B/X D&D Homebrew Fighter Class

In this series of articles I’m going to be going through each of the classes in B/X D&D, giving my thoughts on them and then presenting my updated version of the class for my games.

I’m in no way reinventing the wheel with these but simply trying to draw out what makes the archetype of the class so that ideally every class is viable for different reasons. Many of these ideas are borrowed from other B/X retroclones such as Lamentations of the Flame Princess, Sword & Wizadry, Basic Fantasy and B/X Essentials.

The Fighter is the most iconic class in the game and the first I’ll be taking  a look at. They’re a class that’s existed in the game since its inception and has always remained at its core relatively the same.

Below are the rules for the Fighter in its original form in B/X taken from B/X Essentials.

Fighter

Requirements: None

Prime Requisite: STR

Hit Dice: 1d8

Maximum Level: 14

Allowed Armour: Any, including shields

Allowed Weapons: Any

Languages: Alignment language, Common

Abilities

Combat: Fighters can use all forms of weapon and armour.

Stronghold: Any time a fighter wishes (and has sufficient money), he or she can build a castle or stronghold and control the surrounding lands.

Reaching 9th Level

Upon achieving 9th level, a fighter may be granted a title such as Baron or Baroness. The land under the fighter’s control is then known as a Barony.

Fighter Level Progression

* Hit point modifiers from CON no longer apply.

AC0: Modified attack roll needed to hit Armour Class 0.

Saving Throws

Level

XP

Hit Dice

AC0

Death

Wands

Paralysis

Breath

Spells

1

0

1d8

19

12

13

14

15

16

2

2,000

2d8

19

12

13

14

15

16

3

4,000

3d8

19

12

13

14

15

16

4

8,000

4d8

17

10

11

12

13

14

5

16,000

5d8

17

10

11

12

13

14

6

32,000

6d8

17

10

11

12

13

14

7

64,000

7d8

14

8

9

10

10

12

8

120,000

8d8

14

8

9

10

10

12

9

240,000

9d8

14

8

9

10

10

12

10

360,000

9d8+2*

12

6

7

8

8

10

11

480,000

9d8+4*

12

6

7

8

8

10

12

600,000

9d8+6*

12

6

7

8

8

10

13

720,000

9d8+8*

10

4

5

6

5

8

14

840,000

9d8+10*

10

4

5

6

5

8

The fighter has a few key things going for them that make them the premiere fighting class. They can wear all weapons and armour and they tie with Dwarves as having the highest hit die of all classes. They also have the best combat progression of all the classes and solid saves against death/poison. They have an average level of XP progression, slower than the Thief and Cleric but higher than the magic user and all the demihumans. This gives them a steady rate of progression. They’re a quintessential starting class able to use

Below is my updated version.

Fighter

Hit Dice: d8

Starting Gear: A Fighter starts with 4d6 x 10 gp and an outfit.

Weapons & Armour:  A Fighter can use all weapons, armour and shields.

Combat Stances: A Fighter can adopt a stance in melee combat, declare this before making a melee attack and apply its effects. It will last until the start of the fighters next round.

Offensive Stance: + 2 to hit, -4 Armour Class

Defensive Stance: +2 Armour Class, -4 to hit

Languages: Common

Fighting Fit: A Fighter always begins the game with a minimum of 6 HP.

Extra Attack: At 5th level a fighter gains an extra attack. This is annotated as +6/+1 meaning the first attack gets a +6 bonus to hit and the second a +1 bonus to hit. This attack can be used for range or melee attacks or with a combat action like a grapple or trip.  A fighter making two attacks like this will only critically fumble if both attacks roll natural 1’s and will only apply 1 critical fumble effect.

Level XP HD AB Poison/Death Device/Wand Paralysis Breath Spell
1 0 1d8 +2 12 13 14 15 16
2 2,000 2d8 +3 11 12 13 14 15
3 4,000 3d8 +4 11 12 13 14 15
4 8,000 4d8 +5 10 11 12 13 14
5 16,000 5d8 +6 / +1 10 11 12 13 14
6 32,000 6d8 +7 / + 2 10 11 12 13 14
7 64,000 7d8 +8 / +3 8 9 10 10 12
8 120,000 8d8 +9 / +4 8 9 10 10 12
9 240,000 9d8 +10 / +5 8 9 10 10 12
10 360,000 10d8 +11 / +6 6 7 8 8 10

A key change between all my class designs and the original B/X is that I’ve removed the vast majority of restrictions to weapons & armour. Magic Users still can only wear cloth and there’s some size restrictions for Halflings and Dwarfs using two handed weapons but that’s about it.  Whilst I understand the restrictions exist as a balancing tool to keep each class firmly in their archetype I’m a big believer in giving players a lot of choice which means letting them pick up and use whatever weapon and armour suits their character and play style. I find it jarring that a Magic User for example can’t just pick up a spear and use it when it’s one of the most common and simple weapons throughout history.

This did leave a problem however, Fighters largest bonus in B/X is being able to use all weapons and armour but when most classes can do that the fighter loses its fighting ability. As a result I decided to both boost the fighters attack bonus even further in relation to the other classes and to give them an extra attack when they hit 5th level. This was to firmly make them the best class at fighting. This rule certainly makes them incredibly powerful forces in combat but they are the Fighter! I’ve also made the switch to using a scaling Attack Bonus rather than thac0 because its simpler and mathematically exactly the same.

I added a rule that limits how often the Fighter can critically fumble as I run critical fumble tables in my games, I do love critical fumble rules but didn’t want to punish the Fighter for having multiple attacks. In addition I gave them the combat stance rule which provides them a bonus to hit at the expense of armour or vice versa to as a further way to show they’re a class that knows how to fight and provide some risk/reward choices in combat. Finally I wanted Fighters to be a class that would be able to fight in the front lines from the 1st level. They kept their d8 hit die and I added a rule that means they will always start the game with at least 6 hp.  I made the number 6 as I felt it was large enough to make any Fighter a solid enough combatent but left room for a player to still be able to roll higher on their initial dice roll.

Fighters are also the class that requires gear the most so I gave them 4d6 x 10 gold to start with to solidy their archetype. All other classes get the standard 3d6 x 10 gp. Since I don’t force Magic Users to buy spellbooks or Thieves to buy Thieves Tools it felt fair to give Fighters a boost so they could have a good selection of weapons and armour to start the game with. This also represents the fact the Fighter has likely had time to find and purchase good gear for their role.

I kept their XP progression the same as I felt it provides a good baseline to judge the other classes around. Their saves are broadly similar too. However for all the classes I made sure that at 2nd level they got a boost to their saves as I wanted each class achieving 2nd level to feel like they’d made progress. I also made sure every class had a final save boost at 10th level as it’s currently the highest level and I wanted it to be rewarding.

For all the classes I’ve removed Prime Requisites , I do I like the idea behind the rule that if you’re good at something you’ll naturally get better at it more quickly. It’s ‘unfair’ but fits well with the idea of Gygaxian naturalism I find in actual practice it’s largely ignored as XP is such an abstracted mechanic to begin with and a minor 5-10% bonus often doesn’t amount to much in actual play.

I’ve further left out the rules for Strongholds and Baronys from the class description, whilst I love the idea of fighters being able to do this later in the game I prefer it as something that arises from roleplay and story choices rather than a fixed class feature. I am considering adding some sort of special rule for 10th level, this may be a powerful class ability, perhaps an extra attack  of some kind or I may introduce a variation of the stronghold rules. I kept the limit at 10 as it’s large enough to be attainable. I can’t see a B/X game really going past level 10 as I feel once characters get that powerful they stop being quite as interesting to play. A level 10 cahracter represents to me someone at the top of their game but who still isn’t entirely invincible.

That’s the Fighter in all their glory. Give me your thoughts, what do you like, what don’t you like and what do you think makes the Fighter best?

In the next article I’m going to be showing my changes to the Cleric.



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