Extra Attack can be kind of a bummer for a table that doesn’t have blistering fast combat, especially over microphones as compared to a meatspace table. Here are some rules changes that bring martial classes’ action economy in-line with other classes (so that they don’t dominate the table during combat), while also not screwing them over.
This has always been a potential problem (listening to a fighter attack 3 times, Action Surge, and then use a bonus action can be excruciating for a wizard who is going to cast fire bolt, potentially miss, and be done for the round), but now that we’re all learning to play this game over microphones and headsets, it has become exacerbated. We don’t want our parenthetical wizard to retreat into Facebook during a D&D session, so we want to get to her turn quickly and keep everyone else’s turn to roughly the same action economy.
While there are spells that do the same thing, this article is going to focus on the Attack action, simply because that comes up far, far more often. If spells like Haste are causing problems at your table, feel free to use these rules as a baseline for adjustment. For example, Eldritch Blast can come up exactly as often as weapon attacks, so these rules can also be used to alter that spell.
Remember, we’re not balancing for power here, nor are we attempting to nerf martial classes – we’re balancing primarily for the attention spans of people who picked classes that don’t get the Extra Attack feature. The power dynamic of classes will change if you use this, and that’s not avoidable – but I’d rather have martial classes feel different than have someone drop out because they are incredibly bored. There is no reason to make social distancing and isolation worse than they already are.
Extra Attack Power Attack
Extra Attack has been replaced with the Power Attack feature. Power Attacks do the same amount of damage as hitting multiple times. If you could attack twice before, your weapon now rolls twice the attack dice. Putting this into the Rules Language of the game would look something like this:
Beginning at 5th Level, you can roll damage dice for your weapon attacks twice, instead of once, whenever you make a successful Weapon Attack. Multiply your damage modifier for this attack by 2.
The number of extra damage dice increases to 3 when you reach 11th level in this class, and to 4 when you reach 20th level in this class. You also multiply your damage modifier by 3 and 4, respectively.
Extra Attack Sweeping Attack
Martial classes shouldn’t lose their ability to spread their damage out, so let’s also give them a feature that lets them do damage automatically. Our goal is to keep them rolling dice a maximum of two times – one d20, and on a success, damage dice.
So let them apply their damage roll to multiple enemies instead of rolling double the dice. If they have one extra attack, they can damage one extra enemy in range, and so one.
Here’s what that might look like in game language.
Beginning at 5th Level, instead of making a Power Attack, you can damage multiple enemies in range of your weapon. On a successful weapon attack, roll damage one time, and without multiplying your damage modifier. You can apply that same damage to another enemy in range.
The number extra enemies who take this damage increases to 3 when you reach 11th level in this class and to 4 when you reach 20th level in this class.
Now that we’ve messed with fighters, though, they feel an awful lot like rogues. If you have a rogue at your table, and either the rogue or the fighter dislikes this, consider giving this feature to the rogue so that they feel different and have a fun button to press every so often.
Sneak Attack Points
Beginning at 1st level, you can use your sharp wits and quit reflexes to turn a bad situation to your favor.
You have Sneak Attack points equal to your Dexterity Modifier (or optionally, your Charisma for Swashbucklers, Intelligence for Masterminds, and Wisdom for Inquisitives). When you make a weapon attack with a Finesse Weapon or a Ranged Weapon, you can spend a Sneak Attack point to automatically score a critical hit. You can use a Sneak Attack point any time after you’ve rolled to make a Weapon Attack, but before you know the result of the roll.
Your critical hits automatically deal your Sneak Attack damage dice, mentioned in your core class feature, which are doubled by the critical hit.
You regain your Sneak Attack points at the end of a Long Rest, or by spending inspiration to regain 1 Sneak Attack point.
Your Sneak Attack feature is otherwise unchanged.
Are rogues going to blow up dragons with this feature? Yes. But does it feel different from a fighter with a squished action economy? Also yes, and that’s all we’re adjusting for here.
Stay safe out there, friends. Keep calm, and do fuck all.