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Fighter Subclasses 5e | Ranked By 2021 (Guide) Archetypes Dnd 5th Edition

Champion,  Samurai, or Purple Dragon Knight are some of the heroes you can live as a fighter in D&D 5E. These roles provide an exciting layer to the narrative experience of the player. On top of that, they also provide special features to your Fighter, which makes it crucial to choose a subclass/ Archetype that suits your need for optimal output from the world of D&D 5E.

When your character reaches 3rd level, you get to choose a DnD Fighter Subclass / Fighter Martial Archetype that you aim to emulate in your fighting styles and techniques. Additionally, all the dnd 5e fighter subclasses grant you special features at the 3rd level, 7th level, 10th level, 15th level, and 18th level. These special features depend upon the type of subclass chosen.

In short,  there are 11 Fighter subclasses 5E, and selecting just one can be a daunting task. I mean, how do you know if the subclass chosen is best for you? To answer this question, we first have to examine all 11 subclasses.

(Note: Subclass and Archetype are two different names for one single thing, both terms will be used interchangeably in this writing.)

What are all the Fighter subclasses 5E?

There are 11 5E Fighter archetypes/ DnD 5E Fighter subclasses, which are detailed in this section.

Arcane Archer

  1. Source: Xanathar’s Guide to Everything
  2. Advantage: The ability to use Arcane Archer Lore
  3. Styles: Thrown Weapon Fighting, Archery
  4. Feats: Gunner, Crossbow Expert

As their name suggests, a Fighter who excels in conjuring magical properties into their bow attacks is Arcane Archer. Moreover, they also have the ability to cast enchantments on their enemies. As a result, out of all the fighter archetypes 5e, they are perfect for players who like to attack from a distance.

ARCANE ARCHER subclass

Arcane Archer Features

Fighter LevelFeature
3rdArcane Archer Lore, Arcane Shot (2 options)
7thCurving Shot, Magic Arrow, Arcane Shot (3 options)
10thArcane Shot (4 options)
15thEver-Ready Shot, Arcane Shot (5 options)
18thArcane Shot (6 options, improved shots)

ArcaneArcher Lore

You get to study magic. You get to master either the Arcana or the Nature skill, where you pick to learn the prestidigitation or the druidcraftcantrip.

Arcane Shot

The ability unlocks some unique magical shots. However, some of these magic shots can be repeledby making a successful saving throw.

Arcane Shot save DC= 8 + your Intelligence modifier + your proficiency bonus

Level Total Amount of Arcane Shots
3rd level2
7th level3
10th level4
15th level5
18th level
6

There are total 8 different Arcane Shots as listed below:

1) Banishing Arrow

2) Beguiling Arrow

3) Bursting Arrow

4) Enfeebling Arrow

5) Grasping Arrow

6) Piercing Arrow

7) Seeking Arrow

8) Shadow Arrow

Magic Arrow

Furthermore, you get the ability to add magic to your arrows at the 7th level.

Curving Shot

The ability to guide any rouge arrow to a new target using a bonus action.

Ever-Ready Shot

 As the name suggests, you get ever-reading magical archery to use for battles.

Battle Master

  1. Source: D&D Player’s Handbook
  2. Advantage: Battle Maneuvers
  3. Styles: Dueling, Grand Weapon Fighting
  4. Feats: Durable, Martial Adept

Among the 11 Fighter martial archetypes, only they have attained mastery over a plethora of combat maneuvers. Therefore, they are known as the master of battles, not just the combats. Above all, they are the warriors who strive for enlightenment through their skill and knowledge of the battle; achieving this means studying subjects beyond battles like weaponsmithing and history.

Battle Master subclass

Battle Master Features

Fighter LevelFeature
3rdCombat Superiority, Student of War
7thKnow Your Enemy
10thImproved Combat Superiority
15thRelentless
18thImproved Combat Superiority

Combat Superiority

Firstly, at the 3rd level, this dnd fighter subclass allows you to learn maneuvers that are powered by a dice called Superiority Dice. However, you are only allowed to learn 3 Maneuvers at this stage.

