Building A 5e Warlord I: (Fighter and War Cleric)

You can find an update to this article here.

I really liked the warlord concept from 4e, and found the straight “Battle Master” fighter build a little lack luster. I think that combining the fighter with a dash of War Cleric/other healer makes a character closer to what the concept without creating some un-tested homebrew class. Most cleric spells can be re skinned as “battle orders” or something similar.

 

This looks like a classroom exercise. Artist Unknown. Image Found in Martial Power 2, 4th Edition

This looks like a classroom exercise. Artist Unknown. Image Found in Martial Power 2, 4th Edition

Why play a warlord?

Sure, you are good enough with a sword, but your real skill is leading your team: You can rally your friends and push them beyond what they thought was possible. It’s called “Leadership”. Because when the darkness comes, it’s not going to be some roided out barbarian or a wizard in a fancy-pants cloak that holds the line, it is going to be you and the women and men beneath you that stave off destruction.  Heck, if they stick with you long enough, they might even live through it.

 

The Build

Level 0:
Strength: 15
Dexterity:  10
Constitution: 14
Wisdom: 13
Intelligence: 8
Charisma: 12

 

Human variant: With feat:
+ Skills: History, Intimidation, Perception
+ Feat: Battle Master, 1d6 and rallying cry or commander’s strike
+1 to Strength and Wisdom

 

+1 Level in Fighter
+ Second Wind
+1 Fighting Style: Dueling (although probably “protecting” is better).
+12 hit points

 

+ 1 level in War Cleric
+1 Shield with your personal banner on it (Holy Symbol)
+3 Cantrips, Spare the Dying, Guidance, and resistance
+Spells Cure wounds, Bless, Bane, Healing Word, Shield of faith
+War Priest (2 Bonus Attacks)
+7 hit points

 

+4 more levels in fighter, (taking the "battle master" tree) and you have something that looks like this:

 

Level 6, Fighter 5/Cleric 1
HP 51 (5d10+1d8+12)
Attack (x2)= +7, Long Sword 1d8+6
AC = 18 Chain + Shield

Background: Soldier
Skills: History, Intimidation, Perception, Athletics
Tools: Gaming Set and Other tool, land vehicles

Actions:
Action Surge
Second Wind (Bonus)
War Priest (Bonus)
Battle Maneuvers (5d8, per long or short rest)

  • Command (Ally attack, +1d8 to ally’s dmg)
  • Distracting Strike (+1d8 to dmg, ally gets advantage)
  • Maneuvering Attack  (+1d8 dmg, ally gets to disengage)
  • Rally (Bonus) (1d8+1 Temp HP to ally)

Battle Orders (Cleric Spells)

Minor Orders (Cantrips)

  •  You Are Not Allowed to Die (Spare the Dying)
  • Steal your Resolve (Resistance)
  • We've Done This 100 Times Before (Guidance)

 Major Orders (Spells) 2 per day

  • Distract the Enemy (Bane)
  • Take Command (Bless) (Bonus)
  • Hang in there! (Cure Light Wounds)
  • Watch your Flank! (Shield of Faith)
  • Encouraging Word (Healing Word)
     

 

The good:

There are so many bonus actions, extra attacks, maneuvers, and spells that the Warlord has lots of options to help out his team. By 6th level you should always use your bonus action to bolster your team or get in another attack. Also, as far as I understand, this build is “legal” in the sense that you are not actually home brewing anything except for re-skinning spells, and that should make your DM happy. You have some HP, high enough AC, and do enough damage to handle fighting in the main battle line.

 

The not so great:

You have lower than usual stat scores for a human and your “Battle Orders” are more limited than a cleric’s spells (this is because some spells cannot be re-skinned). Although your “Battle Orders” are useful; they are relatively minor in power. You can’t effectively use bows either, although I supposed a dexterity based build is not out of the question. Choosing the battle master feat at first level burns 4 attribute points, not just the two from taking it later, however not taking it means you are just a flavorless fighter until 2nd level. Also, that means this is humans only for now.

 

Where to go from here:

I am not exactly sure where to go from here as most of my game experience is at the lower levels. You could jump up to Fighter 5, Cleric 4, which would give you divine strike, level 2 spells, and ability score boost. Then to you can level to fighter 11/War Cleric 4, to get your Maneuvers bonus and 2nd extra attack, and finally to Fighter 11/Cleric 9, to get another channel divinity, +1d8 to damage and 5th level spells... by which point the campaign would have ended at least 5 levels ago.
Or I could look at other classes to supplement the fighter, like a bard. But as much as I am loath to say it, a bard maybe a better fit. Back to the drawing board...