D&D General Payn's Ponderings: The Fighter's identity; or, what's left after the combat pillar?

tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
I feel EVERY save-or-suck (including spells and nonmagic features) should be impossible until the target is at least bloodied at half hit points.

Until then, the targets guard is up. Only after bloodied, does one notice that the target is getting sloppy and leaving openings at times.
A lot of those would need to be dramatically improved. Take for example the concentration spell Web. Starting out you have the minor two surface triviality that often makes it unusable outdoors or against flying creatures. Next the targets get a free dex save to ignore it when the caster casts & begins concentrating on it. Next the target's turn rolls around & they get a second no action cost save for free. If the target has failed two saves now they can make a strength check to just ignore it provided they are not either capable of using ranged abilities or more likely already where they want to be in reach of their preferred target where they intend to remain for the rest of the combat.

Spells like web used to be part of a caster's bread & butter because they ignored spell resistance & were much more reliable with higher costs to ignore but in o5e magic resistance means that the target needs to fail four dex saves before maybe being mildly hindered. Adding a bloodied requirement would just ensure that the targets were all but certain to be exactly where they intended to stay before it can be used.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
Every soldier I've known--and there have been a few--has been noticeably more disciplined, careful, orderly, polite, punctual, and environmentally aware than any non-military persons around them. They've also been generally tougher: more instinctively willing and able to do hard things, not fear doing them, and not get distracted.

Surely these traits could be wound into some kind of buffs to social skills, couldn't they?
IMO, the fighters inability to find a niche in social aspects of the game is more of a structural issue with the game because it simplifies social interaction into insight, deception, persuasion and intimidation. Anything non-magical that doesn't neatly fit into one of those generic boxes isn't going to work well.

Take your suggestion. 1) None of the traits you listed universally apply toward any of those skills 2) In some worlds/settings those traits may actually detract from social skills 3) It narrows the types of characters the Fighter represents too far. Not all Fighters were trained soliders afterall (Soldier is a background).
 
Last edited:

HammerMan

Legend
I feel EVERY save-or-suck (including spells and nonmagic features) should be impossible until the target is at least bloodied at half hit points.

Until then, the targets guard is up. Only after bloodied, does one notice that the target is getting sloppy and leaving openings at times.
in my more detailed idea it would be 1)bring back bloodied and 2) x times per day/short rest target a bloodied enemy as an action. they make a save if they fail they die, if the succeed you deal damage as if you hit with a single non crit attack. (since this would be level 11+ that is giving up 3 attacks for maybe dead or 1 hit)
 

HammerMan

Legend
I think that fighters that have superiority dice should get the options to add them to non combat ability checks.

Some kind of Grit or heroic effort mechanic, like proficiency times long rest fighters can increase their jump or give them selves advantage on Strength checks.
Mid to high level fighters should be able to gain some inspiring presence or leadership ability to aid the party resist rear effects or intimidation checks.
tbh the psi knight is what I would base it on... but I would give some things instead of spend a die "as long as you have 1 or more die"

give them parry reaction (self or adjacent allie) reduce damage by die roll+dex mod... special if you have a shield roll 2 dice. but this doesn't cost a die you just have to have 1 left.

give them the ability to as an action when they have to make a str/dex/con check (or skill related) they can roll the die and add it to the d20 roll. but this doesn't cost a die you just have to have 1 left

give them might leap. spend a die, roll it add 5x the die roll to feet you jump

give them super speed. as long as you have a die you can add it to initiative as long as you are not surprised. You can also spend one and add 5x the roll to your ground movement for 1 minute (concentration)

give them extra damage. Once per turn when you hit with a weapon attack spend a die to add it to your damage.

give them a spider climb like ability. As an action spend a die, roll it and for up to 10 minutes (concetration) you can move up walls and along ceilings with no problem (just being strong grip str) at a speed of die rollx5ft

give them mage armor (well initral armor form the 3.0 psionic book) as long as you have a die you have your base AC calculated as 13+dex (alternatively you could just give unarmed defense of a second stat) helping unarmerd fighters

Here is a BIG one... give them Legend Lore... yup a 6th level divination spell. Spend a die and 10 minutes investigating and thinking... it brings to mind a story, a parable, a hint a clue.

lesser then that but even detect magic/identify. As long as you have a die you can as an action feel for the flow of magic, get detect magic at range of touch... spend a die to recognize the feeling an item gives you to identify it. (tbf I think detect magic should be a cantrip anyway for casters too)

I can't belive it's not lightning bolt... Spend a die roll it adding 5x the roll to your movement, then move (as part of this action like a dash) and every creature you end up adjacent to during this move you can make an attack against (1 attack per even if you pass the same target twice) and if you hit or miss add the number rolled (die for speed) to the damage (so yes damage on a miss)

mountain hammer. Spend a die, then make an attack (so if attack misses you still lose die) if the attack hits add a number of d6 equal to your prof to damage, and all of the damage ignores resistance.
 

