Maneuvers for All, Stances for Fighters

Rather than choosing from a list of exclusive maneuvers, fighters should receive stances that allow them to be better at maneuvers – and maneuvers should be usable by everyone.
 
Maneuvers for All, Stances for Fighters
Now, before you object that merely being better at something that everyone else can do is lame and/or isn’t enough to distinguish a class, allow me to explain.  A stance would allow you to use a certain maneuver (or set of maneuvers) at a reduced cost (e.g. knocking an opponent back 5 feet wouldn’t cost a damage die while in the Tide of Iron Stance) or with an increased benefit (e.g. add your skill die to Protect while in the Vigilant Guardian Stance).  But stances would then also give you some appropriate additional benefits (e.g. you get advantage on attacks made using your reaction while in the Steel Backlash Stance).  I’d especially like to see a stance or collection of stances that provided threatening reach or a similar benefit for polearm users.
 
Monks might make use of stances as well, although they’d likely have a smaller but more overtly supernatural set to choose from.  Rather than providing benefits with certain existing maneuvers, most if not all monk stances would simply have their own unique effects (e.g. Step of the Wind could be a stance instead of a maneuver; Iron Root Defense already makes more sense as a stance than a maneuver).
 
Gaining Stances
A fighter would start play with one or more stances and then gain additional stances at higher levels, similar to the way that maneuvers are currently handled.  You could choose a completely custom collection of stances, or pick a Fighting Style which would give you a suggested set that you could take as is or personalize as you saw fit.  Some stances might only be available at later levels, and some might even provide exclusive maneuvers or maneuver-like abilities.
 
Switching Between Stances
Switching stances might require an action, or else could only be activated on your own turn and cost some amount of damage dice, to make switching stances a choice with some weight and prevent constant switching.  Certain stances that could be activated as a reaction to a specific trigger would also be an interesting option (e.g. use your reaction to switch to Defensive Stance after an attack knocks you below half-HP).
 
How Does This Affect the Game?
The effect of all this would be to open up the field of maneuvers to all, but still give the fighter a distinct edge as well as something to help define the class.  (Granted, I think the fighter would need more than this to flesh the class out and give it more robust depth and definition, preferably without stripping it of its appealing versatility.  Fighters currently have a lot of breadth, but little depth; adding depth to the Fighting Styles would go a long way to remedying this.)
 
Addendum: Maneuvers as Guidelines for Improvisation
I would also advocate for maneuvers being more freeform, basically guidelines for combat improvisation, like: if you want to apply X condition/effect, you can spend Y damage dice; increase by Z dice for various factors such as each 5 feet of distance, each size category larger than you, number of opponents effected, etc.  For example, a human wants to use a single action to knock an ogre back 10 feet and knock it prone; the human must spend a total of 4 dice, 2 for 10 feet of knockback, 1 for prone, 1 for the ogre being size large; a fighter in the right stance might spend fewer dice.
 
Thoughts?

"I want 'punch magic in the face' to be a maneuver." -- wrecan

Sounds like an interesting concept for a module "everybody gets combat maneuvers if they sink the character resources into it, but fighters can do it better".

Does not sound like it's authentic to the "basic" nature of the core game.

Supporting an edition you like does not make you an edition warrior. Demanding that everybody else support your edition makes you an edition warrior.

Why do I like 13th Age? Because I like D&D: http://magbonch.wordpress.com/2013/10/16/first-impressions-13th-age/

AzoriusGuildmage- "I think that you simply spent so long playing it, especially in your formative years with the hobby, that you've long since rationalized or houseruled away its oddities, and set it in your mind as the standard for what is and isn't reasonable in an rpg."

I'm not clear on how this isn't just "Maneuvers, round 2!"
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
I'm not clear on how this isn't just "Maneuvers, round 2!"

Any and all characters can access any and all maneuvers, basically, I think is what is being said - but fighters can enter into stances in which their maneuvers are significantly more powerful.

