Poll

Should the Fighter have access to utility features useful beyond combat?

Yes
50 (86.2%)
No
8 (13.8%)

Total Members Voted: 58

Author Topic: Should the Fighter be good/great at out of combat stuff?  (Read 9101 times)

Offline Libertad

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I already made this thread at The RPG Site, so I'm cross-posting here to cast a wider net.

A lot of Fighter fixes (both here and elsewhere) try to make the Fighter good at combat, usually solving glaring flaws/weaknesses in the class which prevents it from being useless or overshadowed by the party Rogue/Cleric/Wizard. Most of these solutions involve increased versatility and power in combat, but give little in the way of out-of-combat and utility skills (both of which the spellcasters have plenty of in spells).

A lot of people don't like the "Dumb Melee Fighter" archetype which seems to persist in D&D (especially in 3rd Edition). Many warriors throughout myth and legend were skilled in all manner of non-combat abilities, from the charming swashbuckler who can smooth-talk his way out of sticky situations to the perceptive cop who can pick up clues and spot strange behavior in suspects. Many players don't want to feel useless out of combat, especially in the more unorthodox adventures involving puzzle-solving mysteries and NPC interaction.

Should the Fighter have an assortment of mechanical tricks he can use out of combat and not reliant on DM Fiat or multiclassing? How broad should his skill base be?

My thoughts on the matter are "yes." I see nothing wrong with a 3rd Edition/Pathfinder Fighter having access to Knowledge skills, social interaction skills, and more "sneaky" skills like Stealth and Disable Device. I also think that giving more "versatile" and pseudo-magical abilities to Fighters useful in and out of combat can be good as well, such as having high ranks in Jump/Acrobatics granting you sort-of-but-not-quite-flight at middle-high levels, or a "mage hunter" getting Spell Resistance or the ability to detect/shrug off magical effects.

Awaiting your opinions and answers!

Offline Solo

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Even the uncultured, illiterate savages have a measure of out of combat utility.
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Offline Jackinthegreen

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The fighter should at least get Listen and Spot on the skills list because not having those means rogues or barbarians are now the guards instead of the disciplined martial guy.  OOTS has poked fun at that several times already and I'm quite sure other webcomics have too.
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Offline Libertad

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There's support on the RPG Site thread that the Fighter needs more skills, especially due to the fact that many societies had warriors part of the nobility and thus access to higher education.  There's also several popular warrior tropes in literature, from the inspiring revolutionary to the observant watchman.

But a significant obstacle beyond broad skills is the versatility of what the other iconic classes (Cleric, Rogue, Wizard) can do.  An equivalent to wizard schools and cleric domains for fighting styles and warrior types (mage hunter, duelist, acrobat, etc).

I don't want to restrict this just to 3rd Edition.  I haven't kept up with D&D Next, but I've heard on rpg.net that the Fighter doesn't have much out-of-combat utility in the Playtest Packs.  If we give a bunch of stuff to the Rogues and spellcasters but leave warriors in the dust, we'll be back to square one.

Offline brujon

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My opinion, and you're free to disregard it if you will, but the basic fighter chassis should NOT cover up useful skills for outside of combat uses.

Why, you ask?

In my view, the fighter is *supposed* to be a flexible base on which you can build standard "soldier hero" type characters, based off of whatever historical/mythical army, by being able to customize it through feats & character choices.

Throughout whole history, successful armies, such as those mustered by Alexander the Great, the Roman Empire, the Mongolian Empire, the Huns, Oda Nobunaga, Tokugawa Ieyasu and others, have been composed of *professional fighters*, even the heroes of those armies were professional fighters, and most, and of course you will find some exceptions, did nothing at all except fight. Had no special skills whatsoever outside of battle, and this is why you have many historical accounts of former knights/warriors/samurai turning to common banditry & mercenary work: it's because they didn't have ANY useful skills outside of battle. There are even some very famous Ronin mentioned in historical japanese accounts.


