D&D Party Composition — Playing an All Fighter Party
Over on the Nerdarchy YouTube channel Nerdarchists Dave and Ted battle with the idea of an all fighter party for fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons. We’ve had a lot of fun exploring this popular video series and here on the website I’m sharing my take on the concept of single party composition. An all fighter party in 5E D&D covers combat with aplomb. You might think party composition like this lacks diversity outside a fight though, but you’d be mistaken. Because fighters focus primarily on pure combat this leaves plenty of creative space to round out your fighter with diverse skills and features. In a D&D campaign setting of academia for each particular character class, students at Martial Archetypes receive certified training in combat technique but there’s a wide array of electives to help shape hearts and minds for more than fighting. So let’s get into it.
How I would run an all fighter party for 5E D&D
Fighters are a strong contender for my favorite class in D&D and with each edition of the game I like this class even more. Martial Archetypes makes a fine military academy and students are under no obligation to enlist for service with any sovereign nations or mercenary organizations. The focus of study obviously includes fighting techniques but warriors who matriculate at Martial Archetypes find a well rounded course catalog. Combat preparedness takes the forefront but fighters can supplement their battle prowess with all sorts of options. Check out the description of Martial Archetypes inside the 5E D&D Player’s Handbook.
“Different fighters choose different approaches to perfecting their fighting prowess. The martial archetype you choose to emulate reflects your approach.”
Fighters fight. It’s long been my perspective they’re the best at combat because it’s their whole schtick. If you break things down the goal of combat is reducing enemy hit points to zero while maintaining your own and in this regard fighters make the whole scenario simple, particularly Champion fighters. Choosing to play a fighter shows you value combat, and students arrive for orientation with a martial mindset. But a student body of individuals from myriad races and backgrounds represent a diversified collection of people bringing their own customs and features to studies primarily dealing with attack and defense on the battlefield.
Incoming first year students start on an even playing field and learn the basics, adopting a particular style of fighting as their specialty and doing a lot of stamina training. Before too long student fighters can push themselves beyond their normal limits, becoming formidable warriors far more skilled than commoners, bandits, cultists, guards, nobles and tribal warriors. When the time comes to choose an archetype they strive to emulate in their combat styles and techniques, Martial Archetypes students can learn from masters with incredible experience. Choices run the gamut from honing raw physical power and precision to esoteric magical applications.
For an all fighter party Xanathar’s Guide to Everything adds a terrific layer to character creation through This is Your Life material. These tables and charts offer details about every aspect of a character from their parents, family and birth place, friends, memories, personal decisions and more. Each character class also comes with specialized tables to add even more wonderful flavor to your character. In the case of fighters these are Heraldic Sign, Instructor and Signature Style. Including these elements during group character creation means even in this all fighter party composition each character begins the campaign and their studies at Martial Archetypes with a tremendous amount of flavorful details.
Since all the characters in the party share a foundation in the combat pillar, all the decision points represent opportunities to contribute to the campaign direction. To contrast their inherent fighting skills the key to look for are options unrelated to armor, shields and weapons. Dwarves have proficiency with smith’s tools, brewer’s supplies or mason’s tools giving characters a path to individualizing their character for the all fighter party. Martial Archetypes offers a tremendous variety of electives, so this gives Dungeon Masters a detail to help guide the campaign. A fresh dwarven fighter proficient with mason’s tools can enroll in Masonry 101, where their Stonecunning trait ought to make them head of the class. The instructor could become a trusted mentor, perhaps one who confides in a prized pupil with a juicy adventure hook.
Another character with a shadier background shows an aptitude for Deception and Stealth, skill with a game of chance and a knack for tools of the trade. Their course path involves very different kind of instruction. Perhaps introduction to a secret society of sneaky fighters. At the dormitory they meet their new roommate, a sensitive warrior who has a way with animals and keen intuition about other people.
What paths will these characters choose when they reach 3rd level? The features illustrated above come from race and background, and choices from the curated list of fighter skills. The mason might focus their martial study on the ancient practice of the Arcane Archer. Meanwhile their sneaky ally develops an implacable fighting spirit of a Samurai and the generic fighter person surprises everyone with a talent for using dunamis to summon the fading shades of unrealized timelines to aid them in battle. Who knew?
