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

payn

I don't believe in the no-win scenario
I like the idea of fighters getting more combat maneuvers, but I foresee a problem that would basically require the rule-makers to stick to their guns. Namely, that once you give fighters (for the sake of example) a called shot ability, you have to steadfastly resist the arguments of people who say "why can't my paladin make a called shot? why can't I firebolt the dragon's eye? not fair!"
Thats been the trap of the past. Fighters are always given more and more combat things. I mean, many of the suggestions in this thread are about combat and not exploration or social pillars. The issue is that everyone engages in combat so when cool things are added, folks want ways to get them for every character. Which, is why I think the fighter could use some unique non-combat stuff of their own.
 

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UngainlyTitan

Legend
Supporter
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.
 

Quickleaf

Legend
Thats been the trap of the past. Fighters are always given more and more combat things. I mean, many of the suggestions in this thread are about combat and not exploration or social pillars. The issue is that everyone engages in combat so when cool things are added, folks want ways to get them for every character. Which, is why I think the fighter could use some unique non-combat stuff of their own.
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."

"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."

"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."
 

I think there's plenty of design space to improve the fighter outside combat, depending on how crazy you want to get with it.

A relatively simple option with plenty of precedent would be giving the fighter followers.

I think one of the big reasons it fell out of favor was because it was a pain to manage. You had to build a keep, and then pay your followers and maintain morale lest they leave/betray you. Ever seen a wizard have to maintain the morale of their spells? Nope. For players who didn't enjoy that kind of domain management, it was a nuisance, potentially more of a hassle than a benefit.

The solution? Make the followers self-sufficient (a seasoned mercenary company whose loyalty is born out of respect). They don't require upkeep, but rather are purely beneficial. They could scout areas for the fighter, deliver messages/act as translators, and maybe even take on low level adventures in the fighter's stead. The feature could detail a few concrete uses for the followers, while leaving it open for the DM to permit more creative uses as well.
I like the idea of giving fighters non-combat abilities, but I didn't like followers much, and not just because they were a pain (and weak enough that sending them to scout could just get them killed). It changed the direction of the class, and not always in a way the player wanted.

For instance, if my character is uncharismatic and not particularly bright, I wouldn't be able to use those followers effectively. If I don't have some sort of noble title, I'm not able to maintain them, and while getting a title may be a goal, I could fail, or lose that title, or get "five farms" that can only maintain one knight (eg my character). And so forth. Some warriors are great leaders and warrior poets, but some are The Hound (or worse, The Mountain). It sounded a bit like being a Dragonmarked character in Eberron; there's responsibility to go with the power.

(This also reminds me of how Dark Sun handled the issue. If you're an epic fighter, you get followers. You don't choose to get followers or tell some of them to go away, you just get followers. They will follow you like minor characters in Life of Brian. Now you've got to get them water, give them jobs, and so forth.)
 

Fanaelialae

Legend
I like the idea of giving fighters non-combat abilities, but I didn't like followers much, and not just because they were a pain (and weak enough that sending them to scout could just get them killed). It changed the direction of the class, and not always in a way the player wanted.

For instance, if my character is uncharismatic and not particularly bright, I wouldn't be able to use those followers effectively. If I don't have some sort of noble title, I'm not able to maintain them, and while getting a title may be a goal, I could fail, or lose that title, or get "five farms" that can only maintain one knight (eg my character). And so forth. Some warriors are great leaders and warrior poets, but some are The Hound (or worse, The Mountain). It sounded a bit like being a Dragonmarked character in Eberron; there's responsibility to go with the power.

(This also reminds me of how Dark Sun handled the issue. If you're an epic fighter, you get followers. You don't choose to get followers or tell some of them to go away, you just get followers. They will follow you like minor characters in Life of Brian. Now you've got to get them water, give them jobs, and so forth.)
That's fair. Although if I were doing the scouting rules I'd probably make them effectively a narrative ability - that way the scout can't be killed. It's an "ability" that just works.

That's kind of why I like the second subclass idea I posted further down. If you want followers, you pick the subclass that grants followers. If not, you can pick a different option.
 

G

Guest 7034872

Guest
Thats been the trap of the past. Fighters are always given more and more combat things. I mean, many of the suggestions in this thread are about combat and not exploration or social pillars. The issue is that everyone engages in combat so when cool things are added, folks want ways to get them for every character. Which, is why I think the fighter could use some unique non-combat stuff of their own.
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.
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?
 

You could have followers/a retinue/retainers who do things like:
  • let you (in effect) do more than one thing during exploration/travel play
  • let you hand out bonus dice to other people during exploration/travel play (your retinue is helping keep a lookout, helping the party ranger forage, etc.)
  • keep your camp guarded while you're away (not sure what mechanics might attach to that)
  • porters (extra carrying capacity)

All at the cost of extra food.

Everyone could get something like this by spending money, but maybe fighters could get it cheaper (or free for class-feature retinue).
 

UngainlyTitan

Legend
Supporter
You could have followers/a retinue/retainers who do things like:
  • let you (in effect) do more than one thing during exploration/travel play
  • let you hand out bonus dice to other people during exploration/travel play (your retinue is helping keep a lookout, helping the party ranger forage, etc.)
  • keep your camp guarded while you're away (not sure what mechanics might attach to that)
  • porters (extra carrying capacity)

All at the cost of extra food.

Everyone could get something like this by spending money, but maybe fighters could get it cheaper (or free for class-feature retinue).
Followers is a strong playstyle issue, I would prefer to see it added to the game as a separate subsystem not as part of base class mechanics.
 

Fanaelialae

Legend
You could have followers/a retinue/retainers who do things like:
  • let you (in effect) do more than one thing during exploration/travel play
  • let you hand out bonus dice to other people during exploration/travel play (your retinue is helping keep a lookout, helping the party ranger forage, etc.)
  • keep your camp guarded while you're away (not sure what mechanics might attach to that)
  • porters (extra carrying capacity)

All at the cost of extra food.

Everyone could get something like this by spending money, but maybe fighters could get it cheaper (or free for class-feature retinue).
I like all of these ideas except the extra food cost. There's no reason seasoned followers can't carry/forage for their own food. The whole point is to eliminate the annoying parts that might discourage use of the followers. Forcing the fighter to carry a pallet of food on a long journey so that he can use his follower features is the definition of annoying (unless the party has a bag of holding, in which case it becomes trivial except for the bookkeeping).
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
One thing I think Fighters could have is Feature based on the type of Instructor they had

City Watch
Gladiator
Knightly Lord
Military
Noble Tutor
Self Taught
Street Fighter
Tribal Warrior
Weapon Master

You choose one and you get a skill, tool, resource or follower based on the type of instruction you got.
 

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