Upon reflection, some of the problems I had with the fighter in my game arose from the fact that the DW fighter…

Upon reflection, some of the problems I had with the fighter in my game arose from the fact that the DW fighter…

Upon reflection, some of the problems I had with the fighter in my game arose from the fact that the DW fighter seems most like the D&D/Pathfinder fighter. Interactions with other players, even in the midst of battle, stayed more rooted in the fiction, but I kept falling into just trading blows with the fighter.

The DW druid, in contrast, and the Mage, are so different that it was easier to exploit all the goodness of the rules. I think I’ll go have a look at #fighterweek for ideas. If anyone has specific pointers, I’d love to hear them.

21 thoughts on “Upon reflection, some of the problems I had with the fighter in my game arose from the fact that the DW fighter…”

  1. Trading blows with the fighter is not a bad thing, necessarily. The fighter fights, it’s the class’ bread and butter. However, it’s best to keep it interesting. You don’t want to lock in on a cycle of “the Orc swings at you again – what do you do?” Make the baddies pull out the stops – they are fighting for survival too – use weapons, use terrain, gouge eyes, try to trip the fighter or disarm them, etc., so that the fighter’s player is experiencing a new event any time they engage in melee. There are other things you can do as well, obviously, but I’m just trying to say that trading blows in a dynamic, fluid fashion is perfectly fine for a fighter in my opinion.

  2. Yeah, if you play the fighter (or, really, any class) in a style where their actions are detached from the fiction (i.e. you make similar choices all the time, no matter the situation), then it may be super boring. Getting to the point where the fiction is relevant and constantly changing can take a while, especially if you have to retrain your instincts from other games. It’s also a collaborative thing that eventually requires buy-in from both the GM and players.

  3. Fighters in DW are monster murdering machines. They just destroy things. That said, you gotta make fights interesting. Challenge yourself to not just trade damage on 7-9 results.

    Here is a quick example on how you can make things more interesting than just trading blows. In the example below, assume that Fighter/Ranger and class names should be replaced with your characters’ names.

    Dice: Rolls 2d6 + STR for hack and slash, comes up 8 total.

    GM: “Your blade slips past the axe, singing through the air and cuts deep into the orc, but he snarls and barrels forward, knocking you off your feet. You and the orc are now rolling around on the ground while his friends are no doubt closing in.” 

    Player: “I want to try to get on top of him and finish him off!”

    GM: “Your sword is too long to use at this range, his burly arms are crushing you close and the stink of his breath burns your nose. How are you going to do it?”

    Player: “I drop my sword, and draw my knife. I want to try to finish him before his friends surround me. I try to go for his heart or throat if I can reach either of them.”

    GM: “Ok, sounds like another hack and slash, this time at hand range.”

    And so on. In this case, a fail might mean the orc knocks the dagger away, or takes the dagger from him and starts trying to press it into the Fighter and the orcs friends are closing in. A 7-9 result would probably mean the Fighter cut the orc and dealt damage but didn’t get his blade exactly where he needed to and didn’t end it. Now the orc’s friends are probably surrounding him. I would rule a 10+ in this case would just kill the orc probably, since he would be stabbing it through the heart or throat.

    During this time, you could also have called attention to the situation with other players. Like “Ranger, you see Fighter go down under a big orc and others are coming up to surround him soon. What do you do?”

    Couple of other options from my list of 7-9 results or fails. Note I don’t have specific mechanic effects for these so do whatever you want with them:


    Weapon Broken (Save this for a Fail unless its a disposable weapon, wouldn’t use it on Fighter signature weapon)

    Pushed somewhere dangerous

    Weapon lodges in the enemy.

    Shield damaged

    Armor damaged


    shield bashed

    pommel bashed

    kicked in the gut

    Backed against a wall or cliff

    Something in your eyes

    Knocked Silly for a moment

    Slipping in blood/mud/ice/water

    Wind knocked out of you

    Tooth chipped or knocked out

    Eye blacked and swollen shut

    Ear cut

    Rib broken

    Leg cut, slowed

    arm cut, limp

    Blood in the eyes


    Pack torn open, player chooses something to lose out of it

    Potion broken

  4. Mike Wice How do you figure that they’re murder machines? I’m running my first session Sunday, and like Stephan Terre I’m feeling underwhelmed as I review the Fighter’s sheet.

    At least at level 1, all he really has on the Paladin is Bend Bars/Lift Gates, since the Paladin starts with a +1 damage, -1 weight weapon as well. That doesn’t really carry oomph from a mechanical standpoint or a narrative one. I’m considering letting him roll damage twice and take the higher result, but he still wouldn’t have anything to influence the fiction right off the bat.

    I’m also furiously scribbling notes to make sure I’m not hitting him with twice as many Defy Danger rolls as the other players. Obviously the Wizard & Ranger won’t have free reign to sit back and sling, but as a melee character the Fighter inherently needs to rush through the most dangerous parts of a battlefield. Armor will help that, but as the refrain goes: HP damage is not the worst thing that can happen to you. Again, the Paladin has Quest to mitigate this, and the Fighter is left in the cold.

