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The Warlord

The time for battle is now! Monsters tumble out of the dark, wicked drow hatch vile plots, demons eager to invade the Material Plane clamor at the edges of reality, and bizarre aberrations pursue mad agendas that will plunge the world and all the planes into chaos. The people need champions to throw back the darkness, to take the fight to the dread enemies, and thwart their evil designs. While adventurers of all kinds answer the call to battle, from courageous fighters to cunning rogues, fell wizards and wise clerics, they aren’t the only ones capable of taking a brave stand. Joining them is a new breed of warrior: those brilliant tacticians and inspiring leaders known as warlords.

These battle-hardened champions lead the charge into combat and through their insights, tricks, and stratagems, they enable all who fight at their sides to achieve their full potential and triumph in the face of any adversity.

First and foremost leaders, warlords aid their allies through their design and implementation of brilliant combat plans. A welcome addition to any group, warlords can help turn the tide of battle, snatching ultimate victory from the jaws of certain defeat!

With murderous goblins pouring in from all sides, threatening to overrun the flanks, the battle-hardened warlord, clad in dented and scratched armor, raises her voice to shout commands that rally her allies. Although blood streaks their faces and their bodies bristle with arrows, the warlord’s companions rally, regaining their mettle to push back against the brutal onslaught. What once seemed certain defeat became a victory achieved against all odds.

In another battle, an elf clad in leather armor darts in the forest to lead his companions to where the hated trolls are encamped. From out of the underbrush the company emerges, taking their enemies by surprise, peppering them mightily with arrows, bolts, stones, and spears. After the hail of missile fire the trolls recover, only to find their attackers have melted away into the woods. Enraged, the trolls ferociously charge, straight into a waiting ambush prepared by the brilliant elf commander.

Standing atop a sarcophagus, a dwarf armored in gleaming mail grips his axe and shakes it at the ceiling as he recites the saga of the wrongs done to his people by the orcs. With each bitter defeat and every wrong recounted, he ignites the coals of anger in the hearts of the dwarven troops assembled before him. The more the dwarf speaks, the hotter the flames burn to chase away the chill of fear and doubt, such that by the time he has finished, the gathered warriors let loose a mighty battle cry, sounding their readiness to fight.

Warlords all, these characters represent just a few of the different forms these battle leaders might take.

Warlords might be charismatic peasant heroes who rallied their people to overthrow tyrants, seasoned battlefield commanders who bring their experience with them when directing their allies in combat, famous warriors, figures of inspiration and more. Warlords understand battle at all levels, from small unit tactics to the grand scale of the battlefield. Capable warriors in their own right, they possess sharp minds and strong personalities, which aid them in leading their companions to success in overcoming their foes.

Able Commanders. Few people willingly seek out warfare, but warlords understand all too well its unfortunate necessity. When diplomacy fails and lives hang in the balance, war might be the only recourse to right wrongs, protect the innocent, and restore order in a world gone mad. Warlords understand warfare in a way few others do. They see the patterns in strikes and counterstrikes, understand the benefits of superior positioning, and learn battle-tested techniques to keep their enemies on their heels. While warlords might regret the loss of life, they see every fight as a contest they must win, using every trick at their disposal to gain the upper hand.

Warlords take charge in fights. They help their allies by directing them where they can do the most good, sometimes urging them to strike at vulnerable areas or maneuvering them into position where they can gain a tactical edge.

Although warlords differ in the methods they use, their presence always aids everyone who fights at their sides.

Trained Warriors. Being competent leaders in battle requires that warlords have at least some basic understanding of how to acquit themselves on the battlefield. All warlords learn how to fight with a wide variety of weapons, to wear the heaviest armors, and deflect their enemies’ attacks with shields.

Many warlords, however, eschew the heavier gear so they can stay light on their feet to move swiftly to where their companions need them the most. Rather than specialize in certain weapons, warlords favor versatility so they can fight in whatever way they need to win the day.

Table: The Warlord
Level Proficiency Bonus Features
1st +2 Battle Commands (d4), Commanding Presence (10 ft.)
2nd +2 Inspiring Speech
3rd +2 Military Stratagem
4th +2 Ability Score Improvement
5th +3 Battle Commands (d6), Extra Attack
6th +3 Battle Leader, Call to Arms
7th +3 Military Stratagem feature
8th +3 Ability Score Improvement
9th +4 Battle Commands (d8)
10th +4 Commanding Presence (30 ft.), Rouse the Troops
11th +4 Extra Attack (2), Military Stratagem feature
12th +4 Ability Score Improvement
13th +5 Battle Commands (d10)
14th +5 Advantageous Action
15th +5 Military Stratagem feature
16th +5 Ability Score Improvement
17th +6 Battle Commands (d12)
18th +6 Military Stratagem feature
19th +6 Ability Score Improvement
20th +6 Commanding Presence (60 ft.), Legendary Commander

Creating a Warlord

When you create a warlord, you should consider your character’s background in the design choices you make.

