D&D 5e: Dragonborn Fighter Guide
Part-human, part-dragon, 100% boss. Dragonborn are one of the most popular races for D&D, and why wouldn’t they be? Free damage resistance, free breath weapon (you get to breathe fire! Or Lightning. Or Acid. Or Ice. Either way. Epic.), speaking, reading, and writing Draconic (objectively the most boss language). You’re essentially playing a human-sized dragon standing on two feet.
With our hulking size, bulky frame, and talonlike hands, dragonborn make great warriors in hand-to-hand combat. Combine that with their inert +2 STR and we’ve got ourselves a fierce combatant coming right up.
How to Make a Dragonborn Fighter
The optimal dragonborn fighter martial archetypes (subclasses) are Purple Dragon Knight and Eldritch Knight. However, if you’re reading this guide, you’re probably looking for something a bit more simple to play than one of those beasts. Roleplay-wise, Battle Master is a strong choice due to dragonborn personality traits, but Champion is the simpler of the two and offers a greater damage increase.
Fighters need martial abilities over the other abilities. We get a bonus +2 STR from being a dragonborn so that sets us up nicely for dealing some damage at early levels before our fighter advantages start shining. DEX isn’t important as we’ll be clad in heavy armor. CON is our second most important ability as front liners and our score should reflect our ability to survive. DEX, INT, WIS, and CHA are all middling – we’ll need them for some rolls and checks out in the wild, but 10-12 is generally acceptable for all of them. CHA has +1 from our dragonborn silky and suave personality, but that’s negligible.
Fighters can choose a ‘fighting style’ which gives them perks for a specific weapon set and is where this build can get pretty fun. Optimally, you should go duelist and rock a traditional ‘sword and board’ for great attack and defense. But, have a chat with your DM and see how they feel about using your dragon talons and teeth and taking the Unarmed Fighting style – it might be a really fun way to play your dragonborn fighter. You can, of course, take this route anyway. But unless your DM is on board and improves the default unarmed striking due to the whole talon thing, you’ll be thirsty for unarmed feats and not as effective as a sword and board in combat.
How to Play a Dragonborn Fighter
There’s not all that more simple than a STR-based fighter, but you can be darn sure we’ll have one of the most interesting backstories and personality because of the fact we’re DRAGONS!
An extremely important thing about a dragonborn, at early levels at least, is the breath weapon. Don’t be fooled though – breath weapon is an awesome area-of-effect damage output for a class who generally lacks something of that nature. Our draconic heritage decides our breath weapon shape and damage type as well as our damage resistance. This damage scales with our character, starting at 2d6 and rising as we level until it caps out at 5d6 when we hit level 16. It’s great in a pinch, however, we only get one use per short rest so we should save it for when we need it.
We don’t have as much HP as a barbarian might, and our AC is reasonable but not impenetrable, so although we want to be in the action we’re there to deal damage, not to tank five opponents at once.
How to Roleplay as a Dragonborn Fighter
Most dragonborn are of a good alignment. Those who are not can wreak terrible evil on their worlds. Dragonborn tend to extremes depending on the conscious choice they make for good or evil in the cosmic war between Bahamut (good) and Tiamat (evil). Often, this choice and subsequent ‘worship’ will form a major part of the dragonborn’s personality.
Dragonborn are generally wary of outsiders and strive towards the mastery of a particular skill as their lifetime goal – this should also underpin your dragonborn’s personality. A dragonborn devotes themselves to their clan above all else. They will usually trust and rely on other dragonborn clans before seeking help from other races or the Gods.
If you choose a dragonborn clan with a particularly strong bloodline, you’ll have bright and vibrant scales with a range of hues, but most dragonborn have interbred with humans and other races and now only boast dull rusty, scarlet, golden, or coppery scales.
The soldier backstory is the only one that makes sense for a typical fighter, however, you can play around the other backgrounds because you’re half-dragon and deserve something more special than being a mere soldier.