• Welcome to this new upgrade of the site. We are now on a totally different software platform. Many things will be different, and bugs are expected. Certain areas (like downloads and reviews) will take longer to import. As always, please use the Meta Forum for site queries or bug reports. Note that we (the mods and admins) are also learning the new software.
  • The RSS feed for the news page has changed. Use this link. The old one displays the forums, not the news.

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

Hussar

Legend
I think one area that's ripe for a fighter is tool use (and yes I know everyone can gain tool usage, but the incentive for the Fighter to gain them so they have more to do when out of combat is higher than for other classes). It's something which can be learned in downtime, and which has potentially much wider application than I suspect a lot of games use/exploit to their most advantage. Xanathar's Guide went a long way to helping out with this.

For example at level 3 a Battle Master gets "Student of War", where you gain proficiency with one type of artisan’s tools of your choice. I picked Carpentry Tools, and this is on my Character Sheet with all my other abilities:

Carpentry: Enables a character to construct wooden structures; house, a shack, a wooden cabinet, or similar items. Components. saw, hammer, nails, hatchet, square, ruler, adze, plane, chisel. Xanathar's Pg 78
History. Aids you in identifying the use and the origin of wooden buildings and other large wooden objects.
Investigation. Additional insight when inspecting areas within wooden structures, because you know tricks of construction that can conceal areas from discovery.
Perception. You can spot irregularities in wooden walls or floors, making it easier to find trap doors and secret passages.
Stealth. You can quickly assess the weak spots in a wooden floor, making it easier to avoid the places that creek and groan when they’re stepped on.
Fortify. With 1 minute of work and raw materials, you can make a door or window harder to force open. Increase the DC needed to open it by 5.
Temporary Shelter. As part of a long rest, you can construct a lean-to or a similar shelter to keep your group dry and in the shade for the duration of the rest. Because it was fashioned quickly from whatever wood was available, the shelter collapses 1d3 days after being assembled.
And then the list of four DCs listed in Xanathar's.

What this means is I now essentially have proficiency in History, Investigation, and Stealth when those checks are made concerning certain activities over or with wooden structures, objects, floors, walls, etc.. And I can help block a door during short and long rests, and help out with shelters. All good stuff for out of combat activities.
Y'know that's a good idea. Tool use isn't a bad idea at all. IIRC, you can become proficient in tools through down time training, no? Like you can learn languages right? Or am I misremembering things? Well, in any case, why not allow fighters to train in tools the way you can learn languages - 10 work weeks (?) of down time to learn a new tool? IDHMBIFOM, so, I can't remember the actual times. But, that's not a bad way to go. Totally up to the player whether or not he or she wants to do it.
 

Mistwell

Adventurer
Y'know that's a good idea. Tool use isn't a bad idea at all. IIRC, you can become proficient in tools through down time training, no? Like you can learn languages right? Or am I misremembering things?
You remember correctly. "Receiving training in a language or tool typically takes at least ten workweeks, but this time is reduced by a number of workweeks equal to the character’s Intelligence modifier (an Intelligence penalty doesn’t increase the time needed). Training costs 25 gp per workweek."
 

TheSword

Explorer
It is easier than ever for Fighters to branch out into other areas of interest because of Bounded Accuracy, the proficiency system, Feats and ASI.

It is trivially easy for a fighter to take the persuasion skill, a base Cha 12 and a charisma ASI to both charismatic and skilled and be the face of the party.

It’s easy to put some points into wisdom, take medicine and healers kit proficiency and be a battlefield healer.

The discussion on tools above shows how practical game benefits can come from thinking outside the box and common sense interpretations of the base rules. All xanathars guide did was show us what any DM or player could have come up with using the existing rule set and proficiency system.

Regarding Saelorn’s comment that natural talent trumps skill every time. I have to disagree. Natural talent when refined and developed is better than training alone but there are lots of situations when natural instinct and flair are trumped by training or experience... driving, art, musical instruments, cooking, medicine, negotiation, jurisprudence, construction and I’m sure many more. Of course the ideal is to have both.
 

ad_hoc

Explorer
It’s easy to put some points into wisdom, take medicine and healers kit proficiency and be a battlefield healer.
This is adjacent to the thread, but Medicine is not used here. The point of a Healer's Kit is to remove the need for a Medicine check.

