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

Notices


GM Workshop

A community-created and maintained place for Game Masters of all systems to bounce ideas around. It's a place for inspiration and sharing tips.


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

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

There've been a few discussions on these boards about the Fighter (and martials vs casters, etc). I've commented critically on a proposed homebrew Fighter or two, even. However, I agree the Fighter could use a bit of love and so next time I run a game I'm planning on applying some houserules to bump it up a teeny bit (or full-on homebrewing a new version of the class, more or less). I'm not planning on running another game any time soon, though, so I figured I'd throw my ideas out for discussion/comments/suggestions/whatever.

Worth noting that if I were redesigning 3.5 from scratch, I'd do things differently; since I'm thinking of houserules for a game, the smaller the number of changes and the simpler, the better (so, "Fighters get feats every level" gets bonus points as compared with some complex set of new mechanics).

Also, I'm just kicking around ideas here; I'm less concerned about a finished thing and more about the principles.

Design Principles
Martial characters tend to work pretty well at the low levels when "hit things" is a very viable strategy and in fact one of the deadlier ones, and even at low levels they tend to be able to hit things pretty well just from full BAB etc. The problem is dealing with all the other stuff which is stopping them from being able to hit things. They also tend to have few options, if any, other than hitting things.

Thus, our aim should be to diversify the Fighter's abilities. Right now, a Fighter can do a lot of things if he picks the right feats, but long feats chains and feat taxes mean that even with all those bonus feats it's hard to get everything you could want, and the nature of 3.5 means that you really need to focus in on just one or two things. I would rather Fighters not be able to do 1000 damage on a Charge if that's their one trick, and instead do a lot more things moderately well.

An Aside: How not to do it
The most popular homebrew Fighter is probably Pathfinder's (yes I just called Pathfinder homebrew, I'm just winding you up ). This definitely bumps the Fighter up a tad. For me, though, it completely fails to do what it ought to do. The Fighter gets paltry bonuses to saves, armour training which is nice but mostly equates to a higher AC, and weapon training which is just +s to attack and damage. Oh, with specific weapons. So it adds the one type of thing the Fighter doesn't really need, and makes the Fighter even more narrow. There are some stealth buffs to the Fighter in the changes to Concentration and the addition of feats like Step Up and Disruptive. These make it way easier for Fighters to shut down spellcasters in the low-to-mid levels. However, there are also a lot of stealth nerfs in the changes to combat manoeuvres (congrats, you now need even more feats to do one thing acceptably!) and whereas 3.5 had some decent options in splatbooks, almost all of Pathfinder's new feat options are really lame (even Disruptive is like a poor man's Mage Slayer).

More Design Principles
Anyway, it's worth asking what you want the Fighter to be able to do.

At very low levels, this class is basically the mook of the D&D world. He's all about hitting things to some moderate level of effectiveness. Fine. All other classes are doing much the same sorts of things at this stage. But by a few levels in, we want our Fighters to be able to do more stuff. They should each have at least one "trick" of some kind, like tripping or charging, rather than just hacking and slashing. They ought to have some resilience to counters, and you ought to feel like they're going to cause you some hurt if they get up close.

At the higher levels, well, it's probably going to need more fundamental changes to the system to put martials on a par with casters. However, there are lots of things that a Fighter at this stage could be good at, including the tactical and mental. Granting bonuses to allies, figuring out the right way to fight certain foes and exploit their weaknesses, and just having general guts.

Also, martials are too often mechanically boring. Even a L1 Wizard typically has 3+ L1 spells to choose from, plus cantrips. Martials are generally charge, or full attack, unless they're forced to move-and-attack. Tome of Battle was the right sort of thing to fix this. Why not make Fighters more like Warblades?

General Changes
I'm trying to constrain this mainly to the one class, but there's a wider "martials vs casters" thing going on here and anyway the Fighter specifically is as much his feats as the Wizard is her spells. I'd want to implement a whole bunch of general changes and also buff some specific feats. I won't go into excruciating detail, but the general idea is:
-Harder Concentration and Tumble checks. This makes threatening more... well, threatening.
-Fewer feat taxes, shorter feat chains. I don't want to have to take 3+ feats to be able to do one thing well. Imp Trip doesn't need to require Combat Expertise; Spring Attack doesn't need to require Dodge. Whirlwind Attack would actually be pretty nice to have even just as an option if it didn't require sooo many things before you could take it.
-Weapon groups. Let Weapon Focus, Imp Crit etc apply to multiple weapons. They are weak, and this eases the pain of specialisation just a tiny bit.
-More active. "You gain a bonus to AB and damage" is boring. We should reward smart tactical play, add a (small) resource management element, and also try to make these classes more interesting. If Mobility instead gave you a 1/encounter bonus move action, it's suddenly way more interesting and also actually useful.

