Dungeon Crawling: Fighters

Fighters are basic. They are usually the front-liners wielding a melee weapon, but that is not their only method of destruction. Warriors that rely on dexterity can also be found at the rear of the group letting loose with a volley of death from bow strings.

Through the various books made available to players there have been several subclasses of Fighter meant to fill the niche you seek.

The 5th edition Player’s Handbook presents the basic three: Champion, Battle-master, and Eldritch Knight.

The Champion is a master of the critical hit. They are simple to master: you only have to adjust your thinking to encompass a critical hitting on a 19 or a 20, with 18 to 20 at much higher levels. Champions eventually get to add half their proficiency to Strength, Dexterity, or Constitution ability checks that don’t already have a proficiency bonus. They can even look forward to choosing a second fighting style or healing a minor amount if they start a fight at less than half their hit points.

The Battle-master has an array of trick shots and maneuvers to choose from as they level. These utilize a resource called “Superiority Dice,” which not only allow the maneuvers to be pulled off, but often add to the damage your attacks can do. With a varied array of fancy footwork and called shots you can customize your fighting style even further, beyond the fighting style you chose at level one.

The Eldritch Knight is the learned warrior, bolstering martial prowess with arcane training, usually in the form of abjuration or evocation spells. Wading into battle and summoning your blade to your hand from the aether or casting a Shield Spell upon yourself are only the basics of this subclass. As you progress you can cast a cantrip (or a standard spell later on) as your action and make a bonus attack in addition to the spell. Further on, your action surge as a fighter also may trigger a teleportation to a spot of your choice within 30 feet.

These are just the beginnings. The possibilities for customizing your fighter don’t end with the Player’s Handbook. Xanathar’s Guide to Everything presents three more sublcasses: Arcane Archer, Cavalier, and Samurai.

The Arcane Archer is stereotypically an Elven subclass but it’s knowledge is considered to have disseminated through the ages to the other races. When you start down this path you begin by choosing either a wizardly or druidic path. Your choice of Arcana or Nature will flavor your backstory, as will the option of choosing Prestidigitation or Druidcraft as a cantrip. Once per turn you can add a special Arcane Shot affect to a shot that hits a creature. This shot must be from a short bow or longbow, so you crossbow maniacs (myself included) need not apply. The number of shots per rest and your available choices increase as you level. With shots that entangle, poison, charm or even temporarily banish the target you can easily define a unique Arcane Archer to suit your needs. At higher levels any mundane arrow becomes enchanted for the shot, and even a missed shot can be redirected to another target.

Now, if mounted combat is more you thing, look no further than the Cavalier. You begin with an extra skill or language to round out your hero. Your agility getting into and out of the saddle is matched only by your stability to stay seated. When you strike a target with a melee weapon you are able to mark them, making the Cavalier one of the rare subclasses in the game to have this feature (See Ancestral Guardian Barbarian). Your foe has disadvantage attacking others, and if they do they leave themself open to an extra strike from you. As your training progresses you grow more adept at protecting your mount, or other creatures nearby. Cavaliers also have a built in features similar to the Sentinel and Charger feats. Their ultimate subclass ability gives them special reactions to make an opportunity attack once on every other creature’s turn.

Last we have the Samurai. Again we see a bonus skill or language to round out the hero. As a bonus action, they can grant themself temporary hit points — which scale up– and give themself advantage for the rest of the current turn. As they level up their mind is strengthened, gaining proficiency in Wisdom saves. Social situations are also easier, as they add their Wisdom modifier to persuasion rolls. They also learn how to sacrifice accuracy for speed by giving up advantage versus a target to gain an extra strike in the same action. Finally, their inner resolve can stave off even death itself, granting them an extra turn immediately as they slowly bleed out.

Combining ease-of-play with myriad customization options, the Fighter class is a true classic for beginner and veteran D&D players alike.


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