D&D fighters are supposed to be able to branch out to become any kind of warriors modeled off different time periods: as intended, you could pick Exotic Weapon Proficiency: Katana, Weapon Focus: Katana, Weapon Specialization: Katana, Weapon Supremacy, Unarmed Strike, dress in samurai armor and call yourself a samurai. Or you could pick up a shortspear and a tower shield and go on to become a phalanx fighter. I ask of you: how many stories of Spartan soldiers, or Samurais, that really excelled at anything other than the art of battle?

The answer: Not many. You may find one or other that managed to become excellent politicians/rulers, or that excelled in blacksmithing as well as fighting, or even were scholars on their own fashion, but the vast majority (and even the heroes mentioned in literature), are just *really* good warriors, of their own special cultural variety.

The problem is simple; feats are generally weaker than actual class features given by base classes off of splash books, and they actively tried to solve the fighter problem by creating so many different base classes that thematically fit so many time periods, that the fighter is just left as a dip class, for these obvious reasons. But to give the fighter actual class features, generally just railroad them into some pre-determined archetype, and defeats the purpose of it being a "generic" melee class that the player can customize into any fluff.

To really make the fighter work as a 20 level class instead of a feat dip, you'd actually have to dish out something like the Ranger path choice of Dual Wielding/Archery, but with lots of other options included, to satisfy many playstyles that cater do different players. But to really make it work, you'd have to also ban other similar base classes that cover those same roles, because then the overlap would increase the redundancy already abundant in the system.

The generic fighter cannot coexist as a 20-level class with the plethora of other base classes and PrC's that expand the options and are actually *better* fictional recreations of historical warriors, etc... The idea of a generic, you-choose-what-you-become class coexisting with classes & PRC's that fill specialized roles mixed in with multiclassing creates the problem that exists with the fighter today. It's simply outshadowed in every aspect by *every* other melee class there is, as barring dungeoncrasher and some dragon magazine ACF's, there's no reason to take more than fighter 2.

To respond to Solo's claim, D&D has already the option of taking cross-class skills to represent a measure of out-of-combat utility that the character may have come across pre-adventure, or even mid-adventure. In OOT's, Belkar, for example, has ranks in Profession: Gourmet Cook. Is this optimal, or even necessary for a primary glass cannon? Of course not. But the option is still there. There is also multiclassing, and the Able Learner feat. Or Nymph's Kiss, or any myriad options that exist for increasing skills per level/class skills, to make a skillfull character.

The answer, for me, is still the Tome of Battle approach, and it always will be.

The spellcasting mechanics works very well. A Wizard 20 is as generic as a Fighter 20, but is infinitely more useful because it's class features are extremely modular and powerful on it's own. You can refluff a Wizard 20 into basically any archetype of a fantasy spellcaster you want, and still be nearly optimal. Taking the spellcasting mechanic and refluffing it into combat strikes, like Tome of Battle did, makes melee viable, but not only that:

Creating different disciplines, with different focused skills, and a few more focused PrC's, you don't even need to look towards anything other than a Swordsage/Crusader/Warblade, to recreate any frikken warrior archetype you want.

The generic approach of the fighter only works on an environment where every other class is given a similar chassis, or by creating powerful fighter only feats that can have possible ugly interactions with multiclassing builds. Thus, to me, the fighter problem is unfixable by the fact that there are already too many base classes & PRC's to cover the roles the fighter is supposed to cover, but can't, and give much more flavorful and useful abilities, as well as OOC utility for those wishing to do so.

But, if you're playing in a core-only environment, giving the option of choosing between "sets" of skills, and increasing the sparse 2 points per level to 4-points per level can make the fighter better out of combat, and make it more appealing as a class, but the cleric and barbarian will still outshine him in combat 90% of the time. Even then, you'd have to consider all that i've said in order to see if that's really what the fighter is intended to be, but YMMV.

tl;dr version:

The fighter is supposed to be a generic chassis to represent historical fighters, majority of whom didn't have any trade other than fighting and thus most of the time turned to banditry when kicked out of the army or there was no war going on, by virtue of having no other trade. Even famous ones resorted to that. It doesn't fit thematically in my opinion and there are other base classes, multiclassing, PRC's, cross class skills & feats that can give you the flexibility you want out of combat.