ART!

Legend
Another thing as part of my earlier movie/tv action hero approach to this: often, when action heroes take damage they get more determined. It might be nice to have something reflecting that, with a dial you can adjust for the tone your table is going for.
 

UngainlyTitan

Legend
Supporter
Another thing as part of my earlier movie/tv action hero approach to this: often, when action heroes take damage they get more determined. It might be nice to have something reflecting that, with a dial you can adjust for the tone your table is going for.
The good old, bloodied, second wind, break out the encounter powers from 4e.
 

Fanaelialae

Legend
Another thing as part of my earlier movie/tv action hero approach to this: often, when action heroes take damage they get more determined. It might be nice to have something reflecting that, with a dial you can adjust for the tone your table is going for.
It would also pair nicely with the fighter's (usual) role as a front liner.
 


Quickleaf

Legend
I really appreciate the deep dive approach you're taking. Rather than suggest precise solutions – I've contributed to, and started, plenty of those threads – I'm going to try to keep this poetic and focus on concepts...

"The ranger watches over the hinterland and the paladin crusades for the temple, but the fighter safeguards the hearth. Kith and kin, hand in hand with hard-wrought will, these things in equal measure do a fighter make. The fighter may die today, but tomorrow a sister or cousin, child or nephew will pick up the fallen blade. This legacy endures for the hearth fire must endure."
First time I can recall quoting myself, but I wanted to get the concepts down in narrative form first before unpacking what these might look like as rough draft of potential exploration/social features for the fighter. These aren't all necessarily keepers as my intent is to push the boundaries of how we imagine the fighter class just a bit - when there's dissonance / pushback, that's when you know that the design needs to recede back to more familiar territory.

-"safeguards the hearth" is a concept I've played with before when I devised "camp talents" for my fighter re-write, things like "your torch burns longer and brighter when you wield it" or "you can confer your companions a boon when you keep watch."

-"legacy" implies being able to transfer something from your current character should they die to a new character in the same lineage or household & perhaps suggests the fighter have some kind of "teach others" leadership feature

"Fortune there may be, but that is not why we fight. Vengeance, justice, defending the meek. Yea, these too, but they are not why we fight. Principles fail, muscles exhaust. For those of us who always hear the distant echo of steel against steel, it is the fight itself that calls us. The challenge, the trial, the test. To overcome ourselves, to bask in the glory of sweat, tears, and stained and weary grip – this is why we embrace whatever the forge of life places in our path. Not to shrink away, not to navigate around, but to walk into that furnace, unafraid."
-"to overcome ourselves" might suggest the fighter can delay suffering from a condition (esp. being charmed) for a round

-the bits about "challenge" might be a floating bonus or advantage that gets attached to a certain non-combat challenge that the fighter is focused on, so it might be the challenge of reaching a cold-hearted person, but that's pretty darn vague

- "glory" might be a reputation that the fighter player can define for themself (rather than relying on the DM or something like the alignment system to imply their PC's reputation), and it might be a moving target, allowing the player to declare "my reputation in this town or among this group is X."

"With a hard gaze, the mercenary watched the pair of bandits looting the granary. He didn't need to speak. The weight of what he'd seen, what he'd done, spoke volumes through those narrowed eyes. Each of the looters could see their own moral failings reflected back at themselves, a wild story of dangerous possibilities flaring to life in their mind's eye. Slowly the men lowered the sacks and explained themselves, backing away. The mercenary knew that if he met those men again, he could count on their heeding his demands."
-"didn't need to speak" is an interesting one that implies a force of personality extending beyond words to... for lack of a better word... a certain stance... I could even see this being a pass card for certain situations like a riddle before a sphinx, a king asking for each PC to introduce themselves or make a report, etc.

