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The 3.5 Fighter Class

Originally Posted by Tsunami1768 View Post
every class has its ups and downs but as for a fighter, their supposed to fight not turn invisible or have high skill ratings, however no matter what weapon they have or armor they are equipped in, they are still a skilled combatant no matter what the circumstance.
Except the problem is that the Fighter is not actually that good at Fighting. The whole notion of being a skilled combatant no matter the circumstance just isn't true. With the feats you've listed, you'd need to have 13 Int and 15 Dex minimum and you've taken Weapon Specialization. You've spread your stats that much thinner without actually focusing on the what you've taken. Improv. Trip and Disarm is nice and all, but you have no investment in it. Plus, you're using TWF, lowering your to-hit and damage further. You've listed Intimidate, but with no feat investment, all it is a weak demoralizer and doesn't actually force enemies to attack you.

With Weapon Focus/Specialization, you've immediately marked yourself as less skilled if you're not using that specific weapon. Improved Crit means you're less effective if you're fighting a ghost, zombie, or elemental (as well as a whole buncha other things).

That's the problem. Unless you come up with a very, very specific set of circumstances, the Fighter is far from the go-to for fighting things. The overarching issue is that D&D is a game that inherently rewards specialization and, while the Fighter can do just that, their options are typically not that great.

The way I see is "What do you do?" and "How well do you do your thing?". Some things are just better than other things and having too many things often means you're not that great at any one of them.

Originally Posted by Bobcloclimar View Post
Other party members?
Like... the ones who can do magic?
Originally Posted by Tsunami1768 View Post
their will always be times when one class is better than another ...
Oh yeah, sure. It's just a problem when one class is always better than another.
Originally Posted by Tsunami1768 View Post
mirror image, These figments separate from you and remain in a cluster, each within 5 feet of at least one other figment or you. Any successful attack against an image destroys it. you can hit like 4 images with a splash attack
Hmm. I'm not sure if this actually works, given the text on Mirror Image and Fireball. Wouldn't the images just appear as damaged as you are? Even if it does work, well then that's not a bad tactic, but it still eats your round.
Originally Posted by Zannewmar View Post
But what they do do is fairly reliable and predictable. No, they don't usually do a lot of damage per hit - but a fighter will consistently do a similar amount of damage with each hit, giving them steady damage over time. A player can rely on that fact, and build and plan around it. Meanwhile, a caster's spell can certainly roll a lot of damage dice - but there's always that chance that the meteor swarm that the wizard casted rolls all 1's - and then gets saved against.
OK. Firstly, blasting is possibly the weakest form of casting apart from maybe healing. Why would the Wizard care how much damage he does when he can hit you with save-or-die spells or the like? Or spells like Maze, which don't even offer a save?

Secondly, your damage comparison isn't correct anyway. A Fighter might do 2d6+4 with a Greatsword at L1, ranging to perhaps 2d6+20 or so base at the higher levels (+11-12 Str, +5 weapon enhancement). That can be increased massively with feats (even just Power Attack can add up to 40 points) but an inexperienced player will probably just tack on Greater Weapon Spec for a paltry +4 or something. Say he's making 4-5 attacks (Haste) at ~35 damage or so; he can easily be dealing over 100 if he hits with all of them. He has to roll to hit, though - he's more likely to nat 1 all of those than a Wizard is to get all 1s on his Meteor Swarm (which still does a minimum of 24 damage by the way, not all that far behind the Greatsword) and the Meteor Swarm does ~84 damage average to multiple foes. It's not even a good blast. Add in the Spell Compendium and you've got things like (Presper's) Moonbow which can do ~105 damage average to a single target with no save, as a mere L5 slot.

Thirdly, you're ignoring the crucial fact that this is all Fighters can do. So the Fighter can - on a good day - pump out more damage than a Wizard who hasn't specialised at all in blasting. All my Wizard did was memorise a couple of spells. But my Wizard also has buffs, debuffs, save-or-dies, utility, etc. He can exploit energy vulnerabilities by picking the right spell, dispel protections, summon monsters who rival the Fighter to do melee for him, and so on and so on. If the Fighter can't outdamage the Wizard, there is no point for him existing. Even if he can, that doesn't mean he compares.

Fourthly, and probably most importantly, this is a fantasy anyway. The Fighter does not do "reliable and predictable damage". We talked about all those attacks hitting - well, first the Fighter has to get into melee. There's a chasm in the way? Difficult terrain? Solid Fog. Drat. Then he has to hit. That guy has a Mirror Image up? A really high AC? DR? Blur/Displacement? He's Invisible? Incorporeal? He has an immediate-action teleport? There are ways around a lot of these things, but none of them are available to the Fighter except as items or party aid, and none of them are really any more available to him than they are to other classes.
Originally Posted by Zannewmar View Post
For example, I had a psion, who had an item the party was after, guarded by sixteen nightwalkers. The party's level was I think maybe 10ish, low-teens top. Now, this wasn't an encounter they were suppose to take on - the players were suppose to see they were out-matched, and the psion was suppose to get away. However, before anyone else could act, the party's melee member leapt in, tumbled past every nightwalker between him and the psion, one-shot killed the NPC, took the item, and tumbled back past all the nightwalkers.

In a single round. Using only his own abilities.
Or not. Fighters don't get Tumble or Evasion. This guy either wasn't a Fighter, or wasn't using his own abilities. Moving also means a single attack, so maybe your Psion has like 4 health? Oh, as well as passing his saves vs the cones of cold, I presume he passed his saves vs the nightwalkers' Evil Gazes? The Nightwalkers were also, well, kind of stupid. Cones of Cold are kind of rubbish, and after he Evaded the first couple, I would have expected the others to cotton on and hit him with a Hold Monster or Finger of Death, or just grapple him or something.