Further details about Maneuvers and Superiority Dice are given below under their sub-heads.

Student of War

Secondly, you can achieve mastery on any one type of artisan tool at the 3rd level.

Know Your Enemy

As the name suggests, this feature allows you to know specific details about your enemy’s capabilities. However, you will have to observe or interact with the creature for at least 1 minute outside of fighting. Only then can you use this feature to ask DM to tell you how capable the creature is compared to you: equal, superior, or inferior. This comparison can be with only two characteristics out of the following ones:

1) Strength score

2) Dexterity score

3) Constitution score

4) Armor Class

5) Current hit points

6) Total class levels (if any)

7) Fighter class levels (if any)

Relentless

If there is no superiority dice left and you roll initiative, you will recover one superiority die.

Maneuvers

Maneuvers are a series of special movements or attacks that you unlock at the 3rd level as a battle master. However, the total amount of maneuvers that one can learn depends upon their level.

However, your target can resist some of your maneuver’s effects by making a saving throw, and the saving throw DC is measured using the below-given formula.

Level Total Amount of Maneuvers
3rd level3
7th level5
10th level7
15th level9

There is a total of 16 different maneuvers as listed below:

1) Commander’s Strike

2) Disarming Attack

3) Distracting Strike

4) Evasive Footwork

5) Feinting Attack

6) Goading Attack

7) Lunging Attack

8) Maneuvering Attack

9) Menacing Attack

10) Parry

11) Precision Attack

12) Pushing Attack

13) Rally             

14) Riposte

15) Sweeping Attack

16) Trip Attack

Superiority Dice

To use maneuvers, you will need to expend special dice known as superiority dice. However, all used superiority dice are regained after a short or long rest. Furthermore, the size and amount of superiority dice depend upon your level, as shown in the given tables.

LevelAmount

Size
3rd level41D8
7th level51D8
10th level51D10
15th level61D10
18th level61D12

Cavalier

  1. Source: Xanathar’s Guide to Everything
  2. Advantage: The ability to use Unwavering Mask
  3. Styles: Great Weapon Fighting, Dueling
  4. Feats: Defensive Duelist, Crusher

A Cavalier Fighter is the best for mounted combat compared to the other fighter subclasses 5e, making them a competent defender and bodyguard. Moreover, they are the people born in nobility and who aim to explore various glorious adventures.

Cavalier subclass

Cavelier Features

Fighter LevelFeature
3rdBonus Proficiency, Born to the Saddle, Unwavering Mark
7thWarding Maneuver
10thHold the Line
15thFerocious Charger
18thVigilant Defender

Bonus Proficiency

You achieve mastery in one of the following: History, Insight, Persuasion, Animal Handling, or Performance, or you can learn any one new language.

Born to the Saddle

And, you acquire an impeccable mastery as a rider, giving an advantage for saving throws on falling off. 

Unwavering Mark

The ability to save your allies from the enemy, by marking the enemy, then if he attacks someone other than you, his attack roll will deal a disadvantage.

Warding Maneuver

The ability to defend yourself, your mount, or any nearby friend from an enemy attack.

Hold the Line

Furthermore, you achieve the ability to reduce your enemy’s speed to zero.

Ferocious Charger

The ability to knock your target prone. However, this can also be defended by doing a successful Strength saving throw.

Vigilant Defender

An unusual reaction is gained to use once during the other creature’s turn.

Champion

  1. Source: D&D Player’s Handbook
  2. Advantage: The Power of hitting a critical hit at only a roll of 19 or 18
  3. Styles: Duelist, Interception
  4. Feats: Crusher

Only one out of the 11 fighter archetypes 5e choose masters the key features of the Fighter class, like Strength or Dexterity. They are the ones who we call Champions. Moreover, fighters who choose to be a champion experience physical excellence to withstand deadly attacks, and combined with all the intense training champion has to go through, make them a Tank.

