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The Fighter, revisited (again) [D&D 3.5]

   
Quote:
Originally Posted by TanaNari View Post
Okay, that's great, now take all these characters, strip away the flesh and polish up the bones. You now have the skeleton of a fighter. What does it look like?
It looks like a human skeleton. Basically everything else can be different!

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheFred View Post
Yes, in a way, the Fighter is whatever's left over when you're not a Barbarian or a Ranger or whatever. Personally, though, I see it as someone who boils down to being a master of battle. Whether that's tactics, training, leadership, or just pure guts, the Fighter is someone who knows how to fight - and how to win. Forget story - there are whole sagas you can tell about Fighters, if you do it right.
Yes on both accounts!

Quote:
I think that this is actually a viable tack to take. However I also think there's a hell of a lot you can do without going down that road, and it's not a road which doesn't have its drawbacks. I mean, at that point you almost may as well lose the class entirely and only have spellcasters. "Fighters" can be L1-6 NPCs without magic, and they'll never match up to spellcasters who aren't super-low-levelled, but so what? But generally we want non-magic-using options too, and right now these don't even do the mundane stuff very well, let alone challenge the spellcasters.
And that is exactly why I wouldn't want to go for SLAs, if I was houseruling the Fighter.

I... have no idea how to even begin parsing this entire thread, and all the suggestions to fix an ultimately broken class. So instead of wading into this, I'd rather just share a few suggestions.

1) I've said this multiple places this past month or so, but I'd recommend taking a look at the Spheres of Might stuff (admittedly, it's Pathfinder, but for the porpoise of this conversation it's still worth looking at). It's an interesting take on adding versatility and capability to martial classes, and one of their goals while creating it was keeping it simpler than ToB, by expanding things already in the game like the Attack action. How successful it is, well, that's up in the air. But looking over those solutions might give interesting inspirations to ways of making a Fighter not suck.

For example, special Talents instead of (or in addition to) bonus feats to flesh out a character's versatility. And the Swiss Army Knife example listed above is pretty nicely represented in the Armiger class: customizable talent sets attached to different weapons the character carries and can rapidly switch between. If I were trying to redesign the Fighter, I might start with options like that and work my way forward.

2) Something I haven't seen mentioned yet, but in addition to expanding the Fighter Skill List? More skill points. Why the BALLS do Fighters only have 2+Int? That's hot garbage. 4+Int, at minimum, because otherwise your Fighter is going to be doing jack if the current situation at hand doesn't require hitting something with a big stick. Interestingly, the Spheres system does help out with this a little, with some Spheres giving you free ranks in associated skills. Maybe the redesigned Fighter should get some skills for free associated with whatever he's choosing to focus on? Or maybe replacing one stat with another to make them more capable with said skill (themed as their skill at arms having side benefits or something, it doesn't have to make sense in a game with dragons and fireballs).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Planeswalker817 View Post
I... have no idea how to even begin parsing this entire thread, and all the suggestions to fix an ultimately broken class. So instead of wading into this, I'd rather just share a few suggestions.

1) I've said this multiple places this past month or so, but I'd recommend taking a look at the Spheres of Might stuff (admittedly, it's Pathfinder, but for the porpoise of this conversation it's still worth looking at).
OK, that's interesting. Reminds me of Fantasy Craft to be honest, which is, so far, my favourite 3.75 version.
Thank you for the recommendation!

Quote:
2) Something I haven't seen mentioned yet, but in addition to expanding the Fighter Skill List? More skill points. Why the BALLS do Fighters only have 2+Int? That's hot garbage. 4+Int, at minimum, because otherwise your Fighter is going to be doing jack if the current situation at hand doesn't require hitting something with a big stick.
I think it was mentioned, but agreed either way.

Yeah. The more I look at this. The more I think Expanding Skills is the cleanest way to do it.

Give them +6 skills- putting them on par with the Bard in terms of skill monkey work, but if we give them a different pool of skill options that mean they're not *interested* in Bard skills, then nobody's stepping on anyone's toes.

How about we add a trick per skill and see where it goes from there? And clearly, we'll need two things.

