Friday, September 13, 2013

Ten fighter archetypes

The fighter class is good at fighting, but there are a lot of different ways to approach that job.  All of these archetypes may exist comfortably within the rules of whatever iteration of classic D&D or its clones one might favor, from OD&D to Labyrinth Lord Advanced Edition and all points in between, without need for fiddly subclasses.  It's all in how you equip and play them.
  1. The foot soldier:  The standard no-nonsense fighting man, unburdened with silly notions of chivalry or showmanship, practical in choice of weapons and armor.  May or may not have an actual military background.
  2. The archer:  Capable with a blade, but prefers to take down foes from a distance.  Light armor allows the mobility to maintain that distance.  A bow, preferably long, is a must, with dagger and short sword or axe as side arms. 
  3. The swashbuckler:  Dashing, daring, and flamboyant in attire as well as fighting style, the swashbuckler favors light armor and graceful blades.  Bulky or crude weapons like axes and maces are right out.  If there's anything in the swashbuckler's off-hand, it's likely either a buckler shield or a main gauche.
  4. The barbarian:  A warrior from a culture considered backward or uncivilized.  Superstitious, uneducated, and uncouth by "civilized" standards.  Usually prefers hard-hitting weapons over finesse, hide or leather armor with a hide buckler, and clothing of furs and leather.
  5. The brawler:  All the gusto of the swashbuckler with none of the finesse.  Rude, crude, and always spoiling for a fight, be it with fists, chairs, maces, or swords.  Quite likely he extends this gusto to all other things that he considers to be worth doing at all: food, drink, women (or men, as the case may be), singing, boasting...  He isn't picky about his equipment, but prefers things with impact, like battle axes and clubs, and disdains "sissy" weapons like rapiers and whips.
  6. The hunter:  Learned his fighting chops against bears and boars rather than enemy soldiers or fencing partners.  At home in the wild, the hunter likes leather armor and spears, bows, and hand axes as weapons.
  7. The gallant:  It's all about honor and chivalry for this fighter, whether he's a knight, a squire, or a peasant with big dreams.  The sword is his talisman as well as his weapon of choice, and he'll acquire plate mail, a lance, and a trusty steed as soon as possible.
  8. The coward:  Curiously keen to avoid combat and has a thousand face-saving (or so he thinks) excuses to get out of dangerous duties.  He really does know how to fight, though: Back him into a corner and he's as dangerous as any fighter, or maybe more so if he fights dirty when he's scared.
  9. The sailor:  Formerly a member of a pirate crew or a guard on a merchant ship.  Uncomfortable in anything heavier than a brigandine jack, with a likely fondness for cutlasses, daggers, and clubs.
  10. The black knight:  He's not necessarily evil, but definitely no ray of sunshine either.  Intimidation is his stock in trade; he tends to be taciturn, grim, and glowering.  His armor is dark and menacing, his weapons wickedly curved, barbed, and flanged.  He isn't particularly quick to start a fight, but once battle is joined he is a ruthless combatant.

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