Updated: Nov 15, 2021
AD&D 2e’s fighting styles are a way to add some depth and detail to warrior classes. They’re a bit like the feats that later editions of D&D use – they add customisation and cool powers to your fighter. Fighting styles were introduced in the Complete Fighters Handbook and developed further in Player’s Option: Combat and Tactics, where DMs were encouraged to come up with their own. So we took that to heart. As in, we came up with about seventy of them... and I’m going to share them with you now.
What are Fighting Styles?
If you aren’t familiar with fighting styles, the idea is that you spend a weapon proficiency slot to specialise in one, receiving a small benefit in return – things like reduced penalties for fighting with two weapons, an AC bonus when fighting with a single weapons, reduced speed factor when using a two-handed weapon etc.
Restrictions… or Not
You can add restrictions if you like – rule that a character can only start with one fighting style specialisation, that non-warriors can only specialise in a limited number (one for wizards, two for priests, three for rogues or the like) – give bonus style specialisations to certain classes, or just open them up to all characters equally. Whatever suits your campaign.
Bonus Slots for High Intelligence
If you want to give warriors an added boost, use the rule from the Complete Fighter’s Handbook that allows warriors to spend their bonus non-weapon proficiency slots from high Intelligence on weapon proficiencies. That way, smart warriors can specialise in more fighting styles.
In the attached pdf, the various fighting styles are grouped thematically. This doesn’t have any mechanical impact – it’s just a way of grouping similar styles for ease of reference. You could, of course, give this some mechanical weight by ruling that non-warriors can only choose style specialisations from one group (or two or three, as desired). But otherwise they’re just to help organise the various styles.
Each individual bullet point represents a single fighting style costing a single weapon proficiency slot.
You’ll also probably recognise some of these as things that used to be non-weapon proficiencies like Blind Fighting, Dirty Tricks, Feign Weakness etc. These have been changed into fighting styles because, well, we prefer it that way.
Example Fighting Styles
Here are a couple of examples so you can see what the styles look like:
Arena Combat Fighting Style
This style is used in personal combat, incorporating various trick, feints, and deceptions to gain an advantage.
Dirty Tricks: A successful Wisdom check grants you a +1 on either initiative, to hit, or damage rolls, or imposes a –1 penalty on an enemy’s rolls. You can use this ability once per opponent of Average or lower Intelligence.
Feign Weakness: A successful Charisma check feigns a weakness. If an enemy acts on this apparent weakness, your next attack against them receives a +3 to hit and damage. You can use this ability once per opponent.
Tactics: Spend a round studying up to four opponents to gain a +1 on initiative or attack rolls against them for the duration of combat. You can spend a second slot to specialise in opponents of a particular race, increasing the bonus to +2 (or +1 on both rolls).
Weakness Identification: A successful Wisdom check reveals an enemy’s weakness. A called shot against them will then inflict double damage. You can use this ability once per opponent.
Two Weapon Fighting Style
This style applies when fighting with two weapons – one in each hand.
Deft Parry: Gain a +2 bonus to your Parry total when parrying with two weapons.
Improved Balance: Your off-hand weapon does not need to be smaller than your main weapon when fighting with two weapons.
Improved Coordination: Reduce the penalties for fighting with two weapons from –2 to hit with your main hand and –4 to hit with the off-hand to no penalty to hit with your main hand and –2 to hit with your off-hand.
Wall of Blades: Gain a +1 AC bonus when wielding two weapons.
There’s not much more to say beyond that. Check out the attached excerpt from our Dark Sun Campaign Guide to see all the various fighting styles we’ve come up with for our Dark Sun game. Try them out in play and let us know what you think.
In a few weeks’ time, we’ll share some more ways to use fighting styles to add extra flavour to your game by using them alongside cultural weapon groups. More on that later…