First, and perhaps the most important, is to decide what happened to point you toward the way of the warlord. You might have been just an ordinary warrior, but some quality or capability set you apart from the rest. Are you a tactical genius, possessed of a mind that can see several steps ahead in any contest? Or are you a natural leader, able to inspire others through your words and actions?

In addition to determining the impetus for your development, it’s also worthwhile to consider how you learned your leadership abilities. Such talents might have arisen from your natural gifts and, through trial and error, you refined them until you became the leader you are today. Then again, you might have studied at one of the great war colleges, where battle-scarred veterans instruct you in the study of history’s greatest battles in order to teach you tactics, strategy, and logistics.

Along with your training, you had to come by your arms and armor somewhere. Did you inherit your gear from a famous ancestor? Maybe you gained your equipment upon completing your training, a gift from one of your instructors. It could be that your arms and armor are parts of a uniform, or you might have cobbled them together from pieces you found on old battlefields. Whatever you decide, your training, your weapons, and your armor help you become the battlefield leader you were born to become.

Quick Build

If you need to put together a warlord fast, follow these suggestions. Charisma should be your highest score, followed by either Strength or Dexterity. Make Strength your second-highest if you want to focus on melee weapons or Dexterity if you want to fight with finesse or ranged weapons. Constitution should be your third highest score to improve your durability. For your background, choose soldier.

Class Features

As a warlord, you gain the following class features.

Hit Points

Hit Dice: 1d10 per warlord level
Hit Points at 1st Level: 10 + your Constitution modifier
Hit Points at Higher Levels: 1d10 (or 6) + your Constitution modifier per warlord level after 1st

Proficiencies

Armor: All armor, shields
Weapons: Simple weapons, martial weapons
Tools: None
Saving Throws: Wisdom, Charisma
Skills: Choose two skills from Athletics, History, Insight, Intimidation, Medicine, Perception, and Persuasion.

Equipment

You start with the following equipment, in addition to the equipment granted by your background.

  • (a) chain mail or (b) leather armor, longbow, and 20 arrows
  • (a) a martial weapon and a shield or (b) two martial weapons
  • (a) light crossbow and 20 bolts or (b) two spears
  • (a) a dungeoneer’s pack or (b) an explorer’s pack

Battlefield Commands

You can quickly survey the battlefield and devise a plan of action to defeat your enemies. You can take a bonus action to issue battlefield commands to friendly creatures within 30 feet of you that can hear you. You can issue a number of commands equal to your Charisma modifier (minimum once). The commands remain for 10 minutes or until expended. Once you issue these commands, you cannot do so again until you finish a short or long rest.

Each command issued grants the creature a bonus die, which is a d4. When the creature would make an attack roll, ability check, or saving throw, the creature can expend the die by rolling it and adding the number rolled to the total. The creature can wait until after it rolls the d20 before deciding to use the Battle Command die, but must decide before the GM reveals whether the roll succeeds or fails.

Once expended, the bonus die is lost.

When you reach certain levels in this class, the bonus die changes. The die becomes a d6 at 5th level, a d8 at 9th level, a d10 at 13th level, and a d12 at 17th level.

Commanding Presence

Your allies can attack at your command. When you would make an attack on your turn, you can forgo making the attack to allow a friendly creature within 10 feet of you to make an attack instead. If the target can hear you, it can take a reaction to make one weapon attack.

The range of your presence increases to 30 feet at 10th level and increases again to 60 feet at 20th level.

Inspiring Speech

Starting at 2nd level, you can deliver a stirring speech during a short rest to encourage your allies. You and any friendly creatures that can hear your speed gain temporary hit points. The amount of temporary hit points each creature gains is equal to the roll of the creature’s Hit Die.

Military Stratagems

At 3rd level, you devise a military stratagem of your choice (see below). Your choice grants you features at 3rd level, and again at 7th, 11th, 15th, and 18th level.

Ability Score Improvement

When you reach 4th level, and again at 8th, 12th, 16th, and 19th level, you can increase one ability score of your choice by 2, or you can increase two ability scores of your choice by 1. As normal, you can’t increase an ability score above 20 using this feature.

Extra Attack

Beginning at 5th level, you can attack twice, instead of once, whenever you take the Attack action on your turn.

