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

I think bonus ASI/feats are mechanics to reinforce that backstory. As is the background selection. Possibly stat allocation, fighting style, and subclass options.
Right, all characters have the option for stat allocation, feats, and backgrounds, independent of class. Also, rogues have Thieves' Cant, which gives them a lens to view the worlds of D&D and implies a cultural context; a player choosing to play a rogue enjoys having that framework/lens as a point of reference. And so on for every class, excepting the fighter.

The fighter's PHB subclasses have no identity. Even Mike Mearls agreed with that sentiment. Xanathar's has started to open that up a little, but to a rather limited extent: Arcane Archer, Cavalier, Samurai.

A dex fighter with a criminal or spy background has more room for feats like dungeon delver, observant, or skilled because of that class mechanic. That gives contacts via background as well.

Fighters are more like a generic template but I find that opens up concepts as opposed to restricting them.
Yeah, that opens up the question: Why is the fighter different that way than the wizard, cleric, rogue, etc? Should it be designed as a generic template? Is something about the fighter conceptually at odds with built-in identity that other classes receive?

Clearly, designers of past editions of the fighter didn't think so – "fighters as lords" was alive and well into AD&D 2e. A shift happened around 3rd edition (or rather, the slow shift became more dramatic and obvious at that time), stripping the fighter of that built-in identity in favor of the "generic template" model. It's fascinating, because AFAIK no other class in D&D has had such a central concept removed from it.
 

Mistwell

Adventurer
I mean, seriously, what's the point in telling everything in this thread that's having the problem that it's a "player issue"? What do you hope to prove here?
Imma go out on a limb and guess he's trying to prove it's a player issue?

Too on the nose?
 

5ekyu

Explorer
While that's true, it's not the whole truth and overlooks the extent to which class features do reinforce identity.

A good example is the wizard's Spellbook feature. So wizards are on the look out for other Spellbooks, maybe friendly wizards make a habit of sharing one another's spellbooks, while rival wizards try to secure their spellbooks from rivals, etc. It implies this whole scholarly sub-culture which wizards are involved with or at least a lens through which to view the D&D world.

Another good example is the rogue's Thieves' Cant features. It implies rogues have a network of shady characters and a special means of innuendo to communicate among this sub-culture without the dominant culture understanding. It implies a roguish sub-culture and offers a lens through which to view the D&D world.

And so on for clerics selecting a god, Paladin Oaths, warlock's Otherworldly Patron, Sorcerous Origin, etc.

Of course a player can craft a PC with unique backstory without any mechanics to reinforce that concept, however a player who chooses to play any other class does have some mechanics to offer a lens & sub-culture, whereas a fighter PC is in the unique position of only having the backstory the player crafts. It has no lens & no sub-culture implied by any of its mechanics, and therefor less identity built into the class than every other class.

Whether or not this is an item of concern is a very subjective matter.
But therein lies the rub.

How many threads if "fighter needs non-com-class festures" fo we have driven by how many **vs ** how many "can gods muck with clerics who go agsinst... " and "my warlock Patton is bring used H my GM to..," and Paladin oaths and yo maybe lesser extent rogues and thieves' guilds and "my hm uses my parents backstory against..." etc etc.

The classes present features that vary, I think intentionally, in the degree of "baggage" that ties them to other things in the setting and the degree to which the character is bound to other things, groups in the setting.

The fighter (depending on sub-class) weighs in at the lowest end of that scale- minimally tied by need for weapons and armor if thsts sll the player seeks to instill into the character. It's kind of similar to the class short rest focus - more independence in choices. Some barbarians likely fit that mold as do some rangers, some sorcerers and maybe some druids as well.

But each choice has consequences. Choosing the path to fewer ties also cuts out opportunities. It's the upside and downside of the homeless orphan safety net that's not rare by any means.

On the opposite side of that spectrum, you have the warlock, cleric and paladins for instance who have direct ties that almost always shape and define and in some ways limit their play going forward.

In between those two extremes are classes like wizard where interaction is needed to get the most (as you allude to) and the rogue's secret languages to the "guilds" or whatever.

So, to me, as they discussed with wanting some class and dub-classes to be simpler in play, they have a mixture of classes each with differing degrees of "external baggage" still allowing some range within each thru backgtrounds, back story, even race.

Should every fighter get festures added that leash it to former military units, former military campaigns? Should each choice of fighting style be managed in rules like the warlock patron and cleric domain are is - chaining its mechanical gains to a specific, limited set of external campaign elements that can then serve as both boon and bane at times?