  5. I’m curious why you say the Fighter doesn’t have anything to influence the fiction, Marty H. Also, the Fighter and the Paladin are different, and I think it’s a mistake to try and compare them. Dungeon World  isn’t  a game that tries to balance the classes mechanically, so comparing them based only on mechanics is, I feel, not all that meaningful.

  6. I mean, a Fighter has 4 starting moves: BB/LG, Armored, Signature Weapon, and his racial. BB/LG lets you bust up the environment: cool, if limited and dubiously related to being a master warrior. Armored and Signature Weapon are essentially small numerical boosts & a promise that the DM won’t take your sword. And only the Halfling’s racial significantly changes the way the character will act.

    That’s not to say that there’s no way to influence the fiction as a Fighter, just that I see little you can do to influence the fiction because you’re a Fighter.

    Every other class has some way to generate clues and/or throw the story for a loop: Track and Called Shot the villain to disrupt the ritual, use poisons to put the guards to sleep, shapeshift into whatever’s perfect, call up your god for a pro-tip, etc. The Fighter doesn’t have anything along those lines until he gains Heirloom. But that raises the question of why he’s paying extra for something everyone else starts with, especially since he doesn’t seem to be much scarier in combat as a result.

    That’s ultimately the point – not whether X class can beat Y class in a fight, but whether a class brings something fun, unique, and valuable to the player, the party, and the game. I don’t see that as far as the Fighter is concerned, in part because the Paladin appears to have everything he does and more. It’s a strong indication to me that the Fighter doesn’t adequately fill the niche he’s intended to.

  7. Those are valid points. Though I look at it in a different way. The Fighter is indeed something of a blank canvas when compared to the other DW classes. But on the other hand, the Fighter is not constrained, either. The Paladin does have their Quest move, but they don’t get it for free; they have to maintain their assigned vow.

    The Fighter may not have much in the way of defining moves. But that means they aren’t constrained by those moves either. Clerics only get spells if they act in accordance with their deity’s precepts.

    Also, there is nothing preventing the Fighter from doing things that other classes do. They can still grab a bow and shoot the BBEG in the head to hopefully disrupt the ritual, just like the Ranger can. The difference is that the Ranger has a specific move that triggers, giving them more control over the outcome of their actions than the FIghter does.

    Maybe this sounds dickish (which is not my intent), but more so than other classes, it the player’s responsibility to make the Fighter interesting. Do interesting things and the class will be interesting. Give them a personality, make them a character. If you just sit there and Hack & Slash all the time, you’re going to be bored.

  8. I’ve also heard someone mention that playing the Fighter in DW is “easy mode.” Not because dungeoneering sucks any less, but because you have fewer options to juggle, which can be nice for less experienced players who still need to figure out how to engage with basic moves and other things, or for experienced players who are less interested in fiddly mechanical details.

  9. Marty H In our games, the Fighter absolutely decimates things in a fight. The signature weapon is pretty amazing. You can start with a 2 piercing weapon that does +1 damage. You can take merciless at level 2 to add another 1d4. That is (I think) the best damage at level 2 of any class. Look at the HP value of the monsters, then compare that damage output. Most things will not stand toe to toe with a Fighter for more than 1 or 2 exchanges of blows. At level 3 you could add “scent of blood” to that, and pretty much everything is dead in 2 hits. Heck add “Improved Weapon” after that for a little more. 

    But, it looks like you are mostly comparing magical abilities to the Fighter. The Fighter by default is supposed to be the guy that gets by with steel and strength, not spell and cunning (though you could certainly play them cunning). And if you like magic, you could also add some magical ability with their TWO Multiclass advanced moves (which the Paladin does not get, at all).

    Straight up at level 1 though, hes just supposed to be a guy that stomps face, and he seems to do a great job of it in our games. I have to just throw everything at him to even worry him.

    The funny thing about this post, is that I just made a post a day or two ago about how I didn’t think the Thief was very good because he was too mundane and didn’t get abilities like what you described. I changed my mind. I do still wish Thief got a multiclass advanced move. 

  10. Thanks, Mike Wice. I’m still scratching my head a bit on how to Give Opportunities to Fit a Class’ Abilities for a Fighter (since everyone can contribute to a straight up scrap) without riding BB/LG so much that he turns into the Kool Aid Man, but that does help some.

    The Fighter and Rogue have always been difficult archetypes. I’m totally into the Badass Normal, but D&D has historically been much better about the “Normal” part than the “Badass.” Hence my reservations at how we’ll receive the Fighter in practice.

