The Fighter -- What are its flaws?

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I glanced into the "Why the fighter isn't liked" thread, and it seemed the first page was all agreement that the fighter is simply flawed, and that it's not worth taking past level 4.

Since the members of this board have more experience in a player's role than I do, I was wondering what these flaws were? I'm a bit of a fighter fan, which is a blatant bias because I am a fan of Western Martial Arts. I'm in the process of trying to add a class to my setting (which has probably been done before, I'll post on it later) which is similar to the fighter, so I had kept comparing the fighter to this new class. If the fighter class is flawed, perhaps I can fix it up instead? Keep in mind, I only use the 3 core books (which means PHB 1, DMG 1 and MM 1) with "Arms and Equipment Guide", though I am trying to get more.

So what are these flaws that make the class bad?

M.
HEMA and History Student.
From what I understand:
1-Dead levels:Levels where nothing new is gained as far as abilities go.
2-Feats don't scale well vs. other classes abilities.
3-Lack of skill points hurts their usefulness outside of combat.

Now, for the pros:
1-Quick and easy. They are a great introductory class to play while your learning, as you don't have a lot to deal with.
2-An excellent 1,2 or 4 level dip. Like, Chapotle Ranch dip awesome dip.


... Now I'm hungry
I myself don't think the fighter or most of the classes have any real flaws except the people who play them. 75% of the fighter fixes are more for powergamers, they don't really want to fix any flaws, just make them stronger, which they think will fix it. Every class has good points and bad points but players just want good point and couldn't be bothered in work around the bad points, so they houserule to remove the flaws.

The main flaw that I can see is no special class abilities just feats.
Flaws... flaws... well, there are tons of flaws with the Fighter class itself, but there are lots more flaws with the inherent assumptions made by the system itself, and with how the system was designed in order to intentionally favor spellcasters over nonspellcasters.

The biggest flaws with the Fighter class:

1) Feats do not equal class features.

2) Fighters do not fight things all that well, nor are they even capable of fighting creatures of appropriate CR after about 7th/8th level.

3) An extension of #2, Fighters are not versatile in play. Feat chains are expensive, and you don't get enough feats to diversify your combat tactics. Therefore you are expected to specialize and maybe, just maybe, buy gear to diversify your options, but... well, see #4.

4) Fighters are the most gear dependant class in the game. If you are a Fighter you need to wear highly magical heavy armor and a carry at least one highly magical weapon. You need these to keep your raw AC and to hit bonuses competitive with monsters of your CR (unless you are going the Weapon Focus tree and eating 6 of your 11 bonus feats). Of course you need more than just armor and a weapon to fight, since you can't see or hear your foes without magic (you don't have Spot or Listen, and Wisdom is a dump stat), you can't hit flying foes unless you use a bow, and even then... iffy, you can't defeat illusions or resist mind-afflicting effects because your Will save is pathetically bad, and you have no inherent magical resiliency in a world where nearly everything from CR 10 and above wields powerful magics.

Flaws in the game system that make Fighters even worse than before:

1) Spells rule, Fighters drool. Spells dominate the game, and monsters get them, and they can use all of them in a fight, because they're only going to be a around for one fight. Many monsters have powerful magical effects like constant invisibility and Mirror Image at will that you as a Fighter have no way to defeat, but your Wizard buddy does, and your Cleric buddy does. You have to spend wealth whereas they can just cast a low level spell to be effective. They can spend their wealth on things like... Pearls of Power, or Candles of Invocation...

2) Feat chains blow. Not only are half of them ineffective, they just don't offer anything that helps the Fighter with their problems - item dependency, combat versatility, or magical defense. Top it off with the fact that almost anyone else can pick up one or two of these chains, and that the Fighter only gets feats as class features, and they still take up large chunks of these "class features" and we have a problem.

3) The game assumes that every party will have a Wizard and a Cleric, and that these characters win. The game assumes that the Fighter hits stuff, and the Wizard/Cleric buffs him when they feel like it, or outright destroys monsters because they can, and, in fact, that the Fighter is there at least half the time, just to make sure the Wizard doesn't get killed before it can win the game. Fighters are nothing more than hapless spellcaster cohorts beyond 6th-ish level.

