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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default What would it take to get a top-tier melee?

    What would it take in D&D to get a tier 1 class that isn't a pure casting class? Or rather, what would you need to do to get our much-maligned sword-swinging hero to where he's an equal partner to the wizard?
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    Kobold

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    Default Re: What would it take to get a top-tier melee?

    Combine three or so of the main fighter fixes, including the tome one, and make melee attacks into save or dies?

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    Default Re: What would it take to get a top-tier melee?

    Versatility, both in and out of combat. A high-level wizard can not only do thirty different things every day, he can also change which thirty things he wants to be able to do every day and use all those thirty things in creative ways.
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    Default Re: What would it take to get a top-tier melee?

    a lot. tier 1 is all about having tons of viable options for every situation. an ubercharger fighter is not tier one because it can only contribute meaningfully in one manner. it is powerful but not tier 1.
    the melee character would need to be viable in more than just melee, and by the time you get them to be able to do that, they are no longer a melee class.
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    Ettin in the Playground
     
    Kobold

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    Default Re: What would it take to get a top-tier melee?

    • Attacks against any save, or no save at all.
    • One shot disabling of enemies.
    • Attacks against groups of enemies.
    • Less reliance on equipment.
    • Versatility to duplicate any 3 other classes.


    That's a start anyway. The last item is half a joke. It's necessary for bringing fighters up to wizard level, but I don't actually think they should be up to that power level.
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    Troll in the Playground
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    Default Re: What would it take to get a top-tier melee?

    They need to do things other than kill stuff really well. Even if every one of your sword-swings is an at-will Save or Die, you're still not tier 1. You can't fly, or teleport, or planeshift, or scry, or raise zombie armies, or mind control a bunch of people, or create demiplanes, or raise people from the dead, etc.

    So, to make a tier 1 fighter-type, you may have to throw in (Ex) versions of "I'm so good at cutting stuff, I can planeshift", and "My fighter-sense is so good I get effects similar to Foresight/Clairvoyance/Scry, even though it's just instinct and not magical at all", and "I'm so damn inspiring it just works like mind control."

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    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: What would it take to get a top-tier melee?

    Tier 2-3 might be a better balance point then. I don't find a lot of difference between those two tiers in play; the Tier 2 in practice has to be built to do one thing well.

    But maybe a fighter/TOBmelee/rogue might have a better shot then. Give the melee the abilities to be skillmonkeys. And better targetting options - the wizard can do SoD; the fighter can whack you with no save.
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    BlueKnightGuy

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    Default Re: What would it take to get a top-tier melee?

    The Book of Nine Swords presents three "melee" classes that can be very versatile. I think the Swordsage is the most versatile of all of them. It can choose maneuvers and stances from more disciplines than the other classes.

    A Warblade / Bloodstorm Blade made right can almost whipe out an army in one or two rounds.

    A well made Crusader can be the meat shield and the healer of a group at the same time.

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    Default Re: What would it take to get a top-tier melee?

    The difference between tier 2 and 3 is huge though, because tier 2 can still be game-breaking and world-ending (just in less ways compared to tier 1).

    You can optimize and be an extremely effective and terrifying tier 3 character as a melee-type (especially if you go ToB), but how the heck are you going to rival Timestop or Dominate Monster or Etherealness or Solid Fog or Greater Dispel Magic or...you get the idea. I mean yes there are items, but...

    And heck, all the spells I listed are from another Tier 3 class (Beguiler). I haven't gotten to the really broken crap like Genesis and setting your own time trait.
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    Default Re: What would it take to get a top-tier melee?

    Our Sword-Swinging Hero would have to be able to do a lot more than just swing a sword. Power and Versatility are what make a Tier 1 class, and are typically things melee characters lack. An Ubercharger can fix the power side, in a limited way (dealing massive amounts of HP damage) but does very little for the versatility side - when encountering a trap his tactic is essentially useless; when in a social situation his tactic is essentially useless; when required to sneak about his tactic is essentially useless. I don't think introducing a Save-or-Die/Suck mechanic to melee attacks would help much either, as they a. work or b. are completely useless. And they would still do nothing for the versatility of the character, which is really what defines a Tier 1 class (as opposed, at least, to a Tier 2 class).

