Fighters are well-known as the class that trains until their heart bursts. They’re the masters of physical combat by default, but for some… that’s not enough. The Player’s Handbook introduced a few archetypes, one of them being the Champion. Champions hone their bodies and their weapons until there’s no flaws or weaknesses left. They’re the picture of perfection, someone to make statues of. Legendary warriors of epic and folktale alike… But does that make them remarkable when crawling through dungeons? Let’s find out, in our Champion Fighter 5E Guide.
Are You Not Entertained? Champion Fighter 5E
While the Champion might be honing their body into perfection, it’s actually just the basic fighter archetype. It has a little bit of damage, a little bit of defense, and even a bit of utility. It also happens to be one of the most option-oriented Fighters, able to get two Fighting Style options. However, the damage of the archetype is centered around rolling very well, and the utility is somewhat mediocre. You can be literally any Fighter role with this archetype, at least!
To start, you get one of the major themes of your class. It’s a pretty great theme, at least!
Beginning when you choose this archetype at 3rd level, your weapon attacks score a critical hit on a roll of 19 or 20.
Critical hits are pretty awesome, right? Well, now you double your chance to get one. That’s amazing!
A Longsword will add a d8 to the critical hit, while a Greatsword will add 2d6. Your Strength isn’t doubled, nor is any flat modifier. If you want to maximize your criticals, you’ll want to get enchantments like Flame Tongue on your weapon, which adds more dice to it.
When you make a Champion, your weapon should be a critical part of the build. A Ranged character should be trying to use heavy crossbows or longbows, while a melee character should try to get either d8 one-handed weapons, or the Heavy two-handers. In either case, small characters just don’t have the ability to really keep up with the damage of Medium character’s crits.
However, a small character with Two-Weapon Fighting style can get enough attacks out to really mess up an enemy. Don’t underestimate the power of a good ankle-biting!
After four levels of dropping critical hit after critical hit, you get a tiny bit of utility and mobility.
Starting at 7th level, you can add half your proficiency bonus (rounded up) to any Strength, Dexterity, or Constitution check you make that doesn’t already use your proficiency bonus.
In addition, when you make a running long jump, the distance you can cover increases by a number of feet equal to your Strength modifier.
The Fighter has extremely limited skill proficiencies, and actually can’t get Sleight of Hand or Stealth without outside sources. This allows the Fighter to get at least some extra bonus to those good but hard-to-grab skills… though a +3 at level 17 isn’t exactly impressive.
More interesting is the Constitution portion. Constitution doesn’t have any natural skill check, so it’s impossible to become proficient in it. The Remarkable Athlete, however, can get up to a +3 on Constitution checks. That can be useful for things like holding your breath, showing off in a drinking contest, standing guard for an extra hour, etc.
You also get half your proficiency to Initiative checks, which is quite strong! That’s up to +3 to go first, something that the Fighter loves to do. Pretty great!
Now, thankfully, you don’t just get a +3 to a few ability boosts. You also get to jump… up to 5 feet farther without magical items! And with magical items, maximum 10 feet. That’s… pathetic.
Realistically, this is for the boost to Constitution checks and Initiative checks and little more. Not bad at all, but not exactly perfect. You’ll get value out of it for sure!
Additional Fighting Style
You actually get to make another choice within this archetype. How versatile! Too bad the choice is only okay.
At 10th level, you can choose a second option from the Fighting Style class feature.
This looks fantastic, right? Well… unfortunately, there aren’t too many generally good Fighting styles.
Without Unearthed Arcana features, there are currently 6 options to choose from… And 5 of them are build-based. Archery is ranged, Dueling is one-handed, Great Weapon Fighting is two-handed, Protection is Shield, Two-Weapon Fighting is obvious. The only generally good option is Defense, giving you a +1 to AC while you’re “wearing armor” which you should be doing, no matter how much Dexterity you have.
This isn’t necessarily open-and-shut, though. This archetype lets you become a Switch Hitter. Maybe Great Weapon Fighting and Archery will allow you to either wade into melee or shoot a flying creature. Or you could go Dueling and Protection to become a damage-dealing Defender. Dueling and Great Weapon Fighting is okay for Versatile weapons.
However, if you’re able to fly, and you’re comfortable with the weapon you invested in, this ability could just say “gain +1 to AC.” That’s not bad at all! But it’s not exactly impressive.
This does get significantly better with the introduction of UA content, at least.
Then, 5 levels later, you’ve actually just increased your critical hit rate! By… another 5%.
Starting at 15th level, your weapon attacks score a critical hit on a roll of 18-20.
If you’re not given the artifact that does something cool on crits by now, you have the right to complain.
You now have a 15% chance to critically hit any attack you make. Considering you’re gonna make between 4 to 5 attacks a turn in two levels, you have a ridiculous chance to crit someone. If you have a concerning amount of enchantments on your sword that add damage dice, your enemies will be in trouble.
Of course, this puts you in a slightly awkward spot. Critical Hits only add weapon dice by default, so if your GM isn’t giving many magic items, you can’t afford the enchantment, or you need multiple weapons… You’ve got an issue. Your damage is so reliant on getting those enchantments to roll a magic-user-sized handful of dice on a critical hit.