A wizard could Whirlwind attack; a fighter could just do it better. Would be an interesting way to level things out for multiclassing. I find it to be similar to the concept of "any martial class can take any martial manuver from any other martial class" idea that people were occasionally house-ruling into 4e.

Supporting an edition you like does not make you an edition warrior. Demanding that everybody else support your edition makes you an edition warrior.

Why do I like 13th Age? Because I like D&D: http://magbonch.wordpress.com/2013/10/16/first-impressions-13th-age/

AzoriusGuildmage- "I think that you simply spent so long playing it, especially in your formative years with the hobby, that you've long since rationalized or houseruled away its oddities, and set it in your mind as the standard for what is and isn't reasonable in an rpg."

Sounds like an interesting concept for a module "everybody gets combat maneuvers if they sink the character resources into it, but fighters can do it better".

Does not sound like it's authentic to the "basic" nature of the core game.

The Basic game would have a "basic" option that didn't require switching stances; maybe in effect you'd just have  a single "stance" that was "always on" and got better as you leveled, so it would read as "fighters have these benefits" but meshed into the stance mechanic for Standard games.

I'm not clear on how this isn't just "Maneuvers, round 2!"

Any and all characters can access any and all maneuvers, basically, I think is what is being said - but fighters can enter into stances in which their maneuvers are significantly more powerful.

A wizard could Whirlwind attack; a fighter could just do it better. Would be an interesting way to level things out for multiclassing. I find it to be similar to the concept of "any martial class can take any martial manuver from any other martial class" idea that people were occasionally house-ruling into 4e.

The idea would be to give stances additional unique benefits that synergized with the relevant maneuver(s), so rather than merely "you're better at tripping" it would be "you're better at tripping and..."

I also mentioned that some fighter stances could potentilaly give you access to fighter-exclusive maneuvers.  And monk maneuvers would almost definitely be baked into the class, probably via stances.

Not at all sure what "maneuvers, round 2" is supposed to mean.

"I want 'punch magic in the face' to be a maneuver." -- wrecan

I like the intention behind this, but for most cases it seem unnecessary to make them stances.  I think it would be simpler to let the fighter gain improved versions of the standard maneuvers.

To me, being in a stance feels like it should affect all attacks you make.  E.g.


  • Defensive Stance: bonus to AC, penalty to all attacks

  • Reckless Stance: bonus damage, AC penalty (disadvantage, etc.)

  • Tireless Fury Stance: gain temporary HP each time you make an attack


With this approach one can combine different maneuvers and stances.

I agree, this idea has a lot of potential.
To me, being in a stance feels like it should affect all attacks you make.

Not necessarily.  If your stance involves focusing on protecting your allies, or yourself, or preventing enemies from getting past you, or unbalancing your opponents... it only needs to effect those aspects of combat.  Stances do not need to be totally transformative.

As to your examples, trading a bonus for a penalty is not the point.  You enter a stance to increase capability in one area; the cost is that you're not increasing your capability in some other area by using a different stance.  Taking a penalty to gain a bonus somewhere else should be something anyone can do, e.g. sacrifice damage to perform a basic maneuver.

"I want 'punch magic in the face' to be a maneuver." -- wrecan

I might fluff it different but it beats the alternative so Im sold. Laughing

Devs please adopt

I would limit non ftrs with ability score prerecs on the manuvers.
When you state everyone, I am assuming you mean comoners, etc. and I disagree on that point that maneuvers as a default. So commoners should have access to basic things like weapons, armor, skills, and related items. Then when you consider martial ability versus casters, that has to be something that defines the dedication of the class which may be maneuvers and spells. If you want stances to further define a subset of maneuvers I could accept that, just like traditions and domains futher define spells.
When you state everyone, I am assuming you mean comoners, etc. and I disagree on that point that maneuvers as a default. So commoners should have access to basic things like weapons, armor, skills, and related items. Then when you consider martial ability versus casters, that has to be something that defines the dedication of the class which may be maneuvers and spells. If you want stances to further define a subset of maneuvers I could accept that, just like traditions and domains futher define spells.






