Base Class Alteration: Fighter

Base Class Alteration: Fighter

Base Class Alteration: Fighter

Scent of Blood, Taste of Blood, Improved Weapon

My goal here is to alter the abilities of base classes, slightly, so that the decisions of which moves to take is less easy.  For a fighter, for example, Scent of Blood is strictly inferior to Merciless, and I think when you have a situation where no character would ever choose ability a before ability b, it’s a problem.

If there are resources that already do this, then I’d love to be pointed toward them.  For now, here is what I’ve come up with:

Scent of Blood

When you hack and slash an enemy, take +1 forward against your attacker.  Your next attack against them deals +1d6 damage.

Taste of Blood

Replaces: Scent of Blood

When you hack and slash an enemy, take +1 forward against your attacker.  Your next attack against them deals +1d10 damage.

Improved Weapon

Choose two extra enhancements for your signature weapon

The justification for the last one is that an extra enhancement is roughly equal in value to a 1 damage increase, which is again, strictly inferior to Merciless.

38 thoughts on “Base Class Alteration: Fighter”

  1. For the better weapon option, consider allowing fighter to pick any extra ability for their weapon. Not restricted by the list.

    Also, getting an extra weapon range or having it light up (or messy + forceful) are not comparable.

  2. actually, the concept behind merciless is that every damaging class has its own +1d4 conditional damage, but the fighter has an extra always active +1d4 damage because he is the king of damage. They are not meant to be two moves you can choose, they are meant to be working together. You get merciless (and you have to live with a truly merciless character) and then if you want extra damage you get scent of blood. Do you ever felt there was an actual problem playing as written? Cause +1 to hack’n’slash & +1d6 damage is just plain brutal.

  3. Scent/Taste of Blood is bad because by the time you attack something again as a Fighter, additional damage is irrelevant – it’s going to be dead from taking 2d10 damage already (or more likely 2d10+2d4/2d8, since you’ll probably have Merciless or Bloodthirsty). That, and yes, it’s strictly worse than Merciless at giving you additional damage.

    Improved Weapon is completely fine, though, because Merciless isn’t the yardstick by which every move is measured, and the Fighter isn’t entirely about dealing bigger damage numbers. Getting an additional weapon improvement is not roughly equivalent to +1 damage – you can’t measure versatile or huge in terms of “how many +1 damages is this worth.”

    For the record, I’ve got my own Fighter variant that fixes the issues I had with the original Fighter, but I’m currently re-revising it. I’ll link it once I’m done, if you want.

    Tim Franzke: do you have our original conversation about this? I can’t find it, and it might be worth linking to spare a retread. I think I stand by most of what I said then, although I’ve got a better idea of why I don’t like the DW Fighter and what to do to fix him nowadays.

  4. I have been working on hacking all of the core classes as well as my own hacked classes. I also removed the scent of blood move line. I was planning on posting some of them up fairly soon. 

    However, I would not recommend replacing them with yet another damage skill. 1d10 + 1d8 + ~2 per Hack and Slash is already too much damage if anything. 

  5. I’m going to post my Fighter variant anyway, even though it’s missing a starting move (this is the Peerless Fighter that was posted a while back, but with a couple of changes, namely I removed the 4E-esque defender move):

    In general, I think unconditional +damage moves are some of the most boring moves you can ever give a character, and +damage moves only work when there’s a nice, flavoursome trigger that really tells you something about the character who took it.

    My problems with the Fighter are this: he’s not the best at defending things, because that’s the Paladin. He’s not the best at “tanking,” because that’s also the Paladin (between starting with more armour, Quest + attendant armour moves and Staunch/Impervious Defender). He’s also not really the best at dealing damage either, because the Paladin also gets +1d8 damage (albeit requiring he be on a Quest) on top of having a d10 damage die, and as previously mentioned Scent of Blood doesn’t really work because your target is going to be dead before the bonus kicks in.

    The end result is that the Paladin is a better than the Fighter at everything that makes the Fighter the Fighter in D&D (and while yeah, we can joke that it’s totally appropriate if you’re looking at 3.x, it’s not for older editions). Part of it is the Paladin’s d10 base damage, which I personally houserule to a d8.

