Name that Martial Controller

Given the (excellent) coverage of the new PHB2 by the good folks in the RPG Bloggers Network, I had enough information to throw together this little table summarizing all of the available official 4e D&D classes.

Controller Defender Leader Striker
Arcane Wizard Swordmage Bard Sorcerer & Warlock
Divine Invoker Paladin Cleric Avenger
Martial Fighter Warlord Ranger & Rogue
Primal Druid Warden Shaman Barbarian

Notice something missing?

All of the combinations of Role/Power are filled (twice in the case of Arcane Striker and Martial Striker) but there’s no Martial Controller in the slot. To an extent, that makes sense – after all, Martial is all about getting up close and personal, while Controller is about handling a large amount of foes (especially Minions) all at once.

This is where my sense of synergy kicks in. Is it possible to create a class that “fits” the image of a Martial Controller – someone who uses force of arms to pin down foes and tackle hordes of Minions in a single round?

‘Course there is!

Here’s where I make a prediction. I’ll lay big odds that we’ll see a new class to fill that slot, and it will be called The Dervish, a whirling fighter who spins around the battlefield with spinning blades and a dashing turban. He’ll be a counterpoint to the raging Barbarian, a blade-dancing hypnotic desert warrior who uses DEX and CHA as their prime stats. If it’s not in PHB3, it’ll be in the Al-Qadim Player’s Guide. Betchya.

And I can’t wait.  Lovin’ the idea already.

That’s not the only way to fill that Martial Controller slot – I’m sure you’ve got other Character Class ideas that could fill it.

Tell me.

27 Comments on “Name that Martial Controller”

  1. Yeah, I agree with the others. I heard the next preview coming up was the monk and I think that it’s going to be a controller.

  2. Ki striker? Ah the ki part is cool, but monk as a striker sounds disappointing, thanks for the link though!

    greywulf: yeah a warrior monk leaping and sliding enemies all over the place sounds like it would be a neat martial controller. With it being powered by ki though, a dervish sounds kick ass too.

  3. That’s kind of what I was thinking – that the best martial controller would be some kind of swashbuckler character, leaping around the battlefield doing small but stylish amounts of damage to many foes, dazing enemies with taunts and immobilizing them with arrows pinning their cloaks to the furniture.

  4. It’s pretty hard to make a martial controller, though. (My monk was originally a shot at one, but it ran afoul of a couple of problems.) Range is a big issue; a controller has to be able to work at non-melee distances, really. Then there’s breadth of effect; martial characters find it difficult to create zones or walls, for instance. A lot of proposals that would seem to address that (caltrops! traps!) run into the problems of needing materials or preparation time that a character might not have. But if you stick to purely non-magical martial-flavored effects, then what you end up with looks more like a defender or maybe a leader than a controller.

    I’m not saying it’s impossible, though. My current best fit for it would be something like the Jester (which hasn’t shown up since 1e, if I’m not mistaken).

    You can also get around it by adding more esoteric powers — some takes on the Ninja might work, for instance. But I’d question whether that should really be using the Martial power source, in that case. Ki would seem more obvious, if you’re going to emphasize the tricks and weird powers (and not the sneaky-assassin stuff, which is the rogue’s job).

  5. Monk would seem the obvious choice… just remember all of those martial arts movies with a lone martial artist against hordes of mooks. Jackie Chan movies specifically come to mind since he was always trip and ensnaring opponents with whatever he had handy.

    But we know monks are ki. I think they’ve been said to be strikers, though if we were to have the whole spectrum for ki I would think monk = controller, ninja = striker, samurai = defender and sohei = leader off the top of my head (though cases could easily be made otherwise such as a samurai striker similar to the ranger).

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  6. xena, warrior princess. flings a chakram around the battlefield to hit multiple targets, destroy objects to change the battlefield, etc.

  7. @Elton They’ll all come under the Psionic Power source when their turn comes around :D

    It occurred to me that “Martial” doesn’t necessarily have to mean “melee” – after all, both the Ranger and Rogue have hefty missile capability – which means we could conceivably have a Sniper-style Martial Controller who lays down serious covering fire with from range.

