The popularity of fighting characters is largely attributable to ease of play and overall satisfaction. The fighter’s broad selection of feats, the ranger’s array of abilities, the barbarian’s raw destructive power, and the leadership potential of the paladin all offer exciting options for adventuring. Perhaps the biggest appeal of these classes, however, is that their primary abilities are never tapped out—they can always kill monsters.

As a warrior, your job is to stall the opponents with melee or ranged attacks long enough for the other party members to bring their special abilities to bear. You buy time for the arcane spellcaster to destroy the monster with a spell, or the cleric to turn the undead, or the rogue to eliminate tough opponents with sneak attacks. And if you happen to kill a bunch of goblins along the way, so much the better. When playing a warrior, it pays to think both offensively and defensively. You are consistently the heaviest hitter in the group, and you never run out of swings. However, you should also try to preserve yourself, since you are the last line of defense
before the monsters reach the wizard and the cleric.

Fighter: The backbone of any adventuring group, the fighter is versatile, potent, and highly customizable because he can branch out into several feat trees that hone his skills in both melee and ranged combat. However, the best fighters are those whose abilities are broad enough to give them an edge over any kind of foe. Thus, when playing a fi ghter, you should resist the temptation to specialize in one feat path too exclusively. If possible, keep your ranged combat prowess as strong as your melee ability so that you can take on fliers and ground forces with equal profi ciency.

Barbarian: A barbarian is primarily a melee combatant. His rage ability augments his Strength and Constitution— the two characteristics that are most valuable in face-to-face fighting. But the fact that Survival and Listen are among his class skills also makes him a great (albeit reckless) scout. Unlike the fi ghter, the barbarian has only enough feat choices to develop one or maybe two feat paths. So if your barbarian is the party’s primary melee warrior, the burden of ranged attack support falls on the party’s spellcasters and experts. Thus, the arcane spellcasters should emphasize ranged spells that deal hit point damage. The party’s experts also need to focus on developing their ranged attack prowess—particularly the rogue’s ability to launch sneak attacks against targets up to 30 feet away.

Barbarian Archetypes

Monk: Another great warrior choice, the monk is excellent at slipping past the ranks of lesser foes to focus her attacks on the leaders. Her great saving throws, evasion, and resistance to mind-affecting spells and abilities make her far and away the best warrior to throw at enemy spellcasters. But although she is never unarmed, the monk lacks the damage potential of fighters and barbarians, who can bring heavy weapons to bear against a foe. Furthermore, the monk must focus her feat selections on improving her Armor Class because she loses her best abilities if she wears armor. If you’re playing a monk as your party’s lead warrior, the cleric must assume the role of heavy hitter in melee. Developing the Power Attack feat path can help a cleric in such a party dish out more damage than he otherwise could. The party’s arcane spellcasters tend to fall back into a supporting role, using their spells to augment the team members’ individual
abilities, though they can fi re off their deadly area spells without much worry of damaging you. Experts, who are often just as mobile as you are, can work with you to flank enemies and eliminate them quickly and efficiently.

Ranger: The ranger is a great character choice for nearly any adventuring party. Armed with spells, a few bonus feats, and great class features, the ranger can also work to improve his combat prowess against specific types of foes and specific environments. However, he lacks the versatility of the standard fighter because he must focus on a single combat style. If you follow the archery combat path, the party’s expert should support the cleric’s necessarily broader role as a melee combatant. Conversely, if you follow the two-weapon path, both the arcane spellcaster and the expert need to build up their ranged arsenals. In either case, the divine spellcaster must also support the ranger with buff spells (such as cat’s grace and magic vestment) and keep plenty of spell slots available for cure spells to keep him on his feet. If possible, the arcane spellcaster in your party should summon additional monsters to distract enemies and spread damage around. Don’t neglect your ranger’s Armor Class in your feat selection. When it’s time to choose favored enemies, select the foes that your party is most likely to encounter and avoid the esoteric and unusual monsters that other team members can handle more efficiently.

Paladin: This virtuous knight not only makes a great spokesperson for the party, but she also serves as a support system for the cleric. The healing that the paladin can provide through her lay on hands ability leaves the cleric with more prepared spells that need not be converted to cure spells. Though a paladin isn’t quite the equivalent of a fighter in terms of combat prowess, she more than makes up for this lack with turning abilities, a special mount, and the ability to smite evil. Like the barbarian, though, the paladin is starved for feats, so she can focus on only one or two feat paths. Most paladins choose to develop the Mounted Combat path, which tends to reduce their effectiveness in certain common environments such as dungeons.

When you introduce a paladin into an adventuring party, the rest of the characters have to respect her code of conduct and alignment restrictions. The cleric and the rogue must play larger roles in combat—the former supplementing the paladin in melee and the latter offering ranged support. Also, the wizard should emphasize combat spells to make up for the lack of a reliable ranged attacker.

The samurai is similar to the ranger in that his class features emphasize a particular style of fi ghting—a two-weapon style, in this case. But the samurai makes a poor ranged attacker,
and his class features focus on fear effects, which are useful only against susceptible opponents. To compensate for a samurais range weakness


Carrion Crown: Kyle's ktle1985