The number of attacks increases to three when you reach 11th level.

Battle Leader

Starting at 6th level, allies within range of your Commanding Presence class feature deal additional damage with their weapon attacks. The amount of extra damage equals your Charisma modifier.

Call to Arms

Starting at 6th level, when you roll initiative, you and each creature friendly to you that are within range of your Commanding Presence feature each roll a bonus die and add the number rolled to their initiative check. The bonus die is the same size as the bonus die gained from your Battlefield Commands feature.

Rouse the Troops

At 10th level, you can spend 1 minute speaking words of encouragement and support to help your companions shake off fatigue and injury.

Each friendly creature that can hear you can spend any number of Hit Dice to regain hit points without having to finish a short or a long rest. In addition, each creature that does spend at least one Hit Die in this way can remove one level of exhaustion if it has any levels of exhaustion. Once a creature has removed a level of exhaustion from your use of this class feature, the creature must finish a long rest before it can do so again.

Advantageous Action

Starting at 14th level, your experience in battle lets you help your companions more easily.

You can use the Help action as a bonus action.

In addition, when you take the Help action, the target can benefit from any one the following effects that you choose:

  • You end the frightened condition on one creature within 30 feet of you that can hear you.
  • You grant one creature within 5 feet of you temporary hit points equal to your Charisma modifier.
  • You touch a living creature that has 0 hit points. The creature regains 1 hit point.

Legendary Commander

At 20th level, friendly creatures within range of your Commanding Presence add your Charisma modifier (minimum 1) to their saving throws. Additionally, whenever a creature would roll a bonus die from your Battlefield Command class feature, the creature can roll an extra bonus die and use either result.

Military Stratagems

Blood from countless conflicts stains the pages of history. From rebellions to throw off the chains of tyranny to invasions by enemy hordes, war has shaped the course of history since the earliest days of the world. As tragic as these battles are, one can learn much from the stratagems employed by both the victors and the vanquished, and from these lessons entire schools of thought have emerged, instructing commanders in the finer arts of warfare.

Warlords commit themselves to one of these methods and adopt their techniques when leading the way in battle against their enemies.

Stratagem of the Daring Gambler

Every conflict has its risks, dangers, and unexpected outcomes. Students of the Daring Gambler embrace the uncertainty that comes in battle, taking daring and sometimes desperate risks in the hope of securing a victory.

Favoring audacious tactics, they put themselves and their allies into precarious situations only to come out on top through sheer luck. Warlords who adopt the military techniques of this stratagem tend to be bold, daring, and brimming with confidence.

Stratagem of the Daring Gambler Features
Warlord Level Feature
3rd Daring Assault (2d6)
7th Desperate Avoidance
11th Hold the Line
15th Daring Assault (3d6), Risky Gambit
18th Lay the Trap

Daring Assault

Beginning at 3rd level when you choose this stratagem, while you are conscious, any ally within range of your Commanding Presence that makes an attack roll can choose to roll with a –5 penalty. If the attack hits, the attack deals an extra 2d6 damage. At 15th level, the amount of extra damage increases to 3d6.

Desperate Avoidance

Starting at 7th level , when you would make a saving throw, you can choose to make the saving throw with advantage, but you make all attack rolls with disadvantage until the end of your next turn. Once you use this feature, you must wait until you finish a short rest or long rest before you can use it again.

Hold the Line

At 11th level, while you are conscious, any ally within range of your Commanding Presence feature that would make a saving throw can choose to make the saving throw with disadvantage. If a success on the saving throw would cause the ally to take half the damage, the ally takes no damage on a successful save instead.

Risky Gambit

Starting at 15th level, you can take a bonus action to choose one creature within range of your Commanding Presence.

The target immediately provokes an opportunity attack from one creature that can reach it. If the creature makes the attack, that creature grants advantage on all attack rolls made against it until the start of your next turn.

Lay the Trap

At 18th level, while you are conscious, whenever a creature makes an attack roll against you and misses, you and one creature of your choice make your next attack roll against the triggering creature with advantage before the end of your next turn.

Stratagem of the Golden General

The Stratagem of the Golden General specializes in leadership, presentation, and command. Warlords who employ this stratagem lead by example. Their accomplishments inspire others to do the same, to push beyond their normal limitations, and achieve what ordinary soldiers can’t.

Stratagem of the Golden General Features
Warlord Level Feature
3rd Inspiring Strike
7th Inspiring Presence
11th Glorious Sacrifice
15th Portentous Escape
18th Rally the Troops

Inspiring Strike

Beginning at 3rd level when you choose this stratagem, whenever you hit a creature with a weapon attack, the target grants advantage to the next creature to attack it before the start of your next turn.