1- A reason to keep going with Fighter instead of moving on to a different class after picking up this feature. (I'm thinking you get to select one skill every other level or something?) Also probably need a "must have 5 ranks in the skill to use this trick" or somesuch.
2- All the boosts will be "competence" bonuses. Common enough that it you need to pay attention to the build, but not likely to step on too many toes.
3- Limit a character to only being able to use one skill maneuver per round? Maybe add a second maneuver every 5 levels or so?
4- A 'scales with skill ranks' rule. Perhaps use Knowledge Devotion's method?

A 15 grants a +1, 20 grants a +2 and so forth. Which means you'll need to roll a 65 or better to make a +11 (re: Epic) check... which seems like a fair enough thing. If you can roll a 65 on a skill check, you deserve some Epic grade results- so until someone has a better idea, let's use that.

===================

Appraise- "Assess Equipment"... As experts in military tools, a fighter can make a skill check (as a move action) to determine the basic properties of any piece of equipment that grants a bonus to attack, damage or armor class. This obviously includes any weapon, ammunition, armor or shield, and also includes such magic items and effects such as an Amulet of Natural Attacks, Bracers of Armor, or a currently active Magic Weapon spell. It does not reveal the properties of potions, scrolls, wands, or alchemical items.

The skill check reveals 1 enchantment per +1 result roll, starting with Enhancement bonuses and then moving on to other features.

"Can't you hear it? Steel does not sound like that when it cuts through the air. That blade is enchanted!"

Balance- "Perfect Stance" The first thing a beginning martial artist learns is develop their stance. The first thing a master learns is that the simplest skills are often the most valuable.

When in a perfect stance, the fighter gains a bonus to attack, saves, and rolls to resist bull rush, trip, or anything else that might cause them to falter in their footing. A fighter can enter this stance as a free action, but only in a round where they moved 5' or less under their own power. If carried or moved by another (say, riding a horse or benign transposition), they keep their bonuses.

Bluff- Honestly, I think making it so the fighter can use a Feint maneuver as part of a standard attack is fine on its own.

Climb- "The Bigger They Are" Felling great beasts is the whole point of being a mighty warrior. Each +1 you get on the check reduces the enemy's size-based armor class, size-based strength modifier (but not constitution or dexterity modifiers) and grapple checks. Which means that yes, with enough ranks, you can grapple and pin a cloud giant.

Concentration- Eh, let the spellcasters keep this one.

Craft- Maybe a bonus for wielding weapons you've crafted yourself?

Decipher Script- I've literally got nothing.

Diplomacy- "Pep Talk" Spend one minute talking to a (willing) person you have a close relationship with (usually friends or team members) reminding them of the reasons they fight. Grants a minutes/fighter lvl competence bonus that the recipient can distribute how they like between their Attack and Armor Class as well as removing any morale or fear based penalties.

After receiving a pep talk, one must wait at least 24 hours before receiving another from any source.

Disable Device- This one belongs to the rogues, not the fighters.

Disguise
Escape Artist
Forgery
Gather Information
Handle Animal
- Again, not really fighter things.
Heal- I really don't know what to do with this one. Something to do with granting temporary hit points?
Hide- Honestly, surprise rounds are powerful enough already.
Intimidate- Automatic Demoralize as part of an attack action? Much like Feint, it's not terrible on its own.
Jump- Some sort of 'death from above' move couldn't hurt.
Knowledge - It's called Knowledge Devotion. It's already a feat.
Listen
Move Silently
I... don't know about these. There's gotta be something either one could do to be interesting, but I'm not seeing it.
Open Lock Okay, I know kicking in doors is part of the gig, but do we really need new mechanics for that?
Perform - We already have Battle Dancer and Bard.
Profession - I have no idea.
Ride - Honestly, Ride is already pretty solid... but granting a bonus to a mount's attack and armor class wouldn't be out of place at all...
Search - Uh... reduce the enemy's natural armor? Or is that more a 'Spot' ability?
Sense Motive - With as many 'you wield your blade for impure reasons' tropes as there are out there? The problem is there are *too many* ways to use this skill. I suppose the simplest is penalizing or nullifying other fighters' combat tricks.
Sleight Of Hand- Feint is already a 'bluff' thing. Hmm.
Speak Language- I am reminded of a certain truly awesome scene from Fullmetal Alchemist. Otherwise, I've got nothing.
Spellcraft- I suppose it wouldn't be too out of place for a fighter to have a maneuver that let them literally cut their way through spells.
Spot- See my comment under 'Search'
Survival
Swim
Two others I'm just not seeing.
Tumble- "Fancy Footwork"- All good warriors know that once you have the opponent on the back foot, you press the advantage. By stepping under your enemy's guard, you inflict a penalty to all attack rolls and concentration checks so long as you remain in melee with this one opponent.
Use Magic Device Pretty powerful already, but let's see... "Overtax"- by tapping into the inherent will of a magical weapon or armor, this grants an Enhancement Bonus to a given piece of equipment you wield (but not ammo, wands/staves, or one-use items) for 1 round/lvl. When the time wears off the item becomes dormant (losing all magical properties, but retaining its Masterwork status) for 1 hour/lvl.
Use Rope- There has got to be some cool trick you can do, probably involving a chandelier. Be sure to wax your mustache, first.

