Bulwark (5e Class)

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Tough individuals trained by the Order of Defenders to shield others from harm.

The Bulwark Protectors[edit]

Trained by the Order of the Defenders, Bulwarks are all specifically trained in the art of defending allies and surviving almost anything.

"Need a healer in your party?"; "No thanks, we've got him!"; "Oh... maybe next time." Bulwark Joke

Creating a Bulwark[edit]

Who trained you and where? Why were you being trained? Sometimes, criminals are taken in by the Order and trained to protect instead of kill. Was it your choice to become a Bulwark, or is some 3rd party involved? What are your ambitions for the future? Mercenary work is where one most often finds Bulwarks, but other lines of work exist with men & women like these strong and tough individuals. What are your hobbies? Any other skills? Any friends? Enemies?

The most important aspect of character when creating an impenetrable Bulwark is most definitely their inner weakness. So what is yours and who knows about it? Character flaws are going to be quite important to the way your character evolves as a person, so take your time to think them through.

Bulwarks have Powerful build and are taller than normal, however you cannot go past the limited height on your race.

Quick Build

You can make a Bulwark quickly by following these suggestions. First, Constitution should be your highest ability score, followed by Strength. Second, choose the Soldier or Mercenary background. Third, choose the Chain Mail, the Longsword, the hand Crossbow and the Explorer's Pack.

Class Features

As a Bulwark you gain the following class features.

Hit Points

Hit Dice: 1d12 per Bulwark level
Hit Points at 1st Level: 12 + Constitution modifier
Hit Points at Higher Levels: 1d12 (or 7) + Constitution modifier per Bulwark level after 1st


Armor: All armors, shields
Weapons: Simple Weapons, Martial Weapons
Tools: None
Saving Throws: Strength, Constitution
Skills: Choose 3 from Athletics, Acrobatics, History, Insight, Intimidation, Investigation, Medicine, Nature, Perception, Religion, Survival


You start with the following equipment, in addition to the equipment granted by your background:

  • (a) Ring Mail or (b) Chain Mail or (c) Splint
  • (a) Longsword or (b) Morningstar or (c) Warhammer
  • (a) A Hand Crossbow and 20 bolts or (b) 4 Light Hammers or (c) 4 Handaxes
  • (a) Dungeoneer's Pack or (b) Explorer's Pack
  • If you are using starting wealth, you have 5d4*10GP in funds.

Table: The Bulwark

Level Proficiency
Features Strain points
1st +2 The Strain of Might, The Bulwark Shield, Tactics of Survival and Sacrifice, Reflexes of Survival and Sacrifice 1
2nd +2 Armour Expertise 2
3rd +2 Bulwark Archetype Feature 3
4th +2 Ability Score Improvement 4
5th +3 Extra Attack, Bulwark Archetype Feature 5
6th +3 The Bulwark Shield 6
7th +3 Bulwark Archetype Feature 7
8th +3 Ability Score Improvement 8
9th +4 Bulwark Archetype Feature 9
10th +4 Skills of Survival and Sacrifice, Great Strength 10
11th +4 Bulwark Archetype Feature 11
12th +4 Ability Score Improvement 12
13th +5 Extra Attack 13
14th +5 The Bulwark Shield 14
15th +5 Bulwark Archetype Feature 15
16th +5 Ability Score Improvement, Mind of Metal 16
17th +6 Might of Survival and Sacrifice 17
18th +6 Survivor's Reward 18
19th +6 Ability Score Improvement 19
20th +6 The Might of Strain 20

The Strain of Might[edit]

Starting level 1, you have a pool of Strain Points equal to your level.

The pool is empty and resets to zero after finishing a long rest.

Some abilities of the Bulwark give you Strain points when you use them, or depend on the amount of Strain accumulated.

If an ability were to give you Strain while your Strain point pool is already at its maximum, you gain 1 level of exhaustion instead.

The Bulwark Shield[edit]

"After your training as a stoic defender, you were given one of the Greatshields that are the namesake of the Order."

Starting level 1, you have a Shield called the "Bulwark Greatshield" and know how to make one and where to get one. You gain proficiency in Smithing tools, and specialize in crafting armor and this signature shield, the "Bulwark Greatshield". These shields have the "Heavy" property for anyone but you, it grants +3AC and Half Cover which can be used a number of unique ways.

"I always find it hilarious when I see a Hafling Bulwark, even though I know how terrifying they can be."

