Sunday, October 2, 2011

More Level Titles: Fighters

For the purposes of creating level titles that reflect rank, I must admit that those for fighters are probably the most difficult. This is due to the fact that of all the core classes, the fighter is the most generic. It is designed to encompass everything from a barbarian to a knight and a rapier wielding fop to a gladiator armed with spiked gauntlets. As such, there will necessarily be less specific rights and privileges as compared to my previous efforts with clerics and magic users.

  • Veteran — The term veteran reflects the fact that fighters have already been involved in some kind of fighting or military action. They might have been mustered as infantry in the defense of a city, gotten into street fights as a tough or spent time in an arena as a gladiator. The starting equipment of the fighter should reflect this background. The most common weapons are spears, polearms and crossbows. However, they are discouraged from owning the status weapon of their predominant culture — these might include axes/warhammers for dwarves, longbows for elves and swords for most halflings and humans. Openly carrying weapons of any kind is strongly discouraged if allowed at all.
  • Man-at-Arms — A man-at-arms is someone who has chosen to live the life of a fighter. In demonstrating this commitment and the amount of skill (and luck) to become a man-at-arms, they are granted the right to bear all arms except for status weapons. In most places, however, even man-at-arms are discouraged from wearing armor or carrying more than one weapon in public.
  • Warrior — Warriors have earned enough respect that they are allowed to both wear armor and carry more than one weapon in public.
  • Swordsman — The title Swordsman reflects the status weapon of most human cultures. Among other races/cultures this title will reflect the status weapon of that culture. For example, Dwarves of this level might be known as Axeman or Hammers depending upon the tribe. These fighters have earned the privilege of openly bearing this weapon of rank in public.
  • Free Sword — Although most fighters are free agents who often choose to hire their services out to various entities or institutions, this freedom is not guaranteed until one achieves the title Free Sword.
  • Sword Master — These fighters are among the best trained warriors in the land. If they haven't already recovered a status weapon of renown through their adventuring, they are expected to pay the best smiths in the land to forge a status weapon of great quality.
  • Hero — These fighters are of great renown and will be well-known (if not instantly recognized) by the folks in the same local area that the fighter uses as his home base.
  • Champion — At this point, a fighter's fame has spread beyond the local area.
  • Lord — The fighter starts to attract followers from far and wide wishing to serve someone with such a lauded reputation.

Please note: this is intended to be fairly generic with a very loose guild structure (if one is there at all). Should a more robust guild structure be desirable, added privileges and obligations can be added to the above titles (or guild specific titles). It is also conceivable to have several different versions of these titles for the purposes of emulating predominant fighter-based cultures (barbarian vs. civilized, for example).


  1. I agree that level titles are interesting, but don't work well. I think your approach of greater specificity and progression is workable. What I'd prefer is a faction-based system where you advance in one or more groups, with titles. So you can be a 10th level fighter with a lower rank than a 4th level fighter, for example. It feels more real. Anyway, I enjoy your work, thanks for continuing to share.

  2. "The starting equipment of the fighter should reflect this background. The most common weapons are spears, polearms and crossbows. However, they are discouraged from owning the status weapon of their predominant culture"

    I like that. As I've gotten older, I've been disappointed by the fact that the standard weapon for warriors in RPGs isn't the spear, polearm, or lance. It's the long sword, +1 sword, and some unholy love child of Stormbringer and Excalibur.

    As far as level titles for warriors, I love the first one, Veteran, and like what you're trying to achieve after that, but it feels like you're trying to get too much- roman legionnaire, landsknecht, and bushi, all at once. Not that I have a better idea. Bandits, the king's personal guard of barbarian axemen, and the noble knights are all fighters and all vey different in social status and prerogatives.

  3. @fictivefantasies @Russ
    Thanks for the kind words. You both noticed that this attempt, due to my desire to be generic, isn't quite satisfying. This is ultimately why I ended this attempt with the qualifier that more specific titles might be more appropriate depending upon the desire of the player. Thus bandits, barbarians and knights might all have their own "guilds" and "guild titles."