The crowd cheers for the champion as he tosses a rose into the stands. His opponent stands ready, a spear in her hand. Her faded leather armor pales in comparison to the champion’s gleaming black plate mail.
Drawing his greatsword, the champion charges. His opponent dodges the attack and swings her spear, sweeping the knight off his feet. She pushes the tip of the spear to his throat. The crowd erupts.
The martial adept is no ordinary fighter. Characters who take this feat have access to special maneuvers and other techniques handed down through the generations.
For these fighters, combat is as much theory as it is artistry, and they have the superiority dice to prove it.
What Is the Martial Adept Feat?
You have martial training that allows you to perform special combat maneuvers. You gain the following benefits.
- You learn two maneuvers of your choice from among those available to the Battle Master archetype in the fighter class. If a maneuver you use requires your target to make a saving throw to resist the maneuver’s effects, the saving throw DC equals 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Strength or Dexterity modifier (your choice).
- You gain one superiority die, which is a d6 (this die is added to any superiority dice you have from another source). This die is used to fuel your maneuvers. A superiority die is expended when you use it. You regain your expended superiority dice when you finish a short or long rest.
Source: Player’s Handbook
How Does Martial Adept Work?
After taking the martial adept feat, your character will have at least one superiority die. These dice can be used to execute special combat maneuvers.
There are several maneuvers to choose from. Each can be used to enhance an attack in some way.
While players taking the martial adept feat only get one superiority die, they learn two special maneuvers.
Because superiority dice are recovered after a long or short rest, characters with martial adept will be able to execute a special maneuver at least once every day.
Each maneuver requires at least one superiority die to perform. Most of these techniques are used to gain an advantage over your opponent, but some offer benefits to your allies.
How Good Is Martial Adept?
At first glance this feat may seem underwhelming, but it certainly has its uses. Any feat that gives characters access to class-specific abilities can be powerful.
If used wisely, these enhanced attacks could be devastating to opponents and crucial to your allies.
Battle Masters will likely find the martial adept feat indispensable. Learning additional maneuvers will give these fighters greater flexibility, and having more superiority dice is essential for the Battle Master.
Several of the available maneuvers are used to aid party members, giving them advantage or granting them temporary hit points.
That being said, the martial adept feat isn’t for everyone. Unless you have a specific reason for taking this feat, you might be better off with another one.
For example, the magic initiate feat gives characters cantrips that they can use each round of combat while the benefits of martial adept can only be used once per rest.
How To Play Martial Adept
For the martial adept, combat comes naturally. These characters understand the art of fighting on a deeper level, having studied it intensely.
The adept fighter has knowledge of combat drawn from historical lessons. Having absorbed the great defeats and victories of history, these characters are able to apply these lessons to their own technique.
The strongest candidate for taking the martial adept feat is the fighter. Fighters of other archetypes can take this feat and learn Battle Master maneuvers, and Battle Masters who take this feat will gain an extra superiority die.
Thanks to the Battle Master’s Improved Combat Superiority feature, the superiority die gained from the Martial Adept Feat will become a d10 at level ten, and a d12 at level 18.
While the monk is a master of ki energy, the martial adept has studied the history of combat. Taking this feat will push your monk’s training even further.
By studying the maneuvers of a Battle Master, monks can learn additional combat techniques, gaining an edge over the competition. Applied correctly, these special moves can be used to aid allies and deliver deadly strikes.
Most barbarians are defined by their ferocious rage and willingness to smash first and ask questions later, but such tactics have their limitations. Some barbarians are bound to seek out those who’ve studied the art of combat at a deeper level.
With experience comes wisdom. Barbarians can use combat maneuvers to gain a strategic edge in combat.
For example, even barbarians need an exit plan. Try evasive footwork if you need to escape a crowd of goblins, or use a trip attack to bring an ogre down quickly.
Experienced adventurers rarely travel alone. Barbarians can also use maneuvers to rally teammates, granting them temporary hit points.
While barbarians have the unarmored defense feature, knowing how to parry might save your life one day.
