Stamina Tricks for Weapons


Homebrew and House Rules


The Stamina system isn't perfect by any means. Some feats have a very expensive cost for little benefit, while others are extremely powerful for no apparent reason. Other Stamina Feats have very odd benefits that are too specific to benefit most builds (Weapon Finesse, for instance). Additionally, there's nothing for characters who don't use many different feats in combat, making the system feel rather limited.

While I was looking at the discussion thread for the Weapon Master Handbook I had an idea - what if each weapon had a short list of abilities you could spend stamina to activate? Not only would that enhance the system, but it would also fix issues with certain weapons and styles being overshadowed by giving them their own unique features.

Take Two-Weapon Fighting, for instance - lots of lower-damage attacks with reduced accuracy that suffers from severe lack of mobility and difficulty dealing with DR. Here's what I've come up with so far.

TWF Stamina Tricks:

* 1 Point - Make an attack with both your main and offhand weapon as a standard action.
* 2 Points - Apply DR once per two hits this round, starting with the first hit (so it's only applied on the 1st, 3rd, 5th, etc hits rather than all of them).
* 3 Points - You may move up to half your speed and take a full attack action this turn.
* X Points - Choose an enemy. This turn their Dexterity bonus to AC against your attacks is reduced by X. If their Dex bonus would be reduced to 0 or less (but no lower than -5) they count as flatfooted for your next two attacks.

Maybe you're wondering why anyone would ever use a Shortbow if they have Longbow proficiency? Check these out.

Shortbow Stamina Tricks:

* 1 Point - Your ranged attacks don't provoke this turn.
* 2 Points - Your next attack hobbles the enemy, reducing their move speed by half for 2 rounds.
* 3 Points - You can flank with your shortbow as if it were a Reach weapon (threatens out to 10') until the end of your turn.
* X Points - You can move up to your base land speed and make up to X ranged attacks at any point during the movement. This movement does not provoke AoOs, and you may not make more ranged attacks than you are normally capable of making during a Full Attack action. You may make extra attacks granted by effects like Haste and feats like Rapid Shot.

I'm sure these could use some balancing, but the idea is to expand on a system primarily used by martial classes and give them some nice things. That said, what do you think? Does anyone else have ideas for stamina tricks?


I entirely agree with your first paragraph and support the basic idea. The RAW stamina rules do seem rather rushed and incomplete. Most of my fighter's combat tricks are either actively bad (eg Power Attack), are strictly worse than Combat Stamina itself (eg Weapon Focus) or achieve nothing (Furious Focus - he's only 4th level so won't get another attack, absent AoOs). The others (Cleave and WpnSpec) are OK but dull.

That said, it's arguably something for fighters, so it might be best to leave the good stuff to those with feats.

Re your examples:
TWF 1-2: fine, maybe too cheap (a fighter has a lot of points and recovers them quickly, so 1 is almost free).
3 is a bit odd: 1 is better if BAB<6; can I FA if I have only 1 weapon?
X doesn't belong here and is a bit broken on low-dex opponents

Shortbow: do you need Weapon Focus? Maybe you should for some of them.
1: Like it.
2: Doesn't belong
3: OK, I think
X: Is that as a full-round action? Can I do this (and loose no arrows) if not holding a bow?

I think you're trying to add too much in one go in these examples.

One issue is whether to tread on the toes of other feats with these. For example, Crossbow might allow rapid reloads; Sling might do too (and lots of other stuff). Light weapons could allow quick draw, axes disarm and trip, maces and hammers sunder armour, etc etc.

I think the first thing to do is concentrate on fixing the pointless, weak and over-specific tricks already there. For example:

Weapon Finesse: 5 points allows a single AoO with the finessable weapon against any opponent who attacks you (instead of that shield nonsense).

Power Attack: 5 points allows a free Bull Rush attempt if you hit.

Furious Focus: As now, plus +2 on the roll for PA-Bull Rush.


One thing I can see Stamina used for weapons is for those with special qualities... i.e. trip, disarm, etc.

By expending 2 points of Stamina, you can initiate a combat maneuver associated with that weapon without provoking an attack of opportunity.


Mudfoot wrote:

I entirely agree with your first paragraph and support the basic idea. The RAW stamina rules do seem rather rushed and incomplete. Most of my fighter's combat tricks are either actively bad (eg Power Attack), are strictly worse than Combat Stamina itself (eg Weapon Focus) or achieve nothing (Furious Focus - he's only 4th level so won't get another attack, absent AoOs). The others (Cleave and WpnSpec) are OK but dull.

