It’s Tabletop Tuesday for like the bazillionth time in a row, and this week we’re taking a look at what is perhaps the most boring class in any fantasy game – the fighter.
Don’t get me wrong; the fighter is an incredibly important part of every unit. The raw combat skill of this character is key when battling enemies. While the fighter may not have the highest possible damage output, this class is the most consistent. And since fighters can take a lot of hits, they’ll be providing that consistent damage for a long time. However, playing as a fighter can be kind of boring, as combat is pretty much their only skill – particularly in the game Dungeon World. So today, I thought I’d offer up some ideas for fighter characters with a few tricks up their sleeves.
THE SMART FIGHTER
Fighter characters are stereotypically stupid, but there’s kind of a reason behind that. For a character who doesn’t cast spells, and who focuses primarily on combat, it is statistically inefficient to invest points into a fighter’s intelligence score. However, there are skills from the fighter’s move selection, and from the moves of other classes, that can help you create a character that is “smart” without ever needing to invest points in intellect.
First of all, you’ll want to check out the fighter abilities Seeing Red and Heirloom. The former increases your Discern Realities checks by 1 during combat, making it easier to gather information and notice important details. The latter allows you to consult your weapon for information. These abilities rely on wisdom and charisma, respectively, abilities that may not be particularly high for your fighter. It may be best to choose one that really matters to you and focus on that.
Fighters get two multiclass moves, one for levels 2-5 and one for levels 6-10. You can use these to borrow smarty-pants moves from other classes. One I recommend is the Bardic Lore ability – you choose one thing to be knowledgeable about, and whenever you encounter something that falls under that category you get to ask the GM one question about it. Because no rolls are required, you don’t have to worry about any of your mental stats being high. If you see your character as someone who gives advice, consider the wizard’s Know-It-All ability. This allows you to share your knowledge with someone else, and if they follow your advice, they get a bonus to their roll while you get an experience point. It’s a win-win for everybody, and again, no dice rolls required.
When playing a smarter fighter, you’ll definitely want to make more use of abilities like Discern Realities and Spout Lore. These moves allow you to gain information that you can use to your advantage in combat to give you a serious edge, but more importantly, they give your character helpful skills outside of combat situations. You aren’t just limited to punching stuff – your wit and wisdom will help the team to make decisions and to have all the knowledge they need to succeed.
THE MAGICAL FIGHTER
Some folks aren’t satisfied only being good at fighting or only being good at magic. Some folks just want it all. And thanks to the multiclass abilities of the fighter, you can! As early as level two, you can choose to gain either the cleric’s Deity, Commune, and Cast a Spell moves, or the wizard’s Spellbook, Prepare Spells, and Cast a Spell moves. Whether you choose the path of holy spells or arcane magic, you’ll now have the combined powers of magic and of swordplay.
The wizard path will compliment your fighting strength to make you the ultimate offensive presence. Intellect will be important to you if you choose to be a wizard, so keep that in mind and take advantage of the opportunity to have a high Spout Lore ability. When you reach higher levels and have the ability to choose a second multiclass move, consider moves such as Empowered Spell, Counterspell, Spell Defense, Arcane Ward, and Spell Augmentation. These make your spells more effective or make you more powerful when you have spells prepared, making the blend of magic and strength all the more evident.
The cleric path will allow some utility, enabling you to fill a supportive role in addition to your combat role. As a cleric, your spellcasting is based on wisdom, so the Discern Realities move will come a little more easily to you. When you multiclass for a second time, you have the opportunity to take advantage of your Deity ability and take moves like Turn Undead or Divine Guidance, or to focus more on spellcasting and take something like Empower, Serenity, or Divine Intervention. Able to serve as both a healer and a front-line fighter, you’ll be able to fill multiple roles in the party and feel a lot more useful than a simple meatshield.
If you want to do magic in a really interesting way, consider becoming a shapeshifter or learning bardsong. While these methods of magic aren’t as mainstream as the spellcasting abilities of clerics and wizards, they have their uses and may fit your vision of a magical fighter better.
THE SPEEDY FIGHTER
Along with the belief that fighters are stupid comes the belief that they are slow. This makes sense to a degree – the heavy armor that fighters wear keeps them from being particularly flexible. However, there are types of fighters that utilize speed in their combat style. Here are some ways to represent that sort of fighter.
If you play as an elf, you get to choose one type of weapon that is always “precise” for you. These weapons rely on dexterity rather than strength when you Hack and Slash, so by taking this race you can have a fighter who uses dexterity for ranged combat and for melee combat. When you choose multiclass abilities, consider choosing ones that increase your ranged abilities to compliment the fighter’s natural preference for melee. The ranger is a good option, as you can take moves such as Called Shot, Blot Out the Sun, or Smaug’s Belly in order to make your archery stand out. Rangers also offer the ability to dual wield in order to increase your damage. You can combine the damage bonus from Viper’s Strike and Viper’s Fangs with the fighter’s Merciless and Bloodthirsty moves to deal incredible damage with your basic attacks. Who says speed can’t be strong too?
If you want a more crafty approach with your dexterity-based abilities, consider playing as a halfling fighter and then incorporating some thief abilities into your repertoire. The Backstab and Poisoner moves add an edge of dirty fighting to your impressive damage abilities, but chances are if you’re adding thief abilities to your fighter, you’re more interested in out-of-combat abilities. Moves like Trap Expert, Heist, Connections, and Disguise will give you some useful skills to use when you aren’t bashing in the skulls of your enemies.
Making your character a fighter doesn’t have to be a straightforward, boring choice. With a little out-of-the-box thinking, you can make this stereotypically one-sided role into something multifaceted and fun. I hope you like these ideas and you consider trying them out the next time you get the opportunity to play Dungeon World. And if you have any ideas about a particularly interesting fighter setup, be sure to let us know in the comments.