Regardless, anecdotal evidence like this is of limited usefulness. I have a story of my own demonstrating just the opposite - my L20 character was captured and so my L17 Cleric cohort (with very little gear, AC ~16, etc) stepped into the breach. She proved about as capable as the rest of the (L20) party, including calling in a Greater Planar Ally and one-shotting an entire encounter with a single Holy Word.

Hell, a caster can at least contribute when he's out of his league even by using such low-level spells as Grease, Glitterdust and Haste; a lucky (or unlucky) save vs a save-or-die means you win. An underlevelled Fighter can roll all nat 20s and so what? He's done some amount of damage, great (assuming he's not up against those million anti-melee things which mean even nat 20s don't help you).


Now don't get me wrong, I'm a fan of DMs challenging the party, of putting the casters up against anti-caster foes, and of the notion that everyone can have a good time regardless. However, I'm also not willing to pretend that certain things aren't the case when it comes to balance because they clearly are.

Without getting into the topic so much anymore (it's a dead horse anyway), I would like to point out that you can't use "Fighters have magic items" and "Fighters work better in anti-magic zones" as simultaneous arguments, regardless of their individual merits (which I personally think are few). Because one cancels out the other: you don't have magic items in anti-magic zones.

As for any fixes, the Fighter's problem isn't that they do too little damage. They can deal exceptional amounts of damage if built right. It's simply the fact that damage is all they can do. Even if you specialize in something else (like tripping, disarming, etc) you end up having very few competent options available to you throughout your career, whereas most casters can just swap their spells around. Many of those options that the Fighter has are also easily negated, especially at higher levels, by level appropriate encounters.

Focus fixes on versatility and options, not numbers. Numbers are boring, options are exciting.

Originally Posted by Actana View Post
Focus fixes on versatility and options, not numbers. Numbers are boring, options are exciting.

Fighters fall behind in four ways...

Versatility - The reliance on feats locks each specific fighter into a single shtick. Allowing them to change their feats without too much hassle can alleviate this.

Get out of Jail Free - Aside from murdering the other guy, the fighter has very few means of protecting himself from the myriad ways in which he can be made to suck (blinded, nauseated, paralyzed, charmed, and so on). Giving them some ways to break detrimental conditions on themselves can ameliorate this.

Action Economy - One of the primary advantages that casters have over noncasters, especially late game, is their ability to break the action economy. To do more stuff in a round, or to do stuff out of the ordinary turn order. Giving fighters some sort of way to do one or both of these things will make them more interesting to play.

Narrative Control - Being able to frame their own scenes (teleport) or drastically alter an opponent's circumstances (save or suck) or the nature of an encounter (battlefield control) or make plot-changing revelations (information gathering) gives spellcasters a great deal of control over the narrative that other classes just don't have access to. Due to the fantastical nature of some of these feats, these are the hardest (to me) to even out. Some sort of automatic follower attraction might help, but still has the fighter relying on others to get things done, rather than doing them through his own innate abilities.

Thought: Why not grant the Fighter (perhaps by extension the Warblade?) the ability to apply Weapon Focus to an entire class of weapons?

Example: Say the Fighter's L2 ability is to apply Weapon Focus (and by extension Weapon Specialization) to any Light Melee Weapon the Fighter possesses proficiency with. That means all Light Simple & Martial weapons the Fighter can now apply all Weapon Focus and Specialization to with two feats (rather than a feat for every weapon).

Stick another one in there at a "dead level" for One-Handed, another for Two-Handed, another for Ranged. I'd personally give Unarmed to them with Light and give the Fighter Improved Unarmed Strike as part of their normal proficiencies (seriously, a trained guard doesn't know how to smack someone in close quarters? give me a break!)

Heck, offer these as an option that they can take during a 'dead level' in any order they wish. This would add a little versatility especially in a restricted magic game.

I would just make Weapon Focus apply to a group anyway. It's a weak feat as it is. This would still make a pretty negligible difference to Fighters though I think.

Actana has the right of it; it's not damage but versatility. The idea of giving them a plethora of random feats or the selection of them (things like Unarmed Strike, etc) would help a little here but I think they could also do with some ability to gain a feat on the fly or something. It fits with the Fighters = feats theme but lets them adapt spontaneously to other situations.

Michael's other points are fair ones too. Some sort of limited Iron Heart Surge-like ability wouldn't go amiss.

None of this would really address the fundamental differences between casters and non-casters, but it could go a long way to making the Fighter feel more robust and less pigeonholed.

Has anyone here seen Fantasy Craft?
I didn't play a martial character, but many of the Combat Feats got a bonus from how many Combat Feats you had total (and many of the other classes of feats had something similar).
It meant that a fighter who specialised in two or more different melee weapons still made sense.

Seems like weak feats is also to blame, which I guess is why everyone uses non-Core books when building melee

Feat tax rules ameliorate this a bit, but I think some sort of level-scaling on feat effects could also give martial classes a bump (eg, giving their non-damage abilities a "caster level" equivalent).

Great Leap: You jump 5ft further, +5ft per martial level. Once per day per combat feat you have, you can jump as a five foot step.

I was thinking more along the lines of, say, Iron Will/Great Fortitude/Lightning Relaxes: Instead of a flat +2, make it +1/CL or something, just like Improved Toughness from Complete Warrior (vs. regular Toughness). It's not all that different from d20 variants that use Clvls to calculate saves, with different classes providing different flat bonuses (eg, Star Wars Saga).

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