View Full Version : D&D 5e/Next Battledancer Base Class [Looking for Feedback!]

2016-06-26, 01:52 PM
In a different thread, (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?489748-Ya-Olde-Brew-Shoppe-Brew-made-while-you-wait!-Request-a-Brew) Steampunkette asked for a Battledancer base class. After some consideration, this was my result.

Please let me know if:
1. Anything is unbalanced (weak or strong)
2. You can think of a better level 20 feature (I loathe crafting these - they would never be used but are supposed to wrap up the classes themes in one ability)
3. Any features are unexciting or boorish.

When I thought of real-world examples of a battledancer, I thought about martial artists who perform forms. Forms are a subscribed set of movements meant to train the body in fighting. They are performed as a demonstration of skill and technique.

When I think of a fantasy battledancer, I think of someone who is in tune with combat. They are fluid in movement, aware of their enemies, and are able to move among them by force and grace. Watching them fight is like listening to a clear melody amongst a cacaphony. Examples include River (Serenity) or Ozymandias (Watchmen).

Translated into D&D, this becomes somewhat like a monk, but with no mystical element like Ki. Instead, I borrowed and tweaked some features from this battledancer homebrew (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?440223-5E-Class-The-Bladedancer) by Rogem.

Most important, however, are the subclasses - they take up 5 features for the class. For this class, I think, the real flavor comes from the subclasses instead of the baseline class.

Darting from one partner to the next, a robed human leaves blood and crushed bone in her wake. The hobgoblins in her midst engage her, but unknowingly only play a part in her dance.
Demonstrating the Form amongst the din of battle, a muscled half-orc quietly strides from one soldier to the next and cuts them down in sweeping, graceful movement.
Grinning at the enemy ogre, an elf flourishes his blades. A duck to the right places the enemy on his other foot, which allows an artful strike with his blade on the left.
There are techniques of battle which are passed down through secret organization or bloodline, techniques so thorough that they shape the bearer in more than just their fighting expertise. They come accompanied by the belief that combat is not a smattering of applied techniques but an art form to be mastered. Together, these techniques are referred to as the Form.

Exemplars of Artistry
The art of the Form is imagined in many different ways, and is illustrated by dance, performance, or demonstration. The expression of the Form is influenced greatly by the individual, but the Form remains the same.
Battledancers practice their art through a series of detailed choreographed patterns of movement, which train their body to perform those same movements while in the heart of combat. Only sometimes, against other students of the Form, will the choreography be performed with two opposing forces.
But the Form is not meant to be constrained to false movements far from a battlefield. The Form is only truly expressed when fighting and killing true enemies that possess might, cunning, and will.

Control of Body
The goal of the Form is to merge consciousness with the body, to make intent singular with action. With this also comes awareness of the body’s power, and the power available to it if properly trained.
For this reason, many battledancers embark from their ascetic studies to make their mark on the world. To be untrained and provincial is one thing, but to have such a powerful extension of your intent and not use it should be like tearing a painting or burning a towering cathedral.
In this way, battledancers come to rely on their own bodies much more than arcane magics or divine influence. Their self is sufficient.

Creating a Battledancer
As you make your battledancer, think about where they trained and how they learned their first steps of the Form. Where you sent by your people or village to be trained? Did an organization choose you from existing military recruits? Did you travel far from your home to learn the home in a distant monastery? Or are you a rare occurrence, one who discovered and seeks to master the Form on their own?
There comes a moment in a battledancer’s training that they decide they can no longer reside in their training grounds and must work their will on the world. What precipitated this change? Did you witness a crime? Discover a secret? Meet a traveler? No matter the insight, a battledancer is defined by their actions – what is your intent toward the world?

Quick Build
You can make a battledancer quickly by following these suggestions. First, Strength should be your highest ability score, followed by Charisma. Second, choose the hermit background.

Proficiency Bonus

Unarmored Defense, Fightnig Style


Form Expression

Ability Score Improvement

Extra Attack, Primed Momentum

Form Expression Feature


Ability Score Improvement

Unhindered Movement

Form Expression Feature, Improved Primed Movement

Precise Strikes

Ability Score Improvement

Combat Ready

Form Expression Feature

Improved Primed Momentum

Ability Score Improvement

Unhindered Movement Improvement

Form Expression Feature

Ability Score Improvement

Prepared Flurry

Class Features 
As a Battledancer, you gain the following class features.

