Fixing the Fighter: The Zouave

Pretty sure I have some posts on this very forum arguing precisely this, so yeah, I can hardly disagree. I did feel like skill challenges in general dragged in all the PCs better than 5E's skill system, too, so that helped a bit.
They provided a structure, it just really needed to be a much more dynamic structure when you played through it. There were any number of great skill challenges, but they almost always meant reaching beyond the skeleton, just, making the accumulation of success & failures map to something concrete could do it. Turn it from a sub-system to a game-within-a-game.

You're going to be mad but what really made 4E Fighter work for one of my group was the 4E Ritual Caster feat, which actually made him incredibly useful out of combat, .... (it fit his PC's background really well, which is why he originally took it).
Yeah, that's just kinda wrong. But, hey, it may well have been a legit RP choice based on Background so no reflection of the Fighter, class, there.

I dunno that that would have got him out of T5, but it would certainly have made him a lot more interesting and fun to play, especially 1-10, which was what worked best in 3.XE (as with most editions).
Oh, not out of T5, out of the game that made Tier ranking necessary. In other words, the 3e fighter was great - it was all the other classes, and the monsters, that were terrible! (Though the Sorcerer also had some design elegance and depth to it, in it's own way).

Yeah, but it's just like, somehow not enough in 5E. Having a super-high AC is something a lot of classes in 5E manage, but it was basically only Fighters and the odd Cleric who managed in 2E, and DPR was Fighterland back then. He remains, technically, the king of DPR (I think? He's certainly up there), but now instead of being essentially unchallenged, he is surrounded by angry Warlocks and Barbarians, and even others.
That's what I mean about everyone contributing in combat. The Fighter(Champion/BM), Rogue(Thief/Assassin), and Barbarian (Berserker) all contribute mainly single-target DPR. Different flavors, the fighter is tanky, the rogue opportunistic, the barbarian hulks out, but all just DPR. The Warlock, Paladin (and EK & AT &c) and others do so, as well, even full casters can if they concentrate on using the right spells the right way, but they all also do other stuff in combat, they heal/buff/support significantly, they change up the battlefield, the out put multi-target/AE DPR, they de-buff the enemy, etc...
So, like, yeah, I mentioned the Rogue and Cleric in the same breath as getting out of their protected niches and being better-rounded, but it's not like they're suddenly in the same Tier, either.

Let's be real, it wasn't really Clerics in most 2E games - it was Speciality Priests. Seemed like after about 1992-1994 either you were playing the FR or Planescape, in which case, Speciality Priest, or Dark Sun, in which case bizarre Elemental Cleric.
Ironically (it was another one of those "this would be great, in a better game" things, only that time I had tons of variants trying to get to that better game), I really liked the CPH version of creating priesthoods and used that for the second half of a campaign (that had started in 1e, with a not entirely dissimilar case-by-case customization of clerics by deity) that ended up running from '85 to '95. Two of the PCs were CPH Priests, and did very well.
 
Last edited:

Arnwolf666

Adventurer
Pretty sure I have some posts on this very forum arguing precisely this, so yeah, I can hardly disagree. I did feel like skill challenges in general dragged in all the PCs better than 5E's skill system, too, so that helped a bit.

You're going to be mad but what really made 4E Fighter work for one of my group was the 4E Ritual Caster feat, which actually made him incredibly useful out of combat, and he saved the other PCs several times with that. But er, yeah okay, I see how that looks with the casting spells and so on... (it fit his PC's background really well, which is why he originally took it).



I dunno that that would have got him out of T5, but it would certainly have made him a lot more interesting and fun to play, especially 1-10, which was what worked best in 3.XE (as with most editions).



Yeah, but it's just like, somehow not enough in 5E. Having a super-high AC is something a lot of classes in 5E manage, but it was basically only Fighters and the odd Cleric* who managed in 2E, and DPR was Fighterland back then. He remains, technically, the king of DPR (I think? He's certainly up there), but now instead of being essentially unchallenged, he is surrounded by angry Warlocks and Barbarians, and even others.