update: Spot & Listen not being on the fighter's list is just plain silly considering these are essential skills for any soldier on any army there has ever been on this earth. For warriors that are part of the nobility, consider that there is the Noble NPC class and that if you are going to go down that route, you may as well multiclass them with it, or resort to options that i have already outlined above.
« Last Edit: August 22, 2012, 12:15:14 AM by brujon »
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Offline Arz

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Disagree. The little fighter grows up to become the great general or super sergeant. These jobs involve accounting, logistics, politics, etc. See good soldiers gain rank/fame that have real benefits. Good fighters get none of this at present.

Offline brujon

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Disagree. The little fighter grows up to become the great general or super sergeant. These jobs involve accounting, logistics, politics, etc. See good soldiers gain rank/fame that have real benefits. Good fighters get none of this at present.

Get Leadership -> Bam, instant general. Even more so if the miniature's handbook says that "An army is usually composed of first level soldiers, with a few level 3 seargeants and level 5 commanders", all of which you can get with Leadership & Might Makes Right to key it off of strenght, which is usually a primary stat for most fighters. Moreso, multiclassing is the way to go if you want to be a general. To give every fighter the ability to become a great general or becoming a super sergeant, or even giving them the option would either make classes that focus on that redundant (marshall, some other class from Heroes of Battle that i forget), or railroad the fighter into that specific role, transforming it into yet another specialized base class, of which there is already aplenty.
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Offline veekie

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The poll really should cover a spectrum of out of combat capabilities. Too simplistic to get much info I think.
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Offline brujon

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Interestingly enough, i seem to be the only one that voted for "No". Huh.
"All the pride and pleasure of the world, mirrored in the dull consciousness of a fool, are poor indeed compared with the imagination of Cervantes writing his Don Quixote in a miserable prison" - Schopenhauer, Aphorisms: The Wisdom of Life

Offline Zionpopsickle

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Snip... warriors and lack of skills

This isn't actually true.  Samuraii had numerous non-combat skills such as painting, flower arranging, tea ceremony, drawing, etc.  The thing was that these skills weren't employable which lead to the ronin being forced to work as mercenary. 

Historically, warriors have almost always had some amount of other skills or knowledge, those that didn't were simply mercenaries or barbarians.  It takes a number of skills that are not directly combat related to be a professional soldier.  You need some inter-personal skills to maintain morale, survival skills to keep yourself healthy on a long campaign, some type of hobby skill to keep yourself from going a bit bonkers, etc.

Then once we move more towards the middle ages we get a lot of split between educated knights and aristocrat nobles and the uneducated man-at-arms that made up a bulk of the army.  Clearly the men-at-arms are NPCs which leaves the fighter to be a somewhat educated class.

Offline Jackinthegreen

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It's funny that they're called professional fighters/soldiers when profession isn't on their list.  Some things mentioned in Complete Warrior lead me to believe fighters would at least have Perform (weapon drill) available.  Various knowledges like a&e, history, and local have to do with battles or the way armies and fighting companies organize themselves.  Heck, Heroes of Battle specifically gave Speak Language as a class skill to fighters for the purpose of learning battle signals.
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Offline Ziegander

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To be blunt, I find both the question and the two answers to be far too simplistic to be worth anything. There are lots of implications loaded into the question and with either answer a voter is also weighing in on several other topics at once, possibly without intending to.

For example, asking whether or not the Fighter should be "good/great at out of combat stuff," implies, through metacontext, that it isn't good/great at that "stuff" and also that other classes are. It calls into question the importance of "out of combat stuff," and begs discussion of what exactly that "stuff" is. There are too many variables here to obtain satisfactory data from "yes" or "no" responses.

For me, player characters are adventurers. They are not thieves, they are not students, they are not bodyguards or priests. They are adventurers. Speaking about Fighter characters in particular, they are adventurers that may have been soldiers in their past, but that doesn't change the fact that they are now adventurers.

