Grant braced himself against the archway and stole a glance over his shoulder to see if his companions had caught up. With Lils’ help, they had managed to vanquish the skeletons, but they had yet to win through to their goal. The archway gave passage to a large sea cave, within which, was docked the necromancer’s ship. Hearing the echoing sound of a klaxon, it was clear the alarm had been raised. Drawing his sword and bracing himself, Grant pointed to nearby rocks and broken stalagmites that could serve as cover for his companions. As the rest of the party hid themselves, Grant shouted. The horde of pirates pouring out of the ship made a beeline for Grant, an obvious target. Taking a deep breath and letting it out, Grant focused and waited for the battle to begin.
Knee-deep in the bodies and parts of bodies of pirates, Grant was finally getting tired. Still surrounded by insane foes, Grant’s sword remained a constant blur. A head or arm would separate from a pirate, and Grant would use his shield to shove the dying body out of the way and tried not to think about it. After all, the gurgled screams from slit throats or the wet sounds of spilled insides were only indications that his training was still effective. Grant had barely moved from his spot, because when it came down to it, he didn’t have to. Swinging a sword required practice, but it was hardly the complicated science of magic or the fine detailed-oriented skills of the thief. Lift sword, bash with shield, stab with sword, dodge blow, and repeat — basic and uncomplicated. He made a mental note that he had suffered a couple of wounds Lils might have to heal; but his armor was still in good shape, and his training helped him deflect the rest of his blows. With the final standing enemy defeated, Grant wiped his bloodied sword on the back of one of the dead pirates. His companions, who had dealt with a few stray pirates, were grateful for his sword arm. Without his stamina, they would have easily been overrun.
Soldiers. Warriors. Fighters. These are the names for those men and women that sheath themselves in steel & leather, strap on portable walls, and lift heavy sharp objects in order to overcome their enemies. They are Fighters and they fight really well. Fighters have always been one of the four basic (or three basic, if you go back to OD&D) classes found in Dungeons and Dragons. They care not for magic, finesse, or faith. Instead, the fighter relies on the tools he has been trained with – stout armor, hardened shields, and a variety of useful and deadly weapons. For the most part, OD&D and AD&D stuck with this simple formula. Fighters didn’t really have a lot of fancy tools in their toolbox. However, one of the most important things a Fighter did have access too was EVERY WEAPON. Until 3rd Edition, a Fighter could pick up any weapon and use it, without penalty. Later editions allowed Fighters to specialize in specific weapons and to choose from a bewildering array of special moves in order for the Fighter to shine on the battlefield. With the 4th Edition of DnD, this idea came fully into its own. The Fighter now had powers, reflective of these special abilities. The only difference (with say, a Wizard’s powers), was that a Fighter used a weapon to accomplish his attack. However, by setting things up in this fashion, I think a little bit of the Fighter’s gritty truth has been stolen. I think the Fighter needs to get back to what he was designed to do – fight – a lot.
Designed to Fight - I think I’d like to see the next version of the Fighter get back to basics. A Fighter should be able to use any weapon he or she picks up. They’ve spent years handling every killing tool they can get their hands on. Also, let’s forget about some of the “complications” in certain weapons. Does your Fighter want to use a Halberd in the corridor? Let her! In addition, let Fighters take on multiple opponents without penalty. Now, I’m not saying a Fighter should be able to dance about the room like a whirling dervish, but the Fighter should be able to stand her ground and fight many adjacent foes at once. This is probably a mechanic that would be handled well by leveling. The higher the level, the more opponents the Fighter can face. High level Fighters should always have piles of dead enemies at their feet.
Built for Punishment - If a Fighter is designed to do damage and take on many foes, then it’s clear that she also needs to be able to take a boat load of punishment. While I’m not really sure that means the Fighter needs more hit points (although hit dice are a sacred cow still not entirely done away with), I do believe it means the Fighter should have some way to mitigate that damage. I think the best way the Fighter can do that, is by being able to use her armor for damage reduction. Think of it this way. While other characters might be able to strap on some armor for some basic protection, only the Fighter has the training to use that armor to reduce the amount of damage she’s taking in combat. Dodging blows so direct hits become glancing ones, or utilizing a shield to stop an attack should be some of the basic tools the Fighter has in her toolbox. Again, because of the nature of these articles, I don’t intend to crunch any numbers here. However, if some kind of basic damage reduction came with Fighters that wear armor, I think they could really shine on the battlefield.
Fighters Should Be Simple (And There’s No Shame In That) - There are a number of arguments that proclaim the Fighter is boring, or too simple for experienced players. This argument maintains that each class should have the same level of difficulty, with Fighters being given just as many interesting options as Clerics or Wizards. I call bulls**t on that argument. There’s no reason Fighters need to be just as complicated. Classes should be what they are. Trying to pigeon-hole them into the same “playing difficulty” is unnecessary. Want to make Fighters as complicated as Wizards? Make the Fighter keep track of damage to her armor (remember, that armor used for damage reduction)? That punishment can’t go on forever, and the Fighter will need to bring her armor in for repair from time to time, making sure she has the best armor around. In fact, you can even build a skill into that and allow Fighters to repair their own armor given time and resources. Otherwise? Keep the Fighter simple. Take pride in being able to withstand those opponents in a fight and exclaim with pride, “I Fight Really Well”.
My name is Randall Walker and This Is My Game.
Part idiot. Part old man. All geek. R.M. Walker, who can be found in numerous places on the internet as “DeadOrcs”, is a long time gamer with some 30 years experience playing RPGs. Despite occasional forays into the bizarre, Randall has always come back to Dungeons & Dragons.