Fighter Class Preview

Monday, March 19, 2018

Over the past 2 weeks, we've tried to give you a sense of what Pathfinder Second Edition is all about, but now it's time to delve into some details on the classes. From now until the game releases in August, we'll go through the classes one by one, pausing now and then to look at various rules and systems. Today, let's take a look at one of the most foundational classes in the game: the fighter.

The fighter was one of the first classes we redesigned, alongside the rogue, cleric, and wizard. We knew that we wanted these four to work well in concert with each other, with the fighter taking on the role of primary combat character, good at taking damage and even better at dealing damage. The fighter has to be the best with weapons, using his class options to give him an edge with his weapons of choice. The fighter also has to be mobile, able to get into the fray quickly and hold the line, allowing less melee-oriented characters time to get into position and use their abilities without have to fend off constant attacks.

Let's start by looking at some of the features shared by all fighters.

Illustration by Wayne Reynolds

First up is attacks of opportunity. This feature allows you to spend your reaction to strike a creature within your reach that tries to manipulate an object (like drinking a potion), make a ranged attack, or move away from you. This attack is made with a –2 penalty, but it doesn't take the multiple attack penalty from other strikes you attempt on your turn. Other classes can get this ability—and numerous monsters will as well—but only the fighter starts with it a core feature. Fighters also have feat choices that can make their attacks of opportunity more effective.

Next up, at 3rd level, you gain weapon mastery, which increases your proficiency rank with one group of weapons to master. Your proficiency rank increases to legendary at 13th level, making you truly the best with the weapons of your choice. At 19th level, you become a legend with all simple and martial weapons!

The fighter gets a number of other buffs and increases as well, but one I want to call out in particular is battlefield surveyor, which increases your Perception proficiency rank to master (you start as an expert), and gives you an additional +1 bonus when you roll Perception for initiative, helping you be first into the fight!

As mentioned in the blog last week, the real meat behind the classes is in their feats and (as of this post), the fighter has the largest selection of feats out of all the classes in the game! Let's take a look at some.

You've probably already heard about Sudden Charge. You can pick up this feat at 1st level. When you spend two actions on it, this feat allows you to move up to twice your speed and deliver a single strike. There's no need to move in a straight line and no AC penalty—you just move and attack! This feat lets the fighter jump right into the thick of things and make an immediate impact.

Next let's take a look at Power Attack. This feat allows you to spend two actions to make a single strike that deals an extra die of damage. Instead of trading accuracy for damage (as it used to work), you now trade out an action you could have used for a far less accurate attack to get more power on a roll that is more likely to hit.

As you go up in level, some of the feats really allow you to mix things up. Take the 4th-level feat Quick Reversal, for example. If you are being flanked and you miss with your second or third attack against one of the flankers, this feat lets you redirect the attack to the other target and reroll it, possibly turning a miss into a hit!

We've talked before about how fun and tactical shields are in the game. To recap, you take an action to raise your shield and get its Armor Class and touch Armor Class bonuses, and then you can block incoming damage with a reaction while the shield is raised. At 6th level, fighters can take the feat Shield Warden, which allows them to use their shield to block the damage taken by an adjacent ally. At 8th, they can even get an extra reaction each turn, just to use shield block one additional time. (And yes, they can spend this extra reaction on another use of Shield Warden.) At 14th level, a fighter can use their shield to protect themself from dragon's breath and fireballs, gaining their shield's bonus to Reflex saves.

The fighter also has a wide variety of options with ranged weapons, allowing you to deal more damage up close or fire more than one arrow at a time. I foresee a lot of fighters taking Debilitating Shot, which causes a foe to be slowed if the attack hits (causing it to lose one action on its next turn).

And all this is a small sample. We've made a conscious effort to give fighters a number of paths they can pursue using their feats: focusing on shields, swinging a two-handed weapon, fighting with two weapons, making ranged attacks, and fighting defensively. These paths are pretty open, allowing you to mix and match with ease to create a fighter that matches your play style.

The goal here is to give you a variety of tools to deal with the situations and encounters you are bound to face. You might walk into a fight with your bow and open with Double Shot, allowing you to fire a pair of arrows into the two nearest foes, only to swap over to using a greataxe when the rest surround you, making an attack against all enemies in your reach with Whirlwind Strike! It all comes down to the type of fighter you want to play.