    Increased access to skills (and to skill points) would help some, as much of the versatility of magic comes from replicating/replacing skill checks and skill-based abilities. But for things like Flight, Teleportation, Scrying, Planar Travel, Summoning, etc. our SSH is out of luck, and will likely remain so, if he wants to remain an SSH (for finding a mundane way of replicating such abilities would strain verisimilitude).

    In combat, it might benefit the SSH to be able to induce status effects (Fear Effects via Intimidate, Blinding, Slowing, Bleeding, etc.) or effects from combat maneuvers (Tripping, Bull Rushing (I prefer to think of it as tactical enemy relocation), Grappling, etc.) or introducing such mechanics as the Knight's creating difficult terrain or Thicket of Blades' making the enemy provoke on a 5' step. This gives him tactics beyond "I swing my sword to cause damage" and lets him interact with his world in more varied ways. Increasing mobility also helps. Roll Spring Attack, Bounding Assault, and Rapid Blitz into one feat, allowing you to move and full-attack (or something close to it) would increase our SSH's abilities as well.

    In any case, it would be very hard to create a mundane melee character which plays at a tier 1 level. Wizards and the like have so many different abilities, and the ability to change them from day to day, that it would seem that the SSH is simply unable to match them without becoming them (i.e. a Gish).
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    Kobold

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    Default Re: What would it take to get a top-tier melee?

    So what if we combined all the good base features of the Bo9S classes, and gave them access to all their maneuvers, without having to ready them, and they could just spam the best maneuvers again and again?

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    Default Re: What would it take to get a top-tier melee?

    One suggestion that JaronK himself put forward (IIRC) was the idea that in a game that includes T1-T3 PCs, T4-T6 classes can be gestalted with one another for fun and profit (and game balance). I originally poo-poohed this idea because I'm not wild about gestalt, but as I've considered it, I see the point. T4-T6 classes have holes in them, things they should be able to do but can't. Gestalt is a patch-job method of filling the holes.

    In the spirit of this idea (and because I still don't like gestalt rules), I've been writing single-class progressions of ranger//scout, knight//paladin, and rogue//swashbuckler that are designed to fill in the holes and produce classes that function competitively with T3 martial initiators. But gestalt is a quick-and-dirty way to accomplish roughly the same thing.

    At the same time, the T1 casters need a hard nerf to restrict the scope and variety of their options. The wizard is a prime example of this build sickness. Over time, the wizard has grown, cancer-like, to encompass the power and versatility of every robe-wearing, staff-carrying, spell-slinging character in fantasy literature. The class is like a flesh-eating amoeba, growing with every splatbook to swallow everything in its path. We need more classes like the beguiler, dread necromancer, warmage, and healer (well, maybe not the healer) that are intended to encompass a narrower archetype. The elemental casters in my sig are a few examples of more appropriately scaled arcane casters, although our homebrew forums have yielded many, many, many others.
    Last edited by jiriku; 2010-11-01 at 03:22 PM.
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    Default Re: What would it take to get a top-tier melee?

    Quote Originally Posted by Gavinfoxx View Post
    So what if we combined all the good base features of the Bo9S classes, and gave them access to all their maneuvers, without having to ready them, and they could just spam the best maneuvers again and again?
    The Wizard still tops that. Plane Shift, Genesis, Time Stop, Polymorph, etc. aren't replicated by any maneuver I know of.
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  14. - Top - End - #14
    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: What would it take to get a top-tier melee?

    Tier 2 is an odd duck. As far as I can reason, it's very possible to be tier 2 while being less versatile than a tier 3 (EDIT: I just re-read JaronK's tier post. he himself makes mention of this). At which point, they could be considered very high-powered tier 4. But then, if you just want a tier 3 melee, it's just ToB.

    The other thing about trying to make tier 1 melees is remembering party roles. It's true that wizards can take almost all other party roles, but making a tier 1 melee shouldn't necessarily be "mundane versions of level 9 spells". It occurs to me that you could feasibly just make a class that's automatically an ubercharger, dealing thousands of damage/hit out of the box, while also being a fantastic party buffer with the ability to toss out full heals on every swing of their sword. Direct damage, direct numerical buffing, and healing are all areas wizards really do not excel at.

    Though granted, wizards don't need HP damage to drop a foe in one round, and their crowd control/situation enabling abilities serve as buffing and damage negation just fine.
    Last edited by Pechvarry; 2010-11-01 at 03:26 PM.

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    HalflingRogueGuy

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    Default Re: What would it take to get a top-tier melee?

