Fixing the Fighter: The Zouave

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
The problem with the fighter class in 5e is, IMO, it's too much about fighting, and not enough about what the fighter endure to earn those fighting skills, and what they learned on the way.

Consider, if you will, the Zouave:


This guy is a veteran. That means he's a survivor. He's seen combat, illness, injury, low supplies, ambushes (from both sides), retreats, city sacking and survived.

This guy is also a campaigner. He knows things. He knows how to dig a latrine. He knows how to cook something of dubious quality and make it edible. He knows that this is just the place where the cavalry is going to charge through and we should get the hell out of here. He knows how to bribe a dog, or a judge. He knows what tool to carry with him and what to leave behind. He knows how to use each of said tools to solve at least 3 different problems.

Lastly he's well traveled. He's been places. He knows the basics in a smattering of languages. He's eaten foreign foods and strange alcohols. He's been on a boat, maybe survived a wreck or two. He knows other cultures, what they want, how they think.

The fighter should have these properties in 5e. I was talking about this the other day on the OSR, and it looks like I inspired someone because they came out with this stunning piece of work:
(edit: this is a class for the GLOG system, just to be clear)

Now, can we do this in 5e?
 
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Wouldn't the ranger be a better fit for your interpretation of the Zouave? Lightly armoured, wilderness survival skills, knowledge of monsters, bribes dogs like a lobbyist bribes politicians. Or do you think the fighter should 'kill the ranger and take his stuff'?
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
Well, that’s A fighter. A specific one: soldier. But fighter has to encompass every other martially trained archetype not explicitly covered by another class. It’s the most general class there is so not every fighter would have those skills or experiences. A boxer is also a fighter. As is a bodyguard, or many other archetypes.

Also, a beginning fighter isn’t really a veteran with all of those skills. More of a low ranking person with little or no combat experience (if they did, they wouldn’t start with 0 experience)

So it seems like you’re designing a professional soldier subclass. Which is a bit intriguing, I’ll admit
 

gr michael

Villager
Wouldn't the ranger be a better fit for your interpretation of the Zouave? Lightly armoured, wilderness survival skills, knowledge of monsters, bribes dogs like a lobbyist bribes politicians. Or do you think the fighter should 'kill the ranger and take his stuff'?
definitely was thinking of a ranger when i wrote this, but i'd like to take this opportunity to complain about the ranger class. he occupies an odd mental niche for me, and i am never sure how to treat him if not just as "fighter who lives in the woods". what really distinguishes a ranger from a fighter with survivalist skills? what should distinguish him? i dislike the bard for a similar reason.


Well, that’s A fighter. A specific one: soldier. But fighter has to encompass every other martially trained archetype not explicitly covered by another class. It’s the most general class there is so not every fighter would have those skills or experiences. A boxer is also a fighter. As is a bodyguard, or many other archetypes.

Also, a beginning fighter isn’t really a veteran with all of those skills. More of a low ranking person with little or no combat experience (if they did, they wouldn’t start with 0 experience)

So it seems like you’re designing a professional soldier subclass. Which is a bit intriguing, I’ll admit
yes, the Zouave is already an established veteran when he begins. i tried to show this in his class progression, where he doesn't learn new tricks, he just shakes the rust off and people start remembering him.


The Fighter has long suffered in the role of "Just a guy with the sword" thanks to any nice thing they could potentially had being confined into another class. It started with the Thief stealing skill use and it snowballed out of control from there.
perhaps you could retire the fighter entirely? or, in 5e, make everyone a multiclassed Fighter. that might be a ridiculous boomer move, but i might try it just for laughs.
 

Tonguez

Adventurer
The fighter is the major example of the weakness in class-based systemd and why it needs to have archetypes and feats attached.

the Ranger is the Fighter + survival skills and thus a better model of your Zouave

the Bard is the Fighter + social skills

it might be time to either drop the Fighter Class or give a suite of paths
 

Eubani

Explorer
The main thing stopping the Fighter from being what it could be and having all sorts of nice things is Grognards. As soon as the Fighter does more than attack rolls and ability checks grognards whinge, whine and cry. Often blatantly lying that they are using magic when doing more than attacking or basic skill usage. Of course in response to this the designers have folded like wet cardboard. So the first and most necessary step in designing a good Fighter would be for the designers to ignore Grognards. Surely something can be learned from over 40 years of bad Fighter design.
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
The main thing stopping the Fighter from being what it could be and having all sorts of nice things is Grognards. As soon as the Fighter does more than attack rolls and ability checks grognards whinge, whine and cry. Often blatantly lying that they are using magic when doing more than attacking or basic skill usage. Of course in response to this the designers have folded like wet cardboard. So the first and most necessary step in designing a good Fighter would be for the designers to ignore Grognards. Surely something can be learned from over 40 years of bad Fighter design.
I hate to say it...

