Fighter subclasses for every ability score

Blue

Orcus on a bad hair day
One of the differences between fighter subclasses and subclasses for other classes is that fighter subclasses tend more to favor mechanical rather then thematic interpretations. I'm not saying this to judge, but rather as an introduction that I was thinking about a mechanical set of melee fighter subclasses - one for each ability score. And I'd love to hear your thoughts on interesting play goals and mechanics for them.

Just for now, think about these in a vacuum. No other fighter subclasses, heck no other classes. So it's okay if there's overlap with rogue or whatever.

Right now, I'm focusing on the martial (non-casting) and melee.

Here's a partial list of names and ideas, but feel free to override them with your own ideas.

Brute [STR]
Exactly what it says on the package. Non-finesse weapons, big damage. Might steal from the actual Brute subclas or take some inspiration from the Barbarian. Fairly close to existing, but still feel free to suggest.

Skirmisher[DEX]
Ability to get into engagement and out. Finesse tricks, maybe inspired by battlemasters with increased focus. What types of features would encourage medium and light armor use? Or even unarmored.

Tank [CON]
Okay, needs a better name. But the unmovable object, good at taking hits and staying up. Maybe throw in some defender-y features.

Tactical Fighter [INT]
Okay, the smart fighter. One who has knowledge, and quickness of wits, and out-plays foes.Ability to use INT instead of DEX for Init and AC. What types of features for tricking opponents?

?? [WIS]
Not sure about this. One is the aware fighter - one who can read their opponent and use it. Other is more of a determinator - one who's willpower lets them just power through things that would bring lesser men to their knees. Like Batman. (Batman is, of course, used as both an example of The Determinator and an example of a thing that can bring men to their knees.) What are your thoughts on the thematic design for WIS - feel free to come up with something else.

Leader [CHR]
Okay, someone who wins their own fights through the force of their personality - causing foes to flinch, misread, dooubt themselves, whatever - and winning battles by leading men. I hesitate to even mention "warlord" in conjunction for the second part because I know a subclass won't satisfy the long-suffering true believers, but instead saying that we can take some inspiration from the warlord for features for this subclass.

So, what mechanically and thematically belongs in these? Feel free to contradict my ideas, just trying to get a brainstorm going.
 
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UngeheuerLich

Adventurer
I'd love subclasses to add different attribute options to existing classes. I would be satisfied with a feat that did so.

I am interested in what pathfinder does in this direction.

For me, a perfect dnd 6e would allow more with ability scores. I think a saving throw for each of them is nice but it could be even better.
 
I hesitate to even mention "warlord" in conjunction for the second part because I know a subclass won't satisfy the long-suffering true believers, but instead saying that we can take some inspiration from the warlord for features for this subclass.
Heh. Fighter archetypes base on physical stats & warlord on mental would make sense...

...but, really, "true believer" aside, 5e could have given the Fighter every toy it ever got, in every edition, plus every toy the theif/rogue ever got in every edition, plus all the warlords goodies, and not cracked Tier 2.
There'd be nothing wrong with folding the Warlord into a Fighter, just, not the hardwired for Tanky, multi-attacking DPR, 5e fighter - It's just not upgradeable, no expansion slots, y'know.


One of the differences between fighter subclasses and subclasses for other classes is that fighter subclasses tend more to favor mechanical rather then thematic interpretations. I'm not saying this to judge,
Maybe not, but it's the opposite of what they said they were fundamentally going for with 5e design.

Skirmisher[DEX]
What types of features would encourage medium and light armor use? Or even unarmored.
The way light armor works already encourages it for high-Dex characters
Unarmored? IDK, proficiency to AC?

Tank [CON]
Okay, needs a better name.
Defender? Stalwart? Legionary?
Tactical Fighter [INT]
What types of features for tricking opponents?
Tricks (deception) might be more the CHA style. Arms tailored to the target might be something. Countering special abilities, bypassing resistance, exploiting vulnerabilities.
[WIS]
Not sure about this. One is the aware fighter - one who can read their opponent and use it.
Actually a Guard - who's actually good at his job for the first time in D&D history - would be a possibility. A sniper also makes sense - about calm, deliberate attacks and spotting targets.
[CHR]
Okay, someone who wins their own fights through the force of their personality - causing foes to flinch, misread, dooubt themselves, whatever
Could be the flamboyant duelist who psychs-out and tricks his opponents, the Hector who taunts them, or the warrior focused on intimidation and personal courage.
 
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vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
One thing I do when I design archetypes is look at the monster features list on DMG p280 to see if I can steal existing features and give them to the class.
For exemple:

The Tank (Con-fighter): Lets call it the Dreadnought
Here's a list of monster feature that we could use to create it:
- Charge (centaur)
- Immutable Form (golems)
- Damage absorption(golems)
- Regeneration (Troll)
- Sure-footed (beasts)
etc

Or the Delver (Int-fighter)
- Avoidance (demi-lich)
- Keen senses
- Labyrinthine Recall
- Slippery
- Darkvision

You can quickly make archetypes fitting your vision with those.
 

