Introduction

I wanna push you around

Well, I will, well, I will

I wanna push you down

Well, I will, well, I will

I wanna take you for granted

Yeah, I wanna take you for granted

Yeah, yeah, well, I will

Push – Matchbox Twenty

Have you ever wanted to be the biggest, baddest guy on the battlefield? Have you ever wanted to be a literal mountain standing between your allies and the onslaught of foes? Do you like having Advantage? Try Rune Knight.

This subclass for the Fighter is all about a few key things: Runes that grant various bonuses and abilities, Reaction based protective abilities, and reliable access to Large size. It’s like being the Incredible Hulk but with Fighter-themed Counterspell, Countersword if you will.

Because the Rune Knight benefits so much from grappling and from the grapple/shove combo, as shown off in our example build Attaxi of the Giant Tabaxi, you may also enjoy our Practical Guide to Grappling. If you don’t want to grapple, that’s fine. You’ll still find plenty of success with the Rune Knight’s kit beyond that one gimmick I love.

Table of Contents

Disclaimer

RPGBOT uses the color coding scheme which has become common among Pathfinder build handbooks, which is simple to understand and easy to read at a glance.

  • Red: Bad, useless options, or options which are extremely situational. Nearly never useful.
  • Orange: OK options, or useful options that only apply in rare circumstances. Useful sometimes.
  • Green: Good options. Useful often.
  • Blue: Fantastic options, often essential to the function of your character. Useful very frequently.

We will not include 3rd-party content, including content from DMs Guild, in handbooks for official content because we can’t assume that your game will allow 3rd-party content or homebrew. We also won’t cover Unearthed Arcana content because it’s not finalized, and we can’t guarantee that it will be available to you in your games.

The advice offered below is based on the current State of the Character Optimization Meta as of when the article was last updated. Keep in mind that the state of the meta periodically changes as new source materials are released and this article will be updating accordingly as time allows.

RPGBOT is unofficial Fan Content permitted under the Fan Content Policy. Not approved/endorsed by Wizards. Portions of the materials used are property of Wizards of the Coast. ©Wizards of the Coast LLC.

Rune Knight Subclass Features

  1. Bonus Proficiencies: Smith’s tools are a popular option for adventurers since so much of adventuring gear is made of metal, and if you get the Fire Rune you can apply Expertise with all tools (see Fire Rune, below, for more). One proficiency is not a driving reason to get good with tools, but it can add some non-combat utility to a class which is all about fighting. You also learn to speak Giant, which is weirdly nice because runes can give you Advantage on Charisma (Deception) and Charisma (Intimidation) checks, allowing you to serve as a Face without much investment in Charisma.
  2. Rune Carver: 2 runes at 3rd level, and eventually you get up to 5. Since there are just 6 runes, that means that rather than choosing which runes to learn you get to choose one to ignore (Frost. Skip Frost. ). There are two runes with level requirements, but thanks to the built-in retraining rule you can drop a different rune when you hit level 7 to get both of the level-locked runes at the same time, then pick up whichever rune you dropped the next time you learn a new rune.

    Each rune provides a passive effect and an activatable ability. The active effect can be used once per Short or Long Rest (that’s not a rule inherent to Rune Carver, but every rune works that way). Saves are Constitution-based, which is exciting because it makes it easy to justify 20 Dex or Strength and 20 Constitution, which many fighter subclasses need to postpone or forgo due to their subclass’s dependence on a mental ability score or a severe need for feats.

    Every rune is tied to a type of giant, so don’t expect this list to expand unless WotC brings back the weird extra giants that they introduced late in 3.5 like Death Giants. Although a high-level Death Rune would probably be really cool. Well shoot, now I want that.

    • Cloud Rune: Sleight of Hand and Deception are a weird combination of skills for your typical fighter since Charisma is frequently a dump stat and even Dexterity-based fighters rarely take Sleight of Hand, so don’t expect to get much use out of those unless you’re building yourself with skills similar to a typical rogue.

      The active effect allows you to retarget a successful attack to another creature within 30 feet of you. The expectation is that you’re going to redirect and enemy’s attack to hit an enemy, and that’s probably your best bet, but you can also use this to attack an ally and redirect the attack to an enemy which might be out of your reach otherwise. Keep in mind that transferring the attack doesn’t automatically hit the new target; the attack roll must still be compared to the new target’s AC as normal.

      The difficulty with Cloud Rune is that it competes for space with Runic Shield, which you get automatically.

    • Fire Rune: Expertise in every tool in which you’re proficient. The Rune Knight gets Smith’s Tools at level 3, but you should strongly consider getting other tools, especially crucial adventuring options like Thieves’ Tools.

      While most martial enemies will be big, Strength-based monsters with high Strength saves, there are many other types of enemies with bad Strength saves. Spellcasters, nimble enemies, and most small enemies will have poor Strength save bonuses. If you manage to keep the enemy restrained, they’ll take an impressive 20d6 damage, which is pretty good even by the standards of many spells.

      But while that damage is exciting, the bigger benefit is that the target is Restrained. Restrained creatures have 0 speed, suffer Disadvantage on their attacks, grant Advantage on attacks against them, and suffer Disadvantage on Dexterity saves. That makes the target bait for every attack that your party can put out. Throw this on the highest-priority enemy in an encounter and focus on them until they drop. Consider using Action Surge the same turn in order to maximize how much damage you can do before the target potentially escapes.

    • Frost Rune: Animal Handling is very situational, but Intimidation is a popular face skill for fighters and other martial classes despite usually lacking Charisma.

      +2 to saves is nice, but Strength saves are extremely rare and +2 to Constitution saves for 10 minutes one to three times a day (remember: Adventuring Day rules encourage two short rests) isn’t worth a Rune. If you need better Constitution saves, put an ASI into Constitution. The bonus also applies to Strength checks, including important checks like Athletics checks to Grapple or Shove. But remember that Giant’s Might gives you Advantage on both Strength Checks and Strength Saves, and since both Giant’s Might and Frost Rune are activated as a Bonus Action, it’s hard to fit both into the same fight.

      If you’re really concerned enough about Athletics that you still want Frost Rune, consider the Skill Expert feat. The additional bonus will be larger than that provided by Frost Rune and it will apply constantly without the need to activate Frost Rune. If, somehow, you have Expertise in Athletics, high enough Strength that using Athletics makes sense, and Giant’s Might to get easy Advantage on Strength checks, but you still somehow can’t reliably succeed at Strength (Athletics) checks, it seems likely that an occasional +2 is not going to solve whatever problem you’re facing. Consider new dice.

    • Stone Rune: Spectacular passive effects. When you’re building out your initial Ability Scores, you will typically max out your Strength or your Dexterity (depending on your build), then ideally you’ll raise your Constitution as much as makes sense. After that, Wisdom is a great third-highest ability score both for skills and for saving throws. After that, Insight isn’t much of a stretch. Perpetual Advantage on Wisdom (Insight) means a +5 bonus to your Passive Insight, which is a boon for your whole party. You also get 120 ft. Darkvision, which is great for races like the Dragonborn and the Human which don’t get it naturally. Even races with Darkvision tend to only have 60 ft range.

      The active effect is a Wisdom-based save-or-suck charm effect used as a Reaction. It’s not quite as good as Hold Monster, but it’s close, and like Hold Monster the target can repeat their save at the end of each of their turns. If you pair this with Fire Rune, you have one powerful single-target crowd control effect which can affect big dumb enemies (Stone Rune) and one for smart, frail enemies (Fire Rune).

    • Hill Rune (7th level): Poison is common across the full level range, and resistance to it is excellent. Many races like dwarves already have this, so this rune does lose some of its appeal for them, but the active effect is still very good.

      The active effect is a powerful defensive buff that you should absolutely employ when facing the prospect of significant weapon damage. It’s one of those abilities where you’ll always wonder if you might need it more later, but if a fight looks like any significant threat and your enemies are relying on weapon damage types, use this as soon as attacks come your way. Resistance to weapon damage also makes it easier to justify using two-handed weapons since your AC is less important.

    • Storm Rune (7th level): Arcana isn’t a skill that you’ll be good at (you likely dumped Intelligence since you have no other usage for it built into the class), but never being surprised is great on any character.

      The active effect turns your Reaction into a reroll on any d20 roll which happens within 60 feet of you. You do need to use the Reaction before the roll happens, but that’s probably fine. Use this to support save-or-suck effects (yours or someone else’s), to protect your allies from save-or-suck effects, and potentially to grant Advantage on high-damage attacks from you or your allies. Keep in mind you can take reactions on your own turn and consider imposing Disadvantage on a target’s save or check, such as the save against Fire Rune’s active effect.

