Expanding on 5E D&D Battle Master Builds from Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything
Next to the tremendous number of new fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons subclasses and terrific tools and resources inside Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything one section of the book receives far less attention than anything else. Nestled in the character options between Rune Knight fighters and Optional Class Features for monks the Battle Master Builds presents a dozen packages of fighting styles, maneuvers and feats to represent a variety of warriors and their approach to combat. What can be said of these second edition AD&D-esque kits? A massively mathematical minded person might put together spreadsheets and data to quantitatively assess each one. I’m not such a person and instead I’m curious about taking these 5E D&D Battle Master Builds to the next level. Let’s get into it.
Why should a Battle Master have all the fun?
The Battle Master Builds in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything do a decent job providing pathways to different sorts of warriors in the context of 5E D&D. Each collection of fighting styles, maneuvers and feats gives a character a suite of features designed to evoke a combat philosophy whether dealing with enemies from afar as an Archer, approaching battle like a game of chess as a Strategist and so forth. All of these Battle Master Builds of naturally presume the character in question is a fighter at least in part and in some cases — looking at you Brawler — remaining pure to the class for an entire adventuring career to acquire all of the suggested feats.
But Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything includes several new feats including Fighting Initiate, which allows a character to learn one Fighting Style option of your choice from the fighter class. Coupled with the Martial Adept feat to let a character learn two maneuvers of their choice from among those available to the Battle Master archetype in the fighter class opens the door for non-fighters to explore the concept of Battle Master Builds. Along with the smattering of feats granting characters magical abilities gives me the notion of packages in the style of these Battle Master Builds but aimed to invoke the more fantastic elements of 5E D&D. There’s a dozen Battle Master Builds in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything and they’ve got a whole team of folks to produce the content in these books. Since it’s just little old me I’ll come up with four of my own.
Magical warrior kits for 5E D&D
Each of these packages incorporates three feats — Fighting Initiate, Martial Adept and one additional feat to provide some magical qualities. The former grants one fighting style, which a character can replace whenever they reach a level that grants the Ability Score Improvement feature and the latter grants two maneuvers. A handful of classes other than fighters can acquire a fighting style without the need for Fighting Initiate and for those characters these Battle Master Builds style packages potentially come together quite a bit sooner. For characters with no native access to fighting styles fulfilling a package’s suggestions occurs at 12th level. A quicker path to completion also lies inside Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything through Custom Lineage (or through the variant human race option).
Away from Me!
Fighting Style: Thrown Weapon Fighting
Maneuvers: Menacing Attack, Pushing Attack
Feats: Shadow Touched (Cause Fear)
Molded by Darkness
Fighting Style: Blind Fighting
Maneuvers: Grappling Strike, Trip Attack
Feats: Eldritch Adept (Devil’s Sight)
Fighting Style: Interception
Maneuvers: Bait and Switch, Maneuvering Attack
Fighting Style: Dueling
Maneuvers: Feinting Attack, Goading Attack
Feats: Fey Touched (Compelled Duel)
This was a fun activity! While working on these I was reminded of Whispers in the Dark, which is a 5E D&D hack designed for occult adventures. Whispers in the Dark foregoes class structure and instead characters develop through acquiring feats as they progress upward in level. Adapting some of the concepts from 5E hacks like Whispers in the Dark creates tremendous design space to explore ideas like this. Something like a pared down or simplified version of 5E D&D using a basic chassis for characters with a small package of abilities akin to the Battle Master Builds in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything, the ones I shared here in this post or another creation could be lots of fun and perhaps make 5E D&D more easily accessible for new players.
On the flip side our own long running Character Build Guide series takes players from 1st to 20th level with a breakdown of race, class and background every step of the way. Each CBG starts with a character concept sticking to a particular schtick. Sometimes puns and pop culture references instigate the creation of a CBG too. Multiclass combinations arise from this by default and as DM’s Guild Brand Manager and longtime Nerdarchy friend Lysa Penrose puts it they’re each like their own unique class for 5E D&D. The life cycle of a CBG comes to a close with a PDF over at DM’s Guild. We’ve got over 50 of them and you can pay what you want for any and all of them. We’ve played these ourselves and deployed the creature versions against adventurers quite a bit too (each CBG includes the player guide and a new 5E D&D creature inspired by it). We’ve also heard they make terrific pregenerated characters in a pinch! You can find all of those at DM’s Guild here.