One thing I always liked was the portrayal of the Fighter in the original Final Fantasy. He was a master of all arms and armor, he hit the hardest using the best weapons and could take as much as he could dish out wearing the thickest of armor. This is never quite realized in D&D in my opinion. Let's take a look at 3rd edition with allows for broad weapon and armor categories. Sure the fighter classes can wear all armor and use all non-exotic weapons but it's really not that big a boon. You might have a slightly larger die (d8 vs d6) comparing your martial weapon to a simple weapon (the elimination of speed factor is one less variable to differentiate between the two groups but that's worthy of its own post) and you're armor might provide you a marginally higher armor class (Heavy Range +5 to +8 VS Light +2 to +4) at the cost of seriously slowing you down and giving you tremendous penalties to useful skills. That's before we get into the overly economic mithral chain shirt which eclipses most heavy armor provided you have a bit of dex and enough coin to buy Full Plate. The point is, being trained to use better weapons and armor isn't much of a feature if the weapons and armor aren't markedly better. Let's take a look at the original Final Fantasy a direct descendent of D&D.
When you create your party you have a few choices to fill your four slots: the fighter, thief, black belt, red mage, white mage and black mage. The fighter can equip any weapon and armor and is a great all around character when it comes to stats, a party of four fighters is not only doable but excellent if not expensive, whereas the blackbelt is very similar with regards to good stats but is at his best when not wearing equipment. Think of the cost savings man! It should be noted magic must be purchased and is the most expensive part of your party budget. The Thief and Redmage will round out the classes we look at equipment wise. So let's see how class choice, and thus proficiencies deeply affects gameplay.
|A more legible version can be found here for weapons and armor.|
|How these bathrobes made it this far is beyond me|
|"A professional fighter trained in the use of all weapons. The Fighter is able to wear heavy armor and is skillfull with large swords. Even with this bulky equipment quick moves are still possible"|
The last sentence rings especially true when looking at our 3rd edition example. The fighter can certainly wear heavier armor but it comes with quite a price, our FF Fighter is still quite competent despite being loaded down with gear. The first order of business would be to have strictly fighting classes that wear the battlements of war should be able to overlook these menial penalties. As for actual FF game mechanics the Fighter doesn't treat armor weight any lower however they do have a very good growth rate of Agility, surpassing even the Thief, which is mitigated by the weight of his armor. So while he is not nearly as evasive as the Thief he is still quite nimble in the case of both evasion and initiative.
|Faster than a speeding bullet or a horde of pirates|
Now since the Redmage can swing the same steel as the fighter and the Ninja is angling into his turn with newfound ax prowess the fighter still manages to edge them out quite easily. He has the highest starting Strength and Hit growth. Hit not only determines accuracy but how many times you land a hit leading to more damage. Although he is not as fast as the Thief, or unarmored Black Belt he is often able to go before most enemies even when burdened with his heavy equipment. So we have a character that hits hard, accurately and frequently on account of his class, can equip all kinds of armor which slows him down marginally but is still able to keep up with his peers without being surpassed by common fodder. What we have is a powerhouse who cannot be overshadowed in the physical arena and this is certainly something I'd like to see applied to the basic Fighter in role playing games. We'll look at how in a later post.