p 12 lbs. Heavy, reach, two-handed Fierce critical
Sai 1 gp 1d4 b 1 lb. Light, monk weapon Disarm, thrown (20/60)
Scythe 18 gp 2d4 s 10 lbs. Heavy, two-handed Fierce critical
Siangham 3 gp 1d6 p 1 lb. Light, monk weapon, reach, thrown (20/60) Fierce critical
Spiked chain 25 gp 2d4 p 10 lbs. Reach, two-handed Disarm, trip
Spiked gauntlet 2 gp 1d4 p 2 lbs. Light Damage increase (1d6)
Three-part staff 10 gp 1d6 b 6 lbs. Monk weapon, reach, two-handed Double-sided (1d6)
Two-bladed sword 100 gp 1d8 s 10 lbs. Heavy, two-handed
Double-sided (1d8), Improved critical
Martial Ranged Weapons
Bolas 5 gp 1d4 b 2 lbs. Nonlethal, thrown (20/60) Disarm, knockout, trip
Shuriken 1 gp 1 p 1/2 lbs. Thrown (20/60) Superior critical, Throw multiple

* Damage types: b = bludgeoning, p = piercing, s = slashing

New Feat: Weapon Grandmaster

You have practiced to the point of grandmaster status with a variety of weapons, gaining the following benefits:

  • Increase your Strength or Dexterity score by 1, to a maximum of 20.
  • You may use the weapon expert properties with two weapons of your choice. You must be proficient in the weapon in order to select it.

exotic-weapons-wayne-reynolds

Martial Archetype

At 3rd level, a fighter gains the Martial Archetype feature. The following Weapon Expert option is available to a fighter, in addition to those normally offered.

Weapon Expert

A carpenter wouldn’t use a hammer for a screw or a screwdriver for a nail. Therefore, why should a fighter be bound to a single weapon for every combat ocassion? As a weapon expert, that’s your philosophy. Never happy using just one type of weapon, you master multiple, each giving you access to a wider range of tactical maneuvers than just a single would.

Weapon experts are easily identifiable by the collection of weapons they carry with them. It’s not uncommon for others to call them “walking pincushions” or “weapon hoarders”. But when it comes to the martial arts, Weapon Experts are some of the deadliest, capable, and exciting combatants there are.

Arms Repair

When you choose this Martial Archetype at 3rd level, you gain proficiency with Smith’s tools.

Flashy Moves

Starting at 3rd level, you gain proficiency in the Performance skill. Using this skill, you can perform a series of flashy maneuvers with your weapon such as spinning it or juggling it between your hands. Choose a target within 10 feet of you that can see you. As a bonus action, make a Charisma (Performance) check contested by the target’s Wisdom (Insight) skill. On a success, the target is mesmerized by your moves and the next attack you make against that target is with advantage. This effect lasts until the end of your turn. This effect does not affect creatures with an Intelligence score of 4 or lower or creatures that are immune to being charmed.

You can use this feature three times, and you regain all expended uses of it when you finish a long rest.

Weapon Expertise

At 3rd level, you have trained extensively with a variety of weapons. You may use the weapon expert properties of three weapons of your choice (see above). You must be proficient in the weapon in order to select it.

You can choose two more weapons you are proficient in at 7th level and again at 10th and 15th level to gain this benefit. Each time you gain expertise with a new weapon, you can replace a previously selected weapon with a different one.

Quick Exchange

Beginning at 7th level, you can use your bonus action to sheathe or store up to two weapons and then immediately draw or pick up two different weapons.

Weapon Personalization

At 7th level, you can personalize a weapon so that only you are able to use it effectively.

Using smith’s tools, you spend an hour tweaking a weapon that you are proficient with. This weapon may be magical or mundane. Once the personalization process is complete, if a creature other than you attempts to make an attack using the weapon, it does so at disadvantage. In addition, you have advantage on your Strength (Athletics) checks or Dexterity (Acrobatics) checks to avoid being disarmed.

You may spend another hour using smith’s tools to undo the personalization benefits. Another creature may undo the personalization benefits of the weapon. However, the creature must spend 8 working hours using smith’s tools returning the weapon to its previous state; at the end of the eight hours, the creature must make a Dexterity check using smiths’ tools against a DC of 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Intelligence modifier. On a successful check, the weapon’s personalization benefits are removed.

