Friday, July 12, 2019

8 Supernatural things only Fighters can do

Now “balance” isn't a big deal in most oldschool games, or doesn't need to be a big deal in tabletop games in general. But I do talk about the issues of balance between magic users and fighter/nonmagic using classes from time to time. However, I am firmly in the camp of believing that classes like Fighter and Rogue are just as magical as everyone else, just in different ways!

Of course, if you don't like the over the top supernatural kung fu moves or high level magic item crafting, then pick some of these instead. You won't even need to change any rules.

8 Supernatural Things only Fighters can do
[1] Attempted Blindfighting
When in absolute darkness, totally blinded, or otherwise fighting invisible foes, players don't necessarily get a roll to hit. Especially with thrown or ranged weapons, regardless of how high your to-hit modifier is, you can't see them and therefore cannot even attempt to strike them. Another example in pitch black water- how could anyone even attempt an attack like that? Melee attacks might get a pass for this with the usual disadvantage on the roll or a -4 to the roll, but for the most part invisible = unhittable. Obviously if the enemy is leaving footprints in the snow, or you're using a rapid fire crossbow, then the situation changes a bit. Your DM might have the players throw a hail Mary 1 in 20 chance to even fire in the right direction then have to roll attack to actually hit!

Fighters are the exception. Using their senses, they may be able to figure out where the enemy is based on the sounds they make, or by the clues learned from many battles that tells the Fighting Man where his foe is likely to strike next. Fighters can attempt to make these attacks with the normal modifiers, it just isn't impossible anymore. You could also give this ability to Rogues since it represents their finely tuned senses as well, it's just that Wizards and the like would be unable to fight this way.

[2] Surviving Harsh Conditions
While more tied to a Con score, hit points, or saves; it is theoretically possible for humans to only survive so long in harsh conditions. Three days without water, three weeks without food, and so on. Fighters may be able to do this for longer periods of time then actually possible, if because of a simple high level of physical fitness, a sort of control over their metabolism and bodily energy, or simply superhuman levels of willpower and endurance. Similar things can be resisted such as extremely cold weather; the Fighter's body capable of steaming up from their powerful muscles.

[3] Seal Magic Weapons for a Worthy Successor
In most games; long term of permanent magic effects are solely in the realm of sorcerers. These require specific spells with abilities- but fantasy is chalk full of Fighters setting down challenges and tasks for low born knights to rise to greatness.

Excalibur was a sword in the stone. In a similar manner, Fighters could seal magic weapons and equipment in ways that nobody except a worthy successor (another warrior) could retrieve. It could also be set so it can only be returned by a chosen one, or the Fighter placing the weapon away may determine only one of pure heart or a certain background could claim their weapon. This can be done without a spell or roll; just cleave the magic axe into the log and it cannot be pulled out except by those who the Fighter has chosen to take the weapon. Similar thematic places could be used to store other weapons and items; magic armor is stored on mannequins that fist fight anyone who tries to take them off, the magical lightning spear could be thrown into the sky and only rain down on someone who can take a lightning bolt from that endless storm and survive, and so on.

[4] Directed Rage
When characters lose their minds do to a spell or evil monster pheromones that drives them into a battle rage; they may either attack allies or the nearest living creature in their uncontrollable rage. Fighters are an exception to this, as they may have already felt battle rage or have an advantage at controlling this mental state better then most. When enraged, Fighters may be able to better use their newfound strength towards foes instead of friends, and lose less of their evasion and protection from their one sided battle fury.

[5] Reflecting Magic Spells or Dragonfire
This ability may be restricted only to magical shields or weapons only Fighters can use, or could be a supernatural ability Fighters can attempt or learn, or not added in at all depending on the feel for magic in your game. However, the concept of a Fighter holding up their shield or sword and splitting or deflecting dragon breath or magical beams or bolts of energy is a strong aesthetic that could be put into a game. It's also highly likely this is restricted to only the Fighter type characters, allowing them this defense from these otherwise lethal attacks.

[6] Retain Fighting Abilities while Polymorphed
For most characters, getting transformed into another creature or especially a harmless animal is considered a terrible fate. Even if temporary, the transformed character probably can't talk or cast spells, they can't use items, and they probably lose most if not all of their ability to fight or be useful to the party. Plus there may also be checks or saves to retain mental competence while in animal form, and there may also be a rough learning period of how to use this new quadrupedal body to move and fight.

Fighters once transformed, even if their mind or magic has no special defense against this move, could still retain their skill in combat. They can leap, attack, defend, and otherwise gain all their bonuses in fighting even when transformed to the best of that animal's ability- a Fighter turning into a tiger or bear would be a fearsome thing to behold. Fighters may also retain the use of their magic equipment depending on if the equipment melds with their new body until reversed. Regardless of the type of polymorphing; transformed into an animal and all their gear drops around them in a heap OR transform and their immediate gear meld with their body until it is reversed- the Fighter could still also gain benefits from magical equipment- their magic sword is transferred into their claws, for example, perhaps requiring a saving throw to gain the benefit of this effect.

[7] Injure Things that are “Invincible”
This is mostly a game mechanics abstraction, but certain monsters or opponents may be immune to normal weapons and attacks- such as things with an AC of 21 / -1 for descending. Fighters with high level magic items or simply with a large amount of experience or great strength can actually harm beings that are otherwise immune to damage from a lesser combatant. Though this is done through rules, In context of a fantasy world this is an incredibly supernatural feat of destructive force.

When taken to logical extremes; this could influence other parts of the setting or cosmology. Could a truly formidable fighter strike at a statue and injure the memory of the person it immortalizes? Could a Fighter smash an alter of a God and the God feels an injury erupt on their very body from the strike? If immaterial creatures can be harmed by a driven and focused attack, why not a concept?

[8] Final Blow
When the Fighting-Man is taken down with a final hit, they should have the best saves and physical resilience to perform any kind of final act before perspiring. While this may force you to add in a story game rule; the Fighter is capable of doing one more attack, pulling a lever, or dragging themselves half way across a room to whisper a cryptic message before dying. Other classes are much more sensible to die immediately, but perhaps Fighters can make any saves or abilities necessary to perform this final act of heroism, or spite that traps everyone else too.


  1. The Sealing Weapon , while unlikely to see much use, is really good. All of the rest are good too. But that one is a classic.
    As someone who plays a lot of fighters and wants fighters to get more credit, I hope these insinuate themselves into the collective unconscious and become an unquestioned assumption about the base line abilities of fighters

    1. Thanks, Scrap! And I should probably add that I do understand why some wouldn't necessarily want to use these kind of abilities. Mostly for people who want grim and gritty fantasy with very few fantasy elements beyond magic for MUs. But for any type of high fantasy setting, mythological inspired or fairy-tale logic kind of worlds then it makes sense to give chivalrous Knights and fighting men some of the supernatural abilities they are seen with or reasonably would have to fit their role.