4) Wealth by level is a joke. A commoner with 10th level PC wealth can defeat most challenges if properly equipped with the right items. No, that doesn't mean he runs and attacks the Fire Giant with a Flaming Pitchfork. It means he drops some Dust of Sneezing and Choking while being immune to stunning, or he Gates in a Solar that Gates in other Solars with a single Candle of Invocation. Maybe instead he buys some cross class ranks in Use Magic Device (or just 1), gains the Magic Device Attunement feat, and uses some high level scrolls for fun. Magic items are needed to even operate in mid to high level play, and yet they are so imbalanced that they easily break the game from low level on. *Applause*

I'm sure there's more I can rant about, but I'm out for now.
I’d say the problem with the fighter is that the power of the class is determined almost entirely by the player’s decisions when making the character. If the player consistently selects feats that are not good for his character, that fighter will suck. If the player consistently selects feats that are excellent for his character, that fighter will be decent.

I think a well designed class needs to be acceptably playable even given a long string of bad choices on the part of the player. Set class features can’t be screwed up by a player, so that would help.
One party I was in was saved single-handedly by the fighter and his improved sunder feat. Stupid Kraken...
Campaigns I've been leading have not gone past 6th level yet, so I hadn't noticed these though in truth I sort of knew some things would be a problem. I noticed from the monk that players become super human around level 7 or 8, and compared to the monk the fighter doesn't have anything on him.

What are some methods you guys have used to improve the fighter? Feats are nice, but as you said they don't equate class features. I am, as I said, a tad biased towards fighers because of my love of weapon arts, and originally I had attempted to emulate certain schools of weapon arts in my campaign. The only one I actually did was with the buckler -- in DnD, the "buckler" is some tiny piece of junk that straps to the arm. In reality, it is a small center-gripped defensive item capable of powerful usage. My first foray into WMA was with sword and buckler, but the most I got around to equating it to was if the player took the buckler and "two weapon fighting", the buckler could then be used to add +1 to your attack roll. This has been changed in my new arc, with the buckler automatically adding +1, with possibly some other effect, at the cost of having almost no bonus to AC.

So what are some other tips?

M.
HEMA and History Student.
.

What are some methods you guys have used to improve the fighter?
M.

Here ya go! I haven't used it yet. Someone else posted the link to it, I just cut and pasted.

http://geocities.com/loneflame1023/d20/fighter.html
Campaigns I've been leading have not gone past 6th level yet, so I hadn't noticed these though in truth I sort of knew some things would be a problem. I noticed from the monk that players become super human around level 7 or 8, and compared to the monk the fighter doesn't have anything on him.

Well, yes, player characters pretty much become superhuman at around 7th level, or at least they are supposed to. And you're right, Fighters pretty much don't ever get super-human. But... Fighters are still pretty much always better warriors than Monks. Monks can do some strange things that Fighters can't, but Monks aren't exactly a strong class.

So what are some other tips?

M.

Well, since you asked, specifically about combat styles, there is a class called the Warblade in a book called The Tome of Battle. It fills the same role of tactical, mundane warrior that the Fighter does, but it does it with style, and it actual power. Now, it has some of the same problems that a normal Fighter has, but two of the biggest things it does have over the normal Fighter is mobility and versatility in combat.

There are also HUNDREDS, literally, of Fighter fixes all over the internet. Take your pick, but most of them fail to address any (let alone all) of the concerns I brought up. You also might want to check my sig for the Warrior's Way link. The Warlord class found there is my fix for the Fighter and it does address all of my concerns (at least I think it does and I hope it does, but I still haven't playtested it very much, or gotten much solid feedback).
From what I understand:
1-Dead levels:Levels where nothing new is gained as far as abilities go.
2-Feats don't scale well vs. other classes abilities.
3-Lack of skill points hurts their usefulness outside of combat.

Now, for the pros:
1-Quick and easy. They are a great introductory class to play while your learning, as you don't have a lot to deal with.
2-An excellent 1,2 or 4 level dip. Like, Chapotle Ranch dip awesome dip.


... Now I'm hungry

The beginner melee class is the Barbarian. Fighters are more like GURPS customization - very hard to get right, and gives you very little even if you do. So it's a whole lot of advanced level effort to get nothing but advanced level Fail.

