Meet the 4e Dwarf Fighter

HP 31, Bloodied 15, Healing Surge 7, Surges Per Day 12
Initiative +1
AC 17, Fort 15, Ref 11, Will 12

If there was any class that could be described as “simple” in 3e, it was the Fighter. Of course, with that simplicity came another problem: it could be described as “dull”. Of course, Fighters could use their plethora of feats to specialise in various manoeuvres, such as Trip, Bull Rush or Whirlwind Attack, but mostly that turned them into one-trick ponies, only really being effective with one weapon or one manoeuvre.

This really wasn’t helped by their pitiful skill selection, although, unlike the cleric, the fighter might actually have some choice of their skills. Still, with Intimidate being their only choice of interpersonal skill, it made the Fighter Leader something you really didn’t see that often. It was a weakness of 3e, and it may still be something I have to house rule in 4e.

The 4e fighter moves away from using Feats to give itself new options, and instead has the same power progression as all other classes. Instead of “arcane spells”, it gains “martial exploits”. Many of them are reminiscent of the Warblade powers of the Book of Nine Swords or of existing feats in 3e. A beginning character begins with 2 at-will exploits, 1 encounter exploit, and 1 daily exploit.

[bm] Maul +6 vs. AC; 2d6+3
[br] Dagger +3 vs. AC; 1d4+1

Basic attacks. Here we see the difference between a javelin and a dagger: a javelin is a heavy thrown weapon, which makes it Strength vs AC, whilst the Dagger is a light thrown weapon, which makes it Dexterity vs AC.

Height: 4’8″; Weight: 200 lb.; Size: Medium
Speed: 5 squares; Vision: Low-light
Languages: Common, Dwarven; Alignment: Good

This Dwarf moves slower than the Halfling, at only 5 squares. That is most likely due to the heavy armour he’s wearing.

Skill Bonus: +2 Dungeoneering, +2 Endurance (already included).
Cast-Iron Stomach: +5 racial bonus to saving throws against poison.
Dwarven Resilience: You can use your second wind as a minor action.

Second Wind as a minor action? That’s a very useful ability to have. Normally you need a Standard Action to use it. As a reminder, you can use Second Wind once per encounter and it activates one of your Healing Surges, restoring (generally) a quarter of your maximum HP to you.

Stand Your Ground: When an effect forces you to move–through a pull, a push, or a slide–you move 1 square less than the effect specifies. In addition, when an attack would knock you prone, you can make an immediate saving throw to avoid falling prone.


Cleave   Fighter Attack 1
You hit one enemy, then cleave into another.
At Will
* Martial, Weapon
Standard Action   Melee weapon
Target: One creature
Attack: +6 vs. AC
Hit: 2d6 + 3 damage, and an enemy adjacent to you takes 3 damage.

The first of the Fighter “At Will” exploits. Each class has a number of At Will powers, from which you choose two at first level. This one is great for taking down minions, a new type of creature in 4e. Minions don’t really have hit points – if you hit them, they die. On the other hand, if you miss them, they don’t. This means that some will still be standing after a fireball. Minions can be quite dangerous in large numbers, but they’re fragile.

Reaping Strike   Fighter Attack 1
You punctuate your scything attacks with wicked jabs and small cutting blows that slip through your enemy’s defenses.
* Martial, Weapon
Standard Action   Melee weapon
Target: One creature
Attack: +6 vs. AC
Hit: 2d6 + 3 damage.
Miss: 3 damage.

The “Minions don’t die on a miss” rule is quite germane to this exploit. However, against tougher monsters, which you’ll meet a lot of, it provides a reliable way of dealing damage to them. Reliable – that’s the keyword describing the Fighter, and you’ll see more of it with their other abilities.


Spinning Sweep   Fighter Attack 1
You spin beneath your enemy’s guard with a long, powerful cut, and then sweep your leg through his an instant later to knock him head over heels.
Martial, Weapon
Standard Action   Melee weapon
Target: One creature
Attack: +6 vs. AC
Hit: 2d6 + 3 damage, and you knock the target prone.

Prone isn’t as bad as it is in 3e, although it’s still something you don’t want to happen to you. You can stand up without provoking Opportunity Attacks (yay!) However, everyone around you gains Combat Advantage, you suffer a -2 to attack, and there may be a couple of other effects. (You do get a bonus to AC against ranged attacks!)

Although it’s always great to have Combat Advantage against someone, this also benefits the Rogue and other characters that have abilities that key off Combat Advantage. 4e combat is a lot about teamwork, as we’ll discover when we play it.


Brute Strike   Fighter Attack 1
You shatter armor and bone with a ringing blow.
Martial, Reliable, Weapon
Standard Action   Melee weapon
Target: One creature
Attack: +6 vs. AC
Hit: 6d6 + 3 damage.
Miss: You don’t expend the use of this power.

