5E What IS a level 1 Fighter?

When I say "Level 1 Fighter" what image first comes to mind?

  • A farm hand picking up a sword to go slay goblins

    Votes: 7 7.9%
  • Someone who just started training with weapons

    Votes: 12 13.5%
  • A veteran who turns his skills with weapons toward adventuring

    Votes: 47 52.8%
  • Something else entirely

    Votes: 23 25.8%

  • Total voters
    89

Undrave

Adventurer
This is something that as come up a few time in the Zouave thread: What does it mean to be a level 1 Fighter, exactly?

Here is what the class description has to say about Fighters:

Questing knights, conquering overlords, royal champions, elite foot soldiers, hardened mercenaries, and bandit kings—as fighters, they all share an unparalleled mastery with weapons and armor, and a thorough knowledge of the skills of combat. And they are well acquainted with death, both meting it out and staring it defiantly in the face.

WELL ROUNDED SPECIALISTS

Fighters learn the basics of all combat styles. Every fighter can swing an axe, fence with a rapier, wield a longsword or a greatsword, use a bow, and even trap foes in a net with some degree of skill. Likewise, a fighter is adept with shields and every form of armor. Beyond that basic degree of familiarity, each fighter specializes in a certain style of combat. Some concentrate on archery, some on fighting with two weapons at once, and some on augmenting their martial skills with magic. This combination of broad general ability and extensive specialization makes fighters superior combatants on battlefields and in dungeons alike.

TRAINED FOR DANGER

Not every member of the city watch, the village militia, or the queen’s army is a fighter. Most of these troops are relatively untrained soldiers with only the most basic combat knowledge. Veteran soldiers, military officers, trained bodyguards, dedicated knights, and similar figures are fighters.

Some fighters feel drawn to use their training as adventurers. The dungeon delving, monster slaying, and other dangerous work common among adventurers is second nature for a fighter, not all that different from the life he or she left behind. There are greater risks, perhaps, but also much greater rewards—few fighters in the city watch have the opportunity to discover a magic flame tongue sword, for example.
I posit that the default fluff, and thus what informs the mechanical design of the Fighter, is someone who has had extensive training and already fought many battles before turning to a life of adventure.

Meanwhile, you have others like Paul Farquhar who say:

It goes back to the first principle of the fighter - a default farm boy hero with no special training at the start of the story. Feats allow for the flexibility to develop that "classless" hero in a wide range of different directions.
(Not picking on him or anything, he was just a good quote)

Which is a view I think is unfair to the Fighter because it's used to diminish what they can or COULD potentially do. Wizards having spent years studying magic is basically the default for the Wizard class, but not the Fighter? I think level 1 should be level 1 for everyone (barring Sorcerer and Warlock maybe).

While I think you absolutely CAN roleplay that classless character with a Fighter (or any class really), I don't believe it is the default assumption on which the class is MECHANICALLY based. I don't believe you can be a Fighter without special training. It doesn't mean you can't be a farm boy, but you gotta have swung a sword a few times otherwise you wouldn't have proficiency with it. Same with the armor proficiencies.

Hence why I put the poll in this thread: What is your default image of a level 1 Fighter? The first thing that comes to mind?

I think this also raise the question of what it means to have a level? What steps should a commoner take to go from only having a Background to having a Class Level? Sure, a level 1 hero has 0 XP, but I don't think it automatically means they have no relevant experience either.
 

Salthorae

Imperial Mountain Dew Taster
The fluff of the class is my default assumption. Someone who has extensive martial training and could go out there and earn a living as a qualified mercenary or non-entry level soldier in an army at level 1, but who has turned to adventuring instead.

The classic Hero's trope of farmboy to legend is not represented well by the D&D Fighter, and I would argue that has always been true, at least as long as I've been playing (2e AD&D start).

Though you can certainly do it. It's just weird explaining how your farmhand is fully proficient in all armors, shields, and weapons the moment they stepped off the farm for a life of adventure.
 
Hence why I put the poll in this thread: What is your default image of a level 1 Fighter? The first thing that comes to mind?
meatshield.jpg


(Problem with this meme: no Shatner Commas. "You, are, a, pivotal part, of, operation, meatshield!")

What IS a level 1 Fighter?
A Veteran! My 1e PH says so!

(In other news, your Cleric changes religions at least twice before reaching name level... mostly Christian, but, for instance, Tibetan Buddhist at 7th...(also, I over-use ellipses (and parentheticals.)))

It's just weird explaining how your farmhand is fully proficient in all armors, shields, and weapons the moment they stepped off the farm for a life of adventure.
Could be innate talent, could be heredity (his real dad could have been a great warrior, or, like, the god of war or something), could be sheer determination, could be past life memories, etc...
...it's a fantasy world, afterall.
 
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lowkey13

I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.
Honestly, part of the problem is also, "What is a level?"

This reminds me of (coughs loudly) back when 1e tried to make 0 level a thing. It wasn't widely followed because, well, first level is hard enough.

But just like understanding class as archetype/profession can be difficult (and vary from table to table), so, to, does "level."

It's what you want it to be.
 

Salthorae

Imperial Mountain Dew Taster
...(also, I over-use ellipses (and parentheticals.)))
Thank goodness I'm not the only one. You should see some of my posts before I go back for ellipses and () edits on them... ;)

Could be innate talent, could be heredity (his real dad could have been a great warrior, or, like, the god of war or something), could be sheer determination, could be past life memories, etc...
...it's a fantasy world, afterall.
Sure, I guess you could go Percy Jackson on it. I guess I'm just thinking of all the games that start in a small town with very normal people but 1st level. shrug
 
This reminds me of (coughs loudly) back when 1e tried to make 0 level a thing. It wasn't widely followed because, well, first level is hard enough.
One group I was in adopted 0 level in concept - as an excuse to give every character and extra d6 hit points "from when they were 0 level."

