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Skills and the Fighterby Colin Davidson
Presented here are four non-weapon skills that are useful for fighter characters; they flesh out the fighter character a little, and if taken at character generation they can add a bit of cultural flavour from the outset.
A fighter, at first level, can sometimes seem an unattractive character to play. He's probably got a low intelligence, and of his four non-weapon skill slots he's very likely to have one devoted to riding and has only three to choose from. Of the options in the Rules Cyclopaedia, he's got only a few appealing options. There aren't many strength based skills, there are a few dexterity based ones, but his prime attributes don't lend themselves to getting the most out of the skills system
I propose that the fighter ought to be cut a little more slack. In my campaign, I allow a fighter to pick an extra two skills at character generation, on the condition that four of the six skills now available be culturally linked. So for example, a fighter who has grown up on horseback on the Steppes of Ethengar might take cavalry combat (q.v.), riding, horse empathy and horse training. A pirate from Minrothad might take boat sailing, ship piloting, navigation and rigging combat. This system encourages the player of a fighter to think a little about where the fighter has come from, and what set of subskills might make a good representation of that background.
To broaden out the skill choices for fighters a little further, here are some more skills that I've added to my campaign. As well as providing details of what each skill does for the individual fighter, I've also included BR modifiers for War Machine.
Archery (Dexterity based skill): The skill of firing off a lot of arrows, without necessarily being any more accurate, and without enduring undue fatigue. A well trained unit of archers will be expected to fire 15 arrows, per man, per minute, and the percentage of thus trained archers will affect BR bonus of a unit as follows:
(1) 10% of the unit are skilled archers
(2) 50% of the unit are skilled archers Note that this skill isn't for hitting a single target (this is covered by weapon mastery and level), but a successful skill check will allow the archer to unleash 3d3 extra arrows per minute, providing the target is 15 opponents or more (damage is 2 weapon mastery levels lower, minimum basic).
Block Fighting (Wisdom or Strength based skill, depending on situation): The skill of fighting as part of a block, thus benefiting from others also holding a formation. While a unit of such warriors ma make their way across a battlefield more slowly than some others, they will do so more cohesively and very often more effectively. Adds BFR based bonuses to BR as follows:
(1) 40% of infantry are skilled
(2) 100% of infantry are skilled
Note that depending on terrain, such advantages may be neutralised.
A successful check will allow a lone fighter to hold footing where he might otherwise be forced back, e.g. when receiving heavy blows from a foe, when receiving a charge, etc.). A successful check negates the effects of battle charge (q.v.)
Battle Charge (Strength based skill): The knack of charging hell for leather into a battle with little regard for ones own safety. Much used by so-called 'barbarian' cultures. The purpose is to break opposing formations and throw their tactics into disarray. In appropriate terrain, BFR based bonuses are added to BR as follows:
(1) 20% of infantry have this skill
(2) 40% of infantry have this skill
If space permits, a warrior can use this skill alone. A successful check allows the fighter to move up to his full running speed to enter combat in a round. If the distance charged is between encounter speed and half running speed, the first attack is made at +2 to hit and damage.
Cavalry combat (Dexterity based skill): The ability to make the most out of fighting on horseback. A successful check gives +1 to hit and damage from horseback, and foes are at -1 to hit and damage. Add BFR bonuses as follows:
(1) 20% of mounted force is skilled
(2) 60% of mounted force is skilled.