5e: Fighter Archetype—The Legendary Hero

Important Notice!

— The Legendary Hero is now on DMsGuild! —

The Legendary Hero archetype first presented here has been polished up and made available to download from DMsGuild.com as a Pay What You Want product. Please consider downloading it from there and making a small contribution to support the continued development of this blog and other Spilled Ale Studios products!

Purchase it here.

Martial Schools: Legendary Hero Cover © RDD Wilkin / Spilled Ale Studios.

Those of you who read my recent article on lessons video games can teach us know that recently I’ve been playing The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Today I want to talk about a specific character archetype for which Link is a perfect example. Let’s call this archetype the Legendary Hero.

The Legendary Hero is first and foremost a warrior, but they are tied up in a great destiny generally involving saving the world and defeating a deadly evil. Since no mere swordsman can be expected to achieve such lofty goals with the strength of their sword arm alone, a Legendary Hero is set apart from regular warriors by the possession or eventual acquisition of special items and otherwordly powers that give them a fighting chance at overcoming the challenges they are destined to face.

Just a few examples of Legendary Heroes in popular media include Link from the Legend of Zelda series, Luke Skywalker and Rey from the Star Wars franchise, and Buffy, the titular character of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Below I present my first pass at a Legendary Hero archetype for the Fighter Class. But before I move on to the crunch, I want to talk briefly about how a legendary hero fits into a game of D&D.

In the media in which they appear, legendary heroes are either the main drivers of the plot, or the plot’s main focus, and sometimes both. D&D, on the other hand, is an ensemble game. It’s important that all characters get equal focus (or as equal as you can manage), and similar opportunities to shine. That doesn’t mean legendary heroes can’t have a place in a D&D party. There’s a few approaches you could take in your game:

Option one is to not tie the legendary hero’s destiny into the main story, or have them be only partially related. This way, although the legendary hero has an important part to play in the world, they are no more or less destined to face the campaign’s final problems than the rest of the party. As far as the game’s primary plot is concerned, all are equals.

Option two requires buy in from your players. In this option, the other party members have their own destiny, which is to support the legendary hero throughout their quest, even unto the final encounter. You can have the campaign play out completely as normal, including your final boss fight, but perhaps the legendary hero gets to strike a final blow after the party reduce the big bad’s hit points to zero. Supporting the legendary hero does not make the rest of the party any less significant to the story—think of Willow, Xander and Giles from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, or the role plaid by Han, Leia, Chewie and the Droids in Star Wars. Buffy and Luke may have the great destinies, but the stories they appear in are just as much about the people that help them reach their destiny and anchor them. Nevertheless, some players might not like this kind of campaign, while others would enjoy the unique roleplaying challenges it brings.

Option three is to keep the legendary hero’s destiny deliberately vague. There’s a world of difference between being destined to “strike down the great evil” (specific) and being destined to “bring about the great evil’s downfall” (vague). By keeping things nebulous, you can play without worrying too much exactly what the legendary hero has to do, or treat them any differently from the other player characters. If someone else strikes the finishing blow against the great evil, the legendary hero’s destiny is still fulfilled. Perhaps their very presence at the end was the difference that charted fate’s course down the path of victory, rather than defeat.

The Legendary Hero

Legendary Gift

Beginning when you choose this archetype at 3rd level, and once again at 15th level, fate intervenes to grant you unique gifts that will help you succeed at the monumental task before you. Each time you gain this feature, choose either destined item, Legendary Powers, or Destiny’s Momentum.

destined item

You are linked with a magical item which is connected to your destiny.Your destined item must be agreed between you and your DM, and can be any uncommon, non-expendable magic item. In addition to the properties of a typical magic item of that type, your destined item possesses two minor properties and may possess one quirk at your option (refer to DMG page 143). At your option, the destined item can also be sentient, in which case it can only communicate with you, and does so by transmitting emotion when you carry or wield it, unless it also possesses the “language” minor property. A sentient destined item has hearing and normal vision out to 30 feet.

At 7th, 13th, and 19th level your destined item gains one of the following upgrades (subject to compatibility with the item and your DM’s approval):

  • Improves to the next rarity tier (if an option for the item in question).
  • +1 bonus to attack and damage rolls.
  • +1d4 to damage rolls.
  • +1 to AC.
  • Advantage to one type of saving throw.
  • Resistance to one type of damage.
  • Gains the features of another uncommon item.

