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

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Tags: Fighters Pathfinder Playtest Valeros Wayne Reynolds
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Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32

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Power Attack and Quick Reversal both sound really useful. And the 14th level shield ability oddly specific. Maybe it has more applications.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Looks like fun to play!

I really like the Power Attack. However, I'm still curious about Feat prerequisites and whether PA will still be needed for many other feats.

EDIT: Also still waiting for a hint on multi-weapon fighting.


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Yay more infos!! Hugggs!!


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Some of those feats do sound pretty slick, Quick Reversal in particular.

I really do wish we'd get a bit more information on how feats are tied to classes though. Can a rogue pick up Sudden Charge? Can a Paladin gain Shield Warden? Due you have to multiclass to do so or is there a feat that lets you gain other class's feats?


I notice the large gap in levels between master and legendary with weapons, to me this feels odd and seems like master should come at 5th or 6th level. Are the differences between being an expert with a weapon and a master with a weapon so great that the fighter needs to get it so early on to show his power?


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Another thing to note, is that you didn't mention any proficiency with armors, is fighter not getting armor training (so to speak) in this edition? Are they still proficient with all armors and shields at level 1?

Dark Archive

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

So power attack Is a lot worse now? Since going from a flat +2/+3 somewhat scalable damage to a single random damage die amount?


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So Power Attack works somewhat similarly to Vital Strike in P1e? If Vital Strike is still a feat in P2e I'm interested to see how it'll work with this change

Paizo Employee Director of Game Design

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willuwontu wrote:
Another thing to note, is that you didn't mention any proficiency with armors, is fighter not getting armor training (so to speak) in this edition? Are they still proficient with all armors and shields at level 1?

He does still have armor proficiency, and it does improve a bit for him, but for the fighter, we decided that weapons were his prime focus. This leaves a focus on armor for another class...

Paizo Employee Designer

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willuwontu wrote:
I notice the large gap in levels between master and legendary with weapons, to me this feels odd and seems like master should come at 5th or 6th level. Are the differences between being an expert with a weapon and a master with a weapon so great that the fighter needs to get it so early on to show his power?

Fighters' proficiency in weapons is earlier than most characters gain mastery in anything else. Fighters are just that awesome, and it also allows other martial classes to gain expertise while the fighter is ahead.

Liberty's Edge

I did wonder about the merits of Vital Strike with the new action economy, and that's basically what the new Power Attack is.

It's hard to infer too much from this preview, but I love the idea of shields deflecting cone attacks!


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Charles Dunwoody wrote:
Power Attack and Quick Reversal both sound really useful. And the 14th level shield ability oddly specific. Maybe it has more applications.

Yeah, +1 or +2 to Reflex saves requiring an action to activate. Not exactly thrilling for a 14th-level ability.

Shadow Lodge

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Interesting.

However, the biggest problem when it comes to playing "the type of fighter you want to" has always been the inordinate amount of feat taxes required to do something as simple as throw a javelin or axe without penalty. Even in the example given... being able to fire two shots accurately with a bow would require Point Blank Shot, Precise Shot, and likely, Rapid Shot.. then Whirlwind Attacking with an Axe would require Combat Expertise, Mobility, Dodge, and Spring Attack, not to mention the investment in Strength, Dex, and Int required.

Has this been addressed in Pathfinder 2e?


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Am I correct in reading that just about everything Fighter-specific has to do with, well, fighting*, and that any out-of-combat capabilities they have are those granted by skill proficiencies and feats? (I do see battlefield surveyor as an exception to this, which was nice.) That's always been the most limiting aspect of the class. How does their skill progression compare to other classes?

*Yes, the name points to this, but I don't think the fictional examples do.


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Hmmmm....
AoOs now requiring a feat tax for everyone but fighters. Interesting.

I do like the idea of blocking area effects with a shield, though, that's something needed for a while. Does it also grant bonuses to those behind you?

Also, does the power attack scale with level? An extra d8 won't do much if your +4 longsword is already dealing 5d8 or more.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Quote:
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.

Is this all part of Shield Warden? Or are these separate feats? Seems cool, either way.


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Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Kevin Mack wrote:
So power attack Is a lot worse now?

It's basically just vital strike, in a system where having 1 bigger attack can be more appealing due to the beat AC by 10 system, focusing on a bigger critical hit than swinging twice with penalties.

Paizo Employee Designer

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Kevin Mack wrote:
So power attack Is a lot worse now? Since going from a flat +2/+3 somewhat scalable damage to a single random damage die amount?

Power Attack gives you one (and actually, eventually two without taking another feat to improve it!) extra damage die and does not penalize you on accuracy; and you don't want a penalty on accuracy. For a d12 two-handed weapon that might have gotten +3 damage (+3 more every 4 BAB) in PF1, that's 6.5 damage on average, going up to 13. It wasn't until BAB 16 that you would do more damage than that in PF1, and that was at a cost of -5 accuracy.

