Class Dive: What about that Fighting Man?

Next up in this series where I take a look at the main character classes is the Fighting Man. I was going to look at the Cleric, but decided I’d spread out the spellcasters a bit.

Yes, I know that “Fighting Man” a bit of a sexist term. It was a point of contention when Vince and I started working on the Mazes & Perils reboot over a year ago. But here’s the thing… it’s meant to be a throwback to when D&D first came out and Gygax & Arneson described three classes of characters – Fighting-Men, Magic-Users, and Clerics. In those early books, they referred to “men” and I won’t guess at whether they meant it in the “all human beings” kind of “men” or only “males” but it doesn’t matter.

At the beginning of Mazes & Perils Deluxe, we wrote a disclaimer:

“We use the word “He” and “Him” throughout the text, but we mean “He or She” and “Him or Her” wherever you see it mentioned. This game is meant for everyone to enjoy, regardless of gender or sexual orientation and the use of male pronouns is used for simplicity’s sake.”

It is definitely not meant to exclude the women who are just as capable of picking up a sword as their men were. All through history there have been female warriors fighting alongside their men. In my own life, I’ve known more than a few badass women I’d rather not cross — so they should be welcome as characters in our games as well.

But stepping beyond the gender discussion now, the idea of what a fighter is comprises many many different ideas. Let’s look at all the terms I’ve seen for variations of the classic Fighter class over the years…

  • Fighter
  • Cavalier
  • Paladin
  • Barbarian
  • Ranger
  • Knight
  • Samurai

And I’m sure there are many more. Those are just the ones I can list off the top of my head.

Let’s see if we can take this class apart and figure out what it is at its core.


The nice folks at define a fighter as:

  1. a boxer; pugilist
  2. Military. an aircraft designed to seek out and destroy enemy aircraft in the air and to protect bomber aircraft.
  3. a person who fights, struggles, resists, etc.
  4. a person with the will, courage, determination, ability, or disposition to fight, struggle, resist, etc.
  5. an animal, as a dog, trained to fight or having the disposition to fight.

But let’s take this apart a bit. We see quite a few common words in there. Destroy. Protect. Fight. Resist. Will. Courage. Determination. Ability. Disposition. Training.

So I might distill this down to say that a fighter is someone with the ability or will who is willing to fight or defend something.

General Overview

Way back in 2nd edition AD&D, the fighter class was described as follows in the 2nd edition Player’s Handbook:

“The fighter is a warrior, and expert in weapons and, if he is clever, tactics and strategy. There are many famous fighters from legend: Hercules, Perseus, Hiawatha, Beowulf, Siegfried, Cuchulain, Little John, Tristan, and Sinbad. History is crowded with great generals and warriors: El Cid, Hannibal, Alexander the Great, Charlemagne, Spartacus, Richard the Lionheart, and Belisarius. Your fighter could be modeled after any of these, or he could be unique. A visit to your local library can uncover many heroic fighters.”

In Mazes & Perils, we don’t really describe “Fighting Men” but I would characterize them as:

“A Fighting Man knows which way to point his weapon to wound or slay his enemy on the battlefield. Some rely on strategy and tactics while others use speed and strength, but all have the skills to cause great harm for whatever cause they represent.”

(Read more in the wiki here.)

As far as fighter characters played by players at the game table, there are many variations on the theme:

  • The brute with big muscles and a big sword.
  • The wild man on the battlefield who froths at the mouth and terrifies his enemies.
  • The hero with sword and shield willing to do what’s right to save the day.
  • The mercenary willing to fight for the coin of the realm.
  • The world-weary soldier just trying to do the right thing for is country and family.
  • The hunter and tracker willing to go to any length to find his prey.
  • and many more.


In game terms, a fighter is an individual skilled in using weapons on the battlefield. Sometimes those weapons are used in close combat. Sometimes those weapons rain death from afar. And sometimes a skilled warrior can direct other skilled warriors to victory through well-conceived plans.

Fighters rely on Strength (damage) and Dexterity (accuracy) to so their job. Sometimes they will be quick enough to dance around in battle from enemy to enemy. Other times they will wade into battle wearing heavy armor and carrying a shield to take the brunt of the damage for their party members.

Generally they focus on two main areas of battle:

  • Melee – up close and personal combat, either truly hand-to-hand or with weapons
  • Ranged – damage at a distance, usually with bows (short-, long-, cross-) or at shorter distances with slings, darts, knives, and so on

There are a million variations of this class and many things to consider if you want to add some new life to old concepts:

  • The Warrior fiercely protects his people with his fighting skills.
  • The Tank is a tried and true role in combat. Wade in, attract attention, and when he connects with a big weapon he does big damage.
  • The Berserker or Barbarian goes crazy, gaining strength, losing focus, and scaring his enemies with unbridled fury.
  • The Soldier follows orders, knows tactics and strategies, is willing to go to war, and can protect ideals as well as locations and people.
  • The Knight or Samurai represents the ideal warrior, holding to standards above those of your typical thug or warrior.
  • The Paladin is a holy knight who takes orders from the priesthood and his gods, becoming a shining beacon of justice in that god’s name.

These are but a few to give you some ideas.


Hopefully you have a little better idea of who fighters are in Mazes & Perils and other role-playing games now. Next up we’ll talk about Clerics!

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