You’d think that after I did 17 subclasses in the span of two weeks I’d be sick of creating subclasses, but NOPE! If anything, the practice made me a master at it (or so I’d like to think).
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!
Here are my notes for this portion of the build.
Before the Build
This particular subclass comes as a request from one of my patrons.
I would like to request [… a] fighter subclass which promotes grappling and that pairs well with the tavern brawler feat. Something that increases survivability and/or mobility is preferable over offense or damage.
Interesting concept. Basically, what he’s asking for is a monster handler that doesn’t focus as much on DPS as it does on survival and control. Plus, he asked that it pairs well with Tavern Brawler, which means I better not duplicate any of the effects.
Here is what I hope to accomplish with this build:
- Features that don’t overlap the Tavern Brawler feat.
- An emphasis on defense and mobility.
- While it will have a lot in common with a monk (which is a defensive, mobile fighter), it will have enough differences that it won’t obviously be a monk/fighter.
Before I dig into the build, I need to pry apart what the Tavern Brawler feat does.
- Your Strength or Con goes up by 1. Obviously, don’t need to do this one.
- You are proficient with improvised weapons (not necessary).
- Your unarmed strike uses a d4 for damage. We can avoid this, too, but still bump up DPR.
- When you hit a creature with an unarmed strike or an improvised weapon on your turn, you can use a bonus action to attempt to grapple the target.
I think, overall, it’s pretty easy to create features that don’t overstep the Tavern Brawler feat, but ultimately, compliment it.
After the Build
This one was pretty simple to put together. Now, some will scream, “But, Dave! Why isn’t this a barbarian or a monk?” and I guess it could be. But hey, my guy asked for a fighter sub-class so that’s what I made, by golly!
Most of the class is balanced against the other two “fighting move” archetypes, Arcane Archer and Battlemaster. It’s got a few more uses than the other two archetypes. However, the damage is a little less on some of the attacks and it requires you to grapple the creature in order to pull them off.
Plus, it’s still a fighter. So when it’s out of its grapple attacks or up against something that doesn’t lend itself well to grapple attacks, you know, like… a cloud giant. You can still switch it up to a weapon if you need, too.
Optional Rule: New Fighting Style
The following Grappler fighting style is available whenever the Fighter class allows you to choose a Fighting Style in addition to the normal options available to you.
You gain a +2 bonus to all grapple checks.
At 3rd level, a fighter gains the Martial Archetype feature. The following Wrestler option is available to a fighter, in addition to those normally offered.
Not all warriors are sword swinging knights or masters with a bow. There are those who hone their bodies to become masters at subduing enemies with their bare hands. Wrestlers, like fighters, use a variety of styles. Some may be mundane, everyday farmers, capable of toppling a raging bull. While others may perform for sport, donning colorful masks and clothing to appeal to an audience as the wrestle.
When you choose this archetype at 3rd level, you learn techniques that you can access while grappling another creature.
Techniques. You learn two techniques of your choice, which are detailed under “Techniques” below. Many techniques enhance your grapples in some way. You can use only one technique at a time. You can use your techniques a number of times equal to half your levels in this class plus your Strength modifier (minimum of once). You regain all expended uses after you complete a long rest.
You learn one additional technique of your choice at 7th, 10th, and 15th level. Each time you learn new techniques, you can also replace one technique you know with a different one.
Saving Throws. Some of your techniques require your target to make a saving throw to resist the technique’s effects. The saving throw DC is calculated as follows:
Technique save DC = 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Strength modifier
At 3rd level, whenever you successfully grapple a creature, you deal bludgeoning damage equal to 1d6 + your Strength modifier as well. The damage die increases to 1d8 at 7th level, 1d10 at 13th level, and 1d12 at 19th level.
Starting at 10th level, when you make a grapple check and fail, you can roll it again. Once you do so, you can’t use this feature again until you finish a short or long rest.
At 15th level, when you roll initiative and have no uses of your techniques available to you, you regain one use of your it.
At 18th level, you are exceptional at overcoming attacks. Whenever a creature targets you with an attack, you can use your reaction to gain immunity to all bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage dealt by that target until the end of your next turn.
Once you use this feature, you can’t use it again until you finish a long rest.
The techniques are presented in alphabetical order.
Armbreaker. When you have a humanoid grappled, you can use your Attack action to make a special attack against that creature, an armbreaker. If you’re able to make multiple attacks with the Attack action, this attack replaces one of them. Make an unarmed strike against the target. On a successful hit, the target takes bludgeoning damage equal to the amount of damage you deal with your Powerhouse feature. In addition, the target must succeed on a Constitution saving throw, or you break its arm. While the target’s arm is broken, it has disadvantage on all attack rolls that would use that arm and Strength (Athletics) checks. If the target receives any sort of magical healing or finishes a long rest, its arm is repaired and the effect ends for it.
Eye Gouge. When you have a creature grappled, you can use your Attack action to make a special attack against that creature, an eye gouge. If you’re able to make multiple attacks with the Attack action, this attack replaces one of them. The creature must succeed on a Constitution saving throw or become blinded for 1 minute.
Kneebreaker. When you have a creature grappled, you can use your Attack action to make a special attack against that creature, a kneebreaker. If you’re able to make multiple attacks with the Attack action, this attack replaces one of them. Make an unarmed strike against the target. If you hit, you deal damage equal to the amount of damage you deal with your Powerhouse feature. In addition, the target must succeed a Constitution saving throw, or you break its leg. While the target’s leg is broken, its movement speed is reduced by 10 feet and it has disadvantage on all Dexterity (Acrobatics) checks. If the target receives any sort of magical healing or finishes a long rest, its leg is repaired and the effect ends for it.
Lariat. When you have a creature grappled, you can use your Attack action to make a special attack against that creature, a lariat. If you’re able to make multiple attacks with the Attack action, this attack replaces one of them. Make an unarmed strike against the target. If you hit, you deal damage equal to the amount of damage you deal with your Powerhouse feature. In addition, the target falls prone in its space.
Reversal. When a creature targets you with a melee weapon attack and misses, you can use your reaction to make a grapple check against that creature.
Sleeperhold. When you have a creature grappled, you can use your Attack action to make a special attack against that creature, a headlock. If you’re able to make multiple attacks with the Attack action, this attack replaces one of them. The target of your sleeper hold must make a Constitution saving throw. On a failed saving throw, the target falls unconscious for 1 minute, until it takes damage, or someone uses its action to shake or slap the creature awake. Undead and constructs are immune to this technique.
Suplex. When you have a creature grappled, you can use your action to make a special attack against that creature, a suplex. Make another grapple check against the creature. If you succeed, the creature takes bludgeoning damage equal to 4d6 plus your Strength modifier, the grapple ends, and the creature lands prone in an unoccupied space within 5 feet of you. You also fall prone in your own space.
Whip. When you have a creature grappled, you can use your Attack action to make a special attack against that creature, a whip. Choose a direction; you attempt to fling the target in that direction. The target must make a Dexterity saving throw or it moves its full move speed in a straight line in that direction. If it hits another object or creature, it takes bludgeoning damage equal to 2d6 + your Strength modifier and falls prone in its space. A creature that is hit by the flung target must make a Dexterity saving throw or take bludgeoning damage equal to the damage the flung creature took and also fall prone in its space on a failed saving throw, or half as much damage and not fall prone on a success.
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Art by anjinanhut on Deviantart.