D&D: Unearthed Arcana – Fighter

  • Posted by
  • at

fighter dungeons and dragons

Fighters get new character options in this week’s Unearthed Arcana, and the differences are Knight and day!

Hey folks, it’s time to grab your glaive, guisarme, glaive-guisarme, pike, awl, lucerne hammer, voulge, guisarme-voulge, guisarme-guisarme, spear, and/or bill, because Fighters got FOUR new character options in the latest Unearthed Arcana: the Arcane Archer, the Knight, the Samurai, and the Sharpshooter.

  • An Arcane Archer studies a unique elven method of archery that weaves magic into attacks to produce supernatural effects. These archers stand watch over the fringes of elven domains, keeping a keen eye out for trespassers and using magic – infused arrows to defeat monsters and invaders before they can reach elven settlements.
  • The Knight is a colossus on the battlefield who can shrug off attacks and protect allies from harm. On adventures, they are the unarmored bulwark that strives to keep the rest of the party safe.
  • The Samurai is a fighter who draws on an implacable fighting spirit to overcome enemies. A samurai’s willpower is nearly unbreakable, and the enemies in a Samurai’s path have two choices: yield or die fighting.
  • The Sharpshooter is a master of ranged combat. An excellent sniper and eagle-eyed scout, this fighter is a perilous foe who can defeat an entire war band so long as they are kept at range.

So whether you want to kill your enemies up close or from far away, these new Archetypes have got you covered. Let’s take a look:

arcane archer dungeons dragons

Arcane Archer

Originally a prestige class in 3rd Edition, Arcane Archer makes a triumphant return as a Fighter archetype in 5th edition. I really like what they’ve done here: twice per rest, as a bonus action, you can create an arcane arrow that deals 2d6 extra force damage and an extra effect, depending on which option you take–and there’s a surprising amount of utility in these options. You can pull a Green Arrow or Hawkeye with some of them: there’s an arrow that penalizes opponents’ speed and damages them if they move, there’s an arrow that blinds, an arrow that curves around corners, an arrow that explodes. All that’s missing is a boxing glove arrow.

The rest of the Archetype goes all in on this class feature. You get two skills at 3rd (actually all of the fighter Archetypes have at least one level that grants access to a skill or changes something about their nonviolent interactions, which I really like–it brings out their flavor more and gives you something unique to do when the rest of the party says you don’t want to kill these guys for whatever reason), but other than that, the rest of the archetype either gives you more options or makes your arcane arrows hit harder. There’s a lot of breadth to what you can do with the Arcane shot, but, if you pick this Archetype, your Arcane Shot is going to be your primary mode of interaction.

knight dungeons dragons

The Knight

The Knight is all about protection and battlefield control. If you want to harangue your foes and keep them from going where you don’t want them to, this is the Archetype for you.

The main feature of the Knight is the ability to mark a foe–it’s a new take on a mechanic they tried in 4th edition. Now, you menace one of your foes and it has disadvantage against any target other than you. But. It also lets you use your reaction to make an attack (with advantage no less) against a foe who moves or attacks a not-you target while they’re within five feet of you. But wait there’s more! For five easy payments of 19.95* you can ALSO deal extra damage with it. AND you can make this attack even if you’ve already used your reaction during the round (but not the turn, so you can’t take a reaction on more than one turn, which is probably for the best). What’s more, you can make this attack even if you’ve already used your reaction in a round (but not the turn). So, you can theoretically make an opportunity attack and then also this attack–or take another reaction if you need (conveniently enough this Archetype gives you another reaction at 10th level). A little complicated at first glance, but still, it gives you a good way to incentivize monsters to focus on you.

The rest of the Archetype is much less complex. You get some skills, you can use your reaction to stop an enemy from moving, and you can trade in advantage for an extra attack as a bonus action. Pretty solid all around, if you can get through that wall of text up there.

OA Samurai Dungeons Dragons

The Samurai.

Sorry. That should probably be in all caps with like, seven exclamation points. At least.


THE SAMURAI!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Oh that’s much better. And that is the theme of the Archetype. You get Fighting Spirit as your first Archetype feature, and it’s pretty great. Thrice a rest, you can give yourself advantage on all attacks and resistance to weapon damage for a turn. And that’s where it starts.

This may be the most general of the archetypes. You gain proficiency in Wisdom saves (or Int or Cha if you have that already), you pick up some extra social benefits because of your IRON DISCIPLINE. Much like the knight, you can trade advantage for an extra attack (UNLEASH YOUR SPIRIIIIIIIIIT!) and at 18th level, whenever you are about to take damage that would reduce you to 0 hit points, you get an immediate extra turn before you take the damage to do something awesome, or you could drink a healing potion too I guess.


The Sharpshooter.

As you might expect from the name, this Archetype is also all about the ranged attacks. The Sharpshooter gains a number of abilities that make them better at fighting with their ranged weapons. Including the ability to ignore cover and deal extra damage (as a bonus action), the ability to shoot unimpeded at close range–better in fact, targets you hit are unable to take reactions. So you could, theoretically, really ruin a Knight’s day. And both of the high level features give you more attacks, situationally.

All in all, pretty straightforward, and pretty effective.

dungeons dragons heroes

So there you have it. A bunch of new fighter options to play around with. If you’ve been playing along at home, then you know by now that there’s a new survey up about the Druid archetypes Wizards offered last week. And be sure to tune in next week for Monks.

Check out the New Fighter Options

Take the Druid Survey

Looks like a new look on some older ideas. Got an opinion about some of the mechanics (re)introduced here? Think we missed something? Let us know in the comments.

  • Vepr

    Looks good. Looking forward to digging into each of them. Hopefully the ranged choices do not return us to the days of “what is a ranger?” 🙂

    • Jay Arr

      Hah. Yeah. I’m looking forward to seeing what they put out for the Ranger. They need a little something right now, it feels like. But hey! Only three weeks to go.

  • WaarrggBobo

    These are neat but aren’t as balanced as the options in the main book (some strong/some weak). In paricular, I would note marksmen should be a class of its own — as the fighter base assumes some frontline power and utility– and markmen gain utlity and damage at range. I worry we will rapidly head into pathfinder’s lack of balance.

    • Jay Arr

      It’s an interesting dilemma. On the one hand, yeah, utility and damage at range seems like it needs some counterbalance. But on the other hand, rangers can wear heavy armor and fight well at range, so can fighters who don’t specialize in melee. Fighters tend to be good at adapting to whatever situation they’re in. Enemies staying at range? Get out your longbow (or crossbow or whatever). Up close? Greatsword time.

      So I don’t know. I’m interested to see what their final versions look like, once the playtest phase is over. You should definitely fill out the survey they’ll be putting out next week, either way. This is the kind of input I think Wizards is looking for.

      • WaarrggBobo

        True. And every character should have some utility/ranged options– But I think it’s more about in party combat specialization. (Also I don’t think rangers can normally wear hvy armor) My gut feeling is this actually part of the known problem with Rangers. They already are well “ranged” characters with great utility. (and thus these two new archetypes belong to that class. 5E is great btw– but that one class needs a rework .)
        I’ll even argue the proof. Are you a ranger? Get a pet ( A pet is effectively an attack at range– and a debuff on enemies at range) now get some spells (utility/ ranged), get some rogue-ish abilities (utility)— and you already have a good reason to build Dex as a main combat stat (esp two weapon fighting).

  • If you were trying to be funny with the Samurai bit, you failed. Instead of treating it with the same tone as the other three, you came off as disrespectful, insulting and a bit racist.