That said, it's arguably something for fighters, so it might be best to leave the good stuff to those with feats.

In my home games I allow anyone to use Stamina, but fighters get the Combat Stamina option to boost attack rolls and reduce the cost of stamina feats by 1 every 4 levels. It helps cement their position as the "best" at taking and using feats. Yet, the stamina feats in general are somewhat underwhelming. It's not just the fighter that could use some love - monks and rogues could both use a boost even with Unchained factored in, and it wouldn't hurt to add some versatility to martial classes as a whole.

My format is as follows:
Trick 1 - A cheap trick that improves a weapon or combat style by patching its most detrimental flaw (not removing, just patching). This should be usable often.
Trick 2 - A "quality of life" trick. Could patch an existing issue that isn't completely detrimental to the weapon/style or add a new feature that helps cement the role of weapons/styles that are currently overshadowed.
Trick 3 - A powerful combat boost that improves the weapon/style by temporarily bypassing a restriction on it. 3 Stamina is low enough that it's usable often, but remember this ability also competes with the first two and any stamina feats you possess. Using it too often will eat up all the points you could use for other tricks and stamina feats.
Trick 4 - A pay-what-you-want skill that functions as a "limit break" of sorts. This skill at lower stamina costs is good but not overpowering, but if you wanted to you could blow tons of stamina on it for that one round where the enemy really just needs to be dead.

With that in mind...

Mudfoot wrote:

Re your examples:

TWF 1-2: fine, maybe too cheap (a fighter has a lot of points and recovers them quickly, so 1 is almost free).
3 is a bit odd: 1 is better if BAB<6; can I FA if I have only 1 weapon?
X doesn't belong here and is a bit broken on low-dex opponents

1 and 2 are designed to be cheap for reasons listed above.

3's intent is to fix stuff like Flurry, Haste, the later TWF improvements, and +6 BAB issues. It doesn't come online right away because you have less stamina to blow on encounters early on anyway. You could use this with a Double weapon or two separate weapons, but not a single weapon (though it may find its way into a more General Stamina Trick section later in my tests since I can see the use for other weapons and styles).
X is intended to be a bit broken, but I noticed the low-Dex issue and couldn't think of a fix immediately. Of course, it'd only really be "broken" on classes with Sneak Attack, and let's be honest - the Sneak Attack classes are typically either flanking or finding another way to pull it off consistently. This just simplifies that process by allowing them to spend a limited resource rather than using a long feat line or some obscure items. And I did limit it to 2 attacks instead of all attacks, which should (theoretically) cut down on the power level.

Mudfoot wrote:

Shortbow: do you need Weapon Focus? Maybe you should for some of them.

1: Like it.
2: Doesn't belong
3: OK, I think
X: Is that as a full-round action? Can I do this (and loose no arrows) if not holding a bow?

I'd rather not add arbitrary requirements to them just yet, and I'd prefer not to.

Trick 2 - I added this trick to help cement the weapon's identity - currently it's just a worse Longbow. If you look at the tricks you'll notice I added lots of close-range stuff, like flanking, extra movement options, and preventing AoOs. The intent is to slow down enemy movement to make it easier to kite them around and keep you safe. I do agree it seems out of place, and I'm looking at alternatives. My current favorite is to add a clause forbidding 5' steps in addition to the reduced movement. Any ideas?
Trick 3 - Ranged weapons cannot flank by RAW, no matter how silly it is that a bow isn't as threatening to a defense as a sword. This gives added incentive to get up close. Though perhaps allowing you to make AoOs would better cement the trick?
Trick X - Yes, that would be a full-round action. The intent is not to give weapons more variability and identity, so using them without wielding or using the weapon is a no-go.

Mudfoot wrote:
I think you're trying to add too much in one go in these examples.

I think you're entirely right. I also think you underestimate my ability to go overboard in my creations :P

Mudfoot wrote:
One issue is whether to tread on the toes of other feats with these. For example, Crossbow might allow rapid reloads; Sling might do too (and lots of other stuff). Light weapons could allow quick draw, axes disarm and trip, maces and hammers sunder armour, etc etc.

I will absolutely tread on the toes of feats when appropriate. I say this because many feats are required to perform at a baseline anyway - what good is a crossbow without rapid reload, and even if you can spend stamina to temporarily gain it you'll burn through your pool quickly using it every round. The feat saves you points you can spend on other things, but isn't required for more casual users (like Fighters who get their main weapon sundered, for instance).

