First, there's the proof that this game's designers are after my own heart: they made the Fighter good at fighting. Whether the Fighter is best
at fighting is something that's going to need to be road-tested, but here's something: most warrior classes gain an extra attack at level 5. Fighters do, too... and then they gain another one at level 11 and a fourth at level 20.
Mathematically speaking, the ability to attack more than once is one of the most devastating mechanical abilities. It's often been observed that the damage output of a haste spell (when cast on a qualified combatant) is greater than fireball or any other wizard spell, which is why earlier editions had it age the subject a year and 4th edition nerfed it beyond recognition.
(As a side note: 5E undoes the nerf, but puts some brakes on: the extra action granted by haste can only be used for a small range of standard actions, which does include attacks but not spell casting... this heads off a lot of weird exploits. The spell requires the caster's concentration to maintain, which means it can be broken and while it doesn't preclude *all* spells, it precludes it stacking with other, similarly powerful ones.)
So, without even looking at everything else, the fact that the Fighter can end up with 3 or 4 attacks while any other warrior type has 2 and almost everyone else is a compelling argument for their superiority.
Then there's the fact that two enduring vestiges of 4th Edition seem to have been relegated to Fighter abilities: action points are embodied in the Fighter's "action surge" (a bonus action that can be used during one turn of combat between rests), and the second wind action has simply become a Fighter ability.
It's interesting that where 4E tried to put everyone on a level playing field and then gave everyone these things on top of that, 5E uses them as part of elevating Fighters to the same playing field as everyone else. And when I say it's interesting, I don't mean it's good and I don't mean it's bad. I mean it's interesting.
Certainly it could be said that it's a pretty pure expression of 4E's idea that martial prowess--as embodied by Fighters--can transcend mortal limitations in a way that's almost magical. Here is the most martial class around, the most mundane one, but they have two fairly basic abilities (gained at level 2) that let you ignore two of the hardest and fastest physical limits the game models.
And the basic "martial archetype" (Fighter subclass) offered as the default choice in the basic rules is basically built on this idea of transcending physical limitations. Their special abilities include more frequent criticals, amazing acts of athletic prowess, and eventually the ability to keep spontaneously generating hit points when you're between 0 HP and half HP.
And talking about archetypes? The basic one, the Champion, is pretty much what I would want from a newbie friendly fighter build: ridiculous amounts of physical power, not a lot of moving parts.
So what did they do to the more tactically interesting build-a-style Fighter who uses "martial exploits" the way Wizards use spells that 4E introduced?
They sewed that Fighter to the Warlord and called the result "Battle Master", the second Fighter sub-class.
Seriously, when you reach level 3 as a Fighter, you basically get asked, "Do you want to keep being an old school D&D Fighter, or do you want something more like the 4E experience?" And if you choose the 4E experience. It's a much more elegant solution than 4E Essentials' attempts to introduce basic fighters late in the game, especially since they weren't much simpler in concept or execution. And the fact that you spend two levels as a basic Fighter before you start messing around with sub-classes (a common feature for every class) means that probably more people will feel comfortable going the advanced route than would otherwise if they had to choose at level 1, and that they'll likely get more out of it.
On a side note: I was bummed to see that Maneuvers--which is what I said "martial exploits" should have been called from the beginning--were a thing that was restricted to a single subclass of Fighters, until I noticed that there's a Martial Adept feat that gives anyone access to them. It's like a 4E multiclass feat but without the arbitrary restrictions... in fact, you can be a Battle Master and use it to get more
eshusplayground observed in a blog post that the Skilled feat--which lets you choose three new skill trainings--does a lot to obviate the need for taking on a whole class's worth of baggage in order to fill out a character concept. The Martial Adept feat described above and the Magic Initiate one (which basically gives you half a level's worth of spellcasting ability from any class) also fall into this category. These are more substantial advantages than any 3E or 4E feat would give, but feats in 5E are rarer and have more impact.
Though Fighters still potentially get more of them than anyone else, just like in 3E. And unlike 3E, they aren't restricted to "fighter bonus feats" but can take any. I say "potentially" because feats are an optional thing in 5E. What do you get if you're not taking them? Attribute improvements. Which works out handy for the person who really just wants the basic Fighter. But since the Fighter's feats aren't restricted to fancy weapon maneuvers but can be skill training, magic, stealth, whatever... well, the Fighter ends up being potentially the single most versatile single class character. Heck, that's true even if you're taking the stat increase every time. I think the Fighter can raise their attributes a total of 14 points compared to most people's 8. A Fighter could max out their dump stat.
And on the subject of Fighters being versatile and Fighters learning magic and Fighters not being bound by arbitrary restrictions, there's a third sub-class in the PHB: the Eldritch Knight. Name aside, it's clearly inspired in large part by the 4E Swordmage, but gone is a lot of the arbitrary restrictions inherent in that. For one thing, their magic bond isn't tied to swords
, but any weapon. Or two weapons.
It's really interesting to me to see how many 4E classes have come back in 5E, as part of 5E's branching sub-class scheme. And also how the two classes that were fully "martial" in 4E that didn't traditionally have spellcasting abilities in earlier editions (that is, the Fighter and Rogue) both have a dedicated spellcaster sub-class.
In fact, every class in the 5E PHB that doesn't cast spells at level 1 has one sub-class that gets explicitly supernatural abilities by level 3, and every class except two (the Barbarian and the Monk) can actually cast spells, and two of the Monk sub-classes gain spell-like abilities.
But at the same time, every class that's not a spellcaster has a "basic" build that stays pretty firmly rooted in the mundane world, with the slight exception that the monk's master martial artist class still uses supernatural "ki powers", just not ones that explicitly reference spells for their effects.
In short: there are a lot of interesting ideas here.
I still have a biiiiiiiiiiiiig problem with the price point... I kind of suspect that they jacked up the price with the idea that whole groups would be sharing them, but given that I tend to play online I would really, really, really like it if they would sell PDFs of the PHB for ~$20 or so. Because yes the basic game is free and that's a great step forward for getting people into the game in the first place, but I really feel like people need a better option than paying $50 or torrenting the book if they want more than the basic Fighter/Rogue/Wizard/Cleric.This entry automatically cross-posted from http://alexandraerin.dreamwidth.org/599729.html. Comment hither or thither. Void where yon.