Actual Stuff
OK so some actual changes I might make to the Fighter, finally!

Bonus feats - I'd actually be tempted to make these more like 1 per 3 levels rather than 1 per 2, because I'd also be thinking about adding....

Versatile Training - Gain more bonus feats, but you can only pick one of each "type", where "type" is a fighting style like TWF or something. Kind of like the opposite of Ranger combat styles - so by L20 you might have Imp Unarmed Strike, TWF, Rapid Shot, etc. Most of these feats are kind of useless to you so this isn't aimed at increasing the overall power level, it's aimed at diversifying options and making it easier to get unrelated feat trees. A switch-hitter might actually become viable if you don't need twenty feats to be a good meleer and fifty to be an archer, and if you're already getting one of each for free.

Martial Adept-ness - I don't want just to replace the Fighter with the Warblade, but ToB is a thing now. I see the Fighter as someone who could end up learning any of a wide variety of fighting styles (hence the above) so we could let him recover manoeuvres gained via Martial Study some way (perhaps as a Warblade does), and perhaps give him a higher IL. This lets you use the class as a pseudo-initiator if you want but without necessarily buying in fully to any given ToB class. To make this more than just a wannabe-Warblade I'm also thinking you could tie this to some of those revamped feats (like Mobility) and some Fighter abilities, recovering other per-encounter stuff (like Adaptability; see below).

Bravery/Tenacity - Pathfinder's idea of giving bonuses vs fear was thematically nice but mechanically pointless. Instead, how about an ability to suppress fear effects for a small number of rounds per day? I'd limit it so that foes could feasibly still overcome you (because flat-out immunities in general are bad and I'd rather nerf others than hand out more) but it's still way more useful than a meagre +1 to saves or whatever.

Adaptability - OK, something actually useful - gain extra feats dynamically. Pathfinder's Brawler's ability is the most similar thing, except I'd probably make it 1/encounter or the like, and I'd probably make it a swift action from the get-go since stopping martials from full-attack is kind of cruel. However I'd probably have this come online a little later - around that point where we start to expect Fighters to be able to adapt to unusual situations and exploit any monster's weaknesses rather than just being guys who hit things hard. Immediately, this boost the Fighter's abilities up a lot because now they can go and find exactly the right tool for the job in a way reminiscent of Polymorph/Shapechange or the Erudite (albeit a lot weaker). On its own this is nice, but with the changes to feats and feat chains, this looks even more useful - if I can dynamically gain Imp Trip, Imp Bull Rush, Imp Overrun etc whenever I want it without have to take Combat Expertise or whatever first, it means I can effectively use any of those manoeuvres well whenever I want (but I'm slightly more limited than just having all of those feats). Like, nobody wants to take Imp Overrun because it's rubbish, but when that one time when Overruning would be useful comes up - bam! - you can do it.

I'd also like to give Fighters more out-of-combat options. At the very least, an expanded skill list seems like it could help a tad.

Conclusion
I'm not trying to turn Fighters into "Tier 1" caster classes here. For those who subscribe to the "Tier System", these sorts of changes probably only raise them to T4 or T3 at best, and probably only on the back of Adaptability - It depends on exactly how those things are implemented (I was thinking something like Adaptability gained at L9 and lasting 3 rounds, 1/encounter - that's nice, but doesn't really upgrade the class a whole tier). Really, though, T3 is about right. Still, I'm probably being far too timid in the changes, though I would like to try some of these things out in an actual game and see how they play out.

Thoughts?
Everyone loves arguing about martials vs casters, right? Well, have at it!

I've tried revamping the fighter before. A lot of the time it came out as "Bigger Numbers" or "New ToB Class". It eventually dawned on me that the core idea of a fighter is more or less solid (A Warrior who uses his bonus feats to make a customized fighting style), but the bonus feats they have access to suck and don't scale.

So I changed feats. I made most of them scale, gave Fighters a wider range of feats to choose from, and added a sprinkling of class features to help make them more versatile. Since they're so gear dependent, I even made a few new feats that allowed them to use their gear in unconventional ways.

