Jun 10, 2008
This handbook is a work in progress. I’ll add to it as I have time and as other people add their perspectives.
So, you want to be a fighter, grunt? Well, you've come to the right place. I'll be teaching you how to take a hit and not cry like a child, how to protect your allies and how to protect yourself. In short, I'm going to be hitting you in the face a lot. If you don't like that, don't worry. I will. Most of you probably will too by the time we're done.
[SIZE='5']Things You Should Know Up Front: [/SIZE]
1) You’re going to get hit. It’s going to hurt. You may even die. If someone has to die, you’re the one who signed up for the job. Man up or go home. If the wizard dies before you do, you’re doing it wrong.
2) People are going to expect you to defend them because you are a defender. Don’t get any grandiose notions about leaving the weaker party members undefended while you wreak havoc on the enemy. That is, unless someone else is playing defense well enough without you. In short, know your role, and shut your mouth.
3) Don’t tick off your party members. They know things you don't and can do things you can't. They’re also nasty, devious folk that don’t fight fair. That Rogue might wield a sissy’s dagger, but try letting him stab you in the spine one good time. The Wizard might not take a hit too well, but if he puts you to sleep and rearranges your pretty face, don’t say I didn’t warn you.
4) Surviving is your own responsibility. Don’t take on more than you can handle. The leader will help out if he gets a chance, but you'd better be tough enough for it to be worth his time – don’t neglect defense! If he didn't wince when you took that last blow, or at the sheer number of blows, then don't expect any sympathy; you signed up to be a tough guy. You only get to be a wuss if you went to school. And no, Eladrin, that doesn’t get you off the hook.
5) Don’t be afraid to let your party members get whacked about a bit, but remember that they are wusses! A bit of toughening won't do them no harm, but you’d better make sure they don't get overwhelmed. If the boss-man is healing the Wizard, he ain’t healing you. Even worse, if the Wizard can’t do his job, you might find yourself in a lot of trouble.
6) Always carry a javelin. Always. If you can't get to your enemies, you'll be crying softly while the Wizard and archer show you up. Try to get a Thunderburst javelin for when hordes of weaklings run from you. If you have Weapon Focus, Dwarven Weapon Training or Deadly Axe, it may also be worth carrying a throwing hammer or handaxe, as appropriate. You can't throw these as far though, so don't forget your javelin.
Each of you meatheads have some advantages and disadvantages. Learn to use them appropriately. (The star values below are generalizations about fighters of that particular race. Individual builds within a given race may exceed these values.)
[SIZE='4']Dragonborn: [/SIZE] (5 stars)
Being strong, both in muscle and in halitosis, can give you an edge. Being a pretty-boy isn’t going to help much, but you can intimidate your enemies with the best of them. You also heal quickly if you work on your constitution. Consider wielding an axe or hammer to capitalize on your strengths. You might even want to get some of that fancy plate armor.
[SIZE='4']Dwarves: [/SIZE] (5 stars)
Wise and hardy, you make excellent fighters. You aren’t as strong as some of us though, so keep that in mind. You’re hard to push around, and you can catch your breath and waylay your enemies at the same time. It takes effort, but Dwarven Durability can go a long way to keep you alive. Hammers and axes suit you well, and plate armor may also be useful.
[SIZE='4']Eladrin: [/SIZE] (3 stars)
Smart and agile aren’t exactly on the high priority list, but you work with what you’ve got. You can teleport, so put it to good use to confound your enemies’ efforts. You make great look-outs since you don’t sleep. Consider using a spear to push enemies around the battlefield or a longsword to hit them easily. A scimitar might be handy too if you take dexterity to the limit. You should probably focus on scale armor in most cases. By the way, I hope that you learned something useful at that fancy Eladrin college.
[SIZE='4']Elves: [/SIZE] (4 stars)
You’re wise and fast, so make it count. Use your mobility to gain advantageous positions on the battlefield. Despite being a little weaker than some of us, you seem to have an uncanny ability to hit your targets when it really counts. I’d recommend scale armor and a heavy blade or spear.