Medicine is a completely useless skill which should not be in the game.
 

GlassJaw

Explorer
Not as well as the fighter, because of the extra feat/ASI, and the fact that it isn’t a MAD class, only really needs Str or Dex and Con.
As has been discussed in this thread, the fighter doesn't get an extra feat until level 6. Up to that point, most of the other classes have class abilities that help them in the social and exploration pillars of the game.

It also feels like a tax on the fighter that they need to spend their first bonus feat on something so they have something they con contribute outside of combat. Pretty much every class already is doing that from levels 1-5.
 

lowkey13

Exterminate all rational thought
As has been discussed in this thread, the fighter doesn't get an extra feat until level 6. Up to that point, most of the other classes have class abilities that help them in the social and exploration pillars of the game.

It also feels like a tax on the fighter that they need to spend their first bonus feat on something so they have something they con contribute outside of combat. Pretty much every class already is doing that from levels 1-5.
Sorry, but at a certain point, people don't want solutions.

Let's start with the obvious. What is the class name?

It is the Fighter. It is not the Socializer, or the Explorer. So from the very beginning, we need to start with the assumption that this character will be some sort of ... Fighting Man. That there may be an emphasis on .... fighting. On .... combat.

That's right. From a certain perspective, the idea that "Fighter are terrible because they fight" is somewhat akin to saying that you hate water because it is wet, or, more on point, that you don't like Wizards because you don't like Magic.

We all understand that, right? Now, there are specific criticisms of the fighter, which tend to get bandied about interchangeably, which makes all of these threads annoying and pointless because these argument are inevitably conflated.

1. "I wanna complex martial character." This is a fair one. Call this the "I hate champions" or "The battlemaster doesn't scratch my itch," objections. There are individuals who want, in effect, a spell-casting martial character that doesn't cast spells. A warlord, or a character who, without magic, has the same number of point choices as a wizard. That's fine, but that's orthogonal to the issue of the fighter as it is. They really need a different class.

2. "I just played an X, and the fighter bores me." Much akin to your player, a fighter is not for every player, just like a wizard is not for every player. But I have yet to see a thread where a DM states, "I have a player that doesn't like the complexity of dealing with the Wizard's spellcasting; so how about we change the Wizard class?"

3. "The fighter is terrible outside of combat."

Three is really where people who discuss (1) and (2) end up arguing their theoretical objections. But, and here's the thing that has been repeated ad nauseum, this isn't true for all sorts of use cases. You can go EK and cast spells (utility ones). You can sword and board (Strength build) and build up your charisma and use background. As has been pointed out repeatedly, the fighter has all sorts of flexibility.

And it is the most popular class for a reason. Because some people enjoy the flexibility, and other people enjoy ... relaxing. And hitting stuff. And that's fine.

What's profoundly weird, IMO, is that the single most popular class in all of D&D is singled out as being, somehow, not good enough.


Put more simply, the fighter is, IMO, the quintessential example of preference- that not everything can please every player. There are twelve classes, and you might not like all of them equally; and that should be okay. But a difference in preferences (or, concomitantly, the fact that different tables play differently and that players at one table will have great fun and success with a fighter out of combat, and at another table they will not because of a lack of clearly defined class abilities, aka buttons to push) does not make something a problem to be solved.


EDIT- I really didn't want to be drawn into this; this horse has been beaten to death not just in this thread, but in the past three years as you know from the title you gave this.
 

TheSword

Explorer
As has been discussed in this thread, the fighter doesn't get an extra feat until level 6. Up to that point, most of the other classes have class abilities that help them in the social and exploration pillars of the game.

It also feels like a tax on the fighter that they need to spend their first bonus feat on something so they have something they con contribute outside of combat. Pretty much every class already is doing that from levels 1-5.
The feats aren’t a tax because they are extra ability to what other classes receive. The fighter can choose to specialise in combat or can branch out into other areas beyond combat. What is being missed is that the fighter can afford to branch out with its feats, skills, and ability scores and yet still be great in combat because of extra attacks, action surge and the fighter archetype abilities. Other classes can’t do that. I’m not saying that fighters are the best at doing this, there are also ways more powerful classes but they can do it respectably.

