Help! I need to build a non-combat support class!

Troy Swain

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#1
So I'm running an extremely homebrewed version of 5e. The PCs are all academics and my players are absolutely uninterested in "hack and slash." Hell, they're uninterested in combat in general. (I know, I know. Combat is what D&D is good at. But they all saw Stranger Things, and they've heard than Vin Diesel and others play D&D, so they wanted to play D&D as well. Just without a lot of combat.)

Anyway, one player really wanted to play an engineer / mathematician. Ok, fine. I used the Thief template. But now all of my players are about to be 3rd level! That one player is adamant that they are not the 'combat type.' So I need to create a class path for the PC that isn't combat related.

The new artificer class is similar to the character idea, but as typical for D&D, very combat related.
Right now, the PC is ostensibly a thief. But without "sneak attack" the thief is just a skills monkey.

The PCs will most likely hit 3rd level tonight. But now one PC is going to be a monk, probably our take on Way of the Open Hand; another a druid, probably our take on Circle of the Moon; an another is an artificer.

I was thinking of replacing the Rogue's "sneak attack" with "bardic inspiration," and I was thinking of letting the PC pursue their Mathematician / Engineer 3rd level path by combining the Rogue Mastermind's "Master of Tactics" help action (which allows the Help action as a bonus action and give a 30' radius) or letting them go down the Arcane Trickster path (but without "Mage Hand" and without the combat related spells).

Anyway, if I replace "Sneak Attack" with "Bardic Inspiration" will that break anything? Again, I need to create a viable path for a non-combat orientated player / PC.
 

Grumpygoat

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#2
Replacing Sneak Attack with Bardic Inspiration will, if anything, weaken the class. But if combat's not much of a thing in the game, it'll be more helpful. I wouldn't worry about it breaking anything.

Err, and did you try steering the group toward another system?
 

Alon

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#3
What kind of challenges are there in the campaign? In a d20 Modern campaign I played ten years ago, taking place in WW2, one player had ranks in Knowledge: Architecture, which meant knowing where to plant explosives in walls of enemy bases so that we could get in. Someone with knowledge of math and engineering would be able to do something similar at pretty much any tech level.

Alternatively, if any sailing is involved, and it's not yet 1800, the skills are useful for navigation.

For a third-level feature, maybe go with jury-rig, if the character is more the practical MacGyver type than an academic engineer?
 

vitruvian

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#4
So I'm running an extremely homebrewed version of 5e. The PCs are all academics and my players are absolutely uninterested in "hack and slash." Hell, they're uninterested in combat in general. (I know, I know. Combat is what D&D is good at. But they all saw Stranger Things, and they've heard than Vin Diesel and others play D&D, so they wanted to play D&D as well. Just without a lot of combat.)

Anyway, one player really wanted to play an engineer / mathematician. Ok, fine. I used the Thief template. But now all of my players are about to be 3rd level! That one player is adamant that they are not the 'combat type.' So I need to create a class path for the PC that isn't combat related.

The new artificer class is similar to the character idea, but as typical for D&D, very combat related.
Right now, the PC is ostensibly a thief. But without "sneak attack" the thief is just a skills monkey.

The PCs will most likely hit 3rd level tonight. But now one PC is going to be a monk, probably our take on Way of the Open Hand; another a druid, probably our take on Circle of the Moon; an another is an artificer.

I was thinking of replacing the Rogue's "sneak attack" with "bardic inspiration," and I was thinking of letting the PC pursue their Mathematician / Engineer 3rd level path by combining the Rogue Mastermind's "Master of Tactics" help action (which allows the Help action as a bonus action and give a 30' radius) or letting them go down the Arcane Trickster path (but without "Mage Hand" and without the combat related spells).

Anyway, if I replace "Sneak Attack" with "Bardic Inspiration" will that break anything? Again, I need to create a viable path for a non-combat orientated player / PC.
Rogues get Sneak Attack at 1st level, it's not a 3rd level archetype thing, so he already has it, as well as the weapon proficiencies and all that. That ship's sailed, so I would just pick a 3rd level archetype like the Mastermind or Inquisitive which is not very combat-focused. Or Arcane Trickster, although I'm puzzled as to why you're thinking Mage Hand has to go in order for it not to be a combat type; Mage Hand usually sees more use in disabling or triggering traps from a distance.

I'm also curious about whether all of the players are truly not concerned with combat ability, given the other choices you mention - I mean, Way of the Open Hand is pretty specifically all about unarmed combat prowess and extra effects/tricks, and Circle of the Moon's main benefit is that your Wild Shape forms can be of a higher CR, which is primarily a measure of combat ability.
 

Lars Dangly

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#5
I've drawn up something like this, where I expand the Background system to describe higher level non combatants. I don't give them any kind of idiosyncratic class powers analogous to thieves or bards. Instead, they have 1d4 HD if they are sedentary and 1d6 if active, they add their level as a modifier to chances to use the skills associated iwth their backgroudns, adn they have the ability to get sort of 'promoted' from simple backgrounds to more elaborate ones, thereby gaining further skills (e.g., a scholar character might go from student to scholar to house master to dean of a college of some sort).
 

