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D&D 5E D&D Next Blog - The Fighter


First Post
What if we attach feats to the weapons, and make the Fighter the only character that gets to take advantage of them?
You know, I really like the idea of making a lot of cool feats based off weapons in order to allow to give skilled users of those weapons a lot of cool options. That would be a cool thing to see, something like the Martial equivalent to that Flame Javelin feat that was mentioned in the seminars. But making them Fighter-exclusive in order to make the Fighter cool would be a terrible idea.

Fighter-exclusive feats are just a way to deny cool effects to other classes while simultaneously forcing Fighters to pay a feat tax just to access their class features. This is one of the core reasons why 3E Fighters were so miserably bad. It also artificially reduces the impact of weapon choice for classes other than the Fighter, even if these classes have significant weapon skill of their own.

Feats should be options for expanding beyond your class concept. Things designed to make a particular class better should be class features.

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Here's what I'd like to see:

Everybody (fighters, thieves, etc.) get access to at least one Fighting Style (weapon and shield, two weapon, two handed, etc.).

Fighters get X number of ability trees as they level, each tied to a different Fighting Style. So as they level, they get a broader set of options, not a narrower set.

Weapons should have distinct feels to them, so that even without any special abilities, fighting with an axe feels different than fighting with a sword. (This can be done with bonuses to initiative, to hit, damage, crit. range, AC, etc.)

Fighters should have the ability to train on whatever weapon they're *currently using* to unlock additional weapon-themed abilities (e.g. everyone gets extra crit. damage with a hammer, but the fighter also has a chance to stun).

Any additional ability to specialize in a single weapon should be kept to a +1 or +2 bonus so that picking between your current +1 sword that you're specialized in and the shiny new +3 axe should be a tough choice.


The problem with this is that 4E introduced a lot of good, useful stuff that is much more in the realm of "base game" than "tactical combat module". Character creation options, roles, giving characters fun stuff to do, balance, class concepts... Whether you like them or hate them, these are things that existed at the core of the system, independent from things like tactical movement and finnicky bonuses you track from round to round. A lot of it is not stuf you can simply add on later after a base game is already created.

Put simply, if they only start worrying about appealing to 4E fans once a "tactical combat" module is out, then it is probably too late.

I agree that all of the 4e ideas shouldn't 'wait' for the tactical module. But I doubt they are. For example, I think the class balance will stay-- just the impression I have from reading various things-- though that class balance may eschew the symmetry introduced by the 4e PH 1 (as essentials did for example). I think the fighter's additional, more interesting, abilities will probably stay as well, though through feats or some other mechanism.

Interestingly, I didn't read that blog as a '4e fighters kind of suck', even as a subtext. I just read it as 'I kind of miss the flexibility in concept allowed by the 3e fighter'. And that is a sentiment I can understand. The 4e fighter is great. I like it. But I do sometimes wish it were flexible enough to allow for more archetypes rather than having to reflavor other classes to get at particular concepts.

Anyway, just my read on it.



I think the fighter's additional, more interesting, abilities will probably stay as well, though through feats or some other mechanism.

Interestingly, I didn't read that blog as a '4e fighters kind of suck', even as a subtext. I just read it as 'I kind of miss the flexibility in concept allowed by the 3e fighter'. And that is a sentiment I can understand. The 4e fighter is great. I like it. But I do sometimes wish it were flexible enough to allow for more archetypes rather than having to reflavor other classes to get at particular concepts.

Well, in trying to define classes by role, the 4e designers did a lot of "excluding of options" so that your class would always be in its role. Since fighters were supposed to wade into melee and draw attacks to themselves, they simply couldn't be given the option of using bows. It would have violated concept.

Similarly, the ranger was supposed to be EITHER a two-weapon fighter or an archer. Doing both was just sub-optimal.

In other words, 4e's power system pigenholed every character into basically using one weapon for his whole career. While niche protection is very good for defining roles, it practically screams "THIS IS A GAME!" and is not the least bit realistic.

My two cents.

Li Shenron

I think the Fighter class should potentially encompass all fighting styles and concepts, definitely hands down, just like the Wizard class should potentially encompass all arcane spellcasting concepts.

But I also think that this should not work as "when you play a Fighter, you focus on one fighting style". I want it to be more like "when you play a Fighter, you focus on one or more fighting style", and I want it to be similar to how the Wizard works, i.e. the following way...