Also funny you mention the Mace Sunder thing, cause I had an idea about temporarily reducing an enemy's Armor bonus after hitting them with a mace (3+ points to use, definitely). I don't have the numbers down yet though.

Mudfoot wrote:

I think the first thing to do is concentrate on fixing the pointless, weak and over-specific tricks already there. For example:

Weapon Finesse: 5 points allows a single AoO with the finessable weapon against any opponent who attacks you (instead of that shield nonsense).

Power Attack: 5 points allows a free Bull Rush attempt if you hit.

Furious Focus: As now, plus +2 on the roll for PA-Bull Rush.

While I agree there are too many tricks that just don't work well or are too hyper-specific, that's a big project and something I'll tackle another day. I do like your suggestions though!


I LIKE this idea! It reminds me a lot of the weapon skills in Guild Wars. I'd say, instead of making this weapon or feat specific, make one list of abilities for each weapon group. This way, having access to stamina and a simple weapon is still a good combination, but having martial / exotic weapon proficiency can be even better for those characters with the right class or feat investment.

As for the listed Stamina tricks:

TWF: this could easily apply to the Double weapon group


  • 1 point-good idea
  • 2 points-not bad, though this being two-weapon fighting I can see people getting confused; maybe a better idea would be that it applies only once per pair of main-hand / off-hand attacks?
  • 3 points-it feels like this is pretty strong for 3 stamina points, but not overwhelmingly so
  • X points-neat, I like it
  • Other thoughts-it feels like options 3 and X don't have much to do, thematically, with two-weapon fighting

Shortbow: apply this to the Bows weapon group


  • 1 point-nice
  • 2 points-obviously you mean successful attack, but this is still good; maybe prevent 5 ft. steps as well?
  • 3 points-cool
  • X points-this is a problem. not only are you moving normally AND getting a full attack, but you're completely avoiding ALL AoOs due to movement; one or the other should probably go
  • Other thoughts-dunno why, but it seems like some of these are out of order; I'd swap the position of the 2 and 3 point tricks


Cerberus Seven wrote:

I LIKE this idea! It reminds me a lot of the weapon skills in Guild Wars. I'd say, instead of making this weapon or feat specific, make one list of abilities for each weapon group. This way, having access to stamina and a simple weapon is still a good combination, but having martial / exotic weapon proficiency can be even better for those characters with the right class or feat investment.

As for the listed Stamina tricks:

TWF: this could easily apply to the Double weapon group


  • 1 point-good idea
  • 2 points-not bad, though this being two-weapon fighting I can see people getting confused; maybe a better idea would be that it applies only once per pair of main-hand / off-hand attacks?
  • 3 points-it feels like this is pretty strong for 3 stamina points, but not overwhelmingly so
  • X points-neat, I like it
  • Other thoughts-it feels like options 3 and X don't have much to do, thematically, with two-weapon fighting

Shortbow: apply this to the Bows weapon group


  • 1 point-nice
  • 2 points-obviously you mean successful attack, but this is still good; maybe prevent 5 ft. steps as well?
  • 3 points-cool
  • X points-this is a problem. not only are you moving normally AND getting a full attack, but you're completely avoiding ALL AoOs due to movement; one or the other should probably go
  • Other thoughts-dunno why, but it seems like some of these are out of order; I'd swap the position of the 2 and 3 point tricks

Funny you mention that, I actually play Guild Wars 2 extensively. I may have taken some inspiration from it without noticing.

When I talk about "styles" I don't mean stuff like Dragon Style - I mean broad groups like Sword and Shield, TWF, Throwing Weapons, etc. I do think different weapons, shields, and (maybe?) armors in the same group should have different abilities to help make them more unique and prevent overshadowing - for instance, bows and crossbows being split into Short/Long and Light/Heavy.

Shortbow Trick X - How about giving a bonus to AC against AoOs that turn instead of flat-out preventing them?

TWF Trick 2 - I thought about pairing them up like that, but it requires too much bookkeeping to make it work and is often not worthwhile - if you get four attacks and hit twice but both times with your mainhand you'd get no benefit. Seems unfair, so I paired every two hits instead.

TWF Trick 3 and X - These were more intended to help fix issues with TWF styles, but I tried not to forget the thematic nature of the style. This shows up best in Trick X which I have (internally) named Overwhelming Speed - the idea is that you're attacking so fast they don't have as much time to dodge, reducing how effective their DEX bonus to AC is, and if you're fast enough to make their own reaction speed worthless then you can abuse their openings to land stuff like sneak attack easily.


