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Dwarves are famed for their fighters

The fighter a character class in Dungeons & Dragons. Fighters are warriors who are tough and skilled with weapons and armor. In the original 1974 edition of the game, fighters are known as fighting-men.


The fighter is a broad class of character who is adept at various forms of combat. Given the most variety in weapons and equipment, and the ability to use them better than any others, the fighter can hit hard, hit often, and withstand most attacks better than any other class.

Notable fighters[]

For a complete list, see Category:Fighters.

  • Tordek, the iconic male dwarf fighter in Dungeons & Dragons third edition

Publication history[]

Fighters have appeared in every edition of the Dungeons & Dragons game.

Original D&D[]

"Fighting-Men", as fighters were originally known, were one of three character classes appeared in the Men & Magic booklet in the original Dungeons & Dragons 3-Volume Set (1974). Despite the name, "fighting-man" is a gender-neutral term like "mankind", but was changed to dispel any controversy.

The original intention of a fighting-man was not to be an archetype into itself, but a broad category of warrior types — gallant knights, roguish mercenaries, amazon warrior-women, brutish barbarians, charming swashbucklers, etc. — where the player plays the character as his or her chosen archetype. (e.g. a player might play his "barbarian" character like Conan or a "swashbuckler" like Errol Flynn.) There where no rules or outlines to support the playing of specific archetypes, but it was assumed to be part of normal role-playing under the early rules.

Fighting-men receive the most dice for accumulative hits, or hit dice, meaning that they have the most hit points and can survive the most damage of any class in this edition. They have the highest saving throw vs dragon breath, and can use magic armor.

Their chance to hit enemies increases quickest (every 3 levels, compared to 4 or 5 for the other classes), and they can use any magic weapons. They cannot use other sorts of magic items, and cannot cast spells. They gain extra experience for high Strength, and can add half their Intelligence score and one-third of their Wisdom to Strength for this purpose.

At 9th level, fighting-men become "barons", build a castle, and earn tax on their holdings.

Supplement I: Greyhawk (1975) gave fighters d8 hit dice and introduced percentile strength, an additional category of strength-based bonuses available exclusively to fighters with 18 strength.

Basic Dungeons & Dragons[]

This section is incomplete. Please complete this section and remove this {{secstub}} notice.

In the Basic Set (Holmes) (1977), fighters are distinguished by these main traits:

  • Can swap 2 points of Intelligence or 3 points of Wisdom for 1 point of Strength
  • Can use any weapon and wear any kind of armor
  • Higher Hit Die than other classes (d8), leading to higher HP

AD&D 1st edition[]

Fighters are one of five basic character classes appearing in the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st edition Players Handbook (1e) (1978).

Fighters now had a d10 hit dice, giving them highest hit points of any character class. They can use any armor and weapon as well as many magic items, and have the fastest to-hit advancement (every 2 levels). They have the best saving throws against breath weapons and petrification/polymorph, and retain their OD&D ability to build a stronghold at 9th level.

They are the only class entitled to roll for percentile strength and gain additional hit points from 17 or higher Constitution.

The Player's Handbook introduced the ranger and paladin as subclasses of fighter. The big, bad barbarian, Dragon #63 (Jul 1982), p.8-10, by Gary Gygax, introduced the barbarian as another subclass of fighter, and this was updated for Unearthed Arcana (1e) (1985). Unearthed Arcana also made the paladin a subclass of the new cavalier class instead of the fighter.

AD&D 2nd edition[]

Fighter appears in the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd edition Player's Handbook (2e) (1989).

Fighters are considered a subtype of "warrior", along with paladin and ranger. They retain their d10 hit dice, ability to use any weapon/armor, percentile strength/Constitution benefit, saving throws, attack bonuses (now called THAC0) and barony from AD&D 1st edition.

Additionally, fighters gain additional melee attacks per round as they level up, and may take weapon specialization.

The Complete Fighter's Handbook (1989) added new class options (character kits) for the fighter (and other warrior-category classes), including the amazon, barbarian, berserker, cavalier and samurai.

D&D 3rd edition[]

Fighters are one of 11 character classes inrduced in the Dungeons & Dragons 3rd edition Player's Handbook (3.0) (2000) and Player's Handbook (3.5) (2003).

Fighters retain their traditional d10 hit dice, although in this edition the barbarian class has the even higher d12. They are proficient with all armor and all weapons, except exotic weapons like the spiked chain. They have the highest attack bonus and Fortitude save, and gain more attacks per round quickly. They gain few skill points.

The fighter's special class abilities consist entirely of extra feat slots, allowing players to customize their fighting style. However, many analysts later criticized this approach as boring and underpowered, especially at high level.[citation needed]

Unearthed Arcana (3e) (2004) presented two fighter variants: the thug, who gains more skills but can only wear light armor, and another variant trading the fighter's bonus skills for sneak attack.

Fighters can qualify for many combat-related prestige classes, allowing players to specialize further. These include the cavalier, frenzied berserker, and weaponmaster.

D&D 4th edition[]

The fighter appears in the Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition Player's Handbook (4e) (2008).

Fighters in this edition are martial defenders, a "tank" role who protects allies by intentionally drawing enemy fire. As in third edition they have high hit points, high Fortitude, and proficiency with most weapons, although they no longer gain heavy armor proficiency by default.

They have the ability to "mark" opponents, penalizing them for attacking anyone else, and are good at making opportunity attacks against opponents who try to move past them.

Fighters also gain combat powers known as "exploits", which mechanically resemble spells in earlier editions of the game.

The Essentials line added optional subclasses to the fighter. Heroes of the Fallen Lands (2010) introduced the knight, who deploys persistent combat stances, and the slayer, who shifts the class to a high-damage striker (DPS) role. (The original fighter for 4th edition was renamed the weaponmaster subclass in Class Compendium: Weaponmaster, Dragon #398 (Apr 2011).)

D&D 5th edition[]

The fighter is one of 12 classes appearing in the Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition Player's Handbook (5e) (2014).

Fighters have the traditional d10 hit dice and proficiency with all weapons and armor, including heavy armor. They select a "fighting style", giving bonus to one sort of combat such as archery or two-weapon fighting, and have limited ability to restore their hit points or take an extra action during combat. They gain extra attacks per round as they level up.

At level 3, fighters select a martial archetype (subclass) which customizes the class further. The archetypes detailed in the Player's Handbook are the champion, which focuses on attaining physical perfection; the battle master, which learns specific combat maneuvers, and the eldritch knight, who learns some arcane magic. The Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide (2015), set in the Forgotten Realms, added the Purple Dragon Knight (banneret) archetype, while Xanathar's Guide to Everything (2017) added the arcane archer, cavalier, and samurai archetypes. Explorer's Guide to Wildemount (2020), set in the world of Exandria, added the echo knight archetype.

Creative origins[]

The fighter draws inspiration from the warriors of medieval wargames played by Dungeons & Dragons creators Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson.

The name "fighting-man" appears in the Conan story The Hour of the Dragon (1950),[1] where it refers to the book's warrior protagonist:

"'You are not a priest,' she said. 'You are a fighting-man. Even with that mask that is plain. There is as much difference between you and a priest as there is between a man and a woman.'"

That book also describes Conan by the name "fighter":

"'You are stubborn, as befits a fighter.'"


  1. Robert E. Howard, The Hour of the Dragon, p.206 [1]