Burst of Insight

Burst of Insight—Rebuilding the Fighter part one

Another alternate fighter? Really? Yeah. Now the fighter as it stands is a viable option but it could be better. So, I thought I’d take a pass at modifying the class to make it a better fit for our table and eventually share those results here.

This week, however, let’s begin by looking at some of the persistent concerns my players have about the fighter as is and some of the existing patches.

Skills: 2 + Intelligence seems a little short when you consider how important skills can be to getting your character to live up to its concept especially at first level. Imagine a pirate themed campaign and a player wants to build a straight fighter. They assign a slightly above average Intelligence of 12 and gets three skill points in total. Looking at the skill list the player decides Swim is essential, Profession (sailor) seems like a good idea, Climb to represent time in the rigging, Knowledge (local) for all those ports of call, Acrobatics for keeping balance on a pitching deck plus it’s fun to “swashbuckle” and perform daring stunts. Before we’ve gone very far at all, we’re already over our skill limit.

Right now there is a third-era alternate fighter ability that Paizo released with the original Campaign Setting hardcover that solves this problem increasing the Fighter’s base skill points from 2 to 4 at the cost of a bonus feat. This also broadened the list of class skills the fighter could access. So over the long haul, it’s a good investment. Almost too good. I don’t think I’ve ever made a fighter without it as long as I was allowed to take the class feature because it’s pretty much a no-brainer.

Bravery: Bravery is a huge boon to the fighter but at low levels, the bonus still leaves the “brave and stalwart” fighter one of the most vulnerable members of the party when it comes to fear effects. In the Council of Thieves campaign I play in, we have two fighters who have been scared out of combat several times both of us broke down and spent a feat on Iron Will just so we’d stop running for the hills when confronted by supernatural fear. It quickly became a standing joke. Fortunately, there is a fix (Iron Will) but again the cost is a feat. Suddenly that thing that fighter’s do (master of combat feats) starts to suffer.

The “Fighters are Boring” Complaint: Normally, I’m a huge fan of new rules options and despite what I’m about to say I still am, but the sheer volume of cool new classes has exacerbated this problem. Fighters pretty much do one thing: They collect feats that let them hit harder in combat. To be fair, I know this is a gross understatement but it is a common perception. Especially when you compare feats vs. spells or resource pools such as grit and panache.

Stamina was a great attempt to fix this issue but it left a lot of combat feats unaddressed and every subsequent release largely increases this issue. This is compounded by the fact that by necessity the existing tricks are not presented with the original feats. The end result is there is a great deal of additional book juggling on the player who wants to use this system. Not a selling point for the more casual gamers at my table.

Now some of these issues have been addressed by some excellent third-party products, I play a Talented Tighter in the previously mentioned Council of Thieves campaign built using The Genius Guide to the Talented Fighter from Rogue Genius Games. I’m also very interested in playing an unchained-style fighter as presented in Everyman Unchained: Fighters by our very own Alex Augunas but again my more casual players aren’t really demonstrating an interest in any aspect of the Stamina systems as they currently work.

Come back in two-weeks and we’ll see how (or possibly if*) I’ve addressed each of these concerns. Please, if you’ve had an issue with the current fighter class leave a comment and maybe I’ll address your thoughts in the upcoming design.

*Not if I’ll rebuild the fighter, but if a given issue actually ends up needing to be fixed.

Andrew Marlowe

placed in the Top 16 of RPG Superstar in 2012 and 2014, one of the few contestants to get that far in the competition twice. Since then, he has contributed to many Paizo and third party Pathfinder products, including one of the network’s favourite releases in the Pathfinder Player Companion line, the Dirty Tactics Toolbox. Every other Tuesday, he will be sharing his Burst of Insight, with design tips for would-be game designers from a decorated freelancer.