A Simple but Complex Fighter Based on PF1.


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Simple but complex is an oxymoron right? By this I mean you have the moving parts of PF1 but formatted in a way that are easy to understand and in a way where you do not have to wrestle with the rules, give yourself a headache or want to play something else. I will be looking a lot at concepts in this but will contrast a 5E fighter with the PF2 one and suggest how to fix that while paying tribute to PF1.

To star with I will first look at the main concepts of the fighting styles for the fighter class since around 198, yes this predates Pathfinder and 3E and it became prominent in the 1989 Complete Fighters Handbook. The main combat styles of D&D/Pathfinder

Great Weapons (damage)
Ranged weapons (erm range)
Dual Wielding (more attacks)
Sword and Board (defensive).

Note you can probably come up with others- crosssbowss, versatile weapons, 1 handed weapon nothing in the other hand etc.

How good those styles are varies by editions. Two handed weapons in AD&D were not that good because the longsword was so great and dual wielding was a lot better as well along with dual wielding longswords.

For example I want to build a dual wielding fighter in concept. In 5E I choose the TWF style at level 1 (ability to damage with your off hand), and dual wielding uses your bonus action. At level 5 I can make 3 attacks a round and move nice and simple and its not broken as dual wielding is regarded as a little bit under powered but you can make a decent dex based character doing it and gain the benefits of dex to everything else.

In the PF2 playtest I need to take the double slice feat. This feat is also a pain it references 3 other page numbers and you have to add up all of the damage and treat it as a single attack and you have a penalty to hit as well- that is so 1989 right there. Now to get a 3rd attack I have to combine it with the two weapon flurry feat which is level 14 and it uses all 3 actions. Add there is a -8 penalty requirement in there so now I have to go look that up as well. That is a lot of math and 4 things I have to reference just to have 3 attacks. In 5E you make one choice and its very easy, 16 dex 2 short swords level 5 two attacks+ bonus action 1d6+4 damage per attack. Put simply I'm not going to bother with the Pathfinder 2 one its to much work and this is not unique in trying to use TWF the other styles are not much better off.

In its own way this is actually worse than Pathfinder 1 as well along with 3.5, 5E, 4E and AD&D 2E. Part of this is also related to the new 3 action system some people seem to like and in some ways its better than the old 3.5/Pathfinder system is not actually good as such. Its complicated and still annoying. Its also changing Pathfinder 1 engine for no real reason, the guts of the Pathifnder action economy is not that different to 3.5, 4E or 5E. Before anyone gets all upset consider this.

3.5/PF
Standard Action
Move Action
Swift Action

4E
Standard Action
Move Action
Minor Action

5E
Action
Move
Bonus Action

All of them have a reaction. You could actually plug 3.5's system into 5E and use it more or less as is, bonus actions become swift actions. Now of course in 3.x you have the full attack, I would suggest that concept needs to die in a fire, then you do not have to go with PF2's clunky and annoying 3 action things. This has several advantages as its not that different to the other D&Ds, is a nice throwback to PF1/3E and if its not broken don't fix it. Whatever other issues 3.5 has have its round structure is not one of them. Put simply allow multiple attacks as a standard action a'la 4E and 5E and keep the existing 3.X engine, just tweak it.

Got me so far? Well I will keep going. A 3.X fighter ends up with 4 attacks at +16, +11,+6,+1. I'm dumping that as well and replacing it with 4 attacks at +16. Note in Pathfinder this would be broken due to the amount of numbers you can stack up and things like power attack in 3.5. Once again you change the real problem which is the damage you can stack onto those basic attacks. The multiple attacks are gated to the level the old fighter got them.

Lvl 6 two attacks
Level 11 3 atacks
Level 16 4 attacks.

They either get them as class features or have feats level gated to allow multiple attacks, a crossbow sniper buil;d might not need multiple attacks but could get extra dice and crits (4d12+ whatever for example) Resolving multiple attacks is a pain in Pathfinder due to the math, its not that much of a problem in 5E or AD&D 2E as I have seen 7 attacks in 5E (level 11 fighter action surging+ bonus action attack) and in 2E if you hasted a dual wielding fighter making 6 or 8 attacks a round at 1d8+8 damage would not be to unusual but you can resolve it quicker than adding up 10 modifiers.