I always like an example. I created a Sun Elf Fighter who acted as a Witcher style character. Survival, Arcana, Athletics, Perception, and proficiency with alchemy and herbalism tools gave them plenty to do outside combat from level 1 while still being great in combat. At no point did I feel sidelined or disenfranchised. This would have been almost impossible to create as satisfactorily under earlier editions using just the base fighter.

On a side issue most games are played at levels 4-12 where ASI’s are very much available and useful. Levels 1-3 tend to pass very quickly and most games peter out past level 10.
 

TheSword

Explorer
This is adjacent to the thread, but Medicine is not used here. The point of a Healer's Kit is to remove the need for a Medicine check.

Medicine is a completely useless skill which should not be in the game.
This is a great example of a lack of imagination regarding skills. Medicine is only as useless as the player and DM allow it to be useless. My suggested uses of the medicine skill...

- Identifying cause of death (and time of death)
- Identifying the nature of death from blood splatter and wound direction (think Dexter)
- Identifying personal details based on remains (skeleton of a middle aged human woman)
- Indentfying diseases symptons and cures (and disease bearing creatures)
- Identifying some poisons and potential cures
- Knowledge of anatomy and the workings of the human body
- Preventing ongoing bleeding wounds, bearded devil etc.
- Conducting 'surgery' resetting bones, extracting barbed arrow heads, removing a slaad control gem, disentangling a puppeteer from a victims spine without killing them,
- Option for administering drugs (or whatever is the equivilent in your game world)
- Option for creating drugs in combination with alchemist kit or herbalist kit.
- Also where you have proficiency in a tool and a skill relating to the tool you get advantage on rolls (a la Xanathars Guide)

Cadfael is a great character written as a medieval equivilent of a forensic scientist with proficiency in Medicine.
 

ad_hoc

Explorer
This is a great example of a lack of imagination regarding skills. Medicine is only as useless as the player and DM allow it to be useless. My suggested uses of the medicine skill...

- Identifying cause of death (and time of death)
- Identifying the nature of death from blood splatter and wound direction (think Dexter)
- Identifying personal details based on remains (skeleton of a middle aged human woman)
- Indentfying diseases symptons and cures (and disease bearing creatures)
- Identifying some poisons and potential cures
- Knowledge of anatomy and the workings of the human body
- Preventing ongoing bleeding wounds, bearded devil etc.
- Conducting 'surgery' resetting bones, extracting barbed arrow heads, removing a slaad control gem, disentangling a puppeteer from a victims spine without killing them,
- Option for administering drugs (or whatever is the equivilent in your game world)
- Option for creating drugs in combination with alchemist kit or herbalist kit.
- Also where you have proficiency in a tool and a skill relating to the tool you get advantage on rolls (a la Xanathars Guide)

Cadfael is a great character written as a medieval equivilent of a forensic scientist with proficiency in Medicine.
Many of those are the Nature skill.

Cures are obtained from spells and abilities. Remember, this is a land of magic. There are herbalists and holy people with magical healing powers.

You have not acknowledged that Medicine is not used with healing kits. Regardless, Healing Kits are also useless (w/the exception of the Healer feat) because Healing Potions are so much better.
 

TheSword

Explorer
Many of those are the Nature skill.

Cures are obtained from spells and abilities. Remember, this is a land of magic. There are herbalists and holy people with magical healing powers.

You have not acknowledged that Medicine is not used with healing kits. Regardless, Healing Kits are also useless (w/the exception of the Healer feat) because Healing Potions are so much better.
Skills overlap, Nature might help with perhaps 3 or 4 of these at best.

Healing spells don't help with most of these uses. You're reducing medicine down to the combat benefit of preventing death at 0 hp which is shortsighted. Magic isnt always available and to be fair healing spells are not necessary in 5e with healing abilities abilities and resting mechanics. Many times we've adventured without a divine caster.