  3. Giant’s Might: Similar to casting Enlarge/Reduce as a Bonus Action, though the damage bonus isn’t as good. Being large makes it harder for enemies to get around you since you take up more space, and Advantage on Strength checks makes it very easy to use Athletics to Shove and Grapple your enemies.

    The bonus damage only applies once per turn on your own turn, which considering the Fighter’s famously high number of attacks feels totally out of place and unremarkable. Weirdly, the d6 grows to a d10 over time but never becomes a significant part of your damage output since it’s still just once on each of your own turns.

    The precise wording in the feature is important. If you are not Large or larger, your size becomes Large. This is important because Enlarge/Reduce cast upon the Rune Knight after using Giant’s Might further increases the knight to Huge size, but not if Enlarge/Reduce is cast beforehand.

  4. Runic Shield: This is a great way to negate critical hits. You force the attacker to reroll the specific d20 used and use that result, so even if they have Advantage they still just roll one d20 and use whatever comes up. The number of uses per day is plenty if you don’t try to negate every hit that comes toward your party; save it for critical hits or for allies who have a passable chance of a reroll missing. If an enemy is attacking your 12 AC wizard with a +10 attack bonus, don’t waste the effort.
  5. Great Stature: The 3d4 inches is amusing, especially if you’re a small race, but it has absolutely no mechanical effect on the game. Height is a purely cosmetic portion of your character. Upgrading the damage die on Giant’s Might from 1d6 to 1d8 is such a minor improvement that if you forgot to make the adjustment you would probably never notice. On average, that’s 1 point of damage per round. At level 10 when you and your enemies can easily have 200 hit points, 1 damage is not noteworthy.
  6. Master of Runes: Double how often you can use all of your rune’s active effects. You also gain your fifth and final rune at this level, so this is just a really fantastic level. With 10 active effects to use between short rests, you can afford to use two or more active rune effects in each combat and you may find that you have runes to spare when you make it to your next Short Rest.
  7. Runic Juggernaut: The extra damage is not significant, especially at this level. But the ability to become Huge and get a little more reach can be helpful in some cases. Being Huge notably means that you can grapple gargantuan creatures, making you big enough to grapple any creature in the game.

Rune Knight Ability Scores

Str: We’re going to hit things like we mean it. Also good for some Giant’s Might shenanigans.

Dex: Dexterity saves are still a thing even if we wear heavy armour, and nothing explicitly prevents you from playing a Dexterity fighter build, but you will get less benefit from the Giant’s Might shenanigans.

Con: This sets our saving throw DCs, as well as wanting a giant pool of hit points when our Large body gums up a hallway.

Int: Someone else can figure out stuff, we just wanna muscle all the problems.

Wis: Wisdom saves are a thing we might want to watch out for, and Insight and Perception are useful to everyone.

Cha: There’s a niche alternative build that can use some of the runes for face skills.

Point BuyStandard Array
Str1515
Dex1212 (13)
Con1514
Int810 (8)
Wis1313 (12)
Cha88 (10)

Rune Knight Races

Because Rune Knights have a few build variations, what you’re looking for in a race can differ wildly. This section will point out if a race is good for general RKs, or for specific builds. For any race not listed here, consult the Fighter Races Breakdown as I am only listing races that differ in rating for RKs.

Aereni Elves: Aerani elves, both High and Wood, give up free weapon proficiencies, which we don’t need because we’re a Fighter, to instead get Expertise in any one skill or tool, such as Athletics for maximum grappling prowess.

Dragonborn (Fizban’s Versions): Because we’re already pumping Constitution for Rune Saves, our Breath weapon saves will also be quite high giving us an excellent synergy.

Duergar (MMoM Version): The original Duergar is somewhat hard to use because of Sunlight Sensitivity, but the revised Duergar in Mordenkainen’s Monsters of the Multiverse removes this drawback, giving us access to Enlarge/Reduce. As mentioned above, this stacks on top of Giant’s Might.

Fairy: While it might seem unusual for a small race to be part of a grapple build, but Giant’s Might doesn’t care what size we started as and Fairy gives us access to Enlarge/Reduce. That said, we’re somewhat more limited in our grapple targets than a Medium race when Giant’s Might is not yet active.

Half-Elf: If you’re doing one of the alternative builds, the extra skills will come in handy, and the +2/+1/+1 attribute spread is also very helpful in the same vein.

Warforged: Good for all the same reasons as the main handbook, but I just really wanted to point out that size changing robots are cool.

Simic Hybrid: A mutant fish person that also grows to be a kaiju is pretty cool, and those grappling arms provide much of the same benefit as the Tavern Brawler feat.

Loxodon: With their Trunks, they have a particularly nice synergy by allowing grapples while having both hands full. Using this we can take advantage of the Grapple Shove Advantage for feats like Great Weapon Master.

VHuman/Custom Lineage: Both of these can give us a bonus feat at level one, giving us quicker access to Skill Expert and freeing up our other feat slots.

Races with Natural Weapons: I’m going to lump these all in here as good options for the oversized shove and grapple style of Rune Knight. Natural weapons keep your hands free while being armed, and the Monsters of the Multiverse races all have d6 damage for their natural weapons, which isn’t significantly worse than a longsword.

Rune Knight Fighting Styles

  • Unarmed Fighting: We can grapple creatures real well thanks to our Giant’s Might pulling double duty of granting Advantage to our check and giving us the size for tackling even larger opponents. This will add a little damage to the grapples as well as your strikes during the grapple.
  • Blind Fighting: Wrestling with a ghost sounds kinda funny, and this is a good way to pull that off.
  • Defence: Nobody ever turned down another +1 AC.
  • Duelling: So fun fact, the guy you have grappled in your off hand is not a weapon. Thanks to errata, spears, a one handed weapon, can use the bonus action attack of Polearm Master. That bonus action attack is with a one handed weapon. This damage all adds up over time.

Rune Knight Feats

As a Fighter, we have access to two more ASIs than most other classes, so we have more choices to make about feats. I’ll point and explain some notable feats, but then have a short list of recommendations and refer you back to the main handbook for those feats.

  • Skill Expert: We’re already getting Advantage on our Athletics checks, but getting Expertise on top of that with 20 Strength is basically just plain mean.
  • Polearm Master: If you’re going to use the spear and Duelling style trick mentioned above, you’ll want this. And if you’re taking this feat, you might as well also take
  • Sentinel: Since you’re going to be so big, enemies are going to have a hard time not moving in and around your reach.
  • Tavern Brawler: If you want to go all in fisticuffs, this can give you a bit of an edge. Moving your grapple check to the bonus action means that you could, once you have just one extra attack at fifth level, Shove->Kick->Grapple all on a single turn. With the reworks to natural weapons in Monsters of the Multiverse, those weapons all count as unarmed attacks, further improving this for those races.
  • Aberrant Dragonmark: This here is a sleeper feat that people don’t consider much since it’s setting specific, but it’s really good. You gain a sorcerer cantrip and 1st-level spell, which is kinda neat, but the real kicker here is that they will use your Constitution, and we’re already pushing that up. The feat is also a hybrid feat granting +1 Constitution. If you do take this, I suggest either a ranged cantrip for things flying out of reach, or some kind of melee shenanigan to pull on targets, such as Thunderclap.
  • Resilient: By the nature of our point buy spread, Wisdom or Dexterity ends up odd, and this is a fine way to increase whichever of the pair you left odd and patch up a hole in your saves.
  • Chef: There’s a lot to love about this feat. A tool proficiency (which we end up turning into expertise from a rune), bonus healing on short rests for the party, and we can bake cookies/field rations/combat drugs. How you flavour the snacks is up to you, and the benefits of additional temp hp you or allies can scarf down as a bonus action is fun. Also, it is a hybrid with +1 to Constitution or Wisdom, and as discussed above you might end up with an odd Wisdom score.
  • Healer: So you’ve heard of the tank fallacy, that whole notion that enemies will just walk around you and stab your squishy allies. Well, what if that was all a clever ruse? What if you could just reach over with your giant hands and massive hit points to prop allies back up? What if I told you that you require no actions to maintain your grapple so your job is still getting done while you prop up the cleric? Some would argue you could use a potion to do the same thing, however:

    Healer allows us to simply prop up an ally for the cost of a single use of a healer’s kit.

    A Potion of Healing costs 50 gold, has one use, and restores 7 HP on average.

    A healer’s kit costs 5 gold, has ten uses, and with this feat restores 1 HP.

