Did I need another Fighter? Probably not. Did I write one anyway? Yes.
There's a trend, I think, of minimal classes. Minimal wizards, even. Or maybe there isn't, I don't know, I can't find the blogpost if there is one.
This is only tangentially related to that, at best.
It's more closely related to this, perhaps. An attempt to distill down the essence of 'Fighter'. Less fiddly than a FIGHTMASTER, less flashy than a wave-dancing samurai duelist, less setting-bound than a Gutter Knight.
Every template of Fighter you have gives you +1 to-hit and +1 HP. If you're playing in a system with proficiency, you have it in all forms of weapon, armor, and shield that your character could theoretically have seen before.
Skills: Wrestling, Small-Unit Tactics, and one of 1. Warfare 2. Crime 3. Wilderness 4. Oceangoing
Your skills are intentionally fairly broad. Fighters are skilled folk.
Starting Equipment: A melee weapon of your choice, a ranged weapon of your choice and ammunition for it if applicable, good travelling clothes and a big backpack, a two-man tent, a lantern and oil, armor of some sort, and a shield if you want one.
A Parry, Expertise, Versatility
B Steel Gaze
Each round, you can negate up to [templates] points of damage in total that would be dealt to you or adjacent allies by melee attacks that you are aware of.
Whenever you hit someone with an attack, you can attempt a combat maneuver against them for free as long as you can narrate how that'd work. Perhaps pinning their arm to a door with your crossbow bolt allows you to grapple or disarm them from a distance, or your sword blow combines with a quick stomp on their instep to trip them up.
Weapons you wield, even improvised ones, deal 1d8 base damage if they would normally deal less. If you have a STR penalty, it no longer applies to your attack, damage, or grappling rolls.
B: Steel Gaze
You can project an aura of intimidating calm at will. While active, nameless mooks and dumb animals will avoid fucking with you if at all possible, and anyone who cares to look will become instantly convinced of your ability as a warrior.
A nameless mook is anyone of about 2 HD or less that the DM hasn't bothered to give a name to yet. A dumb animal is any living, non-supernatural thing that can't talk or eat you whole and isn't under immediate supervision.
You can make one extra attack each round for free. Alternately, in place of all of your normal attacks for a round you can make one attack against each opponent that you could reasonably target with one.
Your attacks that hit nameless mooks automatically incapacitate or kill them (your choice), with no need to roll damage.
But Vayra, You Hate Generic Classes
I do, I do. But this isn't just a generic class, it's a class chassis. A classis, you could call it.
Here are some archetypes you could glue on top if it:
1. Magical Girl
Starting Equipment and also Benefit: Your starting weapons and armor are made of light, magic, love, or hope, do not require ammunition, disappear if removed from your person, and can be summoned back into existence by undergoing a magical girl transformation sequence which takes about one full round.
Drawback: You aren't proficient with weapons or armor aside from your magical girl equipment. In order to use your expertise, you have to shout the name of whatever special move you're doing. Your magical girl transformation sequence can't be performed while intoxicated, scared, depressed, or otherwise suffering an emotional crisis.
Starting Equipment: Your chain armor, shield, elaborately filigreed rapier, and the heads of the 20 arrows for your longbow are made of mithril, weigh nothing, and can wound ghosts and angels.
Benefit: You can see as well in starlight, torchlight, or twilight as a normal man can see on a sunny day, and will effectively never age. Those affected by your steel gaze know you as not only a warrior, but a noble one.
Drawback: Dirt and grime deal actual, physical damage to you. When wronged, you must roll a save or swear an oath of vengeance. You cannot break such oaths if you have the opportunity to make good on them.
3. Wave-Dancing Samurai Katana Duelist
Starting Equipment: Your katana has been folded over 1,000 times and can cut through lesser blades. You also have a chain gusoku, a longbow, and 20 arrows. You don't get a shield, and aren't proficient with them.
Benefit: You can walk on water. This is exactly as badass as it sounds and NPCs will react appropriately.
Drawback: Wave-Dancing Samurai Katana Dueling is a dying art. You'll never meet another of your kind, and nobody else can ever play another one in the same setting.
Starting Equipment: Your shield carries the crest of your noble house, which was once esteemed but has declined in standing due to the mistakes of your father. You also have a longsword, a lance, plate armor, and a well-trained warhorse. You don't get a ranged weapon, and aren't proficient with any.