Hit Points
Hit Points: 1d10 per battledancer level
Hit Points at 1st Level: 10 + your constitution modifier
Hit Points at Higher Levels: 1d10 (or 6) + your constitution modifier per battledancer level after this one

Armor: Light armor, medium armor, shields
Weapons: Simple weapons, martial weapons
Tools: None
Saving Throws: Strength, Dexterity
Skills: Choose two from Athletics, Acrobatics, History, Insight, Intimidation, Perception, and Performance

You start with the following equipment in addition to the equipment granted by your background
• (a) two short swords or (b) any martial weapon
• (a) two hand axes or (b) four daggers
• (a) an entertainer’s pack or (b) an explorer’s pack

Unarmored Defense
While you are not wearing any armor, your Armor Class equals 10 + your Dexterity modifier + your Charisma modifier. You can use a shield and still gain this benefit.

Fighting Style
You adopt a particular style of fighting as your specialty. Choose one of the following options. You can’t take a Fighting Style option more than once, even if you later get to choose again.
Dueling. When you are wielding a melee weapon in one hand and no other weapons, you gain a +2 bonus to damage rolls with that weapon.
Great Weapon Fighting. When you roll a 1 or 2 on a damage die for an attack with two hands, you can reroll the die and use the new roll, even if the new roll is a 1 or a 2. The weapon must have the two-handed or versatile property for you to gain this benefit.
Two-Weapon Fighting. When you engage in two-weapon fighting, you can add your ability modifier to the damage of the second attack.
Unarmed Fighting. You can use Dexterity instead of Strength for the attack and damage rolls of your unarmed strikes. You can roll a d6 in place of the normal damage of your unarmed strikes. In addition, when you use the Attack action with an unarmed strike or light weapon on your turn, you can make one unarmed strike as a bonus action. At 6th level these strikes count as magical for the purpose of overcoming resistance and immunity to nonmagical attacks and damage.

Beginning at 2nd level, your combat becomes fluid, and you can link together the movements to deadly effect. Each time you land a hit on an enemy creature you gain a momentum point , which can be expended to improvise the next step in the form. You do not gain momentum from attacks which are done with a reaction.
You lose a momentum point after 1 minute, or if your movement speed becomes 0. You may not have more than three momentum points at one time.
You may expend momentum in the following ways:
You may expend one momentum point as a reaction to a creature that attacks you. If you do, you may make one melee weapon attack against that attacker.
Double Step
On your turn, you may expend one momentum point to gain an additional 15 feet of movement until the start of your next turn.
When you are the target of an attack you may, as a reaction, expend a momentum point to impose Disadvantage on that attack roll.

Form Expression
At 3rd level, you choose a form expression that you strive to master. Your choice grants you features at 3rd level and again at 6th, 10th, 14th, and 18th level.

Ability Score Improvement
When you reach 4th level, and again at 8th, 12th, 16th, and 19th level, you can increase one ability score of your choice by 2, or you can increase two ability scores of your choice by 1. As normal, you can’t increase an ability score above 20 using this feature.

Extra Attack
Beginning at 5th level, you can attack twice, instead of once, whenever you take the Attack action on your turn.

Primed Momentum
At 5th level, when you roll for initiative you gain 1 momentum point
At 10th level you gain 2 momentum points, and at 15th level you gain 3 momentum points when you roll initiative.

At 7th level, your instinctive agility lets you dodge out of the way of certain area effects, such as a blue dragon’s lighting breath or a fireball spell. When you are subjected to an effect that allows you to make a Dexterity saving throw to take only half damage, you instead take no damage if you succeed on the saving throw, and only half damage if you fail.

Unhindered Movement
At 9th level, you are no longer hindered by difficult terrain, including magical difficult terrain.
At 17th level, spells and magical effects can neither reduce your speed nor cause you to be paralyzed or restrained.