Characters who take the martial adept feat learn two maneuvers from the Battle Master archetype. The complete list of maneuvers is available in the Player’s Handbook.
With so many maneuvers to choose from, it can be hard to know which ones to learn.
Unless you are a Battle Master, you’ll only be able to execute one maneuver per long rest with your single superiority dice. This puts extra pressure on the choice.
Used wisely, each maneuver can be beneficial. A well-placed trip attack could turn an otherwise tough encounter into a quick victory, and a successful disarming attack could render your opponent defenseless.
What’s a snake without its fangs?
In the end, it’s less about which maneuvers you choose and more about how you use them.
A master strategist, the martial adept can use this maneuver to direct another character to attack.
With this maneuver, you can use the attack action and a bonus action to let another character attack on your turn. This attack uses the other character’s reaction.
This maneuver is only effective if you have powerful allies.
Use the commander’s strike to have a rogue sneak attack on your turn, or order your barbarian teammate to swing his axe. You’ll find that friendly allies will fight at your command.
This maneuver is great for getting out of sticky situations. When you move, you can use your superiority dice to temporarily increase your AC.
Perfect for avoiding attacks of opportunity, evasive footwork can save your life, especially if you find yourself surrounded by powerful opponents.
Sometimes the best choice is to run like there’s a demon chasing you, and in D&D, sometimes there really is a demon chasing you.
Those with the knowledge can use a parry attack to reduce the damage from a melee attack. With a parry, you can reduce the amount of damage you take by an amount equal to a superiority die + your Dexterity modifier.
With this popular maneuver you can attempt to knock a creature down during an attack. When you make an attack, you can spend a superiority die to perform the trip attack.
The creature you’re attacking will need to make a strength saving throw or else fall prone.
While this move doesn’t work on huge monsters, it’s great against normal or large creatures. It’s difficult to underestimate how devastating a good trip attack can be.
A prone opponent will be nearly defenseless against attacks, allowing your allies to quickly defeat powerful opponents. In the right hands, this maneuver can yield amazing results. It looks cool too!
Characters that learn this maneuver know how to take advantage of an enemy’s mistakes. If a creature misses you with a melee attack, you’ll have the opportunity for a counterstrike.
Attempting the riposte uses your reaction as well as one superiority dice.
The martial adept understands that teamwork is often the secret to victory. As a result, these characters specialize in getting the most out of their teammates. With the rally maneuver, you can grant an ally temporary hit points.
Keeping yourself and your teammates alive can be a challenge. While dealing damage is usually a fighter’s main concern, going it alone is never easy. The ability to give an ally a boost in hit points will always come in handy.
Adapting to the Battlefield
If you’re planning to take the martial adept feat, consider how your character learned his or her combat skills.
Perhaps your character’s talents are the result of training with a mentor, or maybe you found a book dedicated to battle tactics and melee weapon combat.
After studying the book every night for months, you’ve finally absorbed its lessons.
As a martial adept, you’ll have plenty of opportunity to use your maneuvers in battle, but learning how to execute the attacks is only the beginning.
It will take time and creativity to apply your skills. Only experience can teach you the most effective applications of your techniques.
Advanced Combat Training
Mastering the art of martial combat requires more than a few sparring matches and weapons training. Perfection requires patience. This is why most Battle Masters study calligraphy or weaponsmithing.
The body and the mind are linked. The best fighters know that most battles are won before they even begin.
The martial adept doesn’t rely on physical training alone. Only by training the mind can you unlock true potential.
Can You Take Martial Adept Twice?
Characters can not usually take feats multiple times. Unless a feat explicitly states that characters can take it additional times, characters can only take it once.
Of course, the final say is up to the DM. If you and your table want to change a rule or feat because it will improve the game, that’s up to you.
You’ll have plenty of opportunity to test your martial talents as you journey the worlds of D&D.
Whether it’s fighting ogres in a decrepit swamp or chasing bandits through a frozen mountain pass, you’re sure to find your share of close calls and tough encounters.
Our best advice is to always keep your wits about you. And remember, not all wars can be won with a sword.