TiwazTyrsfist

Explorer
Since we're not worried about stepping on the toes of other classes, for the Wis sub, I'd borrow heavily from the Weapon focus Monk variants.

[WIS] - Kensai, Swordsage, Dervish? - Rather than focusing on brute strength of tactical training, the Wisdom Fighter functions on a mixture of intuition and meditative training the builds muscle memory. Give them "Stances" which grant bonuses, but also limit them in some way. I.E. This stance can only be used with a single light weapon and a free hand, this stance can only be used with a heavy weapon, This stance gives you a damage bonus but you cannot use the disengage action, etc.

[INT] - Tactician - Borrow heavily from Battle Master.

[CHA] - Duelist/Gladiator - The preformative Fighter. Special powers should let you do things like distract or dazzle opponents. Inflict your CHA mod as a PENALTY on enemies. Feint successfully to gain advantage on attacks. Fake a serious wound or even death to gain some sort of leg up. NO Cha to dmg, ac, or init. Cha checks as bonus actions to do things like pull an enemy, lose an enemy, or impose penalties/grant bonuses. Skirt up against Bard College of Swords and College of Valor, but on a Fighter non-caster frame.
 

Xeviat

Explorer
You know, inching in on the territory of the Barbarian, Bard, monk, paladin, and ranger might be okay, as an option for people who want to play an archetype that leans that way but without the magic. I do agree that the core subclasses focus too much on mechanics and don't have identify of their own.

Your idea to look at the ability scores does lead to some good fighter archetypes. The brute (con), the tactician (int), the weapon master (Wis), and the hero (Cha) all suggest archetypes rather than just mechanics.

I don't feel like a STR/dex melee concept lends itself to an archetype, though. Those archetypes feel better served by the Rogue. I'm seeing a fast striking melee warrior, someone who lacks the weapon master's artful techniques and focus, but that isn't screaming a character to me, just a mechanic. Unless "warrior" feels like an archetype separate from a big brute.
 

Xeviat

Explorer
Heh. Fighter archetypes base on physical stats & warlord on mental would make sense...

...but, really, "true believer" aside, 5e could have given the Fighter every toy it ever got, in every edition, plus every toy the theif/rogue ever got in every edition, plus all the warlords goodies, and not cracked Tier 2.
There'd be nothing wrong with folding the Warlord into a Fighter, just, not the hardwired for Tanky, multi-attacking DPR, 5e fighter - It's just not upgradeable, no expansion slots, y'know.
It is interesting how Action Surge and Extra Attack 3 and 4 really do lock the fighter in to a specific play style. The fighter could have been better suited with bigger subclasses and a little less on the core chasis, hu?
 

vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
It is interesting how Action Surge and Extra Attack 3 and 4 really do lock the fighter in to a specific play style. The fighter could have been better suited with bigger subclasses and a little less on the core chasis, hu?
I dont think Extra Attack is the feature that take ''too much'' place in the core chasis. I think the main offender is the extra feats at level 6 and 14. Many classes gain an archetype feature at those levels and I honestly believe that those two level slot could a been better used to develop a little more the identity of the archetype witch ribbons and utility features.
 

TwoSix

Lover of things you hate
I'd see an Int fighter as making a lot of studied, precise strikes, and working with their allies to make coordinated attacks. Maybe features like "Sacrifice one of your attacks to identify a target's weakness. The target is vulnerable to the next attack that targets them." or "Sacrifice one of your attacks and choose one of your allies. The next time that ally takes the Attack action, they may make one additional attack that has advantage." Upgraded critical chances would work well here, also.

A Wisdom fighter I would see as being more defensive. Sacrifice attacks to gain additional reactions, which can be used to make parries. Blindsight in a 10' radius, increasing to 30' at higher levels. Upgraded and extra uses of Indomitable. Maybe healing on use of indomitable? Unarmored defense as level 3 ribbon (10+Dex+Wis+shield) also seems to support the trope.

Since so much of the fighter's power is baked into the Extra Attack (2) ability for tier 3, I'd argue that making subclass features that can sacrifice one or more attacks is a good way to broaden a subclass power budget without making the overall build more powerful.

Also, if the Con and mental stat subclasses don't have a "+Main stat to attack and damage" feature, you'd need to increase their overall subclass feature power. Even with the extra ASI's, a fighter dependent on Dex/Str for attack bonus is going to raise Dex/Str first before a mental stat unless the features are overwhelmingly useful.
 