Precise Strikes
At 11th level, your strikes are especially powerful and precise. Whenever you hit a creature with a melee weapon on your turn, the creature takes an additional 1d8 weapon damage.

Combat Ready
At 13th level, your body responds instantly to incoming threats. You may add your Charisma modifier to your initiative. In addition, if you are surprised at the beginning of combat and aren’t incapacitated, you may act normally on your first turn.

Prepared Flurry
At 20th level, your mastery of the Form is comprehensive. As an action, you can unleash a series of up to seven melee weapon attacks against any creatures within 15 feet. You do not need to expend movement to reach these creatures, your movement does not provoke opportunity attacks, and you may end your movement in any empty space within range. After you use this feature you cannot use it again until you complete a short rest

Form Expressions
Battle Trance
There are those which can drop willingly into abstraction, heightening their abilities. By undergoing great strain, these masters of form draw themselves away from the mundane so that their physical powers are focused on this singular moment. In this way, masters of the battle trance master their unconscious self.
Trance State
At 3rd level, you become able to enter a trance state in combat, elevating your awareness and ability. On your turn, you can start the trance as a bonus action.
While in the trance, you gain the following benefits:
• You are able to use an additional reaction each round.
• You may gain momentum points from attacks you make using a reaction.
• You have resistance to bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage.
If you are able to cast spells, you can’t cast them or concentrate on them while you are in the trance state.
Your trance lasts for 1 minute. It ends early if you are knocked unconscious, if you haven’t attacked a hostile creature since your last turn, or if your movement speed becomes 0. You can also end your trance on your turn as a bonus action.
Once you have entered a trance a number of times equal to your Charisma modifier, you may not do so again until you complete a long rest.
Faultless Kinesthetics
At 6th level, when you are in a trance state you have advantage on Dexterity checks and Dexterity saving throws.
At 10th level, your focus on the art of combat leaves all other considerations behind. Your trance allows you to keep fighting despite grievous wounds. If you drop to 0 hit points while in a trance state and don’t die outright, you can make a DC 10 Charisma saving throw. If you succeed, you drop to 1 hit point instead.
Each time you use this feature after the first, the DC increases by 5. When you finish a short or long rest, the DC resets to 10.
Disciplined Mind
At 14th level, control of your body extends to control of your mind, giving protection against intrusion and malign influence. You gain proficiency with Charisma saving throws. In addition, you gain immunity to charm effects.
Unconscious Awareness
At 18th level, you gain an unconscious awareness of the area around you, and you can detect incoming threats. You gain blindsight in a 30 foot radius, and you gain advantage on Wisdom(Perception) checks.

Duplicitous masters of form believe that the Form does not manifest in the battledancer, but between the battledancer and their enemy. So control of self is not the only consideration, but manipulation of the enemy as well. To do so, the battledancer must study how to hold two intentions in her mind: the combatant presented to the enemy and the true action that is manifested between herself and her foe.
Counterfeit Motion
At 3rd level, you are able to insert deceptions directly into the fluidity of combat. You gain the following momentum options. The DC for these options is 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Charisma modifier.
Feint. Before you make a melee attack, you may expend one momentum point to attempt to force an enemy to overstep and create an opening. The creature must succeed on a Wisdom saving throw or your attack has advantage.
Mislead. You may portray an aggressive stance even as you retreat from combat. As a bonus action, you may expend one momentum point to take the Disengage action as a bonus action on your turn.
Distract. As a bonus action, you may distract an enemy and give an ally an opening to strike. Choose a creature within 5 feet. That creature must succeed on a Wisdom saving throw or an ally of your choice may immediately make a weapon attack against the target.
Social Façade
At 6th level, you know that deception with words are as powerful as those with deed. After you succeed on a Charisma check, you gain one momentum point. You may expend a momentum point to gain advantage on a Charisma ability check.
At 14th level, you can recognize and mimic the subtle characterizations in a person’s deportment and manner. By subtly echoing them in conversation, you can harmonize your response to be more influential. You can choose to gain advantage on any Charisma (Deception) or Charisma (Persuasion) check. If you fail such a check the subject detects some imitation or deception, and you have disadvantage on Charisma checks against them for 1 minute.
Feign Debility
At 14th level, you may trick an enemy into believing you are still debilitated even after you recover. Immediately after you recover from the blinded, charmed, frightened, grappled, paralyzed, prone, restrained, stunned, or unconscious conditions, you may make an attack against a target within 5 feet. The target of your attack must make a Wisdom save with a DC of 8 + your Charisma modifier + your proficiency bonus. If they fail, your attack has advantage.
Absolute Pretense
At 18th level, the façade that you present to the enemy is so complete that for a short time they cannot accurately discern your attack pattern, movement, or intention. Choose three targets within 60 feet. The creatures must succeed on a Wisdom saving throw or be convinced by your pretense for one minute.
While convinced by your pretense, you have advantage on attack rolls and Charisma checks against them. In addition, they have disadvantage on attack rolls against you. If you miss an attack against them or they succeed against a Charisma check, they are no longer affected by your pretense.
An updated version of this homebrew lies in my signature (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showsinglepost.php?p=20886261&postcount=285). Let me know if you have any questions!