BK has already taken the liberty of casting Dispel Lies on the poster I was going to use it on and by pointing out that Monks are even worse than Fighters, as pathetic as that is.

I'm also ignoring the bit about Improved Break Own Stuff, because that's just garbage.

Under the current criteria, it is impossible to 'fix' the Fighter. To fix them, you would have to both make feats worth a damn, and make enough such feats to fill up a Fighter and provide for a variety of options. At this point you've revamped a large part of the entire system, which doesn't qualify as 'core' anymore. Therefore you might as well save yourself the effort by adding Tome of Battle which also doesn't qualify as 'core' anymore, but does allow you to just take the Warblade and name it Fighter since it fits exactly the same concept, but actually works.

Most of the 'fighter fixes' demonstrate a lack of understanding of the flaws pointed out by BK. So again, see ToB.
The beginner melee class is the Barbarian. Fighters are more like GURPS customization - very hard to get right, and gives you very little even if you do. So it's a whole lot of advanced level effort to get nothing but advanced level Fail.

This I Agree with.

the belief that Fighters are a begginer class is Grognard thinking from ealier editions.
In earlier Editions, he was a begginner class. He wasn't that bad off for a newbie.
"If you can't believe in yourself, believe in me who believes in you." and "Go beyond the impossible, and kick reason to the curb" Kamina, from Gurren Lagann
Here ya go! I haven't used it yet. Someone else posted the link to it, I just cut and pasted.

http://geocities.com/loneflame1023/d20/fighter.html

This is A "Fighter Fix", but (as explained by bk) it doesn't fix the Fighter, just makes it marginally better.

I view my Warrior a bit better than bk's Warlord, since it is way more versatile and puts more emphasys on being overall "battle prepared" (covers more scenarios) than carrying a decimating force (which full BAB and fully armed & armored classes are not starved for).
Nevertheless, bk deserves the credits for this breakthrough.
Here ya go! I haven't used it yet. Someone else posted the link to it, I just cut and pasted.

http://geocities.com/loneflame1023/d20/fighter.html

Bleh, I never liked the idea of a feat every level. However, since others are posting links to their fixes, or siuggesting others, I'll plug mine, here.

And every body has pretty well pointed out the fighters flaws. Feats aren't good enough to cover for class features, and he has no defense against the common magic past level 7-8.

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71235715 wrote:
In my opinion, fighters are fine at combat. That's because a commoner can one shot a Balor at 20 if he's properly made. Everyone with equipment can one shot encounters to stupid degrees. Fighter just suffer in skills, both in terms of class skills, skill points, and typical int synergy.

More controversially, fighters don't fulfill their intended archetypes particularly well. I keep making martial characters in campaigns, and I keep dropping fighter levels for more versatile class levels, simply because they can fulfill the archetypes I want far better. Wanna be a pretty cool guy who wields a sword and doesn't afraid of anything? Probably gonna want more paladin levels than fighter levels. Sword swinging isn't really a fighter thing. They tend to pick better, more complex weaponry to focus on. Wanna be an archer that pincushions a million enemies? The cleric did that best, and with spells, rangers do it pretty darn well as well.
The ultimate fighter fix:

1. Open Tome of Battle
2. Flip to "Warblade"
3. Rename Warblade fighter.

Done! Warblade has fighters exact flavor only he can keep up with the party at the higher levlels.

Also note: Monks shouldn't beat fighters. Monks are one of the few classes that can hold the title of worse than fighter. If this occured in your group, it's likley that the monk made much better decions than the fighter.
Also note: Monks shouldn't beat fighters. Monks are one of the few classes that can hold the title of worse than fighter. If this occured in your group, it's likley that the monk made much better decions than the fighter.

Or it is low magic world with no full plate.
That way the Monk has higher AC and having no magic weapon is expected.
"If you can't believe in yourself, believe in me who believes in you." and "Go beyond the impossible, and kick reason to the curb" Kamina, from Gurren Lagann
Ok, except full plate has nothing to do with magic and low magic just means everyone has utter crap for stats, especially Monks. Oh yeah, and casters are even more godlike, because there's fewer stuff on their level and the other stuff is even less capable of taking a magical assault.
I will try to get myself a "Tome of Battle". I was attempting to add a new class into my next story arc that "kind of" combines monk with fighter -- this light/med armor wearing "warrior" that can "bond" with a weapon to do extra damage/hit more often/do some special thing, but the flip side was he could only ever specialize in one kind of weapon.