    Hmmm….. Dervish, Swashbuckler or Sniper. They’d all fit the bill as Martial Controller.

    Any more?

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  8. As great as it would be to see a martial controller, I don’t think that they will put any in the next two PHBs (3 and 4) considering that the first two only got three power sources out there and they need that space for the new classes.

    unless they fit one in a setting book, I don’t foresee any new martial classes for a long time.

    And I don’t remember where (maybe one of the two preview books) they mention that not all sources will have all of the roles…

    But who is up for starting a Martial controller petition?

    MacGuffins last blog post..The terrible truth

  9. there are plenty attempts at making martial controllers for 4e. just google up “martial controller”.

  10. What about a class that hurls things like Alchemists fire, caltrops or acid flasks… or even holy water for those pesky undead encounters? You could “control” a battlefield quite well with some grenade-like weapons.

    You could call this class the Grenadier. They would be adept at throwing things, at first not so much for accuracy but later on they’d be bale to pick their targets more easily. Weapons would include choking powder and those others listed above. Their class abilities could include the making of such implements which relies on knowledge of chemistry rather than some magical art. Hell, they might even make fireworks at high levels and then who knows? rockets? mortars? even a howitzer to take out the Terrasque.

  11. I’m gonna have to respectfully disagree with what most people on the internet are trying to do for the martial controller. Here is why:

    1. The trapper… while it seems like an accurate fit, by later levels it will soon become partially obsolete because of the increased amount of flying/phasing creatures. How is a harpy, or even less likely, a ghost, going to trigger a bear-trap-like device? Also, in difficult or dangerous terrain, your in even bigger trouble. Just try laying that trap in a square containing lava or undergrowth and see if you GM doesn’t bring the game to a halt.

    2. The skirmisher… I thought this was an excellent idea for a martial controller, until I was struck by a serious problem that I’m sure anyone would notice upon play-testing one of these classes. The defender needs to be able to keep the enemies away from you, if you shift a bunch, and have increased movement speed, your bodyguards (especially heavily armed ones) are going to be left in the dust. And if you stay within protecting distance of them, then what is the point of the mobility in the first place?

    I would really love to see a solid martial controller, and I just started trying to make one, but I think people are going at it the wrong way. The sniper, or maybe even something totally new and out-of-the-box, is where those class creators should be looking.

  12. I’ve wanted a martial controller since the PH1 was published. Having now looked through all the published classes and quite a few of the online concepts, I like the idea of a “Justicar” style character.

    I see a character in heavy armor, probably chain, who focuses less on swordplay and more on reach weaponry and thrown implements. Powers that would allow him to knock enemies prone, grab them, and immobilize them with the spiked chain and the whip, daze them, stun them, and slow them with thrown weapons, and wield the bolas for ranged knockdown / immobilization.
    He could also gain bonuses to unarmed grapple damage, maybe having holds not unlike the reaping mauler of 3.5, allowing him to knock his enemy unconcious if he holds them for a couple rounds, and his reach-grab powers with whip and chain allow him to slide his opponent 1 square during each round they don’t break free.

    Throw in class features that give the ability to freely swap between the tools of his trade, and some class poisons in the form of daily powers or utility powers that cause his attacks to cause weakness, slowness, etc, and you should have a believable, workable martial controller.

    The paragon paths could cover specializations, such as the Reaping Mauler (master of the unarmed grapple), the Flogger (master of whip tricks), the Brutal Hound (semi-striker role with spiked chain), the Master Thrower (master of his thrown powers), and the Eye of Justice (master of the short bow).

    I’ve been meaning to try writing this one up myself, but I barely have time to play, let alone write up powers. Would love to see someone elaborate on it, though

  13. I’m aware this is an old entry (very old) but it just occurred to me that the “Seeker” (Primal Controller) from PHB3 would have been a perfect fit for a martial controller.

    A sniper is more than a well trained sneaky recon/shooter; a single well placed sniper can effectively shut down an enemy force’s actions.

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