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5E yes, this again: Fighters need more non-combat options

GlassJaw

Explorer
I am taking full responsibility that I am beating a dead horse. :p

I am in the camp that Fighters could use something else in the social or exploration category. I won't die on a hill for it but I see the need.

Anyway, I'm bringing this up because during our last session, of the players said he felt like he didn't have much to do out of combat. While my bard and the warlock were sneaking and scouting, listening at doors, searching bookshelves, and translating tomes, he was looking for options to contribute. In another group we play in, this player is a wizard and feels like he has more versatility in and out of combat.

I know what the replies will be: use your background skills, role-play your character, you can skill use skills you aren't proficient in, etc. I get it, I really do. And I don't disagree. But that hasn't been enough to fully convince me Fighters wouldn't do well with something else.

So while I was looking at the PHB this morning, I had a thought: what if the Champion's Remarkable Athlete and the Battle Master's Know Your Enemy were part of the base Fighter progression?

First of all, that Remarkable Athlete is the 7th level Champion ability is ridiculous. It feels like a bad feat, or at least combined with the Athlete feat. I could also see any of the martial classes having access to an ability like this.

Second, Know Your Enemy is extremely iconic for the warrior archetype. Sizing up your opponent has many references in movies, literature, etc. It's also something unique to the fighter from the other classes.

These would give the base fighter an additional option in both the social and exploration areas.

Neither of these abilities is a "balance" issue in my mind per se. They do give the fighter more trinkets and I know one of the goals of the fighter is simplicity so I guess that could be a thing. *shrugs*

Anyway, just sharing some quick thoughts!
 

BookBarbarian

Expert Long Rester
My favorite fighter is the UA Scout Fighter. Being able to add half a proficiency die roll to Athletics, Nature, Perception, Stealth, or Survival checks was a neat way to interact with the exploration pillar.

I would like to see the idea revisited.
 

lowkey13

Exterminate all rational thought
I am taking full responsibility that I am beating a dead horse. :p

I am in the camp that Fighters could use something else in the social or exploration category. I won't die on a hill for it but I see the need.
You have interesting ideas- you should try them in your home campaign.

That said, you are going to get the usual responses (they can take additional feats, the game doesn't constrain how you play them, etc). But the most salient point is this-

There are twelve (12!) base classes. Before getting to all the subclasses (archetypes).

If someone has difficulty understanding how to have fun with a class, sometimes the best option is to ask them if they want to play a different class.

Ask the player if he like to play something else.
 

Sacrosanct

Slayer of Keraptis
Anyway, I'm bringing this up because during our last session, of the players said he felt like he didn't have much to do out of combat. While my bard and the warlock were sneaking and scouting, listening at doors, searching bookshelves, and translating tomes, he was looking for options to contribute. In another group we play in, this player is a wizard and feels like he has more versatility in and out of combat.
One of my favorite PCs is a halfling fighter with the criminal background and skulker feats. He is one of the best contributors out of combat, because he acts as the scout/thief. Which makes sense, because he's the 5e version of my 1e character who was a F/T multiclassed halfling there. I play him literally the same way.

So basically, do what lowkey13 said.
 
What was the warlock and doing that made them a better scout/stealth character then the fighter? If you take skills to interact with the environment or on a social level then you can do so just like anyone else.
 

doctorbadwolf

Explorer
I am taking full responsibility that I am beating a dead horse. :p

I am in the camp that Fighters could use something else in the social or exploration category. I won't die on a hill for it but I see the need.

Anyway, I'm bringing this up because during our last session, of the players said he felt like he didn't have much to do out of combat. While my bard and the warlock were sneaking and scouting, listening at doors, searching bookshelves, and translating tomes, he was looking for options to contribute. In another group we play in, this player is a wizard and feels like he has more versatility in and out of combat.

I know what the replies will be: use your background skills, role-play your character, you can skill use skills you aren't proficient in, etc. I get it, I really do. And I don't disagree. But that hasn't been enough to fully convince me Fighters wouldn't do well with something else.

So while I was looking at the PHB this morning, I had a thought: what if the Champion's Remarkable Athlete and the Battle Master's Know Your Enemy were part of the base Fighter progression?

First of all, that Remarkable Athlete is the 7th level Champion ability is ridiculous. It feels like a bad feat, or at least combined with the Athlete feat. I could also see any of the martial classes having access to an ability like this.