    Instead of being “the guy who is a beatstick but isn’t as good at it as the Paladin, but hey he can kick in doors,” I ended up making Armor Mastery a starting move and trying to build the Fighter up around that. The Paladin is the guy who can make himself immune to swords while he’s on a quest for justice. The Fighter gets to be the guy who wears full plate like it’s a second skin, can murder you with a teacup and if you lock him in a room with 20 orcs and his signature weapon, he comes out the other side without a scratch on his person.

    As far as I’m concerned, the Fighter ought to be the nastiest, scariest thing in the room at any given moment (for anyone who’s afraid of death and isn’t immune to being stabbed, punched and generally killed to death), because he’s the guy with the gear and the knowledge of how to best use that gear.

    edit: just to stress, this is still WiP. Several of the advances aren’t final, although I’m pretty set on the existing base moves and my +armor moves. I am contemplating making Interrogator a starting move (with a different name) but that will require writing a new Dwarf racial/Soldier background. Strength of Ten especially requires a rewrite, because it overlaps with Strong Arm, True Aim from the Thief.

  6. Anthony Giovannetti

    The thing about the Scent of Blood line is, as Alex points out, that if you’ve got Bloodthirsty, and assuming a boring +2 piercing +1 damage signature weapon, you’re going to be doing  2d10+2d8+2 damage with your first two attacks.  Maybe a bit more if you have other magic stuff on your weapon, maybe a little less if the creature has more than 2 armor.

    The point is, how many things are surviving 2d10+2d8+2 damage (average 22)? Almost nothing.  The reason that the Scent of Blood line is so underpowered is that it almost never matters because you’d be dropping them in two hits anyway.  Which is why I think, to make it vaguely relevant, the +1 forward is needed.  You could increase Scent of Blood to +1d10 damage, but if that was the only thing it did, I probably still wouldn’t take it, because the extra damage almost never matters.

    Writing this out, though, has made me realize that my revised Taste of Blood is completely irrelevant for the same reasons: it only increases the damage, and that doesn’t matter.

  7. Alex Norris

    * I like your addendum to merciless.

    * I think Deft Footwork should only give a bonus to defy danger for dex, con, str.

    * Eye for Weaponry is still a terribly boring move; consider giving that something extra (maybe additionally +1 armor for the combat against one weapon that he identifies?  Dunno).

    * I would suggest that Iron Hide and Diamond Hide reduce armor weight by 2, instead of making it nothing.  Diamond hide I would suggest should reduce piercing by 2, instead of ignoring it (if there is some powerful magical item that has piercing 5, I think it a bit much to ignore that completely).

    Some very good ideas, and those are all just my opinion; take it as just that :).  Thanks.

  8. Alex Norris Rudy Henkel 

    Looks like I missed Alex’s post. I agree that the paladin has problems. I removed his damage moves and replaced them with other things to help flesh out differences between the two classes. In my eyes, Paladins should be more defensive, Fighters more offensive. IMHO the Paladin class is actually one of the worst designed in terms of advanced moves. Basically everything is a boring passive stat modifier. And similarly the 6-10 moves basically just increase those numbers to be bigger. 

    Here is my hack of the fighter. I also changed Signature Weapon to reflect the cooler stuff shown earlier in the community.

    You can see some of the overall Hack changes I made in the stats and HP.  Any feedback is appreciated. 

  9. Anthony Giovannetti: I take it you took some inspiration from mine, based on the drive/backgrounds and gear? 😛

    I really like your Mercenary move, and might steal it if that’s okay with you.

  10. Yup. Please do.

    And yeah, if was probably you, thanks! If I find something really good in the community I use it. 

    Also it was perfect because the first thing I did was change alignment to motivation (drive now after seeing others use it) and remove Race. The fighter was the first hack I worked on, and it really laid the foundation for my other hacks. 

  11. Alex Norris

    Some more modification of moves for my own hack, some of which are inspired by you.  I really like your idea of switching Armor Mastery with Bend Bars Lift Gates for the basic move; stealing that, too.  (If I ever post a complete thing, I’ll be sure to credit you).

    (2-5 Moves)

    Seeing Red

    When you discern realities during combat, you take +1.  If you succeed, you may forgo one question to take +1 forward to your next defy danger during the same combat.


    When you have access to a forge, time, and materials, you can repair the damage done to your armor from armor mastery as long as it isn’t completely destroyed.  Additionally, if you have the aid of someone with magical power (or if you have such yourself), you can graft the magical powers of a single weapon onto your signature weapon, destroying the magical weapon in the process.

