Sunday, July 21, 2024

Dungeons & Dragons New Core Rulebooks Fixate on Martial Classes in First Reveals

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Players were extremely excited last week to see the new details about the 2024 update to Dungeons and Dragons begin their reveal cycle with looks at the book and how they adjusted the beloved game. Some of the first changes to the game were unveiled through a series of class updates. The first four classes unveiled were the Fighter, Paladin, Barbarian and Rogue; each classes that are fixated on the martial combat and offer some insights into what the game will look like going forward.

Here’s an overview of the game’s changes to each Dungeons & Dragons martial class. 

Fighter

DND Fighter, martial classes
Wizards of the Coast

Starting off with the game’s most basic class, the Fighter returns to set the stage for how each update’s going to look. One of the earliest changes was how Fighting Styles, the features which define your best weapon type, were turned into early feats instead of a singular decision. The game also expanded the Second Wind Mechanic to have multiple charges at level one, but you’re only able to receive one per short rest and all of them at long rest. Second Wind can also be used  for a number of actions, from  adding d10s to ability checks or disengaging up to half their movement across the battlefield as a bonus action 

Weapon Mastery is also a key tool, as Wizards has begun attaching keywords to particular weapons in-game to give them more flavor beyond just “does more damage.” For example, Greatswords have “Graze,” which means they do a minimum amount of damage even if they miss. Javelins, in contrast, can slow a target down by 10 feet. At higher levels ,you can swap out keywords in limited circumstances if you’re seeking a particular result (such as pushing an enemy off a ledge.)

All classes now receive their subclass at level 3, and fighters are no exception. Battlemaster, Champion, Eldritch Knight and Psi Warrior all made their returns with some minor changes to their mechanics. 

Indomitable got a buff and now allows players to add a bonus up to their fighter level whenever they need to reroll something.

A new feature was also added where a player gets advantage on a strike if the first one hits; a significant update for a combatant.

These choices give the appearance of a player able to do more than hit, but to use their mastery of their equipment to control the battlefield and help their allies out whenever possible. And these themes will remain constant so far. If players want to embrace a simple gameplay approach, they absolutely can. Or they can become a tactician in the battlefield and turn it to their favor. 

Paladin

Paladins, martial classes
Wizards of the Coast

The Paladin has always existed as a Fighter sent by God, and the new update to the class reflects this.

Lay On Hands, an early-level function for healing, is now a bonus action; thus offering options to stay in combat without having to straight to healing. Spellcasting is also available at level 1 as is Weapon Mastery (discussed in the section on fighters)

Fighting Styles are still a feature adopted at level 2, and a Paladin’s smite also arrives at that level. The game made the controversial choice to limit the number of uses of smite in a single round by making it a bonus action, but has attempted to accommodate that by offering what it calls Paladin’s Smite. This is a permanently prepared spell that can be cast for free once a day as well as with spell slots. 

Players will receive a free casting of Find Steed at level 5, providing them with a permanently prepared mount at that level. 

Barbarian

Barbarians, martial classes
Wizards of the Coast (Marcela Madieros)

Barbarians remain a beast in the battlefield with an uncontrollable rage directed at their enemies.

One of the biggest updates that the class received was how to extend a rage. While 2014 Barbarian required them to either attack or be attacked in a round, the new version allows them to maintain it by either expending a bonus action or forcing an enemy to make a saving throw. Rages are also restored via short rests. Later upgrades to Rage will allow the player to maintain it for up to 10 minutes and even restore all charges upon rolling initiative. 

Like the two classes before, Barbarians will also have to choose their weapon masteries carefully.

Danger Sense, the attribute that gives barbarians advantage on dexterity saving throws, received a buff to allow it to work if the target can’t see or hear the attack.

Barbarian is also one of the first classes to receive a new subclass. Barbarians can now choose the Path of the World Tree, a subclass that allows them to provide allies temporary hit points, move enemies around and use their weapon masteries fairly efficiently.

Primal Knowledge offers an additional skill proficiency and allows the player to replace their skill bonuses with their strength bonus. So if a player needs to be sneaky, they can use their clear control of their body’s muscles to do this.

Brutal Strike replaces the 2014 version of Brutal Critical, and allows players to forfeit having advantage on the enemy for additional damage and additional debufss. For example, a barbarian could hit the opposition with Forceful Blow and send them flying through the air 15 feet.

Relentless Rage, an ability that offered players the option to sacrifice a rage in exchange for not going down to 0 HP, has received a buff. The use of this ability will give players up to twice their level in HP upon using it, a massive buff that will keep the buff fighter in the brawl.

Rogue

rogues, martial classes

Finally is the rogue. This master-of-all-trades has adopted a number of new features that will allow him to do far more than merely hide, shoot and steal.

 One of the most notable features is what the game calls Cunning Strike. Rogues now have the option to sacrifice a certain amount of d6es in their Sneak Attack to perform certain conditional attacks. For example, the player could sacrifice a single d6 in order to apply poison to the attack. This will allow them to force the target to make a constitution saving throw and possibly be poisoned.

Reliable Talent, an ability that allows the player to never roll less than 10 on a dice, has been moved from level 11 to level 7.

Slippery Mind, a skill that offers proficiency in wisdom saving throws at level 15, also applies to charisma saving throws. 

Martial with Strategy

The single thread tying much of the 2024 updates are increased resources for players to use in combat, as well as offering them a more strategic approach to gameplay. While many players may not find changes like the ‘nerfing’ of Divine Smite, the game appears to be offering more opportunities to make strategic decisions in combat.

Images via Wizards of the Coast

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Images via Wizards of the Coast

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