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Dornith
2014-08-07, 07:17 PM
I was reading a thread where someone mentioned that they created a complex fighting system which included stances, and that gave me this idea: Fighters are already considered to be one of the worst classes available, and gameplay wise they're rather simple (early level: hit it; later levels: hit it harder and more often). I though since fighters are supposed to be the characters trained in combat, it would make sense that they would know how to adjust their fighting style to better face an enemy. (I later decided that it would also work for Monks.)

The idea is that each stance grants you benefits when you adopt them. For example, taking an evasive stance grants you a boost to your AC and reflex save, but penalizes your attack rolls. The idea is to allow fighters and monks a bit more flexibility with how they deal with opponents, thus making them a bit more strategic and hopefully a bit more playable.

Note: This is only my first draft, so I realize there would need to be some tweaking involved. I am open to suggestions for adjustments or new stances.


Actual Homebrew starts here:

At second level and every fourth level afterwards (6th, 10th, 14th...) the character may learn a new stance, which will grant her certain bonuses and penalties, allowing her to adjust her fighting style to better combat specific foes. When a character learns a new stance, she may pick any stance she does not yet know. Only one stance can be held at any one time. She may choose to change stance as a swift action. The stances are as follows:

Balanced:
All characters know and are assumed to be in this stance by default. Characters in this stance get no benifits or penalties other than those which they would naturally have.
Aggressive:
Attack: -2
AC: -2
Damage: +5

Aimed:
Attack: -2
AC: -2
Critical Range: *3 (Does not stack with keen/Improved Critical)

Brace:
Attack: -3
Speed: -5 ft.
DR: lvl /

Defensive:
Attack: -3
AC: +3
DR: 1/2 lvl /

Evasive:
Attack: -2
AC: +3
Reflex: +5

Focus (Skill): (Must choose a skill when learning this stance)
Attack: -2
AC: -2
Skill: +6

Offensive:
Attack: +3
AC: -2

Resilient:
Attack: -2
DR: 1/2 lvl /
Fortitude: +6

Edit:
Improved the stats on most of the stances:
Aggressive: reduced attack penalty and increased the damage.
Aimed: Made critical boost scale with weapon
Brace: DR scales with level and always applies and lessened speed penalty
Defensive: Improved AC and scaled DR with level
Evasive: Lessened Attack penalty and improved save bonus
Focused: Increased skill boost
Offensive: Unchanged
Resilient: Added

VoxRationis
2014-08-07, 09:59 PM
Well, the stances all give very noticeable drawbacks, which makes them non-competitive with the Tome of Battle classes this forum can't stop fawning over. That said, if you're trying to keep things less like a child's hero-worship, that works.
Even if successful, it doesn't solve the core problem that you've noticed: the fighter really only has attack rolls to interact with the world by.

Keledrath
2014-08-07, 10:15 PM
Interesting idea, but the execution is, frankly, awful. Even avoiding ToB comparisons, I wouldn't want to use these.

For perspective, Balanced is probably a 7/10

Aggressive: So, if I want damage, I'm probably 2-handing. I could take a -3 to hit for 6 damage with Power Attack, and not touch my AC. Bad. 1/10

Aimed: So you reduce the odds of hitting in exchange for better crit chance. This one has potential, but I dislike the even more binary nature of it. If you don't roll a crit number, your odds of even hitting are much lower. So instead of "Hit, or miss, or maybe crit" it becomes "Miss or Crit". Also, flat increases skew it to favoring weapons like the scythe (15% chance of x4 damage?) vs the falchion (25% chance of x2). Then the AC penalty comes in and just takes away your stats. One of your more interesting options, but still not good. 6/10

Brace: Awful. DR/magic is almost irrelevant past level 5, and even then, it's only 2 points, in exchange for a 15% drop in accuracy and generally a 33% drop in mobility (50%, if you're in heavy armor/have a 20ft speed). 0/10

Defensive: Explain why Brace exists beside this? the DR is still too low and unscaling, but at least this bumps your AC. Attack penalty is still a bad thing though. 4/10

Evasive: Okay, we're getting a save bonus now, not bad. Only problem is that it's the least dangerous save to fail (in order, Will/Fort/Reflex). AC boost isn't bad, but again with the attack penalty. 3/10

Focused: Aside from Intimidate spammers with Imperious Command, this is pretty useless. 10% reduction in accuracy and 10% more likely to be hit for skill bonuses. Fighters suck at skills. 0/10

Offensive: This only works because of how DnD works: Aggression is the order of the day. I would use this like a mini Shock Trooper. Dump 2 points of AC for +6 damage on my 2 handed fighter. 7/10.

In short, your penalties are way too harsh, and a lot of the benefits are just really meh.

Network
2014-08-07, 11:11 PM
The basic concept already exists in D&D and is not fighter-specific : any character can fight defensively with no feat investment. Combat Expertise, Power Attack and Reckless Offense are all feats that play with the same concept, and they are all in the SRD. In fact, most of your current combat stances are just ripoffs of these feats, in order :
* Agressive is basically Power Attack.
* Defensive and Evasive are essentially Combat Expertise with a slight additional bonus.
* Aimed and Brace are actually new, but meh.
* Focus (skill) is a free skill boost which only really encourages one-level dips into fighter or monk. The fighter isn't really going to benefit much from it. Maybe the monk, but that class is already dip-friendly.
* Offensive is exactly like Reckless Offense. No offense there, but you reinvented the wheel.

