To build a champion fighter in DnD 5e, consider the following elements:
- Choose a race with high Strength or Constitution modifiers
- Build a versatile, dual wielding fighter—multiple attack rolls
- Utilize basic fighter abilities like Action Surge and Second Wind
- Lean into special Champion abilities
The champion fighter class is a versatile melee character who relies on athletic prowess and landing critical hits. A few key features this class gains are multiple fighting styles, enhanced chances for critical rolls at 19 and 18, and enhanced athletic ability. Therefore, to get the most out of this character, I would suggest a dual wielding warrior built to land critical hits. The champion could be a gladiator or celebrity hero, a confident warrior who holds clout.
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Choose a race with high Strength or Constitution modifiers
Strength and Constitution will be my main ability score focus, followed by Dexterity. These three scores cover the majority of combat—melee damage, ranged damage, HP and many kinds of saving throws. Therefore, races with a Strength or Strength/Constitution combination are my best bet.
Half orcs, goliaths and bugbears make solid choices, each with a +2 Strength modifier and a helpful secondary bonus. Plus, they all bring a fun monster factor to the party and offer unique racial abilities.
Half orcs gain +2 Strength and +1 Constitution to their ability scores and may be the best race for this build. Relentless Endurance allows half orcs to remain on their feet when reduced to 0 HP, granting them 1 HP instead. This is good for one use per long rest. On the offense side, Savage Attacks grants me extra damage when I land a critical hit equal to one additional damage die.
Goliaths also gain +2 Strength and +1 Constitution. These 8-foot relatives of giants offer sheer power, athletic prowess and hard endurance. Stone’s Endurance allows them to negate damage once a day equal to 1d12 + Constitution modifier. Mountain Born grants me resistance to cold damage and allows me to acclimate up to 20,000 feet.
Bugbears gain a +2 Strength and +1 Dexterity layout—making this hairy hulk naturally more maneuverable. Abilities like Sneaky and Surprise Attack grant me proficiency in Stealth and an extra 2d6 to ambush attacks. Long-Limbed gives me an extra 5 feet of reach in melee combat, which could come in handy while swinging two swords around.
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Build a versatile, dual wielding fighter—multiple attack rolls
Starting at level 1, I’ll build this character to wear heavy armor, wielding 2 longswords and a crossbow. I’ll choose proficiencies in Athletics and Acrobatics to lean into my athletic build. This guy isn’t going to score high in the Wisdom and Intelligent departments, so he might as well have sweet moves. Therefore, I’ll lean into my higher Strength and Dexterity scores and increase those skills further.
My Fighting Style will be Two-Weapon Fighting, giving me the ability to add my Strength modifier to the second strike’s damage roll. The idea is to roll more attacks and give myself more opportunities to land critical rolls. Plus, wielding two longswords is a bold combat tactic, playing into the characteristics of a Champion.
I like the idea of an ex-gladiator, an actual champion. This character could fit well in a kingdom who holds arena monster battles. Maybe his backstory includes winning his freedom. On the other hand, he could be a Rockstar celebrity who fights for money.
Utilize basic fighter abilities like Action Surge and Second Wind
Basic fighter class abilities like Action Surge and Second Wind allow me to push my limits and keep fighting. Once a day, Action Surge gives me an extra action during a difficult combat encounter. I can use this to action to attack or maneuver myself as needed. Second Wind offers a healing ability equal to 1d10 plus my fighter level. Again, this ability is once per long or short rest.
As I level my fighter further, I’ll gain an Extra Attack and Indominable, which gives me a once-a-day reroll for saving throws. It’s possible that I could attempt a final push in a boss fight at level 5, attacking up to 4 times with my Action Surge and Extra Attack combined. Plus, I’ll need to remember the Duel Wielding feat when I reach level 5.
Lean into special Champion abilities
Champions are built to be well-rounded fighters with Improved Critical, Remarkable Athlete, Extra Fighting Style, Superior Critical and Survivor.
Improved Critical grants me a critical hit on a roll of 19-20. Now, my chances of rolling a critical hit have theoretically doubled from 5% to 10%. This key ability of the Champion is why I decided to go with a Two-Handed Fighting Style.
Remarkable Athlete comes into play at level 7, improving my Dexterity, Constitution and Strength checks. I can add half my proficiency (round up) to any skill check or saving throw that uses these scores if I don’t already have proficiency. Plus, I’ll be able to increase my long jump by a number of feet equal to my Strength modifier—an extra 3 or 4 feet.
Extra Fighting Style is exactly how it sounds and is learned at level 10. Now, I’ll be able to add Archery or Defense fighting styles to my original choice. Defense Fighting Style will add an extra +1 to my AC—which is always handy for a melee fighter. Archery will improve my accuracy with my crossbow, improving my ranged capabilities.
At level 15, Superior Critical advances my critical hit odds to 18-20. Now, I have a 15% chance of scoring a critical hit per attack.
Finally, Survivor is my ultimate ability, adding 5 + Constitution modifier HP at the begging of every turn. This ability kicks in once I lose at least half of my HP. This makes me super resilient, though it won’t bring me back from 0 HP.
To Sum it Up
Champions are fantastic for first-time players, with less bonus dice to keep up with and features that trigger automatically. This character concept blends the idea of a gladiator or arena fighter with a monster-slaying knight. Altogether, the athletic abilities act as defensive tactics to keep my fighter swinging for critical hits.
The half-orc is probably the best race for the Champion’s combat strategy. However, the class is adaptable to any bulky, athletic character who just wants to slay with his or her friends.
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