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Currently, the martial weapon trident is strictly inferior to the simple weapon spear. Here is my homebrew fix for it:

Trident (Martial Meelee Weapon) Cost: 15 GP Weight: 5 lbs
Damage: 3d4 piercing Thrown (0/15), Heavy, Two Handed, Special

Special: This weapon can be wielded with one hand if the other hand is wielding a net.

And its accompanying feat:

Trident Mastery
Prerequisite: Proficiency in tridents.

You gain the following benefits when wielding a trident:

  • You have advantage on attack rolls made with tridents while under water.
  • When you throw a net as an action, you can make one attack with a trident as a bonus action.
  • When you are attacked by a weapon that has the reach property and are not incapacitated, you can use your reaction to add your proficiency bonus to your armor class against all attacks from the creature that attacked you until the beginning of your next turn. If this increased armor class blocks the triggering attack, the creature must make a DC 15 dexterity check or drop the weapon.

Is this balanced compared to the official weapons? Does it have any "broken" combinations with any feats or abilities? Is the feat broken?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Not sure if this intended, but the expected damage output already dwarfs every other heavy two-handed melee weapon (average of 7.5 vs 7 for greatsword/maul or 6.5 for greataxe). Just a miscalculation, or an intended case? \$\endgroup\$ – David Coffron Jan 27 at 19:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ Do you think it's balanced? Can you compare it against another feat and provide your analysis of where you think it's fine or problematic? \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Jan 27 at 19:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ Agree with @DavidCoffron but also this goes against the guidelines on not specializing feats too much here. \$\endgroup\$ – Slagmoth Jan 27 at 19:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DavidCoffron , this is true, but the odds of getting 11 or 12 damage is lower than the greatsword or greataxe, just as the odds of getting 12 damage is thrice as high for the greataxe than it is for the great sword. \$\endgroup\$ – qazwsx Jan 27 at 20:00
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The weapon is overpowered

Your homebrew trident deals more damage than any existing nonmagical weapon- 7.5 on average, vs. 7 for the greatsword and maul. Additionally, this weapon works better with the Great Weapon Fighting Style, which adds an average of 1.5 damage to 3d4, versus 1.33 to 2d6. The damage dice alone would be unbalanced, but on top of that you've also added the ability to throw the weapon (albiet with disadvantage) and dual-wield with a net. Almost every great weapon build would prefer to use this trident than any published weapon, with the possible exception of Half Orcs that want to add additional damage dice on critical hits.

I suspect you imagine this trident and trident master feat being used together, as an alternative play style to other common weapon-feat combinations such as Great Weapon Master and Polearm Master. However, I think you should consider that many characters will just buy a trident and use it instead of a greatsword with GWM. Especially since...

The feat is too situational

The first bullet point won't matter at all in most campaigns, but may become overpowered in an underwater adventure.

The second bullet loses utility as a character gains extra attacks. At low levels, throwing a net and then attacking with a trident could be quite powerful. However, once a character gains an extra attack, they are forgoing that extra attack every time they choose to throw the net. This could still be situationally useful, but is unlikely to be as good an option as just attacking twice, especially since nets always attack with disadvantage. If the feat was selected by a fighter, the net option only gets worse as they gain their third and fourth attacks.

The third bullet is useless in most encounters, but could be overpowered if the character fights large numbers of enemies with reach weapons.

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    \$\begingroup\$ @GlennDriver The net has a special property that forces you to forego extra attacks: "When you use an action, bonus action, or reaction to attack with a net, you can make only one attack regardless of the number of attacks you can normally make." dndbeyond.com/equipment/net \$\endgroup\$ – Joe Jan 27 at 20:35
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The weapons damage needs fixing

Damage

While the smaller dice make it less optimal for a half orc brutal critical or the barbarians ability that adds extra dice to crits the minimum damage is much higher, and having 3 dice to reroll when using the Great Weapon Fighting style is very good. Consider changing to 2d6 or 1d12. If you make improvements to the throwing ability (making it not have disadvantage all the time) consider a 1d10 damage die.

One Handing

Even though this seems powerful, you can't use it with Dual Wielder or the Dueling fighting style and you still need a feat to make the net not have disadvantage all the time.

This might cause some problems with Great Weapon Master though. GWM is expected to be used with 2 handed weapons as every 2 hander has the heavy tag but it's ability (-5, +10 damage) requires only heavy weapons and not those with the 2 handed tag. Consider removing the "Heavy" tag.

Throwing

The range should probably read 5/15 as the net, there isn't really a 0ft range in D&D 5e. Even with that adjustment you'll have disadvantage on any throw you make with it.

The feat has problems

Advantage Ability

While this might seem like it's an always on or never on, you can abuse it by just being underwater yourself. A control water spell to keep yourself on land and underwater would give you advantage all the time.

Consider adding that both you and your target must be fully submerged in water. Although this will make it either: Always on or almost never on. I'm not sure that it's any better but it is less overpowered. Maybe something that doesn't happen as often but can happen anywhere. Attacking into water maybe?

