Many things changed with Pathfinder Second Edition (PF2), but there are still numerous aspects of the game that remained constant. For example, the calculation for a character’s Armor Class (AC) is very familiar: 10 + Dex Mod + Proficiency + Armor Item Bonus + Other Bonuses. A big change with it, however, revolves around shields and how you use them.
In First Edition, if you equipped a shield you’d always get that extra armor boost. With every attack you would figure in your shield AC bonus and be happy as a lark. The difference with Pathfinder Second Edition is that you have to use an action to Raise a Shield if you want to get that sweet AC buff.
This drastically changes how tankier characters handle themselves on the battlefield. Not only do they have to weigh the option of raising their shield or taking an additional attack, but additional feats can make them consider other ramifications like how much damage their shield has taken. It definitely increases the complexity.
Speaking of complexity, we’re talking about the Fighter Class this week. Most of the time, Fighters are considered to be sword-and-board meatshields. They move, swing their weapon, and that’s just about it. More often than not, they’re soldiers, guards, or any similar offensive-minded profession.
Just like the previous entries, I’m going to challenge your interpretation of the Fighter with five new concepts that you can use to create a character. Additionally, you’ll get a variety of other mechanical details that might fit such a character through the included ‘Pathmap’.
Pathfinder 2nd Edition Fighter Class
Fighters are the Golarion-army knife of combatants. Through their vast weapon specializations and combat techniques, they are hard to match in terms of battlefield acumen. Typically Fighters are the ones who charge right into the front lines and get right up in the business of the enemy.
They’re not usually the stars of social encounters, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be. Intimidation is a form of diplomacy, and well-known or respected combatants are sure to get their word in edge-wise. Or their edge in (s)word-wise.
Sometimes it’s hard to break out of the imaginative constraints that come with classes like Fighters. People generally see them as one-dimensional, but I’m here to stand up for Fighters everywhere. They display forms of bravery, skill, poise, and courage. Honestly, they share many aspects of the other classes; they can be Champions minus divinity, Rangers minus natural-affinity, and Rogues minus sneak-ability.
Fighters also aren’t usually interpreted as logic-based puzzle-solvers. However, their logic is merely represented differently than the intelligence of, say, a wizard. Their knowledge probably lies in battle tactics or weaponry. Fighters are perceptive, understanding the weak points of enemies or able to discern advantageous positioning on terrain.
They’re Jacks and Janes of all trades, and still a master at many!
You’ve spent the majority of your long life on the high seas. Whether your focus was exploration, mercantilism, or piracy, you have a sturdy set of sea legs underneath you. You’ve survived storms, setbacks, and sabotage. Passing time on a ship afforded you the time to hone your weapon skills in case you had to fend off pirates or deadly creatures at your destinations.
When danger strikes on a ship, you are limited by whatever’s on hand to defend yourself. As such, you became skilled at improvisation on top of your preferred weapon. You can haggle and barter with the best of them, and maybe you’ve even dealt in the black market of smuggling. Supposedly all of that’s behind you now, but all of your training is second-nature at this point. And who knows when tying knots might come in handy?
Were you a captain of a ship or just a crew member? What are some of the locations that you’ve traveled to, or were you mostly local? How did you make a living as a sailor? Were you a part of a navy or a commercial vessel? What were your preferred jobs or tasks while aboard the ship? Did you spend the majority of your time on a specific ship, or were you a part of many crews? What were the names of the ships you were on?
What hardships did you experience at sea? Were there any animals (i.e. parrots) on board? What key relationships did you develop? Do you have any lasting injuries from battles or encounters? How did you want to spend your retirement and what made you turn to the adventuring life? Do you speak openly about your time as a sailor or are there stories that you won’t bring up? Do you embellish your experiences?
- Weapon Mastery: Polearm
- Background: Sailor
- Ability Scores: Constitution, Dexterity
- Skills: Sailing Lore, Society, Survival
- Fighter Feats: Exacting Strike, Brutish Shove (2nd), Powerful Shove (4th), Revealing Stab (6th), Positioning Assault (8th), Certain Strike (10th), Flinging Shove (12th), Whirlwind Strike (14th), Savage Critical (18th), Boundless Reprisals (20th)
Nothing clears the lungs like a deep breath in the middle of the woods at dawn. Even if you’ll be taking down some of those trees, it’s a pleasant by-product of your job. You are a master of the ax, expertly felling trees to be processed into usable products for others. Not all trees are created equal, and you can discern subtle differences in tree structure and growth patterns to pick out the best material for the task.
You are strong and well-fed. How else are you going to have enough energy to take down the towering giants of the forest? People consider you to be rugged, capable of living off the land without much trouble. At the same time, you’re contemplative and retrospective, using your job as a form of therapy and stress relief. With each swing of the ax, your cares melt away. Don’t be fooled – you are hyper-aware of your surroundings because a single moment of negligence separates a living lumberjack from a dead one. And you prefer being the former.
What sorts of conservation efforts do you practice, if any? What creatures do you encounter on a day-to-day basis? Why are you a lumberjack? Do you craft anything from the trees that you fell, or do you leave that task to people more skilled in craft than you? Have you ever had an apprentice to teach the ways of the ax? Are there any trees that you refuse to cut down?
Do you have any special relationships with woodland creatures or forest communities? What do you typically wear to work? Do you collect axes or is there a single, special ax that you prefer to use? Are there any rival lumberjacks that create conflict? Do you work for a company or alone? What’s the tallest tree that you’ve ever cut down? What’s the furthest you’ve ever traveled to find ‘the perfect tree’? Are you still searching for it? Have you ever planted a tree in remembrance of a loved one?
- Weapon Mastery: Axe
- Background: Laborer
- Ability Scores: Strength, Constitution
- Skills: Elven Lore, Crafting, Nature
- Fighter Feats: Snagging Strike, Intimidating Strike (2nd), Knockdown (4th), Shatter Defenses (6th), Felling Strike (8th), Disarming Twist (10th), Brutal Finish (12th), Desperate Finisher (14th), Savage Critical (18th), Weapon Supremacy (20th)
HARDENED TAVERN KEEPER
Adventurers need a place to hang their hats and fill their bellies, and that’s precisely where you come into the picture. You’ve run a successful tavern, bed & breakfast, or inn and seen all sorts of characters over that time. Between managing food inventory, available rooms, and extra accommodations, you’re not a stranger to multi-tasking. As such, you also have a way with numbers and logic. Maybe you’ve even worked your way up the literal food chain, starting in the kitchen and getting promoted until you opened your own place.
Instead of hiring bouncers, you have always dealt with unruly patrons yourself. Bar fights aren’t atypical, especially when you have people from so many different backgrounds and affiliations breaking bread in the same space. Tempers are just bound to flair up! The benefit of this has been making you well-versed with putting feuds to rest, even it if comes to blows. Despite your tempered exterior, you aren’t all muscles and stern expressions; you are great at conversation and can be a friendly ear or supportive shoulder.
Are you a tavern owner or just an employee of one? Is the establishment well-respected or is it more of a hole-in-the-wall? What’s the name of the building? How long have you been in the business? Who’s watching over the place while you’re away adventuring? Have you picked up any nifty tricks or tips from patrons stopping by? Are you adept at record-keeping or do you tend to wing everything? What are your signature dishes?
Are you used to comfortable accommodations or have you slept out in the wild? How often do others ask for recipes and do you readily give them out? Do you have any allergies? Who taught you to cook? Has your establishment ever been in danger of closing down? Do you tell the same stories over and over again? What celebrities have stayed at your inn? Are there any patrons who were regulars but then lost their life in the adventuring game? How did you handle that news?
- Weapon Mastery: Sword (Frying Pan Shield)
- Background: Barkeep
- Ability Scores: Wisdom, Charisma
- Skills: Business Lore, Society, Diplomacy
- Fighter Feats: Reactive Shield, Aggressive Block (2nd), Shielded Stride (4th), Advanced Weapon Training (6th), Quick Shield Block (8th), Mirror Shield (10th), Paragon’s Guard (12th), Determination (14th), Improved Reflexive Shield (16th), Savage Critical (18th), Weapon Supremacy (20th)
You work the literal graveyard shift. Some people might even consider you to be nocturnal with how you tend to prefer the nighttime hours. Gravedigging isn’t a glamorous job, but it’s certainly a necessity. Not only do you have to consider how big the hole is going to be, but it also has to be deep enough to deter robbers and…unnatural recursions. You always carry out your duties in the same, repetitive way, ensuring that you aren’t breaking any religious rules or foreign customs. It just takes a little bit of care and research to make sure you understand your clients’ backgrounds.
Although you might be physically imposing, that doesn’t make you a dullard. When it comes to religious practices, you’re something of an expert. You might not practice any exclusively; you might embrace the teachings that are most convenient for you in the moment. Because of the jobsite hazards, you have a hearty constitution of body and a strong mind. There are too many terrors and bumps in the night that are simply too real to be mere figments of paranoia.
What drew you to this profession? Have you ever found anything noteworthy while digging graves? Are you completely honest or have you sometimes opened caskets to pilfer riches? Is there a particular type of person that you typically bury? Do you perform other care-taking duties of the graveyard, or do you mostly perform grunt work? Is there anybody in the graveyard with whom you were personally close to?
Have you ever seen something supernatural on the job? How did you handle yourself? Are you afraid of your encounters, or do you actively seek them out? Do you stick to a single faith? What customs or practices are your specialty? What if a family doesn’t want to perform a ceremony before burying their dead? Have you ever fended off graverobbers?
- Weapon Mastery: Pick
- Background: Miner
- Ability Scores: Strength, Constitution
- Skills: Pharasma Lore, Religion, Occultism
- Fighter Feats: Power Attack, Combat Grab (2nd), Dual-Handed Assault (4th), Furious Focus (6th), Blind-Fight (8th), Combat Reflexes (10th), Brutal Finish (12th), Guiding Finish (14th), Savage Critical (18th), Boundless Reprisals (20th)
Players of the stage can’t possibly perform their own stunts – that would be irrationally dangerous! What if they injure themselves or horribly disfigure their recognizable faces? No, it’s much better off it they leave the capers to the professionals. Like you! You’ve performed in countless productions but hardly get any of the glory that comes with the top-billed actors.
You are the real star of the daring tricks that make the audience gasp with glee. Even in a world filled with magic, superhuman displays of strength and guts are still impressive. That’s your bread and butter, baby! You are trained in all sorts of weaponry because you never know what convoluted storyline those playwrights are going to stick you in next. You’re a quick study, able to pick up on new techniques with ease.
Do you ever get jealous of the top actresses? How do you gain a public following? What swordplay techniques are you most familiar with? Why are you so insistent to put yourself into harm’s way? Do you get paid well? How did your career start and why are you leaving it? Are you a fan of the theater or is this just a job for you?
What are your most well-known signature moves? Any merchandising deals in your future? How do rival troupes and acting companies feel about cross-employment, or do you mainly play with the same group? Do you ever get any lines? How much magic is employed to assist you with your stunts? Have you ever been a lead in a production? Have you ever gotten seriously injured? How did that affect your position going forward?
- Weapon Mastery: Knife
- Background: Martial Discipline
- Ability Scores: Dexterity, Charisma
- Skills: Theater Lore, Performance, Deception
- Fighter Feats: Double Slice, Dueling Parry(2nd), Twin Parry (4th), Disarming Stance (6th), Sudden Leap (8th), Twin Riposte (10th), Dueling Dance (12th), Guiding Riposte (14th), Twinned Defense (16th), Savage Critical (18th), Weapon Supremacy (20th)
Pathfinder 2E Fighter Class – En Garde!
Fighters are meant to be the weapon specialists of the party. They’re known for their combat prowess and their ability to turn the tide of battle with a swing of their sword. Hopefully these class concepts give you a little bit more inspiration to help mold a backstory to go with your stabby friends.
We get to skip a good chunk of the alphabet next week when we get into the finer points of the Monk class! They’re a fun class that prefers to strike quickly before getting back to safety.
Until next time, may your swords swing true!
How to Create Great Pathfinder Second Edition Characters
You can get the Pathfinder 2E Core Rulebook here.