* = Let's be real, it wasn't really Clerics in most 2E games - it was Speciality Priests. Seemed like after about 1992-1994 either you were playing the FR or Planescape, in which case, Speciality Priest, or Dark Sun, in which case bizarre Elemental Cleric.
woah. There’s no way fighter could have been dpr in 2E. Everyone swears to me wizards were god on these forums.
 

Ruin Explorer

Adventurer
woah. There’s no way fighter could have been dpr in 2E. Everyone swears to me wizards were god on these forums.9
In 2E?

Wizards eventually became gods in 2E, but it was far more conditional than 3E. First off, you had to get to a higher level before it was really the case, in 2E. Second off, and this is often forgotten, you only really got spells two ways in 2E, by looting dead wizards' spellbooks and by copying from scrolls. This meant that if the DM didn't want you to have a spell, you basically couldn't have it. So many problematic or synergistic spells simply never reached PCs. There were technically other ways (spell research, for example), but they were either limited and also DM-bounded. Whereas in 3E you got spells of choice (including new spells in new sourcebooks) on level up. There were many other factors to and I could write a multi-page essay on it but suffice to say, wizards, especially Transmuters, could become godlike, but it took a smart player, the right spells, and more levels than 3E.

Whereas Fighters just needed to specialise in a good weapon, and maybe take two-weapon-fighting/ambidexterity proficiencies, and go to town with multiple attacks. Add in a high STR, either natural or often from a belt or gauntlets, and maybe a magic weapon or two and the became terrifying, especially in magic full plate (and perhaps a magic shield). Combat and Tactics made them even better. Moreso than the magic equivalent did for casters.

Rolled stats also helped Fighters more than really any other class in 2E and were the norm (indeed generous rolling variants were the norm by the mid 90s, with 3d6 down the line seen only in rare, brave cases).
 
Last edited:

Arnwolf666

Adventurer
In 2E?

Wizards eventually became gods in 2E, but it was far more conditional than 3E. First off, you had to get to a higher level before it was really the case, in 2E. Second off, and this is often forgotten, you only really got spells two ways in 2E, by looting dead wizards' spellbooks and by copying from scrolls. This meant that if the DM didn't want you to have a spell, you basically couldn't have it. So many problematic or synergistic spells simply never reached PCs. There were technically other ways (spell research, for example), but they were either limited and also DM-bounded. Whereas in 3E you got spells on level up. There were many other factors to and I could write a multi-page essay on it but suffice to say, wizards, especially Transmuters, could become godlike, but it took a smart player, the right spells, and more levels than 3E.

Whereas Fighters just needed to specialise in a good weapon, and maybe take two-weapon-fighting/ambidexterity proficiencies, and go to town with multiple attacks. Add in a high STR, either natural or often from a belt or gauntlets, and maybe a magic weapon or two and the became terrifying, especially in magic full plate (and perhaps a magic shield). Combat and Tactics made them even better. Moreso than the magic equivalent did for casters.

Rolled stats also helped Fighters more than really any other class in 2E and were the norm (indeed generous rolling variants were the norm by the mid 90s, with 3d6 down the line seen only in rare, brave cases).
Oh yeah. I understand the process lol
 
you only really got spells two ways in 2E, by looting dead wizards' spellbooks and by copying from scrolls. This meant that if the DM didn't want you to have a spell, you basically couldn't have it.
A good example of this was the Icewind Dale CRPG (the original version, not the enhanced edition with sorcerers). You had to take whatever spells you could find and there simply are not enough scrolls in the game for more than one wizard in the party, and you would be competing for what you did find with bards.
 

wizard71

Explorer
The fighter is fine as is withe the various subclasses and does not need improvement. If you want more skills, play a ranger or rogue. No need to poach from other classes any more than has been done already
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
Wizards eventually became gods in 2E
Funny always seemed appropriate for any character to have that.

