How to Play a Fighter in D&D

Fighters are easier than most classes to learn but for a brand new player they still can be tricky. Here are some things to keep in mind when making a fighter character. This article assumes that you have at least a passing familiarity with the Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 rules. This article only deals with the nuts and bolts of creating a character; all good characters have personality, hopes, dreams, goals, likes, dislikes, history, and so on. Creating a complete character will greatly improve your gaming experience.


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    Arrange your vital statistics and pick your race appropriately. If you plan to fight in melee combat then you will need a very high strength and constitution. If you plan to fight with ranged combat then you need a very high dexterity. However, all fighters benefit from higher physical ability scores. Among the mental ability scores intelligence is the most important to fighters. It gives them more skill points and also opens the door to the feats that require Combat Expertise. Humans, Dwarves, and Half-Orcs all make good fighters. Elves make okay archers, but not very good melee fighters. Halflings and Gnomes do not make very good fighters, especially if you are a beginner.
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    Pick your weapons and armor carefully. Read through the list of weapons and pick one that you like. Each weapon has its own advantages and disadvantages. If you cannot decide, just take a great sword and it will not disappoint you. Also, all characters should carry at least one weapon of both types. So even a melee fighter should carry a bow and an archer should have at least one sword. If there is only one fighter in the party it is better to be a melee fighter than an archer. When you pick armor heavier isn't always better. Heavy armor limits your speed and how much dexterity you can add to your armor class. If your character has a good dexterity (16 or higher) then get light armor. If you have a bad dexterity (12 or lower) get heavy armor. Remember that Dwarves do not take speed penalties for heavy armor.
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    If you have a one-handed weapon consider a shield. If you can carry it a shield will give you a better armor class. Carrying a shield and a weapon in one hand does less damage than a weapon in two hands, but your armor will be better. You have to decide which style you prefer.
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    Choose your feats carefully. It pays to plan ahead and know what feats you want to take. If you do not, you may find later that there is a really good feat that you cannot take because you do not meet the requirements to take it. Some feats may sound good at first but turn out to not work very well in the game. Ask experienced players what they think if you are not sure. If you do take a feat that doesn't work well ask the DM if you can swap it for another feat when you level up.
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    Your role in the party as the fighter is to take and give hits. It sounds brutal, but your job really is to get the monsters to attack you. The rest of the party does not have as good armor and hit points as you, so you need to take the brunt of the enemy attack. You should, of course, be smart about it and know when to retreat. In the meantime, you will be dealing as much damage as possible to the monster.
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    Make friends with any spellcasters in the party. You will need the healing and defensive magic of the cleric as well as the buff spells of the wizard. Try to work with them, D&D is a team game.
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    If you and a rogue fight in melee, work together whenever possible. When the rogue flanks an enemy with you he deals sneak attack damage as well, greatly increasing the rogue's effectiveness. Again, D&D is a team game.


  • Plan your character in advance.
  • D&D is a complicated game, the more you learn about it the better you will be.
  • Remember that the goal is to have fun and that you are playing with other people who have the same goal.
  • Always have a back up weapon.
  • On the lower levels, have a weapon of each damage type: bludgeon, piercing, and slashing.


  • Many character choices can be permanent so make choices carefully.
  • Fighters are often a preferred target for enemies.
  • You do not have the ability to master more than one weapon, so don't try to.
  • Fighters need a lot of money to buy equipment, if you know that there will not be much treasure in the campaign consider playing something else.

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Categories: Role Playing Games