Ah, there’s that “Reliable” keyword. If you miss, you can try to Brute Strike again the next round, unlike powers of other classes that are expended whether you hit or miss. When you’re talking about a Daily power – that is, a power you can only use once per day – it’s nice to know you can hit.

Notice the damage: 6d6 corresponsds to a [3W] code, as I discussed in the Rogue preview.

Combat Challenge
: Every time you attack an enemy, whether that attack hits or misses, you can choose to mark that target. The mark lasts until the end of your next turn. While a target is marked, it takes a -2 penalty to attack rolls if its attack doesn’t include you as a target. A creature can be subject to only one mark at a time. A new mark supersedes a mark that was already in place.

The Fighter, like the Paladin, fulfils the Defender role. This means that he works best when he’s in the middle of the action, taking melee attacks and protecting the weaker members of the party. The Combat Challenge ability allows you to choose one opponent to focus on, and make that creature have a reason to focus on you back! This idea of “each opponent can only have one mark” prevents one creature being in a no-win situation, where two marks present conflicting choices. Honestly, I’m not sure exactly how easy it will be to track marks in play, but we’ll find out soon enough.

Combat Superiority: You gain a +2 bonus to opportunity attacks.
Fighter Weapon Talent: You gain a +1 bonus to attack rolls when using two-handed weapons (already included).

Str 16 [+3], Con 16 [+3], Dex 13 [+1], Int 10 [+0], Wis 14 [+2], Cha 11 [+0]

Athletics +8, Dungeoneering +4, Endurance +10, Intimidate +5

Fighters gain 3 trained skills, which they choose from a small list. At present, I don’t know if they can take feats to gain more skills (and skills not on their class list). I rather hope so; it’ll be house ruled otherwise.

Power Attack:
When making a melee attack, you can take a -2 penalty to the attack roll. If the attack hits, you gain a +3 bonus to the damage roll.

In 3e, Power Attack caused a lot of mathematics, as you could choose the exact penalty and then had to work out the bonus based on that. The new version is simpler.

: Scale mail
Weapon: Maul, Daggers (5). Your daggers have a range of 5/10 as thrown weapons.
Adventurer’s Kit: This kit includes: a backpack, a bedroll, flint and steel, a belt pouch, two sunrods, ten days worth of trail rations, 50 feet of hempen rope, and a waterskin.
Gold: 10 gp

A word on armour: if you wear heavy armour, you don’t get any Dex bonus to your AC. If you wear light (or no) armour, you add either your Dex or Int bonus to your AC. Wizards will be very happy. This also reduces MAD – Multi-Attribute Dependence – which could severely impact the effectiveness of some characters

At 2nd level, you gain the following:

Hit Points: Increase to 37; Bloodied: Increase to 18; Healing Surge: Increase to 9.

The fighter, like the paladin, is tough.

Level Modifier: Because your new level is an even number, everything that includes one-half your level gets better. Increase your attacks, defenses, initiative, and skill check modifiers by 1 point.
Feat: Dwarven Weapon Training: You gain a +2 feat bonus to damage rolls with axes and hammers (such as your maul). Increase your damage numbers accordingly.

A nice dwarf feat.

Unstoppable   Fighter Utility 2
You let your adrenaline surge carry you through the battle.
* Healing, Martial
Minor Action   Personal
Effect: You gain 2d6 + 3 temporary hit points.

Unlike in 3e, temporary HP from different sources don’t stack. I also think they’ll only last until the end of the encounter, although I need confirmation on that. This is a nice little ability that you can use in a really tough encounter. Notice that it’s a minor action, so it doesn’t stop you manoeuvring and fighting.


At 3rd level, you gain the following:

Hit Points: Increase to 43; Bloodied: Increase to 21; Healing Surge: Increase to 10.

Crushing Blow   Fighter Attack 3
You wind up and deliver a devastating blow with your weapon.
Martial, Weapon
Standard Action   Melee weapon
Target: One creature
Attack: +7 vs AC
Hit: 4d6 + 8 damage

A lot of damage!

So, that’s the Dwarf Fighter from Keep on the Shadowfell. Tough as nails, and very focused on melee combat. If you want to get into the thick of things, protect the weaker members of your party, and lay waste to minions, this is the character to take!


One comment

  1. keterys

    Belated comments. Temporary hit points go away at the end of the encounter. There is a feat to gain a trained skill (one of the DDXP pregens had it), and taking a multiclass feat also gains you a trained skill (appropriate for the class). I suspect marking confusion can occur if you have multiple defenders, so I’m surprised that they included two in their example parties. On a plus note, the paladin tends to pick one specific target to keep marked, while the fighter tends to go for marking everything else and leaves the paladin’s mark alone.


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