Jason Bulmahn
Director of Game Design

More Paizo Blog.
Tags: Fighters Pathfinder Playtest Valeros Wayne Reynolds
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KingOfAnything wrote:
master_marshmallow wrote:
I'm very disappointed in the lack of design in power attack, the math doesn't hold up for its action cost.

I'd really like to see some in-depth Power Attack analysis. Variables such as whether it is worth trading your second or third attacks, with different weapon types, against foes with different ACs. I suspect there is a gradient of benefit that we can find.

Like, with big weapons, Power Attack is worth giving up your -5 attack against higher AC foes. But with a lighter weapon, it might only be worth giving up your -10.

I wrote in "ABP" on my skald's character sheet. That stands for "Always Be Power Attacking". I'm okay if PF2 Power Attack is not the best choice in all cases, as long as using it feels good in a significant number.

We did a test run of the numbers for using power attack vs using two regular attacks to compare what your damage looked like, just compared to the options you already had. We discovered that you need to be using big enough dice whose numbers consistently exceed your flat damage on your second attack for power attack to be worth using, in place of two attacks. The ultimate conclusion of this was that Power Attack is now only superior to making two attacks when you have to consider a third attack at -10 being a wasted effort. Math told us that Power Attack artificially enforces the full round attack back into the game for it to be worth using, mathematically. The only time this wasn't true was when DR was considered a factor, and it still didn't change much. It's more or less a wash compared to just making three attacks.

In the blog about critical successes and failures, the fighter gets a new feat called Certain Strike, which guarantees a hit, even if you don't meet the AC. The caveat is that you deal minimum damage. This means that for Power Attack to matter at all compared to just using your actions to make attacks, you have to have enough dice that are big enough to dwarf the damage you deal on this attack, because the fact that Power Attack made full attacking worth it no longer applies.

In all cases, Power Attack adds up to 4 dice (from the information we have presuming it only upgrades itself by one additional die) on a critical and 2 dice overall. Since the flat damage from a critical hit without power attack is calculated the same way regardless of whether or not you are using power attack, those dice absolutely need to give better results than a guaranteed hit at minimum damage or the feat is wasted.

Example tabletop math you could expect a player to use:

Spoiler:
[Power Attack]= 2dx+ damage/ dx+ damage = 3dx+ 2damage
[Critical hit Power Attack]= 4dx + 2damage/ dx+ damage = 5dx+ 3damage

[no Power Attack]= dx+ damage/ dx+ damage/ dx+ damage = 3dx+ 3damage
[no Power Attack critical hit]= 2dx+ 2damage/ dx+ damage/ +dx +damage = 4dx+ 4damage

[comparison] If 5dx+ 3damage > 4dx +4damage, then Power Attack is good

If 5dx+ 3damage < 4dx+ 4damage, then Power Attack is bad.

All of this math was done before I learned about Certain Strike, and I have yet to compile the algebra for a comparison, as it requires actual values to be planted in vs simply deriving the formula for damage calculations in game.

Algebraically, this would imply that Power Attack not only depends on critical hits to be effective, but that it also requires your flat damage to be so low that the expected results on the extra die/dice supersede it enough to warrant wasting a feat slot.

This doesn't even factor in the problem I have with the size of the bell curve making the math of the new CR system highly unpredictable.

We can move this discussion to that thread if you would like to continue.


What can a middle level fight do in PF1. Starting Stats: Str 15, Con 14, Dex, 15, Int 14, Wis 10, Cha 7, Go half-elf, and take the racial trait that lets you swap skill focus for EWP (bastard sword), take the floating +2 to str, level 4 +1 to str, and level 8 +1 to dex.

Has 46,000 gold
8,000 for +2 weapon (Bastard Sword)
9,000 for +3 armor (Breast Plate)
9,000 for +3 cloak of resistance
1,000 for +1 buckler
16,000 for +2 belt of +2 Str, +2 Con, and +2 Dex
That leaves 3,000 for other magical gear, and 1,000 non-magical gear.

Boost Feats: power attack, weapon focus, dodge, greater weapon focus, weapon specialization, shield focus, combat reflexes, Quick Draw

Basic Attack +21, 1d10+11, AC31=10+6+3+2+4+1+1
Powerful Attack +17, 1d10+22, AC28=10+6+3+4+1
Fort +13, Reflex +10, Will +6
HP104=14+10+10+10+10+10+10+10+10+10
Some fighters will be weaker and some stronger.

