Masters of War
To a smith, the sound of the forge is the pleasant song of honest labor. To a fighter, it is the stirring anthem of war itself. It is the promise that an empty hand will soon be filled with some tool of their trade- an axe, a sword, or a shield. Usually stoic in the face of those who mock them as unsophisticated or crude, the fighter can’t help but shake their head and smile when battle is joined and their detractors are left shaking in their boots with soiled smallclothes- if they survive at all. There will always be situations where grim steel is preferable to fickle diplomacy, and in those situations it is the fighter who is the first to step forward.
The life of a professional swordsman, elite mercenary, private bodyguard, or whatever title a fighter chooses to go by is dangerous but simple, and likewise calls to rough men and women who enjoy life’s simple pleasures. Some revel in creature comforts like fine wine and glittering jewels, others take satisfaction in the quiet assurance that they can choose any seat in any tavern. Perhaps it is because they are so doggedly uncomplicated that fighters are often sterling examples of both the best and worse their people have to offer. Dwarven fighters- who are renowned for their numbers just as much as their skill- are at once noble and avaricious, elven fighters graceful and arrogant, halfling fighters cheerful and vigilant to the point of paranoia, half elven fighters adaptable and cruel, half dragons and half orcs proud and brutal, and human specimens open-minded yet prone to acts of almost casual violence. It is here that a fighter’s personal ethos steps in to determine where they fall between these two extremes and define them as individuals. Evil fighters believe their abilities naturally put them in a position of authority over those weaker than themselves; chaotic evil fighters feel that they are doing others a favor by suffering their existence at all. Good characters are not so much concerned with controlling others as they are with protecting them, although they may take on the responsibility of leadership if they feel their goals can be met more rapidly by doing so, particularly if they are lawful. Neutral fighters most readily fulfill their racial stereotypes, although chaotic neutral specimens zealously resist anything that even smacks of predictability.
Iconoclasts aside, to those outside of their fraternity one rank and file warrior very much resembles another- heavily armed, heavily armored, and usually heavy-handed in social situations. ‘Loins of steel, head of lead’, as the halfling rhyme goes. While there are unfortunates whose swords are sharper than their wit will ever be, most fighters are as cunning as any of their peers, and there are a few who convincingly play the role of the dumb brute until it is time to reveal their skill. After all, monks and wizards are not the only ones with trade secrets, and fighters have an edge over their contemporaries in that many of their techniques are so quietly widespread that an opponent may not realize they are facing a master at arms until it is too late. A humble caravan guard honing an arrowhead against an oilstone could be a drudge or an expert marksman keeping a low profile. A traveler enjoying ale at a tavern with a great axe slung across their back could be a wandering champion or a clumsy novice. The sleepy wanderer bedding down in a clearing with naught but their short sword and buckler for company is either waiting to join the local food chain or has taken their place at its top. Since there is no way to tell by sight alone and so few are willing to test their mettle, the average person treats a fighter with the same amount of fear and respect that they would any obvious magic user.
Fighters see more toe-to-toe combat than anyone else in an adventuring party, and often serve as party leader by din of the hazards they face. While they can be convinced to take on other roles in the party, they prefer leadership to be in the hands of classes that put as much importance on physical combat as they do. Barbarians, monks and paladins receive the bulk of the fighter’s respect in this, although they can also be viewed askance when their respective quirks come into conflict with the fighter’s straightforward nature. Fighters prefer to keep those who rely on magic out of any major party decisions. While they are certainly useful or even vital to the party’s well-being- especially if they can provide healing or create magical weapons- their place in the rear lines of combat means that they are ill-suited to lead anything other than debates on arcane or divine theory. The average fighter saves the bulk of their scorn for those who lack the stomach for direct confrontation, which means rogues and others who rely exclusively on misdirection or stealth are kept at sword’s length.
As stated in the SRD.
DM’s Option: Offense Vs. Defense
Monks have the fighting styles offered by their Tradition. Rangers have fighting styles based on a chosen weapon: spells, twin weapons, animal companions, bow and arrow. Fighters do not bother with anything so fancy, simply making a choice between offense and defense. Once a choice is made, it is permanent.
Offense Option: Improved Feats
When taking one of the following feats as a bonus feat, Fighters enjoy the following secondary benefits. A player should mark these feats with an asterisk on their character sheet to differentiate them from their other feats.
Blind Fight- You treat targets that are the subject of a blink spell as if they had concealment (20% miss chance).