    When your ally is at 0, 1 HP and 7 HP will do the same thing.

  • Elven Accuracy: Not for us because it doesn’t work on Strength attacks, however we’re going to be in a good position to generate Advantage by grapple shoving, so if you’re friends with an Elf of some sort, they might find it appealing.

Rune Knight Weapons

  • Unarmed Strikes and Natural Weapons: Grappling requires a free hand and some well written explanation. What this really means is if you’re some kind of fisticuffs ruffian or clawed beast-person, you always have two free hands for twice the grappling.
  • Spear: Errata in 2018 added Spear to Polearm Master, giving us a one-hander with the bonus bonk. The important part here is Grapple Stab Bonk means you’re still getting your attacks in when you start the grapple, and then on subsequent turns you’ll get Stab Stab Bonk while maintaining the grapple.
  • Two-Handed Weapons: I might suggest having one or two around as an option. You can’t always grapple with everything. If you’re using a spear, then a glaive as a backup is a good option that gives reach and is also Polearm Master compatible.

    If you don’t want to grapple though, may as well get something big and do tons of damage. You might even consider some oversized options, but please read the next section carefully and talk with your DM before making that choice.

Oversized Weapons? I can do that?

In the Dungeon Master’s Guide, starting on the bottom of page 277 and continuing onto page 278, are rules for what happens when a weapon is larger than usual. When we grow larger, so too do our weapons. Following this logic, our weapons should increase in base damage whenever we activate Giant’s Might, but there’s a huge debate on whether that’s actually true. I think it’s true, Tyler thinks it wasn’t intended to work that way, you do what works for your table.

But for the sake of fun, there are at least two ways to go about this. We can either just assume that our weapons just do additional base damage per step above medium (2d6 Medium Maul would do 4d6 when Large) when we transform, or if we want to have a hard delineation between Large weapons and magically Enlarged weapons we can just stuff an already Large Maul into a Bag of Holding to pull out when bigger.

Remember, this costs resources. We can only use Giant’s Might PB times per Long Rest. If you as a DM have a Rune Knight and during play you think this is too strong and the RK is doing this in every fight all the time, maybe you’re letting the party take a long rest too often.

Rune Knight Armor

  • Full Plate: We won’t really have the Dexterity for Light Armour and it’s hard to be Stealthy when you’re bigger than a house anyways.

Rune Knight Multiclassing

The main handbook is more or less already correct about dips into other classes, but I want to call something out here.

  • Barbarian Dipping 3 Fighter Levels for RK: While we don’t benefit much from Barbarian abilities, a Barbarian could certainly do fun things with getting Large. Not to mention the action surge and the second wind.

Example Rune Knight Build – Attaxi of the Giant Tabaxi

We’re going to use point buy and the revised Tabaxi from MMoM for some climb speed grappling shenanigans. If the target tries to leave the grapple, they fall off the wall.

Abilities

We’re putting the +2 into Strength and the +1 into Constitution.

BaseIncreased
Str1517
Dex12 (13)12 (13)
Con1516
Int88
Wis13 (12)13 (12)
Cha88

Race

We’re going with Tabaxi here for a couple of nice things. First, we have claws which we’re going to use for getting into grapples, but we also want a backup magic weapon (or an Eldritch Claw Tattoo) for things with resistance. We also have a climb speed, which is convenient to have, and allows for certain grapple and climb shenanigans. Tabaxi also have a trait that allows for a free pseudo-dash that we can take advantage of while dragging a target. We have darkvision, and two skill proficiencies.

Background

We’re taking a customised background to allow a free choice of two skills and two tools.

Skills and Tools

From the Fighter list, we’re taking Athletics and Perception. From customising our origin, we trade in the Tabaxi skills for Medicine and Animal Handling. Finally from our custom background we take Insight and Survival, as well as Brewer’s Supplies and Thieves’ Tools.

Together these choices give us proficiency in every Wisdom skill, as well as Athletics, giving us some utility to contribute outside of combat.

Feats

With a 17 in Strength at first level, we will take a Hybrid feat at fourth, sixth, and eighth level, which puts us on pace with the fundamental maths.

For our first feat at fourth level, we take Skill Expert, primarily to gain Expertise in Athletics. We put the stat increase into Strength, making it 18, and because we have at least a little Dexterity, Sleight of Hand proficiency. Ask your DM how much larger than a grapple target you must be to secretly palm them away into a bag of holding.

