Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Expanding the Fighting Man

Sublime in its simplicity, the OD&D/Swords & Wizardry class of Fighting Man is the ultimate fantasy archetype: man with sword, ready to face down slavering dragons and cunning wizards. One of the strengths of the Fighting Man is that you can envision him to be pretty much anything you want. Knight, rogue, mercenary, crossbowman, gladiator, duelist, the list goes on and on. No specific rules additions are *necessary* to run your own Fighting Man within the specific archetype of your choice.

Nonetheless, there are times when it is desirable to more greatly reflect the differences between the various archetypes with specific rules, and this would quickly manifest itself as D&D evolved from the LBB's into AD&D. As supplements like Dragon and Greyhawk appeared, so to did classes like the Paladin and Ranger, created whole cloth as individual classes with their own individual rules.

As players in my S&W game got interested in branching out into other types of Fighting Men, I was reluctant to add more classes to the streamlined S&W ruleset. I especially wanted to avoid the apparentl tendency to give many fighting classes spells at higher levels. Instead, I decided to simply add a few rule additions to each variant of the Fighting Man. To justify paladin and ranger-flavored Fighting Men and their extra abilities, I also had to beef up the base Fighting Man class a bit, and came up with the Warrior. All the variants would use the basic saves, exp progression, experience bonuses, etc, of the Fighting Man, but would have two or three rule-based benefits to make them stand out from the crowd.

To take a look at my variant Fighting Men, click on the link here to download it. These variants are suitable for use with Swords & Wizardry, and may easily be used with B/X, OD&D, Labyrinth Lord, S&W Whitebox, and other similar rules-lite, old-school systems.

As always, any feedback is appreciated!

Past Downloads: The Thief.


  1. Like the additions! I always thought the fighter "talent" of being able to attack 1 opponant per level under a full HD was just silly. Your take is much better as a skilled warrior is already planning his next target.
    The weopon specialist seems like a great buy gaining AC to hit and damage.


  2. Nifty!

    Under Rogue - Alertness, you use the word Ranger.

  3. Dang it,Al! You keep posting good stuff, while I'm still kicking it around in my head.
    I like the idea of just 1 or 2 extra bonus abilities for the Fightin Man, to give him a bit more depth.
    I'm doing something similar for the AD&D Fighter class. I'm keeping the Paladin and Ranger seperate though, the bonus abilities won't apply to them.
    It's going to be a list of minor skills and tricks under the heading, Things that Grandfather taught you.
    A fighter will get to roll to see what bits of warrior's wisdom he picked up as a child.

  4. This is the approach for which I've longed: New sub-classes rather than separate classes. I like the simplicity of these, Al. Well done.

    The Weapon Master appeals to me a bit less than the others. Intellectually, I can imagine that such a character might exist and what he or she might be like, but I don't have an archetypal, gut response to this one (as I do to the others). Still, I'm curious to see how his or her abilities might work in play.

    I'm curious to know if, in your mind, each of these sub-classes retains the basic Fighter's Combat Machine ability.

    Again, great stuff, sir.

  5. Thanks for the feedback, everyone!

    @Mabon - I was going for sort of a cross between the "hit every >1HD creature" and the 3e cleave concept. It's worked well in my games so far!

    @David - argh! the ability works the same though...

    @EG - I look forward to seeing those, cool idea!

    @Jon - The Warrior (or "default" Fighting Man) is the only variant that gets those particular special combat abilities.

  6. Miyamoto Musashi could be a real life example of the weapon master. If I remember correctly, he fought something like 60 duels.

  7. At the end of the Expanding Fight Man PDF you mentioned that you had created (but excluded) some other expansions, such as the Noble, the Archer, and the Merchant.

    I'm keen to see your version of the Noble. I also wonder how you would build the Barbarian, the Pirate, and the Nomad.

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