-"reflected back at themselves" suggests the fighter might be able to determine certain facets of a creature's personality and/or stats, akin to the Battlemaster fighter & Mastermind rogue

-"heeding his demands" implies that the fighter player gets more narrative control around interpreting what a successful Intimidation check means, allowing them to call upon favors from those they've previously intimidated
 

payn

Legend
This is the stuff right here!
-"safeguards the hearth" is a concept I've played with before when I devised "camp talents" for my fighter re-write, things like "your torch burns longer and brighter when you wield it" or "you can confer your companions a boon when you keep watch."
I like where this is headed. Maybe, the fighter's instincts and experience allows them to make defensive decisions about where to camp. Those on watch receive a perception bonus? Perhaps, the party is granted a bonus on waking to danger?

I can see this expanding out to other classes too. The rogue is about detecting intruders before they attack. The fighter is about defense after intruders have attacked. The ranger is focused on finding camp sites near clean water and food. Etc...
-"legacy" implies being able to transfer something from your current character should they die to a new character in the same lineage or household & perhaps suggests the fighter have some kind of "teach others" leadership feature
I like it. Maybe some type of fame mechanic. When you wield the weapon or armor of a famous fighter it gives you bonuses in places that fighter was known.
NPC "Where did you get that sword?"
PC "It was my mentors."
NPC "If they trusted you with it, then I will trust what you have to say"
-"to overcome ourselves" might suggest the fighter can delay suffering from a condition (esp. being charmed) for a round
Perhaps a fighters training has given them discipline that allows them to go a little bit further in extreme conditions? Last a little longer with limited food and water rations? Shrug off a condition for 1 round early on, maybe 1D4 rounds at higher level?
-the bits about "challenge" might be a floating bonus or advantage that gets attached to a certain non-combat challenge that the fighter is focused on, so it might be the challenge of reaching a cold-hearted person, but that's pretty darn vague
Up thread somebody mentioned using superiority dice in non-combat salutations. I think that could fit nicely with this idea.
- "glory" might be a reputation that the fighter player can define for themself (rather than relying on the DM or something like the alignment system to imply their PC's reputation), and it might be a moving target, allowing the player to declare "my reputation in this town or among this group is X."
This seems to piggy back off the legacy piece above. Maybe this is where I got the idea for the rep bonus for the new PC?
-"didn't need to speak" is an interesting one that implies a force of personality extending beyond words to... for lack of a better word... a certain stance... I could even see this being a pass card for certain situations like a riddle before a sphinx, a king asking for each PC to introduce themselves or make a report, etc.
This too feels like a legacy item. "Your reputation precedes you"
-"reflected back at themselves" suggests the fighter might be able to determine certain facets of a creature's personality and/or stats, akin to the Battlemaster fighter & Mastermind rogue
Perhaps a focus on humanoid NPC tactics? "These brigands prefer to attack in number and use range weapons to their advantage" Even better, this is a read on a crime scene or settled battlefield. The fighter can deduce how the fight went and other facts.
-"heeding his demands" implies that the fighter player gets more narrative control around interpreting what a successful Intimidation check means, allowing them to call upon favors from those they've previously intimidated
Another tie into the legacy idea? The stronger your fame the longer lasting the effects of your social encounters?

Great stuff Quickleaf! Exactly what I was looking for.
 

South by Southwest

Incorrigible Daydreamer
^ ^ A post so strong, it made the thread silent for a day. I agree with payn, Quickleaf: that was awesome. Conferring a boon while on watch is, I think, inspired. That whole notion of the Fighter improving morale, courage, and ease of mind in the party as a whole--I love that.

Another idea some others here played with strikes me as attractive, but it might be too cumbersome: having a page. Fanaelialae suggested followers, but people expressed worries about number and complexity of play, right? Well, in Chaucerian tales, knights do have pages and those pages aren't just commoners wielding home-made clubs. So what if the D&D Fighter had a page? One follower, in effect, not bunches, and that page would not be a full-on PC-strength character, but would be able to do something meaningful once the arrows started flying (and even when they weren't).

Probably, this wouldn't work at L1. At L1, the Fighter herself/himself isn't that tough and is still just getting started on the HP slope. But at L3 or later I could see something like this, no? And isn't it at later levels that the Fighter really starts to lag?

What do folks think?
 
Last edited:

payn

Legend
^ ^ A post so strong it made the thread silent for a day. I agree with payn, Quickleaf: that was awesome. Conferring a boon while on watch is, I think, inspired. That whole notion of the Fighter improving morale, courage, and ease of mind in the party as a whole--I love that.

