Welcome to the first entry to Class Tactics! This is the corner where we’ll be delving into the basics of the character classes of 5th Edition D&D, and I’ll only be touching on abilities up to 5th level and archetypes of each class in the PHB, not the supplemental books.
Whether you’re a fan of fighting at the front, sniping enemies with arrows from the back, or soaking up damage as the party tank, Fifth Edition’s Fighter is a quintessential part of any adventuring party. But there has to be more to it than bashing bad guys, right?
There is more to a Fighter than meets the eye, and in this first Class Tactic post, let’s breakdown this versatile class!
According to the table at the beginning of the Classes chapter, the Fighter is described as “A master of martial combat, skilled with a variety of weapons and armor” [PHB pg. 45]. The table also explains the following:
- Hit Die: d10
- Primary Ability: Strength or Dexterity
- Saving Throw Proficiencies: Strength and Constitution
- Armor and Weapon Proficiencies: All armor, shields, simple and martial weapons
- Skills (choose two from the following): Acrobatics, Animal Handling, Athletics, History, Insight, Intimidation, Perception, and Survival.
What this boils down to is that they start out with decent health, they can either be very strong or very nimble, they’re better at shrugging off effects that are at odds with their strength or their health/physical condition, and they have access to all weapons and armor. What else can they possibly do??
We’re gonna find out now, to the Fighter section!!
The Fighter section proper starts on page 70 and it describes Fighters as well-rounded specialists as trained for danger. This flavor explains that they’re good to have in almost any situation, and they’re suited for most narrative roles:
You need a castle guard? Make a Fighter.
You run into a mercenary traveling on the road? They might be a Fighter.
The fist that’s about to crash into your character’s face if they don’t dodge just in time? Could be from a Fighter.
The PHB also has a small blurb that gives you small narrative ideas to think on when you’re making a character for each class. In this case, it asks you to keep two themes in mind: “Where did you get your combat training, and what set you apart from the mundane warriors around you?” [PHB pg. 71] It’s always good to keep backstory and character beats in mind while you’re rolling up characters in general; maybe you spent time training in that country’s military so your Fighter has precise and drilled-in techniques, maybe you’re a person who got into a lot of fights and tavern brawls in your youth so your style is more loose and scrappy. Speaking of Fighting Styles, that’s the first thing you get to pick at first level!
You’ll get to pick from this list of specialities at first level, but you can’t take an option more than once after you pick: Archery, Defense, Dueling, Great Weapon Fighting, Protection, and Two-Weapon Fighting [PHB pg. 72].
Another fun thing you get right off the bat is the Second Wind ability. As a bonus action, you can roll 1d10–one ten-sided die–plus your Fighter level to regain some of your hit points, but you can’t use it again until you finish a long or short rest [PHB pg. 72]. But once you hit Second- and Third-Level, that’s when it really gets fun.
Second level is when you get access to Action Surge! On your turn, “you can choose to take an additional action on top of your regular action and possible bonus action” [PHB pg. 72]. However, you can only use this again after a short or long rest just like with Second Wind–though if/when you reach level 17 in the class, you can use Action Surge twice before having to regain it during a rest, but only can be used once during a turn. If you thought that was good, then you might want to get comfortable–Third Level is going to be a doozy.
Alright you guys, time for Archetypes.
Third-level Fighters have the option of choosing from a lot of interesting archetypes to specialize in–archetypes are specializations you can pick from–but since this is all about the Player’s Handbook we’re just going to dive into the three we have on hand: Champion, Battle Master, and Eldritch Knight [PHB pgs. 72-75].
Let’s break them down into the bare bones:
- Champion: If you want to hit hard and be the best soldier possible, go Champion. At level three, your weapon attacks crit at a natural 19 instead of a natural 20 and at 15th level you crit on a natural roll of 18-20!
- Battle Master: You treat war and tactics like it’s an academic art. The battlefield is your canvas and you’ll make a masterpiece out of a fight with your Maneuvers and use of Superiority Dice for those Maneuvers. You can even glean certain characteristics about your enemies if you observe them for one minute in-game time.
- Eldritch Knight: If you have an itch to use magic but you don’t want to commit to multiclassing into a magic-heavy class, Eldritch Knight is for you. You get access to the Abjuration and Evocation schools of magic, you commit spells to memory instead of having a spellbook, and you eventually get to teleport when you use an Action Surge at later levels!
Aside from the Archetypes, you have access to other abilities alongside the Archetype you picked as you level up:
At 4th, 6th, 8th, 12th, 14th, 16th, 19th levels, you can choose to do one of the following:
- Increase one (1) ability score by 2*
- Increase two (2) ability scores by 1*
- Take a feat if you meet the prerequisites
The feats and ability score increases are applicable to all classes, and if choosing the ability score increases, you can’t bump your scores past 20 using this method.
At 5th level, Fighter is one of the classes that get access to the Extra Attack feature; basically you can choose to attack twice in a turn if you use your action to attack. When you reach 11th level it increases to three, and at 20th level it increases to four.
I could keep rambling on about the specifics of each subclass and how awesome they are, but I’m gonna leave you some tidbits so your imaginations can run wild. I can see it now… shrugging off attacks like it’s nothing, staving off the effects of a poisons and spells by sheer force of will, turning fights into intricate chess matches that you’re fully in control of, channeling spells through your weapon and throwing up magical shields.
Now, imagine if you played it all the way to level 20. You’re basically a powerhouse! The world is your battlefield and you can take anything it can throw at you! Now get out there, get your armor and weapons, and fight like you’ve never fought before!
And that’s the breakdown of D&D5e’s Fighter! I hope this guide helps you and that you had fun reading it; I know I had fun writing it. As usual if you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment or follow me on Twitter–I’d love to hear from you guys.
Have a good day, take care of yourselves, and roll high my friends!
Source: Crawford, Jeremy, James Wyatt, Robert J. Schwalb, and Bruce R. Cordell. Players Handbook: Dungeons & Dragons: Everything a Player Needs to Create Heroic Characters for the Worlds Greatest Roleplaying Game. Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast LLC, 2014. pgs. 70-75