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Fighters: The Martial RPers Swiss Army Knife

Rating: 5 votes, 2.60 average.
Admit it, at some point, you've envied the fighter. He can plow through doors, smash kobold skulls, and takes a kicking and keeps on swinging.

I admit, I didn't think I'd like fighters compared to the rest of the D&D core classes. I mean, come on! Rangers with their sexy high saves, Base attack bonus, skills, and tricks! They're awesome!

And yet, I love Fighters too damn much.

Take this into consideration. Fighters are by far the most Generic of classes. I mean, yes, they can't do magic or skills straight out of the box, but you can build them into almost anything.

Want to play a Crossbow Sniper? Fighter.
Want to swing that greataxe like a pro? Fighter.
Want to be a mounted warrior of Lancing? Fighter.
Want to be a throwing weapons master? Fighter.

If it has weapons and balls of steel, fighter can do it.

I have to admit, as far as preferences within fighter have to go, I love the classic "Sword n' Board" style most of all. It doesn't do as much damage as a raging barbarian with a Greataxe, but it'll get you through combat alive and relatively unscathed.

Admit it, Fighters are broad enough of a class to fulfill a lot of concepts. I've done Sneaky Hunters and Blunt Walls of steel via fighter, and if I want to make my character a bit stronger, I take a level in fighter. I've yet to regret it.

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  1. Ghostwheel's Avatar
    Fighters are one of the worst newbie traps in the game. Have a complete newbie who thinks that Endurance is "cool" to take, along with Skill Focus, Stealthy, Acrobatic, Agile, Self-Sufficient and Deft Hands and you've got a character who's just about as ineffective as the Warrior NPC class and doesn't compare to any other class that actually focuses on its skill. In that aspect, the class kinda sucks.

    Plus, the fighter's boring as hell. It doesn't actually get anything cool--all it gets is feats. It doesn't get any cool abilities or actions that are all its own (no, I'm not counting the completely vertical enhancements of "moar attack/damage" from Weapon Focus/Specialization as interesting or special), it doesn't do as well as focused classes at certain tricks, its skill points are crap, it's beaten out by a barbarian in the damage department, and unless you know where to go dumpster-diving for feats, it's not very good at anything.

    Want to play a crossbow sniper? Well... what with having to reload and everything, you're going to suck quite a bit. But a Scout with a few feats would probably deal more damage than the fighter ever is. Or even a cleric, buffed to the gills. Bows are better anyway.
    Want to swing a greataxe like a pro? Play a barbarian and you'll outdamage the fighter, have more hitpoints, and be stronger overall. Or play a warblade and have things that are actually interesting to do, apart from, "I charge/full attack/move-attack again."
    Want to be a mounted warrior of Lancing? Play a paladin. Between their mount and spells (Rhino's Rush - double charge damage, Find the Gap - first attack per round is a touch attack, both from Spell Compendium) on top of Shock Trooper (CW), they're going to vastly outdamage the fighter. Or just be a knight and PrC a lot.
    Want to be a throwing weapons master? Be a ninja. You can deal great damage, actually have some skills, and be untouchable as you flit around invisible, and untouchable by many monsters who can't see invisible creatures. Pick up Master Thrower for even more fun. Or if you want to throw big ol' greatswords, be a Bloodstorm Blade and actually deal good damage when throwing.

    Anything that a fighter can do... another class that's actually specced for that purpose is going to do better. And with Improved Buckler Defense (CW), you can have almost the same AC as a shield-toting fighter with the goodness of two-handed damage.

    Don't get me wrong, fighters can be good--for a 1-2 level dip to get that one feat that will make your build perfect. But more than that, and unless you really know what you're doing, you're going to shoot yourself in the foot. Multiple times. With flaming ballista bolts that have sharks with frickin' lazer beams attached to their heads riding 'em.
    Updated 04-30-2010 at 11:52 AM by Ghostwheel
  2. Rodgin Kemph's Avatar
    See,that kind of thinking and non-RPing approach to building characters is exactly why we have the garbage poured out in 4e now.

    TTD, I'm so there with you man.

    Ghostwheel, you have officially taken the RP out of RPG. Congrats.
  3. Actana's Avatar
    Being mechanically effective and roleplaying are not mutually exclusive. So please, don't go claiming that. You can roleplay and be mechanically effective. People do it all the time.

    Edit: But in the end, you're right, TTD. A fighter can be made into almost anything martial. A level or two can benefit many characters due to the feats they get.
    Updated 05-01-2010 at 05:16 PM by Actana
  4. Alexander Tau's Avatar
    Kudos TTD!
  5. Ghostwheel's Avatar
    Rodgin: We're not talking about roleplaying. Roleplaying is usually describing what your character does. In fact, you don't need classes, you don't need feats, you don't need skills, you don't need damage, you don't even need any rules to roleplay. I roleplaying on a freeform forum for around two years, and we had absolutely no rules whatsoever. I had a lot of fun with that.

    However, TTD made the claim that fighters can do all the things above. That's all mechanics. That's all rules. If we're disussing roleplaying, then why are we talking about classes at all? If you want to discuss roleplaying, then we should say so from the start, and in that case there's no need to really mention a class whatsoever. But we're talking about mechanics here, and the fact is that in many roles, the fighter is incredibly far from being competent if he doesn't dumpster-dive for feats. TTD gave a few examples of things he thought that a fighter could be good at, and I gave examples of how he's wrong. If he wants to prove me right, he should go about showing how a fighter could be better at one of those roles than the examples I gave.

