What are the most effective methods, mechanically, to quickly give a fighter useful magical knowledge and options (in and out of combat) without significantly sacrificing effectiveness as a fighter? Items are out, as they're not strictly part of a character build.

Some ideas:

  • Take a level in a martial casting class (ie. Duskblade)
  • Minor retraining for more appropriate feats (ie. Book of Iron Might, Spelltouched feats)
  • Rebuild at level-up (ie. Fighter6/Cleric5)


In my group's current game, I play a half-orc Fighter10. Character-wise, he's a professional expeditionary guard for academic expeditions who's already died once (plot point, potential excuse for magic). The setting is a modified Eberron.

We're about to level up, and I've been thinking about branching the character out. There's a lack of utility characters in the party. Given my character's history, I'd like to increase his knowledge skills, as well as utility magic.

Note that I'm not asking for help building or playing a fighter. I'm asking for specific suggestions to give a fighter knowledge and magical options without completely rebuilding. (Single-level dips are fine.) Think mechanical reflection of character traits, not strictly optimization.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Not a full answer, but given that you're playing in Eberron, maybe consider Dragonmark feats as a way of gaining basic magic abilities? (You'd need to be of an appropriate race, though - Warforged need not apply.) \$\endgroup\$
    – GMJoe
    Mar 20, 2013 at 7:28

4 Answers 4


If you want to give your fighter more access to magic without rebuilding you're going to be limited to skills, feats, and magical items. None of these will give your fighter heavy magical abilities, instead letting you play the character as someone who has learned basic magic.

The skills that increase magical knowledge are:

Knowledge (Arcana) - represents general knowledge your fighter has acquired about magic; what an arcane symbol means, how the local mage guild heirarchy is organized. Stuff he would learn in school or from talking to spellcasters.

Spellcraft - much more specialized knowledge about specific magical effets. While Knowledge (Arcana) is theoretical studies, this is applied studies. Being able to recognize magical effects, figure out what spells are being cast. Knowledge gained by seeing magic in action, how it's been used.

Use Magic Device - knowing how to use the magical items that are common to spellcasters; staff, wands, scrolls, etc. The Evil Necromancer has defeated the parties fighter and is now monologuing to the rest of the party about their imminent defeat. The tired fighter rolls over, grabs the wand of fireballs from the necromancers belt and make a brilliant quip as fire blossoms around them.

There aren't a lot of feats that contribute to magical abilities. The first one I recommend is Able Learner from Races of Destiny. This feat treats all skills as being in-class skills. This will allow you to level up the above skills quicker.

The other feat that is useful is Magical Training, from the Players Guide to Faerun. It allows your character to cast three 0-level arcane spells per day as either a wizard or sorcerer.

Have your character carry around magical items that are commonly associated with spellcasters. Staves, scrolls, wands. Combined with Use Magic Device this allows the fighter to have access to magical abilities.

A staff is an excellent choice of a magical item for this type of fighter. They can use it as their melee weapon, and use the magical abilities within it. A great surprise tactic when fighting: thrust, thrust, parry, Cone of Cold.

  • \$\begingroup\$ +1 for "thrust, thrust, parry, Cone of Cold." That's a great mental image. ^^ Regarding feats, are you thinking of Jack of All Trades from Complete Adventurer? \$\endgroup\$
    – cha0sys
    Aug 25, 2011 at 14:58
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I was thinking of the Able Learner feat from Races of Destiny, which makes all skills into in-class skills. It would allow you to get higher ranks in the recommended skills since fighters don't have very many skill points to begin with. \$\endgroup\$
    – briddums
    Aug 25, 2011 at 19:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ That would work too. Good call. \$\endgroup\$
    – cha0sys
    Aug 25, 2011 at 22:51

Use Magic Device is an extremely powerful skill, especially in Eberron. It also makes sense for any Eberron adventurer to have it, as the setting describes even farmers using magical items to improve crop yield.

This probably won't improve your character much in battle (you'll still be more useful swinging your chosen instrument of pain), but it will give you some nice utility options such as using scrolls and wands outside of battle.

While you said items weren't to be considered, simply picking up alchemical items opens up some good options, and ranged feats greatly improve their effectiveness (Far Shot, Point Blank Shot, etc).

  • \$\begingroup\$ It's a common mistake, but it is not possible to use magic device on a scroll. There are strict rules for using scrolls. A character who has no arcane level can't use one. This is the reason why scrolls are cheaper than wands. \$\endgroup\$
    – Epeedefeu
    Oct 28, 2014 at 9:22

If your fighter wants to learn more about magic, take a Knowledge: Magic skill. If you want to cast magic, take a few levels in a caster level or do both. Anytime any character plays in magic, they loose some of their ability in their primary class (a few less HP, a bit less to hit bonus). The magic balances the sacrifice.

On the other side if all you are looking for is some little magic trick maybe you and the DM can come up with a feat that would give you that one "hidden" skill.

At least that is how I would approach it.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ There are also a collection of feats in 'Complete Arcane' to give a character spell-like abilities X times / day. Feats like Soul of the North to grant spells like chill touch, ray of frost, and resistance \$\endgroup\$
    – NT3RP
    Aug 24, 2011 at 20:53

Fighters tend to be more powerful if you figure out the character's core competency and stick to that. If you want a melee fighter, concentrate on skills and feats that will develop that trait. Don't worry so much about Ranged or mounted combat. Second, once you have decided your core competency, use your abilities to dictate terms as much as possible to fight in your strong area. Try to be the ambusher rather than the ambush victim.

If you are happy just doing damage, concentrate on that (cleave, etc.). But from your concept, I would personally outfit him as a defender of the soft and squishy spellcasters. As for feats, I'm not extremely familiar with 3.5, but I would certainly have Toughness, Defensive fighting, etc.

If you want to be a generalist, I'd consider taking a few levels of Rogue or Cleric. Rogues have lots of Class Skills (especially skills like move silently and hide in, and clerics aren't very limited in combat in terms of armor, so you could still stand between the bad guys and allies that aren't able to soak up as much damage.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I'm not asking for help on building or playing a fighter. I'm looking for specific things outlined in the question. \$\endgroup\$
    – cha0sys
    Aug 24, 2011 at 14:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ That said, the feat rogue variant would be a decent dip, for Use Magic Device at least. Cleric is always a good choice, of course... \$\endgroup\$
    – cha0sys
    Aug 24, 2011 at 20:09

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