I bring this up because, in order to survive at being an adventurer for more than a week or so, one must be at least passably good at adventuring. Some of that necessitates being able to defend yourself in a fight. More than some of that necessitates capabilities in other areas. Again, to talk more specifically about Fighters, I obviously conclude that Fighters must at least be great at fighting as well as passably good at all other areas of adventuring. Which is to say, Fighters might be the least capable adventurers when it comes to out-of-combat skills, when compared to other adventurers but they will still be more capable than a commoner, a foot-soldier, or a blacksmith.

Offline PlzBreakMyCampaign

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Assuming a "fighter" class was actually really good at combat, no. See my Final Fantasy as DnD thread around here for a slimmer-than-core way to do that.

Offline ariasderros

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@ Brujon
I disagree with your logic.

Firstly: that D&D is or should be historic. D&D is mythic. In myths, there are many warriors (read: fighters) who overcome the magical enemies. I will grant that some of them have little to no skills or abilities beyond fighting though. Being that the only example I can think of to fit that exception is Beowulf though, I think he may just be the exception to the rule.

Secondly: that D&D should base its mechanical choices on anything other than D&D. Draw inspiration from elsewhere, sure, but the mechanics should not make something intended as an entire class of its own into something only effective as a dip.

IMO, the fighter does need some help. In combat and out.
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Fighter is a Waste of Space in combat (normally, there are exceptions, with builds in the situations they were built for), and out of combat
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That's it - everyone else is just taking up space.
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Offline brujon

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@ Brujon
I disagree with your logic.

Firstly: that D&D is or should be historic. D&D is mythic. In myths, there are many warriors (read: fighters) who overcome the magical enemies. I will grant that some of them have little to no skills or abilities beyond fighting though. Being that the only example I can think of to fit that exception is Beowulf though, I think he may just be the exception to the rule.

Secondly: that D&D should base its mechanical choices on anything other than D&D. Draw inspiration from elsewhere, sure, but the mechanics should not make something intended as an entire class of its own into something only effective as a dip.

IMO, the fighter does need some help. In combat and out.
I have people who are new to the game, or at least the edition read the "Party Roles" section of the Treantmonk's Wizard guide.
Go read it.
Okay?
Fighter is a Waste of Space in combat (normally, there are exceptions, with builds in the situations they were built for), and out of combat
Quote
That's it - everyone else is just taking up space.


But then you're redirecting the argument towards something i myself accounted for in my logic - that WoTC fucked up in the first place by making the casters so good in-combat that the fighter can only fight well if built for damage (charger), or BFC shenanigans (crackdown crusader), or having a tier 1 BFF (leadership, thrallherd dip)...

They tried to fix it by making splashbooks with a smattering of base classes & prestige classes that supposedly would make the fighter useful again. Guess what? They failed 90% of the time, and the other 10%, 5% is broken powerful, and just 5% remain that hit the sweet spot (mostly ToB).

Fighters are supposed to be the manifestation of the generic heroic warrior, PrC's and multiclassing give them flavor and OOC option, but the base fighter just represents mastery of combat, which it doesn't even come CLOSE to representing with it's core chassis. Even most heroes of fantasy aren't pure fighters, or took cross-class skils. See Conan for an example of what i'm talking about. He's good both in and out of combat, but EVERY conan representation in D&D there is see him taking at least some Rogue & or Swashbuckler levels. Why? Because he's a Pirate, a Thief, a Barbarian, a Pit Fighter, and a somewhat good blacksmith and merchant. Could he get all of that with ANY base martial oriented class? No. He fights dirty, he is cunning, he's devious.

How many heroes of fantasy can you name that wouldn't be more readily flavored as a Ranger? Or a Barbarian? Or a Paladin (Including the Non-Lawful Good ones)? Or hell, even a Rogue?

Give the fighter too much out of combat utility, and you disencourage people from multiclassing or PrC'ing out, and with the amount of versatility most fighter fixes give them, there's little incentive to playing ANY other martial oriented class. The core out of combat utilities most army soldiers have had throughout history were: Blacksmithing, Fletching, Survival, Riding, Swimming, Trapmaking... See the pattern? The fighter gets all of these OOC utilities. It's just that an Artificer makes a better Blacksmith, a Ranger or a Druid is more apt for Survival, big armor = swim bad, and without Ubermount builds, Ride is subpar. And then there's the Kobold domain for Clerics, Combat Trapsmith PrC and Trapsmith PrC...