At 10th level a fighter has 12 feats from class and level.

You are likely to use 6 of those feats to boost attack, defense, and damage. This leaves 6 feats for your build. Not a lot, you will most likely be able to do 1 to 3 tricks unless you trade some of your boosting feats for more tricks.

Real good tricks: I like the smash form the air, and spring attack tricks.

Alright tricks: A lot of times I will take one feat tricks like lunge, step up, or vital strike. I am more likely to trade defense and damage than attack.

I hope to be able still pick up the same kind of tricks in PF2 by level 10 as I can now. I would really dislike it if they locked away abilities like being able to cut spells out of the air until late game. I have to wait until most games are coming to an end as it is now to pull off the really cool tricks.


The Eternal Keeper wrote:
Diffan wrote:
Archimedes Mavranos wrote:

"At 19th level, you become a legend with all simple and martial weapons!"

I'd have to see how weapons are sorted, but I'm not sure this feels good. When you are Legendary at every weapon, nothing seems special (Incredibles? =P )

At 19th level though, what's more impressive: casting a spell to gate in the heavenly host or being good at using all weapons...? To me, it sounds painfully dreadful and boring considering how often any one particular fighter uses a multitude of weapons to begin with. Pick a ranged, one slash, one pierce, one bludgeon - done.

*yawn*

Well, considering that IIRC someone who got a high Proficiency in Athletics might be able to jump 30 feet or more in the air, someone who got Legendary Proficiency in a weapon type might be able to bat aside a fireball or other projectile spell the wizard is shooting at them.

So don't think "Just very good", think superhumanly good

We're talking about picking up any weapon and basically being able to use it like Captain America uses his shield. Maybe you can even draw out some inner qualities and give it new traits. That'd be pretty cool. At the highest levels, I'd like it if the Fighter (who at this point is or is akin to a demigod) could do something like include such a weapon as part of her "legend," basically turning it into a magic item on the spot!


The fighter can already do what he is taking about at the end. It just takes a lot of feats. Five for whirlwind, three for shooting two arrows, requiring 13 Int, and Requiring Dex of 17. You are going to be level 8 before you can do this. Need to be a Dex fighter build or have Dex at least as your second main stat.

So while it sounds good the way they say it, I want to know the cost to do so. It is possible in PF1, but at a very high cost. Is the cost going down, are they changing the cost, or are the cost up down. How they could be changing the cost is it could take fewer feats and have lower ability score requirements, but need to spend a limited resource every time it is used.


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Re-read this in light of the new weapons blog. If Proficiency lets you unlock more weapon traits or Crit Specialization... I am loving the idea that Fighters get these before anyone else as their unique thing, and it really drives home the master of arms angle they are pursuing.

That said... I'm still not sure I love limiting the Fighter to one Weapon Group at a time as their best. It makes them feel less "master of arms" and more "master of arm." It also means the Fighter has to really hope the next awesome weapon drops fits into their group. That's a weird meta concern. Maybe retraining will allow you to adapt to the last bosses magic whip without too much trouble, assuming you get downtime.


It would definitely be nice if the fighter's proficiency bump encompassed two weapon groups instead of just one. It really wouldn't be broken.


Fuzzypaws wrote:
It would definitely be nice if the fighter's proficiency bump encompassed two weapon groups instead of just one. It really wouldn't be broken.

Haha, I am a little reluctant to say what would or wouldn't be broken in a game I haven't played yet... But I do think it is unlikely that the proficiency bumps are enough to make the Fighter OP. Two weapon groups seems like it could be a nice compromise, or maybe if additional weapon groups get added in a way that doesn't leave them seriously lagging behind the prior groups.


Captain Morgan wrote:
Fuzzypaws wrote:
It would definitely be nice if the fighter's proficiency bump encompassed two weapon groups instead of just one. It really wouldn't be broken.
Haha, I am a little reluctant to say what would or wouldn't be broken in a game I haven't played yet... But I do think it is unlikely that the proficiency bumps are enough to make the Fighter OP. Two weapon groups seems like it could be a nice compromise, or maybe if additional weapon groups get added in a way that doesn't leave them seriously lagging behind the prior groups.

