In Dungeons and Dragons (D&D), everyone’s a winner, but the biggest winners are the ones with hit points at the end of the fight. Nobody likes to die, which is why you’ve got to kill your enemies harder than they’re trying to kill you. Enter the Fighter class: the class made for killing things hard.
With an Action Surge at level two and an Extra Attack at level five, Fighters are arguably the best class at killing things hard – not to mention all of the crazy stuff that happens in the archetypes. But what if you wanted your Fighter to kill things the hardest? Follow these steps to make the Fighter that’s the best at killing and the best at staying alive, too.
10 Sub-Class: Battle Master
What says “Overpowered” like a sub-class literally called “Battle Master”? Not only does this archetype sound awesome, it also lets you be awesome.
When you reach level three, you gain Combat Superiority, which grants you the ability to learn Maneuvers (discussed later) and Superiority Dice – four d8s to be exact – which can be used in a lot of useful ways. For example, adding damage to your attacks, upping your AC, reduce damage of attacks made against you, and a whole lot more. You gain another die at seventh level and another at 15th.
9 Race: Variant Human
If your DM is letting you use the Variant Human subrace, snap it up as quickly as you can. You get +1 to any two ability scores of your choice, proficiency in one skill of your choice, and you gain a Feat at level one. That is insanely good for any class, but especially for the fighter. With any two ability scores increasing, you have the potential to be the most balanced member of your party. Or, in this case, the most optimized. With a Feat right off the bat, you won’t have to worry about choosing between Ability Score Increase and a Feat at level four. You’ll already have one!
8 Background: Soldier
A bit generic for the Fighter class, but it’s still a good choice. The Soldier background gives you proficiency in Athletics and Intimidation – which are both great skills to have – as well as land vehicles. The Feature “Military Rank” means that people from the army you served in will still recognize you, and do what you say as long as you’re a higher rank than they are. Imagine coming across an important NPC that served in with your regiment – new ally right off the bat! And if you know enough about your superior officers (if any), and are still in good standing, you might have an entire army behind you. How’s that for OP?
7 Background: Sailor
Want to be a swashbuckling Fighter instead? You got it.
The Sailor background gives you the essential skills of Athletics and Perception. You also get proficiency in Navigator’s Tools, and water vehicles. Ship’s Passage, the Feature for this background, allows you to get free passage on a sailing ship for yourself and your party, as long as you promise to work while you’re hitching a ride.
The Pirate Variant is also a great choice if you want your Fighter to be on the lawless side. The Feature Bad Reputation means people are so scared of you that they won’t report you if you break minor laws – like not paying for meals or breaking a shopkeeper’s door.
6 Fighting Style: Dueling
In addition to your very cool archetype, you also get to pick a Fighting Style. Out of the list of six, Dueling is the best fit for this OP Fighter.
With Dueling, you can add a +2 to all damage rolls made with a one-handed melee weapon as long as you don’t have a weapon in your other hand. So whether this means you fight fencing-style, or with a shield for a little extra protection, you’re hitting harder and killing things faster.
5 Maneuver: Riposte
Now it’s time to get into the Maneuvers you can pull off with your Battle Master skills.
At level three, you get to pick three Maneuvers, another two at level seven, two more at level 10, and another two more at level 15. You can also replace one Maneuver you know with a different one if you decide you don’t like it, but you should take these next three as soon as you can.
Riposte lets you use your reaction and one Superiority Die to make a melee weapon attack against any creature that misses you. If the attack hits, you add the Superiority Die to the attack’s damage roll. Pretty good, right?
4 Maneuver: Menacing Attack
With Menacing Attack you can use a Superiority Die to attempt to frighten any creature you hit. That Superiority Die gets added to the damage roll of the attack, and you opponent has to make a Wisdom saving throw against your Maneuver Save DC (8 + Proficiency + Strength or Dexterity modifier). If it fails, it’s frightened until the end of your next turn. Extra damage and you get to scare the crap out of something? What more could you possibly ask for!
3 Maneuver: Trip Attack
Trip Attack is similar to Menacing Attack, in that you can make an attempt to do something to your opponent for the low, low price of one Superiority Die. In this case, it’s attempting to knock them prone – a very useful thing to be able to do. Add that Superiority Die roll to the attack’s damage, and if the target is Large or smaller, it makes a Strength save against your Maneuver Save DC. If it fails, it’s knocked prone until it gets back up again. But with the amount of damage you’re pumping out, it might not ever get the chance.
2 Feat: Heavy Armor Master
With the Variant Human granting you a Feat before you’ve even figured out your backstory, it would be a huge mistake not to take advantage of the Heavy Armor Master Feat at level one. You get to bump up your strength by one, and all non-magic bludgeoning, slashing, and piercing damage gets reduced by three as long as you’re wearing heavy armor. That is huge at such an early level, and will easily make you the Tankiest Tank to Ever Tank.
1 Feat: Great Weapon Master
Where would a fighter be without the Great Weapon Master Feat? Not a great weapon master, that’s for sure.
With this Feat, when you get yourself a Natural 20 with a melee weapon or reduce a creature to zero hit points, you can make another melee attack as a bonus action. Plus, you can choose to penalize your attack to-hit by -5 before you roll if you’re using a heavy weapon that you’re proficient with for bonus damage. If the roll still ends up hitting, the corresponding damage does +10 extra. That is insanely good, and with the extra damage you already do as a result of the Dueling fighting style, you’ve got yourself a crazy amount of damage.