Inspiring Presence

At 7th level , you gain proficiency in the Persuasion skill. If you already have proficiency in this skill, your proficiency bonus is doubled whenever you make an ability check that uses Persuasion.

Glorious Sacrifice

Beginning at 11th level, when you and at least one other friendly creature within range of your Commanding Presence would make a saving throw, you can choose to make your saving throw with disadvantage and grant any creatures of your choice within the area of your Commanding Presence advantage on the same saving throw.

Portentous Escape

At 15th level, whenever you succeed on a saving throw, you can choose one friendly creature within 60 feet of you. If the target can see and hear you, the target gains temporary hit points equal to 5 + your Charisma modifier.

Rally the Troops

At 18th level, you can take an action to rally your companions. Choose one creature that has a bonus die assigned to it from your Battlefield Commands feature.

The number of hit points regained equals twice the roll of the bonus die granted by your Battlefield Commands feature plus your Charisma modifier (minimum 1).

Stratagem of the Hordemaster

Speed and mobility are the hallmarks of warlords who study the Stratagem of the Hordemaster. Favoring hit-and-run tactics, these skirmishing warlords keep on the move to stay a step ahead of their enemies. Such mobility allows them and their fellow warriors to rain arrows and bolts upon their enemies, while thwarting any attempts to close the gap between them. By winnowing down their opponents and always keeping out of reach, they can take down the most dangerous of foes.

Stratagem of the Hordemaster
Warlord Level Feature
3rd Make Haste, Skirmisher (10 ft.)
7th Nimble Troops
11th Hit-and-Run
15th Seize Advantage, Skirmisher (20 ft.)
18th Unbound Horde

Make Haste

Beginning at 3rd level when you choose this stratagem, whenever a friendly creature starts its turn within range of your Commanding Presence, the creature increases its speed by 5 feet until the end of its turn.

Skirmisher

Also at 3rd level, you increase your speed by 10 feet whenever you’re wearing light or no armor and not wielding a shield. In addition, when your movement would provoke an opportunity attack, you impose disadvantage on the attack roll made against you.

At 15th level, the increase to your speed becomes 20 feet.

Nimble Troops

At 7th level, creatures within range of your Commanding Presence add your Charisma modifier to their Strength (Athletics) checks and their Dexterity (Acrobatics) checks.

Hit-and-Run

At 11th level, whenever a creature rolls the bonus die assigned to it from your Battlefield Commands feature, the creature increases its speed by 10 feet until the end of its turn.

Seize Advantage

Starting at 15th level, whenever a creature misses on an opportunity attack against you or a creature friendly to you within range of your Commanding Presence feature, the attacking creature grants advantage on the next attack roll made against it before the end of your next turn.

Unbound Horde

At 18th level, hostile creatures making opportunity attacks against creatures friendly to you that are within range of your Commanding Presence feature make their attack rolls with disadvantage.

In addition, if you move on your turn, each creature within range of your Commanding Presence at the start of your move can use a reaction to move up to 10 feet, provided the creature’s speed is at least 10 feet.

Stratagem of the Resourceful Leader

Few battle plans ever survive intact upon the first encounter with the enemy. Chance, circumstances, and other variables can disrupt even the most lopsided conflicts, turning what should be an easy battle into a deadly one. Students of the Stratagem of the Resourceful Leader understand the harsh realities of fighting unpredictable enemies, keeping a few tricks up their sleeves to respond to whatever complications might arise. Cunning and adaptable, these warlords can always find a way out of the thorniest situations.

Stratagem of the Resourceful Leader Features
Warlord Level Features
3rd Find a Way, Shifting Resources
7th Trick Up Your Sleeve
11th Close Call
15th Timely Warning
18th Hidden Resources

Find a Way

Beginning at 3rd level when you choose this stratagem, you can help allies succeed when they would otherwise fail.

When a creature within 60 feet of you misses on an attack roll and the creature has at least one bonus die granted to it from your Battlefield Commands feature, you can use a reaction to expend the bonus die on the triggering creature’s behalf. You turn the hit into a miss and the attack deals half the normal damage.

Shifting Resources

Starting at 3rd level, you can take a bonus action on your turn to move one or more bonus dice assigned to one creature to another creature you choose within range of your Commanding Presence class feature. The recipient of the bonus die or dice must be able to hear you.

Trick Up Your Sleeve

At 7th level , when you would make an attack roll, ability check, or saving throw, you can add your proficiency bonus to the roll, even if you already would add your proficiency bonus to the roll. Once you use this feature, you must finish a short rest or a long rest before you can use it again.