Final Hyena
2016-06-26, 03:49 PM
Counter is the best option by far, also slightly crazy as a dip for rogues.

Whirlwind. We meet again.

Prepared Flurry.
Considering that it's an action It's roughly as good as a regular attack (ignoring buffs). I would have it be a bonus action affecting your next attack roll.

2016-07-02, 11:55 PM
Counter is the best option by far, also slightly crazy as a dip for rogues.

Whirlwind. We meet again.

Prepared Flurry.
Considering that it's an action It's roughly as good as a regular attack (ignoring buffs). I would have it be a bonus action affecting your next attack roll.

Thanks for the reply - I have spotty internet, so I'm replying back rather late.

I agree that counter is the best momentum option. Its purpose is to encourage the battle dancer to be in the midst of combat, and allows for additional damage if they do so. The other options are for a) when utility calls for defense or movement, or b) when the battle dancer has more momentum than they need.

This would be a strong dip for rogues. If a rogue dips into this class, I would only allow them to apply sneak attack damage on their turn.

Whirlwind Attack seemed the best 11th level option for a boost in damage, since it is fairly thematic. If you have specific concerns about it I'd love to hear them.

I'll make that change to Prepared Flurry, but you should know that I don't really like the feature at all. If any of you have ideas for a different capstone, let me know.

Thanks for the feedback!

Final Hyena
2016-07-03, 04:28 AM
This would be a strong dip for rogues. If a rogue dips into this class, I would only allow them to apply sneak attack damage on their turn.
That would debuff them from the norm. How would you feel about specifically stating that an attack resulting from Counter can not apply sneak attack damage?

Whirlwind Attack seemed the best 11th level option for a boost in damage, since it is fairly thematic. If you have specific concerns about it I'd love to hear them.
It's generally considered a meh option.
You have two attacks or one attack against everyone within 5 feet of you.
If you have two enemies around you then you do the same amount of damage, but split up meaning those creatures survive for longer, hurting you more than if you had focused one at a time.

I recently was looking into attacks that focus fire vs spread out damage and found that I want to hit two enemies for 75% of what I would normally do to one, or 50% for three enemies (assuming the enemies are roughly an equal threat). Whirlwind does do that against 3 attacks, but being in a position where you are surrounded by 3 enemies isn't reliable and even then it's just a side grade, when you factor in a friendly pc will likely start damaging one of them then you would rather focus fire them. This means whirlwind is only a boon if you alone are taking on 4 guys who are all roughly the same power level.

2016-07-03, 05:15 AM
That would debuff them from the norm. How would you feel about specifically stating that an attack resulting from Counter can not apply sneak attack damage?

A fine and elegant solution.

It's generally considered a meh option.

Alright, you've convinced me.

We still need a way to increase damage dealt by the character. Counter and Extra Attack hold them for a time, but it doesn't stick forever.

In the PHB there are two ways for martial classes to keep their damage competitive: level increases or scaled increases

Fighters and Paladins increase their damage at certain levels (Extra Attacks or Smites).

Rogues, Monks, and Barbarians increase their damage slowly as they level (sneak attack, martial arts, rage).