    Let me put it this way; when someone sits down with a concept to create a character, do they say, "I must be a fighter! I'll build around being a fighter, and then..." or do many people say, "I envision the character to be a dwarf/elf/human/gnome/whatever, one who wields a hammer/axe/sword/bow/magical might/whatever," and build around that? I think that most people choose the latter--the former is what leads to people actually playing fighters. You pick a class to flesh out your concept and put mechanics behind the abilities which you imagine the character having. Why would you shoot yourself in the foot to take a class that doesn't do those abilities decently? For another example, if you see your character as a master marksman, you're going to specialize in Dexterity, probably pick up Point Blank Shot, Precise Shot, and a few other abilities that pertain to shooting rather than Power Attack, Cleave, Improved Bull Rush, or Weapon Focus (Greatsword).

    What Dwarf suggests above is that a single class can do well in all of those roles. But that's like saying that the Skill Focus or Toughness feats is good at helping all characters. It's true to a very small extent, but it won't actually make you any good at what you're doing. There are other classes that do those specific things well--and not only well, but better than the fighter. Why not take a class that exemplifies what you want to do, rather than one that doesn't? The fighter doesn't exemplify any type of martial character. It's just building blocks, and every time you choose a wrong one you've shot yourself in the foot again. And the biggest problem is that there are so many feats in so many books that don't actually help you fight better that it's incredibly easy to shoot yourself in the foot, and can lead to people feeling useless compared to other characters.

    tl;dr version: Taking the fighter is the non-RPGing approach. You're making a conscious decision to take a class that doesn't do what you envision your character doing well (since it doesn't do anything well on its own). I'm advocating the RPGer's approach--building a character concept, and then taking a class that does it well, rather than just taking the fighter class because its name says "fighter".
  6. TheTallestDwarf's Avatar
    Except yet again, you assume I'm talking about Crunch. I was talking about playing a ROLE of Axeman, crossbow, throwing guy, yadda yadda yadda.

    I don't think Crunch First GW. I use it as a medium to play various roles depending on mood, story, and other elements. Notice how I never mentioned doing "Damage" or even Hitting, I merely stated that they could "Do" a lot of roles.

    And yes, I mentioned a brief thing about how I love sword n' board, but I was ranting.
  7. Ghostwheel's Avatar
    You're talking about a class. Okay, let me explain. Fluff is when you talk about the roleplaying aspect of the game. That means the story, a character's personality, how they act and how characters respond in the game. The other side of the game is crunch. That has everything to do with classes, feats, and everything else rule-based. When you're bringing the class "fighter" into it, that's necessarily crunch. There's not really any way to get away from the fact that you're talking about the rules when in even your title you mention a specific class which gets a number of (non-)class abilities.

    If you don't want to talk about crunch, don't bring classes into it at all. Talk about a character's personality, what he's done in the past, who he's talked to, the story he's been involved in, the wondrous sights he's seen, the characters he's foiled, loved, disliked, befriended, and more. But if you're going to be talking about a class (which I notice you even mention in the title) then you're not talking about fluff anymore.
  8. TheTallestDwarf's Avatar
    I say Class as a way of playing that role. It's a general enough class that it allows all sorts of roles, both RP and Crunch. Fighter allows you to play a "Knight" or a "Ranger" or a "Swordsman" or a "Knife Thug" or whatever the hell you want.

    That's why I like it so much, in D&D terms, it allows you to do a lot of Roles.
  9. Ghostwheel's Avatar
    You might want to be more specific then. All a class is, is a specific set of abilities under a single heading that groups them all. A fighter is a specific set of feats that can be taken at first level and every even level after that apart from the other mechanical bits of the class. That's all there is to the fighter. Anything else you bring to the class is flavor, and not inherent in the class. The class is the HD, the skills, the attack bonus, and the class abilities. If you say something, please use correct terminology, and don't assume that people know exactly what you mean--people don't normally read minds, or broadcast their thoughts to others.

    As I said above, the fighter can be good to buff a concept with a feat or two... but that's all that fighters do. I mean, for a crossbowman, what are you going to take beyond Point Blank Shot, Precise Shot, Rapid Reload, and maybe Weapon Focus? There's not much more that a fighter can actually do for the concept. All a fighter has is "moar feats", and beyond that he doesn't add much to any concept or play type. For the above example, a scout could do just as well as a fighter--there aren't too many feats that one needs to take beyond the above as a crossbowman, and you would be a rather mediocre crossbowman as a single-classed fighter. Which is my point.

    As I said above, it's true; with the fighter, you can do any of the examples, but not well at all. Compared to classes that actually specialize in those "roles", you're going to suck. As a crossbowman, how are you going to perform even half-decently by level 10? Barring magical enchantments, you'll still be doing around 1d8-1d10 damage per round (maybe twice that at most), which is incredibly pitiful (especially once you bring DR into the picture). Fighters can play any role in the same way that the warrior class can. In fact, the only difference between the two is that the Fighter gets d10 HD instead of d8, and bonus feats. Unfortunately, there aren't enough feats that actually help you do well for these "roles" for a Fighter to be effective unless they're incredibly specialized and the player is excellent at dumpster-diving for specific feats that make them better... as I said before.

    tl;dr version: Exactly what I said before, and as Actana mentioned--being a straight fighter will often lead to being ineffective. If you're fine with being ineffective in combat as far as the numbers go, that's fine, but don't pretend that they're going to even nearly match a class that actually has class abilities which support that "role".
    Updated 05-03-2010 at 05:20 AM by Ghostwheel