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Or, the thoughts that went into my rewrite.
Note: The Rewrite itself isn't posted here.
Fighter Design and Discussion
I’m going to go through my thoughts on how I’d try to build/rebuild the fighter class for 20 levels. My goal isn’t to get a more powerful combat machine, but to build a better narrative for the fighter and ‘round him out’, bringing him up to par with the other martial classes while retaining his own distinctive flavor.
Here’s some of the issues I’ll be attempting to deal with.
1) Retaining combat ability as a par, near constant, no ‘surge’ damage, but giving some flexibility on application.
2) The fighter’s ability should be based on level and skill, not ability scores. While high stats never hurt, a fighter with average ability scores should still be a dangerous combatant, much like you don’t need a 26 Int wizard to be dangerous.
3) The fighter is the Olympian and combat genius of the fighting classes. He takes mundane combat tricks and things and turns them into truly dangerous things. He is the SMART melee combatant, even if his Int is 10.
4) The fighter is and has always been centered around his weapon of choice, and to a lesser extent his armor.
5) The fighter should have some ability to lead and inspire others, if he chooses to develop it.
6) Fighters should not have or be reliant on magic in any form. Actually, they should be the most non-magical and magically resistant of all the classes. Every other class but the fighter has access to magic or magical abilities.
7) Fighters should be able to train and self-improve outside of their level gains, in the same way casters can learn more and new spells. Since they don’t have magic, when they do train, they should get more benefit out of training then someone with magic.
8) Feats are central to how fighters are. But feats are lousy class features, so if we’re going to use feats, we have to make feats awesome, and we're probably going to need more of them.
9) Fighters who are smart and educated should be rewarded. Furthermore, any mundane person living in a world of magic who cannot use magic will be as driven to find non-magical sources of strength. Fighters should have useful mundane skills that exceed that of spellcasters, because, well, they aren’t spellcasters, who just buff.
10) Fighters should be based on the existing chassis to a large extent so changes are minimized.
With that, we start on the deconstruction of the Pathfinder Fighter.
At level 1: In my games, I presume there are things you get at you first character level that you get at no other time. This means that multi-classing actually costs you something, and your formative years are spent picking up these primary skills to shape your career.
At level 1, the fighter gets: Martial Weapons Proficiencies, light through heavy armor, shields, and tower shields as proficiencies. These are core level 1 skills, and those who take up the fighter at later levels get NONE of these, exactly as if they were prestige classing.
Saves: The fighter gets a good fort save, reflecting the fact he’s tough and in shape.
Unfortunately, this says NOTHING about the fact that superior combatants are also usually quite agile, with superb reflexes and tremendous mental focus and drive. For some reason, the ranger, who doesn’t even train to be more agile in armor, gets both a good reflex save and evasion against spells.
At levels 1,2, and every 2 levels thereafter, the fighter gets a bonus Combat feat; Unlike every other class that gets bonus feats, he has to meet the pre-reqs. Ostensibly, these 11 feats are the ‘spells’ of the fighter, but only by the biggest stretch of the imagination are they the equal of spellcaster levels. Furthermore, he has no ability to gain extra feats above and beyond, like casters get spells, nor does he have the flexibility to switch out feats with any timeliness, AND they must all be combat feats.
At level 2, he gets Bravery. This improves his save against fear by +1, and improves every 4 levels by +1.
---Much has been said about the uselessness of Bravery, how poorly it compares to a paladin’s immunity to fear, and the fact it’s worse than a good will save: the brave fighter gets intimidated more easily then the scrawny wizard.
----We’re going to use this as the basis of Mental Discipline, and turn Bravery into an engine of mental strength, discipline, perseverance. Fighters are like champion athletes, and their belief and desire to succeed will be embodied in this evenly scaling ability. The fact it maxes out at +5 is nice and convenient.
At level 3, he gets Armor Training/Mastery: I break this into two parts, because one part is move as if medium armor was lighter, an ability derided for how cheaply it is imitated; and the other is +1 To Dex limit and -1 to ACP in armor, which is derided for being a de facto Stat Requirement on a class feature.
---This is a +1 ability that improves every 4 levels, maxing out at +4 at level 15 at +4.
We’re going to use this bonus for everything to do with agility, balance and endurance…and harmonization with his armor.
At level 4, he gets Weapon Training/Mastery: A +1 th/dmg with a weapon group. This is also split in two parts, the bonus and the weapon groups. The bonus increases by +1 every 4 levels, to a maximum of +4 at 16th.
----We’re going to use this to represent hand/eye coordination and strength.
At level 7, he gets to suffer no speed penalties in Heavy Armor.
--We’re going to fold this in as a subset of the level 3, and if you already have the ability, give you a bonus feat (Endurance is appropriate).
At level 8, he gets another weapon group for Weapon Mastery, at -1 to the power of the Primary group.
---Adding another non-primary weapon group at -1 is fine. The Primary weapon group should indeed be primary.
At level 12, he gets a 3rd weapon group at -2.