Legendary Powers

A powerful being, a mysterious stranger, a bloodline legacy, or an ancient ritual has granted you uncanny abilities.

Choose any first level spell, which you learn. When you reach 7th level you may learn one 2nd-level spell or two additional 1st-level spells. At 13th level you may learn one 3rd-level spell, or two additional 2nd-level spells. At 19th level you may learn one 4th-level spell or two additional 3rd-level spells.

You have two spell slots per short rest at 3rd level, three per short rest at 11th level, and four per short rest at 17th level. You can use your spell slots to cast any of your spells learned through the legendary powers class feature.

Your spellcasting ability for legendary powers is Charisma, since they rely on your force of will. You use your Charisma whenever a spell refers to your spellcasting ability. In addition, you use your Charisma modifier when setting the saving throw DC for a spell you cast and when making an attack roll with one.

Spell save DC = 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Charisma modifier

Spell attack modifier = your proficiency bonus + your Charisma modifier

Destiny’s Momentum

As the vessel through which the world’s course will be corrected, you possess the exceptional ability to twist free of the grasp of any fate that doesn’t align with your own destiny. You gain a number of destiny’s momentum points equal to half your Fighter level (rounded up). You can spend these points to fuel various features, shown below.

When you spend a point of destiny’s momentum, it is unavailable until you finish a short or long rest, at the end of which your power to influence destiny is restored to your full allowance of points.

When destiny’s momentum features require your target to make a saving throw to resist the feature’s effects, the saving throw DC is calculated as follows:

Destiny’s momentum save DC = 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Charisma modifier

Destiny’s Momentum Maneuvers

  • Clear the Thorny Path. Spend a point of destiny’s momentum after your weapon attack hits to deal maximum damage instead of rolling the weapon’s damage dice.
  • Crushing Doom. Spend a point of destiny’s momentum after reducing an enemy to cause all creatures within thirty feed to make a Wisdom saving throw or be shaken until the end of their next turn. If a creature moves 5 feet or more or takes the dash or disengage action on their turn while they are shaken, they have disadvantage on all attacks and ability checks made in the same turn.
  • Defiance in the Face of Certain Death. Spend a point of destiny’s momentum after being reduced to 0 hit points without being killed by massive damage to immediately roll one of your Hit Dice and add your Constitution modifier, instantly gaining that many hit points and regaining consciousness. You can use destiny’s momentum in this fashion only once per short or long rest.
  • Destiny’s Protection. Spend a point of destiny’s momentum to take the Dodge action as a bonus action on your turn.
  • Guard of Flashing Steel. As long as you are wielding a weapon or improvised weapon, you can spend a point of destiny’s momentum after you are hit by a melee or ranged weapon attack to roll your weapon’s damage dice and reduce the damage of the incoming attack by that amount.
  • Hero’s Onslaught. Spend a point of destiny’s momentum to make an additional attack as a bonus action.
  • Slip the Chains. When you take the Disengage action, spend a point of destiny’s momentum to treat enemies as difficult terrain when you would not normally be able to move through their space.

Heroic Effort

Starting at 7th level, once per short rest when you fail to meet the target of any attack roll, ability check, or saving throw, you can add +5 to the result. When you do so, you become winded. A level of winded is equal in every way to a level of exhaustion. You move along the exhaustion track, but keep track of how many of your exhaustion levels come from being winded. If you reach 6 exhaustion levels due to being winded you don’t die, but instead fall unconscious.

As long as you are conscious to do so, you can remove a level of winded by spending a full round doing nothing other than regaining your wind. Any effect that removes exhaustion levels can also remove levels of winded, but reduce your exhaustion levels first.

At your option you can exceed the normal limit of one use of Heroic Effort per short rest, but each additional time you use it you gain a level of exhaustion rather than a level of winded.

Additional Fighting Style

At 10th level, you can choose a second option from the Fighting Style class feature.


From 18th level, unseen forces gather to shield you when you are injured. After you take damage from any source the next attack roll made against you before the end of your next turn has disadvantage or if you make a saving throw before you are attacked that saving throw is rolled with advantage instead.