What utilities you plan on giving the fighter out of combat? Diplomacy? Sure, i can see a persuasive general. But the Paladin and the Bard are much more suitable for that role, as is any caster because of spells. Forgery? Fighters are not bookwormish enough, and that skill doesn't see many use already. Lockpicking and Disarm traps? Rogue. Knowledge? Not bookwormish enough. Healing? It's magic in D&D, the heal skill is crap... Give the fighters magic and you might as well just play a gish. Scouting? Well, move silently and hide are prereqs to scouting, and heavy armor does not go well with that, so the rogue beats the fighter again, as does a wizard with scrying/familiar.

How do you plan on giving the fighter more out of combat utility without increasing overlap or introducing magic? Fighters do not need many skills. PrC into Dread Commando and you maintain full bab and get sneak attack & scouting ability. Imperious Command + Dread Pirate so you can intimidate into oblivion... Etc... etc... etc...

I say: No. Give the fighter the tools to beat the hell out of any summoned creature/animal companion. Make him better than the Cleric fully-buffed at combat with only his class features and WBL and were hitting the mark. Maybe add diplomacy or an ACF for a General type fighter. Create ACF's for scouting, archery, etc... This is the way, at least for me. The fighter was not made to be really awesome at out of combat stuff. To me, he represents the Mercenary extraordinaire, the master of whatever martial arts he wants to master. The king of kicking ass. This is what the fighter was supposed to be.
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Offline veekie

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@ Brujon
I disagree with your logic.

Firstly: that D&D is or should be historic. D&D is mythic. In myths, there are many warriors (read: fighters) who overcome the magical enemies. I will grant that some of them have little to no skills or abilities beyond fighting though. Being that the only example I can think of to fit that exception is Beowulf though, I think he may just be the exception to the rule.
Actually, realistic or mythic, warriors of the various eras are quite skilled in various domains.

Prior to standing armies, they were hunters, raiders and leaders. Fundamental skills of awareness, tracking, animal lore and environment lore were vital to survival, and the ability to manage followers, issue orders and quell dissent are things they sorta just picked up as they went.
Legendary heroes of this era were usually possessed of some additional skill, whether smithing or some other finer pursuits. Its what distinguishes them from the run of the mill tough.

Later on, with professional armies and nobility, theres a bit of a split between commanders and foot soldiers. Foot would be familiar with wilderness lore, field tactics and, first aid, along with the basics of ground level command, while losing a bit on awareness, making it up with quantity. Officers(and thus, nobles) were leaders first and warriors second, so arguably no longer necessarily Fighters. Theres also a lot more specialization. Modern armies still operate along these lines for the most part, just consider the kind of skills a professional modern soldier is expected to have some mastery of.

The 3.5 Fighter as we see it though, is the province of the conscript. The peasant, who for the lack of being more valuable in another trade, and not powerful/rich enough to have a command, is given basic weapons and gear, and trained as part of a formation more than as an individual.  This is funny because we do have such a class, the NPC Warrior class is supposed to be for conscripts and militia I think?

I'm thinking for out of combat competencies, you'd need to split into areas of competence, as well as progressions to measure by:
-Extended combat competencies. Combat-related abilities that are significant out of combat. These include perception (heroic, and notable famous warriors are generally quite keen of senses),  endurance, and feats of athletics. Stuff any serious fighter could be expected to be good at because they are closely related to actually fighting.

-Survival competencies. Any army dependent on forage, or which even operates outside a parade ground at all has these. They're the ability to obtain basic food, shelter and water out of the environment, the ability to navigate an unfamiliar area, and the ability to pass without notice. First aid also goes here, whether treating yourself or an ally, war is a trade where people get injured regularly, and medic or not, first aid, caring for injuries, and dealing with stuff like common poisons or wound infections are standard skills by necessity.