Whereas Fighters just needed to specialise in a good weapon, and maybe take two-weapon-fighting/ambidexterity proficiencies, and go to town with multiple attacks.
Didnt get to play 2e though I do hear some of the add ons late to the game were interesting

I saw wizards getting treasures with entire levels worth of spell books back in the day.
 
woah. There’s no way fighter could have been dpr in 2E. Everyone swears to me wizards were god on these forums.
DPR doesn't make you a god. Hecatoncheires, perhaps. ;)
Wizards eventually became gods in 2E, but it was far more conditional than 3E. First off, you had to get to a higher level before it was really the case, in 2E. Second off, and this is often forgotten, you only really got spells two ways in 2E, by looting dead wizards' spellbooks and by copying from scrolls. .... Whereas in 3E you got spells on level up. There were many other factors to and I could write a multi-page essay on it but suffice to say, wizards, especially Transmuters, could become godlike, but it took a smart player, the right spells, and more levels than 3E.
Specialists got a new spell at each level, and even in 1e, though it may have been a bit obscure, magic-users got learned a new spell when they achieved a new spell level.

Rolled stats also helped Fighters more than really any other class in 2E and were the norm (indeed generous rolling variants were the norm by the mid 90s, with 3d6 down the line seen only in rare, brave cases).
I can't recall the 2e details, but in 1e, the fighter benefited disproportionately from 18 STR, due to % bonuses, though, really, only significantly if you rolled over 50, and from more proportionately, from 17 or 18 CON.
Thing is, CON was pretty likely to go down as your career progressed (both aging and getting raised, among other things), and STR could obviated by magic items (DEX certainly could be, too) and those were useable by Clerics & Thieves & their sub-classes, as well as fighters. OTOH, caster stats would go up as you aged, though their impact was no where near as dramatic as in 3e.
 

Arnwolf666

Adventurer
DPR doesn't make you a god. Hecatoncheires, perhaps. ;)
Specialists got a new spell at each level, and even in 1e, though it may have been a bit obscure, magic-users got learned a new spell when they achieved a new spell level.

I can't recall the 2e details, but in 1e, the fighter benefited disproportionately from 18 STR, due to % bonuses, though, really, only significantly if you rolled over 50, and from more proportionately, from 17 or 18 CON.
Thing is, CON was pretty likely to go down as your career progressed (both aging and getting raised, among other things), and STR could obviated by magic items (DEX certainly could be, too) and those were useable by Clerics & Thieves & their sub-classes, as well as fighters. OTOH, caster stats would go up as you aged, though their impact was no where near as dramatic as in 3e.
and I also remembeR a million different things (not necessarily magic items) raised your charisma to 18. That got to be an in game joke that eventually something would raise your charisma straight to 18.
 

Ruin Explorer

Adventurer
Specialists got a new spell at each level, and even in 1e, though it may have been a bit obscure, magic-users got learned a new spell when they achieved a new spell level.
Re: specialists, that's one of the "other methods" I was referring to. It rarely had much impact in my experience. Re: a new spell at each level, wasn't that random off a chart, though? Which is a completely different situation to "You have leveled up, now pick the most powerful couple of spells at this spell level (or keep picking from old levels if this level sucks!)" of 3.XE, which lead directly to caster supremacy, by giving them the ability to min-max (well, max, at least) on a whole new axis.

I can't recall the 2e details, but in 1e, the fighter benefited disproportionately from 18 STR, due to % bonuses, though, really, only significantly if you rolled over 50, and from more proportionately, from 17 or 18 CON.
Thing is, CON was pretty likely to go down as your career progressed (both aging and getting raised, among other things), and STR could obviated by magic items (DEX certainly could be, too) and those were useable by Clerics & Thieves & their sub-classes, as well as fighters. OTOH, caster stats would go up as you aged, though their impact was no where near as dramatic as in 3e.
I literally can't remember a 2E campaign where the PCs weren't like, either perma-dead or level 16 or so within about 3-5 years (or much less) of game time. Some pre-gen campaigns had you going like 1-15 in a matter of months (there may have been some dubious rule designed to counteract it but I don't think it was routinely enforced or even known about, esp. given official stuff like Dragon Mountain clearly ignoring it if it existed). The only time aging came into play was ghosts, those bastards. This may have been different in 1E.