I dont think Extra Attack is the feature that take ''too much'' place in the core chasis. I think the main offender is the extra feats at level 6 and 14.
5e scales most clearly in terms of hp/damage, and the fan base lives* to calculate DPR. So 5e 'balance' overvalues DPR, and, the Fighter, Mr Best At Combat (with weapons, without magic), gets little else.

The bonus ASIs give the Fighter a tiny amount of versatility at the build-design phase, so they're a godsend for any theorycrafter who wishes to prove the Fighter can 'do' something or meet some metric. But the practical benefit to an actual individual fighter, in play, is getting his ASI/second-choice feat 2 levels early.

I honestly believe that those two level slot could a been better used to develop a little more the identity of the archetype witch ribbons and utility features.
Honestly you could give The fighter all of those you wanted.






* that was s'posedto be 'loves' but I think I'll let autocorrect have it's way on this one.
 
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Quartz

Explorer
For a Cha fighter, you could use the Paladin. Change the damage type from Radiant to Psychic, lower the damage die because it affects everyone and you're most of the way there.
 

Blue

Orcus on a bad hair day
Your idea to look at the ability scores does lead to some good fighter archetypes. The brute (con), the tactician (int), the weapon master (Wis), and the hero (Cha) all suggest archetypes rather than just mechanics.

I don't feel like a STR/dex melee concept lends itself to an archetype, though. Those archetypes feel better served by the Rogue. I'm seeing a fast striking melee warrior, someone who lacks the weapon master's artful techniques and focus, but that isn't screaming a character to me, just a mechanic. Unless "warrior" feels like an archetype separate from a big brute.
You know, with STR and DEX being big for any weapon wielder, maybe they shouldn't be archetypes. Maybe there should be a bunch of core fighter features that support "strong and heavy armor" and "dex and light armor" and you can play either way successfully with any of the archetypes that focus on the other ability scores.

You know, inching in on the territory of the Barbarian, Bard, monk, paladin, and ranger might be okay, as an option for people who want to play an archetype that leans that way but without the magic. I do agree that the core subclasses focus too much on mechanics and don't have identify of their own.
Agreed. Just like the integrated multiclassing of Eldritch Knight or whatever but in the other direction - the flavor in a pure martial form.
 

Xeviat

Explorer
You know, with STR and DEX being big for any weapon wielder, maybe they shouldn't be archetypes. Maybe there should be a bunch of core fighter features that support "strong and heavy armor" and "dex and light armor" and you can play either way successfully with any of the archetypes that focus on the other ability scores.



Agreed. Just like the integrated multiclassing of Eldritch Knight or whatever but in the other direction - the flavor in a pure martial form.
I like both of your thoughts there.
 

Tonguez

Adventurer
Cha - definitely Gladiator/Swashbuckler - a highly performative class that uses panache and style to gain an advantage, dazzling and distracting their adversary, taunting their opponent to make wild strikes or rash move

Wis/Int I'm not sure how you separate this two states in a fighter as both require the character to observe the opponent and make tactical decisions on where and how to move/defend/hit for advantage. Whether thats a sniper, waiting patiently to get the aimed shot or if its a melee tactician, who moves at exactly the right position, or is able to trigger a desired reaction.
 

Xeviat

Explorer
Cha - definitely Gladiator/Swashbuckler - a highly performative class that uses panache and style to gain an advantage, dazzling and distracting their adversary, taunting their opponent to make wild strikes or rash move.
I think this could fit in with a hero or champion type of character too. This is the kind of person who would be inspiring their allies and demoralizing their enemies.
 

akr71

Explorer
Just kinda thinking out loud here...

An idea for the INT fighter could be a series of 'probing attacks' to gauge the strength and ability of your opponent. On a successful attack, forgo doing damage in exchange for information about the opponent (HP, Saving Throw modifiers, or the like).

Alternately, the 'probing attack' could be used to increase your damage on the next successful hit. This could be achieved by a flat modifier (boring), rolling the damage more than once and taking the higher number, or automatically giving max damage.
 

Blue

Orcus on a bad hair day
I'd see an Int fighter as making a lot of studied, precise strikes, and working with their allies to make coordinated attacks. Maybe features like "Sacrifice one of your attacks to identify a target's weakness. The target is vulnerable to the next attack that targets them." or "Sacrifice one of your attacks and choose one of your allies. The next time that ally takes the Attack action, they may make one additional attack that has advantage."

A Wisdom fighter I would see as being more defensive. Sacrifice attacks to gain additional reactions, which can be used to make parries.

...

Since so much of the fighter's power is baked into the Extra Attack (2) ability for tier 3, I'd argue that making subclass features that can sacrifice one or more attacks is a good way to broaden a subclass power budget without making the overall build more powerful.
This is interesting - using attacks as a resource because the Fighter excels at that. I have some worry about when tey just have Extra Attack that if they regularly sacrifice they will be doing less, well, "fighter things" then other classes. So need to make sure that what they get feels like something meaningful.

