Play a fighter, said your friends. It's easy for a beginner to play and gives you plenty of action. But is a fighter just a sword-swinging automaton, or does he have more to offer?
The Pros and Cons of a Fighter
At first glance, the fighter seems like the simplest character to play -- a combat machine suitable for newcomers to the game and for players who lack the drive or imagination to create more complex characters. But first impressions often prove false, and though a fighter can certainly be easy to play, dismissing him as a dull character is definitely a mistake. A well-constructed fighter, played with zeal and presence of mind, is a satisfying character and an indispensable member of any adventuring party.
The fighter class provides plenty of tools for effective adventuring. Below are several assets you have going for you when you choose a fighter.
High Hit Points: The fighter's 10-sided Hit Dice let him absorb lots of damage and keep right on going.
Good Armor Class: The fighter's class features don't include much in the way of special defenses, but his ability to wear any kind of armor and use any kind of shield usually gives him an impressive Armor Class. This factor combined with his high hit points makes for a great defensive package.
Good Attack Bonus: A fighter's base attack bonus is +1 per level, which is the best in the game. Thus, fighters can dish out damage as well as they can take it.
Good Fortitude Saves: A fighter uses the best save progression in the game for Fortitude saves (see Table 3-1 in the Player's Handbook). This natural resilience helps him resist most effects that attack his body, such as poison, polymorphing, and energy draining.
Good Weapon Selection: Because a fighter can use any simple or martial weapon, he's a deadly opponent no matter what weapon he wields.
Many Bonus Feats: Fighters gain a generous selection of bonus feats. Though they're mostly combat-oriented, these feats allow you great flexibility in tailoring a character to your taste.
As with any class in the D&D game, the fighter's advantages come at a price. Here are a few of the disadvantages you should keep in mind if you're considering a fighter character.
Low Skill Points: At a mere two skill points per level, most fighters don't accumulate many skill ranks, even with quadruple skill points at 1st level.
Poor Reflex and Will Saves: Fighters have the worst progression for Reflex and Will saves in the game (see Table 3-1 in the Player's Handbook). Thus, they aren't good at avoiding most kinds of magical attacks.
Low Mobility: A fighter's reliance on heavy armor tends to make him a slow mover on the battlefield.
Playing a Classy Fighter
People who play great fighters usually use the following techniques.