Overall, I think you could just rebuild these combat stances to be more like fighting defensively or make them feats in a feat chain that starts with the already existing feats.

jiriku
2014-08-08, 12:32 AM
I think you've got an idea with some good potential here. It kinda reminds me of some of the combat options in Mutants and Masterminds, where you can trade bonuses and penalties around in combat to represent aggressive fighting, a cautious stance, etc.

Mechanically, there are a couple of issues you'll want to address.

The amount of damage a fighter can expect to take in a hit increases as he levels up, so any damage reduction granted here needs to increase as well. You might consider a DR of 1/2 fighter or monk level, rather than a flat DR 2.

You might also consider making these options more flexible. For example, evasive stance is similar to (but better than) using Combat Expertise with a -3 penalty, but Combat Expertise can be adjusted anywhere from +-1 to +-5. Combat Expertise is an unpopular feat because it's not that strong, so it's fine if your option is better. Maybe you could choose 'Evasive Stance' for up to a -5 penalty and similar bonuses.

VoxRationis
2014-08-08, 01:36 AM
Wait, how is Combat Expertise unpopular? It's the prerequisite for Improved Trip (which Playgrounders consider more important than actual damage) and can be used to improve your AC by a significant margin (the penalty can be offset by the AC penalty of prone targets, which you will be facing if you use the aforementioned Improved Trip).

MagnusExultatio
2014-08-08, 04:55 AM
Wait, how is Combat Expertise unpopular? It's the prerequisite for Improved Trip (which Playgrounders consider more important than actual damage) and can be used to improve your AC by a significant margin (the penalty can be offset by the AC penalty of prone targets, which you will be facing if you use the aforementioned Improved Trip).

The fact people take Combat Expertise for Improved Trip means nothing about how good Combat Expertise is. It is a trash feat, literally garbage otherwise.

Dornith
2014-08-08, 06:48 AM
Firstly, thanks for all the replies.

I had no illusions of this somehow fixing fighter or making it stronger in extra-core groups. I thought that since a fighter is supposed to be more educated in how fighting works than a barbarian, it should be a bit more strategic.

And I figured these probably wouldn't be very good. Like I said, it was a first draft. I'll look at all the things you guys suggested, rework them, and post the updated versions.

Dornith
2014-08-08, 08:12 AM
I reworked the stances to make them a bit more powerful.

Also, I would like to add that none of there were meant to be a default, start of combat assume the X stance every time. The idea is, say you know a dragon's about to use his breath weapon: take an evasive stance; say your stalling while your wizard completes his spell: brace and hold out as long as you can.

ace rooster
2014-08-08, 08:50 AM
Wait, how is Combat Expertise unpopular? It's the prerequisite for Improved Trip (which Playgrounders consider more important than actual damage) and can be used to improve your AC by a significant margin (the penalty can be offset by the AC penalty of prone targets, which you will be facing if you use the aforementioned Improved Trip).

At low levels it can be quite effective, if you already push your AC high. By mid levels any melee threat will be hitting you fairly easily so the value of extra AC is diminished to the point where +5 will maybe only half the damage you take. That -5 to hit will hit your damage output, which will make the fight longer. Generally this is bad for melee PCs, as they are mostly the victors so will often get an extra round. ie, PC,monster, PC (monster dies). PC gets 2 rounds, monster gets 1. Compare to PC gets 4 rounds, monster gets 3, and you see that even if the monster does half damage, you are better off killing it quickly. This is before we even get to casters who ignore AC anyway. Giving them more time is often fatal.

Combat experties would be a good feat if a defensive melee character was viable. Unfortunately it is not in this system. Building a character to survive the +19 attacks of a dire bear (AC 35 at a minimum, at level 7) does not leave enough room to let them actually do anything about it. The only way to deal with it is to take the attacks to the face, and just kill it faster.



I have to say I don't think the underlying melee system needs any work done. Defensive fighting, grappling, tripping, disarming, feinting, mounted combat, reach weapons and ranged weapons actually give a character plenty of options even without feats (one of the reasons I am not a fan of ToB). It needs a rebalance, because currently characters do not have time to use these options, but they are there.

Coidzor
2014-08-10, 08:04 PM
One thing I'd say would be to have some more scaling.

Also, the Critical Range ones should probably be Crit Range increases by 1, 2, 3, etc. rather than multiplying, up to whatever level of expansion you'd want. Arguably could allow it to stack on top of an expanded crit range from multiplication without being multiplied, so, for example, a Keen Greatsword normally has, what, 17-20 crit range, and then increase it by 1 to 16-20, then 2 to 15-20, and finally something like 14-20 or even 12-20. Somewhere between increasing the crit range by 3 and by 5 should be fine, I think.

Dornith
2014-08-10, 10:36 PM
Also, the Critical Range ones should probably be Crit Range increases by 1, 2, 3, etc. rather than multiplying, up to whatever level of expansion you'd want. Arguably could allow it to stack on top of an expanded crit range from multiplication without being multiplied...

That's the way I originally had it, but as others pointed out, that drastically favored weapons with smaller critical ranges and higher damage like scythes.
I like the *3 because it's still relevant, even for keen weapons or fighters with improved critical, while still not being overpowered (or at least if it is, than it just needs for fine tuning rather than inherently flawed).

Aergoth
2014-08-10, 10:48 PM
Pathfinder actually has a an interesting set of combat style feats, technically aimed at monks which might start you on the right path.
Each style (http://www.d20pfsrd.com/feats/style-feats)is its own line of three feats, though the basics of each one are pretty easily attainable.