One of the most important aspects of a D&D character is their class. Although it does sometimes denote a profession, class encompasses way more than how the character makes a living. It outlines the character’s abilities, skills, influences, and even sometimes their background.
In 5th Edition, there are twelve different classes to choose from, and while they are very different, there is not one class that is “better” than the others. Generally, a group will want no more than one of a particular class so it may be a good idea to work with the group and make sure that the classes will work together.
It is important to know that in 5th Edition, all classes except for barbarians have the ability to cast magic spells therefore for this article, classes are separated into whether they are a more physical or mental/social class.
These classes focus primarily on physical prowess of some sort be it strength, hand-eye coordination, or simply overall hardiness. While this doesn’t mean that they aren’t also intelligent, wise, or charismatic, most of their abilities are geared towards the physical realm.
- Barbarian – Prone to bloodlust and rage, these fierce warriors survive the harsh wilds through their fighting prowess and iron constitution.
- Fighter – Whether they fight for a paycheck or for an authority figure, these soldiers are trained in all manner of weapons and combat.
- Monk – Specializing in hand-to-hand combat, a monk strives for perfection of both the mind and body which often gives them unique abilities.
- Paladin – Sworn to an oath of duty, service, or vengeance, paladins are respected and feared warriors dedicated to a cause or ideal.
- Ranger – Wandering the wilds at the edges of civilization, rangers use weapons and nature magic to survive in the harshest of terrains.
- Rogue – Cunning and resourceful, rogues are masters of manipulation, stealth, and trickery which they use to benefit themselves or others.
These classes tend to focus more on cerebral development and many are more proficient in casting spells than any of the physical classes. This isn’t to say that these classes cannot be extremely dexterous or strong, but more that their abilities are geared towards problem-solving, charisma, and intellect.
- Bard – Specializing in storytelling and music, these charismatic spellcasters are often as handy with words as they are with spells.
- Cleric – Serving a deity or higher being, clerics devote themselves to upholding the tenets of their faith an often pit themselves against evildoers or the undead.
- Druid – A servant of nature, druids work to protect the natural order of things and often gain strange abilities such as shifting into various animal shapes.
- Sorcerer – Magic flows in the blood of this spellcaster, whose sometimes wild magic is neither learned nor studied.
- Warlock – Devoid of natural magical talent, this spellcaster entered into a pact with a greater being in order to gain magical abilities.
- Wizard – This spellcaster gains power through intense study; constantly pursuing both knowledge and power.
Playing to strengths and weaknesses
So, what if you wanted to take a mental class and make it very physically strong? What if you wanted to have a really intellectual or smooth-talking character from a more physical class? While playing to a class’ natural strengths is important, mixing things up a bit can create for a more unusual and memorable character.
Which class should I play?
If you’re still not quite sure which class to play, we have a handy chart with some questions to help you decide. Click here to check it out!
Once you’ve decided on a character, the next step is to start filling out your character sheet. Move on to the next article to read how, or go back to the D&D Basics to get some more ideas. You can also browse through our Class Overviews or read more about building characters.