    Replacing the Improved Weapon move:

    Linked Weapon

    Choose one additional enhancement for your signature weapon from the Signature Weapon move list.  In addition, you are now indelibly linked with your weapon.   If you lose your weapon, you may spend one hour focusing to feel its approximate direction.  

       When you train or meditate with your weapon for one hour, lose any hold you have, and gain 1 hold.  Spend one hold to gain +1 on Hack & Slash with your weapon.


    When you deal melee damage to a foe you feel no pity for, deal +1d4 damage.

    Scent of Blood

    When you deal damage to an enemy, take +1 to your next Hack & Slash against that same enemy this combat.

    Deadly Archer

    Your Merciless and Bloodthirsty moves, if you have them, apply to ranged damage as well.  

      Your Scent of Blood and Taste of Blood moves, if you have them, give their bonus to your next Hack & Slash OR Volley.

    Iron Hide

    You gain +1 armor; armor that you wear weighs 1 less.

    (6-10 Moves)

    Soul-forged Weapon

    Requires: Linked Weapon OR Heirloom

    Your weapon is an extension of your very soul.  Your weapon cannot be destroyed while you live, and you can always tell its exact location and distance.  In addition, your deep connection may manifest in an enchantment on the weapon.

       Tell your GM what the enchantment is, and he will tell you what is needed to awaken it.


    Replaces: Merciless

    When you deal melee damage to a foe you feel no pity for, deal +1d8 damage.

    Taste of Blood

    Requires: Scent of Blood

    When you kill an enemy, take +1 to your next Hack & Slash this combat.

  12. Anthony Giovannetti

    I think the Major Enchantment is too powerful for a starting move; I would personally recommend leaving that as an advanced more and story hook opportunity.

  13. Tim Franzke  First off, how to I reply to two people at once?  I can’t figure it out; clicking reply for the second person does nothing.

    The wizard can do ANYTHING… maybe.  If the wizard wants to do something really cool, a good GM is going to at least make it involve a story hook.

    I could see allowing the fighter to start with a dormant enchantment on his blade, that can be awakened under the right conditions (without the need for an additional move).  Something like:

    Your weapon has a form of enchantment on it that you have not fully mastered.  Tell your GM what the enchantment it is, and he will tell you when it functions.

    Alternatively, you could have a list of enchantments, like Anthony’s, and a list of conditions under which it functions, something like: 

    * Your life is in danger (below half health)

    * When you achieve a 12+ on Hack & Slash

    * When you succeed at a roll+CHA to awaken the blade, for the next combat.

    And then you could have either a story hook, or an advanced move, that would make the enchantment work all the time.

    Having a fighter just start out with a always Vorpal Blade, though, I find dull.

  14. Rudy Henkel: your Blacksmith move is redundant! My Armor Mastery allows the Fighter to repair their armour by design. It takes an hour to do so, just like it takes an hour for the Wizard to Prepare Spells, because one of the mechanics I chose to make the Fighter about is managing armor as a resource.

    Overall, I’m not a big fan of the changes you want to make (I mean it’s your own hack, obviously, but still). Remember that a move is supposed to be a single unit of mechanics; if you have a move that does two different things, it should be two moves (conversely, if you’re writing one move it should do only one thing). Adding the ability to forego one question for +1 to DD to Seeing Red is fiddly, in addition to not really making sense as one move.

    Ditto the second part of Linked Weapon. Also, I’d say the the first effect is pretty bad – it’s too weak to justify taking; either replace it with “you always know exactly where your signature weapon is,” or make it so you can spend some time in meditation to summon the weapon to your side. Honestly, I’d be tempted to just add “Linked: you always know exactly where your signature weapon is” as a new option to the base Signature Weapon move.

    Scent of Blood/Taste of Blood still suffer from the same problem, namely that most enemies will die in one hit, and therefore are only good against really tough enemies where getting to make a H&S roll in the first place is really important and that have enough HP to withstand two attacks from the Fighter. If you absolutely want to keep them, I would do this instead:

    Scent of Blood

    When you deal damage, take +1 forward to your next attack.

    Taste of Blood

    Requires: Scent of Blood (NB: this can’t be a Replace, since the trigger is more restrictive)

    When you kill an enemy for the first time in a given combat, take +1 ongoing to Hack and Slash until the battle is over.

