This worked out well last time, so I thought I'd try another subclass I really wish existed. This is a Champion Cause, inspired by the D&D5E's Oath of Glory (and the UA Oath of Heroism).

The flavor here is a Champion cause that isn't particularly motivated by good or evil, but just by being heroic. Much like a classical Greek hero. Among other benefits, this allows neutral characters with neutral gods to play as Champions.

As for playstyle, I'm picturing a champion that leans on Athletics checks to debuff and control enemies, and actively tries to prevent enemies from doing the same to their friends. A Hero will probably want to either use unarmed strikes, a 1-handed weapon with the other hand free, or weapons with a traits like shove, trip, grab, etc.

Hero Cause [N]

You seek glory by performing heroic deeds and overcoming terrible challenges. Your code gains the following Edicts and anathema:

Edicts seek glory and accept challenges.

Anathema turn down a challenge or avoid an opportunity for glory. To qualify as a challenge, there must be a reasonable chance of both failure and success. Perform acts that will act to diminish your glory or reputation.

Champion's Reaction

reaction symbol Clap Back

Trigger An enemy damages an ally or causes an ally to become demoralized, prone, grabbed, or restrained, and both are within 15 feet of you.

You respond in kind those who cause your allies to waver. The ally gains resistance to all damage against the triggering damage equal to 2 + your level. You may optionally step once toward the enemy, and then may make an athletics check to trip, shove, grapple, or disarm them.

Divine Smite

You give the miscreant a taste of their own medicine. If you made an Athletics check against the enemy as part of Clap Back, that enemy takes persistent force damage equal to your Charisma modifier.


When you use Clap Back (after your step, if you take it), you may make your choice of a shove or trip check against each enemy within 15 feet.

Glorious Athlete (feat 1)

When making an Athletics check as part of Clap Back, you no longer need a free hand. If you do have a free hand, you may instead take a circumstance bonus to that athletics check equal to the highest number of damage dice on any of your currently wielded weapons or unarmed attacks.

Heroic Stride (feat 12)

Instead of taking a Step at the beginning of your Clap Back, you may Stride up to half your Speed.


A lot of this cause is similar to Liberator which reacts to counter movement-inhibiting attacks from enemies, and allows a step. However, Hero has a more offensive-minded philosopy (like Paladin), so it instead tries to counter Athletics-based conditions with its own. The step at the beginning of the counter, along with the map-less Althetics check, is perhaps a bit strong, but its needed to give the Hero a chance to use those checks on an enemy that is within the 15-foot range of the Champion's Reaction but not currently adjacent to the Hero. Its still weakened by not allowing the Athletics checks on enemies that are 15 feet away, or 10 in rough terrain. The level 12 feat fixes this restriction, but it could still be a problem if the enemy is difficult to reach for some reason (flying springs to mind).

The Smite I'm worried may be a bit more powerful than other causes' smite. It is forced to use Force damage rather than Good or Evil. I understand Force is much more rarely resisted than alignment damage. However, this is something that's probably going to be loosened significantly by the remaster, so I'd argue that the power disparity here is going to be temporary. The damage could be reduced if its a problem.

The Exalt is getting the cause something similar to Paladin's Exalt that allows every ally in 15 feet to get a strike in on the enemy. In this case its the Hero themself getting an Athletics check in on every enemy in 15 feet. I'm picturing one of those action movie scenes where the hero swings a sword or punches the ground and everyone nearby is knocked back or to the ground. It could be a bit strong if it hits a lot of enemies, but the hero does have to make checks (which could fail) for every one, so in practice it will likely be very rare that more than 2 enemies are affected (unless the party is fighting a horde of mooks).

So what do you think? Does it balance?