Anyone who's played a Wizard knows that beyond a certain point, specialization gives diminishing returns. If you play a blaster Wizard, you'll have many area damaging spells like Fireball, Lightning Bolt and so on, but choosing only those spells is not so good, because after a while you have more than enough, and it will be more useful to complement them with other spells.

The Fighter has never worked like that in 3ed: if you chose "sword & board" or "archer" or whatever, you were much better off getting all your feats in that area and ignore other styles. If you got 1-2 feats for another style, you didn't become significantly better at that other style, you still sucked enough so that it was not convenient unless it was really the only option during a certain fight.

Well I guess it's hard, but I would like the 5e Fighter (but IMHO it's more about the design of the Feat/Power system than the class itself) to be in a similar situation as the Wizard, that even if you have a specialization, you will really want to boost a couple of more styles (not every style tho, just like the Wizard can never be good at every school), so that your "sword & board" specialist is still e.g. a pretty good archer and grappler, or another combination.


IMHO, there needs to be a definition set for what the base martial type characters are and whether they are true enough to be separate classes and then go from there. I really don’t see the need for a class like the Knight. Some of my influence comes from how Fantasy Craft covered the topic combined with others influenced from classic D&D and other Fantasy genre sources.

I also think the system needs to grow away from just the classic Race/Class combination. There needs to be other levels of development that allow for customization of the character. Fantasy Craft does this in two way, and it sounds like 5E is heading in the same direction.

Themes: This seems similar to 2E Kits or FC Specialties. They are a small set of options that augment the base class choice to make it into a different or more specialized feeling class. Themes however, should be class neutral.
For instance you could have a general Theme of “Aristocrat” that when added to any character regardless of class, provides certain bonuses such as skill bonuses or extra skills such as acting/performance, bluff, &/or diplomacy; the ability to alter the disposition of NPCs; discount on purchase of certain goods; etc.

Expert/Advanced Classes: These are classes that become available at 5th level and alter the course of advancement for the base class, usually into a much more specialized style or into a more Hybrid type of character (such as the Swordmage, Hexblade, etc.). This could also be done via “Builds” similar to 4E, but I prefer them to be more of a choice. You can choose to remain the generic base class for the full 20 levels of advancement, or you can choose to take Expert class levels. The issue in 4E is that it was a hoice made from 1st level, forever locking you into that “build”.

So with that said… onto the typical “Fighter” classes. The following are the 3 major categories of fighting types in the classic fantasy/D&D genre.

FIGHTER: The general, heavy arms, fighting man-at-arms. Master of weapons and armor and general combat/warfare skills. The ultimate general warrior. They are not initially the best at any particular style of combat but can get there if so desired. Instead they are strong in all categories.
* Highest HP (d12)
* Highest starting access to weapons & armor
* Highest access to fighting style feats/powers/talents
* Basic skill access such as Athletics, Crafting, Intimidation, Perception, Resolve/Fortitude, Survival, Tactics (these would then be added to by your kit/theme such as Diplomacy from a Noble Theme or Stealth from a Commando theme)
* Unique class abilities that focus on general combat. For instance; innate Damage Resistance, AC bonuses when in armor, discounts on purchasing weapons/armor, Weapon Specialist bonuses (most general fighters still have a few preferred weapons) like access to Weapon Style powers (such as gaining a stance when using axes), Ability to create improvised cover (using terrain, furniture), etc.
Some Possible Expert Classes/Builds:
* Berserker – the classic Viking Berserker or Dwarven Battlerager
* Cavalier – master mounted warrior
* Commando / Marine – shock troops specialized in shock, surprise and fast deadly attacks
* Edgemaster – master swordsman (often two-weapon)
* Gladiator – heavily armed showman/sport fighters
* Guardian / Shield Bearer / Bodyguard – the typical Weapon/Shield protector (Tank)
* Knight – unlike cavaliers, knights are trained in mounted combat, but not exclusively, instead also focusing on command (Leadership)
* Paladin – like the swordmage, a sort of hybrid divine fighter; a champion of an ideal, faith, etc. ( I don’t really see this needing to be its own base class)
* Swordmage – adds a little battle magic into the mix, a form of hybrid arcane fighter
* Vanguard – Leader build