[SIZE='4']Half-Elves: [/SIZE] (2 stars)
Hardy and pretty… At least half of that is useful. You can dabble a bit in another profession (suggestions to come.) Your primary advantage is that you can learn the tricks of the trade for both Humans and Elves, as well as Half-Elves. Unfortunately, Elven and Half-Elven tricks aren’t that great for fighters. Focus on axes or hammers, and get some shiny Plate Armor. Make sure you keep it pretty so you can impress all of the boys.
[SIZE='4']Halflings: [/SIZE] (3 stars)
You’re fast and pretty. You also have small hands like carnival folk. Stick to one-handed weapons (for you) – probably a scimitar – and plan to use scale armor. Where you excel is in those combat tricks like avoiding a critical attack or hiding behind medium or larger sized enemies. It might be worth your time to work on acrobatics eventually so that you can move through an opponent’s legs to gain an advantageous position. Unfortunately for you little guys, size matters. Your weapon choices are limited, and don’t go trying to push anyone much bigger than a human. However, a scimitar-wielding Halfling with a heavy shield can make a better fighter than some opponents might expect.
[SIZE='4']Humans: [/SIZE] (4 stars)
You’re good at one thing, and it had better be strength! You tend to learn an extra attack, but that’s not so useful for most fighters. You’re good at one more skill, so yippee. You are a bit more able to dodge attacks, which is good. You can also learn some nice tricks for making attacks count when it matters and shrugging off nasty effects. Use whatever weapons and armor you want. I don’t even care any more.
[SIZE='4']Tieflings: [/SIZE] (1 star)
Smart and Pretty. Man, am I glad that I ain’t you! Unfortunately, you don’t have a lot going for you as a fighter. Use a flaming weapon and try not to, err, die. Maybe you should look into another line of work. Otherwise, use whatever weapons/armor you want and pray to whatever gods you believe in. Try to focus on keeping the useful party members alive and cleaning up enemies that they were nice enough to bloody for you.
[SIZE='5']Attributes: [/SIZE] (All numbers are before racial modifiers)
Choose a weapon-group below and then figure out what attributes you need to make the most of it. Then, choose two attributes to put extra emphasis on. One of them should be strength. Period. If you don’t like it, find someone else to train with. The other will probably be dexterity, constitution or wisdom, depending on your weapon choice and what you want to focus on.
[SIZE='4']Strength: [/SIZE] 16
There is no excuse for skipping your physical training. If you’re going to be a mama’s boy about it, find another line of work. You need to be strong to hit things, to hurt things, to lug around weapons and armor, to carry fallen comrades to safety, etc. Suck it up and drive on.
[SIZE='4']Dexterity: [/SIZE] 8-16 (recommended: 10+)
If you’re using spears, flails, heavy blades or light blades, you’ll want to work on some agility training. Otherwise, just practice getting out of the way of fireballs and getting the jump on people if you have some spare time. If you want to specialize in scale armor, plan accordingly.
[SIZE='4']Constitution: [/SIZE]10-16 (recommended: 13+)
If you’re going to be standing there smashing people with a maul, wind sprints should be your bread and butter. If you use axes, you may want to go run up some hills. If you want to wear plate, you pansy, you’d better build up your wind as well. For the rest of you maggots, try to at least get a brisk jog in from time to time if it isn’t too much freakin’ trouble. You’re of no use on the battlefield if you can’t take some solid hits and keep soldiering on. This is particularly true if you choose not to use a shield.
[SIZE='4']Intelligence: [/SIZE]8-13 (recommended: 8)
You get hit in the head for a living. What’s the matter with you? If you’re some kind of warrior-scholar, the Warlord academy is over there.
[SIZE='4']Wisdom: [/SIZE]10-16 (recommended: build specific)
Common sense, on the other hand, can be invaluable on the battlefield. When some guy thinks he can just run past you, it will help you capitalize on his foolishness. Pit Fighters put this to especially good use. Oh, and if you want to stick an approaching opponent with a polearm, it helps to know which way is the business end. I used to write “this side toward enemy,” but apparently, half of you bucket-heads can’t read.
