Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Fighting-Man

Ah, the Fighting-Man. If you've read much of my ramblings, you've no doubt discovered my long-standing love of the Fighting-Man. Far and away my favorite class to play, regardless of edition. If you've picked up on my love of the F-M, you've also been exposed to my lamentations on the shortcomings of the class, compared to his peers. But, was I mistaken? Is the Fighter a poor cousin to the other classes?

Yes. The Fighter is far and away one of the weakest, least interesting, and enjoys the least niche protection of any class, bar none. Pity the poor Fighter.

The Fighting-Man on the other hand, stands shoulder-to-shoulder with his LBB peers. After a more thorough reading of Men and Magic, I propose that the Fighting-Man actually stands taller than the Magic-User and Cleric. Allow me to support my contention.

Hit Points
Three characters, each with 120,000 XP. The Fighting-Man and Cleric will be 8th level, while the Magic-User will be 9th. Assuming none of the three have a CON bonus, the Cleric will have 24.5 HP. The Magic-User will have 22. The Fighting-Man will have 30. Maybe 5.5 or 8 doesn't sound like much, but remember most creatures and all weapons deal d6 damage, so the F-M can definitely stand in for at least one more round of punishment than the other two.

Fighters can wear any armor, but so can the cleric (and elf, if the armor is magical he can cast while wearing it). So, maybe that one's a little soft, as class perks go. But in the arena of weapons, the Fighting-Man is unmatched. Sure, the dwarf, elf, and halfling hobbit (who are we trying to kid) can use any weapon, but they have level caps, which means their progression up the attack tables is short-lived. Only the F-M can use any weapon AND get good at it.

And lest we forget, Magic Swords. Magic swords in OD&D were a huge boon to the F-M. Fully 50% of all magic swords have Intelligence and at least one Power. Most of the Primary Powers are Detections of some kind. Virtually all of them are very useful, and should come into play often. Several of them outright hijack another class' niche. See Invisible, Detect Magic, Detect Traps, and Locate Secret Doors leap to mind right away. That gives the F-M a real edge, and there is a 50% of a magical blade having one of them. There is a whopping 25% chance the sword will have three Primary Abilities.

Attack Tables
I'm not going to crunch numbers into percentages of superiority. All I want to say is that the F-M progresses noticeably faster, and the separation becomes more pronounced the higher the level.

The real reason I bring this up is that the F-M does his thing every single round. Sure, a M-U can wreak havoc with a 6-die Fireball, but then what? And what if the bad guys save? The F-M wades in and counts coup. Nothing to memorize, nothing to cast, nothing that can be saved against. It's where the metal meets the meat. Yeah, the cleric and demi-humans do it, too, but they're not the masters of it that the F-M is.

The final thing that bears out my contention that the Fighting-Man is the most powerful class in the game is:

Experience Points
Clerics reach name level at level 8, which occurs at 100,000 XP. Each additional level after that is 50,000 XP. Magic-Users reach name level at level 11,  which is 300,000 XP. Additional levels for the Magic-User occur every 100,000 XP.The Fighting-Man reaches name level at level 9, which doesn't occur until 240,000 XP. It costs him 120,000 XP per level to advance beyond that. So, if we can assume that XP requirements are the primary means of balancing the relative power of different characters, the Fighting-Man must have been considered quite powerful, indeed.

Final Thoughts
It isn't until supplements start coming in (beginning with Greyhawk) that the Fighting-Man begins to lose his luster. The Thief's ability to use magic swords, the Ranger's favored enemy thing, and so on. When this fringe classes are as capable in combat as the Fighting-Man, why play one? Isn't it better to play one of the others, after all, they can fight just as good and do some other cool shit.

Well, maybe they can. But they never will in my D&D, where the Fighting-Man stands supreme.

1 comment:

  1. As someone who started on B/X (Well T&T really) reading the LBB's was a real eye opener. I think I'll have to look again and find away to add OD&D's magic swords to my game (which is most likely to be ACKS these days).