Instead, I might just try and improve the fighter, as the hobgoblin invasion has introduced horses to my players nation, and some human areas have adopted horse over the old style raptor mounts, and mounted combat might appear a lot more in this arc.

A fighter on horseback should be fun I think.

M.
HEMA and History Student.
Kensai. Complete Warrior I think it is.
Just add maneuvers and stances to the fighter, Armored Mastery from the knight class, Weapon Aptitude from the warblade, add some new bonus feats (don't make new ones just make more feats available), bump up the skill list and skills per level, and then add a little bit of versatility with optional special abilities.
Kensai will indeed do it, though a one level dip into OA Samurai would do it too. As for combining Fighter with Monk, it depends on what you want to do. Considering you want to specialize in one weapon, Warblade's pretty good for it and some of the manuevers could really do the job.

So, if you want that, just go with OA Samurai 1/Warblade 19 and be done with it.

JaronK
Here we go again.

The biggest flaw is that people here underestimate it.

As for the class itself ...

The dead levels do hurt. 5th level, for example, is excruciating. Spellcasters are getting 3rd level spells or at least more spell slots, Rogue increases Sneak Attack, Ranger gets a second Favored Enemy, Barbarian gets Improved Uncanny Dodge, Druid gets Wild Shape in addition to 3rd level spells, Monk is immune to disease, Paladin gets his Mount. The Fighter gets absolutely diddlysquat.

These dead level make the Fighter appear not fun to play. Even when getting a bonus feat, it sounds boring compared to new spells or fancy names for class abilities such as Improved Uncanny Dodge.

This is a game, after all. If you can't get past these unfun bits, then you're not going to like the Fighter.

To find the fun in the Fighter you have to look at the Feats. It's not easy because individual Feats don't look impressive. The fun is in seeing how all the Feats work together. For example - Robilar's Gambit allows you to take an AoO after someone attacks you. Use that AoO to trip your opponent. You have Improved Trip, giving you a +4 to hit. If successful, your opponent is prone. Because of Improved Trip, you now get to attack your opponent directly. Attacking a prone opponent gives you +4 to hit. Using Power Attack, convert that +4 to hit into +8 damage and still attack at your normal highest attack bonus you like so much. All of this, and it's not even your turn! Because you have Combat Reflexes, you can take many AoOs and do this all of this a number of times on other people's turns. When it becomes your turn, you have a prone opponent before you. Full attack with +4 to hit converted into +8 damage from Power Attack.

That's the fun of the Fighter.
Support Cedric Diggory, the real Hogwarts Champion!
Tried a trip/charge fighter. Retrained all the levels to scout, because it was more interesting, had more options, and was more fun. Sure I could trip, charge, grapple, disarm, but to be honest, it never really helped as much as people claim it does.
Simply put, play a warblade. Then compare your experience to when you played a fighter. You will see the difference. And the areas the fighter is lacking in - options.
Are all these Kensai and the like in the ToB book? I am a tad leery on adding Asian-style themes to my setting, but I can easily rename the classes so I'll give them a look. Still abit meh at the super-human status the samurai and ninja get in reality.

M.
HEMA and History Student.
Kensai's from CW as stated earlier, and ToB isn't asian themed.
What Tome of Battle does is make melee fighting more fun, not specifically solely commenting about the Fighter. The book is an improvement on the entire concept of melee fighting in D&D, not specifically solely commenting about the Fighter. The book allows a melee warrior to move more than 5ft in a round and still do something interesting that's not a charge (though the book helps on charges too), even if it's just lots of damage, not specifically solely commenting about the Fighter. The book gives melee warriors something to do that's useful as swift actions, immediate actions, and a few move actions, which gives the player more stuff to do on his turn, which is what makes the fun, not specifically solely commenting about the Fighter.

