Dungeons & Dragons: Every Fighting Style, Explained
- Blessed Warrior
- Blind Fighting
- Druidic Warrior
- Great Weapon Fighting
- Superior Technique
- Thrown Weapon Fighting
- Two-Weapon Fighting
- Unarmed Fighting
In Dungeons & Dragons, martial classes are those held by characters that aim to deal with their foes using traditional weapons rather than through the use of spellcasting. While there are a variety of martial classes available to players, each with its own unique strengths, several of these classes provide characters access to a fighting style.
Fighting styles are permanent augmentations to a character that provide specific benefits in combat, often improving a character's ability to use certain types of weaponry. Fighting styles can help a character excel in a specific area of combat such as more reliably landing their ranged attacks or even helping their defenses. So we're going to break down each fighting style currently available in D&D's fifth edition and see exactly what they're capable of.
Before we begin, we should note that despite not every class gains a fighting style by default, thanks to the Fighting Initiate feat introduced in Tasha's Cauldron of Everything, any character can theoretically gain a fighting style available to the Fighter class. Additionally, while some fighting styles have been shown in Unearthed Arcana releases, we will only be accounting for fighting styles that have appeared in official D&D expansions and rule books.
For those looking to play a martial character who fights primarily by using long-range weaponry, the Archery fighting style is a must-have. Simple yet effective, Archery provides a character with a +2 bonus to hit will all ranged weaponry. Rather than this increasing a character's damage output, it provides a solid accuracy boost that helps a character more reliably land their mark.
Despite its name, as this fighting style works with all forms of ranged weaponry, it's an excellent choice for those looking to make use of any type of ranged weaponry such as firearms.
Blessed Warrior is a unique fighting style exclusive to the Paladin class, meaning it can't be obtained through the Fighting Initiate feat. Unlike other fighting styles that augment a character's ability to use their gear in combat, Blessed Warrior provides a character with two cantrips from the Cleric spell list.
As Paladins normally don't gain access to cantrips, this is a solid way to pick up the likes of Guidance, Sacred Flame, Spare the Dying, or Toll the Dead, adding to a Paladin's utility. For those looking to dabble more in the magic side of a Paladin, this fighting style is definitely worth considering.
A fighting style that offers a distinct yet useful ability, Blind Fighting provides a character with a Blindsight range of ten feet. Blindsight makes a character quite difficult to get the drop on, even if a target is hidden or invisible.
As Blindsight is normally quite difficult for characters to gain, this is an excellent option for those whose party aims to make a lot of use out of obscuring magic such as Fog Cloud and Darkness.
Defense is perhaps the simplest fighting style in D&D and it is perhaps the most widely applicable and beneficial to any character. This is because rather than augmenting one's offensive capabilities, Defense simply increases a character's AC by +1 as long as they're wearing armor.
Regardless of a character's role on the battlefield, an improved AC is always a great asset, as it can make a character much more difficult to hit with attacks. Outside of characters with unarmored defense or those that lack proficiency in any form of armor, the Defense fighting style is a safe and effective option.
Similar to the Blessed Warrior fighting style being exclusive to the Paladin class, the Druidic Warrior fighting style is only available to Rangers. While the Blessed Warrior fighting style provides access to two Cleric cantrips, this option provides access to two Druid cantrips.
This can provide a Ranger looking to utilize more magic with useful options like Guidance, Produce Flame, or Shape Water.
For those looking to wield a weapon in one hand whilst wielding a shield in the other, Dueling is a great choice for one's fighting style. As long as a character with this fighting style is only holding one melee weapon at once and it is being wielded in one hand, that weapon deals an additional +2 damage.
This damage buff can really add up over time, allowing a melee-focused martial character to reliably deal more damage when in combat.
Great Weapon Fighting
Two-handed weapons such as Greataxes are often known for their above-average damage dice. However, aberrant dice rolls can still lead to some of a character's landed its to deal below average damage. This is where the Great Weapon Fighting style comes in.
When a character with this fighting style deals damage to a target when wielding a weapon with two hands, they can reroll all ones and twos when rolling damage. This allows a character to make their damage output much more reliable, making heavier hitting melee weapons a more enticing choice.
For those looking to protect their allies in combat, Interception is an option that can allow a martial character to serve as a bodyguard for their allies. Whenever another creature within five feet of a character with this fighting style would be hit with an attack, the intercepter may use their reaction to reduce the damage of this attack by 1d10 plus their proficiency modifier.
As there is no limit to how many times this reaction may be used per day, when utilizing strategies that keep party members positioned close together, this style can provide substantial damage reduction over the course of an encounter.
Fundamentally similar to Interception, Protection is a fighting style that allows a character to use their reaction in order to try to protect an adjacent ally. While Interception can be used to reduce damage an ally may take, Protection aims to prevent an ally from being hit entirely.
If an ally within five feet of a creature with this fighting style would be targeted with an attack, one's reaction can be spent to have that attack be made at disadvantage. Unlike Interception which can provide padding reliably, this is an all-or-nothing option that can either nullify damage or have little to no impact.
Introduced in Tasha's Cauldron of Everything, Superior Technique is a fighting style that allows characters to dip their toe into the Fighter's Battle Master subclass. Battle Master is a subclass based around the use of special maneuvers that may be accessed through the use of "superiority dice."
While Battle Masters flexibly have access to several maneuvers, Superior Technique allows a non-Battle Master character to access a single maneuver of their choice. As these maneuvers are quite varied and unique, this can provide a character with distinct utility that they may lack otherwise.
Thrown Weapon Fighting
Traditionally, thrown weapons tend to deal less damage on average than their melee and ranged counterparts. However, the Thrown Weapon Fighting style makes the use of such weapons more enticing.
Offering a comparable damage boost to the Dueling fighting style, whenever a character adept with Thrown Weapon Fighting deals damage with a ranged attack from a thrown weapon, it deals an additional +2 damage.
Two-Weapon Fighting is a solid option for those looking to build a dual-wielding combatant. Normally, a character making an attack with the weapon in their offhand as a bonus action is unable to add their ability modifier to said attack. However, this fighting style helps a character be more ambidextrous, allowing their ability modifier to be added.
This can allow dual-wielding builds to potentially deal significantly more damage as their additional attacks deal just as much damage as the first they make each turn.
While Monks are the class most often associated with unarmed combat, the Unarmed Fighting style can allow a variety of characters to function as a threat, regardless of if they're armed. In addition to causing a character's unarmed strikes to deal 1d8 damage as long as they aren't wielding a weapon, this fighting style blends perfectly with the Grappler feat.
This is because at the start of a creature with this fighting style's turn if they're grappling another creature, they can cause that creature to automatically take 1d4 bludgeoning damage with no action required.
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