Who cares about healer kit... what in the list above has anything to do with preventing death at 0 hp?
 

DM Dave1

Explorer
This is a great example of a lack of imagination regarding skills. Medicine is only as useless as the player and DM allow it to be useless. My suggested uses of the medicine skill...

- Identifying cause of death (and time of death)
- Identifying the nature of death from blood splatter and wound direction (think Dexter)
- Identifying personal details based on remains (skeleton of a middle aged human woman)
- Indentfying diseases symptons and cures (and disease bearing creatures)
- Identifying some poisons and potential cures
- Knowledge of anatomy and the workings of the human body
- Preventing ongoing bleeding wounds, bearded devil etc.
- Conducting 'surgery' resetting bones, extracting barbed arrow heads, removing a slaad control gem, disentangling a puppeteer from a victims spine without killing them,
- Option for administering drugs (or whatever is the equivilent in your game world)
- Option for creating drugs in combination with alchemist kit or herbalist kit.
- Also where you have proficiency in a tool and a skill relating to the tool you get advantage on rolls (a la Xanathars Guide)

Cadfael is a great character written as a medieval equivilent of a forensic scientist with proficiency in Medicine.
Many of those are the Nature skill.

Cures are obtained from spells and abilities. Remember, this is a land of magic. There are herbalists and holy people with magical healing powers.

You have not acknowledged that Medicine is not used with healing kits. Regardless, Healing Kits are also useless (w/the exception of the Healer feat) because Healing Potions are so much better.
The Medicine Skill AND Healing Kits being useless, IMO, is a factor of the DM specifically and, by extension, the flavor of the campaign.

Let's not forget the usefulness of Medicine in this edge case (which the players, egged on by my 11 year old son who memorized the MM, enjoyed immensely in our Curse of Strahd campaign after encountering a Death Slaad in the Amber Temple):

[SECTION]Variant: Control Gem
Implanted in the slaad's brain is a magic control gem. The slaad must obey whoever possesses the gem and is immune to being charmed while so controlled.
...
Someone who is proficient in Wisdom (Medicine) can remove the gem from an incapacitated slaad. Each try requires 1 minute of uninterrupted work and a successful DC 20 Wisdom (Medicine) check. Each failed attempt deals 22 (4d10) psychic damage to the slaad.[/SECTION]
 

TheSword

Explorer
The Medicine Skill AND Healing Kits being useless, IMO, is a factor of the DM specifically and, by extension, the flavor of the campaign.

Let's not forget the usefulness of Medicine in this edge case (which the players, egged on by my 11 year old son who memorized the MM, enjoyed immensely in our Curse of Strahd campaign after encountering a Death Slaad in the Amber Temple):

[SECTION]Variant: Control Gem
Implanted in the slaad's brain is a magic control gem. The slaad must obey whoever possesses the gem and is immune to being charmed while so controlled.
...
Someone who is proficient in Wisdom (Medicine) can remove the gem from an incapacitated slaad. Each try requires 1 minute of uninterrupted work and a successful DC 20 Wisdom (Medicine) check. Each failed attempt deals 22 (4d10) psychic damage to the slaad.[/SECTION]
It may be edge, but my god its a great and gory example of roleplaying activity out of combat. Love it!
 

ad_hoc

Explorer
Skills overlap, Nature might help with perhaps 3 or 4 of these at best.

Healing spells don't help with most of these uses. You're reducing medicine down to the combat benefit of preventing death at 0 hp which is shortsighted. Magic isnt always available and to be fair healing spells are not necessary in 5e with healing abilities abilities and resting mechanics. Many times we've adventured without a divine caster.

Who cares about healer kit... what in the list above has anything to do with preventing death at 0 hp?
We're not playing medieval simulator. And if we were then healing would be a long drawn out gruesome affair resulting in the death of most patients in these scenarios.

In the rules of 5e the Medicine skill is useless.

You can houserule it to be useful, but you can houserule anything.
 

TheSword

Explorer
"We're not playing medieval simulator. And if we were then healing would be a long drawn out gruesome affair resulting in the death of most patients in these scenarios. In the rules of 5e the Medicine skill is useless. You can houserule it to be useful, but you can houserule anything."

