View Full Version : D&D 3.x Other Fighter=Facet, not Fighter=Whole

2014-04-19, 08:32 PM
It should come as no surprise that people complain about fighters being inflexible or "low-tier" or however one wishes to put it. Most people seem to try to fix this by one of two methods:
1: They give the fighter more bonuses, such as things which make their basic attacks notably better than before and better than other classes, at least in theory. This does make fighters objectively better, but it doesn't really address the objection.
2: They give the fighter numerous abilities to increase their versatility in combat. This ranges from the PHBII Knight to certain homebrew classes to the pseudo-spellcasting ToB classes. This creates problems; not everyone likes having all their characters cast spells. Some people just want characters who kill things with swords, not those who teleport with them. Furthermore, it can be out of place for a setting.

I therefore propose a different strategy: Get rid of the "fighter" entirely. Not just the class, but the very concept of a character entirely defined by their combat prowess. Instead, replace the fighter with a suite of classes each intended to fulfill a combat role in addition to one or more potent out-of-combat roles, preferably nonmagical (I personally find the "add magic to it" school of class generation distasteful, as it produces a system increasingly unable to replicate numerous beloved characters and character archetypes from legend and fantasy).
The ranger, paladin, and barbarian from core D&D already exhibit this: they fight, but that's only a part of their function. The ranger is a useful scout, tracker, and wilderness expert; the barbarian can do some of this as well, though to a lesser extent. The paladin can serve as a party face and has a "holy" aspect to it (though I would argue it has less out-of-combat usefulness than the ranger).
Possibilities for out-of-combat roles suitable for such a scheme include:
-High society interaction (a very knightly ability, but suitable for other cultural analogues)
-Command (possibly combined with the above)
-Wilderness survival (consider the ranger)
-Acrobatics and movement, possibly stealth (consider Prince of Persia)
-Knowledge and lore
Obviously, these are very rough concept sketches; I want people to comment on the concept rather than the particulars, as I don't have any particulars. If people want to suggest their own particulars, that's fine by me.

The only problem I have with this idea is that it fails one of my own criteria for classes; many characters and character archetypes ARE defined solely by their combat prowess. Gimli, for example, has very little to him besides being a) a dwarf; and b) good at fighting.
And of course, if someone has already done this and I've missed it, I apologize.

2014-04-19, 11:40 PM
Gimli, for example, has very little to him besides being a) a dwarf; and b) good at fighting.

Bring back racial classes, then. A dwarf is good at fighting. A dwarf is also an exceptional craftsman, commissioned far and wide to smith weapons and armor, hew great works of art into everlasting stone, construct castles and cities that will last centuries if not longer. He is a connoisseur of ales, familiar with the wide varieties of hearty brews born beneath the mountain, those carefully-guarded secrets of dwarven brewers and distillers, and probably disappointed at the weaker ales, wines and lagers to be found in human and elven settlements. He has a long memory and an oral tradition, having learned the stories and legends sitting at his father's knee, who learned them upon the knee of his own father, and so on.

More so than the elf, a "traditional" dwarf could be adequately summed up as something like "fighter+bard." This is someone who spends the day beating the tar out of the hated goblin menace, then returns home to contemplate the next few chisel blows into a block of marble in the creation of a statue, or to pound a sheet of hot steel into a new breastplate or the casing for a new still, or even to tap a keg of fine dwarven ale as he regales his friends and children with the legend of how Moradin once kneecapped Gruumsh so hard the orc god's eye flew out of existence. :smallbiggrin:

EDIT: Now that I think about it, this could fit with the "legends and lore" bit, with a side of crafting feats and maybe features dealing with massive consumption of booze. :smalleek:

2014-04-20, 09:29 PM
I've always been more of the opinion to make fewer broader classes than many small classes. For the simple reason that I like ability lists and I think making flexible classes that can handle multiple roles will cut down on class bloat.

Let's take the Gimli example. We can all pretty much agree that he was a fighter, right?

In the books and movies, he was also shown abilities tracking (survival skill and Track feat), had knowledge of dwarven structures (Knowledge: Architecture and Engineering), could regularly speak with kings and convince them of his ideas (Diplomacy), won the favor of the most beautiful woman in the world, could sense the curse of Dunharrow better than his companions (no idea what this would be), was the only one trusted by Aragorn to accompany Frodo with the ring when the group was planning to split up (a very powerful Will Save), and regularly calls bull on the arrogance of elves and the plans of men (Sense Motive), could sneak past a few orcs to get a better position (Move Silently, probably Hide as well).

If you add Boromir as another definite fighter, you can add leading armies, tactician, and probably quite a bit more.

That is what a fighter should be like. Throw in some other characters who should be fighters (Lancelot, Achilles, Beowulf, and more) and you can a pretty awesome class with many features you can mix and match to model the exact type of warrior you want to be.

To take an example, a class that did this (though imperfectly) was the Warblade, which is generally considered tier 3 (though a low one). While most of the classes that split up the fighter and give a shtick are tier 4 or 5 or worse. That's not saying it can't be done right, tier 4s are fine, but I think splitting them up is overly limiting. Let's use Achilles as an example, he's a spear soldier guy. If the fighter is split up, he'd probably be in a "soldier" class or something. But what would his additional shtick be? Going by the Iliad he was a prince who spoke eloquently but had a wrath that was feared by many, so probably social skill focus. But then what about the knights like Lancelot? Mounted combat focus, but they also were pretty well known for their social skills.

But that's just my view on it. I'm sure that making these classes could be fun and balanced.

2014-04-21, 03:22 AM
Thinking on this problem a lot, I sometimes find myself going back to something Monte Cook said in one of those supplement books (Iron Heroes?), where he said that the Classes were purely to determine combat and some exploration-type stuff. Actual roleplaying shouldn't need dice, except in extreme or dicey* circumstances. Combat needs to be fair, so it needs rules. Diplomacy, however, is roleplay.

Another thought I often entertain is to scrap the current classes altogether. Come at it at a different angle, such as:

Only have Fighter, Rogue and Wizard, but each one picks ability paths that simulate other classes, such as in Numenera. Or...
Remove Fighter, Rogue, Cleric, and Wizard, and drop the concept of the "generalist". Barbarians, Rangers and Paladins are all just Fighter+. Bards, Monks, and Assassins are Rogue 2.0. And so on, and so forth. Or...
Make new classes altogether from the ground up, including new/modified class features and altered spell lists. There is no Wizard/Sorcerer class, so much as there is a Necromancer, Conjurer, Magician, Warlock and Alchemist class, all of whom deal with Arcane stuff in different ways, while the Cleric is split into the Priest, Paladin, Avatar, Inquisitor and Heretic classes.

Just some thoughts on the issue.

*I have brought shame upon my family

2014-04-23, 11:08 PM
If you look at things from the "three pillars" paradigm (which they managed to badly screw up for 5e) it gives you an idea of how classes should be designed.

For those unfamiliar, the 3 pillars are basically Combat, Exploration, and Social.

So, for example, a fighter might be designed as [Sword+Board] for combat, [Keeps_Watch] for exploration, and [Utters_Threats] for social.
On the other hand, a rogue would be [Light_Weapons] for combat, [Unlocks_Chests] for exploration, and [Lies_Always] for social.

This is pretty easy for mundane/martial classes, but magic can become a problem because it does [Overcomes_Obstacles] and [Circumvents_Plot] or even . Because hey, [I]magic does everything! Right?

Classes should all be able to equally contribute in all 3 pillars of RPGs, just HOW they contribute should be what differentiates them.