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The 3.5 Fighter Class

The 3.5 Fighter Class

I have a game idea on a serious back burner that I'm tinkering with, and one of the things I want to do is make the Fighter class a higher tier power wise in relation to the other classes.
**only dealing with PHB I + Knight + Samurai atm**
My initial idea is this: combine all the martial + partial spell casting + Bard classes as subclasses of Fighter (Similar to 2e fighting men)

At level 1, you'd essentially be a gestalt character. You pick which variant you want

Warrior (The Generic Warrior variant from UA)

You'd get fighter bonus feats, fighter BAB, fighter FORT save, fighter HD (unless your variant was higher - Barbarian d12 for instance), fighter class skills in addition to your variant's class skills, 4+INT skill points (unless your variant was higher), and all the class features and bonus feats granted by your variant as you leveled, and each variant would bring in 1 or 2 additional better saves (would change it so that they all granted at least higher REF or higher WILL in addition to the fighter's core FORT).

Strangely enough I've been thinking about the Fighter quite a bit myself recently, though I'm not sure why.

I'm not sure that gestalting Fighter with other classes would really make it better as per se - you'd essentially just be playing a beefed up other class with some extra feats.

However some of the Bardic-style inspiration abilities (or Marshal auras or whatever) would fit the theme (you could gestalt Marshal and Fighter and just let them be run as a single class easy, and it wouldn't even be that powerful - though it would make for a pretty frontloaded dip); one thing I'd thought about was creating abilities much like the Rogue high-level abilities for the Fighter to pick from which might offer things like Inspire Courage or similar. Another thing to think about is how the advent of Tome of Battle changes things. Perhaps the Fighter should get manoeuvres, or at least some ability which interacts with them? (Some would argue that the Warblade is a better Fighter than the Fighter, though you give up a lot of bonus feats)

As an aside - the feats themselves are worth thinking about. The Fighter is his feats just as the Wizard is his spells; if there were no good spells, the Wizard could be the worst class (it doesn't even get the Figther's chassis). If Fighter feats were better, the Fighter would become better too.

All in all, I think the thing the Fighter is lacking most is versatility. D&D encourages specialisation, and martial classes suffer in particular because so many feats are needed to pursue a give style (whether two-weapon fighting, using a ranged weapon, etc) and because a lot of the time, melee is melee and when it doesn't work, none of it works (high AC and DR mostly shut down most martials, whereas high SR and saves and the like each only shut down certain spells). He could actually stand to have even more feats (there are loads of feat chains you could spend those on, especially if you're trading feats out for ACFs) but I'd think about restricting some of them so that he's forced to take a wider variety (this doesn't up the power much but it helps give him some options). I'd think about soft counters to various attack forms - instead of Pathfinder's weaksauce Bravery bonus to saves vs fear, for example, how about ignore fear completely for X rounds per day (or treat it as Shaken)? Some sort of dynamic ability to gain a feat on the fly would be fitting and really useful too, in fact (aha, the one battle in my career where Improved Overrun would be useful! And now - I have it!).

Ultimately, I think all characters ought to have at least one extra option in combat so that it's not a case of "I full attack - again" over and over, even if it's just a backup (and they should have backup in case their main style doesn't work). Martials might be able to use things like bull rush and grapple but usually these things need investment and the opportunities to use them when they're not your main style are too few - whereas casters almost always have an array of spells or powers to pick from.

I've thought about maybe combat styles, where the Fighter gets one or two of the chains for free in addition to their feats.

I saw on someone else's homebrew on another board where they made the fighter levels factor into a greater weapon focus/specialization buff.

Originally Posted by TheFred View Post
Some sort of dynamic ability to gain a feat on the fly would be fitting and really useful too, in fact (aha, the one battle in my career where Improved Overrun would be useful! And now - I have it!).
Funnily enough, the Man-at-Arms class from Iron Heroes has a mechanic almost exactly like that.