RANGER: Wilderness warriors and scouts. They are specialized in using the terrain to their advantage, hunting and stalking skills for tactics and their knowledge of creatures for an edge.
* High HP (d10)
* Medium access to armor but wide range of weapons
* Moderate access to fighting style feats/powers/talents – but with a specific bent to their class style
* Basic skill access such as Acrobatics, Athletics, Medicine/First-Aid, Perception, Resolve/Fortitude, Stealth, Survival, Tactics
* Unique class abilities that focus on terrain manipulation and terrain based tactics such as: Ability to share terrain based feats with the party for short times, Bonuses to Stealth, Tracking and Survival skills or advantages with them, Bonuses to saves vs. environmental conditions/situations, Sneak attack, Ability to acquire Special Abilities like Low-Light Vision, Keen Senses, bonuses with critical hits, ability to remove terrain penalties, increased speed, Ambush bonuses to party, Turn animals/beasts, Trackless, Camouflage, etc.
Some Possible Expert Classes/Builds:
* Archer – the classic archer/sniper ranger
* Barbarian /Tribesman - barbarians are actually more just really tough wilderness warriors, basically melee rangers with Rage; shock troop rangers
* Beastmaster – the typical image of the ranger with an animal companion
* Dervish – melee ranger
* Nomad – widely traveled, mounted ranger specialist
* Force of Nature – the hybrid druid, spell-using ranger (while I want my Rangers nature linked, I Don’t want them to necessarily be spellcasters by default)
* Monster Slayer – specialized abilities in Favored Foes
* Warden – defenders of the wild

MARTIAL-ARTIST: Graceful warriors who see combat as an art form. The living weapon. The classic “monk” that doesn’t have to have an “Eastern” flavor necessarily. Primarily masters of Unarmed combat, this class also can choose to specialize in certain types of armed combat as well – those that still utilize the whole body as an extension of that weapon. This class also epitomes all LIGHT fighting styles!
* High HP (d12)
* Low access to weapons & armor (light armors and specific weapon groups)
* Moderate access to fighting style feats/powers/talents – but with a specific bent to their class style
* Basic skill access such as Acrobatics, Athletics, Intimidation, Perception, Resolve/Fortitude, Sense Motives, Stealth
* Unique class abilities that focus on classic martial themes such as: Ability to soak damage (DR, self-healing, etc.), Disciplines (focus on mind, body or spirit – possibly eventually all three), Special combat abilities for unarmed combat or specific weapon styles, Improved reach, Lots of attack/defense Tricks/Stances/Combat Maneuvers like Trip, Throw, Improved Stability, Armor Piercing Strikes, Bull Rush, etc., Some basic Wuxia abilities like Jumping, Slow Fall, Ability to mix “unarmed maneuvers” with specialized weapons, ability to mix maneuvers such as Trip and Bull Rush into a Great Sweep.
Some Possible Expert Classes/Builds:
* Beast-Warrior – great concept for classes like Shifters or others with natural attacks like claws
* Brawler – the thuggish brute pugilist or wrestler (sort of the unarmed barbarian)
* Cestus – lightly armed showman/sport fighters (boxers/boxing gladiators)
* Fencer – master swordsman (often two-weapon)
* Gallant – The warrior of high society – the Samurai, the noble swordsman, the professional duelist
* Monk – a student of the conection of body, spriit and mind (more advanced mystic with powers of wuxia)
* Swashbuckler - Buckle that swash!


I miss not being able to make a kobold spear fighter or rogue without creating a god awful character.

I'm still trying to scan that sentence. Using "not" and "without" in the same sentence really is confusing.

So do you want to be able to make god awful characters or not?


First Post
A much more momentous thing happened to the fighter in 4e. It stopped sucking.

And it's not even acknowledged, let alone valued.
This is a very good point and should be a definite concern when they look at fighter design.

I have played 4e fighters with several characters and they were awesome. One could grab anyone by the throat who tried to walk past him, and when he wasn't using his free hand to strangle someone he could smack someone, whip out a hand axe and nail someone 25 ft away, daring them to face me. And that was just 2 out of 3 of his at will powers. His other at will was weapon master ... so he was swapping out a khopesh with helbards, maces, longspears ... and doing different stuff with each of them.

I would never (ever) choose to play a fighter in 3.5 or pathfinder. Boring. Seriously boring.

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