I was about to accuse you of over analyzing the topic to even bring up commoners but then I thought about it. With ability score prerecs and maybe considerations of the setting maneuvers can work for commoners. You take a monk maneuver like step of the wind and remove damage dice all it does is increase movement by five feet. That could do nothing but add some flavor to the odd battle with commoners especially when the score prerec forbids the commoners from attempting all of them. A commoner’s bull rush or step of wind at worse is a spot on a DM’s creativity. I fail to see how it matters to the players. If anything it adds some variety or amusement to the encounter.    

My post was just presenting an approach to what everyone can do, and how you further define martial or caster ability (what makes them special) and sub-divide it from there. It may not be the level of detail you would use to approach it, which is cool. Everyone has to put the game in our own terms, and it is easy to start arguments based on the context of a message, versus discussing it in person.
Uchawi-
I have started similar posts showing some possible mechanical rules to this concept. I like it, anyone can trip or shove or attack two targets at once, and Fighters should do it better. Some people just don't see the game the same or use the terminology that your group does so the concept doesn't come across right.
+1  overall

Disclaimer: Wizards of the Coast is not responsible for the consequences of any failed saving throw, including but not limited to petrification, poison, death magic, dragon breath, spells, or vorpal sword-related decapitations.

When you state everyone, I am assuming you mean comoners, etc. and I disagree on that point that maneuvers as a default. So commoners should have access to basic things like weapons, armor, skills, and related items. Then when you consider martial ability versus casters, that has to be something that defines the dedication of the class which may be maneuvers and spells. If you want stances to further define a subset of maneuvers I could accept that, just like traditions and domains futher define spells.

Some maneuvers might be usable by commoners, but only if they're able to sacrifice the appropriate number of damage dice to perform the maneuver.

So let's say it takes one die to knock an equally-sized enemy prone.  The commoner sacrifices his one damage die, and likely has no Str bonus, so he deals no damage and is basically just trying to knock you over.  Assuming he can even land the blow (and the odds are not in his favor), it's not at all unreasonable that a commoner could trip you, which would be all he's doing.

This all assumes that things move towards weapon die multiple as martial damage die (as Mearls mentioned recently -- in an L&L article IIRC), and that you can sacrifice your base damage die for a maneuver effect.  If neither of these things proves true, then no, a commoner could not attempt even the most basic of maneuvers.

Additional note: Many maneuvers would require multiple dice, and so would not be open to anyone who didn't have access to MDD.

"I want 'punch magic in the face' to be a maneuver." -- wrecan

I like the idea of fighter-only stances related to maneuvers, while also and making (most of the) maneuvers available to all characters with access to martial/expertise/call-them-however-you-want dice. Specific maneuvers should probably stay class-specific, though. "Fighting styles" advancing with levels (similar to specialties, but with maneuvers/stances instead of feats), should also probably be looked into.
I'm sold. I can see a lot of classes dipping into this concept. Rangers could use dual-wielding stances, rogues sniping and swashbuckling stances. Fighters getting more out of them and having more to choose from than other classes is a very good idea.
Divine character auras anyone?
D&D is like religion. People focus far too much on the differences rather than the similarities.
I wish to subscribe to your news letter.
I wish to subscribe to your news letter.

Well, I was going to be productive tomorrow, but I guess I could write up a more detailed description of how I think maneuvers should work instead. 

"I want 'punch magic in the face' to be a maneuver." -- wrecan

I don't think you've actually explained why other classes should get maneuvers. Maneuvers represent things the Fighter (or Monk) has learned to do, given that they've devoted their lives to the formal study of martial arts - think the fencing manuals of Medieval, Renaissance, and Early Modern Europe, or the katas of a specific dojo. 

A rogue shouldn't be able to do them because they didn't train to be a soldier or a martial artist - they learned how to be sneaky, or acrobatic, or how to con people, etc. A Wizard shouldn't be able to do them because the wizard spent their entire life learning how to harness arcane power. And so on and so forth.

