Fighters are masters of their craft, eager to show off their skills with every manner of weapon, at range or standing toe-to-toe with an opponent. They can wield massive weapons to cut down their foes or wield a shield and all forms of armor to keep their allies safe from harm.
In selecting the feats that best suit your Dungeons & Dragons fighter, one must first consider their character’s background: Where did they receive their combat training? What have you experienced in the past? Do you seek to protect your allies as you have done, or failed to do, in the past? Are you instead a bloodthirsty, vengeful person, a mere shadow of your former self, seeking to bring justice to those who wronged you? These kinds of questions will help tailor not only your character, but the feats they take along the way.
With this in mind, some of the strongest Fighter backgrounds are Sailor and Soldier. Sailors have athletics and perception, free ship passage, and if one feels particularly experimental, Pirate Variants. The Soldier meanwhile has athletics and intimidation, which is certainly class appropriate.
Feats And Fighters
For the unaware, feats are taken in place of an ability score increase when your character reaches certain levels within their class. Fighters are unique in that they have more Ability Score Improvements than any other class, and so they have the most flexibility with regards to what to take. Fighters can take advantage of this at levels 4, 6, 8, 12, 14, 16, and 19. This means you can get the stat bonuses you need early on while having some room for other needs as well.
Here, we will cover a few different feats based broadly on the type of Warrior one may choose to play.
Great Weapon Master
We begin with a popular, and sometimes considered overpowered, feat. Great Weapon Master reads “You’ve learned to put the weight of a weapon to your advantage, letting its momentum empower your strikes. You gain the following benefits:
- On your turn, when you score a critical hit with a melee weapon or reduce a creature to 0 hit points with one, you can make one melee weapon attack as a bonus action.
- Before you make a melee attack with a heavy weapon with which you are proficient, you can choose to take a -5 penalty to the attack roll. If you do so and the attack hits, it deals +10 damage.”
For Warriors who specialize in large, two-handed weapons, this can be a monster of a feat. Not only do you gain the opportunity to land bonus actions for killing opponents, which can be frequent depending on the types of enemies one is facing, there is also the option to penalize an attack roll in exchange for the potential of dealing out +10 extra damage.
This can be a massive boost in your damage, assuming you hit your opponent. If we consider a standard Greatsword, the normal damage output from that weapon is 2D6 before any modifiers, which averages to about 7 damage. Adding 10 damage to the overall amount is a massive boost, and if used correctly, against foes with low AC, the risk may absolutely be worth the reward.
If this feat is taken by players who decide to build a Champion fighter, it can become even more powerful. This is because Improved Critical makes critical hits land on a 19 or a 20, instead of only a 20. This provides a 5% increase to the odds of dealing out that massive damage spike. Taking Superior Critical at level 15 adds an addition 5%, bringing the total critical chance of a roll to 15%.
Heavy Armor Master
At the early levels, Heavy Armor Master is a fantastic feat, not only increasing our Strength, but also reducing the damage from bludgeoning, slashing, and piercing from non-magical weapons by three. Obviously, this feat becomes less impressive as time goes on and we face larger, more dangerous foes, and magic users, but during those early levels one can feel all but indestructible.
So why focus on reducing our damage taken instead of our damage output? Again, it depends on the goals of our character. Taking this feat along with a few others can put a character in a place to really soak up all the damage and protect a party. In doing so, other classes can more safely focus on being the glass cannons of the group and investing into their own characters in ways that they might be able to, were it not for their solid tank defending them from harm.
This too goes in line with the feat above. Few attacks will be able to get through an AC thanks to your shield. While wielding a shield, a Fighter receives the following benefits:
- If you take the Attack action on your turn, you can use a bonus action to try to shove a creature within 5 feet of you using your shield.
- If you aren't incapacitated, you can add your shield's AC bonus to any Dexterity save made against a spell or other effect that affects only you.
- If you are subjected to an effect which allows you to make a Dexterity save for half damage, you can use your reaction to take no damage, interposing you shield between you and the effect.
While all three can be useful, the ability to shove an opponent away from you, and away from the party, only helps keep your allies safe. Adding an extra five feet of movement for an opponent to have to move to get passed you and to another character is exactly the type of action that a defending fighter wants.
Feats For The Party
The Fighter has flexibility in their selection of feats due to the number they have, which is more than any other class. This allows them to specialize down certain combat routes, or to be well rounded for the overall campaign. You need not pick up every feat with the word “Master” in it to be a great Fighter.
For example, the Alert feat provides the following bonuses:
- You gain a +5 bonus to initiative.
- You can't be surprised while you are conscious.
- Other creatures don't gain advantage on attack rolls against you as a result of being hidden.
There should always be someone in the party with the Alert feat, because being surprised is a terrible thing for combat. In addition, having +5 to initiative means that you can charge on in to start dealing damage, or position yourself in a manner that most protects the party.
With that in mind, Mobile is another great feat that can benefit offensive or defensive fighters, which reads:
- Your speed increases by 10 feet.
- When you use the Dash action, difficult terrain doesn't cost extra movement on that turn.
- When you make a melee attack against a creature, you don't provoke opportunity attacks from that creature for the rest of the turn, whether you hit or not.
We have only covered a few feats above, and they are intended to be used for two extremely different types of Fighters. However, the list of other feats is long and in certain situations some feats may be quite useful. Consider some of the following feats in certain situations:
Crossbow Expert – If using hand crossbows, this can be great for ignoring the necessary loading, allowing for full extra attacks with the weapon. This pairs well with Sharpshooter, and if choosing to go ranged as a fighter, is essential.
Defensive Duelist – If your Fighter is fonder if finesse weapons, this allows for additional survivability against a single attack each round.
Inspiring Leader – This will depend on your charisma score but should not be overlooked. What is better than acting as a strong defender of a party? Granting them temporary hit points so as to minimize any damage that might get through. This fits well with a Knight in terms of lore as well and should be considered if one can effectively perform it.
Lucky – Pair this with a Champion who is eager to maximize critical hits, and you can have some brutal turns against an opponent.
Sentinel – Again for defenders, you stop enemies outright from rushing past you towards the softer, cloth wearing targets.
As you can see, Fighters are a versatile bunch, and the feats that best fit a character will largely depend on the sub class selected and the overall goal of the player. The good news is that compared to some classes, Fighters have a broad range of choices to make their character a great fit in any party.
Source: Dungeons & Dragons Player's Handbook