Cleave- You can take a 5 foot step between cleave attempts.
Combat Expertise- You can exceed your base attack bonus when using this feat.
Combat Reflexes- You gain one extra attack of opportunity attempt when using this feat.
Deflect Arrows- You can deflect arrows even if you have both hands full.
Dodge- You can increase your AC even when the subject of an attack you are not aware of (i.e. surprise attacks). You can still only increase your AC against one attacker, and in the event of surprise attacks from multiple attackers, this only activates against the first attack.
Exotic Weapon Proficiency- You can ignore any ability score requirements for wielding said weapon.
Far Shot- You gain a +1 bonus to hit and damage on attacks that need this feat to hit. This feat stacks with other Shot feats, if applicable.
Great Cleave- You can move up to 10 feet between Cleave attempts.
Greater Two Weapon Fighting- You gain a +3 bonus to your AC when wielding two weapons. This replaces the benefit from Improved Two Weapon Fighting.
Greater Weapon Focus- You gain a +3 bonus to hit, damage, and initiative modifiers when using this weapon. This replaces the benefit from Weapon Focus. This bonus does not stack if wielding more than one of the same weapon.
Greater Weapon Specialization- You gain a +4 bonus to hit, damage, and initiative modifiers when using this weapon. This replaces the benefit of Greater Weapon Focus. This bonus does not stack if wielding more than one of the same weapon.
Improved Bull Rush- If successful, you move the opponent back 10 ft.
Improved Critical- You do not have to re-roll to confirm a critical hit if you roll a 19 or 20.
Improved Disarm- The weapon is 5 feet away from the opponent in a randomly determined square.
Improved Feint- You gain a +2 bonus on all Feint attempts.
Improved Grapple- You can deal 1d6 lethal damage in a grapple if you are a medium-sized creature, or 1d4 lethal damage if you are a small-sized creature.
Improved Initiative- You gain a +1 bonus on Reflex saves.
Improved Overrun- If successful, the opponent is knocked 5 feet away in a randomly determined adjacent square.
Improved Precise Shot- You gain a +1 bonus on rolls to confirm a critical hit when using this feat. This feat stacks with other Shot feats when applicable.
Improved Shield Bash- When using a Power Attack with a shield bash, you can increase your AC by half the amount used in the Power Attack.
Improved Sunder- If the item is sundered (destroyed), the target takes damage beyond what was needed to sunder the object.
Improved Trip- You are considered one size category larger than you are with respect to trip attempts.
Improved Two Weapon Fighting- You gain a +2 bonus to AC when fighting with two weapons. This replaces the benefit of Two Weapon Fighting.
Improved Unarmed Strike- Your critical threat on unarmed strikes is 19-20.
Manyshot- Any critical hits made with this feat apply to all attacks made.
Mobility- You gain a +2 bonus to hit and damage opponents using this feat against you.
Mounted Archery- You gain a +1 bonus to attack and damage with this feat. It does not negate the penalties associated with mounted archery (see the feat description), but is does stack with all Shot feats.
Mounted Combat- You enjoy a +2 modifier to all Ride checks made using this feat.
Point Blank Shot- Your enjoy a +1 bonus on attempts to confirm a critical hit when using this feat.
Power Attack- You can use this feat with light weapons.
Precise Shot- You gain a +1 bonus to attack and damage on attacks using this feat. This stacks with other Shot feats where applicable.
Quick Draw- You can draw a hidden weapon as a free action.
Rapid Reload- You can reload a heavy crossbow as a free action.
Rapid Shot- You gain a +1 bonus to hit and damage when using this feat. This stacks with other Shot feats.
Ride By Attack- You can make one turn when using this feat, 45 degrees to the right or the left and five feet beyond the opponent struck by this attack.
Shot on the Run- You gain a +1 bonus to hit when using this feat. This stacks with other Shot feats where applicable.
Snatch Arrows- You gain a +1 bonus to hit and damage when using arrows captured by this feat if they are used within 3 rounds of being snatched. This feat stacks with Shot feats where applicable.
Spirited Charge- Your critical threat range increases by 1 when using this feat.
Spring Attack- You are not subject to attacks of opportunity from anyone when using this feat.
Stunning Fist- You can attempt a stunning fist attack up to two times in a single round.
Trample- Your mount counts as one size category larger when making trample attacks.