Beyond that rather fundamental issue, I think you're wrong on your details:


  • Stances don't add tactical depth unless you get more stances than you currently get maneuvers. Right now, the Fighter gets 5 manuevers, plus Parry, and 6 dice to use with them. Given that you can pile multiple dice into any one maneuver, or split them up to do a combo, this creates a huge array of options within a very intuitive system. How is your proposal better?

  • This doesn't add definition - Fighters will be taking the same actions as other players, but adding bonuses to them. As it stands, Fighters will learn to do things that no other class learns how to do. This is a loss of definition. 

  • Switching costs penalize the Fighter over other classes. One of the major changes in D&D Next has been to move away from inconvenient penalties - making Clerics choose between what they want to do and being the healbot, the Wizard's ability to nova versus having something more than darts to rely on round-to-round. This goes in the opposite direction. 

Race for the Iron Throne - political and historical analysis of A Song of Ice and Fire.
I don't think you've actually explained why other classes should get maneuvers. Maneuvers represent things the Fighter (or Monk) has learned to do, given that they've devoted their lives to the formal study of martial arts - think the fencing manuals of Medieval, Renaissance, and Early Modern Europe, or the katas of a specific dojo.

I'm representing martial arts through stances and the unique benefits (and even exclusive maneuvers!) that you get from stances, because I feel that's a better way of modeling martial arts.  Some maneuvers will of course be inaccessible without proper training.  When I say, "maneuvers for all" I don't mean "all maneuvers for all."

To explain why others should have access to maneuvers, well, because in the case of some maneuvers it just makes sense.  What I'm essentially proposing is to broaden the list of non-class-specific maneuvers, and open them up to anyone who can spend the dice to perform them.

A rogue shouldn't be able to do them because they didn't train to be a soldier or a martial artist

Says who?  Soldier is a background anyone can take.

If a rogue needs additional training to trip someone, or can't even attempt a Spring Attack at higher levels, then I'm a flying monkey's uncle. 

A Wizard shouldn't be able to do them because the wizard spent their entire life learning how to harness arcane power. And so on and so forth.

A wizard can still try to trip someone.  He just won't be very good at it -- he'd probably fail, and even if he succeeded, he'd deal no damage.  See my example post regarding the commoner above.

Obviously a wizard (like a commoner), wouldn't be able to do any "advanced" maneuvers that required spending more than one damage die.  He could try to shove an enemy away from him, but unless he's an uncommonly strong wizard it's unlikely to be effective.

Stances don't add tactical depth unless you get more stances than you currently get maneuvers. Right now, the Fighter gets 5 manuevers, plus Parry, and 6 dice to use with them.

I'm proposing you don't "get" maneuvers; you can use any maneuver you have enough dice to use, so that opens things up wide.  Using a given stance doesn't preclude using any and every maneuver available to you (which is theoretically all of them), it just gives you an advantage with certain maneuvers and (I keep having to emphasize this) gives you some additional benefit that would, indeed, add tactical depth.

Also, I fully expect the number of dice to go down, as that's been heavily implied in recent articles and statements from WotC, but it's yet unclear how that will effect things.

Given that you can pile multiple dice into any one maneuver, or split them up to do a combo, this creates a huge array of options within a very intuitive system. How is your proposal better?

I don't see what you're getting at here.  With stances, you can still do exactly what you're describing, but in many cases certain maneuvers will cost less dice, allowing you to spend those saved dice on your now much wider array of maneuvers.  At the very least, you will get more bang for your dice.  And you get an additional benefit while in a given stance, one that does not rely on dice, which helps distinguish the fighter from every other class that has MDD (which is a lot right now).

This doesn't add definition - Fighters will be taking the same actions as other players, but adding bonuses to them. As it stands, Fighters will learn to do things that no other class learns how to do. This is a loss of definition. 

