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I’m considering house ruling the Fighter class’s Extra Attack feature. The change would be to the second paragraph, which would now read:

The number of attacks increases to three when you reach 11th level in this class or when all of the following are true: you reach 11th character level, you reach 5th level in this class, and you also have the Extra Attack feature from at least one other class. The number of attacks increases to four when you reach 20th level in this class or when all of the following are true: you reach 20th character level, you reach 5th level in this class, and you also have the Extra Attack feature from at least two other classes.

The intent here is to allow a multi-classed martial character to split their classes relatively evenly through a long campaign, eliminating “dead levels” at level 5 in each martial class by rewarding them with “stacked” Extra Attacks—but only if they take at least five levels of fighter, and only at the appropriate character levels.

Does this risk significantly breaking the game, having a ridiculously high power level (compared to, say, a multiclassed caster), causing inter-player strife, or otherwise being an unwise house rule?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Hmm, given that 3 attacks unlocks at character level 11, that means that if you do 5 levels of Fighter and then 5 of (e.g.) Ranger, the Ranger 5th level is still "dead" because you only get the 3rd attack at Ranger 6? Also, what about 11th level fighter + Extra Attack from one other class + char level 20? Should that unlock quad attack? \$\endgroup\$ Feb 3 at 15:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ This seems aimed at a certain build, because taking 5 levels of fighter then 5 levels of something else is very rare. Mostly it's just a dip into fighter. Is this intended to make it more appealing to take more fighter levels? To multiclass out of fighter? I am not sure I see where this would ever get used unless it was created for a specific purpose. \$\endgroup\$
    – SeriousBri
    Feb 3 at 20:59
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Kerrick Can I ask which class? This house rule will probably make a much larger difference for some than others. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 4 at 2:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ Given this is for a specific player the question may be better as "my player wants this and will create x build using it, but if I don't let them they will create y build. Is it unbalancing to let them?". Then we can compare both builds and work it out. By default more power is usually unbalancing, but sometimes people just want to make an unusual build and more power is needed to help balance and odd concept. \$\endgroup\$
    – SeriousBri
    Feb 4 at 12:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Kerrick To echo others, this seems much more answerable talking about a specific build, especially since the number of subclasses means there are many, many possible combinations. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jack
    Feb 4 at 15:09

2 Answers 2

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Fighter/Paladin

The most obvious exploit here is that you can combine the fighter's 11th-level damage buff (Extra Attack for three attacks) with the paladin's 11th-level damage buff (Improved Divine Smite for +1d8 radiant damage per attack). This lets you deal the +1d8 radiant damage three times per round, which under the normal rules would not have been possible.

On the other hand, you can't do that until sixteenth level; not many games last until sixteenth level, so this is unlikely to ever come up.

Fighter/Wizard (or Fighter/Bard)

Another potential exploit would be to start with a Bladesinger Wizard, which grants full wizard caster progression and Extra Attack. A wiz6/ftr5 would have spellcasting as a sixth-level wizard and triple-attack; without this rule, the best you could do would be an eleventh-level Eldritch Knight, which is the spellcasting equivalent of a fourth-level wizard. Combining this with (eg) the shadow blade spell could lead to more damage than the designers probably intended.

(Shadow Blade does more damage than most weapons, and part of the balance is that anyone who can cast it probably doesn't get a lot of attacks per round.)

The bard class has a few subclasses that work similarly.

Fighter/Ranger

I don't see any obvious exploits involving multiclass fighter and ranger. The ranger class does get some small damage buffs to make up for it not getting triple-attack at eleventh level, most notably hunter's mark which scales with the number of attacks you make. On the other hand, a fighter who really wanted hunter's mark has other ways to get it.

Sample Build

One possible build would be a Ftr5 / Bladesinger Wizard 6 / Valor Bard 9. This character could cast shadow blade using a seventh-level spell slot, getting a weapon that deals 5d8+DEX on a hit. They qualify for four attacks with their Extra Attack, so that's 4*(5d8+5)=110 psychic damage when they attack. But, also, they have Action Surge, so once per short rest they can do 220 damage.

(For comparison, a 20th-level Eldritch Knight fighter with a +3 greatsword would attack for 4*(2d6+8)=60 damage, or 120 on an action surge. The Eldritch Knight would have access to fourth-level spell slots, compared to this character who has access to eighth-level spell slots.)

It's a bit silly to judge balance based on 20th-level characters, because characters are level 20 for less than 5% of their existence. But, well. This seems too good.


The best argument for not allowing this probably sounds like this: "Levels 6+ of Fighter mostly aren't that exciting. You get a few extra stances, your archetype gets a little better, the Indomitable thing lets you reroll a save once in a while. The only reason anyone would take more than five levels of Fighter is because they want the Extra Attack bonus, which is the single special thing that only fighters get. If you tell your players that you're giving that bonus to multiclasses, then it's a no-brainer to multiclass."

And, also: "The benefit of multiclassing is you get a bunch of shiny new abilities right away, like spellcasting and smites and bardsong. The cost is that all the high-powered stuff is buried deep in a single class's progression, and if you multiclass then you're not going to get it. If you issue this houserule then you're taking away the main drawback of multiclassing."

The main argument for allowing it is that getting Extra Attack a second time is a dead level, and that's kind of a bad feeling. Getting Extra Attack a second time should get you something, shouldn't it?

Another argument for allowing it is that many campaigns don't actually last until eleventh level (eg, most campaign books don't run until level 20), so if this does cause a problem, your game might end before you notice it.


Overall, my advice is to rule no, if you think there's a significant chance of your game running past eleventh level.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ This is a fantastic analysis, thank you! Also the parts about how to justify it from a game design perspective will be additionally helpful when discussing the proposal with the player who asked for it. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kerrick
    Feb 4 at 16:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think you need to consider the trade off for all the useless levels between 2 and 5, this is all upside without considering the down. \$\endgroup\$
    – SeriousBri
    Feb 5 at 18:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ Seems like a strange thing to say. If your levels are in bard or wizard, then they are not useless, because you get spellcasting. \$\endgroup\$
    – Dan B
    Feb 5 at 18:46
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I was in a homebrew campaign where the DM allowed the extra attack feature from multiple classes to stack and I was the player benefiting from it. I had 6 levels Fighter (Battle-master) after which I took the remaining levels in Barbarian (Zealot). The campaign ended at level 19. The rest of the party was Bard 1/Wizard (Evocation), Rogue (Arcane trickster), Cleric 1 (life)/Artificer (Alchemist) and a Druid (3rd party subclass I'm not familiar with).

In our game it worked out fine in my opinion, for which I see multiple reasons:

  • My character was the only dedicated martial/front liner/tank/melee damage dealer in the party (rogue was ranged). This means the change wasn't stepping on anyone else's toes or stealing another character's thunder. Combat was my time to shine.
  • The DM only introduced the change when it came up at level 11, I didn't (and couldn't) optimize towards it.
  • The DM introduced other homebrew boons and magic items so every player could meet their character fantasy
  • I benefited form this change so my view might be biased

I realize that the situation was very specific to our campaign, so your mileage may vary. However, after the experience of playing a full martial character at the highest levels, where casters bend reality all kinds of ways, it didn't feel like my character was overly powerful to me and it never caused any player conflict either. To me, the increase in DPR/attacks felt just right to stay relevant compared to spell casters as they got their higher and higher level spells. The added attack freed me to use it in more interesting ways, like shoving and grappling, and I tried to use Commander's Strike in tandem with the Rogue's sneak attack as often as possible which created awesome team-work moments when it worked.

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