Benefit: Your name carries respect, and you have a squire, who is useless in combat but generally adept at handling non-Knightly business in your stead. When you issue a challenge, anyone with honor is compelled to accept it or lose standing in the eyes of the gods, the nobility, and upright citizens.
Drawback: You straight up cannot bring yourself to do un-Knightly things. Your squire has to do them for you. If a pretty lady asks you to do something, you have to do it unless you can explain why a different pretty lady is preventing you from doing so.
5. Ghost Inquisitor
Starting Equipment: A sword in a jeweled scabbard. A bunch of medicine in your big backpack. A bunch of paper covered in warding sigils. You don't get a ranged weapon, armor, or a shield, but you're still proficient in them if you find some.
Benefit: You can identify undead at a glance, and see lies. Your warding sigils prevent undead from passing them until destroyed.
Drawback: You aren't allowed to harm undead unless you see them initiate conflict. Breaking this rule makes your warding sigils and ability to see lies stop working and may see you hunted by other ghost inquisitors.
6. Lance Rogue
Starting Equipment: A lance, leather armor, a ludicrously ineffective hand crossbow and 20 tiny bolts. You don't get a shield or proficiency with one.
Benefit: When you hit a surprised foe with your lance, your damage is multiplied by 2 + (3.5 - (3.4 / (1 + (([templates] + 1)/3.5)^1.1))). Do not round.
Drawback: Excess lance damage is dealt to everyone surrounding your target, including you. Also, you have to track fractional hit points.
7. Warrior Baron
Starting Equipment: A sword, a shield, a bow and 20 arrows, chain armor.
Benefit: You can hire fighters, archers, barbarians, and other martial types for a regular wage rather than a share of treasure. If you ever come into the possession (not necessarily the ownership) of a significant quantity of land, peasants and artisans will start to show up to work it for you under the assumption that you'll protect them.
Drawback: Softer (read: more successful and powerful) nobles will never recognize your claims. Your successes will be met with increasing unease on their behalf, and eventually they will raise armies to put yours down.
8. Tunnel Fighter, also known as Dwarf
Starting Equipment: A shortspear, 6 more lanterns, plate that only covers your head, arms, and shoulders (as leather unless you're in a tunnel or significantly shorter than your opponent, then as plate). No shield, no ranged weapon, no proficiency with either.
Benefit: When you're in a tunnel, you're no easier to hit than you would be on an infinite featureless plain and you never get stuck. When your opponent is in a tunnel, you have advantage on attacks against them.
9. Horizon Walker
Starting Equipment: A sabre, a revolver and 12 cartridges, a big hat, leather armor, magic manacles, a badge, and a book of court summonses. No shield, but you're proficient if you find one.
Benefit: You are empowered to make arrests of demons, devils, genies, angels, modrons, and other planar entities. Arrestees are legally forbidden (but not physically prevented) from taking direct action against you and must show up for their planar court dates. If you call for backup, two junior horizon walkers will show up nearby to assist you within 1d6 minutes and remain at your side until you are reasonably safe.
Drawback: Spurious arrests will get you in trouble with interdimensional affairs, headquarters will refuse to send you backup for 1d6 weeks per junior agent that dies helping you, and nobody likes cops.
Starting Equipment: Two unique and impractical (for anyone else) weapons. Armor made from something weird (as chain). You can have a shield of the same material, if you desire. Two drinks nobody here has heard of, one delicious to any taste and one intoxicating to any constitution.
Benefits and also Drawbacks: Click the link up there. Roll five advantages and five drawbacks, and choose four of each from the ones rolled.
Starting Equipment: An elegant weapon, for a more civilized age. No armor, no ranged weapon, no shield. You retain your proficiency, but disdain their use.
Benefit: You can exert non-impacting force on things within a stone's throw (push, lift, pull, throw, etc) as if you were standing next to them, can parry ranged attacks and spells, and can jump about thirty feet.
Drawback: Whenever you do something completely immoral (harm an innocent, attempt to reverse death, demand payment for services rendered) you gain a dark side point and look a little bit more like a corpse. If your dark side points ever exceed your templates, you gain the ability to shoot lightning out of your hands and become a recurring NPC villain.
Starting Equipment: A shortsword, a mediumsword, a longsword, and a greatsword. You can have chain armor if you want, but you don't get a ranged weapon or a shield and aren't proficient with either.
