Fighting Styles in Dungeons & Dragons

Gaming Industry / Sunday, December 3rd, 2017

Here’s my first attempt at getting a topic of discussion going. I have been looking at fighters again lately. Discussions I had with Matt made me really look at different fighting styles in Dungeons & Dragons. I’ve been breaking them down and would like to share my thoughts on them. First of all I’d like to break the styles into the following 5 categories.

1: Stick & Move
2: Duel Wielding
3: 2-Handed Weapons
4: Sword & Shield
5: Reach Weapons

Each of these styles plays a bit differently and require a different set of feats. I will start out with the one I’m most recently familiar with. Stick and Move.

Stick & Move style requires the combatant to move about the battlefield to take advantage of different situations. It is best used by lightly armored highly mobile classes such as the Monk, Scout & Barbarian. Though Fighters can use the style as well it works best when you can move 30 feet or more per round.
Feats/Skills needed.

Skill: Tumble, Tumble is very important for the stick and move fighter. Tumble skill will allow you to move around the battlefield without taking attacks of opportunity from every opponent you meet. Remember that each time you leave a square that is threatened by an opponent you are subject to an attack of opportunity. Making your tumble check for that square negates the AoOp. You must make a separate roll for each square you leave. Each roll is at a -2 penalty. So passing through 3 threatened squares requires 3 rolls of DC’s 15,17,&19 respectively. You can only move at half speed when using the tumble skill. So once again it’s good to have a class that moves faster or be magically enhanced.

Counter Tumble: There is a counter to the tumble skill. It’s… tumble. If your opponent also has the tumble skill they can make a counter tumble skill roll. In order to tumble past them freely you will need to hit DC 15 or beat their tumble roll, whichever is greater. If you do not beat their tumble roll they can take an attack of opportunity against you as normal.


Dodge: , In and of itself dodge isn’t that great. It is though a prerequisite for the other necessary feats in this style.

Mobility: Prereq: Dodge Dex 13, Mobility gives you a +4 bonus to your armor class -vs- attacks of opportunity provoked by moving out of threatened squares. This is great for times when you fail your tumble check or for times when you need the extra movement and decide not to tumble.

Spring Attack/Shot on the run: Spring attack and Shot on the run basically do the same thing. They allow you to move both before and after your attack, as long as you have movement left to do. Normally you may make a single move either before or after your attack. Spring attack let’s you move before and after a melee attack. Shot on the run let’s you move before and after a ranged attack.
Spring Attack Prereq: Dodge, Mobility, Dex 13
Shot on the run Pre-Req: Dodge, Mobility, Point Blank Shot, Base Attack +4 Dex 13.

Elusive Target: (Tactical Feat Lvl-9)
-Elusive target has three uses.
-1) When the target of your feat uses the feat against you he gains no bonus damage. He still takes on the penalty to hit.
-2) If the target of your dodge is flanking you with another opponent, his first attack against you automatically misses. Instead it has a chance to hit the flanking opponent. (Roll to-hit normally and applies it to flankers AC.)
-3) If the target of your dodge misses you on an attack of opportunity gained from you moving out of an area they threaten in mêlée, you get a free trip attempt against them. This trip attempt does not provoke an attack of opportunity. Nor does the opponent get a return trip attempt if you fail.

Normally this style is a one handed weapon style. Meaning your other hand is free to do whatever. Be that carrying the party torch, casting spells, deflecting arrows or whatever. The Tempest prestige class introduces a few extra feats that turn this style into a two weapon fighting style.

Two Weapon Spring Attack:
When making a spring attack you can attack once with two different weapons.

Dual Strike: Prereq: Two Weapon Fighting, Improved Two Weapon Fighting.
As a standard action you can make an attack with both your primary and secondary weapons. Both attacks use the same attack roll. Using the worse of your two weapons attack modifiers.

Other feats to add to this style, the following feats borrow from the control style.

Combat Reflexes: Allows you to make an extra attack of opportunity for each bonus dex point you have. So if you have a 14 dex and get a +2 bonus you may make up to three attacks of opportunity in a round. Being able to move before and after your attack allows you to position yourself in the path of moving enemy targets. Allowing you to strike out at others who are trying to move as you do.

Improved Trip: Always a good feat. When you do have attacks of opportunity try tripping your opponent. Improved trip gives you a free attack after you knock them down. Also getting back up will provoke an attack of opportunity as well.

Hamstring: If you are a rogue or scout using this style you may forgo up to 2d6 of extra damage to half your target’s movement. If you slow them down you can effectively make yourself immune from counter attack by moveing in to attack and back out of their movement range.

Close Quarters Fighting: (General Feat Lvl-15)
-You receive an attack of opportunity against a foe that tries to grapple you. Even if said for has feats that normally would negate the AoOp, such as improved grapple.

-If this attack of opportunity does damage your opponents attempt to grapple automatically fails, unless they have an improved grapple feat. If they do have such a feat then the damage done by the attack is added to the roll to resist being grappled.

Being grappled is the bane of your existence. This feat will help you avoid the beat down you will no doubt receive if your caught. It won’t help you once your caught though so try not to get caught.

Best Class for this style: SCOUT
Although any class with extra movement can benefit greatly from this fighting style the scout is best suited for it. In fact a scout NOT using this fighting style will be gimpy compared to other classes. Scouts get bonus sneak attack damage like a rogue, as well as extra Armor Class if they move more than 10 feet in a round. So a scout wielding a one handed weapon, (Hand Axe, Short Sword, Short Spear) or a missile Weapon (Short Bow, throwing weapons) can take full advantage of this style. I would suggest the hand axe, short spear, or dagger. They can be thrown in a pinch giving you that much more utility. Investing in a magical throwing weapon that returns makes sure you get your weapon back immediately.

Also a Scout or Ranger fighting in this style outdoors is especially dangerous. As they will not be impeded by terrain while their non woodsy opponents will be even slower.

The best way to defeat someone using this style is by controlling the environment. Rogues and Dex based warriors with the tumble skill are best. They will negate the Stick and move fighters own tumble check and open them up to attacks of opportunity.

When you do hit a stick and move warrior either trip or grapple them. If they can’t move around they are not very effective. These warriors are usually dex based and will have trouble getting out of a grapple most of the time. Simple spells such as entangle are also great for this. They are not effected by tumble or Scout Rangers ability to move about in rough terrain.

Last but not least hit them from range. If you’re fighting out in the open just shoot them. This is a low AC style due to their requirement of wearing only light armor to keep their movement up. If they move in and then move out that’s all the better for you to shoot them. If you are a ranged combatant though avoid fighting this style in an area with lots of cover. They will eat you up by moveing in to hit you then moveing back out of line of sight.

(Note: The ranged version of this style is especially deadly. As they can effectively stay out of your range for the entire fight while peppering you from afar.) Close with them as quickly as you can and Sunder their bow, Or grapple them. Charge them if you have too.