Improved Weapon Properties

At 10th level, you have learned ways to become even more effective with the weapons that you have expertise in. Choose one of the following weapon expert properties below. The expert weapon property you select must be available with one of the weapons you selected for your Weapon Expertise feature. Each option improves when you reach 18th-level.

Fierce Critical. The number of extra weapon damage dice you receive from the fierce critical benefit increases to two additional dice when you use a weapon that has the fierce critical weapon expert property.

At 18th level, the number of extra weapon damage dice you receive from the fierce critical benefit increases to three additional dice when you use a weapon that has the fierce critical weapon expert property.

Damage Increase. When you make a successful attack with a weapon that has the damage increase weapon expert property, you can choose one of the following benefits:

  • If the target is wearing nonmagical armor, you can force the target to make a Dexterity saving throw against a DC of 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Strength modifier. On a failed saving throw, the target is stunned until the end of your next turn. The armor or shield (your choice) is broken open and takes a permanent and cumulative -1 penalty to the AC it offers. The armor is destroyed if the penalty reduces its AC to 10. At 18th level, this penalty increases to -2.
  • You add a +2 bonus to your damage rolls. At 18th level, this bonus increases to +4.

Disarm. When you make a successful disarm attack with a weapon that has the disarm expert weapon property, you can choose to grab the disarmed weapon or item with an open hand or knock the weapon or item 10 feet away from the target.

At 18th level, when you make a successful disarm attack with a weapon that has the disarm expert weapon property, you may choose to have the attack deal the weapon’s normal damage.

Double-Sided. When you use your bonus action to attack with the other end of a double-sided weapon, you can add your ability modifier to the second attack. The weapon must have the double-sided expert weapon property for you to gain this benefit.

At 18th level, when you take damage from a creature that is within 5 feet of you, you can use your reaction to make a melee weapon attack against that creature. You must be wielding a weapon that has the double-sided expert weapon property for you to use this benefit.

Ignore Shield. When you use a weapon that has the ignore shield weapon expert property and hit a target wielding a shield, the target must succeed on a Strength saving throw against a DC of 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Strength modifier. On a failed save, the target drops the shield in its space.

At 18th level, you add a +2 bonus to your damage rolls when you hit with a weapon that has the ignore shield weapon expert property.

Improved/Superior Critical. When you score a critical attack against a target, you may add your proficiency bonus to the damage roll in addition to your normal ability modifier. The weapon must have the improved critical or superior critical weapon expert property for you to gain this benefit.

At 18th level, when you are wielding a weapon that has the improved or superior critical weapon expert feature, you can use your Action to study your opponent for one round. If you do, your next attack roll is a critical hit. Once you use this feature, you can’t use it again until you finish a long rest.

Knock-out. When you attack using a weapon that has the knock-out weapon expert property, your weapon attacks score a critical hit on a roll of 19-20. In addition, a target makes its Constitution saving throw against being knocked unconscious with disadvantage.

At 18th level, your weapon attacks score a critical hit on a roll of 18-20 when using a weapon that has the knock-out weapon expert property.

Throw Multiple. When you use a weapon that has the throw multiple weapon property (expert or otherwise), you may throw one additional thrown weapon of the same type when you make an attack (three total).

At 18th level, you may throw an additional thrown weapon of the same type when you make an attack (four total).

Thrown. When you use a weapon that has the thrown weapon property (expert or otherwise), attacking at long range doesn’t impose disadvantage on your ranged weapon rolls.

At 18th level, when you throw a weapon that has the thrown weapon property (expert or otherwise) at normal range you may add both your Strength and Dexterity modifier to your damage rolls.

Trip. When you use a weapon with the trip weapon expert property, you make your attack roll to attempt to trip your target with advantage.

At 18th level, when you make a successful trip attack with a weapon that has the trip expert weapon property, you may choose to have the attack also deal the weapon’s normal damage.

Ostentatious Combatant

Starting at 15th level, your flashy maneuvers are available whenever battle starts. If you roll initiative and have no uses of Flashy Moves remaining, you regain one use of it.

 

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Next: Monk Way of the Animal

Art by Wayne Reynolds.

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