Despite the author saying otherwise, I've always wondered if it'd be better to just replace the weaker martial classes with the Iron Heroes classes. Even with their higher saves and stuff, 3.5 full-casters are ridiculous and I wonder if people have any practical experience with mixing in Iron Heroes into vanilla 3.5.

Quite possibly; I'm not familiar with them myself. I believe that Pathfinder's Brawler has a similar ability, though.

It would not actually be that powerful - if you had to meet prereqs, you'd be limited in what you could pick up anyway. Wizards can do this from L3 with Heroics, too. But crucially, it would allow a Fighter to adapt to a situation and do something different.

Combat style chains could work; I guess it would be similar to the Ranger. My thought was more offering a menu of styles you can select a feat from only once (so the Ranged style might let you pick PBS, Rapid Shot or Precise Shot, but next time you get the ability you have to pick from some other style, maybe TWF or whatever); most of these feats would therefore not be very useful most of the time, but firstly they would offer backup options (if I took Imp Unarmed Strike, now I have an option if I'm disarmed) and secondly it would work well with the dynamic feat ability (this IUS feat is nigh useless to me, but now I can spontaneously select Improved Grapple, etc).

Honestly I think that the thing that makes fighters lackluster isn't their in combat capabilities but their out of combat ones. D&D works well enough as a tactical combat game. Like, I have not tried this, but I have a strong suspicion that with 4 level appropriate encounters a day and forcing casters to buy their spell components and keep track of them the fighter would not be half bad. He might only have one trick in battle but its a trick that does not cost money and newer runs out of uses. Give him some decent level appropriate magic items and he'll probably be, if not fun at least useful.

But once you have to actually do adventuring the wizard has high int, the sorcerer has high charisma, the rogue can sneak to listen in or go on all sort of roguish adventurers and the fighter? Well I am not sure what the fighter can do other than sit and guard the party inventory. He can't even intimidate people for crying out loud.

So if you ask me, if you want to improve fighters find them a way to be more than just a fighter.

I disagree. That's part of the problem, but it's worse than that. Even with four level-appropriate encounters in a day and all that jazz, the Fighter still sucks from like L7 onwards.

It's the fact that a spellcaster can often end an entire encounter with a single high-level spell, so from lower-mid-levels up they never need fear running out of spells (and could always take a Reserve feat or similar if they did) and, worse, the fact that they have more than one option for defeating foes which makes them so much better.

At L3 Wizards get Invisibility, which makes them all but immune to attack from low-level martial foes. They can't attack back, but they can flee, summon monsters, etc. At L5 they get Fly. They're still vulnerable to ranged but by now most meleers have invested in melee so their ranged is way worse. Plus, Fly + Deflect Arrows or Fly + Protection from Arrows or similar combos exist to make this even worse. By this stage we also have the possibility of incorporeal foes, swarms, and so on all of which make Fighters sad but only might make your typical caster sad. This is all on top of the even more basic fact that a Fighter (especially at the lower levels) will almost always be targeting AC, whereas casters might have spells targeting a range of different defences (Will save or die, Fort save or die, touch AC or die, etc). Casters have ways around spell resistance; Fighters don't have ways around high AC and limited ways around DR (and they're mostly item-based and really expensive).

This is the crux of the problem, really. You could give the Fighter a whole boatload of +s to all sorts and it wouldn't fix it; it might make him overpowered at doing X or Y, but he'd still have this issue that when he can't do those, he can't do anything (it would just be worse because now X and Y encounters would be too easy).

Out of curiosity how much of that changes if you narrow things down to just the SRD available spells AND keep track of spell components? Also, just how many GM's actually do keep track of those including having to buy them? Because in my experience they don't.

A lot of the vanilla 7-9 level spells are 'i win' buttons, and not all of them cost XP or have gold cost components.

I was under the impression that a lot of the spells in the book had some sort of physical component you had to buy. Even if it's as trivial as a tiny ball of sulfur (fireball) or eyelash (invisibility). But it's been ages since I did D&D and my GM's newer cared to account for those. So I was wondering if simply forcing the mage to count every single eyelash, nail clipping and other minor thing he has on hand for every single spell would tip the balance.


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