Paizo Employee Director of Game Design

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Kevin Mack wrote:
So power attack Is a lot worse now? Since going from a flat +2/+3 somewhat scalable damage to a single random damage die amount?

You don't quite have the full picture just yet. An accuracy hit (like what you got from the old Power Attack) was far more detrimental with the way damage scales in the new edition, making it not worth the flat bonus. The new version allows you to trade what might be a very low % attack for additional damage on a far more accurate strike.

(I see that Mark beat me to it... )


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The attack of opportunity description did not mention casting a spell. Does this mean casting a spell does not provoke? Or is there a separate ability for attacks of opportunity vs spellcasters?


Interesting stuff. Really curious about two-weapon fighting as well as using Dexterity instead of Strength for melee attacks though (I seem to remember there will be weapons with the finesse quality, but I wonder if there will be a way to use Dex with weapons without that quality). Here is to hoping we get some hints or information on that down the road.

Paizo Employee Designer

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Disk Elemental wrote:

Interesting.

However, the biggest problem when it comes to playing "the type of fighter you want to" has always been the inordinate amount of feat taxes required to do something as simple as throw a javelin or axe without penalty. Even in the example given... being able to fire two shots accurately with a bow would require Point Blank Shot, Precise Shot, and likely, Rapid Shot.. then Whirlwind Attacking with an Axe would require Combat Expertise, Mobility, Dodge, and Spring Attack, not to mention the investment in Strength, Dex, and Int required.

Has this been addressed in Pathfinder 2e?

As mentioned in I think one of the interviews, you should expect prerequisites to be based on things that your ability actually builds off, not other unrelated feats. So you wouldn't have a giant chain like that to take Whirlwind Attack.

Paizo Employee Designer

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F. Castor wrote:
Interesting stuff. Really curious about two-weapon fighting though. Here is to hoping we get some hints or information on that down the road.

The fighter actually has Double Slice, an incredibly good 1st-level feat for TWFers; it just wasn't in the preview.

Shadow Lodge

Mark Seifter wrote:
Power Attack gives you one (and actually, eventually two without taking another feat to improve it!) extra damage die and does not penalize you on accuracy; and you don't want a penalty on accuracy. For a d12 two-handed weapon that might have gotten +3 damage (+3 more every 4 BAB) in PF1, that's 6.5 damage on average, going up to 13. It wasn't until BAB 16 that you would do more damage than that in PF1, and that was at a cost of -5 accuracy.

That's true... but the Two Handed weapon builds have never lacked for damage. Where Power Attack and its equivalents was truly useful was for the one-handers, the two weapon fighters, the Dex classes, sword and board, etc. Where weapon damage die is small to the point of being inconsequential, forcing them to rely on static damage. Has anything been done to help these classes keep up in terms of DPS?

Liberty's Edge

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Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Legends Subscriber; Pathfinder Tales Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Do you have to take an action to raise the shield each round?


Can't wait for the Playtest to start seeing how these abilities interact during gameplay.


EJDean wrote:
Charles Dunwoody wrote:
Power Attack and Quick Reversal both sound really useful. And the 14th level shield ability oddly specific. Maybe it has more applications.
Yeah, +1 or +2 to Reflex saves requiring an action to activate. Not exactly thrilling for a 14th-level ability.

I'd imagine it would apply your full shield bonus, unless they're ditching enhancement bonuses in PF2E? That said, you'd still be looking at around a +5-+7 bonus max at that point. Maybe there are some other ways to boost it that we haven't been shown yet?


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild Subscriber

One of the things I was hoping for was that you would be able to replicate some of the PF1 classes (In style if not mechanics) and that classes that are common in the fantasy genre (swashbuckler as an example, along with other lightly armed classes)could be created with the new flexibilities and options of the system. Is that likely to be the case or are we going to have to wait until later for those type of warrior classes?

Silver Crusade

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Jason Bulmahn wrote:
Kevin Mack wrote:
So power attack Is a lot worse now? Since going from a flat +2/+3 somewhat scalable damage to a single random damage die amount?

You don't quite have the full picture just yet. An accuracy hit (like what you got from the old Power Attack) was far more detrimental with the way damage scales in the new edition, making it not worth the flat bonus. The new version allows you to trade what might be a very low % attack for additional damage on a far more accurate strike.

(I see that Mark beat me to it... )

When we get the playtest and Vital Strike is the option that reduces accuracy to boost damage I'll know for sure y'all f&$&ing with us XD

Silver Crusade

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Jason Bulmahn wrote:
willuwontu wrote:
Another thing to note, is that you didn't mention any proficiency with armors, is fighter not getting armor training (so to speak) in this edition? Are they still proficient with all armors and shields at level 1?
He does still have armor proficiency, and it does improve a bit for him, but for the fighter, we decided that weapons were his prime focus. This leaves a focus on armor for another class...