Second, Know Your Enemy is extremely iconic for the warrior archetype. Sizing up your opponent has many references in movies, literature, etc. It's also something unique to the fighter from the other classes.

These would give the base fighter an additional option in both the social and exploration areas.

Neither of these abilities is a "balance" issue in my mind per se. They do give the fighter more trinkets and I know one of the goals of the fighter is simplicity so I guess that could be a thing. *shrugs*

Anyway, just sharing some quick thoughts!
Some quick thoughts.

First, I agree that the Fighter could use a bit more. I have done things like giving Fighters a third skill, and it works okay, but it's not terribly interesting. I've thought about giving them Jack of All Trades, because I don't consider it necessary for Bards to feel unique and cool, but I'd still rather give them something that only Fighters get, because outside of combat, they get nothing that feels reasonably unique. I like 5e Fighters mechanically, but thematically...they aren't a class. They're a framework that class concepts get tacked onto.

I will say this, though. Your fighter gets more feats than anyone, and one of your extra feats is at level 6. You can afford to take out of combat feats like Linguist, Keen Mind, Athlete, Actor, etc. The fighter doesn't need to take all ASIs and combat feats to be effective.

I wouldn't take abilities from the subclasses, though, unless you're going to give something more specific to the subclass in exchange.

Lastly. A big part of the Fighter's out of combat identity is in the Subclasses, rather than the base class.
 

Satyrn

Villager
I am taking full responsibility that I am beating a dead horse. :p
One thing is clear. You definitely need more non-combat options if beating a dead horse is all you can do. And more effective combat options.

Two things. Two things are clear. You definitely need more non-combat options. And more effective combat options if beating a dead horse is all you can do. Etc.

/MontyPython
 

doctorbadwolf

Explorer
You have interesting ideas- you should try them in your home campaign.

That said, you are going to get the usual responses (they can take additional feats, the game doesn't constrain how you play them, etc). But the most salient point is this-

There are twelve (12!) base classes. Before getting to all the subclasses (archetypes).

If someone has difficulty understanding how to have fun with a class, sometimes the best option is to ask them if they want to play a different class.

Ask the player if he like to play something else.
This works for people who have an easy time making their concept with multiple mechanical frameworks. Other people just can't do it with any meaningful immersion, for whatever reason. Some of us can easily reflavor a warlock as an arcane archer, some people simply cannot. So, it depends on what the concept of the character is, and whether the player is one such player.

Nothing wrong with asking others for thoughts on how to fix things for such players.

But, I'm a wierdo. If I ran a forum, posts that amount to "your premise is bad and wrong" (which yours isn't, but the posts you and OP reference that they will likely receive as the thread goes on surely will be) would be against the rules. IMO, either engage meaningfully with the premise, or don't post in the thread. Again, I don't think you're doing that, I'm just jumping off your comments to address the inevitable such posts.

Anyway, I don't think that there is anything about OPs ideas so far that will disrupt the game in any way, so you're right that they should go ahead and do it in their game if they want. However, I don't think it will change the player's perception, since they aren't getting any better at interaction or exploration. More on that in my next reply below...

As an aside, I kinda wish that more of the Fighter's power balance lived in the subclass, if the base class is going to so generic.

What was the warlock and doing that made them a better scout/stealth character then the fighter? If you take skills to interact with the environment or on a social level then you can do so just like anyone else.
The Warlock and Bard have class abilities that make them better at certain social and exploration activities than another character with just the skill. The fighter base class has no such abilities, and the PHB subclasses have, between them, a bonus tool proficiency (limited to artisan tools), and a boost to jumping and half proficiency with untrained physical attribute checks (which doesn't come online until level 7). The Bard has more skills, half proficiency on all untrained ability checks, and expertise. The Warlock has invocations that do all sorts of things for all pillars, and spells. One invocation gives them Persuasion and Deception. If they take pact of the tome, they get extra cantrips, and can pick up stuff like Prestidigitation and Minor Illusion and Message, and if they pick up pact of the chain, they can have a Sprite or Psuedodragon familiar that can help them in interaction and exploration just as much (if not more) as in combat.

Every class but fighter gets more than a couple skill proficiencies to help in the other 2 pillars.

