Combat maneuvers encompass the techniques honed by warriors devoted to learning the nuances of battle, discovered and perfected through innumerable fights and countless hours of practice. As adventurers become more skilled in the arts of combat, what they can accomplish with a seemingly simple strike grows in breadth and scope, making true masters as deadly in a duel as any archmage. Even novices make use of combat maneuvers however, and with the right timing and a bit of luck they can change the course of critical battles.
Combat traditions are the basic disciplines of fighting that a warrior relies upon and the means by which they discover ever greater combat maneuvers: Adamant Mountain, Biting Zephyr, Mirror’s Glint, Mist and Shade, Rapid Current, Razor’s Edge, Sanguine Knot, Spirited Steed, Tempered Iron, Tooth and Claw, and Unending Wheel. Each also represents an ethos to combat—the traditions a warrior knows are as defining as a mage’s preferred schools of magic. Although regions and cultures may have wildly different names for combat traditions or value some more than others, the true tenets at the core of each are the same and practitioners of similar styles often forge alliances through fundamental beliefs that can bridge enormous divides.
These disciplines are much more than mere styles of fighting—they embody the focuses of your training and greatest strengths as a warrior. Two warriors utilizing the same combat traditions might fight in entirely different ways with different weaponry. What they share in common are similar psychological states, approaching battle from the same mindset and concentrating on the same general objectives with their techniques.
Maneuvers in Combat
Adventurers can do much more than just hit an opponent or dodge a blow, instead delivering special attacks that debilitate or turn a foe’s missed assault into a painful mistake. Many of these techniques are combat maneuvers, sublime methods and tactics that make every combatant and their approach to fighting unique.
You know a number of combat maneuvers determined by your class and class level. Your known combat maneuvers are chosen from the combat traditions you are proficient with. Whenever you learn a new maneuver, you can choose one of the maneuvers you know and replace it with another maneuver of the same degree or lower.
Using a combat maneuver requires spending one or more exertion points and either a bonus action, reaction, or action. Certain combat maneuvers require two or more attacks (from Extra Attacks or the use of other class features), and if you are unable to use the Attack action to make as many attacks on your turn as the combat maneuver requires, you cannot use that combat maneuver.
A maneuver sometimes forces a target to make a saving throw to resist its effects. The saving throw DC is calculated as follows:
Combat Maneuver save DC = 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Strength or Dexterity modifier
Combat maneuvers are nonmagical.
In order to learn a combat maneuver, you must know its combat tradition and meet its prerequisites. New combat maneuvers learned through a feat or by taking levels in an additional class may be up to the highest degree of combat maneuvers you are able to learn.
The complexities of each combat stance require the right state of mind, making the reordering of one’s tactical view a necessary act of focus. Activating a combat stance requires a bonus action. Once activated, a combat stance remains active until you are knocked unconscious, stunned, activate a different combat stance, begin a long rest, or choose to end it on your turn.
A warrior requires willpower, whether borne from discipline, survival instinct, or bloodlust, to control the ebb and flow of combat around them. Every call to act beyond a typical block or strike depletes this cool disposition.
To use a combat maneuver, you must expend exertion points. You have a maximum number of exertion points equal to double your proficiency bonus. You regain any spent exertion points at the end of a short or long rest.
Alternatively, you can meditate, refocus, and stretch to refill your exertion pool more quickly. You expend Hit Dice to do so, recovering 1d4 exertion points for each Hit Die expended. The process takes 1 minute per expended Hit Die.