If you make feats scale, does it increase the power of other classes? Of course it does, but the fighter gets more feats than any other class, and when you make those feats scale in power to rival some class features (Especially those tasty fighter only feats), you can have a character that can sit at the same table as a rogue or a swordsage and play the same game, bumping them up to a solid mid tier class.

First, are you familiar with the DCC implementation of a Fighter? Because it is the best, bar none, d20-based implementation that I've ever seen.

I admit that your design principles are solid, because yes, it's not the bonuses that the fighter needs, it's expanding sideways. I'm glad that you're trying to solve the problem with feats making the fighter's style predictable, because if anything, the martial classes should be the classes with the most versatility, unlike classes that rely on reciting formulas.
Still, while the fighter only gains a feat a level, while wizards can learn multiple spells per level, you're not going to get anything approaching parity, I'm afraid.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AsenRG View Post
First, are you familiar with the DCC implementation of a Fighter? Because it is the best, bar none, d20-based implementation that I've ever seen.
I'm not, no. I'm not sure whether that's a great recommendation or that it's just a low bar.
Quote:
Originally Posted by AsenRG View Post
Still, while the fighter only gains a feat a level, while wizards can learn multiple spells per level, you're not going to get anything approaching parity, I'm afraid.
On the one hand, no, you're not going to get parity, but I don't think you want that. By Epic levels, yeah, the Fighter ought to have nigh-supernatural abilities, but Wizards can do stuff like create whole demiplanes and teleport. If you want parity, I think you probably want to bring the upper levels of power down just as you move the lower levels up.

But also, the one feat (or, well, 1/2 a feat) vs many spells thing doesn't necessarily mean anything. Wizards get multiple spells but they can only cast each one once per day. The Warlock is probably the casting class most like non-casters, and it gets only 12 invocations across 20 levels. If each feat were as powerful as an invocation, the Fighter would be laughing. As it is, most feats are much weaker.
Quote:
Originally Posted by docmartin View Post
I've tried revamping the fighter before. A lot of the time it came out as "Bigger Numbers" or "New ToB Class".
To be honest, I wouldn't be averse to the Fighter being more like the ToB classes. They're better balanced and more interesting. If you were writing 3.5 again from scratch now, but having all that material at hand, maybe the Fighter would just be a Warblade, more or less. But the Warblade still feels like a slightly different beast to the Fighter. The Fighter is in many ways more flexible; the Warblade is melee class and doesn't really work for ranged, its bonus feats are far more limited, and there aren't actually that many manoeuvres to choose from. I kind of like the idea of a Fighter not necessarily being tied to any particular fighting "school" but having the option to do whatever.
Quote:
Originally Posted by docmartin View Post
If you make feats scale, does it increase the power of other classes?
Some feats already have an inherent form of scaling. Power Attack, for example, gets more useful as your BAB goes up. TWF is somewhere in the middle - you need to keep pursuing the feat chain to do really well, but you're still getting a bonus attack even if you don't, and that attack is getting more powerful (compare with dual-wielding though and it feels more like you need the whole chain). But then you have stuff like Dodge or Toughness which aren't even good at L1 and only gets even less good as you go up through the levels.

I wouldn't necessarily want to give, say, all of the TWF tree just for one feat (though I guess it doesn't hurt that much). At the very least I'd want people to get more attacks for fewer feats, though, and I'd probably make dual-wielding on Charges or AoOs built into it as well.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheFred View Post
I'm not, no. I'm not sure whether that's a great recommendation or that it's just a low bar.
Both.
As in, I heartily recommend it, but it's indeed a low bar to clear.
The core of it is: you get a Deed Die, starting at 1d3 and going to 1d10+X at highest level, that also acts as your (variable) BAB. You roll it once each attack, or once per series of attacks at higher levels. The number is added to your attacks, and to your damage.
The reason this is so great is that each time the Deed Die is 3 or more, and you hit, you get to make a Mighty Deed of Arms. The effects are adjudicated by the GM, taking in account the number on the Deed Die (a 7+ is better than a 3+, as you can guess).
So maybe you not only cut a gash in the giant ape's hide, but also throw it from the bridge you're fighting on (possibly resisted by an opposed Str check vs your attack roll, or something).
Or you cut the bandit down with such ease and ferocity that the others start to hesitate (but once they stop, they will try to kill you first).
Or you slay a zombie, see an opportunity and step forward to attack the next one, too, giving you a free attack.
In effect, that's your Versatility suggestion, except you don't even need to learn the names of the feats!

