The Fighter, Ranger, and Paladin classes have fighting styles available early on, but they do not scale up with levels. At our table we modified a few of these from the Player’s Handbook to make them closer linked to that increase of proficiency but still avoid breaching the ‘bounded accuracy’ of 5E. If the bonus advancement for these fighting styles still seems slow, round up the the halved bonus.
You gain a bonus of half your proficiency bonus (round down) + 1 to attack rolls you make with ranged weapons.
It isn’t a big change, with the final bonus being +10 to hit (vs. +8 under the current RAW), but at least it did improve.
Defense (Fighter, Paladin, Ranger)
While you are wearing armor or armed with a weapon, you gain a bonus to AC equal to half your proficiency (round down).
Way back in a much earlier edition, there were rules that increased skill with a weapon actually could be used to improve your armor class. We even used optional rules on parrying. I also took some inspiration from the classic fight scenes of a skilled warrior fending off many attackers. It seemed fitting as hit points increase quicker with levels and Challenge Ratings than Armor Class.
Dueling (Fighter, Paladin, Ranger)
When you are wielding a melee weapon in one hand and no other weapons, you gain a damage bonus equal to your proficiency with that weapon.
If the flat damage bonus seems too much, a damage die bonus would be a good alternative –
+2, +3 = +1d4, +4, +5 = +1d6, +5 = +1d8
Great Weapon Fighting (Fighter, Paladin)
When you roll a number equal to or less than your proficiency bonus on a single damage die for an attack you make with a melee weapon that you are wielding with two hands, you can reroll the die and must use the new roll, even if the new roll is lower than the original roll. The weapon must have the two-handed or versatile property for you to gain this benefit.
Great weapons have a number of things going against them when it comes to player use. You lose the benefit from a possible shield, the damage range of the more common long sword maxing out at 8 and two handed weapons at 10 or the rarer 12, and it usually takes DM intervention for a magical polearm to be found in a treasure horde. There is an element of self balancing as the proficiency goes up, so does the risk of rolling less than that original damage die number.
Protection (Fighter, Paladin)
When you are within your melee weapon’s reach of a creature you can see attacking a target other than you, you can use your reaction to impose disadvantage on the attack roll.
I’m part of a medieval recreation club that includes martial activities and it’s influenced out table a great deal, including my table’s view on polearms. That’s why we modified the Polearm master Feat as well, substituting spear for quarterstaff and restricting the bonus action attack (aka the butt spike) to a reach of 5 feet. It also meant that we had experienced polearms and great weapons ‘fouling’ attacks made against an ally, leading to this homebrew change to this and to ranged attacks within weapon’s reach. Also, the original wording often created confusion as to if it was intended that you must be within reach of the attacker or the target. Net result – remove the bit about requiring a shield to perform this style.
Two-Weapon Fighting (Fighter, Ranger)
I didn’t touch this one. However I’ve seen a couple of blogs and video streams that have made a powerful argument along the following –
When you engage in two-weapon fighting, you can add your ability modifier to the damage of the off-hand attack. Additionally, when you take the Attack Action, you may also make a single attack with the off-hand weapon without using your Bonus Action. If used in this way, your off-hand weapon may not be used as a Bonus Action this turn.
This frees up the Bonus Action, more important to the Ranger than the Fighter most times. Being able to use a Bonus Action for an additional attack on top of this can dramatically increase the damage per turn output, particularly when paired with the Dual Wielder Feat that allows for an off-hand weapon dealing 1d8 compared to the 1d6 cap on other light weapons.
A few more thoughts …
These modifications are minor, resting largely on linking your proficiency bonus to the fighting style benefit. I’ve seen a few home brew blogs that added in additional perks like a specialized maneuver to the styles at higher fighter levels which can make for a more versatile fighter and tried a few of those. I’m still pretty happy with these slight changes that grow with the character over levelling up.
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