How to make a Dexterity Fighter Build in 5e DnD

The playable Fighter class in Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition is a powerful class capable of providing overwhelming offense while maintaining solid enough defenses that foes will have to focus their actions on them, giving other party members room to act without worrying about taking damage. 

Intuitively, Fighters would use Strength as their main stat for attacking, but a Dexterity-based Fighter, often shortened to Dex Fighter, can be a more capable class when built correctly. In this guide, we will explore how to create such a Dex Fighter so that you can keep the pace of battle to your liking.

Building your Dex Fighter

Choosing your Dexterity Fighter Build Race

Your Race will determine many factors for your character, with the important points including your inherent advantages, how you view the world, and how the world views you. All of these will accumulate to influence your roleplaying style. While there are many options, we recommend the Elf or the Halfling for their inherent boosts to your Dexterity Ability Score. 

Both Races also have distinct subspecies as part of the overall Race. For Elves, take either the Wood Elf or Drow Elf for the Dexterity bonuses as well as either a bonus to movement speed for the former or innate spellcasting abilities for the latter. For Halflings, their natural affinity for nimbleness makes them well-suited for Dex Fighters.

Lightfoot Halflings gain the ability to hide when obscured by a larger creature, and Stout Halflings have resistance to poison damage, along with both of their Dexterity bonuses. 

top Dexterity Fighter Build in 5e

Allocating Ability Scores

Your Ability Scores are where all your success will stem from. They determine how efficient you are at various checks, as well as where your character will be weak. The following three Ability Scores should take priority investment, in order:

  1. Dexterity– This is your primary Ability Score for a Dex Fighter, as it will enhance your accuracy, initiative, and Armor Class. If you plan on using more ranged attacks than anything else, Dexterity will also enhance your success with attack checks.
  2. Constitution– Constitution will always be important, as increasing it improves your Hit Points which improves your overall durability. Combined with the increase in Armor Class from Dexterity, we can already see how the Dex Fighter displays impressive defenses.
  3. Intelligence– While Strength will determine some of your attack checks, Dexterity is your main stat so investing in Strength is not necessary. Instead, take your third investment option in Intelligence, as it will support many out-of-combat checks when solving puzzles or roleplaying. Additionally, some ranged attacks will utilize Intelligence.

Fighting Styles

As a Fighter, you get to choose a Fighting Style to support your actions in combat. There are many to choose from, but the ones you want will be determined by what kind of weapon you choose.

  • If wanting to primarily utilize a bow, take the Archery Fighting Style. This will grant a +2 bonus to attack rolls made with any ranged weapon, which will lead to more successful strikes landed. 
  • If you want to use melee-based weapons, the undoubted best choice is Two-Weapon Fighting. Just be sure to use Light weapons as these allow users to utilize Dexterity rather than Strength with their attack checks. As a Dual-wielder, you will be able to add your ability modifier to your off-hand attacks, increasing overall damage output by nearly double. 
  • An honorable mention is Defense. While there is no inherent bonus to your offense, you will gain +1 to your Armor Class, further increasing your defenses. If your character is one that is constantly going to be focused on by enemies, this is a worthwhile pick.

Martial Archetype

Your Martial Archetype is your subclass for the Fighter and will determine where you truly excel, while also forming your roleplaying style even further. There are a lot of options to choose from, each with unique feats and powers but for melee Dex Fighters, check out Echo Knight, and for ranged Dex Fighters, check out Arcane Archer. 

Echo Knight

The Echo Knight is a great pick simply for how fun the class can become. However, for optimization and combat purposes, the Echo Knight and Dual-Wielder combo nicely together for a Dex Fighter, as it allows the Player to create an “echo” of themselves, a clone that acts however the player chooses. 

The echo can make attacks, trigger attacks of opportunity when enemies pass it, and you will be able to switch places with your echo in later levels. Having Dual-wielding will also grant the effects to your Echo Knight, granting up to four attacks from your Player Character per round. If your table allows advantage from flanking, your character will always have a chance to flank when fighting a singular enemy, such as boss characters.

Arcane Archer

The Arcane Archer grants a form of spellcasting to your Dex Fighter, combining well with the Archer Fighting Style. As an Arcane Archer, you will infuse your arrows with spells and magical properties, applying varying effects or even being able to redirect an arrow at a target should it initially miss. Taking this subclass adds more weight to investing in Intelligence, as it is the stat used for spell casting.

 If you choose the Drow Elf along with Arcane Archer, your spell list will quickly grow to cover a wide range of options for yourself and your party. While planning ahead is always important, this subclass requires the most of it compared to other options, so communicate with your party to ensure your table does not have serious weaknesses early on, as you will be unable to cover them until after taking this Martial Archetype

Dexterity Fighter Build in 5e

Exploring Dex Fighter Build Abilities

Second Wind

Starting at the 1st Level, you gain access to Second Wind, a key component to the Fighter class that will always be useful. You spend a bonus action to regain health equal to 1d10 + your Fighter level- an average of 6.5 health recovered at level 1, which is quite powerful. The only drawback is this is only usable once until replenished by a short or long rest.