[SIZE='4']Charisma: [/SIZE]8-13 (recommended: 8-10)
If you signed up to take it in the face, chances are that you don’t care about maintaining those boyish good-looks.
If you are planning to dabble in another profession, I’ll talk about that later. For now, let’s just look at the weapons as if you were going to be a straight fighter. And no, I’m not talking about playing for the other team. (Currently, weapon-specific exploits are not taken into account for the star ratings. When they are, the ratings may change.)
[SIZE='4']Axes: [/SIZE] (4-5 stars)
These are good because they rely on constitution which is good for us. It’s especially synergistic if you happen to be a Dwarf or Dragonborn. What? Synergistic means its good, dummy. If you like really wrecking your enemy’s day once in a while, this is the weapon-group for you. The reason to select axes over hammers/maces is that you can get by with less emphasis on constitution.
[SIZE='4']Flails: [/SIZE] (3 stars)
Good for getting around shields, which can be nice if your enemy is using one. The problem is that they rely on dexterity, but heavy blades are generally more useful.
[SIZE='4']Hammers and Maces: [/SIZE] (5 stars)
Two words, nimrod: Hammer Rhythm. If you miss your opponent, hit him on the back-swing! The only real downside is that it requires a very high constitution to make this work well. Of course, that’s all to the good for most of us, especially for you Dwarves and Dragonborn. Your reflexes and/or will defenses will probably suffer though.
[SIZE='4']Heavy Blades: [/SIZE] (4-5 stars)
Longswords and bastard swords make it easier to hit your enemies. That’s particularly nice if you are focused on exploits which injure them in interesting ways. Blade Opportunist can add to our “stickiness” if you’re short on wisdom. If you want to really focus on dexterity, you can put out some serious damage with Scimitar Dance. The one pitfall is that Heavy Blade Opportunity isn’t as useful as it first appears. If you have some way to make it better, such as Warpriest’s Challenge, then Heavy Blades can rival any weapon choice.
[SIZE='4']Light Blades: [/SIZE] (2 stars)
Why the heck are you using a light blade? Pick up a real man’s weapon, wimp. Nimble Blade and Light Blade Precision are ok, but you are going to need a ton of dexterity to master the thing. If you are going to use a light blade, at least make it rapier.
[SIZE='4']Picks: [/SIZE] (1 star)
You’re better off with a hammer or an axe unless someone comes up with some crazy new pick-based fighting style.
[SIZE='4']Polearms: [/SIZE] (4 stars)
Reach, Polearm Gamble, dual weapons and Spear Push are the draws here. I don’t know why you’d want to use Polearm Gamble as a Fighter though. The whole idea is to get things to attack you! Otherwise, why not be a Ranger or something? For Spear Push to work, you have to use an attack that pushes your enemy. That would normally be Tide of Iron or Shield Push, but it's hard to use a polearm and a shield at the same time. That means you'll have to devote some of your more precious exploits to pushing people in order to get good use out of Spear Push with a polearm. Reach might be useful for you nancy-boys out there, but real fighters like to get in close. *toothless grin* (Currently, there’s an argument on these boards as to which square you end up in if a fighter uses polearm gamble on you and hits. Please don’t bring it to this thread.)
Dual-Weapons - There are three polearms which also count as part of another weapon group:
--Glaives count as polearms and heavy blades.
--Halberds are polearms and axes.
--Longspears are polearms and... Spears?
Glaives are good if you are dexterous and you want to use Heavy Blade Opportunity and/or Blade Opportunist. Halberds are good if you want to use the axe feats. I don't see much use for Longspears though. You might as well use a Glaive or a Halberd unless you are just dying to use a polearm AND use one of the few exploits which work best with spears but not polearms. See the relevant weapon-group sections to see what you can do with each.
[SIZE='4']Spears: [/SIZE] (4 stars)
These things are good for pushing people around the battlefield. Ideally, you’ll use a shield with one of these puppies so that you can get some extra bang out of Tide of Iron and Shield Push.
[SIZE='4']Staff: [/SIZE] (1 star)
What are you, a Wizard? Put the stick down, genius. Pick up something heavy and possibly pointy.