Champion subclass

Champion Features

Fighter LevelFeature
3rdImproved Critical
7thRemarkable Athlete
10thAdditional Fighting Style
15thSuperior Critical
18thSurvivor

Improved Critical

Firstly, at the 3rd level, you unlock the power to strike a critical hit on a roll of 19 or 20.

Remarkable Athlete

The ability to add half of the Proficiency bonus to Constitution, Dexterity, or Strength check. However, it can’t be used for checks that are already utilising the Proficiency bonus. Furthermore, you can also add extra feet (equal to your Strength modifier) to your running long jump.

Additional Fighter Fighting Styles

This allows you to pick a second fighting style for Fighter archetypes 5e.

Superior Critical

Moreover, at the 15th level, you gain the power to land a critical weapon hit with just a roll of 18 or 20.

Survivor

Once you reach the 18th level, you can officially call yourself a tank. When you have lost half of your hit points, you can now regain them of quantity 5 + your Constitution modifier. However, if your Hit Points are zero, this cannot help you.

Echo Knight

  1. Source: Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount
  2. Advantage: The ability to Manifest Echo
  3. Styles: Dual Wielder, Defensive Duelist
  4. Feats: Fighting Initiate, Durable

What could be better than getting more of you if you need more arms to fight by your side? In other words, an Echo Knight can summon echoes of themselves from alternate periods.

Echo Knight subclass

Echo Knight Features

Fighter LevelFeature
3rdManifest Echo, Unleash Incarnation
7thEcho Avatar
10thShadow Martyr
15thReclaim Potential
18thLegion of One

Unleash Incarnation

Firstly, at the 3rd level, this dnd fighter subclass provides you up to five extra attacks for a single day.

Echo Avatar

Secondly, at the 5th level, you gain the ability to use your echo as a scout up to 1000ft.

Shadow Martyr

The ability to redirect your enemy’s attack, which can only be used once per rest.

Reclaim Potential

To get some extra hit points by reclaiming your echo.

Legion of One

Furthermore, at the 18th level, you unlock the ability to double your echo.

Eldritch Knight

  1. Source: D&D Player’s Handbook
  2. Advantage: A balanced character who is a competent fighter as well as a competent spell caster
  3. Styles: Defense, Blind Fighting
  4. Feats: Fey Touched, Artificer Initiate

This DnD Fighter Subclass uses spells to boost its already impeccable martial powers. However, there are only two out of eight types of spells that eldritch knights study: abjuration and evocation. The first ones are for additional protections, and the latter delivers damage to many enemies at once.

But, there are some exceptions to this rule of 2 types of spells: the spells you learn are going to know at 8th, 14th, and 20th level can be of any sort.

Eldritch Knight subclass

Eldritch Knight Features

Fighter LevelFeature
3rdSpellcasting, Weapon Bond
7thWar Magic
10thEldritch Strike
15thArcane Charge
18thImproved War Magic

Spellcasting

At the 3rd level, out of all the 5e fighter archetypes, only this allows you to learn the ability to cast spells. However, the number of spells known increases as you move up the level ladder, as shown in the below-given table.

Furthermore, your target can resist some of your spell’s effects by making a saving throw. The saving throw DC and your attack roll of spells are measured using the below-given formulas.

Spell save DC= 8 + your Intelligence modifier + your proficiency bonus

Spell attack modifier= your intelligence modifier + your proficiency bonus

Spell Slots- Spell slots fuel Spellcasting for eldritch knight, and the above table shows how many spell slots have to be utilised to use spells of different levels. However, all used spell slots are regained after a short or long rest.

Weapon Bond

This allows you to form a magical bond between you and 2 weapons of your choice. This ritual takes 1 hour to complete per weapon. Once bonded, the weapon can’t be disarmed by anyone other than you breaking the bond, and you can summon any one of the bonded weapons with your bonus action.

War Magic

You can use one weapon attack as a bonus action while using your action for casting a cantrip.

Eldritch Strike

Furthermore, you can deliver a disadvantage on your target’s saving throw after hitting him with a weapon attack. The idea is that with this feature, you make your weapon’s strike avoid the target’s protection against your spells.