============

That's a rough start, at least. A dozen tricks (as well as the groundwork of the entire mechanic) is more than enough of a contribution from me. The rest of you can do some work, now.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TanaNari View Post
Use Rope- There has got to be some cool trick you can do, probably involving a chandelier. Be sure to wax your mustache, first.
I think this clip might give you a better idea.

Aside from some outliers, the commonality I can think of for all fighter types is a) skill (they work hard and nothing comes easy for them) and b) being masters of their equipment.

Focusing on the equipment angle (since skill is already being talked about), perhaps fighters can get more out of ordinary equipment than others can. I don't just mean bonuses like Pathfinder did. Like a fighter can use a shield to get evasion against certain attack types like lines and cones? Or ablate armor to negate a lethal hit. You qualify for different sets of stuff at different levels, but it works for all of them. That way a fighter can change what abilities he has by changing his gear. That gives flexibility without making him choose one path by dedicating feats to it.

Yeah, also like using normal stuff like rope.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TanaNari View Post
All of them share the mechanical role of "casts spells"- which is a boring mechanical function. It's *how* they do it, the *origins* and the *motives* and the *methods* that make each one a separate, unique thing.
...
Fighters are... well, intrinsically they've got none of that. And the first step needs to be to change this.
I'm not really seeing what fundamentally separates Fighters and Wizards in this respect.

Besides, these are the mechanics we're talking about. The Fighter's mechanics are uninteresting, and that's a problem, but the story of a character comes entirely down to that specific character. Just as you can make a boring Wizard, you can make a boring Fighter, and that's almost (though not quite) irrespective of the mechanics. Look at classless systems like M&M - there is literally no story whatsoever in what you're given since you don't even get a class, just a bag of points to spend! Yet you have the options available to take your character in a myriad different directions.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Planeswalker817 View Post
1) I've said this multiple places this past month or so, but I'd recommend taking a look at the Spheres of Might stuff (admittedly, it's Pathfinder, but for the porpoise of this conversation it's still worth looking at).
Whilst Spheres of Power has grown on me a bit, I've yet to be sold on Spheres of Might. Admittedly, I've not looked at it very much (or even Spheres of Power, to be honest). The thing is, it's going back to the drawing-board and adding a whole bunch of new mechanics, but I'm not convinced that it's actually any better than what we already had. It also doesn't sit well with existing mechanics IMO - where Spheres of Power just replaces existing spellcasting, Spheres of Might is necessarily integrated with the existing combat rules, and I don't think it does that very well. A bit of that might be an irrational reaction on my part to their excessive use of the term "an attack action" which I find misleading, and also I don't really like all the attack-action stuff anyway because it feels clunky and messy to me. I agree that full attacks are too much better than single attacks, but whilst this shores that up it's highly "anti-synergetic" with anything else. Also Tome of Battle kind already did that better, IMO (and I disagree that Spheres of Might is simpler).