Troy Swain

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#6
To everyone, the campaign is basically a post-apocalyptic early industrial Constantinople and it's surroundings. Very weird and alien setting.

Ugh, Grumpygoat Grumpygoat , I tried so dang hard to steer the group to another system. They actively like Blades in the Dark and Monsterhearts, but they really wanted D&D. Again, I blame Stranger Things and celebrity D&D fans. But the player in question is absolutely not made for D&D.

Alon Alon , jury-rig is exactly what I'm looking for. It's what the player mainly attempts. What would you do for a MacGyver mechanic?

V vitruvian , yes, but the PC / player has only used their skills. They never have used sneak attack, and never will. They have used the help action, so we could easily retcon bardic inspiration. We have no problem with that, since the PC has only used skills, and is only described as a mathematician / engineer.

L Lars Dangly , that's interesting. But players seem to love class powers. Are your players ok with that? Maybe this player would be ok with that? I don't know. I'm going to talk it all out with the group tonight before we play.
 

Alon

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#7
To everyone, the campaign is basically a post-apocalyptic early industrial Constantinople and it's surroundings. Very weird and alien setting.

Alon Alon , jury-rig is exactly what I'm looking for. It's what the player mainly attempts. What would you do for a MacGyver mechanic?

Ooh, this setting works excellently with jury-rigging. I don't remember the exact description of the feat, but I'm about 90% sure it exists in d20 Modern.
 

vitruvian

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#8
To everyone, the campaign is basically a post-apocalyptic early industrial Constantinople and it's surroundings. Very weird and alien setting.

Ugh, Grumpygoat Grumpygoat , I tried so dang hard to steer the group to another system. They actively like Blades in the Dark and Monsterhearts, but they really wanted D&D. Again, I blame Stranger Things and celebrity D&D fans. But the player in question is absolutely not made for D&D.

Alon Alon , jury-rig is exactly what I'm looking for. It's what the player mainly attempts. What would you do for a MacGyver mechanic?

V vitruvian , yes, but the PC / player has only used their skills. They never have used sneak attack, and never will. They have used the help action, so we could easily retcon bardic inspiration. We have no problem with that, since the PC has only used skills, and is only described as a mathematician / engineer.

L Lars Dangly , that's interesting. But players seem to love class powers. Are your players ok with that? Maybe this player would be ok with that? I don't know. I'm going to talk it all out with the group tonight before we play.
If the character has only ever used the skill and tool proficiencies, and never the sneak attack or weapon proficiencies they in theory had, then yeah, I can see 'retconning' them into another class or a tweaked version of a class. You could either use your own situation of swapping sneak attack for bardic inspiration, or you could entirely change his class to a PC version of the Expert class from the Unearthed Arcana on Sidekicks.

The more I think about it, the more I like the idea of kind of bard/rogue hybrid class. You started him off as mechanically a rogue, so let him get additional Expertise according to that schedule. Let him go ahead and swap sneak attack for bardic inspiration dice (really helpful expert advice) on the same basis and schedule as a bard as far as die size, distance, etc. Then for a 3rd level archetype, tweak the characteristics of the Mastermind - I'd say introduce the Help as a bonus action with the option of also using your inspiration die at the same time, make the distance 60 feet for both. This will make for a very powerful support ability. Replace the tool proficiencies and mimicry in the Master of Intrigue feature with any two mathematician/engineer proficiencies and the ability to rapidly jury-rig stuff from available resources with some kind of check. Maybe later on you get a feature that allows you to Help and inspire yourself for truly impressive feats of skill?
 

Troy Swain

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#9
I'm also thinking the bard/rouge combo makes sense. And then he can pick a variation on the Rogue specialization tonight. But I'll have to revamp any of those choices. For Mastermind, I'll extend the Help (Master of Tactics) action to fit his Bardic Inspiration. If he chooses Arcane Trickster, I'll have to come up with a technomagic version of "Mage Hand," or better, come up with another skill (like some sort of made up "Jury-Rig") for him to have.

Ugh. I'm a lazy DM! I like rules light!
 

vitruvian

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#10
I'm also thinking the bard/rouge combo makes sense. And then he can pick a variation on the Rogue specialization tonight. But I'll have to revamp any of those choices. For Mastermind, I'll extend the Help (Master of Tactics) action to fit his Bardic Inspiration. If he chooses Arcane Trickster, I'll have to come up with a technomagic version of "Mage Hand," or better, come up with another skill (like some sort of made up "Jury-Rig") for him to have.

Ugh. I'm a lazy DM! I like rules light!
Yeah, Mastermind is probably your best bet. Let Master of Tactics combine with granting the Bardic Inspiration die, and all go out to either 30 ft or 60 ft; granting advantage alone is good, adding a 1d6 inspiration die bonus a few times is even cooler. Let him pick different proficiencies for Master of Intrigue, and you're good to go.

On Arcane Trickster, I remain puzzled on why "Mage Hand" can't simply be a spell, uniquely of all the spells that choice will give. Or are you planning to make all the other cantrips or spells gained some kind of gizmos as well? It's not clear what your concept or intent is.
 
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