D&D 5E [+]What does your "complex fighter" look like?

Please, not another 'what do hitpoints mean' discussion. :p

Some people just get axes stuck to their skull and walk it off. That's what dwarves call disarming.
that is the way some people play it

I got to play Deadlands at Gencon 1 year and I was playing a texas ranger... the system has a death spiral, but a mechanic to 'push through the pain' to ignore it for a moment to pull off a big move. It requires the expendeing of a meta resource.
okay so my ranger got 'crit' in the head and was almost 1 shot killed, I had a huge penelty to everything I would do... I then spent 3 rounds spending my resources to ignore penelties and shoot perfect... and hit every time the final time with a 'crit' leading one of the players I didn't know to comment "Damn, how do they train rangers shoot them in the face then say, now lets see how you shoot?"

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Might as well, given how terrible they are at actually healing people. And it's not like you can reasonably call anything a wound if a Fighter can just Second Wind it away, let alone spend some Hit Dice after a one-hour catnap.

Yes, I agree the direction that the game has been taken the last two editions has been toward hit points are entirely a game mechanic and don't represent anything. They've gone from being an abstraction of wounds kept simple for play reasons and because death spirals tend to not make exciting combats to being an abstraction period. As you might expect, I'm not convinced this is an improvement.

Micah Sweet

Level Up & OSR Enthusiast
Sorry, I know it's a derail. It's just the way my brain works, someone says "hit point damage has always caused wounds/hit points are meat" and I'm like, that's not really true.

I'll set the debate aside with a "depending on the interpretation of the DM and their players".
There has always been a logical exception to that rule for certain kinds of damage (mainly poison), and there are plenty of circumstances where it really doesn't hold up, but yeah, that the "rule".

It is awful though.


Sorry, I know it's a derail. It's just the way my brain works, someone says "hit point damage has always caused wounds/hit points are meat" and I'm like, that's not really true.

I'll set the debate aside with a "depending on the interpretation of the DM and their players".

Yeah, this is a weird one because two people can quote Gygax on this and one of them can say, "Look clearly Gygax said damage that causes hit point loss inflicts wounds" and the other can say, "Look clearly Gygax said hit point loss doesn't inflict wounds". I don't understand how people can draw two different conclusions when obviously Gygax said that at least a good percentage of damage is intuitively damage to the flesh and healing is intuitively healing those wounds. But, yeah, this argument has been done to death.

Bill Zebub

“It’s probably Matt Mercer’s fault.”
I started writing a post that detailed my ideas for mechanics, but changed my mind and decided to just describe the flavor, without going into the specifics of how to implement it, even though I have lots of ideas.

The fighter I want would have a bunch of options other than 'attack', with the following characteristics:
  • Actions are 'at will' (not per rest) but have constraints such as only being situationally permissible and/or useful, or carrying risk:reward.
  • Actions that are currently in the game (e.g. Shove, Grapple) would become more powerful.
  • Some of the features are built into the class, but there's also a list of features that the player chooses from as they level. Sort of like Battlemaster maneuvers, but acquired more frequently.
  • Some of the features can be movement/exploration related. Maybe even social?
  • Some features would key off Int or Cha
  • In general, these features would not be passive bonuses, but would be choices to make.
Done as I imagine, it would be possible to build viable Fighters in the following archetypes by choosing the right options:
  • Intelligence > Strength
  • The "unarmored swordsman" (maybe same as above?)
  • Weaponless (wrestling and unarmed attacks)
I'd also like to see the Fighter have some options, in this case a per rest resource would be fine, for getting a solid bonus to ability checks and saving throws, to occasionally beat the odds like a hero.

In addition, my preferred version would NOT be the fantasy/anime/mythic superhero. Leap 30' in armor? Sure. Over a dragon? No.

I realize others feel differently. Just stating my preference.

yeah, I think that the current warlock is what should be looked to. You have X number per short rest able to be used, and a list of maneuvers known... you can reuse the same ones, or use different ones.
Warlock is a good basis - particularly the Hexblade, which outside of 1-level dips, is generally regarded as OK, but not excessively powerful.

Warlocks have an at-will attack that stacks up well against a the base fighter's extra attack, some always on/at-will abilities plus spells all the way to 9th level, yet aren't regarded as excessively powerful because of it.

Outside of the Warlord homebrew class I made a while ago, they're probably the best basis for the mythic martial class, or "complex fighter". Starting by converting spells that do martial things into abilities for the class will give an idea of the sort of power the complex fighter would have at each level.

All of which is post facto rationalization. The mechanic says what happens, so the fiction will just have to bend to accommodate no matter what. If you can't recognize that's a very different aesthetic, well, we just won't be able to have a productive discussion.

It is a very different aesthetic and mechanic but it doesn't have to apply to only spells or magical effects.

Some mechanics are modeling the outcome and NOT trying to one to one match the player resource to the character resource. In fact that's the whole point of some narrative abilities.

So in many cases "the move" is not fiction bending to your charcter's will, but the fiction is accomodating the outcome -- which if the mechanic is good should more often than not make sense within the character's permission space, general abilities, the genre, etc. Yes, it can lead to some situations where there is a disconnect and you have to squint or just move on. It's a downside to this mechanic. But if the mechanic is good within the system, this should happen much less often than more often.

The extreme example of this are plot points / fate points that allow players to introduce authorial fictional elements like "of course my buddy from college works at this law firm" or whatever. In a real world based modern magicless Fate game there are no spells involved and the character itself is not bending the fiction -- the mechanic just allows the player to declare an outcome related to the character that is plausible within the fiction. The character experiences a plausible meeting with an old friend.

D&D narrative abilities have traditional used magic as a way to tie the outcomes directly to push button character resources which are also one to one player resources but it seems like 5e has experimented a little bit on this as well -- backgrounds that allow the player to declare the "outcome" that the peasants will shelter them, etc.

I can see why some people are ok with this and some are not.

If it involves bending fiction to your will by performing the move, or is balanced by limited access to some metagame currency (slots per day, rechargeable points) then regardless of what you color it as, it is a spell-like mechanic. It is mechanics we are talking about here.

Then call it spell-like mechanics.

If you are using "Fighter gets spells" to mean "Fighter gets abilities that use mechanics that have been traditionally reserved for spells in D&D, particularly limited use in exchange for power and narrative control" then I understand that. And I can see why some people may or may not like this.

If people say "Fighters get spells" as short hand it's misleading and confusing because we have pages in the PHB describing what spells and spellcasters are in D&D through the lens of the D&D fiction.


that's the thing. For 22 years we have had non injury injuries... and for all 48 years we have had "I was at deaths door 5 minutes ago, but have no penalties to movement, and/or ability"

now I'm not complaining that I want more realism or a death spiral, but we can't assume we have real HP simulating anything.
If only we had some sort of mechanic to distinguish "actually injured" from "minor scrapes and bruises". Something like a "bloodied" condition...

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