Remarkable athlete isn't going to let you shine in anything but jumping over stuff. You won't be terrible at any physical tasks, which is fun, but you aren't going to be sneaking alongside a bard with expertise, or a warlock that can turn invisible by standing still, and you certainly won't be contributing to interaction in any way that stands out unless you spend feats on it. And it's not like Fighters just blow everyone else away in combat, either. They're good, but hardly so much better than other classes that it justifies not giving them anything to bring the spotlight on to them out of combat.
 

lowkey13

Exterminate all rational thought
This works for people who have an easy time making their concept with multiple mechanical frameworks. Other people just can't do it with any meaningful immersion, for whatever reason. Some of us can easily reflavor a warlock as an arcane archer, some people simply cannot. So, it depends on what the concept of the character is, and whether the player is one such player.

Nothing wrong with asking others for thoughts on how to fix things for such players.

But, I'm a wierdo. If I ran a forum, posts that amount to "your premise is bad and wrong" (which yours isn't, but the posts you and OP reference that they will likely receive as the thread goes on surely will be) would be against the rules. IMO, either engage meaningfully with the premise, or don't post in the thread. Again, I don't think you're doing that, I'm just jumping off your comments to address the inevitable such posts.

Anyway, I don't think that there is anything about OPs ideas so far that will disrupt the game in any way, so you're right that they should go ahead and do it in their game if they want. However, I don't think it will change the player's perception, since they aren't getting any better at interaction or exploration. More on that in my next reply below...

As an aside, I kinda wish that more of the Fighter's power balance lived in the subclass, if the base class is going to so generic.
I get that. But for the OP, this came up because a particular player, who had earlier played a wizard, was envious of other people playing other classes.

The thing is, the Fighter class / chassis works very well for what is, but it also requires some buy-in if you want it to sing. Not everyone does that, and that's okay!

There are a lot of classes that I just don't feel like playing. Sometimes, the problem isn't the player, and it isn't the class- it's the combination. In my campaigns, I make sure to check in with everyone at 4th/5th level to see if they are having fun with the class. If they aren't, they can make a new, equivalent-level character.

It's usually easier to allow a player to play a class that is more closely suited to what they want it to be, than to remake the class. IMO.
 

MonkeezOnFire

Explorer
Because the fighter is somewhat supposed to be a blank slate for flavour, I think that deciding what exactly the fighter should be good at outside combat is a nontrivial exercise. I also think that no matter what direction you go in someone will inevitably disagree with you on if what you came up with feels "fighter-y". Given that here's how I would go about it.

To keep the fighter generic but also giving specific flavourful abilities we offer many different abilities to customize as you see fit. Offer a couple early and then gain more as you level up (a lot like warlock invocations, but keep it strictly non-combat). This may increase the complexity of the class a tad, but that's not something I necessarily care about.

Some samples of abilities:

When all you have is a hammer: You may substitute a weapon in place of a proper tool without penalty. For example using daggers as pitons

That'll do for now: You may spend 1 minute to make repairs to a broken, non-magical object. The object functions as normal for 1 hour, but has vulnerability to all damage. Once you repair an object in this manner you cannot do so again.

Work harder not smarter: You may push yourself to get advantage on all checks that use STR, DEX and CON for 1 hour. At the end of the hour you suffer 1 level of exhaustion.

Scary face: When you make an intimidation check you add a bonus equal to your CON modifier (min 1)

A way with words: After you spend 10 minutes talking with single individual you can attempt to charm them. They must make a WIS saving throw against a DC of 10 + your proficiency bonus + your Cha modifier or be charmed for 1 hour. If they succeed they are immune to this affect for 24 hours.
 

doctorbadwolf

Explorer
I get that. But for the OP, this came up because a particular player, who had earlier played a wizard, was envious of other people playing other classes.

The thing is, the Fighter class / chassis works very well for what is, but it also requires some buy-in if you want it to sing. Not everyone does that, and that's okay!

There are a lot of classes that I just don't feel like playing. Sometimes, the problem isn't the player, and it isn't the class- it's the combination. In my campaigns, I make sure to check in with everyone at 4th/5th level to see if they are having fun with the class. If they aren't, they can make a new, equivalent-level character.

It's usually easier to allow a player to play a class that is more closely suited to what they want it to be, than to remake the class. IMO.
I agree! I just also think that the character's concept may well have been best built as a fighter, but then the lack of interaction and exploration benefits sinks in over time. They probably don't want to play a different character, they just want the character concept they had to work.

For instance, the Battlemaster makes a great swashbuckler, in combat. If there were no swashbuckler rogue, or you're playing PHB only, that player either has to just accept not being that useful outside of combat/not being able to realize the full character concept even though it's not a complex or overwrought concept, or reflavor something like an Open Hand Monk. Bummer!