I think I like the former better, since I'm already giving Battle Dancer extra attack. That means that, barring other imagined options, I can give a)an additional attack, or b) additional damage on each attack. I think I like the second of the two.

If you have other ideas, I'll consider them. But otherwise I think that adding 1d8 to the damage of attacks that occur on their turn is reasonable.

Thanks for your feedback, I really appreciate it.

Final Hyena
2016-07-03, 05:31 AM
The way Precise strike is written you don't get the extra d8 on reaction (counter) attacks (I'm assuming it's not technically your turn, but might be wrong).

I'm not commenting on the balance of it triggering out of turn, just thought I'lld make sure it was the goal.

2016-07-03, 07:26 AM
As intended. I think keeping it in line with the paladin (which is already considered a string class) is prudent.

2017-04-24, 04:17 AM
I felt inspired, so this (http://homebrewery.naturalcrit.com/share/rktQifsAl). Zeek, I feel you did a great job with this class. I don't like how you implemented the Unarmed fighting and included a "variant" bit at the end of the document. Other than that, this is a lot better than my attempt at a battle dancer, and I felt like doing this writeup for NatCrit. If you want please keep the source code, and create it under your account. I will happily oblige taking it off my account.

Please enjoy.

2017-04-25, 04:55 AM
I felt inspired, so this (http://homebrewery.naturalcrit.com/share/rktQifsAl). Zeek, I feel you did a great job with this class. I don't like how you implemented the Unarmed fighting and included a "variant" bit at the end of the document. Other than that, this is a lot better than my attempt at a battle dancer, and I felt like doing this writeup for NatCrit. If you want please keep the source code, and create it under your account. I will happily oblige taking it off my account.

Please enjoy.

Hello! I'm glad you enjoyed the work.

I live an ocean away from quality internet, so I don't use the Homebrewery. But all my work can be considered to be open source. Just attribute the work to me and any changes to yourself - then we're good! (I found the lingerie-wearing warrior in the document to be especially hilarious, but I like the first image you have there a lot!)

I've actually altered this homebrew a bit since I posted it, and this seems a good time to get a bit of feedback.

First, I changed the hit dice for the class from d8 to d10. A big change, I know. Initially I put the dice at 1d8 to mirror the monk. But, I feel I didn't take into account that the monk has stronger defensive ability than this class. A monk can not only take the Dodge/Disengage as a bonus action, they are effectively immune to many ranged attacks. Also, I don't feel like this class deserves a lower hit dice than the fighter or ranger.

Second, I have changed the Prepared Flurry capstone. The first I felt was lame, but this feels a lot better. Let me know what you think.

Third, I removed Menace as a Duplicity momentum option, and replaced it with Mislead. Menace didn't feel like it fit the type, and the effect of mislead deserved to be available much earlier in the subclass.

Fourth, I replaced the now redundant Strong Front. I replaced it with an ability somewhat similar to Friends, named Mimicry. I'm most uncertain about this feature.

I feel good about these changes, but I'd be happy to know what y'all think!

As a side note, I'd like to refute your unarmed fighting style option. My goal was to bring unarmed fighting up to the same quality as taking the two-weapon fighting style. I needed to increase the damage, allow dexterity, allow a second strike, and allow ability modifier to be applied to damage.

In the end, I considered magical attacks necessary. A weapon-wielding character can gain access to magical weapon attacks, but an unarmed fighter never can. I wanted this type of character to be relevant if he punches a lich in the face, without relying entirely on the GM homebrewing a boon or magical brass knuckles. An unarmed character can never wield a flame sword - I felt this to be a fair enough trade.

If you still disagree (that's alright), then I'd be sure to make unarmed strikes a light weapon as well, to allow two-weapon fighting. I'd also consider making the second strike add ability damage.

After I get some better internet at my district office, I'll be sure to update to documents in my signature to reflect the changes (I also made the formatting/fonts more pleasing!) Thanks to all of you!

2017-04-26, 04:48 AM
Fair enough on all accounts. You know, it's not that easy to locate a rendered pictured of a light armor-wearing individual, male or female. The image does seem to put emphasis on decolletage now that you mention it. Thanks for taking a look regardless, zeek.