Saturday, August 27, 2011

Do you patch the Fighter?

Edit:
This is an old post - I was updating some blog labels and somehow it re-posted - sorry for the repost!

Regular readers know we've been using the LOTFP flavor of BX/classic D&D for the past 8 months or so.  Fighters are really beefed up in LOTFP and are the backbone of the party in combat - they hit better than everyone else, and they have a suite of combat maneuvers (press, parry, defensive fighting) that give them some additional choices.  My group is having an edition discussion right now - deciding if we should stick with LOTFP, upgrade to LOTFP Grindhouse, or go in another direction.  (I've also got a poll up currently to see which edition makes the most sense for the Black City campaign, currently under development).  One thing that jumps out as we discuss editions is how mechanically plain the fighter is in BX and AD&D.  It's mainly an issue of perception - no one noticed the old fighters were vanilla until the new fighters were the rock stars of combat.

A 10th level fighter in BX or AD&D only hits about 2 points better than his clerical peers (THAC0 12 instead of THAC0 14).  One guy dedicates his life to the church, the other to warfare and the practice of arms, and the warrior nets a 10% improvement on his fighting ability over the man of the cloth.  Clerics are limited to d6 weapons, whereas fighters can use d8 weapons and d10 weapons (although I imagine a lot of folks house rule their clerics into using swords and deity-favored weapons).  There is an increase in hit points - the fighter will have 20-25% more hit points over the long haul in BX.

I suppose the fighter will arrange their stats (if you're allowing such a thing) to favor Strength and Constitution, so their to-hit and hit point advantages seem larger because of ability bonuses, but that's somewhat illusory, since the cleric could do it too.  In regular BX, dwarves, elves and halflings also fight just as well as  fighters.

Switching over to AD&D, the high level fighters get multiple attacks - it kicks in around 7th level with 3/2.  BX fighters never get multiple attacks (although Labyrinth Lord mentions them for 15th level fighters - yeah right - like our campaign will last that long).

I always discounted weapon specialization as "AD&D 1E power creep" syndrome, but maybe specialization was seen by TSR as a necessary patch to fix a class that was otherwise indistinguishable?  My Swords & Wizardry complete should be winging it's way eastward shortly, but I'm thinking it'll be in-line with BX.

Anyway - I'd love to hear if other folks have felt the need to "patch" the fighter.  We've played with a vanilla fighter for 30 years without complaining, so I fully recognize this isn't a problem with the rules so much as a problem of perception for groups that have played with beefed up fighters.