When you are equipped with a Bulwark shield, your size is considered increased by 1 size category and you take no AC penalty from your size.

You can choose one of the following techniques at level 1, then choose another one at levels 6 and 14. You can also substitute dexterity saves for strength saves to block instead of dodge, having the same effect on failure or success.

Great Bash

"Swinging that shield around is definitely not as easy as you make it look!"

As an Action, you can make a single melee attack with your shield (1d20+your proficiency+Str) to deal 1d8 bludgeoning damage (2d8 at level 7, 3d8 at level 11, 4d8 at level 15) and attempt to apply a special effect to the target creature of size large or smaller. Target creature must make a Constitution saving throw against a DC of 8+proficiency bonus+ Str modifier. On a fail, choose the effect that applies :

-Creature is stunned until the end of its next turn.

-Creature takes 2d6 additional damage as bludgeoning.

Using this ability gives you 1 point of Strain.

Great Push

"Towing that huge Bulwark shield around all day as part of your training has given you a strong sense of balance as well as Kord-like muscles."

As an Action, you may force target creature, of a size one greater than yours or smaller that you are in melee range of, to make a Strength or Dexterity Saving Throw (your choice) against a DC of 8+your proficiency bonus+your Strength modifier. On a fail, you may choose the effect that applies to that creature :

-Creature falls prone and takes 2d6 bludgeoning damage (3d6 at level 7, 4d6 at level 11, 5d6 at level 15).

-Creature is violently pushed back 20ft (30ft at level 7, 40ft at level 11, 50ft at level 15), if it collides with anything solid enough, it takes the equivalent of distance travelled in fall damage plus an extra 1d8 bludgeoning damage (objects and creatures hit by the creature take half the damage dealt to the target of the push).

Using this ability gives you 1 point of Strain.

Great Leap

"Jumping to the rescue has been pounded into your mind and body, allowing you to cover some distances in very fast long jumps."

As an Action, you may leap 15ft in any direction (have fun with that!). Should you leap on a creature, that creature must make a Dexterity saving throw against a DC of 8+your proficiency bonus+your Strength modifier. On a fail, it takes 1d6 (2d6 at level 7, 3d6 at level 11, 4d6 at level 15) bludgeoning damage and is knocked prone.

Using this ability gives you 1 point of Strain.

Tactics of Survival and Sacrifice[edit]

At level 1, you have learned when to make a stand... and when to run.

Some abilities require "Sacrifice", meaning reducing a certain value by a certain amount. When effects end, so do the penalties.

Only one effect of this list may be active at any time.

Leg Focus

As a Bonus Action, you may Sacrifice 1AC to gain 10ft of movement for 1 minute. At level 10 you may sacrifice 3AC to gain 20ft of movement for 1 minute.

Shield Focus

As a Bonus Action, you may Sacrifice 10ft of movement to gain 1AC for 1 minute. At level 10 you may sacrifice 20ft of movement to gain 3AC for 1 minute.

You may end any of these effects before their duration expires as a Bonus Action on your turn.

Reflexes of Survival and Sacrifice[edit]

At level 1, your body moves by instinct to protect.

"This is what you were trained for, believe in it and the rewards will be greater than you can imagine."

Full Sacrifice

As a Reaction, you may completely shield an ally within 15ft of you from an attack. You become the target of the attack instead. At level 10 the attack being redirected will be made as if you had resistance to its damage type. At level 17 the attack that is being redirected onto you will be made at disadvantage. using this ability gives you a point of strain

Partial Sacrifice

As a Reaction, you may take half of the damage from an attack targeting or affecting (Area of effect spells) target ally within 15ft of you. That ally takes half the damage they would otherwise take from that attack. using this ability gives you a point of strain

Unpredictable Defense

As a Reaction, You may sacrifice 3AC to impose disadvantage on all attacks made by target enemy against target ally within 5ft of you until the start of your next turn. using this ability gives you a point of strain

Shield Expertise[edit]

Starting at level 2 you unlock this ability

"How about you pick on someone your own size."

As a reaction, before enemy attack rolls are made, you can force all enemies within 5ft of you to make a wisdom saving throw, 8+proficiency bonus+Con modifier, on a fail they have disadvantage on attacking anyone other than you until the start of your next turn.

Bulwark Archetype[edit]

"You now know enough of your deep nature and how you react in a crisis to choose your Path as a Bulwark."