[SIZE='5']Guardians vs. Great Weapon Fighters: [/SIZE]
I don’t like these terms. EVERY fighter should be a “guardian,” whether you use a two-handed weapon or not. I’ll address why that is in a moment. Also, despite what you may have heard, whether or not you use a two-handed weapon isn’t the primary reason why you should favor dexterity or constitution – that’s mostly going to be based on your weapon-group. However, a two-handed weapon does mean you’ll get hit more often, so constitution becomes relatively more important.
Whether you focus more on damage or defense should be based on the role you are trying to fill. If you want to be a striker, focus on damage. Always remember that dealing slightly more damage is never worth taking a lot more damage. In any case, if no one is on defense, get your ugly butt into position. A fighter with a maul will get hit more often than a fighter with a shield, but it’s better than seeing the Wizard’s head on a pole.
Tossing aside your shield for a two-hander should be carefully thought out. Shields make you harder to hit with conventional weapons and reflex-based attacks. They also give you more options like Distracting Shield, Shield Push and Tide of Iron. If you want to be a tactical defender, use a shield. If you want to pretend you are a Barbarian, consider it carefully. If you need to, ask someone smarter than you. I’m looking at you, Quarterstaff-boy.
[SIZE='5']Defenders Should Take the Hits: [/SIZE]
Look, Paladins and Fighters can take more damage and shrug it off more easily than anyone out there. This is especially true if you happen to be a Dwarf or Dragonborn, and/or you put an emphasis on your constitution. Additionally, we are among the hardest to hit with conventional attacks. On top of all that, we have more control than anyone else in the party over which enemies will focus their attacks on us. A final thought is that you can and should specialize in exploits and magic items for dealing with damage while your party members probably won’t and shouldn’t. These reasons are why those glory-hogging strikers, leaders and wizards will always come crawling to us when they want to go adventuring.
[SIZE='5']Defenders Shouldn’t Take [b]ALL the Hits: [/b][/SIZE]
Now I know that some of you just got images in your tiny brains of eight enemies circling you while the rest of the party has a picnic. Get that right out of your head. You can’t take every attack that is ever thrown at your party. Even if you could, what good are you if you die six seconds into the fight? It’s important to learn when you should get an enemy’s attention and when you should focus on a different one. Here are some examples to think about. Try not to hurt yourself.
1) You're fighting three opponents when the wizard slows them all. If all other party members can get out of their range, you probably should too – even if it means giving up an attack so that you can shift and then move away. Your job is to take hits instead of the weaker party members, not to take hits when no one else would. Either go attack something that’s still up, or just back out of the way and let the party kill them at range. Of course, if they fall asleep, go have your fun.
2) You’re running low on healing surges while your party members are as fresh as a summer’s day. For heaven’s sake, let some of them take a hit once in a while. If you end up in this situation, focus less on making sure they don’t muck up their hair. Focus more on making sure none of them gets mobbed or prevented from doing their job. You’re of no use if you are dead.
3) You’re focused on strength and constitution and you are facing three enemies. One attacks vs. armor, one vs. reflex and one vs. fortitude. Well, guess what? Most of the time, whoever you are defending will have better reflexes than you do. If that’s the case, I say let the guy attacking your reflexes get past you.
[SIZE='5']How to “Tank”: [/SIZE]
There are four major ways in which you can encourage your enemies to leave your allies alone:
1) Mark them, probably with Combat Challenge. Close Bursts are especially effective here, as is a Dragonborn’s bad breath. Seriously, suck on a mint or something, would ya’?
2) Take away the option of attacking whoever you are defending. Get in their way, immobilize them, slow them, stop their movement with Combat Superiority, etc. Do what needs to be done to keep them from getting to your allies. Those wielding weapons such as longswords and bastard swords will have an easier time since they can hit more often. Blade Opportunist helps here as well as does a good amount of wisdom. You can make it quite difficult for enemies to get away from you. This is often called “stickiness.”
3) Punish them for trying to get away or attacking your ally. This is typically accomplished with the attack you get from Combat Challenge. “Great Weapon Fighters” are going to hit harder, and thus the penalty for ignoring them is more severe. On the other hand, shield fighters make up for this with Distracting Shield and Shield Push.
