D&D 5E D&D Next Blog - The Fighter

JohnSnow

Hero
WotC should watch The Thirteenth Warrior, The Three/Four Musketeers (1973/74), Jason & the Argonauts, King Arthur, The Seven Samurai, one of the Harryhausen Sinbad pictures, and several other movies where a group of fighters goes adventuring together.

Using those as examples, it seems to me that "the fighter" (as an archetype) should be proficient with all weapon styles and types, but particularly skillful or specialized in a couple or a few.

The ideal world would be to have fighters start knowing (but not specialized in) all "styles" of combat, including:

Single Weapon
Weapon and Shield
Dual-Weapon
Two-handed Weapon
Thrown Weapon
Ranged Weapon
Unarmed Combat

Specializing in a particular style should give you the ability to do things that aren't unique to the weapon you choose. For example, weapon and shield style should give you access to various shield maneuvers. Similarly, the ability to strike with both ends of a weapon would be a feature open to anyone specialized in the Two-handed weapon style (and thus usable by greatsword users as well as staff and spear-wielders). Ranged weapon benefits would include those aspects of it that benefit a longbowman, crossbowman, and slinger.

Other than that, the fighter should get to pick from a selection of weapons, those he is particularly good with. There's a couple different ways to cut this up, but I'd suggest:


Axes
Bows
Crossbows
Flails
Hammers & Picks
Heavy Blades
Lances
Light Blades
Maces & clubs
Polearms
Slings
Spears
Staves

Now, our intrepid 1st-level fighter can use all of the above. But he should be especially skilled with a few (his favored weapons) and masterful with, say, one. As he goes up in level, his level of competency goes up, but so does his mastery of his preferred weapons. He should also be able to broaden the list of weapons with which he is particularly skilled.

This has the benefit of setting individual fighters apart from each other. It also allows the player to make a skilled combatant to his taste. If I, as a player, don't want my fighter to be particularly skilled with ranged combat, I devote none of my weapon or style specialization feats to ranged weapons. But if I want that capability to be one of my areas of specialty, it should be an option. The trick is accepting that while the fighter is a very versatile class, it can't be all things to all people in practice - he has to make choices.

If you set this system of weapon use up properly, you might make some of the lower levels of the system accessible to other classes selectively (barbarians, paladins, rangers or rogues might be able to specialize in a single style or two, for example, or pick up greater skill with a couple categories of weapons).

But it's important to point out that, at the end of the day - the fighter is the weapon master. A ranger might be the equal to the greatest archer of his level, but unlike his fighter counterpart, he's not also the greatest (or second greatest) swordsman around.

Then throw on some truly usable skills and you've got a character class that, while highly flexible, still fills a solid niche in the game world.
 

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TwinBahamut

First Post
I disagree with just about every last thing said in that blog. I disagree so much that it terrifies me. This is like reading historical revisionism...

The 3E Fighter was a joke. It was a terrible class. Far from being versatile, it was nothing more than an utter weakling who was encouraged to abuse system mastery and turn himself into a one-trick pony in order to be useful and effective. Fighters were not versatile. They dedicated every feat to elaborate chains of ever-greater weapon specialization, and every feat not needed to that was spent chasing some gimmicky trick like Whirlwind Attack or tripping.

There was a good 3E fighting class, and it was called the Warblade. Accept no substitutes.

Anyways, I still vastly prefer the idea of breaking up these silly ideas that the Fighter is a "dumb newbie" class or that it is a catch-all for every character concept that uses weapons rather than magic. I want to see a Fighter that is just as interesting as a Wizard or Cleric, and I want to see the Fighter's many cousin classes, like the Archer, the Cavalier, and so on. Basically, I want the 4E Fighter, specialization in melee combat and genuine versatility included.
 

Crazy Jerome

First Post
This is the first poll that they've done since the L&L series started using them heavily last year, where I looked at the choices and thought, "Say What?" Glad they had a none of the above in there. :D

The inherent reason why the fighter has been problematic is because everyone else, even the lowly wizard with his dagger and robes +1, get to use weapons and armor (well maybe "armor" for the wizard). And if you simply say the fighter is the "best" at those by tacking on plusses (or worse, flavor that doesn't mean anything in game, like lots of weapon proficiencies when all the weapons work the same), then there just isn't enough to work with.

4E seeks to get around this by saying that there are some neat tricks the fighter can pull that are unique to him, which is a nice start but not sufficient for 5E, given how they had to narrow down the options to make this work. They also tried to give the fighter just a touch of a skills niche (particularly athletics), but the coarseness of the system mainly nullified that.