And yeah, in 2E, only Warrior classes (Fighter, Paladin, Ranger, and some other later ones like Gladiator) had percentile strength and the top CON bonuses, which, combined with armour (including plate) generally taking your full DEX bonus, meant a fighter with high physical stats (from rolling well) was really, really well-positioned to kill a lot of people very quickly whilst not taking much damage.

Sure, you could put Gauntlets of Ogre power or the like on the Rogue or Cleric. Great, now what? Watch as they make their (often single) attack and miss because of their worse THAC0 and still do less damage than the Fighter because they don't have specialization? Not that it didn't happen! The moment a Belt of Giant Strength or similar appeared, or the Fighter read a book to jump his STR from 18/XX to 19, the Gauntlets got tossed to Cleric or Rogue. I once saw a very bad NPC absolutely get his head pounded in with some lucky rolls on a Cleric with said Gauntlets and a +4 mace of some kind.

Of course the absolute meanest 2E character I ever saw was actually a Fighter/Speciality Priest with a Kit that let him take weapon specialization (which MCs normally could not). It was a miracle of exception-based design exploitation. The Kit was for Fighter/Clerics, but the Speciality Priest in question specifically said that they could take any kit legal for Clerics or Fighter/Clerics, and said that they could multi-class with Fighter (when MC'ing was usually illegal for SPs). As this was a pre-internet age and my player had somehow read the several obscure books enough to actually work this all out, I was more impressed than horrified. There were some other brutal exception-based things going on as well, as I recall.
 

Bacon Bits

Adventurer
In 2E?

Wizards eventually became gods in 2E, but it was far more conditional than 3E. First off, you had to get to a higher level before it was really the case, in 2E. Second off, and this is often forgotten, you only really got spells two ways in 2E, by looting dead wizards' spellbooks and by copying from scrolls. This meant that if the DM didn't want you to have a spell, you basically couldn't have it. So many problematic or synergistic spells simply never reached PCs. There were technically other ways (spell research, for example), but they were either limited and also DM-bounded. Whereas in 3E you got spells on level up. There were many other factors to and I could write a multi-page essay on it but suffice to say, wizards, especially Transmuters, could become godlike, but it took a smart player, the right spells, and more levels than 3E.

Whereas Fighters just needed to specialise in a good weapon, and maybe take two-weapon-fighting/ambidexterity proficiencies, and go to town with multiple attacks. Add in a high STR, either natural or often from a belt or gauntlets, and maybe a magic weapon or two and the became terrifying, especially in magic full plate (and perhaps a magic shield). Combat and Tactics made them even better. Moreso than the magic equivalent did for casters.

Rolled stats also helped Fighters more than really any other class in 2E and were the norm (indeed generous rolling variants were the norm by the mid 90s, with 3d6 down the line seen only in rare, brave cases).
Fighters also had a much, much better equipment draw in 1e. Not just in the terms of weapons and armor (which were the best, of course) but also in terms of the magic items that they could use. The magic item tables were significantly skewed towards Fighter-usable equipment. This has begun to swing back in 5e, but in 3e magic items kind of became the purvue of spellcasters. You had to be a spellcaster to use a wand or staff, and scrolls of protection didn't exist. Not necessarily so in 1e. 5e is not the first edition where a Fighter could use a wand of missiles.

1e also had the semi-obscure "sweep" rule -- IMX, most people know it from the Gold Box games but it was in the PHB -- where if you had levels in Fighter, Ranger or Paladin and you were making melee attacks against creatures with less than 1 HD, you could make 1 attack for each level of Fighter, Ranger, or Paladin that you had instead of the normal attack rate. At mid levels, you just mowed them down like grass before a gardner's scythe.

Edit: 1e AD&D PHB below the "Fighters', Paladins', & Rangers' Attacks per Melee Round Table" on p25:

[The above attacks per round table] excludes melee combat with monsters (q.v.) of less than one hit die (d8) and non-exceptional (0 level) humans and semi-humans, i.e. all creatures with less than one eight-sided hit die. All of these creatures entitle a fighter to attack once for each of his or her experience levels (See COMBAT).
Note that this rule isn't actually described anywhere else that I'm aware of, in spite of it's own cross referencing.
 
Last edited:

Arnwolf666

Adventurer
Re: specialists, that's one of the "other methods" I was referring to. It rarely had much impact in my experience. Re: a new spell at each level, wasn't that random off a chart, though? Which is a completely different situation to "You have leveled up, now pick the most powerful couple of spells at this spell level (or keep picking from old levels if this level sucks!)" of 3.XE, which lead directly to caster supremacy, by giving them the ability to min-max (well, max, at least) on a whole new axis.



I literally can't remember a 2E campaign where the PCs weren't like, either perma-dead or level 16 or so within about 3-5 years (or much less) of game time. Some pre-gen campaigns had you going like 1-15 in a matter of months (there may have been some dubious rule designed to counteract it but I don't think it was routinely enforced or even known about, esp. given official stuff like Dragon Mountain clearly ignoring it if it existed). The only time aging came into play was ghosts, those bastards. This may have been different in 1E.

And yeah, in 2E, only Warrior classes (Fighter, Paladin, Ranger, and some other later ones like Gladiator) had percentile strength and the top CON bonuses, which, combined with armour (including plate) generally taking your full DEX bonus, meant a fighter with high physical stats (from rolling well) was really, really well-positioned to kill a lot of people very quickly whilst not taking much damage.

Sure, you could put Gauntlets of Ogre power or the like on the Rogue or Cleric. Great, now what? Watch as they make their (often single) attack and miss because of their worse THAC0 and still do less damage than the Fighter because they don't have specialization? Not that it didn't happen! The moment a Belt of Giant Strength or similar appeared, or the Fighter read a book to jump his STR from 18/XX to 19, the Gauntlets got tossed to Cleric or Rogue. I once saw a very bad NPC absolutely get his head pounded in with some lucky rolls on a Cleric with said Gauntlets and a +4 mace of some kind.

Of course the absolute meanest 2E character I ever saw was actually a Fighter/Speciality Priest with a Kit that let him take weapon specialization (which MCs normally could not). It was a miracle of exception-based design exploitation. The Kit was for Fighter/Clerics, but the Speciality Priest in question specifically said that they could take any kit legal for Clerics or Fighter/Clerics, and said that they could multi-class with Fighter (when MC'ing was usually illegal for SPs). As this was a pre-internet age and my player had somehow read the several obscure books enough to actually work this all out, I was more impressed than horrified. There were some other brutal exception-based things going on as well, as I recall.
I never saw gauntlets of ogre power of girdles of giant strength ever when I played ad&d. And it disappointed me when I started playing 3.x/PF and they were just common gear to keep up with the game.
i really liked old School specialty priests better than the current domain system. It had much more flavor imho.
 

Ruin Explorer

Adventurer
I saw wizards getting treasures with entire levels worth of spell books back in the day.
Sure, but they often weren't the spells the players actually wanted. And after a few spellbooks, about 80-90% of them tended to be duplicates. The first time you found the spell book of say, a 9th level Wizard you'd killed (at like, maybe level or 5 or 6 probably), it was amazing. Suddenly you had a bazillion new spells. But then you noticed most of them were rubbish!

Also in 2E, someone correct me if I'm wrong, but certainly most people seemed to believe you could only memorize each spell once. So you couldn't have like, 3x fireball even if you could memorize three 3rd-level spells, you had to have Fireball, Lightning Bolt and er... some other 3rd-level spell, or whatever. I don't know whether this was correct rules-following, but it was true of the NPC Wizards in every 2E adventure I read (and all the 1E ones I can think of), and that was not the case in 3E for sure. Whereas a 3.XE Wizard can just memorize multiple copies of his best spells if that suits him. He can also use metamagic to use higher-level spell slots to cast lower-level but more useful spells more powerfully. All this created huge power creep for 3E Wizards.

