Thoughts on the LevelUp 5e Playtest IX – Warlord

It’s finally time to go beyond levels 1-10, and with a new class no less!

The Warlord is a new build of the 4e core class of the same name. That class was a fighter who could buff their allies in a similar way to bards but without magic, and had some cool battlefield control effects.
Let’s see how this version stacks up.

So, as masters of tactics, they look pretty interesting, They’re built as a fighter’s starting package, but no tool proficiencies and saves in Wisdom and Charisma.
There’s no ‘what came before’ to really look at here, so I’ll list the different abilities and go from there.

At level 1 there’s Commanding Presence and Rallying Surge, level 2 brings both Combat Manoeuvres and Exploration Knacks, level 3 is the Archetype with additions at 7, 11, 15 and 18, normal ability score adjustments at levels 4, 8, 12, 16 and 19, there’s Combat Directives, Extra Attack, Followers and Versatile exploration at level 5 with another attack at level 11, Call to Arms and Martial Renown kick in at level 6, Spur Ally at level 9, Expanded Directives and Rally the Troops at level 10, at level 12 there’s Commanding Demeanour, at level 13 is Dauntless and Stronghold, level 14 brings Advantageous Action, Greater Stronghold at level 16, Critical Weakness at level 17, Impressive Reputation at level 18 and finally at level 20 there’s Legendary Commander and Supreme Stronghold.
OK, that’s a lot. I’ll write a completely separate post to cover the archetypes.

Commanding Presence is a buffing aura, beginning at 10 ft. radius and eventually reaching 60 ft. at level 20. If an ally within the aura can hear the warlod, they can use their reaction to make an attack or cast a cantrip, in replace of the warlord making an attack themselves.

Rallying Surge is a bonus action that lets allies within 30 ft. of a warlord to regain 1d8 plus warlord level in hitpoints. At level 1 it’s 1 ally per long rest, at level 3 it’s two allies, and at level 7 it’s per short rest.

Manoeuvres are the same as those for fighters, from what I can tell, though these have obviously changed some since the fighter playtest.

Exploration Knacks give bonus to carrying capacity for bulky items (I’m guessing that’s a new thing for gritty inventory management), or mean additional allies can piles on the Help action for extra bonuses (to a limit), or commoners in any settlement will give knowledge of the local area freely, giving expertise dice on Nature and Survival checks within 10 miles of any settlement the warlord has visited.
I notice a reference to Engineering as a skill check in one description, so that’s obviously an important skill for warlords.
Versatile Exploration, when it kicks in, allows the warlord to take fighter exploration knacks.

Combat Directives allow the reaction attacks of allies in the Commanding Presence aura to use Sanguine Knot manoeuvres that the warlord knows. Interesting.
Expanded Directives later allows allies to use any manoeuvre from a tradition a warlord at least knows one manoeuvre from, and at level 15 that adds another tradition.

Followers are followers, funnily enough.

Call to Arms lets anyone in the Commanding Presence aura (including the warlord) to add an expertise dice to their initiative, and the warlord can switch their initiative result with any ally in sight.

Martial Renown adds proficiency to the Renown score (which again, is another score to pay attention to in this crunchier D&D), and gives a few options – Famous, Infamous and Maverick.
Expertise in Persuasion and friendly with authority figures in settlements, expertise in Intimidation and common folk tell you everything for fear of what you might do, or no expertise and the guards follow you around and the criminal elements want to curry your favour.
I fee like an expertise dice in Deception got missed there.

Spur Ally gives a reaction to allow allies to reroll ability checks or saving throws once per long rest, moving to once per short rest at level 13.

Rouse the Troops is a way to give a fighter’s Second Wind ability to everyone – a minute of rousing speech and anyone listening can spend Hit Dice like it was a short rest, and can remove a level of fatigue or resolve (whatever resolve is, mental fatigue?).

Commanding Demeanour comes in three flavours – Calm, Resolute and Responsive.
Calm gives a free Intimidation check in certain circumstances by remaining silent, but having fun with facial expressions.
Resolute allows a reroll with expertise on failed Intelligence, Wisdom or Charisma checks once per short rest.
Responsive gives expertise on Persuasion checks, and lets a warlord interject into a conversation to quickly ask a question and get an answer before the target realises they don’t know the questioner.

Dauntless gives warlords and their allies in the Commanding Presence aura advantage on saves against spells and effects that cause charmed or frightened conditions.

Stronghold gives an average grade 4 stronghold such as a keep or mansion. Grading is not explained here.
Level 16 brings a grade 5 such as a castle or cathedral, and level 20 is a grade 6 fortress or palace.

Advantageous Action makes the Help action a bonus action, and gives a few benefits to using it – a frightened creature within 30 ft. that can hear the warlord stops being frightened, or a creature within 5 ft. can gain temporary hitpoints equal to the warlord’s Charisma modifier, or touching a creature at 0 hitpoints lets that creature regain 1 hitpoint.

Critical Weakness means that once per short rest a warlord can find a vulnerability in a creature within 60 ft. as a bonus action, and allies that can hear the warlord gains advantage on attacks and their attacks and spells deal an extra 6 damage.

Impressive Reputation comes in Hero, Iconoclast and Slaughterer varieties.
Heroes are welcomed by nobles for a number of days equal to warlord level, receiving free room and board.
Iconoclasts are visited by bards and scholars to hear the latest tales and can answer questions or volunteer important quest information.
Slaughterers are seen as potential allies by bandits, pirates, crimelords, intelligent monsters and fiends, and even in combat they will attempt to make an alliance before doing anything else.

Legendary Commander gives all allies in the Commanding Presence aura a bonus to their saving throws equal to the warlord’s Charisma modifier, and a choice of other benefits.
Commander’s Expertise gives those allies making attacks or manoeuvres in the aura an expertise dice.
Feedback Loop gives a warlord bonus reactions when the Commanding Presence ally reaction successfully hits a target.
Rapid Deployment gives a warlord and any allies that can either see or hear them a speed boost during combat – after initiative is rolled, everyone jumps up by 20 ft.

OK, so far they all sound like some fun abilities. I can definitely see myself playing a warlord, they seem like a lot of fun and have some interesting abilities.

Tune in next time for the archetypes!

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