Or is it a feature - both good and bad - that the fighter class was chosen to **not** make that choice of fighter style mechanics be limiting to what your charscter's ties are?

The way I see it, if you did have fighting styles wed to any limited set of external baggage, we would be seeing the uptick in "my gm wont let my fighter..." and the like complaints from those players who seek to avoid class-fixated-ties.


So, in regards to mechanical ties and baggage by class features, I am glad they provide a range of them for folks to choose from and ways to dial it up thru backgrounds and other choices rather than choose to make all classes fit the same mold.

My games session primer makes this an obvious factor of chargen- that some classes and backgrounds come with more or less built--in ties and baggage and that one should choose appropriately - specifically calling out the high end of clerics and warlocks as some of the baggage heavy. We see these as features not bugs and drawing attention to them at chargen as the GM is a way I help players get the best fit for what they want to play.

I think the game and chargen would be duller if the classes all fit the same mold in this regard so that hermit sorcerers, second-story-burglars, wandering sell-swords and holy vessels of the light of dawn all hand pretty much just the same built in and mandated class flavored degree of "external ties".
 

Hussar

Legend
Hi!

not sure why I’m being quoted - but please leave me out of this argument. 😁
Well, honestly, [MENTION=88539]LowKey[/MENTION], while I appreciate the humour you bring to the discussion, I would regrettably say that you're part of the problem. You might say it a lot more nicely, but, at the end of the day, you're basically telling anyone who has a problem with fighters not having enough stuff to do out of combat to play another class.

Which isn't really a solution to the problem. It's acknowledging that people might have the issue while simply sweeping it under the rug. Don't like the class? Want something a bit more in the class? No problem, here's a completely different class you can play that will do the trick. :erm:

Why not actually fix the class?
 
There's no easy solution to this as this is often less an issue with the class having too low skill modifiers and more of a problem with the player not being able to come up with clever ideas without having any spell list at hand.

Sure there may be some other issues... like wearing heavy armor and letting the others scout ahead due to having disadvantage on stealth checks and ending up staying around bored while the other have all the exploration fun.

But those issues are individual and cannot really be solved by a general "Give fighters feat X" solution. In the example above for example you could just change the way you work with stealth for example. Like always telling the players when threats are nearby (assuming they don't hide and plan an ambush - but in that case stealth doesn't help anyway) before asking for stealth checks, so as long as you don't warn them they can travel together without much worry.

If the issue is more the player not having any ideas, I'd probably start with trying to give him some ideas, maybe asking him what he imagines his fighters is good at or maybe exploring a bit on his stats (high charisma? well maybe you're good at winning encounters by talking) and tool proficiencies (Xanathar's guide is pretty good at giving you ideas with that).

If nothing helps and the player is just like "I want to be able to use cool utility cantrips too!" then I'd probably ask him if he wants to create a new character and we think of a reason why the other leaves / dies.
 

Maxperson

Orcus on an on Day
Yup. I have a player and know others who won't play anything more complex than a Champion. They are not new, nor lazy. They just interact with the game differently and that's just fine.
Yep. For many years I've played with a few guys who played fighters and avoided casters, because casters were too complicated and they didn't want the game to feel like work. They enjoyed the simple relaxation afforded to them by the fighter class. This game is for them, too.
 

Maxperson

Orcus on an on Day
One of the issues with 5E is that, for most of the game, your ability modifier is more important than your proficiency bonus.

If the fighter wants to intimidate something, and they have a +3 bonus because they're actually trained in it, then they're still better off letting the untrained warlock do it, because the warlock is at +5 from Charisma.
In my opinion, the bolded portion is the problem, not fighter class. When we want to convince the DM of something, even though I'm better at persuasion than the rest of the group, we all contribute in the conversation. Why? Because we're people and people want to be heard, even if their bonuses aren't as high as the next guy.

If you stop treating your character like a piece in the game, and start treating him more like a person in the game, you will stop having an issue of not being able to participate meaningfully in non-combat as a fighter. 5e is great like that, since most DCs are pretty darn low and even with a penalty to a stat, you will make a lot of them. Especially if you find a way to do it with advantage.
 
Honestly if a fighter had +3 persuasion and a warlock has +5 persuasion and both try to persuade someone together, I'd let the Warlock roll at advantage and consider the fighter providing "Help" like with the help action.
 

Maxperson

Orcus on an on Day
Honestly if a fighter had +3 persuasion and a warlock has +5 persuasion and both try to persuade someone together, I'd let the Warlock roll at advantage and consider the fighter providing "Help" like with the help action.
For myself, I'd give advantage to the one who first told me that he was persuading the guy. If the fighter's player told me that he was doing it, the warlock would be giving the fighter advantage if he helped.
 

lowkey13

Exterminate all rational thought
Well, honestly, @LowKey, while I appreciate the humour you bring to the discussion, I would regrettably say that you're part of the problem. You might say it a lot more nicely, but, at the end of the day, you're basically telling anyone who has a problem with fighters not having enough stuff to do out of combat to play another class.

Which isn't really a solution to the problem. It's acknowledging that people might have the issue while simply sweeping it under the rug. Don't like the class? Want something a bit more in the class? No problem, here's a completely different class you can play that will do the trick. :erm:

Why not actually fix the class?
So, I assume you read all of my posts in the thread? I would hope that you would see that I have a more nuanced view of things than that, especially given that I started by saying that this sounds like it should be tried out as homebrew.

And then I summed it up with the following:

But why, then, do I think that the issues around the fighter are misplaced? Because there is something about the core concept of the fighter that is both very appealing and somewhat polarizing. And that should be okay! Because there are a lot of classes, and when you combine the archetypes, there is a lot of overlap. If you like challenging and/or interesting martial characters, you can choose from all sorts of Rogues, Monks, Bards, Barbarians, Hexblades, Clerics, Druids, TheClassThatShallNotBeNamed, and Rangers.

Now, I am not saying that there shouldn't be some sort of new, "complex" or "advanced" martial character for those who truly desire it (sort of a Battlemaster+ or a, um, W**l**d). But for the most part, if someone doesn't enjoy playing a fighter, the best and easiest recommendation is to play one of the many other classes. It's not like the absence of magic shoppes, which, for those who like them, can't be replicated. Or even the mechanics of the Beastmaster, which for balance reasons were made a certain way (and arguably make it difficult for those who want to play with pets to utilize). Instead, it's more like individuals who know they don't like Butter Pecan ice cream asking that the butter pecan ice cream be changed out to another flavor, instead of eating the other 11 varieties.

At least, IMO. I could be wrong- I often am. Personally, I play monks.
And that's kind of the essence of how I feel about things. I don't think the class needs fixing, just because it doesn't match your preferences, and the way the class is now happens to match a lot of people's preferences, which is why it is the most popular class.* But if you want something different, that's cool too. I would really suggest just designing your own class, but I am not the boss of you.

If you wish to argue, please take it up with someone else. If you want to have a discussion about preferences, I am always willing to talk. :)


*This doesn't mean the class is good, or perfect, but it does mean that it is doing something well enough for it to be the most popular of all of the classes.
 
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Elfcrusher

Explorer
For myself, I'd give advantage to the one who first told me that he was persuading the guy. If the fighter's player told me that he was doing it, the warlock would be giving the fighter advantage if he helped.
And...to flog this dead horse...if either character narrated/acted an especially compelling argument that I thought would be effective on the NPC, I wouldn't require a roll. (To be clear: I'm not evaluating the quality of the voice acting, nor even 'what the NPC would do', but just 'does it make a good story if the NPC does/doesn't find this persuasive?')

Thus, in some sub-set of cases (those in which the outcome is in doubt for the DM) the +5 warlock is 10% more persuasive than the +3 fighter.

And yet some people interpret that to mean that the fighter is useless outside of combat.
 
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!
So I previously explained how I'd approach any effort to enhance the fighter, specifically in regards to class as a lens into worlds of D&D implying sub-culture connection. However, I didn't get into the nuts and bolts of your proposition.

First, define the narrative identity you wish to introduce for the fighter. You mentioned wanting to enhance out-of-combat versatility, but your two ideas seem to aim for different themes. Remarkable Athlete is kind of an "action hero" identity, whereas Know Your Enemy is a "cool tactician" identity, or am I mistaken? Also, Know Your Enemy really is a pre-combat ability, not an out-of-combat social one, right? It lets you evaluate combat info: Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, AC, HP, and (fighter) class levels. So there is an issue at the identity level. To me that's an indication of needing to go back to the drawing board and really get clear on what you want.

Second, note where new feature would best fit into the fighter's existing framework. There is a great blog post on Loot the Body which is worth a read. In short, the fighter is probably missing a 2nd-level class feature compared to other classes. That's a clear window of opportunity for whatever you wish to implement.
 

GlassJaw

Explorer
You know, I actually agree that the fighter could use some stuff; not because its not possible for a player to use background stuff and whatnot to make themselves useful outside of combat, but because if a new player comes in with a fighter and doesn't use that stuff, they're kind of out of luck! I noticed it because I have a new player who's playing a fighter; he's awesome in combat, but sits like a bump on a log during anything else (unless its triggering a trap, since he's got the most HP).
This! Very well said. I think this is definitely part of what I'm seeing at the table. The fighter could use something that sparks the player to get involved when not in combat. Here are some quick ideas I threw together:

Teamwork: Grant a number of allies equal to your proficiency bonus advantage on a group ability check
Guard Duty: Gain advantage on next Passive Perception check against an ambush
Mentor: If you spend 1 min with an ally, grant advantage to that ally on their next untrained skill check that you are proficient in
Dig Deep: Grant advantage to ally on Constitution check against environmental effects
Improvise: Gain advantage on a tool check to craft or repair something in the field (this needs work but you get the idea)

I would let the player choose one of these at 1st or 2nd level and probably more later on. Each would work 1/short rest.

/quick brainstorm
 

Mistwell

Adventurer
Here is where I really struggle with this issue. It's a matter of rules being the source of role playing vs rules getting in the way of it. That's not a precise way of putting it, so let me explain.

OD&D (1974) had very few rules which themselves supported out of combat challenges, aside from traps. If you wanted to persuade an NPC to do something - you just had to persuade them with the players role playing it. There was sometimes a Charisma check, sometimes not, but no skills. And if you wanted to climb a wall, you might make a Dexterity check, or maybe the DM would just make a ruling based on what you said you did to try and make the climb (until the Thief class was published). But the bottom line was, baring magic (which was more rare) everyone just did stuff out of combat by trying their best to explain what their PC was doing, sometimes in character, and the DM just made the call. And that system functioned just fine and was fun.

Over the years and various editions we've gotten more PC abilities which suppport of out combat adventuring, which codify how those challenges are overcome. Which I don't dislike - I think those rules have often added something to the game. However, it also defines how things are done which means some alternative methods of doing those same things become more difficult to pull off. It's not that you can no longer persuade the DM to accept your superb role playing of the PC to influence an intimidation role (you can) it's just that you will be rolling a Charisma (Intimidation) check against a fixed or rolled DC as part of this and you will not likely be able to simple role play it out without such a check (though it's possible - just less likely). And of course carry that philosophy across hundreds of types of challenges.

A bard PC (for example) has a lot of rules-based support for out of combat checks. They get lots of skill training (any three to start, plsu some tools). They get jack of all trades to add to that skill training. They get expertise in two more skills. Their abilty bonuses (dex and charisma) tend to have more skills tied off of them than a fighters skills (strength and constitution). They get bardic inspiration to use on skill checks. They have spells and rituals from early levels which can influence skill checks (Friends, Prestidigitation, Animal Friendship, Speak with Animals, Charm Person, Comprehend Languages, Disguise Self, Feather Fall, Illusory Script, etc..), the bottom line is they have a ton of rules-based support to influence out of combat skill challenges.

And when that character is in the game, it becomes more difficult for the player of a Fighter PC to try and do the same things as the Bard PC while lacking that rules-based support for those same actions. The Fighter's player could try and befriend the bear the party encounters, but they will be left making an untrained Animal Handling check while the Bard could be speaking to the bear with a spell, charming an animal with a spell, disguising himself in a more bear-friendly visage with a spell, or making a check which is more likely to be trained (or even with expertise) but even if it's not they will be able to use Jack Of All Trades to help with the check.

So that's my conflict. In an edition like this one with a fair amount of rules-based support for out of combat actions, the DM is in a more difficult position to adjudicate simply well-role-played actions when another PC may well have rules-based abilities for that very type of check.
 

lowkey13

Exterminate all rational thought
So that's my conflict. In an edition like this one with a fair amount of rules-based support for out of combat actions, the DM is in a more difficult position to adjudicate simply well-role-played actions when another PC may well have rules-based abilities for that very type of check.
Well put.

I would just add that this inherent tension that you are describing has also been around since the beginning of the game; as difficult as it may be for some to believe now, adding the Thief (now Rogue) was controversial because there were people that believed that adding a class with defined abilities (like hiding in shadows) would mean that no other character could do that.