This makes me extremely nervous for some reason...


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Paladin perhaps?


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Jason Bulmahn wrote:
He does still have armor proficiency, and it does improve a bit for him, but for the fighter, we decided that weapons were his prime focus. This leaves a focus on armor for another class...

You would be referring to Paladin, yes?

Paizo Employee Designer

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Disk Elemental wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
Power Attack gives you one (and actually, eventually two without taking another feat to improve it!) extra damage die and does not penalize you on accuracy; and you don't want a penalty on accuracy. For a d12 two-handed weapon that might have gotten +3 damage (+3 more every 4 BAB) in PF1, that's 6.5 damage on average, going up to 13. It wasn't until BAB 16 that you would do more damage than that in PF1, and that was at a cost of -5 accuracy.
That's true... but the Two Handed weapon builds have never lacked for damage. Where Power Attack and its equivalents was truly useful was for the one-handers, the two weapon fighters, the Dex classes, sword and board, etc. Where weapon damage die is small to the point of being inconsequential, forcing them to rely on static damage. Has anything been done to help these classes keep up in terms of DPS?

One of my favorite moments of the playtest in that regard was when Starfinder Developer Jason, Keeley, Software Test Engineer Erik Keith, and I all built 9th-10th level fighters who used sword and board and wanted to deal damage, but we all built in different ways. Erik built a character who used abilities like Power Attack to get in one big hit. I built a character who used agile weapons to get in a series of hits with a more favorable multiple attack penalty. Jason Keeley built a TWF sword and shield using Double Slice. And they all worked and played differently (my build was pretty powerful against some enemies but just didn't work like theirs did against high resistance foes).


Charles Dunwoody wrote:
Power Attack and Quick Reversal both sound really useful. And the 14th level shield ability oddly specific. Maybe it has more applications.

It looks like a straight +shield to reflex saves - the examples aren't limited.

Nothing I see causes me any real concern here (a little worried that raising a shield is an action you have to take every round - that sounds bad), and I really want to see what they do with two weapon fighting.


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Nikosandros wrote:
Do you have to take an action to raise the shield each round?

All indications so far are yes.

Silver Crusade

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I am excited to play a fighter!


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Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

A d d i t i o n a l R e a c t i o n s!

I'm very much happy with what I've heard in this blog, fighter looks like it's going to be.... fun?!


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DM_aka_Dudemeister wrote:
I am excited to play a fighter!

Yes, it looks like there will be a lot of neat options!

Paizo Employee Managing Developer

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I've played a fighter the longest in our in-office playtest games and it's been a lot of fun. There's always something exciting to do.


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might be the lack of info given but it sounds fighters are going to be same-y

Liberty's Edge

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Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Legends Subscriber; Pathfinder Tales Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Serisan wrote:
Nikosandros wrote:
Do you have to take an action to raise the shield each round?
All indications so far are yes.

It seems a bit weird to me that if you don't spend an action each turn, your shield is completely useless. I wonder if a "non-raised" shield confers a minor defensive bonus that increases if you spend an action on it.


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I like Fighters getting stuff, but giving only them AoO at the start? Not really cool.

New power attack is...ok. We'll have to see if missing your third (or second) attack is worth the extra dice. Also, how does it interact with other feats, like the aforementioned Sudden Charge? Can I use that and Power Attack at the same time? Or with Quick Reversal?

Overall it's alright. The fact that feats change your action economy so much is making me think of 4th Edition's class powers. That's not bad, but it isn't good for me either. 4th Edition was the definition of "meh" for me.

Needing an action to use your shield though, that I detest.


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I just want it to be feasible to dual wield scimitars using Dexterity.

...

What? It is not like I mentioned any drow elves, did I now?

:-P


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Hmm. Does any of this (or what we haven't seen) go towards addressing the complaint that fighters/martials have limited narrative control?


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I like what I see so far! Looks good!


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How does power attack stack with magical weapons? Is a character power attacking with a +1 mace swinging for 3d8 or 4d8?

Liberty's Edge

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Sayt wrote:
How does power attack stack with magical weapons? Is a character power attacking with a +1 mace swinging for 3d8 or 4d8?

And crits, for that matter? Crits are likely when using power attack, after all.


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I think the biggest revelation in this blog is that Power Attack as a feat that literally everyone who uses a melee weapon takes is no longer a thing; the new Power Attack seems like something you'd want to enable a 2-hander build while TWF and sword and board builds would put their feats elsewhere.


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Strachan Fireblade wrote:
Jason Bulmahn wrote:
He does still have armor proficiency, and it does improve a bit for him, but for the fighter, we decided that weapons were his prime focus. This leaves a focus on armor for another class...
You would be referring to Paladin, yes?

I can see that.

Barbarian is the best attacker with least defense, Fighter kinda in the middle with options for both defense and attack, Paladin less offence (unless evil) but highly defensive is how its handled in many other games.

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