--The shrinking bonus is inappropriate. We’ll be changing this to ‘another secondary weapon group’ and keeping the bonus at -1.
At level 16, he gets a 4th weapon group at -3.
At level 19, he gets his first capstone, +5 DR whenever using armor or a shield.
---Huh. Let’s ignore the fact that +5 is where his armor training should be at, and focus on the fact that this DR stacks with no other DR…adamantine armor, armor spec, class abilities. Furthermore, he had to wait 19 levels to get it, which completely breaks the even scaling paradigm that's core to the Fighter.
At level 20, he gets awesome with one weapon, can’t be disarmed with it, and the crit number jumps by 1. Given that this is the scaling capstone of weapon mastery, this should apply to the whole group, not just one weapon, so we’ve broken the mold of the class for a capstone that arguably should be part of the weapon focus chain.
Feat retraining: Every 4 levels?!?
----Riiiight. Every level you can change one, at a minimum.
Notice something? Yeah. At levels 2, 5, 6, 9, 10, 11, 13, 14, 15, 17 and 18, the fighter doesn’t get anything. (remember, bonus feats are = to spellcasting, and shall be treated as separate class abilities!!!). Arguably, this could be EVERY LEVEL except 3,4,5 and 7, and the 2 capstones.
Trying to stick a paltry scaling bonus from a low level effect in there is an insult. Rage Powers, smiting, Favored Enemy and Terrain bonuses, all scale by level, each little +1 isn’t a whole Class Feature.
Furthermore, Armor Mastery 1 and 2 are woefully underpowered; the additional weapon groups are horrible, and the level 19 capstone, is, well, yeah.
FC: Fighters get an alternate FC ability, +2 to certain combat maneuver defenses based on Race.
----Yeah, no. We want vanilla, and choice. We’ll just make the human ‘pick your own’ the standard.
Training: The ability to ‘buy’ more hit points is awesome. If Fighters are the training and disciplined class, this should work better for them than it does for other classes.
Themes I’m going to use
Archetypes: I believe Fighter archetypes, like most prestige classes, are largely unnecessary. This is particularly true in the case of the fighter, where archetypes become all about wielding a certain weapon, which is basically a modified weapon focus style feat chain. So, if I stub the toes of archetypes, it’s totally deliberate.
Feats: The Fighter is the Master of Feats, the Lord of Feats, and the Sage of Feats.
Master of Feats means basically that the fighter gets more feats than anyone. I am DEFINITELY going to step on the toes of rangers here. I really can’t believe that rangers get a fighting school, and fighters do not.
Lord of Feats means that Fighters get more out of feats than any other class. Feats are like spells to fighters…for fighters, all feats should scale. A normal person takes a feat, gets a benefit – the fighter takes a feat and relentlessly improves it as he levels. Feats are full blown class features to the Lord of Feats, and every one is useful.
Sage of Feats mean that the fighter learns feats more easily then anyone else. Fighters will ignore all pre-reqs for combat feats except BAB, and if it's a ranger Combat School feat, qualify at the same time as rangers do (who do you think is teaching rangers those feats?). It also means there will be much feat consolidation for fighters.
No Magic: Not having magical abilities is going to be intrinsic to the class, to the point where innately magical races are actually at somewhat of a disadvantage.
Schools: All Fighters should have Schools. If they are self-taught, then they are effectively starting a school. This ties Fighters into traditions, the development of Master and Student relationships in both directions. Picking a School will drive many class abilities. It will be the core of influencing the narrative.
Training: The fighter more than any other class is presumed to be undergoing continual self-improvement. Barbs rage, rangers stalk and cast, paladins pray and smite, and fighters engage in endless hours of training. The other classes can train, but training is what fighters DO.
This also opens up the avenue that Fighters are best at training others. While casters make better toys, Fighters make better people! Training will be how the fighter expands his versatility in ways other classes cannot, or better than other classes can.
Self-improvement: The fighter may start off worse than some classes, but will continually self-improve over time to rival or even surpass them. If you don’t have magic, you have no CHOICE but to do this.
This theme is intended to reflect the increasing power and utility of higher level magic spells, and the increase in caster levels.
Little defined by stats: I want the class to be skill and choice based, NOT reliant on multiple abilities. The idea is to minimize the amount of Stats a fighter needs to function effectively. Race should rarely be a factor. The class should stand on its own.
Choose your own fighter: You should be able to assemble the fighter you want from the pieces available. Archetypes that reserve specific powers to themselves should be unnecessary…make feats. Likewise, PrC alternate fighters should be unneeded…make a feat tree!
ANd now we are open to discussion.
What do you feel should be added to the above?
What do you disagree with, and why?
Keep in mind a central premise...the fighter should stand well ON HIS OWN. Being awesome because the casters can throw spells on you is not awesome at all.
I'd like to tweak the build some more, but I'd like to see some feedback before I do, just in case.
Keep in mind I also had to do a Feat re-write for this. I empathisize with Kirthfinder...rewriting feats is a big task!