the Avenger Class

A few months ago one of our Patreon backers came to us with a request to update 4th edition’s Avenger class to 5e. Working with that backer over the last few months we created a first pass at a full 1 – 20 build of the Avenger class for 5e. Translating the content unique to 4e was a real challenge but the backer was a big fan of the class and helped me hone in on the most salient and important elements. Today we’re happy to unveil this early draft of the Avenger on the blog and get the feedback of our readers before further revisions and additions!

The Avenger

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8 thoughts on “the Avenger Class

  1. The class seems real fun to play and I’m interested how it would work in a group. I do have some questions though.

    Can you have more than one Oath of Enmity active at a time? Seems like it could get crazy with Spirit of Vengeance, and maybe Bond of Pursuit, giving you even more attacks on these targets. Also allowing multiple oaths active really makes Retribution a strange subclass that actively works against its core feature.

    The class seems really narrow, is that intentional? You have to focus on wis and dex and use a 2d6 weapon to get the best use of all of the basic features. It doesn’t seem like there’s room to experiment with weapon choice and ability scores like with other classes.

    What are the classes weaknesses supposed to be? It’s only dependent on two ability scores and by 7th level it has proficiency in wis saves and evasion making strong against most spells/special attacks. They don’t have to have a huge con because they get two ability scores to AC and d10 hit dice. You also gain immunity to fear and charmed effects and gain expertise with social skills. While the class naturally has few ranged options, the Pursuit subclass helps immensely by preventing escaping, huge mobility boosts, and even a fly speed. Abjure Foe also is an incredible ranged option.


    1. Hi Zack!

      Sorry about the delayed response – got backed up writing content for April!

      At the moment the way the feature is phrased you can have multiple Oaths up at a time but that wasn’t really my intention so the wording is likely to be changed to reflect that intention in the next draft.

      Many classes have, essentially, two “right” ability scores to invest in or an option of two out of three ability scores. I guess it’s as limited as a Monk in that your two highest ability scores are pretty locked in by the nature of the class and you’re weapon choices are small too. I only recently discovered that there was some precedence for the Avenger class before 4e so I will be looking at some of that source material while I work on a second pass at the class.

      You know, I would never have thought to frame any class in D&D by what it’s weakness is supposed to be. I don’t think I have an answer to this question but I also don’t think I could really answer it about any class.


      1. Weakness my be the wrong word for it, but I’ll try to use some PHB classes to illustrate what I mean. All the classes have limiting factors that prevent them achieving the best result in every situation, not because they have penalties to those things, but because the classes don’t cover every aspect of the game.

        Barbarians – They fight in deep melee like the Avenger, but they are weaker to magic. The Avenger gains evasion and immunity to charm and fear effects. The Barbarian gains advantage on dex saves, meaning they still take damage most of the time, and only one subclass gains immunity to charmed and fear effects, and only when raging. They, like a lot of classes, also gain no inherent bonuses to skills, social situations, or stealth.

        Fighters – Are all about combat but get no way to handle spells. Other than Indomitable, which is advantage and has at max three uses, the fighter is at the whims of a fireball, kill cloud, or charm person. No bonuses to skills, social situations, or stealth again.

        Monks – Have the same unarmed defense and better speed than the Censure of Pursuit, but they do a lot less damage. At level 17 they max out unarmed attack damage at 1d10 while the Avenger has been hitting at that level or higher since level 1. While both are extremely limited in ranged options the Avenger can have the option to fly and teleport to their targets.

        The Avenger gets so many options to cover where other classes devoted to close combat lack, but they still gain the same benefits.