Interesting debating style, quote a post and then block the user so they can't read your response... You clearly dont want to continue the discussion with me so thats fair enough. Posts are for reasons and for season. However what you're playing may be a different style of game to what some of us are playing, based on our influences and the balance of investigation and mystery in the game as DM Dave 1 explained.
 

Mistwell

Adventurer
As has been discussed in this thread, the fighter doesn't get an extra feat until level 6. Up to that point, most of the other classes have class abilities that help them in the social and exploration pillars of the game.

It also feels like a tax on the fighter that they need to spend their first bonus feat on something so they have something they con contribute outside of combat. Pretty much every class already is doing that from levels 1-5.
Level 2: Action Surge, usuable outside combat in time sensitive challenges
Level 3: One of:
A. Arcane Archer: Arcane Archer Lore: Proficiency in Arcana or Nature skill, and prestidigitation or druidcraft cantrip
B. Battle Masrter: Student of War: Proficiency with one type of artisan’s tools of your choice (detailed above how strong Xanathar's made this)
C. Cavalier: Bonus Proficiency: Proficiency in one of Animal Handling, History, Insight, Performance, Persuasion, or one language.
D. Champion: they have to wait until level 7 for Remarkable Athlete.
E. Eldritch Knight: Two cantrips from Wizard list, 3 spells known, 2 first level spell slots
F. Purple Dragon Knight: They have to wait until level 7 for Royal Envoy
G. Samurai: Bonus Proficiency: Proficiency in one of History, Insight, Performance, Persuasion, or a Language.

So all of them get something for out of combat applicaton with Action Surge (and that's not counting Second Wind, which can be done out of combat), and almost all of them get bonus proficiencies or spells at 3rd level (only Champion and Purple Dragon Knight have to wait until level 7 instead of level 3, while the other 5 all give you out of combat stuff at level 3).

There is a meaningful difference between "I'd like a bit more out of combat stuff for the Fighter," and "The Fighter gets NO out of combat stuff prior to level 6." One seems a reasonable argument, while the other seems false and misleading which can tend to lead to those who are on the fence disagreeing with your ultimate position.
 
Last edited:
Sorry, but at a certain point, people don't want solutions.
Speaking for myself, yes I absolutely am interested in solutions. Years back, I took a sincere stab at redesigning the fighter. I encountered design challenges that I didn't have the time/resources to resolve, but that didn't deter me from seeking solutions.

Based on their survey and a series of polls on ENWorld (lost in the crash) and RPG.Net, I believe design of the fighter class is definitely working OK enough for most players. However, I’d like it to be better than OK. If someone asked, “How’s your performance at your job?” “OK enough.” “How’s your relationship?” “OK enough.” I’d like it to be great. I’d like it to be the best fighter we’ve seen in any edition with wide appeal.

Here's my own copy of the (now lost, sadly) fighter polls, dated 6-19-2016:



Let's start with the obvious. What is the class name?

It is the Fighter. It is not the Socializer, or the Explorer. So from the very beginning, we need to start with the assumption that this character will be some sort of ... Fighting Man. That there may be an emphasis on .... fighting. On .... combat.

That's right. From a certain perspective, the idea that "Fighter are terrible because they fight" is somewhat akin to saying that you hate water because it is wet, or, more on point, that you don't like Wizards because you don't like Magic.

We all understand that, right?
The "fighters fight" argument is a slippery slope. On the one hand, yes, it's absolutely true - fighters do fight. On the other hand, it's turning a blind eye to ALL others D&D characters also fighting. And several D&D classes have overlapping features with the fighter allowing them to fight in similar ways (Extra Attack & Fighting Style)...so they're not even fighting in some uniquely masterful way.

Finally, it only looks at the fighter in it's current 3e+ incarnation, without drawing upon the many years of history the class had prior to that. "Fighter as baron/lord." In other words, fighting isn't the only thing fighter class did, dating back to very early in D&D. The design choice to cut the other part of the fighter's identity away and not introduce anything to take its place was just that: a design choice. If that choice hadn't been made, I sincerely wonder whether "fighters - it's in the name" would even be a part of the dialogue.