For instance, instead of a 1:1 trading attacks for reaction that allows parries let's give more. Maybe giving up an attack lets you take "Parry stance" until the start of your next round. In Parry stance you have +2 AC from parrying and also can use your reaction to force a reroll on one attack that hits you.
 

TwoSix

Lover of things you hate
This is interesting - using attacks as a resource because the Fighter excels at that. I have some worry about when tey just have Extra Attack that if they regularly sacrifice they will be doing less, well, "fighter things" then other classes. So need to make sure that what they get feels like something meaningful.
Oh, absolutely. Level 3 fighter features are almost all damage increases, or damage+utility. Any feature that lets you swap an attack should have a return that's, at-worst, equivalent damage to one fighter attack and situationally even stronger.

Likewise, since they are fighters, you don't want a feature that's encouraging them to give up all their attacks every round, since that takes away from the feel of the class and is moving a little hard into lazylord territory. So a "once-per-turn" limitation or trading an attack for a bonus reaction and/or a superior reaction makes sense.

For instance, instead of a 1:1 trading attacks for reaction that allows parries let's give more. Maybe giving up an attack lets you take "Parry stance" until the start of your next round. In Parry stance you have +2 AC from parrying and also can use your reaction to force a reroll on one attack that hits you.
Yea, this is good. I'd probably push for +2, and lets you take a reaction to make an attack on an enemy within 5' that attacks you. Sacrificing an attack for an AC bonus is conditionally good, but probably not worth the trade off (contrast with Kensei Monks' Agile Parry, which sacrifices a few points of damage for a +2 AC boost). Adding in some conditional offense moves it from a "probably not, unless I'm desperate for defense" to a "Yea, I'll probably do that", which I think is where early level class features should be.

You could also tie them together by having them spend a reaction to force a reroll, and if they miss, then the fighter can make one counter-attack. More defense, but still some additional offense.
 

Blue

Orcus on a bad hair day
Cha - definitely Gladiator/Swashbuckler - a highly performative class that uses panache and style to gain an advantage, dazzling and distracting their adversary, taunting their opponent to make wild strikes or rash move
I like your thematics. Can you suggest some CHR-focused mechanics that would support it?

Wis/Int I'm not sure how you separate this two states in a fighter as both require the character to observe the opponent and make tactical decisions on where and how to move/defend/hit for advantage. Whether thats a sniper, waiting patiently to get the aimed shot or if its a melee tactician, who moves at exactly the right position, or is able to trigger a desired reaction.
I struggled with a strong concept for WIS. Are these so close that maybe it should be a single subclass that can trigger of INT or WIS for it's features?
 

Blue

Orcus on a bad hair day
Just kinda thinking out loud here...

An idea for the INT fighter could be a series of 'probing attacks' to gauge the strength and ability of your opponent. On a successful attack, forgo doing damage in exchange for information about the opponent (HP, Saving Throw modifiers, or the like).

Alternately, the 'probing attack' could be used to increase your damage on the next successful hit. This could be achieved by a flat modifier (boring), rolling the damage more than once and taking the higher number, or automatically giving max damage.
I'm a little wary of "don't do anything now to do something later". Probing with your attack to get information = good. Giving up the damage you'd do = not so much. Especially as most 5e combats aren't that long that most of the time it's better just to try to inflict "condition: Dead" on the opponent.

The "no damage now for double later" is "you'll have two attacks worth of damage total. do ti normal and it's half now. Do it special and it's none now. Huh?". So it would need to be bigger than that. But even there, I'm reminded of playing Earthdawn where casters needed to spend actions to get "threads" to power their spells, so you had these null actions often. When you might only have an action every 10-15 minutes (depending on party size and how many foes the DM is running) I'm leary of that - it doesn't feel like you're contributing even if you will be.

So something like:

Probing Attack: Once per round on a successful hit, you learn one thing about your opponent: Max HPs, total damage taken, best save, worst save, movement speed and modes, all resistances/immunities, or any vulnerabilities. If you are proficient in Investigation you may pick two.

(Once per round is to keep the RL speed up since it's a separate DM interaction.)

Anticipate foe: When you take the Attack action, you have advantage on all weapon attacks, natural attacks and ability checks for special attacks like grappling until the beginning of your next turn as long as you damaged the target with a weapon attack since the beginning of your last turn.
You may do this a number of times equal to your INT or WIS modifier (min 1). Uses are restored on a long rest.

(Using the Samurai as a guide that at-will advantage on all attacks shouldn't be too often per day. Also note that it's "since the beginning of last turn" so reaction attacks count for damaging, and "until the beginning of your next turn" so you get the bonus on reaction attacks as well. Plus it counts for shoves and grappling.)
 

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