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D&D: The Ideal Fighter – By The Numbers

5 Minute Read
Oct 23 2019
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The fighter is one of the most popular classes out there. And according to the numbers, this is what the most popular Fighter looks like.

Fighters are the second-most popular class, if you believe D&D Beyond’s player info. And since we’re letting that stand in for the collective will of the D&D community, we’re going to go ahead and believe it. This week, we’re letting that collective force build a Fighter. But not just any Fighter, the platonic ideal of a Fighter. How you ask? By going back through user data collected from D&D Beyond and applying it liberally to the random generator tables in Xanathar’s Guide to Everything. The end result SHOULD BE a procedurally generated Fighter that is a perfect mirror of every D&D player’s* collective decision-making. Where you might pick something based on narrative decisions, we’re letting the cold hard FACTS define this character. Let’s take a look.

via D&D Beyond

Fighters have a unique place in the collective mind. They are the second most-popular class, and they’re also the least likely class to be multiclassed.

….or so it seems, until you realize that Fighter is hands down the go-to option for pretty much every other class, unless they’re already good at fighting. Then it’s the second most popular option, usually. Except for Druids, but Druids are weird. With that in mind, it looks like our hive-mind-created Fighter is a rarity in 5th Edition. A single-classed character! Now let’s take a look at subclasses.

Champion seems to be the front-runner, but only by a little. Battlemaster is a surprisingly close second–but simplicty wins out over fancy tricks in the end, which probably says something about the accessibility of the game. Especially if you look at the most popular party compositions, where you’ll find that Fighters are one of the most constant classes no matter how many people you’re playing with. What does that mean?

 

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For one: people really like to hit things with swords or greataxes or what have you. For two: it means that we’ve got plenty of data to figure out what the ideal Fighter looks like–again according to cold hard data that is absolutely never wrong, because if there’s one thing popular media has taught us, it’s that computers are never wrong and data can never be misleading or villainous.

With all that in mind, let’s take a look at our perfect Fighter.

Going by the numbers, we know that the most popular race is human, so we’ll go with the boring option here, which means either +1 to all stats or +1 to two and picking a bonus feat. Jeremy Crawford is on record saying most people don’t use feats, so we’ll go with that for now. So far we’ve been sticking with the Standard Array when using these, as that keeps things Adventurer’s League legal. The Standard array gives us 16, 15, 14, 13, 11, 9 to assign wherever we like. We’ll go with a 16 in Strength, a 15 in Con, and the rest can go wherever you see fit. All we need is a strong arm, and the hit points to take a punch.

 

And as we’re playing a Champion, there’s really not that much else to do. The only thing we really have to pick is a fighting style:

  • Archery: +2 bonus to attack rolls with ranged weapons
  • Defense: +1 bonus to AC when wearing armor
  • Dueling: +2 bonus to damage when wielding a melee weapon in one hand and no other weapons
  • Great Weapon Fighting: Reroll 1’s and 2’s on damage die for attacks made with a melee weapon wielded in two hands
  • Protection: When a creature attacks a target other than the fighter, as a reaction, impose disadvantage on the attack roll–if wielding a shield.
  • Two-Weapon Fighting: When two-weapon fighting, add ability modifier to the damage of the second attack.

All of those options are pretty good. Aside from that, the only other thing we have to do is decide how to spend our ability score increases. I’m really starting to see the appeal of the Champion Fighter.

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Now we get to turn to Xanathar’s Guide and let the dice make some decisions. You can play along at home if you have a copy of the book, just flip to page 61 and look at the section This Is Your Life.

Now we’re going with a slightly wider than average spread here, because everything evens out in the wash. The most likely options by far are that our Fighter knows their parents, but only one of them is still around. The other Parent mysteriously vanished. Going again by the likely results, we are the eldest of 1d4+1 siblings and we probably grew up in a small house in an okay neighborhood.

Looking at the home life table, we can see that our perfect Fighter lived an ordinary childhood, and a modest life, with a few close friend. You can keep rolling to find out things like why you became a Fighter, with the average result having us join the army and learning how to fight as part of a group–so we’re probably taking the Soldier background. The real fun comes with Life Events, and our Fighter is most likely in their 20s, which means 2 or 3 life events. The most likely event by a long shot is working a job, because even in a fantasy world, you have to make a living, I guess. But the next two most likely events are making a friend and enemy of an adventurer.

Now it looks like our most likely option is another Fighter, which makes sense. Maybe it’s a farmer or trapper who joined the army alongside us, and whom we rubbed the wrong way. As for our ally, possibly a Fighter or Monk, depending on if we’re slightly above or slightly below average. Still, that’s a fleshed out character with connections in the world, and it practically runs itself!

Happy Adventuring!

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