New Actions: Block, Defense Roll, & Parry

The following are several new combat options made available to PCs and NPCs to make Martial combat more engaging when not one’s turn.

Block
As a reaction, you may attempt to block an melee or ranged attack when carrying a shield.
When an opponent attacks you and before the attack is resolved, you may use your reaction to block.
Roll a 1d20 + Strength or Dexterity + Your Proficiency Bonus if Proficient with Shields + Shield’s Armor Bonus.

If this value is greater than the attack roll against you, you block the attack. If the result of your opponent’s swing is greater than your block roll, your reaction is wasted, and the attack is then checked against your defense roll.

Defense Roll
Normal:
A player has a static 10 + AC bonuses Armor Class value.

Variant:
A player must roll a 1d20 when attacked, representing the use of armor, shield, and dexterity.

A DM may rule an attacker has disadvantage if you have a superior defensive position.

Parry
As a reaction, you may attempt to parry a melee attack with a Weapon or Natural Weapon (Monk Unarmed Attacks work for this).

When an opponent attacks you and before the attack is resolved, you may declare to use your reaction to parry.

Roll a 1d20 + Strength or Dexterity + Your Proficiency Bonus with a Weapon + Any Weapon Enhancement Modifiers.

If this value is greater than the attack roll against you, you parry the attack. If the result of your opponent’s swing is greater than your parry roll, your reaction is wasted, and the attack is then checked against your defense roll.

Monsters with the Reaction Parry which normally adds a flat armor bonus to Armor Class now adds this amount to a Parry Reaction.

The Monk’s Deflect Missiles ability allows a Monk to Parry ranged attacks as well as Melee attacks rather than reduce the damage of a ranged attack. A Monk adds +1d10 and half their Monk level (rounded up) to this roll against ranged attacks.

Using the Parry maneuver from the Battle Master instead adds your superiority die roll to your parry check.

After seeing Parry used in its current state, I thought the option needed to be simplified. The parry option of the Erinyes, as an example, and the parry option of the Defensive Duelist feat, as another example, are both good models for simple execution. My problem with them originally was that they were a straight buff to armor class and only use proficiency, rather than a character’s weapon prowess. With the abstractness of 5e’s model, I don’t think it is as bad as I once did. These options are simple and easy to understand. The other thing I like about their write up is that they occur only once a hit is determined, not beforehand. Still, I do wish that it incorporated the player’s chance to hit (read attack bonus) in its execution. This would have to incorporate an ability score, race/class/feat features, and magic, which would be a huge bonus on all but an attack role.

You could change Defensive Duelist to a main reaction but using strength or dexterity, but this scales faster than Defensive Duelist, has a (in general, unless you’re a barbarian or something else with a cap increasing ability) smaller cap than proficiency, and benefits primarily martial characters. This would equate to a maximum +3 bonus (+4 if human) at level 1, +4 (+5 if human) at level 4, and +5 at level 8 (level 6 for fighters).

My main issue is how easy and high of a boost this is. I do think defense should be made more important to further emphasize being hit is bad. The option to change Defensive Duelist into an option for any weapon is a possibility, but then spellcasters benefit from it just as much.

So, after much thinking, another defensive attribute is needed. I present a simple stat to calculate: Parry Bonus (PR). Your PR bonus is equal to the following.

<br/>Parry Bonus<br/>

Source Value
You have proficiency with the melee weapon +Half proficiency bonus
Strength or dexterity greater than or equal to 13 +1
Weapon is one handed and player is not wielding a weapon or shield in offhand +1
Character is wielding a finesse weapon +1
Character is dual wielding +1

And the Parry action is now the following.

Parry
When you are wielding a melee weapon and another creature hits you with a melee attack, you can use your reaction to add your Parry Bonus to your Armor Class for that attack, potentially causing the attack to miss you.

The Monk’s Deflect Missile ability now, instead, allows a monk to use parry on ranged weapon attacks and gain a +1 additional bonus to their PR against ranged attacks. The Erinyes ability and other monsters with it should change the ability to use PR but gain a +1 additional bonus to their PR. The Battlemaster’s Parry Maneuver now, instead, allows the fighter to add a superiority die to his PR. I would suggest removing the Defensive Duelist feat.

This then suggests Block should be redone. I would suggest to make Block a clone of Parry except that you can add your shield bonus to the Block, but don’t gain any of the weapon benefits. Thus a character also has a Block Bonus (BB) stat.

<br/>Block Bonus<br/>

Source Value
You have proficiency with the shield +Half proficiency bonus
Strength or dexterity greater than or equal to 13 +1
Character is carrying a shield +Shield Bonus

Block
When you are wielding a shield and another creature hits you with a melee or ranged attack, you can use your reaction to add your Block Bonus to your Armor Class for that attack, potentially causing the attack to miss you.

The homebrew Battlemaster Block Maneuver now simply adds a superiority die to your BB.

This current setup adds benefit to characters not wielding a two handed weapon (unless it is finesse). The bonus adjusts and can be a +1 to a +4 at level 1, but increases over the course of leveling (max +6) and allows classes with special parrying moves to be better than others while keeping a simple calculation. Those wielding shields become the best at defensive stops. It makes fighting multiple foes seem scarier as you can only parry one of them. All of this is wrapped up in a reaction after being hit that simply increases your Armor Class. Because these are not specifically set against a melee or ranged weapon attack, the player can use these abilities against spells requiring an attack roll, such as many cantrips.

I think it is simpler and accomplishes what is desired: a way to react to an attack.