-Maintenance competencies. Basic to advanced smithing/fletching abilities, the ability to make sure your gear keeps working. An oddball thing, in that some degree of personal gear upkeep is expected, but barring the odd legend, few actually become legendary craftsmen.

-Tactical competencies. Simply put, squad or individual level tactics. Outside of combat, it again involves a grasp of terrain, how to use or modify it, as well as more general planning and problem solving abilities. Predicting short term enemy movements also fall inside this somewhat, as does preparing a rest area or campsite or sensing a ruse/ambush/trap. Level dependent, experienced fighters are expected to be able to do this, but lower level ones might not know much.

-Strategic competencies. Large scale planning, an understanding of logistics and general ability to organize or anticipate the organization of things beyond the scale of a single party. The ability to identify the plans and motives of others. Lots of overlaps with tactics and also level dependent.

-Leadership competencies. Command, intimidation, how to project yourself so you seem threatening or imposing. Sort of a given with most types of fighters, its mostly just how you motivate and order people around.

-Command competencies. The strategy to leadership's tactics. Politics, diplomacy and the various associated knowledge needed to govern men and nations properly.

Note that no one fighter is necessarily good at all of these, or even great at the ones they can do, but any fighter should have a big chunk of them at varying levels of competence. And these are mainly niche, backup or required skills, not ace skills (that is, character defining abilities). They are improved by everyone in the team having some of them, rather than made redundant.
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Offline brujon

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@Veekie

Half the stuff you just described is the province of the Ranger or the Scout! Tactical versatility is supposed to be able to be added through Tactical feats (from Complete Warrior), Leadership, ACF's and Multiclassing... But i agree with you on the survival thing. Armies, especially way back when, didn't always have access to a large storage of food, and many would have to forage & hunt their way as they moved through an enemy position. Alexander's armies especially suffered greatly from that when the slaves that carried their food and water started perishing when they crossed large stretches of desert. I agree also on the perception side... Spot & Listen should actually be class skills for ALL classes, because everyone has need of those. For blacksmithing, IIRC craft is already a skill for the Fighter. The fighter is more a mercenary than an army-men....
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Offline ariasderros

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@ brujon

You say that Fighter doesn't need anything, because you can just use the class for a dip, then multiclass.
You say that you don't need to think about the fact that you can't make any fictional character with fighter, because you can just make then by multiclassing.

You know what?
It says something about how much the design of the class sucks that all it is useful for is multiclassing. It says a lot about the class that you can't make any of the characters it is supposed to be based on in 3.X without multiclassing.

This is like saying Monk isn't broken if you use one of the class fixes.
Well, duh, but at that point you're not talking about the same thing anymore.

I know you can use the vastness of material in 3.X to make damn near anything if enough effort and research is put in and all of those resources are allowed. But in a core game, you should be able to play a Fighter true to a character that is a fighter.

Core classes, you cannot make a character inspired by any of the great tactical fighters of myth or legend. Bear in mind: I never would have referenced Conan, or several others that obviously use Rogue in the first place; nor would I reference St. George, who's either a Paladin or a Cleric.

@ Veekie
You keep referencing the noble Knights as the historic example of the Fighter, and you say that the conscripts are the Warriors.
(about to slit my own argument in the thought here)
If you want to look at medieval Europe and put the Fighter in a historic context, look at the people who served as Man-at-Arms. The ones who weren't Knights, I mean. These guys were good in a fight, and at taking orders. That was it. They lived for no other purpose, trained in no other purpose. But they were trained, in great depth, how to use each of their weapons.

This is why I've been so adamant about getting out of the historic argument. Conscript = Warrior and Fighter = Man-at-Arms.
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Sorry I haven't been on much. Will try to get things back in order soon.

Offline veekie

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^^
Not that, Man-At-Arms, and even the tribal hunters, or the roman legionnaires are Fighters. Conscripts are true conscripts, they are either low value slave-soldiers or just drafted civilians.
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Offline Prime32

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Doesn't the DMG say that conscripts are commoners and men-at-arms are warriors?