Arcane Charge

This ability allows you to teleport up to 30 feet to an empty space.

Improved War Magic

This ability enables you to use one weapon attack as a bonus action while using your action for casting a spell

Gunslinger

  1. Source: Matt Mercer’s Gunslinger
  2. Advantage: Mastery in Ranged Weapons
  3. Styles: Ranged Weapon Fighting
  4. Feats: Cowboys, Gangsters

They are the true masters of guns, unlike other Fighter Subclasses 5e, who use medieval weapons only.

Gunslinger subclass

Gunslinger Features

Fighter LevelFeature
3rdFirearm Proficiency, Gunsmith, Adept Markman
7thQuickdraw
10thRapid Repair
15thLightning Reload
18thVicious Intent, Hemorrhaging Critical

Gunsmith

Firstly, at the 3rd level, this dnd fighter subclass grants you proficiency in Tinker’s Tools.

Adept Markman

Furthermore, you get any 2 trick shots for you to use in combat with your guns.

Quickdraw

Now, at the 7th level, the game bestows upon you the power to increase your initiative with the help of your proficiency bonus

Rapid Repair

Out of all fighter martial archetypes, only the gunslinger uses weapons that can have some technical problems, and this ability solves this problem by gifting you the ability to fix a jammed gun quickly.

Lightning Reload

This ability empowers you to reload by using a bonus action

Vicious Intent

This wonderful feature allows you to land a critical blow upon a 19-20 roll. Furthermore, you revive a grit point on the same roll.

Hemorrhaging Critical

An ability that makes the enemy suffer additional damage after a critical hit.

Psi Warrior/ Psychic Warrior

  1. Source: Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything
  2. Advantage: The ability to use Psionic Power
  3. Styles: Blind Fighting, Interception
  4. Feats: Charger, Crusher

A Psi Warrior, as the name indicates, is the only one in the dnd 5e fighter subclasses list who uses Psionic powers to attain additional benefits in combat. Moreover, they are also known as Psychic Warrior.

Psi Warrior/ Psychic Warrior

Psi Warrior Features

Fighter LevelFeature
3rdPsionic Power
7thTelekinetic Adept
10thGuarded Mind
15thBulwark of Force
18thTelekinetic Master

Psionic Power

Using the Psionic dice, you can gain special abilities such as:

  1. Protective Field
  2. Psionic Strike
  3. Telekinetic Movement

Telekinetic Adept

Furthermore, at the 5th level, two new special abilities are unlocked.

  1. Psi-Powered Leap
  2. Telekinetic Thrust

Guarded Mind

The ability to resist psychic damages like charmed and frightened conditions.

Bulwark of Force

This activates a bonus action to provide +2 AC to you and plausibly your allies for 1 minute (latter depends on your Intelligence modifier). This can be used 11 times per long rest.

Telekinetic Master

The ability to move heavy objects (up to 1000 pounds) without costing much Intelligence modifier.

Purple Dragon Knight/ Banneret

  1. Source: Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide
  2. Advantage: The ability to share your Action surge or Second Wind with your companions
  3. Styles: Durable, Interception
  4. Feats: Duelist, Charger

They are one of the few DND 5e Fighter subclasses/ DnD 5e Fighter archetypes who are really charming. Their diplomatic nature gives them a huge advantage in Charisma compared to other 5e Fighter Martial Archetypes. Moreover, they are a noble class of knights who can support their comrades by extending their own features.

PURPLE DRAGON KNIGHT/ BANNERET

Purple Dragon Knight Features

Fighter LevelFeature
3rdRallying Cry
7thRoyal Envoy
10thInspiring Surge
15thBulwark

Rallying Cry

Firstly, at the 3rd level, you gain the ability to heal three allies from up to 60ft away.

Royal Envoy

Secondly, at the 5th level, you gain expertise in Persuasion.

Inspiring Surge

Furthermore, you can give an ally a free attack.

Bulwark

This gives you rerolls on saving throws.