Adventures for an all fighter party feature combat prominently. At the end of the day fighters provide the best gain for your gold piece so when there’s monsters on the loose, chaos unleashed and other threats to civilization fighters will be there doing what they do best — fighting. No matter what personal style fighters bring to the battlefield they’re disciplined, which translates into their other specialties too. Faculty and staff at Martial Archetypes understand this so lessons, homework and tests provide appropriate challenge. In other words it’s easy for a DM to tailor adventures to the party. The Arcane Archer, Samurai and Echo Knight party fight much differently than a Champion, Battle Master and Purple Dragon Knight. They can also pick locks and disarm traps, detect otherwise imperceptible clues from stonework, handle animals, gain valuable insights, remain undetected and engage others in a game of chance with a better than average possibility of winning.
While it might seem like fighters shine in combat and lose some luster outside of it, their prowess provides more flexibility to customize your character outside of a fight. Since fighters get access to Ability Score Improvements more than other classes you can gain valuable skills and abilities to add utility and effectiveness in exploration and social interactions. Maybe your fighter dreams of becoming a famed Actor one day. At the same time a fighter who leans into their class becomes a terror on the battlefield with high ability scores and special abilities supplemented with on brand feats.
As a side note our D&D academia setting assumes the various institutions represent the subclass options from official 5E D&D sources. But your Martial Archetypes and other schools can certainly include your favorite third party or homebrew character options. As this post publishes we just recently put up our Patreon rewards for April, which includes a whole bunch of new subclasses for 5E D&D barbarians, clerics, monks, rogues, sorcerers and paladins. Hairable Ideas is a follow up to last year’s Beardomancy and the strange energies from the Beard Dimension empower other character classes and turn every single D&D monster into a potential agent of the entities in the darkest regions of the strange realm. Fighters can add beardomantic power to their loadout as well with one of the beardomantic feats we published for FREE over here.
D&D academia course catalog
We’re well on our way to completing the D&D academia campaign setting for party composition! With Eberron: Rising from the Last War we got a brand new 5E D&D class — artificer — so that was added to the list. When we’re all done maybe we’ll come up with a location for all these institutes of learning. I’m leaning towards this D&D academia hub being extraplanar in nature. But you could just as easily place all the educational organizations we’re imagining in a major metropolitan city like Waterdeep in the Forgotten Realms or Eberron’s Sharn or even smoosh them all together into a single university. Perhaps Morgrave University offers these new programs to characters in Eberron or the bards of New Olamn open their doors to the rest of the character classes with a large expansion to the Waterdeep campus.
The all fighter party feels excites me because as I’ve hammered home several times fighters are awesome at fighting so I’d be very curious about group party composition and creation. With This is Your Life material from XGtE a 5E D&D campaign like this would begin with a wealth of roleplaying and adventure hooks before the session even got started in earnest.
When we finish up this series we’ll have ourselves a solid foundation for an entire 5E D&D campaign setting in a world of academia. For a running recap, here’s the list of 5E D&D class-related institutions. I’m looking forward to exploring the next one along with the video from the YouTube channel.
- Bard College carries on a fine tradition of arts and arcane education
- Primal Paths sounds like a private school
- Domains is a seminary
- Circles is a new age school
- Martial Archetypes is a either a military school or a certified training program
- Monastic Traditions maybe a charter school
- Sacred Oaths is definitely a private school
- Ranger Conclaves is a series of correspondence courses (I know they’re called Ranger Archetypes but I think Conclaves sounds cool)
- Roguish Archetypes a trade school for sure. I learned how to pick pockets and now I’m doing great. Thanks, Roguish Archetypes!
- Sorcerous Origins get to attend Arcane Traditions U on a full-ride scholarship
- Otherworldly Patrons is 100% charter school
- Arcane Traditions clearly is the premiere institute for arcane study
- Artificer Specialists is a for profit university that confers certificates and degrees
Any of these individual campaign ideas really makes me want to play or run a campaign with these elements. 5E D&D party composition with all the characters of the same class is more about your group discussing their character choices together than about filling traditional roles. An all fighter party’s incredibly powerful combat presence gives players flexibility to explore personal interests and specialties. Planning the party together and making choices to benefit the group is a nice way to not only cover bases like skills, tool proficiencies and backgrounds but these things can also contribute to interesting character quirks, secrets and peculiarities. I also like the idea of working representing all the characters’ noncombat skills as electives, and coming up with their NPCs mentors and factions for their individual Martial Archetypes.
What do you think? Does your adrenaline surge to play an all fighter party campaign? Do you like the idea of a 5E D&D campaign set within academia? Let me know in the comments!