"What is a level?"
It's a tool with a bubble in a little glass tube, that you use to check surfaces for imperceptible inclines.
 

Undrave

Adventurer
Honestly, part of the problem is also, "What is a level?"

This reminds me of (coughs loudly) back when 1e tried to make 0 level a thing. It wasn't widely followed because, well, first level is hard enough.

But just like understanding class as archetype/profession can be difficult (and vary from table to table), so, to, does "level."

It's what you want it to be.
'Level' is just a mesure of how good you are at your class(s), and the difference between level 2 and level 3 is pretty arbitrary, but I think there is still a certain qualitative difference between someone without class levels and one with class levels.

Being all east level 1 makes you an adventurer. You're someone who has goals and is proactive about them. You're putting yourself out there and risking life and limb for whatever objectives you have.
 

BigBadDM

Explorer
I don't understand the question here? This is really for the player to fill in--if they even want to...

Example:
You are a 0 level citizen. The town is attacked while selling your wheat. The Guards die--and the neighbors. You pick up a sword and attack the raiding goblins. With the town guard dead, you train yourself in swords and armor to protect the town. You repel months of goblin attacks. The town sees you as their local folk hero. But the attacks continue, so you vow to find the source of the problem. You are now a level 1 fighter, ready to start adventuring. From farm hand to 1st level fighter...

I mean this is a simple backstory, but shows how you start as a level 1 fighter.
Your character is not ignorant in the chosen class when starting out.
Whether the PC wants to flesh the backstory out is up to them.
 

Undrave

Adventurer
I don't understand the question here? This is really for the player to fill in--if they even want to...

Example:
You are a 0 level citizen. The town is attacked while selling your wheat. The Guards die--and the neighbors. You pick up a sword and attack the raiding goblins. With the town guard dead, you train yourself in swords and armor to protect the town. You repel months of goblin attacks. The town sees you as their local folk hero. But the attacks continue, so you vow to find the source of the problem. You are now a level 1 fighter, ready to start adventuring. From farm hand to 1st level fighter...

I mean this is a simple backstory, but shows how you start as a level 1 fighter.
Yeah, you can have that as your backstory for sure! That's what 'Folk Hero' is all about for exemple. What I mean is, in that story, you don't start level 1 the moment you pick up that sword after the death of the guards.

My question was more related to class design I guess. What is the default assumption that informed the design of the Fighter's level 1 and 2 class features (and suite of proficiencies).
 

BigBadDM

Explorer
My question was more related to class design I guess. What is the default assumption that informed the design of the Fighter's level 1 and 2 class features (and suite of proficiencies).
The assumption is you are trained at hitting things with weapons. You have skills related to combat since you are good at hitting things with weapons.
 

lowkey13

I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.
Being all east level 1 makes you an adventurer. You're someone who has goals and is proactive about them. You're putting yourself out there and risking life and limb for whatever objectives you have.
I mean, sometimes! Sometimes there are (non-adventuring) NPCs that have levels. You know, the "important" ones.

It's just, you know, a game concept. Not an immutable property of the world.
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
I think you’re missing the middle ground which is what I think the answer actually is. You go from just starting training to a veteran. The actual answer is someone who has completed training,but doesn’t have much practical experience. Like a modern day soldier who completed boot camp.
 
You should allow multiple selections, because the fighter class is expected to represent any and all of these.

Wizards having spent years studying magic is basically the default for the Wizard class
This is absolutely not required by the rules, and the wizard background example in Xanathar's Guide is a character with no training who stole a spellbook.

Which is a view I think is unfair to the Fighter because it's used to diminish what they can or COULD potentially do.
On the contrary, the chosen one becomes the mightiest hero of them all.

It is the veteran soldier who is destined to never grow beyond a supporting role.

Hero's journey - Wikipedia
 

Undrave

Adventurer
I mean, sometimes! Sometimes there are (non-adventuring) NPCs that have levels. You know, the "important" ones.

It's just, you know, a game concept. Not an immutable property of the world.
Meh, building NPCs with class levels is a hassle :p just throw some ability in a stat block and call it a day.
 

Undrave

Adventurer
You should allow multiple selections, because the fighter class is expected to represent any and all of these.
I know, but I didn't ask what you think the Fighter class covers, I asked what is the FIRST image that pops in your head. I know the Fighter can cover these and a lot more through use of background and clever role play. That's not what is in question.
 

Undrave

Adventurer
I think you’re missing the middle ground which is what I think the answer actually is. You go from just starting training to a veteran. The actual answer is someone who has completed training,but doesn’t have much practical experience. Like a modern day soldier who completed boot camp.
That was my intention with the second choice but I didn't word it properly. Sorry.
 

PsyzhranV2

Explorer
I'm of the mind that somebody with a level in Fighter has already been in the fighting business for quite some time. That their class levels represent a degree of exceptional skill that distinguishes them from an NPC statblock. I feel that most of the classes fit this mold, the most notable exception being the Sorcerer, whose abilities tend to manifest spontaneously and without training/learning.

Article on the subject that is a big influence on my view: Dragonmarks: The Fighter
 
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neogod22

Explorer
I see level 1 and 2 as the learn the game and mechanics levels. Your character doesn't actually start until level 3. There is no way you can justify why your character learns their level e abilities unless years have past between levels 2 - 3. 8bwould even argue just skipping the first 2 levels if you're starting a game with all veteran players. But if I were going to create a real world equivalent of a level 1 fighter, it would be someone who joined the Army or Marine Corp, completed their basic and infantry training and is now at their permanent duty station, but have not been in real combat yet.
 

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