My hypothetical fighter would also look a lot similar to the old Pathfinder fighter or the 3.0 and 3.5 fighter. The math might be changing but you want the class to at least look similar to what came before even if other things are changing. See 1E to 2E aAD&D or 3.0 to 3.5 and even in 2E to 3.0 a lot of that was in the late 2E splats they just messed up a few things in that transition.

So the guts of our fighter at level 11 3 attack, +11 to hit. I kind of like the PF2 boost system so assuming it started with an 18 and got 2 boosts to strength/dex (20 ability score) you would have +16 to hit, 2d6+5 damage with a great weapon. Each attack deals 12 average damage for a DPR of 36.

A dual wielder would probably be using d6 weapons (don't make the rapier d8 like 5E), and dual wielding would be limited by weapon size. No monkey gripped great weapons, and 2 longswords is also a bad idea at least without some sort of feat investment. The dual wielder gets an extra attack.

4 attacks 1d6+5 damage. Each attack is 8.5 on average, DPR 34.

The great weapon user is still dealing more damage the dual wielder is not to far behind. In both examples they still have a swift and move action left over. Also not his is the base fighters, both of them have not spent any feats. I'm going to steal the 4E power attack here (-2/+3) and cleave. IMHO you do not want an open ended power attack or one like 5E -5/+10 damage which only great weapon and missile users get.

For a -2 penalty to hit the great weapon user is now dealing +9 damage, DPR 43 vs 34.

My dual wielder is dealing less damage but the great weapon can cleave and gets better crits but the dual wielder has not spent his feats yet either. Those 2 feats could be spent on something like 2 more attacks which would bring the average damage up to 51- the dual wielder could potentially deal more damage than the great weapon user and gets 6 attacks a round. That is actually fine the Great weapon user gets a potential cleave attack, better crit damage and better at punching through damage reduction. There is nothign in the D&D bible that requires great weapon users to deal the most damage all of the time. In my examples which are only brainstorming the damage race is actually fairly close- sometimes THF will deal more damage other times TWF will.

Both fighters would get the bonus feats every 2 levels. You could also punch in some extra feats or whatever in the levels they do not get anything. So the potential fighter class would get. I'll go with perks from fallout 4

Feat
Perk
Feat
Perk
Feat
Perk

etc.
And they get +1 to hit via proficiency bonus. not that radically different to 3.5/Pathfinder. The PF2 fighter gets 3 skills while the Rogue gets 10 so it seems Paizo still has not learned I would recommend 4 and 6 or 6 and 10- the Rogue should get more skills X2, X3,or X4 is a bit much and the Rogue can have the option of getting more via class options or improving the ones they already have such as skill focus/expertise.

This is a fairly simple idea I think and it fixes a lot of problems the old fighter has and a lot of problems the PF2 playtest has. The class would also resemble the old fighter so you can take a look at it and grok how it works if you are familiar with any of the d20 D&Ds and you still have more moving parts than say 5E so your fighter is doing something different to the 5E fighter and appealing to those who like more options with simplified math. +20 to hit vs AC 30 and +10 to hit vs AC 20 are also the same thing, you don't need to add more math "just because".

The current PF2 round structure inherited from Starfinder (IDK BTW) is not good, its debatable if its an improvement over what you already have. Rather than write a heap of complex rules to mitigate the full attack mentality the real problem is not letting multi attack happen as a standard action. In effect you are creating complicated rules and then creating more complex solutions to get around those rules you just created. With my system you are not butchering sacred cows either just addressing a concept I have not liked since 2001 and one I don't think actually adds anything to the game. Then how the other moving parts such as class, racial, skill feats etc interact with that change is easy to work out. You can play around with what you can do with the swift and move actions along with the standard action with those moving parts to appeal to those who like complexity, the game doesn't really change but it makes it easier on them and everyone else as well. You're not blowing the game up a'la 4E or trying to duplicate 5E as PF2 would still be more complex than that.


So your solution is a different attack system? Sounds like an unrelated topic to the Fighter itself, nu?

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