Quote:
On the one hand, no, you're not going to get parity, but I don't think you want that.
Why not? I think the either the Fighter should be at least slightly superior to a wizard in combat, and then slightly inferior outside of it, or parity is desirable.
Otherwise, if you expect the game to spend some time in combat, you're basically punishing people for their character concept not including magic.

Quote:
By Epic levels, yeah, the Fighter ought to have nigh-supernatural abilities, but Wizards can do stuff like create whole demiplanes and teleport. If you want parity, I think you probably want to bring the upper levels of power down just as you move the lower levels up.
By Epic levels, the Fighter should be able to cut magic, stone and abstract concepts. With a tablespoon.
Before Epic levels the Fighter should be able to shoot arrows like rain, and then run over them to his foe.
This not being true is a failure of the system, IMO.

Quote:
But also, the one feat (or, well, 1/2 a feat) vs many spells thing doesn't necessarily mean anything. Wizards get multiple spells but they can only cast each one once per day. The Warlock is probably the casting class most like non-casters, and it gets only 12 invocations across 20 levels. If each feat were as powerful as an invocation, the Fighter would be laughing. As it is, most feats are much weaker.
No, the Warlock is getting 12 invocations and 7 to 8 feats of his own. The Fighter gets 17 to 18 feats, so in the end, he has traded 12 invocations for 10 feats.
Not a good deal by any means.

Quote:
To be honest, I wouldn't be averse to the Fighter being more like the ToB classes. They're better balanced and more interesting. If you were writing 3.5 again from scratch now, but having all that material at hand, maybe the Fighter would just be a Warblade, more or less.
Definitely.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheFred View Post
Wizards can do stuff like create whole demiplanes and teleport. If you want parity, I think you probably want to bring the upper levels of power down just as you move the lower levels up.
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheFred View Post
To be honest, I wouldn't be averse to the Fighter being more like the ToB classes. They're better balanced and more interesting. If you were writing 3.5 again from scratch now, but having all that material at hand, maybe the Fighter would just be a Warblade, more or less.
This is literally the train of thought that led to 4th Edition.

I think the most popular "fighter" class in pathfinder is actually the brawler. At the very least its the kind of concept you might want to look at, if you really want to redesign the class. It usually sits relatively closely to warblade and the ToB classes in terms of versatility, without adding a whole new rule system.

Alternatively you can also just rework some aspects of the non-magical combat system in 3.5 altogether, to allow it for more action-y stuff appropriate for high-fantasy sword fights. That might bump up other melee focused classes as well. I created a little system in this thread, which never garnered any attention, at all unfortunately

Quote:
Originally Posted by CactuarJedi View Post
This is literally the train of thought that led to 4th Edition.
While I don't think 4th edition was a good solution, that doesn't mean the problem isn't real. And if you'd notice, I'm suggesting more or less the opposite ot 4th edition.

So, here are the things that I have used to give the Fighter some more versatility... These essentially just replace the fighter's Bonus Feats class ability, but with way more ability to customize.


Adapt and Overcome: At first level and at each even numbered level (2nd, 4th, 6th, 8th etc.), the fighter gains a bonus [Combat] feat in addition to those gained from normal advancement. At the beginning of each day, the fighter may reallocate any feat that he has gained through the Adapt and Overcome ability by spending one hour in training and exercise. The fighter must possess all of the prerequisites for any feat gained from this ability. Feats gained through the Adapt and Overcome ability can be used as prerequisites.

and...

Problem Solver: A third level fighter can draw upon his intense and diverse training to respond to almost any situation. As a Free action, he may choose any [Combat] feat he meets the prerequisites for, gaining the benefits of that feat. At any time, the fighter may use a Free action to change this feat to another [Combat] feat for which he meets the prerequisites. At 11th level, the fighter gains the ability to assign a second [Combat] feat as a Free action. At 19th level, the fighter gains the ability to assign a third [Combat] feat as a Free action.

The problem isn't really in the mechanics. It's in the inherent design philosophy of the world. Magic classes are magical so they can potentially do anything. Martial classes aren't magical therefore they can't do anything that breaks fantasy physics. That inherent perception will always hinder what martial classes can do. Until you open up the idea that all martial classes can achieve mystical levels of skill, ther's going to be a cap there.

To me that was the big breakthrough with the ToB: it let martials have a little fantasy in their swordplay.







 

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
User Alert System provided by Advanced User Tagging (Lite) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2018 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.
Last Database Backup 2018-05-24 09:00:08am local time
Myth-Weavers Status