Benefit: You can swallow anything that's vaguely swordlike, including knives and bladed spears, keep up to templates times 2 of them in your gullet at a time, spit them about as far as you could throw a javelin as a ranged attack, and—upon reaching your fourth template—fuse swallowed swords together over the course of a long rest.
Drawback: You can't eat normal food, you have to eat swords. 1/3 slot of sword sustains you for a day.
Starting Equipment: Two revolvers and 36 cartridges, a big knife, a big hat, a big poncho or big coat (your choice, as leather), no shield and you're not proficient with them or any kind of actual armor.
Benefit: You can choose to already have your gun drawn, cocked, and aimed pretty much whenever you want. If you enter combat and aren't surprised, your enemies are.
Drawback: When something startles you, you automatically quick-draw on it and must save (once per gun, if you have and can wield more than one) in order to not pull the trigger.
Starting Equipment: A nice suit (+1 reaction, not armor), a nice hat, a nice cane. None of that other garbage, but you're still proficient if it matters.
Benefit: Your versatility applies to your unarmed attacks. Those affected by your steel gaze will assume you have powerful and important connections that are personally relevant to them, which will get you into any fancy dinner party or club and might have other uses besides.
Drawback: You are functionally incapable of disguising your membership in high society, and must save to avoid responding to perceived insults (real or imagined) with threats or a challenge.
15. Ghoul, or Cannibal
Starting Equipment: A nice suit (+1 reaction, not armor), a big knife, sharp teeth. None of that other garbage, but you're still proficient if it matters.
Benefit: Whenever you eat something that could talk, you may choose to gain a relevant special ability or +2 stat bonus (the DM will tell you which), which replaces any previous benefit from this ability. You can eat carrion safely, no matter how long it's been dead.
Drawback: You can't eat normal food, you have to eat things that can talk.
16. Artist, Martial
Starting Equipment: Bandage-like wrappings, a robe. None of that other garbage, and you're not proficient with armor, shields, or any weapon that isn't suitably exotic. Tying a tassel onto one or chaining two together will usually count, in a pinch.
Benefit: Your versatility applies to your unarmed attacks, and you can make one even with your hands full or from about as far as you could throw a rock. You enter a state of suspended animation while meditating. You can run on walls or spikes or water as long as you end your turn on solid ground.
Drawback: In order to use your expertise, you have to shout the name of whatever special move you're doing. Also the proficiencies, I guess.
Starting Equipment: A really big axe or really big sword (your choice). No armor, but plenty of woad and you're still proficient with it if you put some on. No ranged weapon or shield and you're not proficient with either, but you can throw stuff just fine.
Benefit: You gain bonus hit points equal to templates times the number of categories of armor you aren't wearing, i.e. 1 if you're wearing chain, 2 if you're wearing leather, and 3 if you're not wearing any armor at all (clothing is optional). These hit points are lost first and automatically refill whenever you enter combat.
Drawback: You must save in order to retreat from a fight, once started. You can try again every round.
Starting Equipment: An old sword, an old rifle and 10 cartridges, an old shield, an old set of chain armor, and an old banner.
Benefit: You get +templates to-hit as long as you're at least two of: At full HP, in formation, or following a plan that has not yet gone awry. You get to save twice against fear, and if you pass either of them everyone in your company gets to save twice as well.
Drawback: For every template, one of your old wounds starts acting up or one of your old fears resurfaces. Figure out what that does with your DM.
19. Hell Veteran
Starting Equipment: A black iron sword, a carbine and 10 silver bullets, a shield emblazoned with scripture, and a set of fireproof leather armor including high rubber-and-iron-soled boots.
Benefit: You can taste curses and supernatural evil, judge your approximate distance below ground level, and subsist without water as long as you have food.
Drawback: A blackbird follows you everywhere. If you kill one, two more return to replace it at midnight. This stacks infinitely.
20. Teuchter, also known as Highlander, which I've decided is a type of Bard
Starting Equipment: A kilt, a two-handed sword, a goosed blunderbuss, and a musical instrument of your choice. No armor or shield, but you're still proficient in their use.
Benefit: Foes must save in order to target anyone but you with their attacks while you roar or sing, and those with equal or fewer HD than you must check morale. The latter effect only works once per opponent.
Drawback: Everyone will assume you're some sort of barbarian, explain things to you condescendingly, and put very little effort into understanding your accent.