Fixing The Fighter In 4e
The Dragon has a playtest article up today from Martial Power 2 (Subscription to DDI Required) which attempts yet again to get the fighter a little more oomph. Martial Power did give the fighters more choices last fall, but pure fighters are still very rare in the games I run and I think I understand why. Fighters lack color and interest, despite their being massively improved from the ye olden days D&D I used to play. Paladins have a better mark with Divine Challenge, Barbarians do tons more damage and unlike Wizards who start out strong at first level many fighter builds don’t blossom at all until at least mid-way through heroic levels. The Dragon article attempts to give them some more choices, but it relies on feats, which means that once again it will be mid-Heroic before a fighter can really stand out. How can we give a fighter some flavor without really over powering him? Here are some ideas.
The Fighters Mark is the least useful mark of any of the defender marks, it adds a straight -2 to hit as all marks do and if a marked target is adjacent it allows for a Combat Challenge attack if it shifts or attacks someone else. In practice this seems to be pretty rare. I would consider upping the fighters mark to a -3 to hit and keep the Combat Challenge. This makes the fighter’s mark the most debilitating mark in the game and a much more serious worry for the enemy. Currently, ever other defender automatically overrides a fighters mark as theirs is better, this should make it more a question about whose mark should stay.
Fighters aren’t strikers and their middling damage reflects that. I am not advocating a big damage buff, but how about an extra class based d6 on a critical hit. This would reflect the fighters ability to hurt someone when they see an opening without really gunning them up to striker territory.
As so much of what makes each fighter distinct comes from feats, my last thought for making fighters interesting even at low level would be to give them an extra class feat at level one. This must be from the fighter class feats but it would allow even a starting fighter to have a trick up his sleeve to match the more showy defenders out there.
I am aware their are power builds for fighters out there, Battle Ragers and Tempests seem to be the popular ones at the moment, but I feel even a sword and shield fighter should have something fun right from the start and not have to wait until he has five feats under his belt before the party thinks he is useful as something other than road block that needs a lot of healing around. At the moment the iconic sword and shield fighter is a rare beast, how do you think they should be sexed up?
Jonathan Drain at D20 Sources has some thoughts on why a fighter has powers they can only use once a day.
Charles Tan at Bibliophile Stalker has thoughts on the 4e Fighter attack powers and weapons.
Oz at Lord Oz has some thoughts about giving fighters talent trees, similar to the ones you see in MMOs.