Why not just let Fighters have some situational shine in all three pillars, instead?

Because the fighter is somewhat supposed to be a blank slate for flavour, I think that deciding what exactly the fighter should be good at outside combat is a nontrivial exercise. I also think that no matter what direction you go in someone will inevitably disagree with you on if what you came up with feels "fighter-y". Given that here's how I would go about it.

To keep the fighter generic but also giving specific flavourful abilities we offer many different abilities to customize as you see fit. Offer a couple early and then gain more as you level up (a lot like warlock invocations, but keep it strictly non-combat). This may increase the complexity of the class a tad, but that's not something I necessarily care about.

Some samples of abilities:

When all you have is a hammer: You may substitute a weapon in place of a proper tool without penalty. For example using daggers as pitons

That'll do for now: You may spend 1 minute to make repairs to a broken, non-magical object. The object functions as normal for 1 hour, but has vulnerability to all damage. Once you repair an object in this manner you cannot do so again.

Work harder not smarter: You may push yourself to get advantage on all checks that use STR, DEX and CON for 1 hour. At the end of the hour you suffer 1 level of exhaustion.

Scary face: When you make an intimidation check you add a bonus equal to your CON modifier (min 1)

A way with words: After you spend 10 minutes talking with single individual you can attempt to charm them. They must make a WIS saving throw against a DC of 10 + your proficiency bonus + your Cha modifier or be charmed for 1 hour. If they succeed they are immune to this affect for 24 hours.
Those are fun, for sure.
 

lowkey13

Exterminate all rational thought
I agree! I just also think that the character's concept may well have been best built as a fighter, but then the lack of interaction and exploration benefits sinks in over time. They probably don't want to play a different character, they just want the character concept they had to work.

For instance, the Battlemaster makes a great swashbuckler, in combat. If there were no swashbuckler rogue, or you're playing PHB only, that player either has to just accept not being that useful outside of combat/not being able to realize the full character concept even though it's not a complex or overwrought concept, or reflavor something like an Open Hand Monk. Bummer!

Why not just let Fighters have some situational shine in all three pillars, instead?
So, I think this is where that distinction lies.

I personally think that Fighters work best for two types of players:

A. The Lazy.
B. The Really Engaged.

By the way- I'm not being pejorative when I talk about lazy players; on those few occasions when I get to play, I'm a lazy player. I relax and help the party, but I don't take the lead. I'm just there for a good time.

Anyway, the point is that many players don't fall in those categories. They are somewhat engaged. They need "buttons to push" so to speak. And they like having those buttons! To put it in more concrete terms, they are the type of player that wouldn't normally think of swinging from a chandelier to drop down on an enemy, but if they had a 4th level, "DROP FROM HEIGHT ON AN ENEMY ABILITY" then they would be looking for every chandelier possible. :)

Anyway, my anecdotal experience is that in those case, players would be much better off playing a Rogue (skills) or Valor Bard (figty-spells-skills) or even a, um, well, some type of charisma-based Fighting class that would let them load up on social stuff. You know, one that wasn't terrible and a scourge to all of D&D.
 
If someone has difficulty understanding how to have fun with a class, sometimes the best option is to ask them if they want to play a different class.
This. People who just want to hit things deserve a class option as well, don't kill their only option to fix something that's not broken.
 

Blue

Orcus on a bad day
The Warlock and Bard have class abilities that make them better at certain social and exploration activities than another character with just the skill. The fighter base class has no such abilities.
Okay, Bards get Jack of all trades and more skills, I'll give you that. Warlock base class gets nothing to make them better then fighter at social and exploration activities. But both warlock and fighter get class features to spend which can grant them additional abilities, like the Beguiling Influence invocation or the Skilled feat.

If the warlock or fighter decide that they want to spend those to excel in a single pillar of play and ignore the other aspects, that's their call and not a sign those other aspects are weak and need propping up.

Everyone rushes with ASI/feat choices to an attack/spell ability score of 20, and combat feats. That's fine, but that's an intentional choice. And in a class like fighter which gives you several additional ones you can spread out and still be on the combat power curve, just like a Warlock might spend some invocations on things like Agonizing Blast, but then others spread out to other pillars.