Attack Ability

This seems to be okay if you make the above change. Other feats that allow things like this are the Great Weapon Master (You get an extra attack on a crit or kill) and the Pole Arm Master (Extra 1d6 attack)

The GWM ability has a more focused use case than "Whenever you attack" while the PM is an attack at reduced power.

While a net does no damage it does impose a beneficial condition (to the attacker) on the foe, but you only get to do it once (unless you have a plethora of nets on you, even then you'll be limited) and you have to go back to two-handing the trident. On the flip side you do have to forgo all your attacks to throw the net, which might make this underpowered.

The last ability might be underpowered

Having missed the part where it says you have to be attacked by a reach weapon, this part might never get used. If it will effect any weapon my original stance is here:

At level 1 (Variant Human) you can use your reaction to gain +2 AC as with a Shield of Faith spell. There's almost no reason not to do this, and it has the chance of disarming your foe if they're using a reach weapon. By level 13 you've outclassed the Shield spell and you don't need to spend a spell slot. The interesting caveat is that it only works against one creature, I'm not sure how to factor that in.

If you can convince someone to keep Shape Water up at all times you'll always have advantage on attacks. This is probably too powerful and needs adjusting.

All in all, the weapon is very good for any non-orc, non-barbarian 2 handed weapon builds. The feat has some good aspects and some bad ones, but it's far too situational to be useful most of the time. Generally you want to prevent feats from being "Specialty with X weapon". Consider making a feat that applies to all spear-like weapons (Spears, Tridents, Pikes, Javelins) instead.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Even in a land campaign, since the ability only requires the wielder rather than the target be underwater it will still be always-on; Shape Water can cover you with water pretty good, and that's assuming you can't just manufacture and wear some sort of a water-filled mundane diving suit. \$\endgroup\$ – Please stop being evil Jan 27 at 20:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Pleasestopbeingevil Hadn't considered reading it that way, I'll make an edit \$\endgroup\$ – Glenn Driver Jan 27 at 20:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ I agree. The last ability I think should be just the defense and it should be just for one attack if it is based on proficiency bonus. Or, a fixed amount for one target. \$\endgroup\$ – Chepelink Jan 27 at 20:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ Crits on a 3d4 would be awfully nice, too. Minimum damage is legit. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Jan 27 at 20:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ Using Shape Water seems like munschkry to me. But I guess it's okay as long as you have a square of water to start with and don't mind moving it around at 5 feet per turn with multiple castings. \$\endgroup\$ – Tiger Guy Jan 27 at 21:08
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It's a mixed-bag

Weapon

Damage

At average damage of 7.5, this would be the strongest average damage weapon in the game. It is now strictly better than the greatsword (average damage 7).

This would synergize even better with Great Weapon Fighting, which most would consider only an option with the Greatsword/Maul. The average damage would be 9 for the GWF fighting style, a very strong combination.

Versatile if used with a net

Allows 1-handed use with the same damage, counter to all other versatile weapons weapons. Without the feat though, this feature is useless. We cannot use a net with a melee weapons, according to Two-Weapon Fighting rules, which specify melee weapons.

Weapon Conclusion: Too strong. This would replace the Greatsword/Maul immediately.

Feat

Advantage on attack rolls is very strong, but we only get this in water. Considering that water is a niche environment at best, this strength is negated by how seldom we can use it. A minor buff.

Allowing Bonus Action attack with a net is very strong.

Because we can make a net attack and cause the target to be restrained, the subsequent bonus action attack will be made with advantage. As discussed above, we are dealing damage at the two-hand rate. This leads us to want the Great Weapon Master feat, now giving us +10 to damage, or an average of 19 on a hit, because we have a reliable method to create advantage. The net attack is an attack action, and we can't draw and throw a second weapon. All attackers in the initiative order between the trident attacker and the target also get advantage on their attacks. On the down side, multi-attack classes would have to give up attacks 2 through 4 to use this, and ranged attacks in melee range are at disadvantage, and so will be difficult to use. This is a major buff though, made stronger by another feat (GWM).

If attacked with Reach Weapon, apply proficiency to AC and cause opponent to drop weapon on a miss. This is strong, but not many enemies use reach weapons. Great to counter that Polearm Master, but in practice you will see this very seldom. So this is a minor buff only.

Feat conclusion: Strong but not crazy-strong. It's hard to predict how this would go, but I would expect it to be placed in top-tier along with Polearm Master, Great Weapon Master, Crossbow Expert, and Sharpshooter.

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    \$\begingroup\$ As Joe pointed out to me, Nets specifically say you can't make other attacks. dndbeyond.com/equipment/net \$\endgroup\$ – Glenn Driver Jan 27 at 21:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Glenn Driver, thanks. Edited. \$\endgroup\$ – Tiger Guy Jan 27 at 21:13

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