So I'm fine with the fighter being pretty solid with most weapons, and hot with a few of them (though not necessarily the best possible archer or what not). He should be. But you really can't compensate enough there, in the vacuum of 3E and 4E weapons, to make that what the character is about. So let's see some other stuff, perhaps some of these:
  • A skill break down that naturally gives the fighter a minor but real "skill monkey" option, mostly outside of combat.
  • Real differences in weapons (and maybe armor) so that the fighter being good with several can have real meaning, while more specialist characters like rangers and paladins are only good with a narrower set.
  • Follower rules that don't take so much time that no one can use them in combat, thus the fighter can lead followers in battle.
  • Rip the "customization" stuff out of "weapon specialization" and put it into roles--customize to excel in defending, or smacking, or anything that might fit a fighter character, or pick a mix.
  • Optionally, since the fighter is so unattached to other things, make him the go to guy for when you want a particular theme to "just work". You can play that noble wizard if you want, and it will do alright, but the fighter can naturally pick from a wider range.
There will be some edge cases that won't work. I can see archer being a potential bottleneck, but that's ok too. The problem with the fighter isn't with the fighter, but with the system around it. Fix the system issues, and most of the edge cases will straighten themselves out, or won't matter that much anymore with all the other possibilities now available.
 

paladinm

First Post
Why can't fighters make the best archers? I know that rangers, at least as of 3.x, were automatically given archery skill, but that doesn't line up with the literary basis for rangers. I wouldn't consider Robin Hood a ranger, or at least I wouldn't use him as the baseline. I would say that fighters, with their much more extensive (and I would say, preferably exclusive) access to feats could be built to be a more "ultimate" archer. Hawkeye from the Avengers is a good example (no woodland skill). So is Legolas from LotR (no tracking). Aragorn, on the other hand, the one true "ranger" in LotR, doesn't use a bow much at all.

Ranger and Archer should not be synonymous.
 

Andor

First Post
Part of the problem is the question of "What is a fighter?" There are too many answers, and in trying to get all of them, they end up with nothing much.

For me the fighter archetype means "A professional fighting man."

Of course that then includes:
Warrior (professional fighter without a military like a Swordthane, or Viking raider.)
Soldier (Legionaire, Pikeman, Archer, Skirmisher, Dragoon, etc)
Gladiator
Guard
Mercenary
Shieldman
Knight
Officer/Seargent
Marine
Champion

Looking at my own list ... I kind of see two primary classes:

A) A Warrior, who is a solo combatant, and should probably be the best guy in the game in a one-on-one fight. In 4e terms a Striker. In 3e this was probably the Barbarian, or Warblade.

B) A Solider, who fights with others, and should get bonus for being in a unit, as well as better social skills. In 4e terms a Defender. In 3e a Fighter or Crusader or White Raven Warblade.

And looking at my own example I see that you could do either with a single class, if the 5e plug and play system even approaches the flexibility of the Book of 9 swords with some modules.

I can only hope so. ;)

Honestly they could dial all the way back to 4 base classes fighter, wizard, cleric, thief, and then have all the other classes that have blossomed up since the basic set be resolved with a combination of theme choices and power set picks.

A fighter who trades away feats for HP and rage is a barbarian. One who trades away HP for skills could be a ranger. One who multiclasses into Cleric can be a Paladin. (Or a Cleric can trade most of his spellcasting for better HP and fighting skills and be a Paladin. And both could be at the same table.)

Likewise a Thief, a Bard, a Ninja or a Swordsage could all be a Rogue with different picks.

Probably this is not what will happen, however.
 

S

Sunseeker

Guest
While it may not be the whole point of the blog, it does present a veritably Straw Man of the 4e fighter.

It points out that the 4e fighter is a defender and (like most defenders) melee-focused. It makes it sound like that's the only thing 4e did with the fighter, force it into a Role (like very other 4e class).

A much more momentous thing happened to the fighter in 4e. It stopped sucking. It became the equal of other classes. It was as good (at least) a defender as the Paladin or Swordmage. It was on the same playing field as casters, able to bring some round-by-round versatility in combat, and some peak-power when really needed. Able to 'nova' in those benighted 5-minute workdays. That balance and near-parity was something the fighter never had before. Never.

And it's not even acknowledged, let alone valued.

Agreed, and there's no reference to the Slayer or the Knight(though they may want to consider them "different classes" they are essentially fighter-variants), who both excelled at what they did even considering their incredible simplicity.