Same debate, almost five decades later.
 

Saelorn

Explorer
In my opinion, the bolded portion is the problem, not fighter class. When we want to convince the DM of something, even though I'm better at persuasion than the rest of the group, we all contribute in the conversation. Why? Because we're people and people want to be heard, even if their bonuses aren't as high as the next guy.
In real life, a group making an argument can be more persuasive than an individual. In the game world, it isn't necessarily so. (Or if the DM implements Advantage in that case, then that's how the game world actually works; and the characters would behave accordingly, since they actually live in that world.)

Or maybe everyone is arguing a different point, in which case everyone should be making an attempt, because nobody else is on their side. One of the assumptions behind the fighter being useless out-of-combat is that everyone is working toward the same goal; although, admittedly, that's a pretty safe assumption for the really important checks. If you're pretty decent at making non-essential skill rolls, though, then that's not anything to write home about. In much the same way, the paladin's burst damage is seen as a balance problem, and the ranger's horde-slaying is not, because the outcome of unimportant actions are not very meaningful.
If you stop treating your character like a piece in the game, and start treating him more like a person in the game,[...]
If you stop treating your character like a person who live in the real world, and start treating them like a person who lives in the game world, then your belief about how the real world works wouldn't corrupt the way they make decisions. Meta-gaming is explicitly against the rules.
[...] you will stop having an issue of not being able to participate meaningfully in non-combat as a fighter.
I guess that goes down to your definition of "meaningfully".
 

GlassJaw

Explorer
So that's my conflict. In an edition like this one with a fair amount of rules-based support for out of combat actions, the DM is in a more difficult position to adjudicate simply well-role-played actions when another PC may well have rules-based abilities for that very type of check.
Great post. Extremely well said and probably a lot better than I've stated my position in this thread. The thing is, 5E does a really job of balancing the rules vs. role-playing dilemma, and definitely better than 3rd and 4rd edition (which were much more mechanics and number-heavy). However, the "problem" still exists.

I also wonder if the fact that because 5E is a bit more streamlined, when there is a discrepancy, is it a bit more apparent.

Anyway, this brings me back to my previous post. A class like the Fighter needs a nudge in the non-combat skill department for these reasons.
 

CubicsRube

Registered User
[MENTION=20323]Quickleaf[/MENTION] perhaps on that discussion then there could be a theives cant like feature for fighters?

Say level 1 - military connections. You have come to know people within mercenary and military groups far and wide. When you arrive in a new place, you can ask the gm if you know somebody there. That person may not necessarily be friendly.

Something like that.

Makes sense to me that a fighting man either has travelled a lot themselves, or they've met people who have.
 
[MENTION=6848185]CubicsRube[/MENTION] Totally, something along those lines would make a lot of sense thematically, and it avoids pigeon-holing fighter players too much. You could play a totally free-wheeling swashbuckler type who still knows people through "military connections" because of the many nights he spent sobering up in jail, enchanting the guards and fellow lock-ups alike with his tales and charm. It serves as a nice springboard for the player's creativity, and gives new players a lens through which to view the worlds of D&D.

The trick is pinning down language that would feel at home in a class, as opposed to the more vague language used in background features. And also not making it overlap the design space of background features.

What I like about that approach, placing such a social-based feature at level 1, is that it right away encourages players to see the campaign world through a lens. As opposed to older editions of D&D where a fighter player was expected to mature into the "baron/lord" lens.

...

As a follow-up though, back when I realized that fighter & rogue classes only had 1 feature at 2nd-level – compared to other classes with 2-3 features (or a subclass choice) – I thought that both could use a flavorful narrative feature. Nothing powerful. Designers had a clever name for such features, but I can't recall it at the moment. So I brainstormed this for rogues to bolster their exploration potency:

[SECTION]Decipher Script. Starting at 2nd-level, you gain the ability to puzzle out a vague impression of any writing, glyphs, or maps you come across. At a minimum, you recognize what language the writing is in, whether it’s finished or incomplete, and what its general purpose is (e.g. deed, kill list, magical protection, prophecy, spell scroll, treasure map, will).[/SECTION]

The idea being that, yes, a wizard could cast comprehend languages and just read it, but that a rogue can do this all day long and – without technically reading magical writing or detecting magic – would be aware of magically warded writing.

If I were to make small-changes-for-maximum-effect to the fighter, I'd probably go with a version of your 1st level "Military Connections" feature, and then some kind of 2nd level exploration-based feature.
 

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