Action Surge

Starting at the 2nd Level, Fighters are able to utilize one of their defining features. Action Surge allows a Dex Fighter to push beyond their limits and take a second action that turn. This is powerful, but as an example of how wild this can get, take a look at the following scenario: You play a Dual-wielding Dex Fighter with Echo Knight already activated. You strike the boss twice, once with your main weapon and once with your off-hand, then Action Surge to attack two more times. 

Your Echo acts next, striking twice with their two weapons, then activates Action Surge again, allowing for another two attacks, and because the Echo Knight is flanking, all attacks have advantage. Ignoring bonus actions, this turns into 8 actions taken and all being 8 attacks on a single enemy. The damage output that comes from Action Surge and a bit of strategy will always be high, and with some luck, it is entirely possible to bring down a boss on your own.

Extra Attack

Starting at the 5th Level, Dex Fighters learn Extra Attack, and it, as the name implies, grants an additional attack when using the Attack action. Mix this into the above example, and we get 16 attacks on a single enemy. The extra attacks increase to three at the 11th Level and four at the 20th Level, giving credence to not multiclassing. 


Starting at the 9th Level, Dex Fighters can reroll a saving throw they have failed. Once the new roll is cast, you must take the result regardless if it is better or worse, and you cannot use this ability again until you complete a short or long rest. This is good for when you critically fail or desperately need to pass a saving throw, as the reroll is more likely to help than make matters worse. You gain additional chances at later levels as well.

Various Improvements

The Fighter class stops gaining class features after Fighter Level 9. While your chosen subclass might add more abilities as you level up, this is a great opportunity to consider multiclassing or staying as a pure Dex Fighter. Being Dexterity-based and having a lot of attacks lends itself well to the Monk class, or even the Ranger if you feel inclined to double-tap into your bow proficiencies. 

However, at Fighter Level 20, Extra Attack grants up to four additional attacks per action, granting a max of five attack checks in one turn, ten with Dual-wielding, 20 after Action Surge, and technically 40 total attack checks with an Echo Knight conjured and repeating your turn. This is a lot of damage, and at level 20, enemies will tend to be tanky and overpowered as well. 

Even though this lends itself to not multiclassing, some savvy players may find higher damage output with a Barbarian or Monk secondary and tertiary classes, so you will need to plan far in advance and crunch the numbers to determine how far you want to push your Dex Fighter’s limits. 

Play Strategies as a Dex Fighter build

Ranged Combat 

If you focus on ranged combat as a Dex Fighter, be sure to utilize cover, positioning, and mobility to maintain distance from your enemies. You can take cheap shots early in fights, and once the enemy takes notice of you.

You can go for stronger attacks utilizing the magic gained from Arcane Archer, if that Martial Archetype was chosen. Lightfoot Halflings can take cover behind taller allies to support not getting hit while the party approaches from long range, and your improved Dexterity should allow most of your attacks to land.

Melee Combat

On the other hand, if you chose to focus your Dex Fighter’s weaponry to be melee-oriented, then your Dual-wielding and finesse or Light weapons will allow you to benefit from a high Dexterity Ability Score.

Not only will you have a lot of opportunities to go for attacks, but your inherent bulk will protect you from all but the strongest attacks on your character. You can fight head-on, or engage in hit-and-run tactics to wear down enemies until the right time to go for explosive damage.

Versatility of a dex fighter in 5e

One of the key strengths in picking a Fighter, especially a Dex Fighter, is your versatility. You will find that your character can adapt to many situations, opening the door to many approaches in both combat and while roleplaying. 

Your weaknesses will be light compared to the strengths you bring to the table, and this is mostly why the Fighter is one of the most popular classes to play in Dungeons and Dragons. Communication with your party is key, but the Dex Fighter will likely find themselves adapting and reacting to orders and party decisions more than having to dictate them, which supports party dynamics overall. 

No Specific Roleplay Requirements

Where some classes stick to their flavor, such as elemental mages, and others stick to a unique moral compass, such as multiclasses, the Dex Fighter is not limited to either of these for their story to make sense. You can pick any background or Race and make your backstory still make sense. 

Conclusion and final words about the Dexterity fighter build

In game, you can give your perspective on matters and not have to rely on a god’s orders or your magic’s source of power to back you up. You can if you want to, but you do not need to, and this makes Dex Fighters open-ended while still being unique classes in terms of design. Take advantage of this and play in ways you might not usually, or tap into your comfort zone and advance the usual narratives you already love. The possibilities are endless.

The Dex Fighter utilizes their nimble movement and precise strikes to open enemies up and crumple them to their knees. 

While the class is powerful, it can take as little or as much pre-planning as you would like to do as a player, as well as a whole lot of number crunching. The upside to all the planning and calculations is that Dex Fighter Players will be rolling a lot of dice, which is a fun reward even if you somehow miss every single attack check. 

Regardless, this article covered how to make the best Dex Fighter possible, with many options and scenarios presented, so you are more than prepared to devastate your enemies.