    Quote Originally Posted by Pechvarry View Post
    Tier 2 is an odd duck. As far as I can reason, it's very possible to be tier 2 while being less versatile than a tier 3. At which point, they could be considered very high-powered tier 4. But then, if you just want a tier 3 melee, it's just ToB.
    Yeah, it is. When I originally wrote the system, T2 and T3 were the same, because in real play they're often on average the same. But T2 operates dramatically differently... less flexibility (so they're more likely to just not be able to contribute to a situation, like a Sorcerer that simply doesn't have spells related to what you're doing right now) but far more raw power (Planar Binding? Sure why not). So they're separate, but in a way the T2/3 distinction is that T2 has far more power but less versatility, while T3 has far more versatility but less power. This means sometimes T2 can be weaker than 3.

    As for the idea of a T1 melee, it's probably a poor idea. Better to just lower the casters down. A T1 melee means that for every situation, you have a class ability that could completely solve that situation... and not just in combat. Need to get somewhere? Melee teleport. Need to know some information? Melee divination ability. Need someone on your side? ...okay, Diplomacy already exists, but you get the idea. The point is that T1 is so powerful that anything other than magic doesn't really make any sense at all.

    JaronK

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    Default Re: What would it take to get a top-tier melee?

    Well, to kinda replicate Time Stop (not really) in the case of swinging your sword, you could double a fighter's BAB at high levels, giving him a ridiculous amount of iterative attacks, and then let him move and full attack with either 1 feat or no feats?
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    Default Re: What would it take to get a top-tier melee?

    They need to be able to do so much that it doesn't even fit thematically with what a fighter should be able to do. They need to be able to jump so well that they can practically fly. They need to be able to throw a sword in a way that kills everything. They need to somehow reflect the suns rays off of their swords in a way that creates an illusion. Sure, you could use magic items to get these effects, but then it's not so much the melee character that's top-tier, but his items.

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    Default Re: What would it take to get a top-tier melee?

    Quote Originally Posted by Frosty View Post
    The difference between tier 2 and 3 is huge though, because tier 2 can still be game-breaking and world-ending (just in less ways compared to tier 1).
    Uhm. Tier 4 can be game-breaking. Throw the moon or something. I don't even care. You can trash the game at pretty much any tier if you want to.
    Last edited by Godless_Paladin; 2010-11-01 at 03:43 PM.

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    Default Re: What would it take to get a top-tier melee?

    It would take accepting that while a top-tier melee character may not be explicitly magical (i.e. acquires powers from a supernatural source) they can be explicitly superhuman (i.e. capable of doing things that are patently impossible and able to break physics). Then just give them capabilities in line with utility spells and the more diverse combat spells (Valadil covered those admirably), probably building off of skills and ability scores. To make them Tier 2, they choose a selection of these abilities which are more or less set. To make them Tier 1, they can switch them around daily. Really, there are very few mechanical effects that cannot be, if not entirely emulated, at least approximated with a non-supernatural power source. And there are several that don't even require explicitly superhuman ability.
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    Default Re: What would it take to get a top-tier melee?

    answer this question:

    the fighter can fight and... what else?

    in and of itself it only has one answer: kill it with sword.

    giving the fighter a thousand and one combat options still only makes the fighter good at fighting and little else.

    i voiced my opinions on how 3.5 is borked in another thread and some of the points i brought up were these in relation to non-casters:

    -not enough viable options built-in. with so few non-combat abilities gained through class features, non-casters are forced to rely on feats, items and skills to get viability out of combat.

    -most of a non-caster's feats will be used to make it a better combatant. with 10 feats on average (6 from levels, 1 from level 1, and a few from class/crossclassing), very few characters take their first few feats to get extra non-combat options, especially if they're going for a particular style of combat. this leaves us with skills an items

    -there are 45 skills listed in 3.5 phb. only 3 out of 11 classes get 6+int or more skill points per level. only one of the 8 classes that get 4 or less actually use Int to power class abilities (wizard). this means the average int (10-11) character knows less then a 10th of the skill list, and of what little he can learn a large part is cross-classed, which makes it far harder to be properly trained in it

    -so items. a non-caster eventually becomes VERY reliant on their items to be successful. the main problem is that items may or may not be accessible. while the game assumes they generally are, these items REQUIRE a caster to create them. effectively telling a non-caster: "to gain options you must emulate the caster, which has options". which kinda sucks.

