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Fighter or Fighting Man
A Dungeons & Dragons character class
Publication history
First appearance Dungeons & Dragons (1974)
Editions All
(as a standard class) All

The fighter is one of the standard playable character classes in the Dungeons & Dragons fantasy role-playing game.[1] A fighter is a versatile, weapons-oriented warrior who fights using skill, strategy and tactics.

Fighter is a generic and broad class; individual fighters have diverse backgrounds and different styles. Bodyguards, adventurers, former soldiers, invading bandit kings, or master swordsmen are all fighters, yet they come from all walks of life and backgrounds and often find themselves on very different alignments, goals, and sides in a conflict.

In the 4th edition, Fighters are Martial Defenders. Other martial oriented character classes include the warlord, ranger, and rogue. Other defenders include the paladin.

Publication history[]

Dungeons & Dragons (1974-1976)[]

The "Fighting Man" was one of the three classes in the original Dungeons & Dragons game; the other two classes were Magic-User and Cleric.[2][3]

The paladin was introduced in Supplement I - Greyhawk (1975), as a subclass of Fighting Man.[4]

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st edition (1977-1988)[]

The fighter was one of the standard character classes available in the original Player's Handbook.[5]:84–85 The fighter was presented as one of the five core classes in the original Players Handbook.[6]:145 In the 1st edition of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, fighters were the class best suited for physical combat, balanced by the weakness of not having any other ability. Fighters did not typically greatly benefit from high intelligence, wisdom or charisma ability scores; the character could obtain higher scores in strength, dexterity and constitution, which increased combat ability. High hit points (HP), the ability to equip strong armors, and easily the fastest THAC0 progression also helped them in combat. As an optional and very commonly used rule, fighters could also take Weapon Specialization, which offered further bonuses to hit and damage.

In the Players Handbook, the fighter's hit dice improved to a d10.[7]

Dungeons & Dragons (1977-1999)[]

The fighter was available as a character class in the game's "Basic" edition.

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd edition (1989-1999)[]

The fighter, as part of the "warrior" group, was one of the standard character classes available in the second edition Player's Handbook.[5]:84–85 The second edition Player's Handbook gives several examples of famous fighters from legend: Hercules, Perseus, Hiawatha, Beowulf, Siegfried, Cuchulain, Little John, Tristan, and Sinbad.[8] The book also cites a number of great generals and warriors: El Cid, Hannibal, Alexander the Great, Charlemagne, Spartacus, Richard the Lionheart, and Belisarius.[8]

The Complete Fighter's Handbook detailed the fighter class, and several subclasses.[5]:109 The book made an attempt to compensate for this class' lack of special abilities. In addition to offering a variety of kits such as the Swashbuckler, Gladiator, and Noble Warrior the handbook introduced several skills that allowed players to customize their warriors' combative abilities. New rules included group weapon proficiencies, continuing specialization, additional rules for unarmed combat, and the introduction of four different fighting styles (Single Weapon, Two Weapon, Weapon and Shield, and Two Handed Weapon).

Dungeons & Dragons 3rd edition (2000-2007)[]

In the 3rd edition of the game, the mechanics behind fighters were significantly changed by turning most of their abilities into combat feats from which the fighter could choose some as bonus feats,[9] allowing fighters to choose between a variety of combat techniques more specialized than brute force. Typical fighters in 3/3.5 D&D are sophisticated warriors with a variety of tactics.

Fighters did not undergo major overhaul in the 3.5 revision of Dungeons & Dragons compared to 3rd edition. The main change was the addition of the Greater Weapon Focus and Greater Weapon Specialization feats (which both increase their attack power with the selected weapons) becoming exclusively available to fighters. 3.5 has seen additional focus on increasing the depth of the fighter's feat trees, as these are the primary (indeed, only) class feature of fighters.

In 2006 the release of the Player's Handbook II greatly increased the number of feats available to fighters as well as provided a number of abilities, similar to the Weapon Specialization ability, that were only available to higher level fighters. While the impact on the popularity of the fighter class remains to be seen, initial reaction from the fan community has been positive.

Iconic Fighters[]

There are two iconic fighters for D&D 3rd edition: A human male named Regdar and a dwarf male named Tordek.

Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition (2008-2013)[]

The fighter is a core class in 4th edition, and like all other classes uses the new power system where they are classified as having a martial power source. The fighter's role is that of a defender, which involves high hit points, good defensive capabilities and the ability to protect other party members from enemies. Unlike the other core defender, the paladin, the fighter cannot heal allies and has more limited ranged combat capabilities, but has greater damage dealing and mobility control abilities. Two fighter builds are presented in the Player's Handbook: the Great Weapon Fighter, which focuses on offense, and the Guardian Fighter, which focuses on defense. Martial Power presents two more builds: the Tempest Fighter, which uses two light weapons, and the Battlerager Fighter, which uses axes and hammers and has greatly enhanced resilience in the form of temporary hit points.[10] Fighter attack powers are generally weapon-based and use Strength for attack rolls, although they also have a number of powers which benefit from Dexterity, Wisdom or Constitution. Some fighter attacks have an additional benefit if used with weapons from a specific group, such as axes, spears or light blades.

Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition (2014-)[]

The fighter has been included as a character class in the 5th edition Player's Handbook.[11]

Non-player character[]

Outside of the player base classes, the Warrior class is a simplified and weakened version of the fighter, intended to be used as a non-player character, as town guard for example. A d20 System/D&D book devoted to expanding this class was released by Skirmisher Publishing LLC in 2003.


  1. Livingstone, Ian (1982). Dicing with Dragons, An Introduction to Role-Playing Games (Revised ed.). Routledge. ISBN 0-7100-9466-3. 
  2. Gygax, Gary, and Dave Arneson. Dungeons & Dragons (3-Volume Set) (TSR, 1974)
  3. Tresca, Michael J. (2010), The Evolution of Fantasy Role-Playing Games, McFarland, p. 62, ISBN 078645895X<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Gygax, Gary and Robert Kuntz. Supplement I: Greyhawk (TSR, 1975)
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Schick, Lawrence (1991). Heroic Worlds: A History and Guide to Role-Playing Games. Prometheus Books. ISBN 0-87975-653-5. 
  6. Ewalt, David M. (2013). Of Dice and Men: The Story of Dungeons & Dragons and the People Who Play It. Scribner. ISBN 978-1-4516-4052-6. 
  7. Turnbull, Don (December 1978 – January 1979). "Open Box: Players Handbook". White Dwarf (Games Workshop) (10): 17. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 Cook, David (1989). Player's Handbook. TSR. ISBN 0-88038-716-5. 
  9. Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, 3rd Edition at GamesFirst! Retrieved on December 3, 2008.
  11. "Keeping it Classy | Dungeons & Dragons". 2014-07-28. Retrieved 2014-09-21. 

External links[]

Template:D&D character class