I never saw gauntlets of ogre power of girdles of giant strength ever when I played ad&d.
Yeah I think it depends on a lot of factors. If you didn't play solidly for a decade (like week-in, week-out) like we did, or your DM used mostly random treasure (like I did) but you got unlucky with the RNG, or if your DM never used pre-gen adventures (which had a peculiar fascination with certain magic items - including aforementioned gauntlets - which appeared in bunches of 1E and 2E adventures).

It was definitely weird to go to 3E and suddenly see magic items you were in awe of basically be seen as "Minimal Viable Product" by the game system, though.

And yes Speciality Priests were EASILY the best D&D has ever done with Cleric-type classes. Nothing has come remotely close since, in any edition. 5E Clerics are powerful, but most of them are pretty flavourless next to 2E SPs.
 
Last edited:

Arnwolf666

Adventurer
Sure, but they often weren't the spells the players actually wanted. And after a few spellbooks, about 80-90% of them tended to be duplicates. The first time you found the spell book of say, a 9th level Wizard you'd killed (at like, maybe level or 5 or 6 probably), it was amazing. Suddenly you had a bazillion new spells. But then you noticed most of them were rubbish!

Also in 2E, someone correct me if I'm wrong, but certainly most people seemed to believe you could only memorize each spell once. So you couldn't have like, 3x fireball even if you could memorize three 3rd-level spells, you had to have Fireball, Lightning Bolt and er... some other 3rd-level spell, or whatever. I don't know whether this was correct rules-following, but it was true of the NPC Wizards in every 2E adventure I read (and all the 1E ones I can think of), and that was not the case in 3E for sure. Whereas a 3.XE Wizard can just memorize multiple copies of his best spells if that suits him. He can also use metamagic to use higher-level spell slots to cast lower-level but more useful spells more powerfully. All this created huge power creep for 3E Wizards.



Yeah I think it depends on a lot of factors. If you didn't play solidly for a decade (like week-in, week-out) like we did, or your DM used mostly random treasure (like I did) but you got unlucky with the RNG, or if your DM never used pre-gen adventures (which had a peculiar fascination with certain magic items - including aforementioned gauntlets - which appeared in bunches of 1E and 2E adventures).

It was definitely weird to go to 3E and suddenly see magic items you were in awe of basically be seen as "Minimal Viable Product" by the game system, though.

And yes Speciality Priests were EASILY the best D&D has ever done with Cleric-type classes. Nothing has come remotely close since, in any edition. 5E Clerics are powerful, but most of them are pretty flavourless next to 2E SPs.
Yes we played that you could memorize the same spell multiple times. Most modules had wizards memorizing the same spell several times. I saw magic missile memorized several times quite often.
 
Re: specialists, that's one of the "other methods" I was referring to. It rarely had much impact in my experience. Re: a new spell at each level, wasn't that random off a chart, though?
2e I don't have the weirdly vivid recall that I have with 1e. ;) But it did have to be from the specialist's school, FWIW.
The 1e new spell when you get a new spell level...
...actually, all 1e spell acquisition not simply cribbed from scrolls or spellbooks was... unclear. ;)

The only time aging came into play was ghosts, those bastards. This may have been different in 1E.
Quite a number of things un-naturally aged you in 1e, particularly otherwise desirable/beneficial things, from Haste to Wish, as a limitation on abuse, in theory (and age-reduction magic always carried a risk of unwinding on you), to the point that the standard 1e goldenrod character sheets had separate space for Age, apparent age, and unnatural aging.
And (though I'm sure this varied wildly) once you got into mucking about with strongholds, the campaign's time frame might shift.
And yes Speciality Priests were EASILY the best D&D has ever done with Cleric-type classes. Nothing has come remotely close since, in any edition.
Funny thing, though, there were like three different versions thereof. A cursory PH treatment, CPH, and L&L, I think. I preferred CPH and used it extensively for years (from the DM side of the screen), L&L sounded pretty broken.
 
Last edited:

Advertisement

Top