    -the last problem is since the non-casters have so little built-in support for anything that isn't "i hit it with my [weapon of choice]" or "i hit it REALLY hard", non-casters rely almost entirely on the GM's adjudication of player skill and metagame information when it comes to options. that might be ok for some people, but it really grinds my gears that Edward the Headsman's ability to bypass a traps is reliant on Oxybe the Player's ability to creatively use a crowbar, a pully, several dozen yards of rope, a handful of pitons and a log.

    in essence:
    -more built-in class options outside of "I hit it with my [weapon]"
    -a wider array of things they can attempt (more built-in class options)
    -less reliance on gear/other PCs (more built-in class options)
    -less reliance on player skill/metagame information/GM adjudication (more built-in class options)

    solve some of these problems and i may start looking at the 3rd ed fighter as a possible choice next time someone asks me if i want to play 3rd ed. otherwise i'll stick to the casters... at least there i can have the option to do more then "hit it with a stick".

    we know the fighter can fight. i'd just like to be able to do something else with him without relying entirely on "how nice does my GM feel tonight?".

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    Default Re: What would it take to get a top-tier melee?

    He would need to be able to make epic skill checks, so that he can phase through forcecages, mind control kings with persuasive arguments, tumble across clouds, trick his body into thinking he isn't bleeding to death and train dragons.

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    Default Re: What would it take to get a top-tier melee?

    Quote Originally Posted by Quellian-dyrae View Post
    Really, there are very few mechanical effects that cannot be, if not entirely emulated, at least approximated with a non-supernatural power source. And there are several that don't even require explicitly superhuman ability.
    Phantom Steed
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    How would a melee character emulate these abilities without being supernatural? I suppose if the melee character in question was Chuck Norris...

    Player: "Chuck Norris rips himself into 1d4+1 pieces, which then regrow into more Chuck Norris, giving Chuck Norris the ability of Mirror Image!"

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    Default Re: What would it take to get a top-tier melee?

    But... it's all make believe anyways. Or should I say, rules?

    You want a melee capable guy to be able to handle any situation that comes across his sword, no matter how outrageous it is. Simply rule it so.

    We use common parlance for spell effects because it's easier to visualize. But a Fireball could be something as innocuous as a high explosive grenade. Teleportation might be simply super speed. How the melee guy does it doesn't matter...

    When my gaming group first encountered 4th Ed, we quickly realized there was only semantics behind calling a wizard a wizard and not a fighter. Any power could be thought to be in possession of any class and it wouldn't fundamentally change the game. There's no reason a fighter can't use a maneuver to simulate any wizard spell, or a wizard can't use a spell to simulate any fighter maneuver.

    So there's no rules currently about letting a Fighter fly around or toss lightning bolts. Nothing says you can't make it up. Granted, it ends up playing closer to a psionicist than a fighter, using your mind/sword/gesture to create portals into the Ethereal Plane or heal your companions to full - but ToB allows for those sorts of shenanigans - why can't we just hand wave such rules into existence?

    I'm far more curious as to why people want this in the first place? It is very very simple to make your uber wizard play like a fighter, if that's what you're looking for. Why does the opposite hold such fascination?
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    Re: What would it take to get a top-tier melee?

    A bunch of versatile and powerful abilities, and the ability to run out of them and be helpless.

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    Default Re: What would it take to get a top-tier melee?

    Quote Originally Posted by WarKitty View Post
    What would it take in D&D to get a tier 1 class that isn't a pure casting class?
    Artificer.

    Or rather, what would you need to do to get our much-maligned sword-swinging hero to where he's an equal partner to the wizard?
    I'm playing a Tier 1 sword-swinging hero right now. She's a Cleric.
    Last edited by Godless_Paladin; 2010-11-01 at 04:13 PM.

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    Default Re: What would it take to get a top-tier melee?

    Quote Originally Posted by Theodoxus View Post
    But... it's all make believe anyways. Or should I say, rules?

    You want a melee capable guy to be able to handle any situation that comes across his sword, no matter how outrageous it is. Simply rule it so.

    We use common parlance for spell effects because it's easier to visualize. But a Fireball could be something as innocuous as a high explosive grenade. Teleportation might be simply super speed. How the melee guy does it doesn't matter...