Only if you view maneuvers as the defining characteristic of fighters.  I'm proposing that stances take up that burden.  Also, some maneuvers will still be exclusive to fighters.  (Monks would also get exclusive maneuvers, as mentioned in the OP; letting anyone use Flurry of Blows would probably cause the fanbase to spontaneously combust. )

Switching costs penalize the Fighter over other classes. One of the major changes in D&D Next has been to move away from inconvenient penalties - making Clerics choose between what they want to do and being the healbot, the Wizard's ability to nova versus having something more than darts to rely on round-to-round. This goes in the opposite direction. 

That's a valid point.  I think it would have to be playtested to see if people felt like they were being penalized or simply managing resources (the latter was my intention).  If there's a cost to switching stances, it needs to be small enough to make it a choice you're willing to make, but large enough to not always be the obvious choice.

Allowing you to switch stances for free at the start of your turn might work fine, I was just trying to rein in potential "stance dancing" and make switching stances feel more meaningful, like a greatly scaled-back, miniature equivalent to a barbarian flying into a rage.  Maybe certain, higher level stances would cost a die to shift into.   And I still like the idea of being able to switch stances as a reaction to a specific trigger (which would be at no die cost, as it already costs your reaction).

"I want 'punch magic in the face' to be a maneuver." -- wrecan

I'm representing martial arts through stances and the unique benefits (and even exclusive maneuvers!) that you get from stances, because I feel that's a better way of modeling martial arts.  Some maneuvers will of course be inaccessible without proper training.  When I say, "maneuvers for all" I don't mean "all maneuvers for all."

To explain why others should have access to maneuvers, well, because in the case of some maneuvers it just makes sense.  What I'm essentially proposing is to broaden the list of non-class-specific maneuvers, and open them up to anyone who can spend the dice to perform them.



What martial art in the world teaches people stances and nothing else? I think a list of maneuvers far better simulates the special techniques of a martial art than just a set of stances.

Which maneuvers actually make sense for other classes? This needs to be very specific, because we're talking about major issues of class definition. A barbarian should play like a highly formally-trained combatant, but more of a natural talent who relies on sheer physicality to get the job done; a rogue shouldn't play like someone who's trained to fight on the battlefield.


Says who?  Soldier is a background anyone can take.

If a rogue needs additional training to trip someone, or can't even attempt a Spring Attack at higher levels, then I'm a flying monkey's uncle. 


Ok, let me rephrase "they didn't train to be a warrior from the time they can walk." There's a difference between an ordinary grunt and someone who's been to a formal school of arms. And there's a reason why a Fighter who picks Thief doesn't get access to Rogue Schemes or Skill Tricks - some things have to be reserved for the class.

Trip is a Feat, and I'm ok with it staying that way. But I really think there's more ways to represent a Rogue's speed and flexibility than to simply copy a Fighter maneuver, just as there are ways for Fighters to represent agile, lightly armed combatants without copying Sneak Attack. 

A wizard can still try to trip someone.  He just won't be very good at it -- he'd probably fail, and even if he succeeded, he'd deal no damage.  See my example post regarding the commoner above.

Obviously a wizard (like a commoner), wouldn't be able to do any "advanced" maneuvers that required spending more than one damage die.  He could try to shove an enemy away from him, but unless he's an uncommonly strong wizard it's unlikely to be effective.


So a Wizard, who's spent their entire life in academic, occult studies, should be able to Bullrush or Grapple wtih the same level of skill as a Fighter with the equivalent stat, despite the Fighter spending their entire life in military training? 

There's a lack of a equivalency here. 

I'm proposing you don't "get" maneuvers; you can use any maneuver you have enough dice to use, so that opens things up wide.  Using a given stance doesn't preclude using any and every maneuver available to you (which is theoretically all of them), it just gives you an advantage with certain maneuvers and (I keep having to emphasize this) gives you some additional benefit that would, indeed, add tactical depth.

