Welcome to another installment of the Play with Class series where we will give you solid steps to run each class for the world’s greatest roleplaying game! This week, we’re getting slicey with another of my all-time favorite classes: the fighter.
You’ll hear many jokes about fighters being the most basic character option possible. While you can undoubtedly play a basic fighter, there is just so much more potential to unlock with this class than most folks realize. Choosing a fighter is an excellent option for beginners as well as experienced players interested in exploring the advanced combat options baked into the game.
Role of the Fighter
There are so many different ways to build a fighter, but at the end of the day, your role is to be good at combat. You can make your fighter a deadly ranged character, a death-dealing tank, a WWE wrestler, a military general, the list goes on and on. All your class options are designed to make you better at dealing damage with the weapon of your choice.
There is a reason that so many of the pop culture heroes we love are fighters. Fighters are dependable, they are respected across cultures, and they are the cornerstone of combat survival. Plus, they are one of the only classes that attack a dragon with a sword and live to tell the tale. Fighters get all the bragging rights.
Reasons to Play a Fighter
- Everything you do looks like a scene from an action movie.
- You can use any weapon you want and use it better than anyone else.
- You get so many ability score increases and extra attacks!
Combat Crash Course
There is a lot of diversity when it comes to the best way to run your fighter in combat. A lot of options depend on what type of weapons you end up wielding. A longbow fighter will likely have a very different combat strategy than a greatsword fighter. That being said, there are some general points to remember that are helpful to all fighters.
Hit Em Fast. Fighters live to cut down foes. Your job is to get into position and start doling out damage as quickly as possible. The best tool in your arsenal to bring the pain is your ability to action surge. Action surge gives you a whole additional round of attacks, so you want to use it as soon as you know you can hit your enemy. Don’t be shy about popping these abilities early. The average combat lasts only 3 rounds. So take this lesson to heart: the best defense is a good offense.
Know Your Options. Did you know there are a ton of things you can do in combat other than moving and attacking? Most people don’t. Even players with lots of experience usually don’t remember trusty action like Disengage, Help, Hide, Ready, or Use an Object. And don’t even get me started on how people never utilize super moves like grappling, shoving, running for cover. What I’m getting at here is that you have so many more options than you think you do. As a fighter, you are the best suited to pull off all the additional options “hidden’” within the game. If you ever feel bored during combat while playing a fighter, I guarantee you aren’t using your full potential.
When playing a fighter, you have to ensure that you have a way to deal wicked damage, hit (almost) every time, and be able to survive heavy hits. Here are some level-up tricks to keep in mind to achieve those goals.
Take Feats. Using feats is technically an optional rule, but it shouldn’t be. If your GM doesn’t use feats, you should insist they do for your fighter. Taking feats instead of ability score increases is the best way to get awesome quickly. Feats help you specialize your abilities to more effectively wield your weapon of choice, and they can help cover some defensive gaps (better saves against magic effects, yes, please).
Get Magical. There’s one big fighter roadblock that you need to keep in mind as you grow in power. At higher levels, most monsters are immune to nonmagical damage. Ideally, you will get your hands on magic weapons, but you might need to invest in feats or class options to bring a little magic to your blows. Stay alert for opportunities to get a little magic in your combat right from the get-go to save yourself a headache later.
If you want to check out some flavorful choices while bashing baddies, here are a few options:
- If you want to mix a little magic into your martial training, check out the Prescient Knight subclass (see Deep Magic).
- Get creative with your weapon selection! There are so many great 3rd-party (or homebrewed) statistics for unique weapons out there. Do a little shopping and mix things up. Don’t be afraid to make an acrobat with killer cartwheels or use a whip/trident combo like the gladiators of old. Just make sure to okay any new weapons with your GM!