Stairwell Guardian – a new martial archetype for D&D

Stairwell Guard 2
yandere: For a moment you had my hopes up that somebody besides me does new D&D subclasses. I mean I can hardly imagine what a Stairwell Fighter would do.
blut_und_glas: Challenge accepted.

Martial Archetype – Stairwell Guardian

Stairwells are one of the classic defensive chokepoints and like any such chokepoint, they depend on skilled defenders to man them.

Stairwell Fighting
Beginning when you choose this archetype at 3rd level, when positioned on a flight of stairs, you gain advantage on all weapon attacks and any opponent who attacks you from a position below you on the same flight of stairs suffers disadvantage on their attacks.

Two Steps at a Time
Starting at 7th level, your speed increases by 10 feet while moving on stairs only. This increase goes up to 20 feet at 10th level.

Shove Down
Starting at the 10th level, when you shove an opponent who is positioned below you on a flight of stairs and you win the contest, your target falls down the stairs 10 feet suffering the appropriate damage for the fall and landing prone. The distance of the fall increases to 20 feet at 15th level and finally to 30 feet at 18th level.

Shielding Walls
Starting at 15th level, while fighting in an enclosed stairwell, you gain half cover against all attacks by other creatures also on the stairs. When you choose to dodge in such a situation, you gain three-quarters cover.

You Shall Not Pass
Starting at the 18th level, while positioned on a flight of stairs, you can make an opportunity attack when a hostile creature moves into your reach.


  1. I think the concept is great, but the abilities could be a bit broader.

    *Two Steps at a Time could work with all difficult terrain.
    *Shove Down with every high ground.
    *Shielding Wall with every wall.

    These abilities would still work on the stair, but could be used in other situations as well giving the subclass an broader appeal.


    1. Well, it was you who ordered a stairwell fighter. I am just working to specification.

      But one could always do a more generalist version, say, an archetype generally focusing on the defense of structures? A “castle defender” or, following up from there, a “manor lord”, something like that?

      (That of course, then begs for a “siege master” to oppose them…)


      1. Well, my point was not so much about to generalize the structure but to give the abilities a broader appeal.
        A good example for this is the second ability of the crossbow expert feat, which works with any ranged weapon including ranged spell attacks. Sure the feat works best with crossbows, but it has broader appeal.
        I think the stairwell guardian could have worked similar: Best on stairs, but this useful in other situations.

        I think the ability of a siege master sounds great. I am unsure however if that would be better as feat then a whole subclass.


  2. It’s the usual tightrope between broadening appeal and losing focus.

    If the stairs make room for more general architectural features, care should probably be taken to make the class abilities not into something that works always (in a dungeon environment at least).


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