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5E So Is The Dex Based Fighter Just Strictly Better?

Zardnaar

Explorer
As the title says. This is assuming you are not using a two handed weapon and are using a 16 dex at level 1 PC and a rapier or a 16 strength 1d8 one handed weapon as the other. Both fighters are using shields as well.
 

MortalPlague

Adventurer
It's easier than before to mitigate a low or average DEX with the use of heavy armor.

Your 16 DEX fighter:

AC 17 with light armor (studded leather, DEX, and shield)

AC 18 with medium armor (scale mail, 2 from DEX, and shield)

AC 18 with heavy armor (chain mail and shield)

It really doesn't make that much of a difference this time around.
 

Zardnaar

Explorer
It's easier than before to mitigate a low or average DEX with the use of heavy armor.

Your 16 DEX fighter:

AC 17 with light armor (studded leather, DEX, and shield)

AC 18 with medium armor (scale mail, 2 from DEX, and shield)

AC 18 with heavy armor (chain mail and shield)

It really doesn't make that much of a difference this time around.

At low levels perhaps but that is only +1 AC. Dex based fighter gets.

+3 on dex saves, major save category
More dex based skills
dex to initiative
+3 to hit with ranged weapons.

And eventually they can get +5 at level 8 and the difference in AC 1 point, and their equipment is cheaper.
 

MortalPlague

Adventurer
+3 on dex saves, major save category
More dex based skills
dex to initiative
+3 to hit with ranged weapons.
The strength fighter is at his best wielding a two-handed weapon. But in the interests of comparing them, we'll leave them each dealing a d8 with a shield in the off-hand.

Better at strength checks. Perhaps not as critical as DEX saving throws, but knocking down obstacles can play a pretty big role in a game. I've seen a party without any strong characters, and it sorely impeded their abilities to navigate a dungeon under time pressure.

Strength saves and checks come up. In addition to knocking down obstacles, there are a few key spells (like Web) that require a strength check to escape. In addition, a number of monsters inflict conditions that require a strength check to escape (such as the gelatinous cube).

There may be more benefits to a dexterity fighter, but I don't think it's a wide enough gap to be concerned about. There are still reasons to play a strength fighter besides the purely aesthetic ones.
 

Blackbrrd

Villager
It's easier than before to mitigate a low or average DEX with the use of heavy armor.

Your 16 DEX fighter:

AC 17 with light armor (studded leather, DEX, and shield)

AC 18 with medium armor (scale mail, 2 from DEX, and shield)

AC 18 with heavy armor (chain mail and shield)

It really doesn't make that much of a difference this time around.
At around level 2-3 I assume the STR-fighter has access to plate armor, so he gets AC 18+2 = 20.
The DEX-fighter still has AC 12+3+2 = 17
At level 4, the DEX fighter can increase DEX and get 18 AC
At level 6, the DEX fighter can increase DEX and get 19 AC

So, the DEX-fighter will lag 1-3 points of AC until level 6, and 1 point after that.

I still think that the DEX-fighter is more versatile, since he is better at archery and has a high initiative, has better reflex defense/initiative and so on. The STR-fighter most likely wants to increase his strength to increase to-hit chance and damage.
 

Capricia

Villager
20 strength--which is peak human for dnd characters now--means you can lift 600 lbs off the ground. The world record is 1015 lbs.

My change is that you increase the multiplier from 15 to 100 if you're strength is 15 or higher. Max out at 4,000 lbs. Ten times weaker than Spider-man, but still able to do some moderately useful things like lift a wagon off of someone.
'
That, and you can add half your strength modifier, rounded up, to constitution and dexterity saves.
 

Ruin Explorer

Villager
20 strength--which is peak human for dnd characters now--means you can lift 600 lbs off the ground. The world record is 1015 lbs.

My change is that you increase the multiplier from 15 to 100 if you're strength is 15 or higher. Max out at 4,000 lbs. Ten times weaker than Spider-man, but still able to do some moderately useful things like lift a wagon off of someone.
'
That, and you can add half your strength modifier, rounded up, to constitution and dexterity saves.
Another fix might be to involve an Athletics check in some way, or add Athletics Proficiency bonus (or double Proficiency) as "faux-STR" for lifting purposes only. Pretty sure dudes who can lift 1000lbs+ are trained athletes!
 

jadrax

Adventurer
20 strength--which is peak human for dnd characters now--means you can lift 600 lbs off the ground. The world record is 1015 lbs.
TBH, I have never been in a game where lifting dead weight has been that important, its the push/drag part that I would be focusing on modeling.
 

Capricia

Villager
TBH, I have never been in a game where lifting dead weight has been that important, its the push/drag part that I would be focusing on modeling.
Too true. My point was only that in a game where you can fly around like Superman, stomp the ground to cause a city-destroying earthquake, pull down meteors from space, change reality with a wish, teleport across planes of existence, mindrape people into being your slave, and stop time itself...it's a bit silly that your physical strength is capped at being half as strong as a weightlifter.
 

Uchawi

Villager
Overall the Dex based fighter is better, except for the few corner cases when strength is useful, and at that point the player/character will get gauntlets of ogre power. Since the gauntlets are one of those iconic magic items that will appear in adventures and most likely in a home campaign.
 

jadrax

Adventurer
Too true. My point was only that in a game where you can fly around like Superman, stomp the ground to cause a city-destroying earthquake, pull down meteors from space, change reality with a wish, teleport across planes of existence, mindrape people into being your slave, and stop time itself...it's a bit silly that your physical strength is capped at being half as strong as a weightlifter.
Yeah, must admit in play I tend to treat the numerical limit as the things you can do without making a dice roll. You need to lift the osmium gates to the tower of despair open so the children can escape... I am not saying you cant have a Strength test to do it just because its over 600 lbs...
 