        -Armor of Faith lets them have a good AC, initiative, and attack bonus without compromising on anything
        -Sacred Studies lets them get a bonus language and advantage on any Int checks where their deity is involved which is outside the normal realm of combat based classes
        -Supple Strength allows the use of the highest damaging weapons with an ability that is already being used in AC. Because they don’t use armor, a boost to Dex is a boost to AC, accuracy, and damage ever single time
        -Inquisitor’s Instinct gives expertise on social skills and/or an important skill for exploration. These are face/skill monkey features as a normal part of the Avenger
        -Extra Attack plus subclass attack options means you are likely getting plenty of attacks in per round.
        -Evasion and True Conviction and proficiency in Wis saving throws prevent most spell/monster actions from affecting the Avenger full, and most of the time will allow the Avenger to face no harm from save based effects.
        -Censure of Pursuit has some of the best mobility available, outshining all of the other choices eventually.

        The Avenger is a melee combatant fighting in close with a big weapon like the Barbarian, but they get to use Dex for both AC and weapon statistics. The Avenger is a competent and consistent combatant like the Fighter, but can tackle most spell and other effects easily. The Avenger is a melee skirmisher who ignores lots of spell effects like the monk, bu can dish out significantly more damage and has options for even more mobility.

        The Avenger have DPS, high AC, tons of mobility (including teleportation, flying, and swimming), utility spellcasting, social and exploration expertise, immunity to fear and charm effects, evasion, and stealth as a class skill. The Avenger is everything but a healer and damaging caster.


  2. Hi there! First, I’ve been a lurker on your site for a while and I (J) signed up a few months ago to receive notifications when you release new stuff. Thanks for all the work you do! Now, on to the meat of why I’m posting a reply. I’ve showed this class to a friend of mine (E) and together we have nearly 50 years of experience with D&D. We create and discuss homebrew stuff all the time and I personally really liked the Avenger concept in 4e and the class you created for 5e. I just thought I would share the discussion we had and I hope the discussion he and I had is helpful to you. =)

    1. (E) Can you have multiple Oath of Enmity targets up simultaneously? – (J) Yes, it seems that way.

    2. (E) Blade of the Zealot is wonky or lacking explanation. Is a crit by definition an automatic hit? Also the ability is based on attacks with Advantage and not keyed to Oath on Enmity, I’m not sure how I feel about that. – (J) I don’t think it’s wonky. This turns a miss into a hit potentially, if the result is the same on both dice when you have Advantage. It’s not keyed to Oath of Enmity’s Advantage mechanic and that seems fine to me. It works even if you rolled two 2’s or higher, but still missed. It’s not something that will come up often; Rolling the same result on two d20s is a 1 in 400 chance. (E) I need to check my statistics, but what this ability does, in conjunction with the Oath/Advantage mechanic is give the class something like a 12 or 13% crit rate all by itself. This increases the power of both Wrath of the Divine and Spirit of Vengeance. I think it’s pretty cool, just wonky because it’s not explained well (to me anyway).

    3. (E) Wrath of the Divine screams crit fishing, but is that even a thing anymore? – (J) Crit fishing? It only works once per turn so it couldn’t keep proc’ing. Also, there are only a few ways to increase a critical hit range (Fighter Battlemaster being one of them and Blade of the Zealot). I don’t think this is unbalanced.

    4. (E) Spirit of Vengeance feels lackluster, but that depends on bullet point 1 and current thoughts on multiple attacks. – (J) This is a pretty good Level 20 feature in my opinion. It’s a limited way of gaining another Extra Attack feature, which only a Fighter gets access to beyond 2 attacks a round.

    5. (E) Bond of Retribution seems very weak compared to the Bond of Pursuit. – (J) I don’t think so. They are very different but both have their pros and cons. Bond of Pursuit doesn’t provide another Reaction, which is the cost of using an AO. In my experience as a DM, I’d say that Bond of Retribution would definitely proc more. As a DM, I’d loathe to provoke AOs by having a creature move away from the threat range of a PC it’s in melee with.

    6. (E) Bond of Retribution and Fanatic’s Rebuke work in opposition to each other. – (J) I don’t understand why you’re saying they oppose each other. Both abilities work by not having Oath of Enmity on a creature you’re in melee with; the goal as a Censure of Retribution Avenger is to fight multiple opponents in melee, but only have Oath of Enmity on one at a time. (E) The Bond lets the Avenger generate more damage against the Oath target, which is good. The Rebuke encourages the trigger for that damage to move away. If you are going to play your NPCs as intelligent enough to never disengage from a PC, aren’t they also intelligent enough not to engage the guy who does both damage to them all passively and beats the crap out of their friend faster? Plus, I mean, the NPC is essentially standing in the fire when the 18th level ability comes into play. Who does that willingly? Hence, they work against each other.

