D&D 5E D&D Next Blog - The Fighter


The 3e fighter should've been able to use a bow with accuracy (precise shot), wield his favored weapon with deadly precision (weapon specialization), employ dangerous combat maneuvers without penalty (improved trip, bull rush, sunder), adjust his ability to hit to focus on damage/defense (power attack, combat expertise), and move into and out of combat without fear (spring attack). With his 20 feats, he could a lot more than a rogue, barbarian, ranger, or paladin could with their 7. 3e's problem with the fighter wasn't the class being weak; it was terribly over-powered compared to the 2e mage or cleric. But 3e threw the safety off the casters, and the fighter couldn't compare.

In honesty, a fighter class that can bend to either be like the knight (defensive/maneuver based) or the slayer (movement/damage based) is a damn good fighter class.

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Specialization variety please

Aside from the rather disturbing retcon of the 3e fighter (and I liked 3e generally), I'm not sure what to feel about this article.

Yes, I'd like fighter to be able to specialize in a weapon or fighting style, but only if that's what the player wants! What I don't want to see is fighters limited to choosing:

  • A big weapon
  • Two medium weapons
  • a medium weapon and a shield
  • waiting for 13th level with a weird weapon to accumulate enough ability to pull off some uber-stunt
and then having to devote all of their advancements to that choice just to keep up. Specializing, or more importantly, diversifying the fighter should encompass how he fights, not just the tools he or she uses to fight with. How about maybe:

  • controlling the enemy's movement
  • being the fastest on the field
  • being the rock upon which the enemy breaks
  • boosting your allies' performance
  • fighting mannish creatures
  • fighting monsters
  • fighting heavily magical foes
as areas for a fighter's specialization? You can even keep the others. I have no objection to a player wanting to play the world's greatest ever axeman. However, these other specialties need to stay on par with the other ones.

In keeping with that, I'd also like to avoid the bonus-tackery that was so common in 3e. An ocean of (often conditional or situational) bonuses to add or subtract was what made 3e hard to balance, and leads to feat channeling. I'd much prefer advancements that give you new things to do rather than tweak numbers that should already be good.

Or maybe I'm just nuts.


New Publisher
That last part by ratskinner was quite on spot....the numbers should already be good, I should be getting more options for what I want to do.

OTOH, man, lots and lots of options is tough for new players. And what new powers do you give them for advancing if they don't want lots of confusing options? Numbers that go up?

this is a hard class to build, I think, but I do personally like what ratskinner had to say there.

Consonant Dude

First Post
Some Guy who blogs under the name Evil_Reverend said:
I find myself looking back to the 3rd Edition fighter with a great deal of fondness. I liked how a player could customize the fighter in any way he or she wanted. All the decision points helped fighters grow in an organic fashion, evolving through game play to match the player expectations.

Dear person-working-at-WotC. Here's a sane way to do 3rd edition style fighter. I have scientifically built an exhaustive feat chain that will please you I hope. I put it in 3e language. And it's very organic, just like you said you like it!


You are an expert at rocking in combat and pulling off whatever maneuver you can think of better than a person who doesn't kick ass.

Prerequisite: Being a fighter

Benefit: Whenever you attempt to kick ass, maneuver penalties incurred are halved and benefits are doubled, subject to common sense.

Normal: Sometimes, people imagine things in their mind (not a grid, nor by sifting through a shopping list of feats on their sheet) and attempt cool maneuvers to disarm a foe, or push him or trip him or maybe hit really hard but a little less precisely. There's a short but helpful list on the DM screen showing whether these maneuvers have penalties and their benefits as well as guidelines to adjudicate anything the group can imagine.

Special: There are plenty of special cases we haven't written about and they can be attempted if they make sense. YES, you can kick your spiked helmet like a football right in that ogre's face! NO, we didn't write down feat about it.

This concludes the fancy fighter feat chain I would like to see in 5th edition.


First Post
What if we attach feats to the weapons, and make the Fighter the only character that gets to take advantage of them?

Terrible Force
The power and ferocity of an axe assault forces enemies to yield. When you attack with an axe, the enemy must pass a Charisma save or fall back a step. If they refuse, your attack does maximum damage.