Fighters gain their second ASI at sixth level;we’re picking up Tavern Brawler here and putting the ability score increase into Strength. Now when we claw as part of an attack, we can grapple with our bonus action.

At eight, we start crushing skulls, or rather, we grab the Crusher feat which allows us to perform minor adjustments to where our grapple target is around us, while also adding +1 to Strength.

When twelfth level comes around, we have a few options, but as we are the mountain, the solid foundation upon which our party is built, Resilient (Wisdom) will give us the edge we need against all sorts of dangerous effects. Specifically, our Wisdom save goes from a +1 to a +6.

For fourteenth level we’re going to diversify our skillset a little bit. We’re going to pick up the Healer feat. A strange option for sure, but this gives us a neat utility. We’re Big McLargeHuge and go where we want. We can just reach over and prop up our friends when they’re in trouble. We can also put in a little extra short rest healing on everyone, allowing even longer adventure days.

At sixteenth level we’re going to forgo a feat and put +2 into Constitution, increasing our save, adding more hit points, but most importantly, increasing the DCs on our Fire and Stone runes.

For our last ASI at nineteenth, we put the last two points into Constitution, giving us one sturdy bod.

Runes

The interesting thing about our Rune choices is that we have six total options and end up learning five of them. Shown above when discussing the Runes, of the four available right away at third level, we rated two blue, Stone and Fire, so those are the two we select right away.

When we get to add a third rune, we’re seventh level so we get to choose between the two Runes that unlock at seventh level. Of the two, we take Hill Rune first to increase our staying power in a fight. Three levels later at tenth, we take Storm Rune as it’s the last blue option left and it has a lot of versatility for supporting offence and defence.

Finally at fifteenth level, we get our fifth and final rune. We’re finally out of blue options so we take Cloud rune, our only green option, but at fifteen our runes improve with an additional use per short rest, making this rune feel much better to use.

Levels

LevelFeats and FeaturesNotes and Tactics
1Fighting Style: Unarmed FightingSecond WindAt first level, we take Unarmed Fighting to improve our unarmed damage and add damage to our grappled foes. We are not yet a 50ft Tabaxi, but we must start somewhere.

We could do some grappling or shoving in combat at this level, or we could just do attacks depending on the situation.
Our role as a frontliner is to keep things away from our friends and using a grapple to peel targets is an option, though we’re only just starting out so our Athletics check will be at +5.

The key reasons we took Tabaxi are the climb speed and the feline agility that acts as a free dash. Those will help us put grappled opponents into very awkward positions.
2Action SurgeOnce a day take a second action on a turn. This is great, and just gets better as we level and find new ways to use that action.
3Subclass: Rune Knight
Bonus Proficiencies (Smith’s Tools, Giant Language)
Giant’s Might (1d6)
Rune Carver (2): Stone Rune, Fire Rune
Now we can get bigger. Specifically we can become Large for one minute as a bonus action. We also gain Advantage to Strength checks and saves for the duration which include the checks to grapple and shove.

The bonus proficiencies are cool flavour, we speak Giant now.

The runes we gain access to are Fire and Stone. Fire allows us to attempt to restrain a target after landing an attack with a Strength save for the target to resist. Stone gives us a Reaction to attempt to charm a target into a dreamlike state when they end a turn within 30 feet of us. These are both great action economy values because one is a free rider on an attack and the other is our Reaction.
4Skill Expert: Strength +1, Athletics Expertise, Sleight of Hand ProficiencyNow things are starting to really come together for us. Our Strength becomes an 18, giving us a +4, and with Expertise in Athletics, our check for grappling has a +8 bonus. If we’re using Giant’s Might for Advantage we’re likely to succeed in most of these attempts.
5Extra Attack100% More attacks per attack action. You could even grapple a target and shove them prone in one Action if that’s a thing you want.
6Tavern Brawler: Strength +1With extra attack from the previous level we can now perform a devastating manoeuvre thanks to Tavern Brawler.

Assuming we didn’t already use our Bonus Action on this turn for other abilities, we can now declare the Attack Action, replacing the first attack with a check to Shove. Assuming it succeeds we can follow up with an Unarmed Attack with Advantage. Thanks to Tavern Brawler we are then able to follow that attack with an attempt to Grapple as our Bonus Action.

