OSR: Class: Fighters

Rolling up a Wizard in the GLOG system is fun and exciting, and I've tried to make Knights interesting too. Now it's time for Fighters. 

I think you can judge a system by its fighters. Every OSR blogger under the sun has a new and interesting system for spells, shamans, zombie-tamers, trained dogs, and half-goat-half-werewolf-half-angels, but you can tell if someone really cares by how they build their "chump with a sword" class. The GLOG one is pretty good.

Class: Fighter

Starting Equipment: leather armor, sword, bow, 20 arrows
Starting Skill: see below.

A: Parry, +1 attack per round
B: Notches
C: Tricky, +2 Attack stat
D: Impress, Cleave

You gain +1 HP for each Fighter template you possess.

Once per day you can reduce incoming damage by 1d12 points. If you also choose to sunder your shield, you can reduce the damage by 12 points instead of 1d12.

Each time you attain a total of 10, 20, 30, and 50 kills with a weapon type (such as 10 kills with a dagger), you unlock a new ability for that weapon, chosen from the list below. Keep track of your kills and special abilities on the back of your character sheet.

1. +1 Damage
2. Expanded Critical Range (+1)
3. Special ability (negotiated with GM, one per weapon)

For example, a Fighter with 50 flail kills (4 notches) could have +1 damage, a critical range of (1-3), and the ability to stun an opponent for one round on a critical hit. The GM decides what counts as a kill.

You get +2 to Combat Maneuver rolls. Additionally, whenever you attack and get exactly the number you needed, you may make an opposed Dex vs Strength or Dex (whichever is higher). If you win, you successfully execute a free Combat Maneuver.

Whenever you win a fight against challenging foes, people who don't like you make a new reaction roll with a +4 bonus. This even works on people you just defeated in combat, unless you caused them undeserved or disproportionate harm. Hirelings get a +2  to Morale, or a new Save vs Fear.

Whenever you reduce a creature to 0 HP with an attack, you can make another attack with the same weapon against a target within 5’. You can only cleave an number of targets equal to your Level in a single round.

Mechanical Notes on the Fighter

Right from the start, Fighters are one of the most stable and survivable classes. At Level 1, you have 2 attacks, Defense 12 (from your armour), +1 HP, and the ability to reduce incoming damage. That's pretty ridiculous. The abilities only get more impressive.

This is a trap. All the Fighter abilities are designed to trick you into fighting. People who fight, die. Eventually your fighter is going to pick their last fight.

The Tard-Venus pillage Grammont in 1362

Who Are You?

When I retire, I'm going to put my sword on my shoulder and start walking away from the war, and I'm going to keep on walking until I meet a man who says, "Hey, what's that thing on your shoulder?" Then I'm going to stop, stab him, and take his house. 
-Anonymous player
You are a probably a member of the Third Estate. If you are good at fighting, it's seen as an affront and possibly a threat to the Second Estate. If you are literate, educated, or troublesome it's seen as a threat to the First Estate. In most places it's illegal for you to carry a sword. Your bow is used for hunting and practice. A strong body of archers is invaluable. Everything you do is taxed. You can expect no protection from the courts, no recognition under the law, and no chance of escaping your lot in life. You have a few rights, but they mostly relate to firewood and turnips.

Your lord typically has the right of "pit and gallows, sake and soke, toll, team, and infangthief.". In modern English, "drowning, hanging, finding you, hunting you, charging you for movement or activity, requesting unpaid labour, and executing summary justice". All the linked articles are worth reading. In some circumstances it's illegal to move away from your land.

Permanent national armies don't exist. Armies are raised, fight, and retire when the season ends or the war is over. The only permanent military forces are disorderly ones, as feared as the plague and nearly as devastating. While knights and lords obsess over warfare and honour, the involvement of the Third Estate is treated as a necessary but disreputable part of a war. Nevertheless, skilled fighting men can be found in any major city, willing to work for pay. They form a new career whose only profession is soldiering. Paying these soldiers requires more taxes.

Most fighters Around Here are male. There are a surprising number of exceptions. If those don't appeal, the excellent Julie d'Aubigny is worth reading about, (even if she's from the wrong era, wrong estate, and wrong genre). It's much easier to get away with this kind of stuff in the Third Estate. Once again, in Foreign Parts, anything goes.

Male Fighter

Starting Skill: 1. Farmer 2. Soldier. 3. Sailor

1. You were forcibly conscripted, in violation of your few rights, by an unscrupulous lord. Your farm was seized in your absence. You might idly dream of revenge. Roll on this table to accumulate other wrongs and grievances.
2. You are the [d10+2]th son of a poor farmer. You needed to leave or risk starvation. Expect terrible letters from home. If all your older siblings die you can inherit the farm.
3. Your farm and village were burned during a war. Rather than rebuild, you moved to a new area, but the only profession you can find, other than begging, is warfare. You start with 1d6 rumours about the local area.
4. Your lord was good to you, and on his deathbed, elevated you to his son's household troops. Unfortunately, the son swiftly died and the new heir has no place for you. Start with 1 gp. You may roll on this table to accumulate other wrongs and grievances.
5. Years of practice with your bow have made you a deadly shot. Start with 10 extra arrows, 2 spare bowstrings, and one entertaining trick shot (shooting a coin out of the air, an apple off a tree, etc.)
6. You abandoned your family and land to seek wealth, glory, or a better position. Start with 2 extra rations and a lingering sense of guilt.