This is why, in my own redesign, I encouraged players/DMs to hear "warrior" when someone says "fighter", to shift the focus toward a more holistic identity, rather than one entirely defined between the confines of rolling initiative.

Now, there are specific criticisms of the fighter, which tend to get bandied about interchangeably, which makes all of these threads annoying and pointless because these argument are inevitably conflated. <snip>
I don't really fit into any of those three categories, so perhaps I represent a 4th criticism? It could be summed up as "the fighter needs identity, a lens through which new players can view the worlds of D&D."

And it is the most popular class for a reason. Because some people enjoy the flexibility, and other people enjoy ... relaxing. And hitting stuff. And that's fine.

What's profoundly weird, IMO, is that the single most popular class in all of D&D is singled out as being, somehow, not good enough.
That's one possible reason for it's popularity.

Another is that "fighter" is an archetype – independent of any mechanics – that resonates with a lot of players.

Another is that it's mechanically attractive. It would be fascinating to see data pertaining to the last class/race survey distinguishing single-class fighters from multi-class fighters. In that particular survey, "characters with multiple classes count once for each class" irrespective of how many levels they had in each class.

Speaking personally, I like to run fighters because the archetype appeals to me, yet I find the 5e treatment to be sufficient but not great. It's the closest I can get to what I'd lean toward in 5e, but it's still off the mark (for me). My historical experience running fighters was that I mostly had fun running fighters in spite of the class mechanics (thanks to stepping up my role-playing), not because of them, not inspired by them. 5e just ever so slightly moved that dial for me, but I'd like to see it developed much further.

Put more simply, the fighter is, IMO, the quintessential example of preference- that not everything can please every player. There are twelve classes, and you might not like all of them equally; and that should be okay. But a difference in preferences (or, concomitantly, the fact that different tables play differently and that players at one table will have great fun and success with a fighter out of combat, and at another table they will not because of a lack of clearly defined class abilities, aka buttons to push) does not make something a problem to be solved.
I think that's a fair comment when looking outside of an archetype, say, going from "fighter" to "holy champion" or "thief." Kinda related, but they are also distinct archetypes that may involve an undesired narrative for a player looking for a non-magical non-shady "fighter" type.

I don't know...isn't significant variance in how a class plays from table-to-table at least an item of concern worth further inquiry? One of the objectives of game design is to minimize undesirable variances among play groups, while encouraging desirable creative/stylistic variances, right?

EDIT: As an aside, when you describe out-of-combat abilities as "buttons to push", I think that's assuming a bit more than you want to about out-of-combat abilities needing to be actively managed. For example, druids have the Druidic language – it's not a "button to push" yet it has inspired & contributed to some fascinating out-of-combat scenarios in my games.
 
Last edited:

ad_hoc

Explorer
The Medicine Skill AND Healing Kits being useless, IMO, is a factor of the DM specifically and, by extension, the flavor of the campaign.

Let's not forget the usefulness of Medicine in this edge case (which the players, egged on by my 11 year old son who memorized the MM, enjoyed immensely in our Curse of Strahd campaign after encountering a Death Slaad in the Amber Temple):

[SECTION]Variant: Control Gem
Implanted in the slaad's brain is a magic control gem. The slaad must obey whoever possesses the gem and is immune to being charmed while so controlled.
...
Someone who is proficient in Wisdom (Medicine) can remove the gem from an incapacitated slaad. Each try requires 1 minute of uninterrupted work and a successful DC 20 Wisdom (Medicine) check. Each failed attempt deals 22 (4d10) psychic damage to the slaad.[/SECTION]
There is slight hyperbole to the statement. It stands that in 90-95% of campaigns it has no use and the remaining 5-10% will be used once.

I wouldn't be comfortable letting any player take it without warning them that it doesn't have use.

TheSword's uses are contrived and are made up to validate its existence. It is the 'Use Rope' of 5e. At best it should be a tool proficiency. Nature is the actual skill that covers knowledge of anatomy and such. I note this because I've had players be upset about this before.

side note: If someone memorized the MM I would change every significant monster.
 
Last edited:

Advertisement

Top