LuniasM wrote:
When I talk about "styles" I don't mean stuff like Dragon Style - I mean broad groups like Sword and Shield, TWF, Throwing Weapons, etc. I do think different weapons, shields, and (maybe?) armors in the same group should have different abilities to help make them more unique and prevent overshadowing - for instance, bows and crossbows being split into Short/Long and Light/Heavy.

Also a good idea. Looking forward to the new entries.

LuniasM wrote:
Shortbow Trick X - How about giving a bonus to AC against AoOs that turn instead of flat-out preventing them?

As long as you specify it's against AoOs provoked by the movement, that would actually be pretty straightforward and reasonable. A +1 dodge bonus per point of stamina spent on this trick would probably be just fine.

LuniasM wrote:
TWF Trick 2 - I thought about pairing them up like that, but it requires too much bookkeeping to make it work and is often not worthwhile - if you get four attacks and hit twice but both times with your mainhand you'd get no benefit. Seems unfair, so I paired every two hits instead.

Good point, I hadn't considered that.

LuniasM wrote:
TWF Trick 3 and X - These were more intended to help fix issues with TWF styles, but I tried not to forget the thematic nature of the style. This shows up best in Trick X which I have (internally) named Overwhelming Speed - the idea is that you're attacking so fast they don't have as much time to dodge, reducing how effective their DEX bonus to AC is, and if you're fast enough to make their own reaction speed worthless then you can abuse their openings to land stuff like sneak attack easily.

I guess I'm just not sure why it's assumed someone with two-weapon fighting is any faster to move or strike than an equally skilled and strong two-weapon fighter or someone using a 1-handed weapon plus a shield. I can definitely see two weapons overwhelming someone's defenses by simply allowing so many strikes coming in different directions at once, that's why there doesn't seem to be a thematic problem with trick X. And again, the 3 point trick is fine, just seems to not be conceptually related to TWF at all.

Frankly, I think the only problem with two-weapon fighting is just how many feats it takes and the Dex prereq. Any other significant issue with that is typically present in other melee fighting styles as well. Maybe for this system, you could also do what the basic Combat Stamina feat does and allow combatants to passively ignore some/all of a particular ability score prereq on the feats relevant to the combat style?


Cerberus Seven wrote:
LuniasM wrote:
TWF Trick 3 and X - These were more intended to help fix issues with TWF styles, but I tried not to forget the thematic nature of the style. This shows up best in Trick X which I have (internally) named Overwhelming Speed - the idea is that you're attacking so fast they don't have as much time to dodge, reducing how effective their DEX bonus to AC is, and if you're fast enough to make their own reaction speed worthless then you can abuse their openings to land stuff like sneak attack easily.
I guess I'm just not sure why it's assumed someone with two-weapon fighting is any faster to move or strike than an equally skilled and strong two-weapon fighter or someone using a 1-handed weapon plus a shield. I can definitely see two weapons overwhelming someone's defenses by simply allowing so many strikes coming in different directions at...

See, Dexterity is the stat that governs your reflexes - how fast your body is able to react to stimulus. If your Dexterity is higher, you should be able to react faster than most (hence the bonus to Initiative, AC, and Reflex saves). While this alone does not translate to faster speeds, it is required in order for that speed to mean anything. Doesn't matter if you are fast enough to break the sound barrier if your reaction time isn't fast enough to keep up. Imagine Sonic or the Flash going into superspeed and running right into a wall because they couldn't alter their course fast enough to avoid it (or think of Sloth from Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood if you're familiar with that series). Think of Trick 3 and Trick X as the character pushing their body's limits to go faster - since Dexterity is required for TWF users (besides two corner cases) it makes sense that those who fight with multiple weapons would have a higher limit on how fast they could theoretically go.

As far as the horrid feat trees problem, I think having Stamina bypass stuff like that is like putting a band-aid on a gaping wound that requires stitches. It might make the problem seem more manageable but doesn't do anything to fix the underlying issue. Why bother making new systems to patch up old systems when you could just rebalance the old ones to solve it completely? My tables are doing away with the most cringe-inducing feat trees and using scaling feats instead, which I feel more properly addresses the issue. As far as bypassing prerequisites, that requires a LOT of bookwork to ensure you don't break some balancing systems. I'll keep an eye on it and consider it though.

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