    7. (E) Censure of Pursuit looks amazing and Censure of Retribution looks meh. – (J) They do different things and I think this is more a matter of preference and personal play style. I don’t see one being better than the other. (E) I agree they are geared for different play styles. I just don’t think Retribution was done justice. Everything in Pursuit synergies with itself, the passives are fantastic and it is usable continuously. Conversely, Retribution works against itself and is only useful in combat. I think it could use a little work. Actually I find it aesthetically offensive. At a minimum I’d make the AC bonus trigger when fighting 2 or more opponents in melee. The whole anime “I get stronger when I take damage” doesn’t translate well into games that revolve around concepts like “balance”. Then, thematically the 3rd level ability doesn’t sit well. Retribution is generally a reciprocal effect, right? This is a Transitive property or something – like the mizu-do guy in Kung Fu Hustle. He hits you so you hit someone else. That’s cool, I just don’t think it fits here. It would make more sense if instead, when you’e attacked by a non Oath target that you can make an opportunity attack against THAT guy. Maybe even as part of the attack mark him as a new Oath target – since it seems you can have more than one Oath up at a time. The 18th level ability is just sad to me, both by itself and compared to the Pursuit ability. At 18th level, what is (assuming a WIS of 16 – and I think that’s really high) 3 points of damage doing? Plus, let’s be honest, if a PC gets swarmed, he’s dead, so getting more than one target with this ability doesn’t seem worth the trade. Then you consider that Pursuit just got a Fly and Swim speed of 50. I’ll give this some more thought but off the top of my head both for symmetry and synergy make it something like the Avenger cannot be unwillingly moved and as long as he does not / has not moved that round, deals +2 damage on all melee attacks for the round or e.o.n.t. or something.

    8. (E) It looks like there is/was supposed to be a 3rd Censure to choose from. One that would “…unite allies against enemies….” – (J) Probably, but this is only the first publicly released draft


    1. Hi E & J!

      Sorry about the delayed response – was working on future content and got backed up on replying to community comments.

      1. My intention was that you would only have one OoE up at a time but the feature is not worded in a way that makes that intention clear so it’s going to need a rewrite.

      2. A few people have commented on the wording of this feature so I’m going to take a look at how I can re-write it to be clearer. Mathematically it’s actually more of a 1/20 chance to get two dice to show the same result. If you decided ahead of time what result you wanted them to get THEN it would be 1 / 400. As it works now though, whatever the result of the first die is what you want the second die to show, so it’s a 1 / 20 chance. As for critical hit chance this makes it slightly less than 10%. You have a 5% of getting a 20, which is a critical, and then this feature gives you a slightly less than 5% additional chance (since a result of 20 would be a critical anyway and a result of 1 cannot be turned into a critical).

      3. While I find the phrase amusing, I don’t totally know what you mean by crit fishing.

      4. 5e has a weird precedent for class capstones – some are incredibly boring and weak and others really dramatically dial up the capability of the class. Spirit of Vengeance sits somewhere near the middle, I think, but it is a pretty potent upgrade.

      5. My sense is that the two Bond features, at least, are pretty evenly balanced. They are gonna activated in really different situations though and it would be up to the Avenger player to try to create the right situation to trigger their bond reaction.

      6. You might have a point there, E. Gonna think about that.

      7. While I don’t think I agree with everything you’re getting at E, there is quite a bit of sense to it. The core class will be seeing some touch ups and once those are done I’ll be looking at what could / should change with the two archetypes to balance them better against one another. They are definitely going to facilitate very different kinds of strategies as J indicated.

      8. You guys must be prophetic, a Unity Censure is going to be addressed in a future draft.


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