However, if your GM is kind with the magic items and you’re lucky enough to find any number of artifact weapons, you’re in the clear. Most very rare weapons are going to have extra damage dice, and thus plenty of extra dice to crit with!
Try not to play this archetype in low-magic campaigns. You won’t be awful by any stretch of the imagination, but the more dice you can throw at your enemies, the better!
You’re level 18 now, and you’ve lasted about 18 levels with only one defensive ability and the core Fighter stuff. The core Fighter stuff is pretty great, but now you’ve got something to allow you to relax.
At 18th level, you attain the pinnacle of resilience in battle. At the start of each of your turns, you regain hit points equal to 5 + your Constitution modifier if you have no more than half of your hit points left. You don’t gain this benefit if you have 0 hit points.
At level 18, you’re gonna get hit. A lot. Attack rolls are so statistically likely to land against basic AC that you’re going to take damage. At times, this damage might be enough to smash you below half-health. And since you’re going to be taking consistent damage, then you can stay below half-health for a while.
This regenerative ability is actually quite stellar for you. You get a lot out of 20 Constitution as a melee Fighter, and you have the ability score boosts to get there. That means, if you’re below half, you regen 10 health per round. That’s basically a Cure Wounds every single turn! Without a single spell slot spent.
Of course, this won’t save you if you’re getting absolutely destroyed by magic or really heavy hits. You’ll still want a healer to pick you off the ground, but now 1 HP is basically 10 for you. That’s stellar.
This has a lot of potential, and means you start almost any fight at half-health, minimum. The only problem is how hard this steps on Second Wind’s toes, but you can always use that in emergencies to ensure you don’t fall unconscious.
Best Race for Champion Fighters
Like most Fighters, Champions can make good use out of Strength or Dexterity, depending on your weapon. They also love Constitution (though you need it more for melee builds than ranged!). The big difference between Champions and most archetypes is their love for Heavy Weapons. With so much reliance on damage dice early on, it’s important that you get the most out of your hits. Two-Weapon Fighting isn’t awful, but in the late game, you don’t really want to use two light weapons. Medium characters are slightly more efficient.
Orc of Exandria
Dropped in the Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount, the Orc of Exandria are as strong as their Volo’s counterpart, but without the problematic loss of Intelligence. That’s right, they get a +2 to Strength and +1 to Constitution, perfect for a melee build! These no-longer-evil creatures are able to see in the dark, move towards an enemy as a Bonus Action (great for closing gaps) and gain 2 additional proficiencies. That means you can get a wide range of skills for your Fighter, which has next to none to begin with. Powerful Build is fun flavor and allows you to be a pack mule for the party, which isn’t bad. Certainly not as bad as the condition you’ll leave your enemies with critical greataxing!
Perhaps instead of a normal Orc, you take the path more traveled. The Half-Orc is designed in the same vein as the Volo’s race Orcs, but with some essential upsides. First, they get the same stat bonuses as Orcs of Exandria. Second, they gain Relentless Endurance. That allows you to ignore a K.O. and instead stay up with 1 health. That synergizes flawlessly with Survivor! You heal a lot of health with that. Finally, since you have such a high critical hit rate, Savage Attacks allows you to roll another damage dice on top of your critical hit rate. 3x the damage dice! That’s really good for Greataxe or Halberd builds. Unfortunately, unlike the Orcs of Exandria, half-orcs gain fewer proficiencies and don’t get the gap-closing Bonus Action. Still, it feels like Half-Orcs were made with Champion in mind.
To represent the little folk, we’ll choose the Goblin. It’s not too hard to see why! +2 Dexterity, +1 Constitution is just asking to be a ranged build. Darkvision and Nimble Escape helps you become a Stealth build quite easily, maybe to help sneak around with the Rogue. Fury of the Small is an excellent boost to damage for groups that like Short Rests.
But… You don’t like Heavy Weapons, with your short little arms. How are you gonna keep up?
At level 4, you pick up Crossbow Expert, allowing you to ignore the Loading Quality of crossbows and giving you dual-wielding potential. While you won’t be hitting as hard as with a Heavy crossbow, that extra attack gives you another chance to crit. As long as you can find suitable enchantments for your little crossbow, you’ll keep up in damage and be safely out of harm’s reach. Perfect for the little Goblin you are! Or, you can do Rapier and Crossbow to do a really neat melee build.
Or… you know, just two light weapons, and hope for good enchantments. That’d work too.
A Consideration: Human
If you like Crossbow Expert and want to pair it with slightly less utility, Humans are a great choice. Their level 1 feat can be Crossbow Expert, and then they can do Crossbow Expert without using an Ability Score improvement.
Fury of the Small and Darkvision might be worth the hit to Dexterity, though. Archery Style makes you super accurate!
Conclusion – Our Take on the Champion
The Champion is the most basic Fighter archetype, and it’s a great one! Versatile, adept, and simple, it can handle any role and look good while doing it. If you’re not wanting a super focused path, and just want a little of everything, the Champion’s got you covered!