Rune Knight

  1. Source: Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything
  2. Advantage: Different for different runes
  3. Styles: Durable, Fey Touched
  4. Feats: Dual Wielder, Artificer Initiate

As the name suggests, a Rune Knight uses runes (an ancient language system) to add special powers to their weapons and armors. Moreover, they are the only one in fighter subclasses 5e who knows this language of giants.

Rune Knight subclass

Rune Knight Features

Fighter LevelFeature
3rdBonus Proficiency, Rune Carver, Giant Might
7thRunic Shield
10thGreat Stature
15thMaster of Runes
18thRunic Juggernaut

Rune Carver

You get to choose 3 runes at the 3rd level, which increases to 5 on the later levels. There is a total of 6 runes.

  1. Cloud Rune
  2. Fire Rune
  3. Frost Rune
  4. Stone Rune
  5. Hill Rune (unlocked at 7th level)
  6. Storm Rune (unlocked at 7th level)

Giant Might

The ability to enlarge or reduce as a bonus action.

Runic Shield

Furthermore, you achieve the ability to render deadly hits of enemy useless by making them reroll.

Great Stature

Increase in height by 3d4 inches, and a minor increase in Giant Might’s damage die.

Master of Runes

This doubles how often you can use runes per long rest and also unlocks the fifth & final rune.

Runic Juggernaut

Increase in your enlarging capacity and reach.

Samurai

  1. Source: Xanathar’s Guide to Everything
  2. Advantage: The Power to use Fighting Spirit
  3. Styles: Durable, Great Weapon Master
  4. Feats: Defensive Duelist, Charger

Strength before Death, a Samurai, has an impeccable determination to their craft, which leaves their enemy all mind-boggled. Furthermore, this DnD Fighter subclass is good at handling social situations, and if their resolve is absolute, they can summon extraordinary capabilities and unparalleled resilience in their actions.

Samurai subclass

Samurai Features

Fighter LevelFeature
3rdBonus Proficiency, Fighting Spirit
7thElegant Courtier
10thTireless Spirit, Fighting Spirit
15thRapid Strike, Fighting Spirit
18thStrength before Death

Bonus Proficiency

You achieve mastery in one of the following: History, Insight, Performance, or Persuasion, or you can learn any one new language.

Fighting Spirit

You achieve temporary hit points for weapon attacks, this can be used 3 times only, and to regain the used ones, you will have to take a long rest.

Level Total Amount of Temporary Hit Points
3rd level5
10th level10
15th level15

Elegant Courtier

With this ability, you gain a bonus Charisma check equal to your wisdom modifier. Furthermore, proficiency is achieved in Wisdom saving throws.

Tireless Spirit

If you don’t have any use of Fighting Spirit remaining while rolling initiative, you regain one Fighting Spirit use.

Rapid Strike

The ability to trade your attack’s advantage for an extra weapon attack on the target.

Strength before Death

The ability to use a reaction to take an extra turn when your hit points are reduced to 0 by an attack.

What is the best Fighter subclass in D&D 5E?

Battle Master, Rune Knight, and Echo Knight are the best Fighter subclasses in D&D 5E. And if you look at all the features of all the Fighter Archetypes 5E, you will realise that these three have the most important features out of all for a Fighter in the DnD 5e universe. And in case you are curious, Purple Dragon Knight is the worstout of all the DnD 5E Fighter subclasses/ 5E Fighter Martial Archetypes.

FAQs

What level do fighters get subclasses?

At the 3rd Level, Fighters get a Subclass. It is a role/ hero that you aim to emulate in your fighting styles and techniques. Moreover, your subclass also grants you special features at the 3rd level, 7th level, 10th level, 15th level, and 18th level. There is a total of 11 Fighter Subclasses 5E.

What Is The Difference Between A Subclass And A Martial Archetype?

There is no difference between a Subclass and an Archetype, and both are two different names for one single thing, which is a role for your Fighter that you aim to emulate in your fighting styles and techniques.

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Gamer Gattino

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