[RPG] How to make a Dex-based one-handed duelist fighter build?


I am currently about to start a campaign in D&D 5e. We are playing Descent into Avernus and my party needs a tank. I settled on fighter as my top choice for a variety of reasons.

Stat generation: DM is fine with Standard Array or Point Buy.

Build Objective

I want to build my fighter based on the concept of a dashing swordsman who uses finesse and swordplay to overcome his foes rather than simply brute force. He's very swashbuckler-flavored, however my party needed a tank so I am going fighter. Having the other hand empty is so my character can interact with the environment (e.g. swing off a chandelier).

Combat Role:

His role is meant to allow him to get in front of the party using insults, antics, and his rapier to grab enemy's attention while the party takes them out. Using free actions to make hilarious taunts while attacking and putting pressure on the enemy.

I want to build a Dexterity-based melee fighter focused on one-handed rapiers, without shields. Because in many ways this is the preferred fighting style of the archetypical swashbuckler. Its also not very often chosen by players as it is not considered optimal and has too many compromises for their liking.

How can I achieve this build without compromising too much on defense and striking power compared to other fighter builds?

Best Answer

Battle Master Maneuvers

At third level, the Battle Master fighter archetype gains access to a ton of maneuvers that allow you to flavor your style of fighting just about any way you want. Of particular interest to you may be:

  • Goading Attack: This is exactly what you describe as "grabbing the enemy's attention." If the goading attack succeeds, the enemy is heavily motivated to attack you specifically.
  • Trip Attack: Using antics to knock people over, giving your side the strategic advantage.
  • Riposte: Very much within the flavor of rapier-wielding swashbuckler.

Whether or not these are the most optimal choices, I suspect Battle Master is your best shot at achieving the aesthetics you want as a fighter.

Your archetype won't come on line until level 3. Your first two levels will lack any mechanical means of using anything other than talking/taunting by simply using "talk as a free action" to annoy your opponents.