Two Weapon Defense- You gain a +4 bonus when fighting defensively. This replaces the +2 bonus normally provided by this feat.
Two Weapon Fighting- You gain a +1 bonus to AC when fighting with two weapons.
Weapon Finesse- You do not suffer any penalty when using a shield.
Weapon Focus- You add a +1 bonus to your initiative.
Weapon Specialization- You add a +2 bonus to your initiative. This replaces the benefit from Weapon Focus.
Whirlwind Attack- If successful, you move all opponents you strike 5 feet away from you in a randomly determined direction.
Offense Option: Modify Weapon
A fighter can choose to modify a weapon that they have the Weapon Focus and Weapon Specialization feats to increase its effectiveness when performing a critical hit or when it a special ability inherent to the weapon is being used. The fighter can choose to modify a weapon so that it:
Enjoys a +1 bonus when confirming critical hits;
Enjoys a +1 bonus to damage when performing a critical hit;
Enjoys a +1 bonus to resist or confirm disarm, sunder, or trip attempts (the latter only if the weapon can be used to perform trip attempts)
Increases its range increment by 5 feet if it is a thrown weapon;
Enjoys a +1 bonus to damage when being readied against a charge (if the weapon can be readied against a charge).
Enjoys a +1 bonus to damage if the weapon does double damage when being used in a charge (if the weapon does double damage when used on a charging mount).
Inflicts another type of condition upon a critical hit(if playing with the DM’s Option for masterwork weapons, this condition must be chosen from the list of conditions other masterwork weapons are capable of).
These modifications are applied to a weapon by the fighter’s player declaring that they are taking the Modify Weapon Offense Option instead of a bonus feat. A fighter must spend a number of weeks equal to the number of modifications they are applying to the weapon to modify it, and costs an amount of gold equal to the total number of modifications being made to a specific weapon x100 in materials. While a fighter can use as many of these modifications as the weapon qualifies for, a fighter CANNOT use the same one twice in a row. For example, a fighter could increase a flail’s ability to confirm a critical hit when taking their bonus feat at first level, and then increase their chance to confirm a trip attempt when using that same flail for their bonus feat at second level, but they could not increase their ability to confirm a critical hit at first level and then again at second level. If a fighter loses this weapon somehow, they can apply all of the options their original weapon had to another that meets the prerequisites provided they spend a length of time necessary to get it up to that level. The fighter can opt to have the weapon be modified with fewer bonuses if pressed for time. If a modified weapon is being wielded by a character other than the one that modified it, they can only use one of that weapons modifications in combat and even then only if they have both the Weapon Focus and Weapon Specialization feats for that weapon, although it is an modification of their choosing. A fighter cannot modify a magical weapon, and any bonuses placed upon an item through modification are lost should the weapon ever be ever enchanted.
Defense Option: Adrenaline
Fighters are so used to physical abuse that they recover quickly from the rigors of combat. They gain a specialized version of Fast Healing with a rating equal to one third their level. This ability does not function out of combat, nor can it restore hit points beyond what a fighter had at the start of a battle. A fighter cannot attack someone or go out seeking a fight simply to reap the benefits of this special ability- the DM and player are encouraged to work together to ensure this special ability does not cause the fighter to overshadow or ignore the contribution of other players. It does NOT function against subdual damage.
Defense Option: Modify Armor
Similar to Offense Option: Modify Weapon shown above, this option applies to a specific suit of armor. It differentiates in that the fighter does not have to have Weapon Focus or Weapon Specialization for the armor but it takes 2 weeks to modify armor and costs 300 gold in materials per modification made. The fighter can choose to:
Increase their speed while using this armor by 5 feet (to a maximum of the fighter’s unarmored speed);
Increase their Initiative modifier while wearing this armor by 1(to a maximum of their unarmored initiative modifier, and only if the armor affects their initiative modifier).
Sleep in the armor without being fatigued;
Halve the armor check penalty that is associated with a certain action;
Decrease the arcane spell failure chance of the armor by 5%.
Alter the type of DR offered by the armor (if the DM’s Option regarding masterwork armor is being used).
If the armor is ever lost, the fighter can modify another set of armor using the rules described under Offense Option: Modify Weapon. If another character wishes to use armor that has been modified by a fighter, they must have the proficiency for that armor and even then they can only enjoy one particular modification of their choosing. This option does not work with magical armors and all bonuses from the armor being modified are lost if the armor is ever enchanted.