Anne expſoition by St. Matty. Returne to the Maine Page.
The Fighting Man
In the beginning there were three types of character in D&D – three classes, if you will:
- magic user,
- priest, and
- fighting man.
All the detail of a character's skills, abilities, and motivations were essentially seasoning, adding flavour to the most basic description provided by the class.
In the modern era we find ourself faced with myriad classes and builds, all of which ultimately stem from the three listed above. I'm going to exposit a description of various builds that fall under the general class of "fighting man."
The first distinction is a split between two basic modes of fighting: one is lightly armoured, agile, and dexterous; the other is heavily armoured, steadfast, and powerful. The second disctionction is between two general modes of behaviour and attitudes. Some fighting men abide by law and tradition, while others act spontaneously or irreverently. In the olden days this second distinction was encoded in the character's alignment: lawful, neutral, or chaotic. In fourth edition D&D the alignment system has been simplified somewhat, but the basic principles still endure, and nothing stops you from playing a "chaotic good" character, for example.
Taking the two distionctions as axes, we can quite simply divide the "fighting man" into four roles:
If we were to assign a single class name to each of the four roles, we might choose something along the lines of:
This is a dangerous description, because many of the names and phrases I've used are actual classes and roles in D&D, so bear with me.
We can add to this split a third distinction, the motivation. Some fighting men are dark and brooding, some are ebullient and gay; some work towards their own private goals, some strive for what they see as the "greater good." Some of these motivations can be applied to the four basic classes I've listed above, to provide more grantularity in a character's description:
Again we can provide further distinction, for example by choice of weapons and arms: where a ranger may specialise in sword or bow, a barbarian in axes or greatsword.
Further richness can be added to each class individually. For example, the dark, secretive lightly armed fighting man may be a thief who prefers to achieve his ends by avoiding fights, or an assassin who lurks in the shadows hunting his prey; the heavily armed soldier may be a powerful dreadnought who wades into battle cleaving his foes, or a bastion of defense, shielding his allies from assault.
There are many "official" names for these various builds of fighting man, but I think we should worry about them less than we do our characters' descriptions and motivations. You may choose to play as a ranger, but use the official Rogue class and powers; or describe a passionate, explosive barbarian and build him from a Fighter. When you understand your fighting man, especially along the axes I've described above, it should be relatively simple to pick the right build to suit your goal.