Guarding Stance
You may defend a close ally. Once per round, you can force an enemy to change the target of their attack to you.

The King of Weapons
You make use of the sword's natural versatility. At the beginning of your round, you may add either +2 to your AC, +2 to hit, a +4 to damage, or attempt any close combat stunt with only a -1 penalty.

Chink in the Armor
When grabbing an enemy or in tight quarters, you may treat your melee attacks as touch attacks.

Crushing Force
The power of your blows staggers even the sturdiest creatures. When you attack with your mace, the enemy must make a Constitution save or lose their next action.

Whenever you are in close combat with an enemy, you gain a +5 bonus to initiative. You may also make an immediate attack against any charging enemy when they enter close combat with you.

Great Weapons
You may make an attack against every enemy in front of you with a -2 penalty.
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Crazy Jerome

First Post
How about instead of defining the fighter directly, let's define the stuff around him. Then see where the Venn diagram takes us (i.e. the center of all this stuff, with some overlap). For sake of argument, use what has been in the past across many versions, even if somewhat inconsistent and the new version might change some of these. I'm leaving out the mostly dedicated casters as too far afield to be useful:

Ranger - pretty good with axe, spear, and bow at a minimum, more weapons depending upon archetype, wood lore including tracking, possibly animal companions, more controversially--nature spells, certainly skilled in the wild, knows certain creature weaknesses.

Barbarian - some decent selection of weapons, probably culturally based, hits hard with big weapons + special abilities to go berserk, skilled in the wild though more mundane than the ranger, really tough, mobile.

Paladin - knightly weapons, mounted combat, often uses a shield but willing to pull out a 2-handed when smacking more important than not getting hit, heavy armor, laying on hands and related curing abilities, some supernatural way to deal with undead and/or demons, some clerical ability, personable, fairly tough.

Rogue - shifty and weaker than the fighter, but capable of putting out the hurt when circumstances are right (circumstances gradually improve across versions), lots of specialized skills, usually favors light weapons, sometimes social skills, sometimes minor ability to use restricted magic items, mobile.

There is a lot of overlap there already, before we even put the fighter in there. So let's start with the fighter being at least competent with all weapons and armor (and this meaning something), and see what else we can fit in the center. There is nothing shared by 3 or more of those. At least two have: Mobility, tough, wilderness skills. That last one is not something we won't to overlap, but let's be a bit more expansive. Three of them do have: Some serious skills and capabilities to put extra hurt out.

So my starting place is that fighters get weapons and armor, can move decently, some toughness, some good set of skills (perhaps picking a subset from a wide range, and should be able to either pick classes of monsters to be good against or perhaps better get some special abilities to smack that are good against any opponents. Let's top that off with easy access to mounted combat/riding, and some analog to the 4E abilties to actually protect friends.

But I'd be interested to see how that set might move, if someone wants to add other classes to the mix (monk? cavalier?) or add things I may have missed.


Give fighters the abilities found in every type of weapon expertise and you've basically covered the "good at everything" while leaving them plenty of room to specialize, and without costing them valuable feats.


In my latest blog, I try to "nail the Fighter" in a different way and with good results IMO, and this can apply to many other classes as well.
Basically, I think it's strategy, not tactics (4e roles) that can define a class in a good way. There can be some favored tactics for some kind of strategies, but in terms of 4e roles, I think all roles can be covered by any class, with very few exceptions. Martial characters in particular can have their weapons define their role...
Another spoiler: I think the Warlord should be "engulfed" by the Fighter. This would actually make the Fighter more interesting, and the Warlord less pigeonholed.


I thought it was pretty clear that he was referring to the fact that no matter which build you played or which powers you selected, you were still a melee defender (unless you were a slayer).

He was complaining about weapon choice also. But yes, I also vehemently disagree with him if he is indeed criticizing Roles: a Fighter should usually be the one to protect the weaker party members just like he did since OD&D. The Slayer is an interesting off-shoot, but fortunately the Fourth Edition clearly labels him as a striker lest his teammates be disappointed by his lack of mutual defense.

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