4) Be a major threat. If you splattered my friend’s brain all over me with a giant hammer, I’d probably want a piece of you. Not that any of you sissies would have the guts. “Great Weapon Fighters” might have a shot at this, but it is our weakest area in general.
Jun 10, 2008
[SIZE='5']Skills: [/SIZE] This section is new. I'm particularly interested in comments on it as it probably needs some work.
[SIZE='4']Class Skills: [/SIZE]
Look, there's more to life than fighting. We'll be giving classes on the following skills. You can learn three of them. If you're Human, we'll teach you four. Why? Because I hate them a little less than the rest of you.
Athletics (Str) (5 stars)
Jumping, climbing, swimming and escaping from grapples are all likely to be useful to you at some point. I’d take this one if I were you.
Endurance (Con) (2-5 stars)
The benefit of a high endurance depends on what you are going to be doing. If you'll be in the desert, on a ship, etc., it can be quite useful. Otherwise, resisting disease is probably the biggest benefit. However, if there's an able healer who can watch over you, enduring diseases becomes less important.
Heal (Wis) (5 stars)
This is a particularly good skill to have. Keeping your allies alive is a good thing. You may be tempted to retrain this into something else eventually once you get better at it. However, if your allies lack endurance, I'd stay in practice to treat any diseases they contract. And remember kids, always use protection.
Intimidate (Cha) (3 stars)
Scaring the heck out of people – what's not to love? Most of us aren't exactly social butterflies, but that doesn't mean you can't spend some time in the mirror practicing that winning sneer of yours. Just be aware that the Cleric, Warlord, Rogue, etc. may be more intimidating than you, even if they aren't in practice. I'll never understand why people find an ugly fighter crushing a rock in his bare hand less scary than a pretty Cleric polishing his nails.
Streetwise (Cha) (2 stars)
If you want to schmooze with the locals, this is your chance. While useful for finding information on the streets, that isn't typically part of our job description. Still, it's probably a good idea to work on either intimidate or streetwise since you never know when some sort of social skill might be handy.
[SIZE='4']Non-Class Skills: [/SIZE]
If you want to learn these skills, do it on your own time. For the most part, I wouldn't worry about them unless you can pick them up without too much additional effort. This would include dabbling in another class or being an Eladrin college-boy.
Arcana (Int) (2 stars)
Identifying magical enemies and their spells is useful, but someone else should be able to do this better than you can anyway. If not, maybe one of the pansy caster types should pick it up.
Bluff (Cha) (1 star)
Let the Rogue be a con-man. Just stand behind him and look menacing. There, that's a good boy.
Diplomacy (Cha) (1 star)
Tact, subtlety and social grace – yeah, that's right up our alley.
Dungeoneering (Wis) (1-4 stars)
If you plan to spend a lot of time underground, someone should be trained in this. If you have a lot of Wisdom, you're not a bad candidate. If you aren't going to be underground much, this skill will rarely come into play.
History (Int) (1 star)
Real Fighters make history, not study it.
Insight (Wis) (3 stars)
This can be useful when dealing with shady characters. It's also nice to avoid being distracted and seeing through illusions.
Nature (Wis) (1-3 stars)
Carry rations or a magic item which dispenses them. If you're going to be in natural environments and/or dealing with animals, it's a useful skill. It's just not really your job.
Perception (Wis) (5 stars)
Spotting traps and hidden enemies should be high on anyone's to-do list. Tracking enemies is just gravy. Someone had better be good at this, but more is better in this case.
Religion (Int) (1-2 stars)
Someone should be versed in religion. Ideally, it's a Cleric or Paladin. Otherwise, it's probably still better for it to be someone other than you.
Stealth (Dex) (3 stars)
Hiding is useful for ambushes. It's probably not so useful for us in combat though. If the enemy can't see you, it's probably going after whoever you are supposed to be protecting.
Thievery (Dex) (3-5 stars)
Someone had better have this or your life will be much more difficult. Particularly if you use a Scimitar, you may be a good candidate. It's better to have a striker handle this though so that you can focus on defending them if they have to do it in combat.