Also, I fully expect the number of dice to go down, as that's been heavily implied in recent articles and statements from WotC, but it's yet unclear how that will effect things.


My point is that, whereas before a Fighter had 5 unique abilities that no other class had, and could create a large number of combinations of them by mixing and matching their dice allocations, now a Fighter will have a set number of stances, and those will be the only unique choices they have to make. Unless the number of stances exceeds the number of maneuvers, you've decreased tactical depth. 

You've also decreased class distinctiveness, because the Fighter's shtick will now be "gets bonuses to the maneuvers everyone can do."

Only if you view maneuvers as the defining characteristic of fighters.  I'm proposing that stances take up that burden.  Also, some maneuvers will still be exclusive to fighters.  (Monks would also get exclusive maneuvers, as mentioned in the OP; letting anyone use Flurry of Blows would probably cause the fanbase to spontaneously combust. )



But why are stances better at carrying that burden? They're feeding through a system that everyone is using instead of a unique system, they're passive rather than active choices, and they're happening less often because of switching costs. And if the Fighter is still going have unique maneuvers, you don't need stances to make them unique - just more unique maneuvers. This is ptolemaic epicycles at work. 

 

Race for the Iron Throne - political and historical analysis of A Song of Ice and Fire.
What martial art in the world teaches people stances and nothing else? I think a list of maneuvers far better simulates the special techniques of a martial art than just a set of stances.

I'm not proposing that fighters be trained in stances and nothing else.

Which maneuvers actually make sense for other classes? This needs to be very specific, because we're talking about major issues of class definition. A barbarian should play like a highly formally-trained combatant, but more of a natural talent who relies on sheer physicality to get the job done; a rogue shouldn't play like someone who's trained to fight on the battlefield.

I haven't compiled a list yet, but glancing at the Maneuver's documents and throwing some out off the top of my head, all the maneuvers on the "general" list plus Disarm, Lunge, Shove Away(!), Spring Attack, and probably Whirlwind Attack as well; maybe Defensive Roll.  Grappling isn't a maneuver, but it should probably be in there and open to anyone (maybe as a set of maneuvers even).

Ok, let me rephrase "they didn't train to be a warrior from the time they can walk." There's a difference between an ordinary grunt and someone who's been to a formal school of arms. And there's a reason why a Fighter who picks Thief doesn't get access to Rogue Schemes or Skill Tricks - some things have to be reserved for the class.

You're absolutely right.

Trip is a Feat, and I'm ok with it staying that way. But I really think there's more ways to represent a Rogue's speed and flexibility than to simply copy a Fighter maneuver, just as there are ways for Fighters to represent agile, lightly armed combatants without copying Sneak Attack.

Except he's not copying the fighter because they each have their own schtick -- Skill Tricks for the Rogue, Stances for the Fighter.  Just because a fighter can make a Charisma check to attempt to taunt an opponent doesn't mean he's "stealing" the Rogue's Taunt trick.

This all plays back into one of the design goals of next, which is to get away from the mentality of "oh, I can't do that because I don't have that skill/power/ability."  Opening up the playfield of course needs to be balanced against the threat of "Fighters/non-casters can't have nice things," but I assure you I wholeheartedly believe that they can, and should, and must.  I'm proposing stances for that purpose, since many maneuvers should be things others can access or at least learn.  I'm okay with some (or even most) maneuvers being behind a feat-wall or just class-specific -- but trip?  The most basic form should be available to anyone.  Same goes for Bull Rush: telling me I can't try to Bull Rush my opponent because I "don't have that maneuver" is silly.  I should at least be able to try, and if I have MDD I should be able to do so effectively.  If you don't think rogues should be able to enhance their trippage with extra dice, make an Improved Trip feat.  Maybe fighters would or could get Improved Trip for free, which is better than the current situation where they have to fill one of their maneuver "slots" in order to know how to do something as basic as knock somebody over.

So a Wizard, who's spent their entire life in academic, occult studies, should be able to Bullrush or Grapple wtih the same level of skill as a Fighter with the equivalent stat, despite the Fighter spending their entire life in military training?

