The Complete Martialist Handbook

Well met “adventurer”!

First and foremost amongst my homebrew is the Complete Martialist Handbook. The Complete Martialist Handbook contains revisions of the Ranger base class, the Beast Master archetype for Ranger, as well as 2 new archetypes for Barbarian, Fighter, Ranger, and Rogue.

For the Barbarian we have the Path of the Skinchanger and the Path of the Sylvan Warden. The Path of the Skinchanger allows you to play a lycanthrope or more mystic / trickster type barbarian while the Path of the Sylvan Warden is meant to more or less bring the Warden class from previous D&D editions into 5e.

For the Fighter we have the Gladiator and the Gunslinger. The Gladiator is, more or less, a pro-wrestler…but flavored a bit differently so people don’t think it’s totally stupid. The Gunslinger is a common homebrew but this take is a bit different in that the archetype diverges into two branches depending on which side of the law the gunslinger falls on.

For the Ranger we have a revision to the base class, a revision (I wanna say improvement?) to the Beast Master archetype, as well as the Geomancer and Monster Heart archetype. The base class revision changes as little as possible while addressing some of the player base’s concerns about the ranger’s niche in the game. The revision to the Beast Master archetype makes it not suck. Not any more complicated than that. The Geomancer archetype plays off of the ranger’s connection to the land, enhancing the ranger’s mystical abilities as they relate to his Natural Explorer feature. The Monster Heart, likewise, shows the ranger’s ability to emulate the creatures he hunts – using the powers of his Favored Enemies.

Finally the Rogue gets the Paramour and Tinkerer archetype. The Paramour is a lover not a fighter (or a thief) and prefers to steal hearts over gold pieces. The Tinkerer learns to craft a variety of devices that help him get by in a pinch.

Now that I’ve told you all about it, check it out for yourself!

EDIT: In the years since this release, I have created a much improved and expanded version of this handbook! You can find it on the DM’s Guild at the link below.

the Complete Martialist Handbook

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17 thoughts on “The Complete Martialist Handbook

  1. Great stuff in this handbook. I love it. One of my players is using the gunslinger archetype and I will be sure to let you know of any questions, comments, or great unexpected stories come out of it! I do like that many of the uses of grit are essentially gambles: pay grit to try, and if it works, often get your grit back.

    I do have some questions already however:
    How do you suppose the halfling’s Lucky trait interacts with firearm misfire properties? Essentially, halflings re-roll 1s on all attacks, so do they thus avoid all potential for misfires unless the misfire value is 2+ (hand cannons, rifles, boom sticks, and six shooters while half-cocked)? That also means, if a halfling has the Firearm Expert feat, they will only ever have a possibility of misfire with a boom stick, and that rarely (or while half-cocked). Then by spending 1 grit on the Quick Fix deed pretty rarely, misfire becomes a complete non-issue. Is that all as intended? If nothing else, this may entice more halflings toward the gangboss path over the lawman path.

    Speaking of deeds, I notice the wording makes it seem like the level 3 benefits (Iron Sights, Fast Hands, Quick Fix) are not technically Deeds. Is that intentional or mostly due to syntax?

    On another topic related to the gunslinger, if a gunslinger regains grit when scoring a critical hit or reducing a creature to 0 hp with a firearm, do you regain 2 grit when you both score a critical hit and as a result, reduce a creature to 0 hp?

    Finally, regarding the Ammunition property of the firearms. I believe it has been clarified that the Ammunition property means you need a free hand to draw and load the ammo as part of an attack. That means you cannot dual-wield hand crossbows (well you can but you cannot re-load them that way). I assume the same is true for dual-wielding sidearms, even though that’s a pity since six shooters don’t technically reload each attack, and a pistol in each hand is a classic gunslinger trope. 🙂


    1. So happy to hear you like the handbook and even happier to hear that the gunslinger is in your campaign! I would love to hear any actual play feedback or stories you have!!

      Concerning your questions about the gunslinger…

      – Halflings re-roll 1s on attack rolls but must use the second result. That means that, while unlikely, Halflings can still misfire by rolling a 1 on the re-roll.

      – Halflings cannot use boomsticks because they have the “heavy” property so cannot be used by small characters.

      – I can’t remember at this point if there was a reason behind not calling those original three abilities deeds or not. I would have to look over the whole archetype again to see if that is intentional or not. If there is no wonky combinations made by calling them Deeds then you can assume they are.

