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I'm looking for ways to build and/or play a proper Tank/supporter, with the focus of my support lying on helping my friends getting advantage, for example by:

  • Creatively using Feats or core mechanics to blind or shove our adversaries
  • Class dependent features like the Barbarian's Totem warrior Feature Totem Spirit: Wolf:

    While you're raging, your friends have advantage on melee attack rolls against any creature within 5 feet of you that is hostile to you.

That can be a collection of Feats and features that synergize well, or simply tips on how to use my actions in combat in general. The most important criteria is the ability to pull it off consistently and reliably (preferably without sacrificing my whole DPR).

Criteria for answers to address:

  • Available to melee oriented builds that can do this for at least every other fight using the standard adventuring day. (Game design model ~ 6-9 encounters / 2 short rests / one long rest per day)
  • Spells are fine, but he should be able to do it starting at around level 4-6.
  • Focus on helping other melee characters.
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm voting to close as too broad as there are just too many options for this to be answerable. List questions can be ok if it's a well-constrained list, but this just isn't. \$\endgroup\$ – Miniman Jan 8 '16 at 11:59
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    \$\begingroup\$ It looks like this has been edited to be more tightly scoped, but I'm reluctant to reopen with zero reopen votes in play. I'm not sure if it's still too broad. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk - SE stop being evil Jan 14 '16 at 15:05
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There are 7 main ways for consistently granting Advantage:

  1. Wolf Totem primal path of the Barbarian class
  2. Mastermind archetype of the Rogue class
  3. Shield Master feat
  4. Grappler feat
  5. Moon Druid
  6. Familiars
  7. Various spells

There are up and downsides for all of them, a lot depends on your DM and your party composition.

Wolf Totem Barbarian

Pro: The Advantage does not depend on the Initiative order, once you started the rage
You can consistently provide it for the whole encounter
Works for every enemy adjacent to you
Works for every ally
Con: Only melee attacks get Advantage
Limited number of uses per day, however with most DMs even 2 per day is usually enough

Mastermind Rogue

Pro: Unlimited number of uses
Benefits both melee and ranged
Con: One ally at a time
One enemy at a time
Expends your bonus action
Depends on the Initiative order, the enemy might be dead/out of reach before the turn of the ally you Helped

Shield Master

Pro: You can do it every turn
Every melee ally can attack the proned enemy
Con: Costs a feat
Expends your bonus action
Must use Shield
One enemy at a time
You must succeed on an Athletics contest. Not so hard after taking one level of Rogue, but you still should be Str primary
Works only for melee attacks, and even worse, ranged attacks get Disadvantage against prone targets
Does not work aginst Huge or larger creatures
Heavily depends on the Initiative order, the enemy might stand up before your allies have a chance to attack it

Grappler

Pro: You can maintain it without expending any action
The Advantage does not depend on the Initiative order, once you managed to restrain
Every ally can attack the restrained enemy
Con: Costs a feat
Must have a hand free
One enemy at a time
Expends one of your Attacks just to start a grapple, so best used after you have Extra Attack
Expends a whole action to impose restrained
You become restrained too
You must succeed on an Athletics contest. Not so hard after taking one level of Rogue, but you still should be Str primary
Does not work aginst Huge or larger creatures

Moon Duid: Wild Shape

Pro: Takes only bonus action to start
On 2nd level you have 6 hours of usage, assuming you get the standard 2 short rests
Lots of different forms, with Flight, Darkvision, Blindsense, etc
Huge amounts of extra HP, (Dire Wolf 37, equivalent to about 5 levels of Druid)
Can concentrate on spells, Flaming Sphere can improve your DPR significantly
Con: Can't cast spells
Usually horrible AC in Wild Shape, fixed by one level of Monk
Usually bad damage, fixed by 5 levels of Monk (Extra Attack)
Cant speak with party members

Good low level forms for control

  • Dire Wolf (level 2, HP 37), proning on hit
  • Giant Toad (level 4, HP 39), restrain on hit
  • Giant Octopus (level 4, HP 52), restrain on hit, reach 15
  • Giant Constricor (level 6, HP 60), restrain on hit, reach 10

Familiars

This is not listed below Spells, as you do not have to spend spell slots maintain concentraion. You might however need to multiclass or spend a ASI to gain the Find Familiar spell, so this is more like a feat.

While most familiars can't attack, they can use the Help action to provide Advantage on one attack per round.

Spells

Pro: Once you cast them, they usually do not take any kind of action to maintain
Con: Concentration can be broken
Spell saves are easier to succeed on than opposed Athletics checks (see Shield Master)
Number of spells extremely limited per day
Most of them take an action, unless you are a Sorcerer

Good low level spells to grant Advantage:

  • Faerie Fire (one of the best, area, targets do not get to save every turn)
  • Entangle (area, save costs an action)
  • Maximillian's Earthen Grasp (if target gets out/dies, you can catch a new one)
  • Hold Person (allies not only have Advantage, they Crit if they hit)
  • Tasha's Hideous Laughter (you can target anything with an Int above 4)
  • Blindness (does not use Concentration)

Best options for you

I would suggest you use the Shield Master way, as a Tank you should be using a shield anyway. Now you have a use for your bonus actions, and with 1 level of Rogue and a Rapier you do quite nice damage.
Best primary class is arguably Fighter, but a Bladelock works surprisingly well.

Anogher great option is Moon Druid with a few levels of Monk for Unarmored Defense, Extra Attack and Stunning Strike
It also works without the Monk part, but expect to be hit a lot, and your DPR is much less without Extra Attack.
The Sentinel feat can also add quite a lot of control/damage. You have a lot more hit points than your party members, and Sentinel motivates the enemy to try and attack you, so those hit points are not wasted. It will also help you to stop those who try to get away.

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    \$\begingroup\$ @Yotus In 5e, ten combat rounds lasting six seconds each in a minute. During Each Round each participant takes a Turn. (See first page of "Combat" in Basic Rules, p. 69. Don't have PHB ref handy). You may be thinking of older versions of D&D where turns were subdivided into rounds which could be subdivided into segments (and it was a pain to DM). \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Jan 8 '16 at 14:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ @András Faerie Fire is vary case sensitive. If combat has been joined, you risk lining your party in Faerie Fire, providing advantage to ALL attacks. \$\endgroup\$ – Drunk Cynic Jan 8 '16 at 17:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ A little more detail on how the Sentinel feat helps to achieve these goals would be useful. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Oct 12 '17 at 17:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast this answer doesn't touch on Sentinel; perhaps you meant to comment here: rpg.stackexchange.com/a/108238/31634 \$\endgroup\$ – inthemanual Oct 12 '17 at 17:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ @THiebert read the last sentence. Andras brings up Sentinel but then doesn't treat it as all of the other choices were treated. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Oct 12 '17 at 18:30

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