    When my gaming group first encountered 4th Ed, we quickly realized there was only semantics behind calling a wizard a wizard and not a fighter. Any power could be thought to be in possession of any class and it wouldn't fundamentally change the game. There's no reason a fighter can't use a maneuver to simulate any wizard spell, or a wizard can't use a spell to simulate any fighter maneuver.

    So there's no rules currently about letting a Fighter fly around or toss lightning bolts. Nothing says you can't make it up. Granted, it ends up playing closer to a psionicist than a fighter, using your mind/sword/gesture to create portals into the Ethereal Plane or heal your companions to full - but ToB allows for those sorts of shenanigans - why can't we just hand wave such rules into existence?

    I'm far more curious as to why people want this in the first place? It is very very simple to make your uber wizard play like a fighter, if that's what you're looking for. Why does the opposite hold such fascination?
    Well in this case, I have several players who want to play sword and strength based characters, rather than casting characters. But we're playing a high-powered, you're the heroes so the laws of physics bow before you game. With characters that *don't want to cast spells.*
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    Default Re: What would it take to get a top-tier melee?

    Quote Originally Posted by JaronK View Post
    As for the idea of a T1 melee, it's probably a poor idea. Better to just lower the casters down. A T1 melee means that for every situation, you have a class ability that could completely solve that situation... and not just in combat. Need to get somewhere? Melee teleport. Need to know some information? Melee divination ability. Need someone on your side? ...okay, Diplomacy already exists, but you get the idea. The point is that T1 is so powerful that anything other than magic doesn't really make any sense at all.

    JaronK
    In the 3.5 fix overhaul bastardization I have in my drawer, the "mundane" heroes get lots of stuff that work similar to that. The Mage got Teleport? Well, the Fighter just learned Ocean-crossing Jump Technique too.

    Anyway, regardless of what I am doing... the point is that it's just mechanics. "Melee" can be as bloody powerful as anyone wants, as long as people are willing to stretch their idea of what "melee" can do to encompass the absurd strengths of the high level casters.
    Last edited by Ernir; 2010-11-01 at 04:09 PM.
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    Default Re: What would it take to get a top-tier melee?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ernir View Post
    In the 3.5 fix overhaul bastardization I have in my drawer, the "mundane" heroes get lots of stuff that work similar to that.

    The Mage got Teleport? Well, the Fighter just learned Ocean-crossing Jump Technique too.

    It's just mechanics. "Melee" can be as bloody powerful as anyone wants, as long as people are willing to stretch their idea of what "melee" can do to encompass the absurd strengths of the high level casters.
    Melee is a range, not a role or power source. Clerics can do melee. Wizards can do melee. Stop saying melee if you mean something other than melee.
    Last edited by Godless_Paladin; 2010-11-01 at 04:11 PM.

  29. - Top - End - #29
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    Default Re: What would it take to get a top-tier melee?

    Quote Originally Posted by Logalmier View Post
    Phantom Steed
    Ghostform
    Major Image
    Hallucinatory Terrain
    Mirror Image

    How would a melee character emulate these abilities without being supernatural? I suppose if the melee character in question was Chuck Norris...

    Player: "Chuck Norris rips himself into 1d4+1 pieces, which then regrow into more Chuck Norris, giving Chuck Norris the ability of Mirror Image!"

    DM: "Could you please stop referring to yourself in third person?"
    By mechanical abilities I more meant the...I suppose we can say statistical effects. Not so much Phantom Steed as "really fast movement, possibly over obstructions". Not so much Mirror Image as "a miss chance". Not so much Ghostform as "the ability to bypass obstacles and/or a miss chance". Those three, I think, are all very possible to non-magically emulate (superhuman speed, defenses, and strength and/or defenses). And I said most for a reason - indeed, illusions are something that would be very difficult to emulate non-magically (although I could maybe see using superhuman persuasive ability - Bluff, specifically - to tell a lie so well that the target actually perceives it if you wanted to really push the envelope). Planar travel would be another, for instance.
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  30. - Top - End - #30
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    Default Re: What would it take to get a top-tier melee?

    Quote Originally Posted by Godless_Paladin View Post
    Melee is a range, not a role or power source. Clerics can do melee. Wizards can do melee. Stop saying melee if you mean something other than melee.
    I had "Fighter" in the original version of the post, but then I noticed that the OP used "melee" in the thread title, so I changed it. Potato potato.
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