      – I would say that the gunslinger can only recover 1 grit per attack roll. I might go back and edit that in. That said, I don’t feel super strongly about it so if someone wanted to have it do both at their table I don’t think it would break the game or anything. It’s not going to happen all that often anyway.

      – I don’t believe that a free hand being required is stated in the ammunition property in the PHB. Was this clarified somewhere online? If so I may need to find a new property…the intention is definitely that you can have 2 six shooters because, man, that would be lame not to.


      1. Thanks for the reply. Good point about the halflings’ taking the second roll, which could be a 1, as well as their prohibition from the heavy property. I was forgetting those details.

        As for the last point about the Ammunition property, check out the notes on the bottom of pg 3 and top of page 4 of the Sage Advice compilation of rules clarifications from WotC (regarding the question “Do the first and third benefits of Crossbow Expert turn a hand crossbow into a semiautomatic weapon?”): especially the line and following elaboration: “the hand crossbow isn’t going to load itself (unless it’s magical or a gnomish invention). You need to load each bolt into the weapon, and doing so requires a hand.”

        In your case, a special property may be necessary since a six shooter is meant to be able to ‘load itself’ without a hand after most shots.


    1. Ah, I forgot to return to your other comment. I actually really, really, really dislike this ruling and I’ll explain why. A longbow is a two handed weapon that has the ammunition property. One of these two options has to be true, 1.) you can’t load a longbow while you hold it, 2.) you can load two-handed weapons with ammunition by simply removing your hand temporarily to grab new ammunition.

      The first option is clearly not the case both because it’s stupid and because that would defeat the mechanical benefits of bows over crossbows.

      The second option is really bad because it means that there isn’t a consistent rule anymore about what you can do while you wield a two handed weapon. If I can take my hand off the two handed weapon to load ammunition, why can’t I take my hand off a two-handed sword that I’m attacking with to take an extra action with my free hand?

      I guess there is a third option and the third option is that even though that’s how it works in the narrative it’s not really meant to have effects on the way the game works on a mechanical level. The third option is the best option in my opinion and, also, allows you to use two 6 shooters because we all understand that you’re supposed to be able to use both.

      All those options being said – the rules are the rules and I will have to go back and edit the gunslinger to include when I do the big revision to put all the Complete _______ Handbooks together. I need to essentially completely re-write one of the Barbarian archetypes anyway so I will have my work cut out for me.


      1. If it makes the longbow thought experiment any easier to tolerate, the PHB errata also clarifies that conundrum. “Two-Handed (p. 147). This property is relevant only when you attack with the weapon, not when you simply hold it.” So you load the longbow with your free hand just before attacking with it (which then occupies both hands).

        If we’re going to be technical, that is still more ambiguous than I like since “drawing the ammunition from a quiver, case, or other container is part of the attack,” so then when your drawing has the two-handed property kicked in yet since it is technically part of the attack, or could this be an area of fuzziness regarding the “Attack” action vs mundane use of the term attack?

        Maybe just a trait instead of (or in addition to) Ammunition like “Special: A six-shooter consumes ammunition but is always considered loaded” or something (which is basically semi-automatic, but that’s the point).

        I really don’t want this all to come across annoying. I’m just poking around all sides of RAW looking for an easy 6-shooter solution. I love the gunslinger concept and want it to thrive.


      2. I don’t know if you’ll read this, but just FYI Option 2 is correct, and it has been stated somewhere (Sage Advice I think) that you can totally take your hand off of a two-handed weapon. You can hold a two-handed weapon in one hand at any time, but it requires two hands to make an attack with it.


      3. Awesome! I am planning on doing more with firearms in the near future so this is great news that it’s been clarified.


    2. For some reason it’s not letting me reply to your most recent comment. Maybe wordpress has some kind of weird rule about how many replies can chain together.

      Anyway, it’s not annoying at all, getting the pedantic elements of this stuff right is just as important as balance, flavor, and all the rest. I will think about the simplest solution. It may be a new property.


    1. Wow. That was a huge oversight that I can’t believe hasn’t been pointed out until now!! I am honestly not sure but only Force and Lightning are left…between those two, I think Force makes sense.


      1. Being a spell casting PRclass what do you think is the best way to make the pairing fit with both fluff and crunch?


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