Reconsidering the Fighter for PF1
Posted by Owen K.C. Stephens
For years I’ve thought about altering the 1st edition Pathfinder Roleplaying Game fighter class so it has some kind of extraordinary ability that would augment it the way rangers and paladins have spells and supernatural powers. Something to represent that moment when the heroic warrior pits their will, skill, and determination into overdrive and overcomes obstacles that stymie lesser mortals. Not something too boost
But… that’d be a lot of work.
But… every project starts somewhere.
So, here is a really rough First Draft for Martial Techniques, a new alternate class feature for fighters. This is absolutely not how I would present these in a final format, but it’s something I would playtest to see how well the rough version works, to give me guidance on where to take it in development. These are very much not supposed to boost a fighter’s attack rolls, AC, damage, or threat range, but instead give fighters options when dealing with challenges the class isn’t otherwise well-suited to deal with.
You gain martial techniques in place of bravery (or in place of anything that replaced bravery if you took an archetype that removes bravery). You can use it once per day at 2nd level, and one additional time per day at 6th level and every 4 levels thereafter.
You can use only a single martial technique each round. You use a technique as part of a standard, move, full, or swift action, or a reaction. Martial techniques are extraordinary abilities and, much as the flight of a dragon or the existence of elemental entities, often seem magical without counting as spell-like or supernatural.
There are six martial techniques. You can select from the full list each time you use a martial technique.
Breakdown: You may add your base attack bonus to a single Strength ability check.
Heroic Threat: Select one foe that can see and hear you. That foe takes a -4 penalty to all attack rolls the the DCs of its spells and abilities until it has come within 30 feet of you to make an attack against you or force you to make a saving throw. This effect ends if you move away from the foe, are dazed or stunned, take cover or gain concealment, or the foe takes a standard action to regain their composure.
Overcome: A single attack ignores DR, and affects incorporeal and swarm creatures at full effectiveness even if it normally wouldn’t. If you use this a second time on the same target, it applies to all your attacks until the end of the encounter.
Reputation: Your reputation proceeds you. You may add your base attack bonus to a single Diplomacy, Intimidate, or Sense Motive check.
Shake It Off: You ignore one condition for one round. If the condition is one you could have negated with a saving throw, you also gain a bonus save (at the same DC) to end it.
Vault: An amount of movement up to half your normal move rate can be taken in any direction that does not require teleportation, including flight, underwater, or through difficult terrain. This does not give you additional movement, just frees the movement you take through your normal actions from most restrictions. At the end of your turn if you are not at a location that can support you, you suffer the normal consequences for being there (such as falling, or needing to make a Swim check to not sink).
I have a Patreon. It supports the time I take to do all my blog posts. If you’d like to see more Pathfinder 1st edition options (or more rules for other game systems, fiction, game industry essays, game design articles, worldbuilding tips, whatever!), try joining for just a few bucks and month and letting me know!
About Owen K.C. StephensOwen K.C. Stephens Owen Kirker Clifford Stephens is a full-time ttRPG Writer, designer, developer, publisher, and consultant. He's the publisher for Rogue Genius Games, and has served as the Starfinder Design Lead for Paizo Publishing, the Freeport and Pathfinder RPG developer for Green Ronin, a developer for Rite Publishing, and the Editor-in-Chief for Evil Genius Games. Owen has written game material for numerous other companies, including Wizards of the Coast, Kobold Press, White Wolf, Steve Jackson Games and Upper Deck. He also consults, freelances, and in the off season, sleeps. He has a Pateon which supports his online work. You can find it at https://www.patreon.com/OwenKCStephens
Posted on November 11, 2020, in Game Design, Pathfinder Development and tagged Fighters, Game Design, gaming, Geekery, PC Options. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.
When I think of the fighter’s signature ability, I think of all the bonus feats fighters get. The problem is, feats are almost always worse than class abilities. Other classes, like the Barbarian, are more interested in taking Extra Rage Power over and over than taking a real feat. The Fighter starts on a back foot, having a class ability weaker than other classes that typically progresses at the same pace.
The general consensus online is that the Advanced Weapon Training and Advanced Armor Training options for a fighter, effectively fighter only feats available to those with the weapon training and armor training abilities, unlocked a lot of combat and out-of-combat utility for the fighter class. I think my first step to improving the fighter would be to look at these abilities as examples and make them baseline components of the class. These feats help bring the Fighter’s iconic ability, feats, up to a similar level as rage powers, magus arcana, etc.
In my opinion, the Martial Techniques you proposed are a bit inconsistent. The per day limit it quite brutal, and for half a fighter’s career they are only usable 1-2 times per day. The limited usage frankly is not enough to fundamentally impact a Fighter’s relative performance. As whole, I would rather be allowed to progressively unlock more martial techniques rather than having access to all of them at once, and be able to use them more often. In Pathfinder 1e, a lot of combat boils down to just standing still and full attacking. What would make the fighter feel alive is utility they can provide in combat, or options they can take in combat, that isn’t simply an attack roll. If you want to continue down the Martial Technique path, I would look to draw inspiration from the Skirmisher Ranger archetype.
I know the Martial Techniques are a very rough draft, but moving forward I would rein in the size of the bonuses. Adding effectively your level to a roll is quite large, and an uncommonly large bonus. As I mentioned above, I would rather be able to use the ability more often, but have the bonus be smaller, like half my level, which is more in line with many other class abilities. I have a lot of problems with the Heroic Taunt ability. No save, no attack, instant bestow curse with a near forced movement effect reminds me a lot of a feat that was hard nerfed. Antagonize required an intimidate check that, upon success, forced the enemy to move and make a melee attack. Now, it simply forces that target to attack you with any hostile ability on their next turn. The forced movement on Heroic Threat is the main component I have issue with, but the ability overall is much too powerful at no save -4 to attacks and DCs.