Anyway... we could discuss it in a lot more detail, I guess, but it's certainly interesting and food for thought.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Planeswalker817 View Post
2) Something I haven't seen mentioned yet, but in addition to expanding the Fighter Skill List? More skill points.
Oh this is definitely a good idea. Alone, I don't think it makes a big enough different to really "fix" anything - Rogues, for example, get 8 skill points per level from a very large list, and they're still pretty eh. It certainly helps, though, and in all the right ways.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheFred View Post
Alone, I don't think it makes a big enough different to really "fix" anything - Rogues, for example, get 8 skill points per level from a very large list, and they're still pretty eh.
Part of the reason for that is there are not a lot of cool things that can be done with skills alone, not that are hard-coded into the rules, anyway. Many of the cool things that could be done by mundanes are paywalled behind either feats or magic, rather than being accomplishable by skill and luck alone.

That, of course, leads to a discussion of things outside of the scope of simply fixing the fighter.

The point is to redesign them to be more versatile. So maybe implementing something like Pathfinder Archetypes, as ACFs or something. Now, I'm by NO MEANS an expert on systems and this is NOT to be taken as anything more than musing and suggestions, buuuuut... for example...

Neo FighterSkills: The Fighter gains 4 skill points plus their Int mod per level (multiplied at character level 1 as normal). Insert slightly expanded skill list here.

Bonus Feats: The Fighter gains a bonus combat feat at levels 1, 4, and every four levels thereafter.

Versatile Training: The training that the Fighter dedicates to combat can result in out of combat benefits. At level 2 and every 4 levels thereafter (6, 10, etc.) the Fighter may select one skill of his choice. That skill immediately becomes a class skill for him if it was not already, and the Fighter is treated as having skill ranks in that skill equal to his Fighter level +3. If the Fighter had skill points already allocated to that skill, he may redistribute them as he sees fit.

Specialty: At first level, the Fighter selects a Specialty, a Discipline that focuses his talents and training into a number of different ways.

Weaponmaster The Weaponmaster hones his training with multiple weapons at a time, switching between them to suit the ever-changing tide of battle. A Weaponmaster Fighter does not gain bonus combat feats after first level as a normal Fighter does.

Weapon Sets: At first level, the Weaponmaster gains the ability to attune himself with a weapon or set of weapons. These weapon sets can be a two-handed weapon, a single one-handed weapon, a pair of one-handed weapons, or a one-handed weapon and a shield. A single weapon or shield cannot be in more than one set at a time. Attuning himself to a weapon set requires the Fighter to spend an hour training with that set, and the Fighter must be proficient with all items in the set. The Weaponmaster Fighter may be attuned to 2 weapon sets at the same time at first level, with an additional weapon set at 5th level and every 5 levels thereafter.

At first level, any weapon or shield attuned to a Fighter is automatically considered masterwork when wielded. At level 6, an attuned weapon has its enchantment bonus increased by 1 (to a maximum of +5); this bonus increases by an additional +1 at level 12 and every 6 levels thereafter. A Fighter attuning a shield must choose between increasing the shield's offensive enhancement bonus as a weapon or its defensive enhancement bonus, not both.

Set Feats: At level 2, each weapon set a Weaponmaster attunes to gains a single bonus combat feat, chosen when the Fighter attunes with that weapon set. At level 5 and every 3 levels thereafter, each of his weapon sets gains an additional combat feat. The Fighter must meet all requirement for the feats in question, although he may use one feat to qualify for another feat in the same weapon set. A Fighter is only considered to possess these feats while wielding the weapon set they are attuned to, and therefore cannot use these set feats to qualify for feats in other weapon sets, regular character level feats, prestige classes, etc.

A Weaponmaster Fighter may re-choose all feats in a particular weapon set by spending an hour training with that weapon set.

DefenderInsert something here mimicking the 4e Fighter, what with challenges and area control. Inspiration from the Path of War Warder, or the Spheres of Might Guardian Sphere highly recommended.


Why yes, I DID poach ideas from the Spheres of Might Armiger to write that Swiss Army Knife Weaponmaster. Why do you ask? =)

Anyways, one thing I did NOT include in the above rambling was some value for the various Mental Stats, i.e. Int, Wis, Cha. Ideally, some of the specializations should place some value on one of those stats for something or other. For example, maybe the Defender specialization has some features that run off of Wisdom like getting it as a bonus to attack rolls with Opportunity Attacks, the way the 4e Fighter does. Or maybe some Kensai-like Specialty might focus on a single weapon and replace some features with their Int score as they go up in level. A Cha-based Specialty that gets more mileage out of intimidation might be a pretty neat idea to explore, too.







 

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