Oh, one more thing, the book is not specifically solely commenting about the Fighter.
Support Cedric Diggory, the real Hogwarts Champion!
Yeah, it comments on the monk and the paladin too.
Do keep in mind that a barbarian with a few feats (notably the Power Attack line) can do far more damage than most ToB builds do - so if you hear someone complaining that ToB is broken because of the damage that can be done, keep that in mind.

Tome of Battle simply gives melee-warrior types more options, above and beyond 'charge, 5 ft step, full attack (and variations thereof);' after all, that's pretty much all they can do right now.
I glanced into the "Why the fighter isn't liked" thread, and it seemed the first page was all agreement that the fighter is simply flawed, and that it's not worth taking past level 4.

Since the members of this board have more experience in a player's role than I do, I was wondering what these flaws were? I'm a bit of a fighter fan, which is a blatant bias because I am a fan of Western Martial Arts. I'm in the process of trying to add a class to my setting (which has probably been done before, I'll post on it later) which is similar to the fighter, so I had kept comparing the fighter to this new class. If the fighter class is flawed, perhaps I can fix it up instead? Keep in mind, I only use the 3 core books (which means PHB 1, DMG 1 and MM 1) with "Arms and Equipment Guide", though I am trying to get more.

So what are these flaws that make the class bad?

M.

Most people think the fighter can't be playable at higher levels, but that is not the truth. The truth is that it takes a player with a really high skill level to make a fighter valuable enough so the party will actually miss him if he dies in higher powered campaigns. Some people say the fighter does not protect the party, but I never saw that as the fighter's job. From a fluff point of view fighters are also guards, but they lack spot, and listen. Even the commoner class has spot. I always thought fighters should have tumble as a skill in case you want to make a dex based fighter. It is very hard to make a fighter who is not a one trick pony. The weapon aptitude ability the warblade has is something the fighter should have. Some people say the cleric and druid are to close to a fighter's skill in melee. I think that is more an issue of the cleric and druid being able to do to much, rather than the fighter not being able to do enough.

PS:I did not read past the first post so if I repeated what someone already said stay calm people.
Most people think the fighter can't be playable at higher levels, but that is not the truth.

Strawman. Very few people believe that. What they believe is that the Fighter becomes more and more inflexible compared to his party members, and tends to become weaker and weaker compared to his party members as well especially in situations where his particular strengths don't work. They also believe that he's actually a very poor class for doing what he's advertised as being able to do, and that despite the reputation of the Fighter as a beginner class (a holdover from 2Ed) Fighters are in fact one of the easiest classes to screw up in a long term way.

But I don't see anyone claiming the Fighter is unplayable... heck, I've personally proved that the Commoner can be made capable of soloing equal CR encounters at the highest non epic levels. "Playable" is not the same as "balanced to the rest of the classes."

JaronK
Strawman. Very few people believe that. What they believe is that the Fighter becomes more and more inflexible compared to his party members, and tends to become weaker and weaker compared to his party members as well especially in situations where his particular strengths don't work. They also believe that he's actually a very poor class for doing what he's advertised as being able to do, and that despite the reputation of the Fighter as a beginner class (a holdover from 2Ed) Fighters are in fact one of the easiest classes to screw up in a long term way.

But I don't see anyone claiming the Fighter is unplayable... heck, I've personally proved that the Commoner can be made capable of soloing equal CR encounters at the highest non epic levels. "Playable" is not the same as "balanced to the rest of the classes."

JaronK

Unplayable is the wrong word. I guess I should have said undesirable, but as far as balance every almost every class is seen as to strong or to weak so balance is a word I try not to use.
Here's a radical idea...what if I give my fighters access to an attribute point on dead levels? Esp. level 5, when everyone else is getting stuff?

M.
HEMA and History Student.
Here's a radical idea...what if I give my fighters access to an attribute point on dead levels? Esp. level 5, when everyone else is getting stuff?

Hm. It's definitely a "goody" that's hard to come by. It does nothing to address the fighter's lack of options, though. You can dump all of those stat bonuses into whatever single thing you want, and it will either be ridiculously over the top, or not. If it is too much, then it needs to be toned down. However, when you get the number of point boosts low enough not to be too many to dump in one stat, then spreading those few points out across multiple stats would have a minimal impact on those stats, discouraging, once again, a fighter's diversity.
Hm, well, it wouldn't be at every "dead" level, if by dead level we mean a level where we get no new things to play with.