Close Call

Starting at 11th level, when you would fail an ability check or saving throw, you can roll a bonus die and add the number rolled to the total of your ability check or saving throw. The bonus die is the same size as the bonus die granted by your Battlefield Commands feature. Once you use Close Call, you must wait at least 1 minute before you can use it again.

Timely Warning

At 15th level, whenever a creature would hit on an attack roll against a creature friendly to you that is within range of your Commanding Presence feature, and the creature has a bonus die from your Battlefield Commands feature, the creature can expend the die, roll it, and subtract the number rolled from the total of the attack roll. If the reduction would turn the hit into a miss, the creature regains the bonus die.

Hidden Resources

At 18th level, you can take a bonus action to allow a creature to regain the use of a racial or class feature that would normally be regained by finishing a short rest. You can use this feature twice and you regain any expended uses when you finish a long rest.

Stratagem of the Shrewd Commander

Warlords who master the Stratagem of the Shrewd Commander demonstrate superior focus and attention to detail on the battlefield. As they watch the combat unfold, they assess their enemies for weakness and exploit them through commands. Shrewd Commanders find gaps in their enemies’ defenses and flaws in their tactics, using this knowledge to lead their allies to victory.

Stratagem of the Shrewd Commander Features
Warlord Level Feature
3rd The Weakest Link
7th Attention to Detail
11th Commander’s Cunning
15th Exploit the Advantage
18th No Room for Failure

The Weakest Link

Beginning at 3rd level when you choose this stratagem, whenever you attack a creature and hit it, you can use a bonus action to mark the target. The target remains marked until the start of your next turn. All creatures friendly to you, are within range of your Battlefield Commands class feature, and that can hear you make attack rolls against the target with a bonus equal to half your Charisma modifier (minimum 1).

Attention to Detail

At 7th level , when you make an ability check, you can make the check with advantage. You can use this feature three times and you regain expended uses when you complete a long rest.

Commander’s Cunning

Starting at 11th level, when a creature attacks a creature to whom you have assigned a bonus die from your Battlefield Commands feature, you can use a reaction to expend the bonus die and impose disadvantage on the triggering creature’s attack roll.

Exploit the Advantage

At 15th level, whenever a creature friendly to you attacks a target you marked, the creature’s attack deals an additional 1d6 damage.

No Room for Failure

At 18th level, while you are conscious and when an ally within range of your Commanding Presence would drop to 0 or fewer hit points and the creature has at least one bonus die from your Battlefield Commands feature, the creature can spend the die and roll it to regain hit points. The number of hit points regained equals twice the roll of the bonus die granted by your Battlefield Commands feature plus your Charisma modifier (minimum 1).

Stratagem of the Supreme Tactician

The most cerebral warlords are those who study the intricacies of the Stratagem of the Supreme Tactician.

Their intimate understanding of the ebb and flow of combat, the tactics used by their enemies, and the resources the warlords have at their disposal enables them to react and adjust to almost any situation.

Stratagem of the Supreme Tactician Features
Warlord Level Feature
3rd Tactical Edge
7th Student of History
11th Indomitable Offense
15th Superior Tactics
18th Master Tactician

Tactical Edge

Beginning at 3rd level when you choose this stratagem, whenever you roll initiative, you gain a tactics die, which is a d4. While you have this die, any creature friendly to you within 60 feet of you that can hear you can roll the tactics die as a bonus die when making an attack roll.

Once rolled, the tactics die is lost until you regain it at the start of your next turn. The tactics die disappears when the combat ends.

If you start your turn and no one has rolled the tactics die, you can trade out the die for a die of the next larger size, such that a d4 becomes a d6, a d6 becomes a d8, and so on up to a maximum of d12.

Student of History

At 7th level , you gain proficiency in the History skill.

Whenever you make an Intelligence (History) check, your proficiency bonus is doubled.

Indomitable Offense

Starting at 11th level, whenever a creature rolls a bonus die granted by your Battlefield Commands feature, the creature also gains half the number rolled on that die as a bonus to AC. The bonus remains until the start of your next turn.

Superior Tactics

At 15th level, whenever you gain a tactics die, you gain an additional tactics die to a maximum of two dice. The second tactics die can be used like the first and the tactics die increases size in the manner described under the Tactical Edge class feature.

Master Tactician

At 18th level, whenever a creature rolls a 1 or a 2 on a bonus die you granted from your Battlefield Commands feature, the creature can reroll the die until it rolls a 3 or higher.

Section 15: Copyright Notice

Call to Arms: The Warlord Copyright 2019, Schwalb Entertainment, LLC. Author Robert J. Schwalb