....but you might have a point. Mind you the kind of things I want are not cleave off someone else 's armor, (or other super duper move) but utility.
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
The main thing stopping the Fighter from being what it could be and having all sorts of nice things is Grognards. As soon as the Fighter does more than attack rolls and ability checks grognards whinge, whine and cry. Often blatantly lying that they are using magic when doing more than attacking or basic skill usage. Of course in response to this the designers have folded like wet cardboard. So the first and most necessary step in designing a good Fighter would be for the designers to ignore Grognards. Surely something can be learned from over 40 years of bad Fighter design.
citations please
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
I should also note that every single time satisfaction polls get posted, the fighter does pretty well. So anyone who says it’s broken and/or bad is simply expressing their personal opinion. Nothing more. There is no need for the designers to change anything. In fact, alienating a large part of your customer base to focus on one playstyle would be a horrible business decision. We’ve literally seen the difference in sales figures.
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
I should also note that every single time satisfaction polls get posted, the fighter does pretty well. So anyone who says it’s broken and/or bad is simply expressing their personal opinion. Nothing more. There is no need for the designers to change anything. In fact, alienating a large part of your customer base to focus on one playstyle would be a horrible business decision. We’ve literally seen the difference in sales figures.
I'll post something that may be a bit... uncharitable to some fighter players (not all! some!). I think there are players who are there for combat. They are waiting for the next fight, the next bout of excitement. The part in between is bla bla bla they aren't really interested in - they might focus a bit for a few minutes of amusing roleplay or to kick in a door, but most of the time they are detached. For a player like this, a fighter is perfect (and for the players who don't want to wait for the combat, a barbarian?). Of course satisfaction in the class is good.

But what about the people who want to play a fighter AND engage in the non combat part? Now I'll fully admit, 5e really did help that with the backgrounds - they can be a very useful tool/lever to do this. But I think it should be a bit more.

The ranger has those tools, but they are very specific to a certain flavor.
 

Undrave

Adventurer
The Fighter has long suffered in the role of "Just a guy with the sword" thanks to any nice thing they could potentially had being confined into another class. It started with the Thief stealing skill use and it snowballed out of control from there.
Yeah, well, y'know, not anymore...

...not that 1e level titles meant anything.
There's this weird situation where the Wizard 'studied in a magic school for years' before level 1 but, somehow, the lv 1 Fighter is viewed as 'Farm hand picks up a sword'... If the Wizard studied for years to get to Level 1 then SO SHOULD THE FIGHTER!
 
I'll post something that may be a bit... uncharitable to some fighter players (not all! some!). I think there are players who are there for combat. They are waiting for the next fight, the next bout of excitement. The part in between is bla bla bla they aren't really interested in
That's a stereotype, alright "wake me when the fight starts"

But, like "nobody plays high-level" there's a chicken/egg thing going on. Do players who are attracted to archetypes represented by the fighter, like (according to the 2e PH) Perseus, Hiawatha, Beowulf, CuChulain, Sinbad, Charlemagne, and Spartacus, (and, though 2e didn't go into characters under copyright, basically most heroes in most high-fantay/S&S) thinking "I'd hate to have to participate in the whole session, and those guys sound like they'd only wake up for a fight," or having rolled up a fighter, do they quickly learn there's nothing much useful for them to do between fights?
 
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In 5e, at least, thanks to BA and backgrounds, if all that occurs out of combat is checks, the Fighter will have something to do. Even the Champion Fighter.
Once it starts being about spells and rituals and class abilities, though....
If OOC is limited to any game mechanics, then your game is lacking.

I play a fighter, and I don't feel my character is lacking out of combat - in fact I do most of the talking to NPCs (mostly deliberately pissing them off) and strategic and tactical planning.
 

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