I understand Wizards is catering to the "BAWWWW WE WANT 3e/2e/1e/ad&d BACK!!" audience with a lot of their talk, but 4e brought about some great things(and some not so great things) just like every edition did. The wholesale dicounting of the entire edition is only going to wind up sticking them in the nose once the set is released.
 

JohnSnow

Hero
Why can't fighters make the best archers? I know that rangers, at least as of 3.x, were automatically given archery skill, but that doesn't line up with the literary basis for rangers. I wouldn't consider Robin Hood a ranger, or at least I wouldn't use him as the baseline. I would say that fighters, with their much more extensive (and I would say, preferably exclusive) access to feats could be built to be a more "ultimate" archer. Hawkeye from the Avengers is a good example (no woodland skill). So is Legolas from LotR (no tracking). Aragorn, on the other hand, the one true "ranger" in LotR, doesn't use a bow much at all.

Ranger and Archer should not be synonymous.

While I agree with you in principle, Hawkeye from the Avengers is actually pretty accomplished as a hunter and tracker. I have some old issues of West Coast Avengers where he shows off his tracking and wilderness survival skills.

While I concur on Legolas being basically a fighter, Faramir and the Rangers of Ithilien (some of whom carry bows, and some of whom carry spears, but all of which have swords) are just as much "true" rangers as Aragorn is. The more important point is that "ranger" in D&D anyway, seems to come along with a fairly substantial amount of both "mystical nature warrior" and "skilled in lore."

Robin Hood is debatable, because he keeps getting reinvented - but he probably fits best as a ranger, although that doesn't have to mean "archer." In at least some early versions of the legend, Robin is a better swordsman than an archer. Sometimes he's a knight, sometimes not, and in at least one version, he's a mystical pagan warrior - pretty clearly a "ranger" (the Robin of Sherwood television series - great show by the way).

However, even if Robin himself is arguably a ranger, many members of his band are also excellent archers - and it's hard to argue that Little John is anything other than a fighter.

That said, I think rangers should also be flexible enough to use bows and say, swords - just my opinion. In fact, I think the hardest classes to draw a hard line of distinction between may be the fighter and ranger.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
I understand Wizards is catering to the "BAWWWW WE WANT 3e/2e/1e/ad&d BACK!!" audience with a lot of their talk, but 4e brought about some great things(and some not so great things) just like every edition did. The wholesale dicounting of the entire edition is only going to wind up sticking them in the nose once the set is released.

It only looks like wholesale discounting of 4E because most of 4E probably falls under the 'advance tactical combat modules' and not the base game, and thus they haven't gotten around to working on it yet. The base game is just that. The base. The stuff they created back in Basic D&D. 4E is an obvious evolution from the base, so it makes perfect sense that a lot of what is being worked on now will not take 4E into account.

Once they finish designing the 'base' fighter and they start working on combat exploits, defender abilities, etc. etc... then we'll see more of the main 4E foci start reappearing.
 


Crazy Jerome

First Post
That said, I think rangers should also be flexible enough to use bows and say, swords - just my opinion. In fact, I think the hardest classes to draw a hard line of distinction between may be the fighter and ranger.

Yes. The problem is that the "skirmisher" type, wearing light armor, being mobile, using a few melee weapons well--happens to fit with using ranged weapons very well. So it is really easy to tack on "woodlore" to that (not unreasonable for many characters), call it a ranger, and stop there. And that's why I said that the fighter might not end up making the best archer. You can make him "all that" with a bow, but if he isn't mobile, it loses some oomph. And if you put him in leather and make him mobile, then what about all those heavy weapon and armor things that he isn't getting much use out of anymore?

So I come back to skills. If the defining thing for the ranger--who can make a pretty decent hunter/archer if he wants, is the woodlore, then you also need at least one fighter skill set that is fairly decent, too.

Alternately, they could say that ranger is a theme (or subclass or prestige class) instead of a class, so that the "woodlore" part is just something you add onto the appropriate fighter--but I didn't really think many people would go for that. If people are that upset that they must be able to build their archer with the "fighter" label, how are they going to feel about not having a "ranger" label to put on a package?

Or they could make the "fighter" an equal skill monkey. He gets a few special abilities in weapons to supplement his vast command of those, and a few special abilities in skills to specialize, but he is the king of the mundane. Then you give rogues a lot of special abilties to compensate for their relative lack of weapon ability.
 

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