Another idea some others here played with strikes me as attractive, but it might be too cumbersome: having a page. Fanaelialae suggested followers, but people expressed worries about number and complexity of play, right? Well, in Chaucerian tales, knights do have pages and those pages aren't just commoners wielding home-made clubs. So what if the D&D Fighter had a page? One follower, in effect, not bunches, and that page would not be a full-on PC-strength character, but would be able to do something meaningful once the arrows started flying (and even when they weren't).

Probably, this wouldn't work at L1. At L1, the Fighter herself/himself isn't that tough and is still just getting started on the HP slope. But at L3 or later I could see something like this, no? And isn't it at later levels that the Fighter really starts to lag?

What do folks think?
Building off of my Fighter legacy idea, you could easily swap the follower(s) in or out depending on campaign and table playstyle.
 

Quickleaf

Legend
@South by Southwest Hahah, well I don't know about that. But thanks!

Anyhow, I was thinking more about idenitty @payn ... One of the tendencies I've noticed is that online "solutions" (to the issue of the fighter not having enough ways to engage in exploration and social aspects of the game) tend to start from pulling mechanistic levers. Rather than engaging with broader narrative goals.

Arguably, that's the problem that the designers originally slipped into when working on the 5e fighter and its subclasses. Paraphrasing Mike Mearls here, but they were so fixated on having a "simple" and a "more complex" option that they failed to breath creative/narrative life into the subclasses.

In my view, the problem is magnified when focusing on exploration & social pillars, as the mechanical complexity for those is really thin in 5e. So it's an even tighter design space to work within than the combat pillar.

Once we're at the mechanical level of design, the conversation is about "how much" or "do we change this wording" or "do we dial this up or down?" It's about relatively microscopic design moves.

But the conversation moves away from the big picture questions: "what is the core concept here? what fantasy are we trying to evoke? what's the story of this class?"

When speaking of identity, it's those bigger questions that I think we need to answer.
 

jgsugden

Legend
Fighter. Stop, and think about the title. it isn't someone who ranges, of uses magic, or sneaks - it is someone that fights. The core of the class is fight. Based on the name alone, I would expect this class to be the one most centrally tied to fighting.

However, is that all they can do? In my experience, the 'gap' between how well fighters excel in the social and exploration pillars and other classes is a perception gap, not really a play gap.

A great fighter probably needs a good constitution, and either a good dexterity or strength. In a point buy, as they only need 2 attributes, that gives them extra points that they can put into another ability score. Most classes benefit more from focuses on three or more attributes. A monk needs con, dex and wis, for example. Others, like sorcerers and wizards might be able to focus on two - but they will have poor AC if they do not also focus on dexterity. There are other classes that can excel with a focus on two abilities for their combat capability (rogue, druid), but fighter is amongst the most effective with a 2 ability focus. Further, they get more ASIs than other classes, and get them earlier, allowing them to select feats that support other pillars we well, or to raise those attributes tied to other pillars.

Additionally, for strength based fighters that focus on strength and constitution, there is a grand total of ONE skill that capitalizes upon the attributes they have increased. That leaves them at least 3 more skills they can add tied to whatever other attribute(s) they elect to raise. Their class skills include that 1 strength skill, 1 dexterity skill, 4 wisdom skills, 1 intelligence skill and 1 charisma skill. It is not hard for them to pull together the skills to be a scout, a negotiator or a sage.

In my experience, fighters have no trouble excelling in social or exploration pillars when they wish to do so.
 

payn

Legend
Fighter. Stop, and think about the title. it isn't someone who ranges, of uses magic, or sneaks - it is someone that fights. The core of the class is fight. Based on the name alone, I would expect this class to be the one most centrally tied to fighting.

However, is that all they can do? In my experience, the 'gap' between how well fighters excel in the social and exploration pillars and other classes is a perception gap, not really a play gap.

A great fighter probably needs a good constitution, and either a good dexterity or strength. In a point buy, as they only need 2 attributes, that gives them extra points that they can put into another ability score. Most classes benefit more from focuses on three or more attributes. A monk needs con, dex and wis, for example. Others, like sorcerers and wizards might be able to focus on two - but they will have poor AC if they do not also focus on dexterity. There are other classes that can excel with a focus on two abilities for their combat capability (rogue, druid), but fighter is amongst the most effective with a 2 ability focus. Further, they get more ASIs than other classes, and get them earlier, allowing them to select feats that support other pillars we well, or to raise those attributes tied to other pillars.