By default we get a feat every 3 levels and a stat point at every 4 levels. So if I increase the number of class skills a fighter can get (I mean they should really get practically every PHYSICAL feat, try learning to fence with the longsword and you'll begin to see how many of those really fit in), and giving him a new stat point at 5, 9, 13, etc would help a little (that would be one after every level you normally get it). I considered increasing WILL saves, because WILL would also factor into the intensity of training, representing focus, internal calm, etc.

Maybe Iron Will should be an automatic starting feat...

M.
HEMA and History Student.
Fighter 9 still qualifies as a dead level even if you get your 9th level feat, because your class doesn't give you anything. What if you multiclass?

And anyway, it still wouldn't help the fact that the fighter class doesn't give you much to help the other characters outside of combat. The skills he has are either useless at higher levels (outside of DM pandering, such as covering large areas of high-altitude terrain in AMFs so that Climb skill will finally come in handy), or use a fighter's only real dump stat and really aren't very useful anyway (Intimidate? Gee, I have a 6 Cha. Sorry 'bout that).
Remember the flaws I posted in here a while back? The flaws with the Fighter and the flaws with D&D 3.5 that exacerbate the problem can't be fixed by handing out a few +1 to ability score bumps.
This is true BK. Well, I did say I'd expand their skills, and I've been DMing where strength can replace charisma in intimidate (shake the bastard). I mean, the class IS a combat class, he is a *fighter* after all, a typical European-style brainless sword swinger.

What are the 3.5 flaws btw? Is it just the melee sucking?

M.
HEMA and History Student.
Melee sucking is part of it, but the bigger flaws with the system at large is that it favors magic, and it assumes that all characters will be using magic in some form after a certain level. The inherent need for magical items to survive and the fact that over 99.999% of magical effects granted by magical items can be duplicated by spells.

Oh, and one more: Spellcasters gain power on an exponential curve. They suck within the first three levels, start to look a little better at roughly level 5, and then they overtake everyone with incredible speed. Everything that isn't a spellcaster (except ToB, and only sort of) gains power on a linear curve. They start a little stronger than spellcasters most of the time, but they don't become stronger nearly as fast.

Oh, and just so you can get a look at what Tome of Battle classes, the Warblade specifically, are capable of and how they are much less flawed than the Fighter:

The Tome of Battle: Book of Nine Swords

The Warblade

Some maneuvers from the Iron Heart discipline (a Warblade's bread and butter)

For great justice.
Also, feats. They're so narrow that you need many to do anything, and have to have many sources to get them from just to have enough worthwhile ones. Even then you are a one trick pony with a decent trick and useless otherwise. If it counters your trick, or you don't have one you fail and should go home. Note your trick will be countered early and often, often by complete accident. Either the DM specifically coddles you by nerfing encounters, or you simply cannot keep up.
Thanks for the links BK. I noticed the magic favoring myself, and my campaign setting was originally going to be a low-magic setting, but I figured that would be un-fun to play, so I cut that idea. Subsequently, it allowed me to have a less "plausable" time line explainable by magic. They even had flight at one point, though the one place who had complete control on that blew up. I'm kind of writing wizards out of my setting, however, so maybe the magic would be less of a problem for my fighters. There are few magic-using enemies, normally just other wizards or sorcs at best, and I think the most "supernatural" enemy in terms of abilities is the imp. (Every creature origne in my campaign is explained, and it's hard to explain random wtfpwn critters)

Anti, I agree that feats are narrow, but they're sort of supposed to be, aren't they? Some are VERY specific though, increasing one or two skills by a few points, while others are more useful. I think the main issue is that we only get ONE every x levels, but I think this is because there simply were not many feats to begin with. I might just get myself a list of all the feats in various books and print them (a mate of mine gave me a bunch of PDF files for 3.0 and some 3.5 books a while back, which ToB is not amongst), and compile them into the ones I want and ones I don't want, and increase the frequency of feat gain. I've been wanting to do feat gain by training over leveling but that's been difficult to do.

M.
HEMA and History Student.