    PS: Anything using a d4 is a bug, not a feature 😀

  11. A few things: 

    1. Fictional Positioning. The fighter in your game is The Fighter. She will outfight the Paladin and everyone else because fighting is not their stick. It is the fighters. She should be reliably be able to attack multiple enemies at once. Here is a custom move to help you visualize this: 

    Being THE Fighter

    When you want to pull a crazy stunt in combat it is never acting besides a danger. (so no defy danger roll beforehand). 

    2. Bend Bars Lift Gates is crazy cool. You can destroy basically everything. The thing about the hammer and every problem looking like a nail? BBLG is a really good hammer. 

    3. If you want something more special then Heirloom is a move that gives you spotlight instantly, makes your signature weapon even more cool and gives you information when you need them. 

    4. Oh, your signature weapon? Does it have a name? Is it important? It should be. It is one of the first things i ask the fighter about every game and make sure to make important what they give me here. 

    Marty H for “changing the story mode” That is BBLG. Why not collapse the whole room where the ritual is by destroying two of the weight bearing columns? 

    Post from me form earlier this week: 

    Yesterday i played a half-demon halfling fighter. He was a viscious little thing with demonforged knifes that could turn into a spiked chain if needed. 

    It was a lot of fun. 

    I was able to just focus on the basic moves and narration and therefore on doing cool things with my weapons. 

    I didn’t need to go over my spelllist to choose the best thing to do i just went and did, relying on my knowledge of basic moves. I rolled all of them but volley (no range weapon) and defend (i wanted at one point but it didn’t work out in the fiction).  

    Highlights include spinning the spiked chain over his head to attack two demonmutantthings at once for 14 damage (threatening the druid by accident), nailing a demons hands to the wall so that the beardruid could crush it. Getting jumped into the air with help of the bear. Brutally murdering another demon after it Baldwin a brother and generally beeing a mean little halfling. 

    More nuanced mechanics weren’t needed for that.  

  12. Generally speaking, just dealing damage to an enemy is not the most effective way to overcome them. Sure, killing someone is a win, but often, so is disarming or crippling them. Think about how to win and describe your character doing that. Let the moves come from your description. 

    This is the thing, people often think about “hitting your enemy” as the goal of a combat encounter. Combat arises from you wanting something and your enemy wanting something and then you having to murder each other to get that thing. Combat is a byproduct of desire, not a goal in and of itself (generally, some people are psychopaths). Consider that as both a player of the Fighter and as GM.

  13. Adam Koebel aside from things which are immune to normal weapons. What doesn’t The Fighter kill in 1-2 hits? In our games he seems super effective at killing and as you put it “winning” and I can’t imagine him choosing to disarm an opponent unless he really wants to parley or something.

  14. The problem with that is that I don’t see too many example monsters that can do that aside from saying “normal weapons won’t work” and then as soon as they get a weapon that can hurt them, bam they are dead. Alternately I could inflate the HP values considerably for listed monsters, but then dragons having 16 hp goes completely out the window.

  15. I don’t mean “the Fighter can’t deal enough damage to slaughter” I mean stop thinking about damage. Think about other stuff. Can the Fighter just murder the Elven Prince? What about a young farmer’s daughter, possessed? Combat is a byproduct of desire. You don’t kill because you want to kill (mostly) you kill to stop someone else from killing or you kill to take something that’s yours. Think about problems that killing can’t solve.

  16. Also, I love that Tim Franzke brought up the fiction-based effects of the signature weapon. I ran a Dungeon World one-shot, and the player picked a hammer that glowed in the presence of undead.

    Bam. I knew I’d be dropping in undead monsters–and that formed the core of the session, alongside the fauna gone wild in a forest (thanks to undead disturbances).

    We also got some super-cool answers about where that weapon came from (taken from a paladin who had died fighting alongside the Fighter, some time before the adventure) and why the Fighter was in the area (fighting undead incursions).

  17. Andy Hauge , I love the way that the players have such an influence in the game. My player’s fighter, for example, was Ajax from the battle of Troy, mysteriously teleported to “this world” just before the end of the battle. The bond “…has much to learn” was perfect for him. It was this player who introduced the cannibals.

    The Wizard also said that she had received a prophecy of “The Four”.

    Now I had a ton to work with, and the game had barely even begun!

    If I had made some quick monster moves for the cannibals, I think the battle would have been more interesting for everyone, but especially the fighter. “Separate them,” “drag one away,” and “gnaw on something” spring immediately to mind. All would have been a great antidote to “I poke with my spear again”.

    Likewise, the other enemy, guardian masks accidentally animated by a Mage spell gone awry, would have been more focused with specific monster moves, although I think I handled those a little better. The problem there was that I used too many soft moves, I think out of a mistaken sense of “balanced encounters” that games like Pathfinder clave to so strongly.

    In the vein of Being a Fan of the Characters, I was trying to give the fighter a chance to meet a worthy opponent in straight-up combat, but the other players kept coming up with great ideas to kill or frighten the enemies before he could get to them! In the end, the only one left standing was killed by the mage, who had “never taken a life before”. Good thing we get to Play to Find Out What Happens 🙂

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