By now, Nooblet, you should at least have an idea of what your first character will be and what fighting style you wish to pursue. Remember how I said we were going to look at classes later? Well, saddle up, kids, the future is now!
It’s all well and good knowing that you want to be magic wielder or a sword fighter, but at some point you’re going to have to decide what kind and what you wish to do with it. If the prospect of making more decisions makes you want to hide under your desk, I assure you, there is no need to infiltrate the growing dust bunny colony just yet (although, maybe sweeping under there every once in a while isn’t a bad idea). There are some truly cool options to choose from, and it’s hella fun figuring out all the cool stuff your character could do that you didn’t even know about. Here’s the low down…
Class it up…
You may have heard, throughout your travels in this world, words like “bard”, “ranger”, “rogue” and “cleric” being mentioned. These are character classes. Classes are not necessarily something characters are born with, but more likely, skills and traits they learn. Therefore, a wide range of races can all be the same class. A party could, for instance, consist of an elf, a human, a halfling and an orc and all of them could be rogues who form part of the same thieves guild. Each of them could have different skills and strengths. (Or, they could all be bards, but that’s too scary to contemplate)
Your class will be your way of putting into action the idea you have for your character’s fighting style, the goal you have in mind and the kind of character you want to play. Do you want to play a healer or focus on how much possible damage you can do? Perhaps you want to do a little bit of both? Anything is possible!
How to even magic….
If you envision your character as a magic wielder, there are a few things you’d need to consider. Magic has to come from somewhere. Even Harry Potter had to learn how to use it. Your alignment to either good, neutral or evil will play a big part here, but I will get into that at a later stage.
For some classes, i.e wizards and bards, your character will need an aptitude for magic and grow their magic by learning new spells. Certain magic wielders, i.e clerics, paladins and warlocks, gain their magic from a chosen deity or a powerful creature by way of servitude, an oath or a curse. Sorcerers are born with their magic and is usually passed along the bloodline, although, it is up to you to decide what event transpired to create the magic in the first place. Keep in mind your sorcerer will still need to learn how to wield it.
If you’re thinking of bringing a healing element to your character, a magic wielder will be the right fit for you. As you can decide what spells you have prepared, in most cases, you can build your character on being a healer while still packing a punch by bringing serious damage to your enemy’s door. Just remember spells and spell slots can be limited when just starting out, so it’s crucial to decide what role you wish to play in your party before deciding on them.
Pow! Right in the kisser….
If your liking leans more toward the removal of health than the giving of it, and you’re more of a “hands-on” kind of person, you’re more likely to want to play a character with a melee fighting style. There are many classes that will soothe your itchy fists.
If it’s a shiny sword, ax or hammer you’re after, you may find some appeal playing a barbarian or a fighter as not all classes are able to wield a big, heavy weapon. Not only will you be able to deal quite a bit of damage, but with the focus on strength, you’ll also be able to withstand quite a bit of it too. Every party needs a tank, after all.
If hand-to-hand combat with some weapon proficiency is more your speed, you may want to look into playing a monk. Monks are strong, yet agile, and pack a mean punch. Dexterity is also quite important for a monk character; as they’re quick on their feet to be able to pull moves that use their opponent’s strength against them.
If you’re the type that want the best of both worlds, you’re in luck. Depending on what it is you want to do with your character, if you wish to wield both magic and weapons (or magical weapons), you very much can. Until recently, your only real option here would be to play a paladin (a warrior with magical abilities granted by a sworn oath), or a druid (basically nature clerics who gain their power from a deity and have the power to shape-shift into, and commune with, animals as well as cast nature magic). But our good friends at Critical Role have come up with a new class called blood hunter. A blood hunter has to undergo some dark, traumatic and profound experience in their life that unleashes the ability to grant their weapons magical properties. Take a look at the blood hunter class here.
Some of us don’t like to get up close and personal with the bad thing trying to kill us, and would much rather prefer to bring the pain from way over there in the back… out of the scary guy’s arms’ reach. Perhaps you’ve built your character to be able to do other cool and helpful stuff, but that means your character doesn’t deal so well with withstanding damage. That’s not a problem, because that’s what ranged fighting and sneak attacks are for. Even the squishiest character can deal some serious ouchies when under attack.