There is one issue I see where CHR-focused characters have a natural advantage in the social pillar even without spending resources to improve. For that, using the Variant rule (PHB 175) allowing different ability scores with skills where it makes sense can help, where a STR fighter could perform a menacing feat of strength to intimidate, or a DEX fighter could take advantage of a situation where how well they dance could affect a persuasion check.
 

jmartkdr

Villager
Since fighters are kind of a vanilla class anyways, I'd probably look first to other aspects to add more flavor. For example, if you're playing a noble fighter, I'd look for a way to make you more noble than even a noble bard - somehow enhance what the background gives you, so you can really bring that too the forefront. Or maybe do something with race - make you more elf-y or something.

This is also a problem I'd address at a very individual level - each player will need different solutions.
 

5ekyu

Explorer
I am taking full responsibility that I am beating a dead horse.

I am in the camp that Fighters could use something else in the social or exploration category. I won't die on a hill for it but I see the need.

Anyway, I'm bringing this up because during our last session, of the players said he felt like he didn't have much to do out of combat. While my bard and the warlock were sneaking and scouting, listening at doors, searching bookshelves, and translating tomes, he was looking for options to contribute. In another group we play in, this player is a wizard and feels like he has more versatility in and out of combat.

I know what the replies will be: use your background skills, role-play your character, you can skill use skills you aren't proficient in, etc. I get it, I really do. And I don't disagree. But that hasn't been enough to fully convince me Fighters wouldn't do well with something else.

So while I was looking at the PHB this morning, I had a thought: what if the Champion's Remarkable Athlete and the Battle Master's Know Your Enemy were part of the base Fighter progression?

First of all, that Remarkable Athlete is the 7th level Champion ability is ridiculous. It feels like a bad feat, or at least combined with the Athlete feat. I could also see any of the martial classes having access to an ability like this.

Second, Know Your Enemy is extremely iconic for the warrior archetype. Sizing up your opponent has many references in movies, literature, etc. It's also something unique to the fighter from the other classes.

These would give the base fighter an additional option in both the social and exploration areas.

Neither of these abilities is a "balance" issue in my mind per se. They do give the fighter more trinkets and I know one of the goals of the fighter is simplicity so I guess that could be a thing. *shrugs*

Anyway, just sharing some quick thoughts!
Not to likely be repetitive but... I tend to find the only characters who find nothing to do out of combat are the ones built and concieved without looking at ehst threy do outside of combat.

As GM I put up front before chargen that they should consider what they fo on their time off, for gun. On their downtime work - to pay bill. Whike travelling ... in combat etc.

Including just a single craft or tool somewhere in the myriad of options s playe CSN draw tom should open up a hook or two that the GM can use to seed "things to do."

A hobgoblin I play has chess and weaving... and uses them as a calming pastime- remarking on them as exemplars of order and precision and how they both allow him to regain his composure when the basic chaos of the eorld unsettles him.

Net result is that they not only provide me hooks to show his need for order (law?) but every place he goes he can look for clothiers, weavers, cloth, Styles etc or setup somewhere board out and look for games.

That could be any character of any race thru a good number of backgrounds- even a custom one.

In my experience the trap that leads to charsacters with nothing to do is seeing them first as a class.
 
So far I still haven't seen why the Warlock was a better stealther/scout then the fighter. That was what I asked before in regards to the OP talking about the Warlock and Bard scouting and the Fighter supposedly not being able to contribute. If said fighter didn't take stealth then he made a non scout. Did they have a low int too and not take investigation? Then of course they will be bad at it. That's a player choice to make a character not good at those things.

If the bard doesn't have expertise in stealth, then he isn't a better scout then said fighter. If said fighter is a plate wearer and low dex then of course he is a bad scout.

I'm not sure the fighter needs class features to be successful in non combat aspects of the game.
 

Shiroiken

Explorer
While I wish they'd done the Fighter a bit different (Champion, Battlemaster, and Eldrich Knight really seem to cover almost every possible niche for the class), I don't feel that they need an out of combat ability built into the class. Most classes really don't have them either, unless the character spends resources (such as spells) to have them.

The player needs to be more assertive about doing things outside of combat. Just because they don't have good social skills doesn't mean that they should shut up during a social encounter (standard rules would have 1 character make a skill check with advantage for help). They could help search the bookshelves, sorting them into different stacks to make it easier for the intelligent characters to go through them. Scouting is admittedly out if the character wears certain armors, but that's the price they pay for the extra protection.

If you really feel that the fighter class NEEDS something for social skills, you could allow them to use Strength for Intimidation checks, showing off their powerful physique (and what they could do to those who oppose them). I'm not a fan of this, but I think it's something that could be added without too much imbalance.
 

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