There's a lack of a equivalency here.

I think you may have missed something.  The wizard can't possibly have the same level of skill as a fighter, even on the outside chance that he's a wizard with an 18 Str.  He has no MDD.

Likely the only class that might be able to equal fighter in a grapple is the barbarian.  A raging barbarian might have an edge, but if the fighter takes up a "Brawler's Stance" he could even the playing field a little bit.  But again, grappling currently isn't a maneuver.

My point is that, whereas before a Fighter had 5 unique abilities that no other class had, and could create a large number of combinations of them by mixing and matching their dice allocations, now a Fighter will have a set number of stances, and those will be the only unique choices they have to make. Unless the number of stances exceeds the number of maneuvers, you've decreased tactical depth.

Now you're just repeating yourself, so I can only assume we're not understanding each other.

Allow me to reword your statement to reveal my view/intent: My point is, whereas before a Fighter had 5 unique abilities that no other class had (only upon acheiving high enough level to gain access to all 5), and could create a large number of combinations of them by mixing and matching their dice allocations (again only at higher levels), now a Fighter will have a set number of stances (like he had a set number of maneuvers), and these stances will allow him to mix and match from an even broader pallet of maneuvers (some unique, some not) that are available as soon as he has the dice to use them.

The number of stances you get would likely be the same as the number of maneuvers you would otherwise get.  Maybe fewer if unique maneuvers were handed out at certain levels instead of being automatically usable.  I would say I've increased tactical depth without increasing breadth, which is fine considering how broad the fighter currently is.

You've also decreased class distinctiveness, because the Fighter's shtick will now be "gets bonuses to the maneuvers everyone can do."

No, I haven't, and no, it won't be.  Each stance would give a unique benefit (or benefits) aside from its interaction with certain maneuvers.  Fighters will also have maneuvers that only they can use.  I don't know how I can explain this any more than I already have.

But why are stances better at carrying that burden? They're feeding through a system that everyone is using instead of a unique system, they're passive rather than active choices, and they're happening less often because of switching costs.

Actually maneuvers are feeding through the stances system, not vice-versa, and the stances are a system that few are using (the fighter and probably the monk).  It allows fighters to interact with maneuvers in a way that's different from other classes who might use them, and creates a framework for why and how fighters are "better at fighting" that isn't "because they have bigger weapons and bigger bonuses and for some reason no one else can try to shove an opponent away from them."

Even right now, maneuvers aren't a unique system any more than spells are.  You can get spells from a background, maneuvers from a feat or a number of different (non-fighter) class features, and both monks and fighters use maneuvers, just as both wizards and clerics use spells.  Think of this as a "maneuver casting system," the equivalent of Vancian casting or AEDU for fighters (and apparently equally contentious!).

As to your point on "passive choice" and "switching costs," I'll reiterate that I'm not married to either idea, and would be open to ways to make switching stances an active choice, similar to my suggestion that some stances might trigger from certain conditions.  Maybe hitting (or missing) with an attack or a maneuver would allow you to switch stances on the fly.  That would certainly make sense for grappling: you hit with a grab attack and immediately shift into a grapple, whereas other classes might have to take two actions (grab and then grapple on next turn) or else make a more dangerous "tackle" maneuver that provokes an attack from the target.  Or when knock an enemy prone beside you, you immediately switch to a stance that lets you pin the enemy to the ground.  Just throwing out ideas.

And if the Fighter is still going have unique maneuvers, you don't need stances to make them unique - just more unique maneuvers. This is ptolemaic epicycles at work.

More maneuvers would be one way to go, but to go back to the spell-casting analogy that's like giving one class more spells instead of differentiating casting styles.  I'd rather avoid "maneuver bloat."

However, if you can come up with good fighter-only maneuvers to replace the ones that (IMO) need to be generalized, be my guest.

"I want 'punch magic in the face' to be a maneuver." -- wrecan