  • \$\begingroup\$ FWIW, Clap Back seems to be able to respond to Grapple and Trip but not Shove, Disarm, or Reposition (remaster I believe, don't have the book). Is this intentional? And is "demoralized" specifically meant to reference the Demoralize skill action, or were you meaning frightened? Just another double check (I believe you'd want to capitalize Demoralize to properly reference the action if its the action). \$\endgroup\$
    – ESCE
    Feb 22 at 23:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ESCE - I believe it was intentional, the idea being to respond specifically to non-magical acts that give the character -'s to their AC (flat-footed, frightened via Demoralize). Seeing it in black-and-white though, perhaps that's too metagamey to be centering a skill around? \$\endgroup\$
    – T.E.D.
    Feb 23 at 13:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ It's not necessarily too meta-gamey, but this does also create some weird scenarios where someone 15ft to the Champions right uses Telekinetic Maneuver on someone 15ft to the Champion's left and still can get Clap Backed. You could list the viable Athletics Maneuvers specifically, or try something generic like triggering off of Athletics checks (which, in the Remaster, the auto Grabs of monsters will require Athletics checks I believe). Maybe "An enemy w/n 15 ft damages an ally or succeeds at an Athletics check against an ally."? \$\endgroup\$
    – ESCE
    Feb 23 at 18:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ It's also not necessary, just might make the wording more streamlined. There's nothing that seems super imbalanced by the metagamey approach, this just might help with wording and consistency. \$\endgroup\$
    – ESCE
    Feb 23 at 18:46
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @ESCE - That seems like sound advice. I think I was trying to economize on words there, but rule explanations are definitively not the place to be doing that. \$\endgroup\$
    – T.E.D.
    Feb 23 at 19:22

1 Answer 1


Exalt and Glorious Athlete Are Very Strong

Shoving or Tripping every enemy in 15 feet would be pretty impressively powerful even if it costed 2 or 3 actions, but as a reaction with no multiple attack penalty the exalted benefit is too much. Comparing against the more offensive unholy champion exalted reactions might help find something a bit more balanced, otherwise it's worth noting that the Paladin reaction also uses each ally's reaction if they use it (and they attack with a -5 penalty).

Glorious Athlete is also pretty incredibly powerful, allowing hero champions with a free hand to always get a sizable circumstance bonus. It helps that it only applies on checks to Clap Back, but it's hard to imagine not taking this in every case based on the bonus. Limiting it to a +1 circumstance bonus or just allowing Clap Back to work without a free hand would probably be best, as other heroes could just take a different feat.

Everything else seems broadly fine, though Divine Smite's force damage is a bit odd and more powerful than good or evil damage. The remaster replaces alignment damage with generic spirit damage that can be holy, unholy, or neither (generally following the same rules as spirit blast but as a bespoke damage type rather than force), so just dealing spirit damage would probably be best to avoid balance concerns.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Would giving Exalt the same -5 penalty help sufficiently? I was also considering limiting it to enemies within reach, but I think that might flip it to too weak. \$\endgroup\$
    – T.E.D.
    Feb 22 at 17:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think you're right about GA. It bothered me a bit that its only useful to characters that didn't take the extra effort to use lower-powered 1-handed or unarmed attacks, as that seems like further punishing them, but I guess their payout could be getting to use their lvl1 feat on something else, or a +1 would still be great for them. \$\endgroup\$
    – T.E.D.
    Feb 22 at 17:06
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Just giving a -5 would likely make the ability a bit silly in practice, triggering the critical failures of Trip/Shove too frequently for such a core champion mechanic. I'm not sure how to fix Exalt's balance, other than a full rework. \$\endgroup\$
    – brandon
    Feb 22 at 18:04
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ The other problem with a -5 is that you could bypass it with Assurance against enemies with weak saves. \$\endgroup\$
    – Red Orca
    Feb 22 at 18:47
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @T.E.D. my two cents: Glorious Athlete is strong enough without the circumstance bonus. Obviously, a free hand build won't care for it, but that's fine. It shouldn't be so good as to be mandatory (which it currently is) and this makes it so that someone can focus on one type of maneuver (e.g. Disarm with a Rapier) but still Clap Back with the most situationally appropriate. \$\endgroup\$
    – ESCE
    Feb 22 at 23:21

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