1. You served in Foreign Parts. Make up 1d6 ludicrous lies. You gain the "Foreign Parts" skill, but people from Around Here distrust you.
2. You served well and fought bravely but your service was not rewarded. You have gone to seek your fortune elsewhere. You start with no money, but your amazing tales will earn you friends.
3. You are a professional outlaw, a brigand who raids villages and cuts down merchants on the road. You care nothing for laws, wars, or causes, and roam where your will takes you. You start with 10 extra arrows, 2 rations, and many enemies.
4. You served in a mercenary company that was disbanded and scattered. The world has no place for you save the War. Start with an extra language and 1 camp follower.
5. You were free with your money and accumulated 1d4+1 camp followers.
6. Your skill with your weapon of choice brought you to the notice of your lord. Gain 1gp and an insufferable swagger.

1. You can swim, even in leather armor. Unless you're a fishling this is a rare skill indeed.
2. You served in Foreign Parts. Make up 1d6 ludicrous lies. You gain the "Foreign Parts" skill, but people from Around Here distrust you.
3. Your ship was wrecked in a storm. Gain a +2 bonus to Charisma when interacting with water or lightning elementals. You have no idea this bonus exists.
4. You saw a sea monster once. You gain a +1 Save vs Fear when saving against creatures larger than a cottage.
5. You can eat anything. When in town, you eat twice as many portions as normal, but on the road or in the dungeon, you can Save to reroll negative effects from spoiled food, dungeon meat, etc.
6. You served well and fought in a major sea battle. Start with 1gp and a trinket from Foreign Parts.

Female Fighter

Starting Skill: 1. Frontier 2. Soldier. 3. Unusual

1. You lived on the edge of civilization. Six miles north was uncharted territory. You carried a sword to go feed the chickens. Gain a +1 Save vs Fear and 1 extra ration.
2. Your parents were new arrivals to a conquered area. They wanted you to be able to defend yourself against the uprising they feared daily. You start with 1d6 rumours about the local area.
3. You were a street rat or a wilderness child. Your life has been hard and brutal. Instead of a bow, you start with a sling and 20 rocks (half range, fits in a pocket, but otherwise functionally identical).
4. Your village was so small, isolated, and threatened that, despite the cultural shock, you and 1d6 of your sisters and cousins, were trained in archery and basic swordfighting. Expect terrible letters from home. If you ever visit, you and your friends will always be welcome.
5. Your grandparents were barbarian mercenaries, granted land in exchange for service. Although you and your family are civilized now, the old traditions are still conducted in secret. You [1d4] 1. Can fire arrows from horseback accurately, 2. Gain the "Religion" skill, 3. Wield an unusual (but functionally identical) sword, 4. Start with 1 camp follower.
6. You served in court of your lord and observed daily martial training. In exchange for gold or other favours, a sergeant-at-arms amused himself by training you as well, in secret, as a joke. Or so he believed - your ambitions and desire for freedom lead you into the wider world. Gain the "Laundry" skill.

1. You followed your husband or lover to war but returned alone. With few useful skills, you took up his equipment and rove Creation, surviving as best you can. You start with a hand cart for hauling your possessions (and hidden weapons).
2. The war became desperate. Surrounded and in great danger, you took up arms and fought for your life. You escaped, but gained a scar (see the Death and Dismemberment table). Start with +1 HP.
3. You were a minor follower of a great and warlike lady. You were trained in hunting and, to better inspire her troops, swordfighting and other combative arts. You start with a mythological costume (stored safely in a bag) and a good singing voice.
4. You are the de facto leader of a group of irreverent brigands, layabouts, and scum. Start with 1d4+1 camp followers.
5. You were besieged for years inside a city and took up arms to defend your home. When in town, you eat twice as many portions as normal, but on the road or in the dungeon, you can go for up to a week without food before suffering penalties.
6. You took up arms to revenge some monstrous wrong. Roll at least once on this table. You care nothing for life or those who would judge you. Gain +1 Save vs Fear and start with 1gp.

You gain the skill listed, not the "Unusual" skill (which isn't a real skill anyway).

1. Your parents, maddened by grief at the death of their only son, insisted you replace him. You were raised as a boy and were poised to inherit the family farm before you were unmasked and denounced. You can disguise yourself as male with minimal effort. Gain the "Disguise" skill.
2. A wizard trained you as a bet. He tutored you in combat while his noble patroness tutored a man in sewing, dancing, and poetry. He unsurprisingly lost the bet, but you remain on good terms. He gave you a random minor magical trinket. Gain the "Courtesy" skill.
3. You claim to be a soldier polymorphed into a woman by a spell or curse. You have a certified letter from famous, distant wizard to prove it. 10% chance this is actually true. Gain the "Law" skill and 1 camp follower (who will solemnly attest to your transformation, even if bribed).
4. You were taken as a squire by a [d4] 1. lecherous 2. extremely poor 3. extremely nearsighted, 4. eccentric low-status knight. He was recently killed in battle, and you feared that the persistent rumours would become questions and possibly a trial. Gain the "Horsemanship" skill.
5. You were raised in an outlaw family and know nothing of polite society. Your manners are shocking. You start with a dagger, the "Highwayman" skill, and the ability to shock any member of the First or Second estates with just a few words.
6. You were raised in Foreign Parts, brought to Around Here as a captive or curiosity, earned your freedom, and now seek your fortune. You never liked Foreign Parts much anyway. You start with an appearance and native language so unusual that, to most people, your profession is the second most shocking thing about you. This could be extremely minor (hair colour, accent, pointed shoes). (Yes, this still applies in a game with toadlings and wizards. At least they're our toadlings and wizards, not like those nasty foreign ones). You gain the "Foreign Parts" skill. Make up 1d6 ludicrous lies.


  1. Yeah. I think you can judge a system by its fighters.

  2. I really liked the backgrounds, and I will also try to review the skills you presented, and tune them to the classic OSR scores.
    I linked your article in this post: