By Kyle "FordyTwo" Horner
Looking to get into Dungeons & Dragons Online (DDO)? This guide is a great place to start! Inside you'll find tips, advice and even a template on the fighter class! The fighter is a master of weaponry, armor and feats – that is to say, fighters get a lot of feats. In fact, over the course of levels 1-20, fighters receive the most feats of any class in DDO.
Every New Fighter Should Know…
- There is no single "best" race option for a fighter; it all comes down to personal preference. Dwarves, warforged, humans, half-orc and many of the other races each possess unique benefits.
- Fighters don't have to be "tanks" or, in other words, defense-focused. They can dual-wield and swing around huge two-handed weapons as well!
- When it comes to feats, fighters have them in spades. Be prepared to have more feats than you know what to do with!
Sword & Shield
Many new DDO players eye the fighter class when looking to play a tank role. For those unfamiliar, a "tank" is a defense-orientated role. Let's take a look at Armor Class (AC) to better understand this DDO tank style:
- Armor Class (AC) - A number representing a creature’s ability to avoid being hit in combat. An opponent’s attack roll must equal or exceed the target creature’s Armor Class to hit it. Armor Class = 10 + all modifiers that apply (typically armor bonus, shield bonus, Dexterity modifier, and size modifier).
In DDO, playing a pure sword and shield fighter – otherwise known as an "AC Tank" – becomes very challenging at higher levels. This is because AC doesn't scale as high as attack bonus at character levels above 10, making it imperative for AC tank players to gather every tiny bit of additional AC they can find. Additionally, investing in AC boosts like a shield can reduce a fighter's damage-output. In Fighter 101, we'll be covering the more damage-focused fighter styles like two-handed fighter and two weapon fighter, as AC-focused fighters are a whole guide unto themselves.
Two Weapon Fighter
Two weapon fighters (TWF) specialize in dealing lots of damage to a single enemy. TWFs are able to make more attacks over time, which translates into a TWF getting more chances to hit a target. Each of their weapon's bonus attacks are calculated individually, but most DDO players stick to one type of weapon for each hand, such as kopesh, shortswords, etc.
Able to deliver a large amount of damage, two-handed fighters (THF) specialize in carrying a very big weapon. Two-handed weapons are some of the beefiest damage-dealing weapons in DDO, can deal splash damage to surrounding enemies via glancing blows, and can sometimes paralyze or maim enemies. A THF's chance of executing glancing blows will grow as they level and pick additional feats in two-handed fighting.
We've organized the ability scores in order of importance to the fighter class. Because Fighter 101 is focused on a pure fighter (i.e. 20 levels of fighter), the below list is prioritized towards that class only.
- STR - Strength (STR) adds to a fighter's damage and attack roles, making it an extremely important Ability Score. Even if you intend to function as a tank, don't skip this attribute. Without the ability to deal damage you won't be able to hold on to agro effectively.
- CON - Every character in DDO should have a good Constitution (CON) score. A higher CON translates into more Hit Points (HP) and higher Fortitude Save, resulting in additional spell defenses. It's recommended new players have at least a 14 CON; if a player feels confident in being able to avoid enemy attacks over the entire course of their DDO lifespan, 12 CON is one way to live dangerously.
- DEX - The Dexterity (DEX) Ability Score is used for many things: Armor Class (AC), Reflex Save, and meeting some feat requirements. For instance, a two weapon fighter (TWF) build will require a DEX 15 (and later, a DEX 17 for Improved Two Weapon Fighting). Unless you are going for the TWF feat, or plan to have a high Armor Class, a high DEX score is generally not required.
Tip! Weapon Finesse is a feat that adds your DEX modifier to attack roles instead of your STR modifier, which can be useful for two-weapon fighters.
- INT - Intelligence (INT) determines total skills points available at each new fighter level earned. Certain feats require a minimum amount of INT, like Combat Expertise, which requires INT 13 (or higher) and is primarily taken by players wanting a high Armor Class. Because a fighter has few class-skills, a high INT isn't usually necessary aside from the feat requirement exception.
- WIS - For all classes, Wisdom (WIS) is tied directly to Spot checks and Will Saves.
- CHA - Fighters can use Charisma (CHA) to raise both Use Magic Device (UMD) and Intimidate skills. Intimidate can be very effective at provoking enemy aggression (aggro) in a group fight, where fighters sometimes must protect other party members.
Every class in DDO has a natural proficiency with certain skills. Training a "cross-class" skill takes twice as many skill points as training a regular class skill, because that "natural knowledge" is missing. However, training a "cross-class" skill can still be useful, depending on personal play style. Here's a list of the popular fighter skills among players in DDO:
- Jump, class skill: Sometimes a trap threatens a DDO adventurer and other times, a chasm must be leapt over. Working towards 10 ranks of the Jump skill is a good idea.
- Intimidate, class skill: Use intimidate on certain NPCs during conversation, or taunt enemies and draw their attention from members of your party. When taunting smaller creatures, Intimidate receives a bonus. When taunting larger creatures, Intimidate suffers a penalty. Additionally, after successfully Intimidating, a threat (aggro) generation bonus is gained -- when using a weapon and shield this bonus is increased.
- Balance, cross-class skill: In DDO, characters can be knocked to their backside by many types of attacks – both physical and magical. With Balance, a character regains their footing more quickly after a knockdown. Fighters populate the front lines of battle; the life of a fighter is to be struck by knockdown attacks. Thus, Balance comes in handy often!
Here are some optional skills that, depending on personal play style, are potentially useful:
- Spot, cross-class skill: See hidden enemies before they strike from the shadows, swinging a weapon or spell. A few skill points in Spot may make the difference between not seeing hidden enemies and seeing most of them so you know where best to swing your own weapon.
- Use Magic Device (UMD), cross-class skill: This skill allows a fighter the use of equipment designed for another race, or even alignment – a benefit that can be useful at higher levels. The total UMD score is influenced by a character's Charisma (CHA) score, so if you're considering UMD for a fighter, a CHA 10 (+0) will avoid a negative modifier on UMD.
Template: Two Weapon Dwarf Fighter
This template can be used as a guide to building a stout-and-strong dual-wielding dwarf fighter. Feel free to follow it however much or little you like; everyone has their own DDO play style!
Ability Point Buy
- Strength --------16
- Dexterity -------16
- Constitution ---16
- Intelligence ----10
- Wisdom --------8
- Charisma -------6
- Ability Point Buy: At level 4, put 1 Ability Point into DEX. Then, at every fourth level beyond that, put all Ability Points into Strength (STR).
This fighter build won't have a massive pile of skill points to work with because of the Intelligence (INT) score. Don't worry; this two-weapon fighter (TWF) build is more about feats. At character creation, invest a few skill points into Balance, Jump, and at least one rank of Tumble. Concentrate on maintaining a high Balance skill, but only train 10 ranks of Jump – spells can temporarily raise this skill in party situations, where it really matters.
Tip! Dwarves have an innate bonus when using *gasp* dwarven axes. Because these are slashing weapons, this feat list focuses on improving capability with slashing. Prioritize dwarven axes (if you want) for a leg-up on your opponents.
- (1) Toughness
- (1) Two Weapon Fighting
- (2) Weapon Focus: Slashing Weapons
- (3) Shield Mastery
- (4) Weapon Specialization: Slashing Weapons
Remember: At level 4, put an ability point into DEX to meet the requirements for Improved Two Weapon Fighting at level 6.
- (6) Improved Two Weapon Fighting
- (6) Stunning Blow
- (8) Improved Critical: Slashing Weapons
- (9) Power Attack
- (10) Greater Weapon Focus: Slashing Weapons
- (12) Greater Two Weapon Fighting
- (12) Toughness
- (14) Greater Weapon Specialization: Slashing Weapons
- (15) Toughness
- (16) Superior Weapon Focus: Slashing Weapons
- (18) Quick Draw
- (18) Toughness
- (20) Oversized Two Weapon Fighting
Below are good utility feats. Toughness – largely considered an essential feat for any class -- boosts your Hit Points (HP) and unlocks additional HP-boosting enhancements. Quick Draw allows faster swapping of weapons and armor, but it also reduces the delay between special boost abilities (see Enhancements, below). Shield Mastery can be a useful feat to turtle up with when the going gets rough, especially at lower levels.
- Toughness (Level 1, 12, 15, 18)
- Shield Mastery (Level 3)
- Quick Draw (Level 18)
These feats enhance fighting ability when holding a weapon in each hand; you'll be more accurate and swing more often during combat.
- Two Weapon Fighting (Level 1)
- Improved Two Weapon Fighting (Level 6)
- Greater Two Weapon Fighting (Level 12)
- Oversized Two Weapon Fighting (Level 20)
These feats help you deal more damage! Power Attack trades accuracy for damage (don't worry, you'll hit plenty with the above feats added) and Improved Critical doubles the chance of getting a critical hit.
- Improved Critical: Slashing Weapons (Level 8)
- Power Attack (Level 9)
A fighter is a master of weapons, and these feats improve both your accuracy and damage potential with slashing weapons, such as longswords and axes. Moreover, these feats enable the Kensei Prestige Enhancement class (see Enhancements, below), a powerful class-boost for the two weapon fighter.
- Weapon Focus: Slashing Weapons (Level 2)
- Weapon Specialization: Slashing Weapons (Level 4)
- Greater Weapon Focus: Slashing Weapons (Level 10)
- Greater Weapon Specialization: Slashing Weapons (Level 14)
- Superior Weapon Focus: Slashing Weapons (Level 16)
Stunning Blow, Sunder and Trip are used during combat and have specific uses. A master fighter uses all the tools at their disposal. Note that some of the tougher boss creatures in DDO resist these active abilities, no matter how good a character is at using them.
- Stunning Blow (Level 6)
- Sunder (Fighter class feat)
- Trip (Fighter class Feat)
Because a character's Enhancements can be changed in-game for a small fee, feel free to experiment with your choices. Below, we'll cover the "how," "what," and "why" of the two weapon fighter (TWF) template's Enhancements. Fighter Haste Boost I-IV and Fighter Attack Boost I-III give a temporary boost to combat prowess. Haste Boost is invaluable, providing a huge increase to attack speed; Attack Boost III is required for the Kensei Prestige Enhancement.
- Fighter Haste Boost IV
- Fighter Attack Boost III
As an axe-wielding dwarf, these enhancements boost accuracy and damage. Take at least one rank of both Dwarven Axe Attack and Dwarven Axe Damage -- or more, if desired.
- Dwarven Axe Attack I
- Dwarven Axe Damage I
The Kensei fighter hones their skills with a specific weapon type, and in this case that's Dwarven Waraxes. Critical Accuracy I-III are required to qualify for this prestige enhancement.
- Fighter Critical Accuracy I-III
- Fighter Kensei I-III
- Kensei Dwarven Axe Mastery I-III
- Fighter Dwarven Axe Specialization I & II
The below Enhancements provide a small boost to Ability Scores and Hit Points (HP). We've recommended the minimum ranks for these Enhancements; add more ranks beyond the minimum for a greater combat performance payoff.
- Fighter Strength I & II
- Dwarven Constitution I
- Fighter Toughness I & II
- Racial Toughness I & II
Take these Enhancements to make it harder for enemies to resist Stunning Blow, Trip and Sunder attacks.
- Fighter Strategy (Stunning Blow) I
- Fighter Strategy (Trip) I
- Dwarven Tactics I
The fighter "capstone" is a great Enhancement, giving a 10% chance to strike a second time with an equipped weapon.
- Fighter Weapon Alacrity
Remember, Enhancements aren't permanent choices, so experiment and find out what works best for you!
Active, Passive & Toggle
Feats, spells, and enhancements come in three distinct flavors: active, passive, and toggle. None of these flavors are mutually exclusive. All feats, spells and enhancements can come in any of the three flavors. Here's the breakdown:
- Active – When used, an "active" spell, feat, or enhancement will cause an immediate effect. This effect can last anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes. Stunning Blow is an active feat that, upon use, stuns its target for a set duration.
- Passive – There are no spells that are purely passive, but plenty of feats fall into this category. Toughness is a great example – it's passive, always giving you those bonus hit points (HP).
- Toggle – Many spells and feats come in this flavor. Think of toggles like a light switch: you can flip it on or off. Power Attack is a toggle ability that enhances your damage output, and it can be switched on and off, or in other words: toggled!
Newly acquired active feats will not automatically show up on your hotbar. To add newfeats to your hotbar, simply press the "C" key, and then click on the "Feats" tab on your Character Sheet panel. From the "Feats" tab you can drag and drop each feat icon to your hotbar – and the same can be done for active enhancements from their respective tabs on the Character Sheet panel ("C" button).
The charm of a two-weapon fighter (TWF) is how easily they can run around hacking and slashing. DDO favors tactical combat, and a TWF can flank, use Stunning Blow, Trip and create all kinds of melee chaos! Like all of our templates, the TWF is not a hard-and-fast rule on how to make a character in DDO – merely friendly guidance. We encourage all new players to begin experimenting once they feel comfortable with the game, and most of all, we encourage all players to have fun making their very own templates! Fighter 101 was made the collaborative help of the DDO community!