Let’s face it, playing a Fighter level after level can get a little boring. A good DM will include some pretty interesting magical items, but aside from that it’s likely that your strategy in battle tends to be “attack the nearest enemy.” A few things have been tried in the history of D&D to make the Fighter a little more interesting and give players something to look forward to.
The Cyclopedia’s Fighter Combat Options seem to have been a combined attempt at codifying the kinds of maneuvers that characters can make in a board game-like battle, and to give fighters a couple of extra moves so they can do something besides roll 1d20 in a fight.
Then there are the optional Weapon Mastery rules. This complicated rule set certainly does add a lot more for Fighters, but seems to unbalance the game too much in the favor of Fighters in general–giving them not only increased weapon damage, but a slew of other techniques for disarming, deflecting weapons, and stunning opponents–all at relatively low levels.
So here is another idea: a set of skills that Fighters get as they increase in level. These skills are mostly maneuvers like the Fighter Combat Options, and you can consider them to be a revised version. (You may want to allow Fighters to always Set Spear vs. Charge, etc.) Comments are appreciated, and I will update this post if I think I can fit the changes in. One particular question is whether or not some of these should be replaced with archery or other ranged skills (aimed attacks, etc.)
Bash (level 8) – With this maneuver, the character attempts to bash his opponent with a shield in an attempt to stun the opponent briefly. A bash receives a -2 penalty to hit, and if successful, the opponent must make a Save vs. Paralysis or be unable to take action for one round. A bash maneuver counts as an attack.
Parry (level 10) – Allows a fighter to block a small or medium sized weapon, and thrown missiles, with their own weapon. The player must make a counter “hit roll” (including normal to-hit bonuses). If the player’s roll is higher than the attacker’s roll, the attack is deflected. Thrown missiles are parried with a -2 to the roll. This counts as an attack.
Second Attack (level 12) – Allows a fighter to make a second attack per round. These are attacks, and do not give the fighter two full “moves” including movement, etc. They may be used for other combat options. The DM may also allow some movement (up to 5′) between attacks.
Disarm (level 14) – Allows a fighter to disarm an opponent of an armed weapon, using their own weapon. The player must make a hit roll using bonuses from both Strength and Dexterity. If the hit roll is successful, the victim must make a counter roll using bonuses from both Strength and Dexterity to avoid being disarmed. This counts as an attack.
Grip (level 16) – This skill is not a maneuver, but gives the character a +4 bonus against being disarmed.
Third Attack (level 18) – Allows a fighter to make a third attack per round.
Dual Wield (level 20) – Allows a fighter to wield two weapons and make an extra attack with the second weapon. The extra attack makes hit rolls at a -4 penalty.
Dodge (level 22) – The fighter receives a -4 bonus to AC vs one attacking opponent using melee or thrown missile weapons. The fighter must sacrifice one attack to dodge.
Fourth Attack (level 24) – Allows a fighter to make a fourth attack per round.
Smash (level 26) – Allows a fighter to make a devastating blow, using both hands. This move suffers a -2 penalty to initiative, and a -2 penalty to hit. If successful, the fighter adds entire strength score to damage. This move is done in lieu of all attacks other attacks and maneuvers for that round.
Berserk (level 28) – When going into a berserker rage, the fighter must be focused on one opponent, and may not attack other opponents. The fighter must then fight the opponent to the death–the rage lasts until either the fighter or the opponent is killed. While enraged, the fighter receives a +2 bonus to hit rolls, a +2 bonus to damage rolls, and two extra attacks per round, but suffers a +4 penalty to AC. The fighter may not parry, disarm, circle, or counter. Furthermore, the fighter can continue fighting and does not fall dead until reaching -10 hit points. If the rage ends with the fighter at zero hit points or lower, the fighter will collapse dead.
Fifth Attack (level 30) – Allows a fighter to make a fifth attack per round.
Circle (level 32) – Similar to the theif’s backstab, the fighter attempts to circle around his opponent in battle and attack from behind. This cannot be achieved unless the opponent is distracted by other attackers, and only when there is room to move around. In such cases, the fighter may make his attacks with a -4 penalty to hit, but doing double normal weapon damage. Circling itself counts as one maneuver, while the attack also counts as one. (A successful circle and and backstab maneuver requires two attacks.)
Counter (level 34) – Allows a fighter to make a counter attack after any attack is made. This is allowed in addition to fighter’s own moves, and happens on the opponent’s turn.
Sixth Attack (level 36) – Allows a fighter to make a sixth attack per round.
* SMAUG MUD players may notice some similarities.
Seems like a bit much? Ok, here’s a lite version for the less ambitious: