I’ve been paying attention to some of the internet chatter with regards to D&D Next as of late, and I’m puzzled by all this talk of the Fighters getting the short end of the stick. From what I can tell, a lot of this stems from the fact that there isn’t a laundry list of powers / maneuvers in the rules that cater specifically to the Fighter class. Oddly, I find the lack of maneuvers liberating, as it gives Players and GMs the opportunity to get fighters to try all sorts of things without consulting a list of powers and losing the tempo of the game.
That said, if you’re looking for a laundry list of powers, look no further than the Conditions listing in the How To Play document for a slew of interesting things you can do in a fight, aside from, “I attack it.”
Seriously, a fighter can inflict a surprising number of Conditions on their opponents without needing to resort to powers to do so. All it takes is a little imagination and a willingness of both the player to spruce up his combat descriptions a bit, and some adaptation by the GM. Let’s explore the possibilities a little, shall we?
- Blinded – “I reach down and grab a handful of dust/dirt/ash/sawdust and fling it towards his eyes!” Contested DEX check, with the target creature suffering the Blinded condition if he fails. The target creature can spend an action to clear his vision to remove the Blinded condition on his turn.
- Deafened - “I clap both hands on either side of his head to deliver a painful blow to his ears!” standard unarmed Melee attack roll, but rather than deal damage, the target creature is Deafened for a number of rounds equal to the Fighter’s STR mod (with a minimum of 1 round).
- Frightened – “I let out a mighty war cry and brandish my weapon, making it clear that they’re not getting out of this fight alive!” Contested STR (or CHA) vs. Target’s WILL check, with the target suffering the Frightened condition if he fails.
- Prone – “I sweep his legs out from under him!” Contested STR (or DEX) vs. Target’s DEX check, with the target creature suffering the Prone condition.
- Restrained – “I grab him in a mighty bear hug and lift him off his feet!” Contested STR vs STR check, with the target creature suffering the Restrained condition. The target creature can spend its next action trying to break free with another Contested STR vs STR check for as long as it is Restrained.
And these are just all using the empty room scenario. Add interesting terrain like the sort you find in dungeons and you can multiply the number of things you can do with using the Improvise action on just about any situation. You can pick someone up and hurl them into a pit trap with a Contested STR vs. STR. roll, with the smaller character suffering a Disadvantage. Tipping over a heavy barrel and sending it tumbling down a narrow staircase into a group of monsters could force them all to make checks or else end up Prone. Heck, if you have a particularly suave Fighter, you could even try to seduce that Necromancer that has that Goth thing going on that you’re up against with a CHA vs Will contest and get her to side with you guys.
The funny thing about this is that nobody needs to tell you that your character can do X, Y and Z. This sort of freedom in play is something we’ve been doing as kids when we play “Let’s Pretend.” That’s what puzzles me about this insistence on seeing a specific list of maneuvers for fighters. We already have something much better than a list, all we have to do is be brave enough to take it out of our heads and put it into play.
Note that I am quite aware that any and all of the things I’ve described can be performed by various other character Classes as well. Still, I think a Fighter gains the most benefit from the kind of freedom that they have at the moment. Not everyone can dead lift a fully armored orc and toss it down a ravine after all.