Friday, July 8, 2011

The Fighter (A.K.A. What do you mean he hit me 4 times for 39 points each AND I have to roll fort save vs bitch slap?)

I've been seeing a lot of stuff about how the fighter is a worthless class. How that it isn't powerful because it can't cast spells and doesn't get a lot of skill points. That after 5th level fighters are useless.

For all of that I have to say... Have you even played a fighter past 5th level?

I really enjoy playing all the classes, but fighters have always been a favorite since my first real character was a fighter. Well, he ended up being a fighter magic-user at the end of it, but it was his fighter abilities that carried him through his adventuring career for the most part and the magic-user was added mainly for flavor rather than power. Anyway, fighters can be powerful in their own right. In fact, I don't believe that a single class is really any more powerful than the others. Each class has its pros and cons. And I'm not talking about all the other classes out of the other books, I'm talking core books.

The examples that I always see being given are a single 20th Level Fighter with no magic items goes up against a full powered 20th Level wizard, sorcerer, or other spellcaster. Yup, that is pretty much the only example ever given, just in different flavors.

A 20th level Fighter with no magic items attacking a fully equipped 20th level anything is a pretty poor example. A 20th level rogue with no items wouldn't fair any better. Neither would a Paladin, Barbarian, Cleric, Wizard, Sorcerer, Ranger, Druid, Bard, or Monk.... Okay, the monk might be able to do more while being nekkid but not much....Okay, so the monk would be able to stand up to most things... Fine, remove the monk from the list.. Anyway..

The point of the fighter isn't to be a blasting character. They aren't supposed to be the “gesture and a load of low level enemies just die”. They don't channel the divine power of their gods, they aren't a living embodiment of rage, they don't seek perfection of the body, and they aren't in touch with nature. Fighters are experts in martial combat. Play to that strength.

My example of a high level fighter, straight class.
Elric Kaliburn: Fighter, 20th level (I think) Specialization: Full Blade sword. Main Stat: Str 20
Items: Alchemical Full Blade (+2, Adamantine, Silver, Cold Iron) Could strike anything. - Non-Magical sword, Full plate of speed (+2 with haste for 10 rounds), Helm of Brilliance, Amulet of natural armor + 6, belt of Giant Str +6, Dancing Shield (large) +2, Boots of striding and springing, ring of water walking, ring of overland flight, cloak of protection +3, and a couple of other magical items that I can't remember at the moment.
Armor Class: 33 (dex +2), Hit points: In the 200+ range (good con and I rolled really lucky)
Feats: Weapon focus and specialization: Full Blade, improved sunder, cleave, power attack, great cleave, mobility, point blank shot, precise shot, dodge, lighting reflexes, iron will, eyes in the back of your head (from the fighters handbook), a combat reflexes, improved critical: Full Blade, and defensive sweep(a very broken feat from the ph2 or complete adventurer. What? I ran out of feats that I wanted for him and everyone else was using the other source books. This one feat was so broken I was accused of taking nothing but broken feats for all of the feats for this character).

Elric was a fighter. Pure and simple. His to hits were 32/27/22/17, and damage was 20-39 points meaning average damage was 28 points per hit with a critical being between 40-78 damage with 56 points on average meaning medium creatures have to roll fort save vs death. If Elric were to just hit and do average damage with each of his hits it would be 112 average, with the range of damage being 80-156 for non-spell damage. Only Meteor Swarm comes close to that damage and that's only once or twice when you look at Elric being able to dish it out EVERY round. Not to mention Elric's love of sundering weapons and cleaving into the soft wielders of the weapons.

Yes, a force cage would stop him in his tracks, but that is why he is with a group of adventurers. He's not alone. That is what the adventuring group is for. Elric was a contributing member of the group and extremely valuable in combat. He was one of the group’s 2 major damage dealers. The other being Calixto, the ranger.  That's another thing that is forgotten in these debates, an adventuring party. Everyone has a place, no one can do everything. The spell casters support the big damage dealers and help take out the lesser folks while the tanks bee-line for the big bad guy.

Try this one, who would win if they were in a null magic area, the 20th Level Fighter or 20th level Wizard? Neither! Cause the great big ancient red dragon stomped them into oblivion. HA!


  1. Two of the reasons “ worthless” is wrong when said about any class: (1) Possibly the most valuable limited resource in combat is simply actions. No matter how wiz-bang your PC is, they still only get a finite numbers of actions per round. (2) In or out of combat, the player should matter more than the character.

  2. I agree completely. It often boils down to how the player can use their character. I've read through the 3.5 PHB numerous times, played around with all the classes and have come up with the idea that they did a fairly good job balancing things.

    However, I did realize one thing that is in the arguments against fighters. Fighters are more reliant on their equipment than most of the other classes and I don't think that is a bad thing. As in my example, Elric was heavily dependent on his equipment to be able to dish out the damage, but the thing is that he was able to dish it out consistently. Yes he was optimized for using his big bad fullblade but he was almost as good with any of his other weapons to.

    Another thing I've realized, it's hard to type with an acoustic guitar in my lap.

  3. Speaking of relying on equipment, I picked up a copy of Iron Heroes. It’s a 3.5 derived game designed to address that issue. Done by the guy who ended up being lead on 4e, so I think there’s some “proto 4e” stuff in there too.