    Wording on Taste probably needs adjusting, and Scent of Blood can be changed to “melee attack” if you want, to work with Deadly Archer. Speaking of which, Deadly Archer’s phrasing needs work but I don’t have a problem with the move in more general terms.

    There’s no need whatsoever for a nerf to Iron Hide as I wrote it; since Load is already not likely to be an issue for a Fighter, giving them an effective +2-3 Load doesn’t break a thing.

    Soulforged Weapon should say “manifests as an echantment,” not “may manifest.”

  15. Alex Norris

    I didn’t use your Armor Mastery as a basic move, though, just took the existing Armor Mastery and made it a basic move.  Didn’t mean to say I was taking yours and editing from there, just that I found some of your stuff to be inspiring in terms of ideas.

    Taste of Blood doesn’t suffer from the problem that most enemies die in one hit, since it gives you a +1 to attack the next enemy, after killing one.  The idea being that you can build momentum from killing.

    There are a fair number of enemies that aren’t going to die in one hit; the original problem with Scent of Blood was that almost all enemies will die in two hits; that’s what made the extra damage from scent of blood useless.  The change to Scent of Blood I made makes the second hit more likely to be successful, instead of increasing the damage, which sidesteps that problem.

    I agree with your criticism of Linked weapon, in that perhaps you should just be able to sense where the weapon is automatically, without it being a “move”.  That would leave Linked Weapon with only being a single move (the training or meditating with your weapon), since adding an enhancement is not a move itself.

    You’re probably right that there’s no need to nerf Iron Hide but it breaks my fiction a bit for a fighter in Plate Mail to be able to carry as much as a fighter in Leather.  I like that you make the fighter better at handling armor than other classes, but I still want them to feel a difference between Plate and Leather, even if it’s not a huge one.

    You’re right about the rewording on Soulforged Weapon.

  16. Alex Norris What do you think of the following:

    Seeing Red

    When you discern realities during combat, you take +1.  You may also ask the question “How can I most effectively strike at this foe?”


    Seeing Through the Foe

    Requires: Seeing Red

    When you Discern Realities during combat, you gain hold equal to the number of questions you ask.  When acting on information gained from your Discern Realities, spend a hold to take +1.  Lose any remaining hold at the end of combat.

  17. Alex Norris

    Thanks; your input has been very helpful.  I’m still just a month into Dungeon World, and weening myself off of the complexity of Pathfinder and such =D.

  18. Especially because the “acting on the answer” thing is already there. 

    How about “when you act on the answers and use the information to deafeat your enemy take +2 forward” 

  19. The difference is just that DD is a single +1 forward, while this is up to 3 that you can get when you want.

    Also “it’s a +2 instead of a +1” is both boring and maths-breaking, since it basically tips most rolls over into “practically cannot fail” territory.

  20. Tim Franzke

    Alex Norris

    D’oh.  I completely forgot that Discern Realities already gives you +1 forward.  I’m not sure if I’ll use Tim’s suggestion exactly, but it does require a bit more thinking to distinguish it.

  21. Might require Adam or Sage to clarify, but it says “+1 forward when acting on the answers” and not “when acting on each answer,” so as far as I’m concerned it’s just a single +1.

  22. Regardless of that ruling, I’ll probably just drop the second move for the time being unless I think of something cooler; getting extra “+1″s, or one +2, isn’t interesting enough to justify a 6-10 move especially.  I think with the extra question option, the Seeing Red will stand on its own.

  23. Might have the second move say “Instead of +1 forward from Discern Realities, take +1 ongoing when acting on the answers for the duration of combat.”  Is that too strong?  Most combats are too short for there to be a real difference between getting three “+1″s  and an ongoing “+1”, but I’m uncertain.

  24. Rudy Henkel It might be but I want to test it more before making that decision. I find that the modified version of the signature weapon is significantly more fun, so I would prefer to keep it if possible. 

    I suspect that the only enhancement that might be too good is vorpal. The other’s are more fictional benefits and hardly overpowered. 

    Any ideas on something to replace Vorpal with? 

  25. Yeah, I definitely think vorpal is too good – it goes from “cool with cool potential uses” into “outright too powerful.”

    How about something like “it can harm ethereal creatures” or “it can permanently slay undead?”

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