Additionally, for strength based fighters that focus on strength and constitution, there is a grand total of ONE skill that capitalizes upon the attributes they have increased. That leaves them at least 3 more skills they can add tied to whatever other attribute(s) they elect to raise. Their class skills include that 1 strength skill, 1 dexterity skill, 4 wisdom skills, 1 intelligence skill and 1 charisma skill. It is not hard for them to pull together the skills to be a scout, a negotiator or a sage.

In my experience, fighters have no trouble excelling in social or exploration pillars when they wish to do so.
My issue is that rangers, pallys, even barbs can fight just as well, and also get cool class stuff beyond combat. I'm glad fighters work out for you with stats alone, but I think they could use some more stuff.
 

South by Southwest

Incorrigible Daydreamer
My issue is that rangers, pallys, even barbs can fight just as well, and also get cool class stuff beyond combat. I'm glad fighters work out for you with stats alone, but I think they could use some more stuff.
I agree, and I also like Quickleaf's point that "This class needs more stuff," if treated purely in terms of mechanics and without any overarching concept of what defines that class, decays into bells and whistles divorced from what so-and-so's character is supposed to be all about.

Like you said at the start of the thread, it's a tough nut to crack.
 

Smackpixi

Adventurer
I find a lot of these ideas too fiddly or adding ability/feats that add complexity. Not bad, I just would want something very simple.

So give fighter two level one options. Commanding Presence (the Terminator option) or Wandering Fortitude (Rambo option)

Commanding Presence

- Option to replace pick 2 or 3 charisma skills with strength. Strength has a charm all its own. A lot of the fame ideas above get at this, just suggest making it mechanically simple.

Or, since that kinda steals the charisma caster’s or traditional face’s thunder, maybe..

- Option to confer advantage on party member charisma based checks when standing within 5ft of them. Seems a bit much though, maybe add prof bonus or strength mod. Could make for nice good cop bad cop roleplay dynamics.

Wandering Fortitude

Same ideas as above except for replace with pick 2 or 3 from Wisdom skills or give nearby wisdom boost. Or maybe Passive Perception is strength based for detecting creatures (fighter can sense threats but not traps).

The wisdom replacement or boost applies because being strong means you’re aware of more options or better at it than the less endowed. The perception thing cause fighter hyper aware, pretty sure others suggested something along these line but maybe not as simple.

Just trying to avoid adding complications while giving fighter a window into social/exploration pillars Using existing mechanics.
 
Last edited:

Quickleaf

Legend
I agree, and I also like Quickleaf's point that "This class needs more stuff," if treated purely in terms of mechanics and without any overarching concept of what defines that class, decays into bells and whistles divorced from what so-and-so's character is supposed to be all about.

Like you said at the start of the thread, it's a tough nut to crack.
My perspective is that the answer to the question posed by @payn in the OP cannot come from mechanical rules thinking, nor can it come from past designs reinforcing "the fighter fights, it's in the name, duh."

I believe that answer needs to come entirely from the right brain, from art, from myth, from poetry, from storytelling, from sharing stories of beloved fighter PCs, from pure imagination.

The problem is not that we can't design it. The problem is that we need to imagine it first.

To get into that creative space, it can help to re-frame the question, which sort of biases toward mechanical and comparative design thinking.

Instead of asking "What's left for the fighter after the combat pillar?", we might ask...
  • What's a story you fondly remember of a fighter engaging socially with a NPC? Or even more specifically, turning the tables on a NPC without ever lifting their sword?
  • Who is your favorite fighter archetype from a book/movie/game that approach exploring or searching a scene with a fresh perspective? Or even more specifically, how did they discover what everyone else failed to recognize?
I realize those questions are slightly leading and probably reflect my personal bias, but I think if we want to move the conversation forward, "this is the way."
 

éxypnos

Explorer
What I do want to talk about are things to do in each pillar and how some classes have greater choice than others. Most importantly, how does the fighter get out of the combat only space?
Simple, I've done it for decades. By role playing. I'll start at the beginning. Imagine a person that can fight and likes interacting with the world at large. Now, BE THAT CHARACTER. Now, DON'T look at the RULES of the game. They just act as a straitjacket to your imagination and fun as an RPG player.
 

payn

Legend
Simple, I've done it for decades. By role playing. I'll start at the beginning. Imagine a person that can fight and likes interacting with the world at large. Now, BE THAT CHARACTER. Now, DON'T look at the RULES of the game. They just act as a straitjacket to your imagination and fun as an RPG player.
Thanks for stopping bye.
 

Level Up!

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top