Long ago, I was having a conversation about fighting styles. The discussion centered around protection and two-weapon fighting styles, and the nature of active styles vs. passive styles. I suggested that a passive and active version of fighting styles needed to exist to allow for better balance. This was not what was being looked for, and the matter was dropped. Instead, we both, independently spent great energy in developing other options. The truth is, balancing active and passive abilities is incredibly difficult. Passives are generally preferred by people due to the fact the features can usually be baked into a sheet or otherwise included so there is not a chance to misuse it or forget to use it. Some fighting styles are a mix of active and passive, such as Great Weapon Fighting, but you can take steps to make it the passive feature it is really trying to be.
The goal of this is to create active and passive versions of each fighting style, to either allow for more playstyle choices, or create variant rules sets for the fighting styles themselves (i.e. fighting styles are either all active or all passive). Let’s jump into it.
Active Archery: You may spend a bonus action to aim with a ranged weapon, provided you are not within 5-feet of an enemy. You double your proficiency bonus for ranged attacks made with the aimed weapon in the same turn after you aim.
Active Defense: When a creature hits you, you may spend your reaction to roll a number of d6 equal to your proficiency bonus. You reduce the damage from this attack by the result.
Active Duelist: You gain a pool of d4s equal to your proficiency bonus. While you are wielding a melee weapon in one hand and no other weapons, you may spend your bonus to follow up your attacks with a short slash. After hitting with a melee attack, you may choose to roll a number of d4s from your pool, and add the result to your damage roll. You may not spend more than your total proficiency bonus in d4 each turn.
Active Great Weapon Fighting: You gain a pool of d4s equal to your proficiency bonus. While you are wielding a melee weapon with two hands, you may spend a bonus action to follow through on attacks. When you hit a creature, choose another creature within 5 feet. You may choose to roll a number 0f d4s from your pool, and deal the result in damage to the creature within 5 feet of your original target. You may not spend more than your total proficiency bonus in d4s each turn.
Passive Protection: While you are wielding a shield, choose one ally with 5 feet at the start of your turn. That ally gains a +1 bonus to AC.
Passive Two-Weapon Fighting: Whenever you are wielding a light weapon in your off-hand, you deal your proficiency bonus in damage whenever you hit a creature with an attack from your primary hand.
Some of these might be a little raw, but I like the active dice pools. It makes crits a bit more exciting, and the variable results add to dynamic gameplay. The passive styles are probably fine. Funny enough, I think the TWF one fixes scaling issues, too. Anyway, a fun exercise, if nothing else.