I could also see one fighter feat being "you get three more weapons at your advanced proficiency rate" (or something to that effect). Then you can retrain that feat when you get to level 19 and get everything at legendary anyways.


One of the things I didn't see in the Fighter Class Review is what attribute the fighter gets the +2 in. Hopefully, it is flexible between dexterity or strength. That would make it easier to create either Ollerus the archer or Achilles the warrior.


Saint Bernard wrote:
One of the things I didn't see in the Fighter Class Review is what attribute the fighter gets the +2 in. Hopefully, it is flexible between dexterity or strength. That would make it easier to create either Ollerus the archer or Achilles the warrior.

I'd be very surprised if Fighters (and for the same reason, Rangers) didn't get the option of strength or dexterity to boost. The only core class that I could see being locked into one or the other is maybe the Rogue with dexterity. Barbarians will probably have Constitution.


bookrat wrote:

I'm reminded of an old book I read as a kid.

The wizard had just literally saved everyone's lives with his magic, but the danger was still forthcoming. They needed to set up defenses and hold out for the night against the coming threat. He stood up, tall and proud in front of the crowd, and gave a riling speech about working together, surviving the night, and overcoming against all odds. And not a soul was stirred.

The man next to him, his friend in full armor, stood up and said the exact same speech, at which point the crowd cheered and everyone got to work.

"You just said the same thing I did. Why did they cheer for you but barely even yawn for me?"

"Because, my friend, you are not a Knight."

People simply trust those with martial prowess more than they do those with smarts. This is true. It's why firefighters are generally regarded as heroes and well loved, but the same isn't true for the chemist who designed the flame retardant chemicals used to stop the fire, or the engineer who designed the building fire suppression system which hampered the spread of the fire allowing more people to escape, or the architect who built in a comprehensive escape system and fire reduction pathways, or the bureaucrat who wrote requirements for all of those into the law.

I haven't thought of Sir Matthew in years! I'd respond with some witty quote, but the books were lost in a move, years ago...

Anyway, after reading the weapons blog--it sounds as though expert use of weapons may be almost "spell-like" in the effects you can create. Add skills to that, and we may see some fun things.

Silver Crusade

I'd like to see a skill element added to shield use. Not just a +1 AC for a feat, but a really skilled shield user is very effective on the battlefield (This should not mean they can protect more companions, this would be separate). They are able to disrupt charges, stop all the offense coming at them, this is not because they hold up a shield in front of them, it's because they manipulate the shield and weapon use to stop incoming offense and capitalise with offense, while still be able to protect them selves with the shield.

tldr There is a very large difference in stopping incoming attack between a skilled shield user and a novice shield user.


Tharasiph wrote:


I'd like to see a skill element added to shield use. Not just a +1 AC for a feat, but a really skilled shield user is very effective on the battlefield (This should not mean they can protect more companions, this would be separate). They are able to disrupt charges, stop all the offense coming at them, this is not because they hold up a shield in front of them, it's because they manipulate the shield and weapon use to stop incoming offense and capitalise with offense, while still be able to protect them selves with the shield.

tldr There is a very large difference in stopping incoming attack between a skilled shield user and a novice shield user.

These all seem like things that'd be added through class feats, which we haven't been given a very thorough look at yet.

Paizo Employee Designer

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There's a lot more to the fighter than appears here (If I recall correctly, it actually has the most feats of any class), and the Gauntlet charity tournament has given the possibility to release more details than the initial blog (including how the fighter can use his turns to build combos and other info that would probably have been too much of a deep dive for such an early blog). If Luis hits 500 for donations by next Sunday's tournament, and he's almost halfway there already, with a huge booster shot after championing the fighter, our Gauntlet spoilers blog will include more fighter details!


Oh, nice! Thanks for the link!

Paizo Employee Designer

2 people marked this as a favorite.
QuidEst wrote:
Oh, nice! Thanks for the link!

No problem. In fact, each of the four of us is sponsoring a class, and the blog will include all classes whose sponsor hits the threshold. More about which class is which here. I posted Luis's because this is the fighter blog.

Paizo Employee Customer Service & Community Manager

Thanks for all the lively discussion so far in this thread. At this time we've decided to close up the blog discussion thread. If you have comments, questions or other things you want to post that do not fit into any currently open threads, you are welcome to start a new thread. Thanks!

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