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I don't like the fact that a battlemaster can burn through his superiority dice in the first two rounds, and is forced to wait until the next short rest to use them again. So I'm considering the following houserules:

  • A battlemaster starts out with two superiority dice instead of four. This increases to three superiority dice at 7th level and to four at 15th level.
  • When you take the Attack action, you can give up a number of attacks to refocus, regaining one superiority die for each attack you give up. You cannot gain more superiority dice than you started with in this way.
  • At 15th level, the Relentless ability allows you to regain one superiority die when you score a critical hit or reduce a creature to 0 hit points.

The goal is to reduce the up-front burst capabilities of the battlemaster, while increasing their staying power over long series of battles.

Would a battlemaster using these rules be balanced compared to the default battlemaster in the PHB?

If this is not balanced, is there a better way to reach the desired goals?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Is a superiority die significantly more powerful than an Attack? That seems to be the hinging point. \$\endgroup\$ – Erik Aug 24 '15 at 16:25
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    \$\begingroup\$ it is less powerful, so it is a bad trade \$\endgroup\$ – András Aug 24 '15 at 16:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ @András Can you expand that into an answer to explain why "it's a bad trade?" \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Aug 24 '15 at 17:05
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It's incredibly overpowered. The ability to sacrifice only portions of your attacks in exchange for receiving back superiority die allows a character effectively unlimited staying power.

No class has the ability to recover things on this scale without a short rest. Granting a Battlemaster this ability begs for abuse in your game.

Side note: If there's issues with the number of die, take the feat that gives you more (if you're playing with feats).

Reaching your goals:

You won't be able to without really breaking the game in favour of the Battlemaster. The abilities are used in the same fashion as every other classes limited abilities. Giving the fighter class an effectively endless well of power would drastically change how powerful the class already is by augmenting it with a recharge function. Picture a wizard with the ability to recharge spell slots in exchange for an action, and you can see how abusive this particular change would be.

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After thinking about it some more, here is my own analysis. There are two basic ways to benefit from the ability to regain superiority dice:

  • You can regain all superiority dice in between encounters. Since there are about 2-3 encounters per short rest, this means you start with 4-6 superiority dice per short rest at level 3 (compared to the default 4), and 8-12 superiority dice per short rest at level 20 (default 6).
  • You can give up an attack in combat for a superiority die to use on a subsequent attack. In terms of pure damage, this seems like a bad trade. However, keep in mind that maneuvers have an effect besides dealing damage. Additionally, many maneuvers allow you to declare them after you hit with an attack, so you cannot waste the superiority die. So the utility of a superiority die may very well be equal or even greater than of an attack.

Taking these two effects together, I think my proposed houserule would make the battlemaster significantly overpowered.

Possible solutions could be reducing the number of superiority dice further at higher levels (in order to balance the number of superiority dice per short rest) and requiring a full action to refocus (to make recharging in combat less attractive).

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Forcing sacrificed attacks to be against "real enemies" would eliminate the free refresh of superiority dice between encounters, for one thing. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Aug 25 '15 at 14:21

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