At 3rd level, you choose an archetype feature out of the different Paths of the Bulwark.

Ability Score Increase[edit]

When you reach 4th level, and again at 8th, 12th, 16th and 19th level, you can increase one ability score of your choice by 2, or you can increase two ability scores of your choice by 1. As normal, you can't increase an ability score above 20 using this feature or choose a talent.

Extra Attack[edit]

Beginning at 5th level, you can attack twice, instead of once, whenever you take the Attack action on your turn.

The number of attacks increases to three when you reach 13th level in this class.

Skills of Survival and Sacrifice[edit]

At level 10 these abilities become available

Trick Opening

"Trick... or Treat ? Depends on whether they dare..."

As a Bonus Action, You may sacrifice 4AC to impose disadvantage on all attacks against you until your next turn.

Tighten the Flesh

"Its just a flesh wound, and my flesh is mostly made of muscles...*hunmg!*... See ? No more blood !"

As a Bonus Action, you may heal for an amount equal to twice your max Strain Points. You can use this ability once per short rest.

Swift Burst

"You learn to walk into them at first, then you learn to walk over them..."

As a Bonus Action, all enemies within melee range (5ft) of you must make a dexterity saving throw against a DC of 8+proficiency bonus+Con modifier. On a fail, they fall prone.

Mind of Metal[edit]

At level 16, you become able to shield even your mind from prying enemies. You have advantage on saving throws made to resist Charm effects from spells or abilities. You also have advantage on resisting any attempt at reading your mind.

Might of Survival and Sacrifice[edit]

At level 17, these abilities become available.

Ultimate Smite

You Smite an enemy with all your might.

As an Action make a melee attack against a creature within range, this attack is a critical on an 18, 19 or 20.

On a hit, you deal 10d12+(current Strain)bludgeoning damage to target creature.

Using this ability gives you 10 points of Strain.

Ultimate Rescue

You shield an ally from all incoming damage.

As a Reaction, you jump to target creature within 25ft and it becomes immune to all damage until the start of your next turn.

Using this ability gives you 5 points of Strain.

Survivor's Reward[edit]

At level 18, you gain resistance to all (magical included) bludgeoning, piercing and slashing damage

The Might of Strain[edit]

At level 20, when you take a short rest, you may remove 10 points of accumulated Strain.

Bulwark Archetypes[edit]

Path of the Protector[edit]

"The Protector focuses on saving allies from damage and taking hits for them. They sacrifice more but gain more from their sacrifice."


At level 3 : For every two points of Strain accumulated (rounded down but can be no lower than 1 if you have at least one point accumulated), you reduce all damage taken by 1.

Life Before Death

At level 5 : Full Sacrifice's radius increases to 25ft.

Increased Focus

At level 7 : Shield Focus's sacrifice costs are halved and its duration is doubled (reduces speed by 5ft and 10ft respectively for 2 minutes). Activating Shield Focus now gives a point of Strain.

Big Basher

At level 9 : Great Bash is now usable without a Bulwark Greatshield, does 1d8 extra damage and can affect huge creatures.

Effortless Jumps

At level 11 : Great Leap no longer gives Strain.

Forceful Burst

At level 15 : Swift Burst now deals 4d8 bludgeoning damage to any creature failing the save.

Path of the Survivor[edit]

"The Survivor focuses on just that : surviving by any means, even dishonourable ones when necessary."

Forced March

At level 3 : For every 2 points of Strain accumulated, you gain 5ft of movement.

Long Jump

At level 5 : Partial Sacrifice's radius increases to 25ft.


At level 7 : Leg Focus's benefits are doubled (increases speed to 20ft and 40ft respectively for 2 minutes). Activating leg Focus now gives a point of Strain.

Intimidating Push

At level 9 : Great Push now causes the target creature to become intimidated by you if it fails its saving throw. That creature has disadvantage on all attacks made directly against you until the start of your next turn.

Toughened Constitution

At level 11 : You gain resistance to 2 damage types of your choice.

Effortless Trick

At level 15 : Trick Opening's sacrifice cost is halved down to a -2 AC penalty.


Prerequisites. To qualify for multiclassing into the Bulwark class, you must meet these prerequisites: 14 Strength, 14 Constitution

Proficiencies. When you multiclass into the Bulwark class, you gain the following proficiencies: Athletics or Intimidation, heavy armor and martial weapons.

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