Playing a rogue or a ranger will give you the opportunity to be a badass with a bow and arrow in combat, and still give you the chance to have some helpful skills out of combat to benefit your party or yourself. Rogues are excellent at dismantling traps, picking locks, sneaking around and going unnoticed. Rangers are great at tracking, hunting, guiding and basic survival. They also blend in with landscape very easily and can be very stealthy. Fighters also have ranged weapons proficiency, and can be a great choice if you want explore different fighting styles.
Playing a rogue will not only give you proficiency with ranged weaponry but also give you the option for sneak attacks which you get bonuses for, where a ranger is very much a warrior with a purpose to hunt monsters. They also have some cool magical abilities.
If by this point you’re thinking how cool it would be to have guns in d&d, you’re correct, it would be cool. It’s also an option, albeit, a long shot (hehe, that pun wasn’t intentional, I swear). In the first campaign on Critical Role, Percy, a party member of Vox Machina, was a fighter of the gunslinger archetype. There are other ways of living your dream of becoming Yosemite Sam, though, enter artificers. Artificers are tinkerers and inventors and channel their magic through their tools. Their details are available here, but it will be the discretion of your DM whether they’ll allow you to play one. Again, anything is possible!
Arche- wha…??? I know, I know… it’s a new word and you thought by picking your class you’d be done with it by now. But it doesn’t have to be scary, so if you resist the urge to dump the whole idea in the trash, I’ll explain it all and afterwards you can have a cookie, OK?
So, archetypes are different available types of a certain class. Not only do you get to decide what kind of cleric or barbarian or bard you want to be but you also get to decide what type of cleric, or barbarian or bard you want to be. If you’ve decided on being a cleric, for example, with purely healing abilities, there’s an archetype that will help you become that, and give you bonuses for some of those abilities. Sometimes this pertains to what school or lore of magic you want to focus on, what domain you wish to specialize in or what path you want to follow. You get to tailor make your character into exactly what you want them to be, doesn’t that sound exciting?
Archetypes give you a more focused direction to steer your character in and makes your character more proficient in certain things which means more bonuses. In short, it makes you more badass… not such a scary concept any more, huh?
Archetypes are definitely something you should give a thought to when creating your character, especially if you’re playing a cleric, sorcerer or warlock, as you’ll be choosing your archetype at level one. But for most classes you only really need to make that decision once you start playing as you’ll need to choose your archetype from level two and up.
You can have your cookie now!
Making the choice…
Since you have a better idea of what it is you want to do and how you want to play, I suggest checking out the full list of available classes here, and taking a look at the archetypes to find the right fit for you. It’s possible that there may be some wiggle room to adapt a class a bit if you have a specific idea in mind, and the existing classes don’t exactly fit right. Discuss this with your DM before making your decision as, as with all things, the final decision of what can and will be allowed rests with them. They’ll be able to give you the guidance you need.
If you want to take the time making your decision in your own time, I highly recommend getting your hands on the Player’s Handbook. Xanathar’s Guide to Evertything might also be a good idea to have on hand as there so much more information you’d want to know. Check out these manuals in our shop.
Onions have layers….
If you can’t decide on one specific class that will meet your needs for what you’re planning to do with your character in the long run, there’s no need to panic about it. Multi-classing is very much a thing you are able to do. I will discuss the ins-and-out of multi-classing later, as there is a LOT to go through, but don’t worry about it too much in the beginning. Your DM will be able to assist in mapping out a multi-classing game plan for you in order to achieve the things you want but, like with most things, you’ll have to work for it.
For now just focus on the class you wish to start out with and how many levels you need to put into that class to get the traits or skills you’re after. If you think that’s too much work, it’s perfectly fine to level one specific class up the wazoo and having fun with it. You do you, little adventurer! There’s plenty of time to do the crazy stuff later.
If you have any wild ideas for your character or have some questions please post them down below. We’d also love to hear your stories of self-made classes and multi-classing, and how they turned out!
Stay classy, fellow Adventurers!