Zardnaar

Explorer
The strength fighter is at his best wielding a two-handed weapon. But in the interests of comparing them, we'll leave them each dealing a d8 with a shield in the off-hand.

Better at strength checks. Perhaps not as critical as DEX saving throws, but knocking down obstacles can play a pretty big role in a game. I've seen a party without any strong characters, and it sorely impeded their abilities to navigate a dungeon under time pressure.

Strength saves and checks come up. In addition to knocking down obstacles, there are a few key spells (like Web) that require a strength check to escape. In addition, a number of monsters inflict conditions that require a strength check to escape (such as the gelatinous cube).

There may be more benefits to a dexterity fighter, but I don't think it's a wide enough gap to be concerned about. There are still reasons to play a strength fighter besides the purely aesthetic ones.
The Cleric lacks acces to a rapier so if they are a beat stick they can do the strength checks to bash doors down:).
 

Quartz

Explorer
Where does it say that you add Dex to the damage of ranged attacks when using weapons without the Finesse property?
 

Ruin Explorer

Villager
Overall the Dex based fighter is better, except for the few corner cases when strength is useful, and at that point the player/character will get gauntlets of ogre power. Since the gauntlets are one of those iconic magic items that will appear in adventures and most likely in a home campaign.
Shove and Grapple aren't corner-case, they're really awesome in 5E because they take 1 ATTACK not 1 ACTION, and are powerful and, against many enemies, extremely reliable. Most powerful they've ever been in any edition by a long shot, I think.

However your point re: Gauntlets of Ogre Power (or Belt of Giant Strength or whatever) is well made. It is quite likely they will eventually be seen, and they will rectify any STR deficiency (largely) for Shove/Grapple.

Sooooo yeah... kind of an issue.
 

Baumi

Explorer
Just want to add, that the Str-Fokused Fighter has good Ranged Options ... Thrown Weapons can use Str for Attack and Damage.

The Range is lower as a dedicated Ranged Weapon, but you can use these Weapons in Melee and in combination with a Shield. So it's great for a Close to Medium Range Warrior.
 

Dausuul

Legend
As the title says. This is assuming you are not using a two handed weapon and are using a 16 dex at level 1 PC and a rapier or a 16 strength 1d8 one handed weapon as the other. Both fighters are using shields as well.
For sword and board, the basic tradeoff is pretty consistent across levels: The Dex fighter sacrifices 1 point of AC and grappling ability. In exchange, you get superior initiative, better Dex saves (much more important than Str saves), superior ranged attacks (longbow beats javelin in both damage and distance), and access to the universe of Dex skills.

You can also look at the offensive options for the two--the greatsword Str fighter and the dual-shortsword Dex fighter. At level 6, assuming an AC 14 foe:

Greatsword fighter: AC 18. Two attacks for average 10.833 damage each. DPR 21.667.
Dual shortsword fighter: AC 17. Three attacks for average 6.725 damage each. DPR 20.175.

So, basically the same tradeoff as above. The greatsword fighter has a slight edge on damage at this level, but not an enormous one.

Starting at level 11, however, the greatsword fighter surges into a solid lead (DPR 32.5 versus 26.9, a 21% edge) and stays there, due to the fact that Extra Attack never grants extra off-hand attacks. Magic weapons can help the dual wielder a little, but not enough to close the gap. To add insult to injury, Superior Critical further favors the greatsword, since a larger fraction of your damage is coming from the dice.

So, to sum up:

  • I think Dex-based rapier-and-board edges out Str-based longsword-and-board, but not overwhelmingly so.
  • Two-weapon fighting is better than great weapon in the early levels, on par in the mid-levels, falls far behind at high levels. However, feats and other martial archetypes might change this.
 
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Dausuul

Legend
Mmmm. Not sure Stealth, Acrobatics, Sleight of Hand = a "universe"! :) Esp. to ditch Athletics for... It's not a bad trade though.
Fair point. :) Still, I would generally take Stealth and Acrobatics over Athletics.

To answer the OP's question, Dex-based is very slightly superior at level 1, when your stats are low and your money tight. But you won't stay level 1 for more than half a session, so why would you use that as your metric?

Overall, the typical tradeoff is that the Str-based fighter is 1 point ahead on AC, while the Dex-based fighter has better skills, saves, and initiative. However, things jounce around a bit at the low levels, mostly as a function of money:

  • Both start out with AC 18 (chain mail + shield for the Str fighter, scale mail + shield for the Dex fighter).
  • When you have 200 gp to spend on armor, the Str-based fighter buys splint armor and moves up to AC 19.
  • When you have 750 gp to spend on armor, the Dex-based fighter buys half plate and moves up to AC 19*.
  • When you have 1,500 gp to spend on armor, the Str-based fighter buys full plate and moves up to AC 20.
The Dex-based fighter can never get beyond AC 19. But there are a lot of other benefits to Dex over Str, so neither one is strictly superior once you hit the top end.

[SIZE=-2]*If the DM is a skinflint, or if the Dex-based fighter rolled for stats and got lucky, or if the Dex-based fighter wants to avoid disadvantage on Stealth, the Dex-based fighter will reach AC 19 by way of Dex 20 and studded leather rather than half plate.[/SIZE]
 
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