If everything goes right for us, our opponent is now Prone and Grappled. This will give the target Disadvantage to attacks and prevent them from standing up unless they waste their action making an attempt to escape.

At this point we’ll be rolling with a +10 for our Grapples and Shoves.
7Runic Shield
Rune Carver (3): Hill Rune
Other tanky peeling builds will be using Reactions for Opportunity Attacks such as the popular Polearm Master and Sentinel combo, but we’ve got other uses for ours.

At this level we gain access to Runic Shield. This is a forced reroll on an attack that hit within 60ft of us. Sometimes an enemy thinks they can land a lucky crit on one of our friends, but we laugh and bet they can’t do it again.

We also gain Hill Rune at this level, another Bonus Action (we do have a lot of those to juggle), this one granting us a minute of resistance to B/P/S damage once per short rest.
8Crusher: Strength +1Crusher is very convenient to have. It gives us a little bit of fine control over exactly which adjacent square our grappled target is in. This adjustment is made in five foot increments, once per turn, by punching them in the face. Also the +1 Strength puts us to the maximum of 20 Strength.
9IndomitableNothing fancy here. We get to reroll a save that we failed once per long rest. I suggest we use this on something that would otherwise take us out of the fight.

Our PB also jumped up this level, so we’re sitting at a +13 on our Athletics checks.
10Great Stature (1d8)
Rune Carver (4): Storm Rune
We pick up Storm Rune at this level, a rather interesting tool. As a bonus action to activate, for a minute we can spend our Reaction to grant Advantage or Disadvantage to attacks, saves, or checks we can see.

While the combat uses are somewhat obvious, either granting Advantage to an ally attack (maybe a Rogue trying to get some Sneak Attack) or save, or Disadvantage to an enemy’s save or attack, there’s some nuanced usage as well.

Suppose there’s a skill check our party needs to overcome, like picking a lock with Thieves’ Tools, we could activate the Rune and assist by granting Advantage on the check if Help isn’t an option for some reason.
11Extra Attack (2)50% More attacks per attack action.
12Resilient: Wisdom +1This right here is our way of ensuring the safety of our friends. We can’t afford to fall prey to any number of malicious effects that ask for a Wisdom save. By taking this feat at this level, we’re pushing our bonus from a +1 to a +6 (remember that our Wisdom modifier increases, thus the +5 total change).
13Indomitable (2)Oh neat, we can do that “reroll a failed save” thing twice now each day.

And just like last time, our PB went up at the same time. I wonder if this is a trend. (Hint: It is.)

Just to keep that maths on track, we have a +15 bonus to Athletics checks at this time.
14HealerAs we reach higher levels, more and more dangerous enemies batter at our team, and the gap between our relative sturdiness has only widened. But we are the mountain, the solid foundation upon which our team is built, and we will not let our allies fall to death’s ravine from our glorious cliffs.
Healer allows us to simply prop up an ally for the cost of a single use of a healer’s kit.

A Potion of Healing costs 50 gold, has one use, and restores 7 HP on average.

A healer’s kit costs 5 gold, has ten uses, and with this feat restores 1 HP.

When your ally is at 0, 1 HP and 7 HP will do the same thing.
15Master of Runes
Rune Carver (5): Cloud Rune
For making it this far, we now get two uses per Rune per short rest, and on top of that we gain our last Rune, Cloud Rune. This Rune allows us to use a Reaction to change the target of an attack we can see within 30ft. This will be used similarly to the reroll Reaction we got at seventh level, to deny critical hits by sending them crashing into your foes.
16ASI: Constitution +2We get a little bit sturdier while also increasing the save DC on our Fire and Stone Runes.

If we wanted more HP, we could take Tough at this level instead, but we would just lose out on the DC increase.
17Action Surge (2)
Indomitable (3)
Two Action Surges, Three Indomitables, and our PB increases again.

This will be the last time our Athletics check goes up, but now we’re sitting at a +17 bonus.
18Runic JuggernautWe’ve been Large for a while now, but it’s time to step up once more. We now become Huge when we activate Giant’s Might.
19ASI: Constitution +2We get a little bit sturdier by capping our Constitution while also increasing the save DC on our Fire and Stone Runes.
20Extra Attack (3)Level twenty: Punch Punch Punch, and also Punch.