D&D 5E has just released Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything. This book solidifies the Artificer class as an official addition to the original 12, and gives the 12 some additional options. However, if you’re just coming into D&D, that’s a lot of classes to get into. So, whether you’re brand new or just trying to see what your next class could be, our 5E Classes Guide will try to help you out!
5E Classes Guide
There are 13 total classes in Dungeons & Dragons 5E. Each of these classes have a primary statistic (the one that they should increase before any other) and types (what roles do they tend to be). Most classes can handle multiple roles, and some roles can handle multiple responsibilities; for example, a Support Caster can buff allies, and some Support Casters can heal or remove debuffs.
|Artificer||Intelligence||Damage Dealer, Defender, Support Caster||An ingenious builder of magical things. Constructs magic items for the party and temporary trinkets for battle.|
|Barbarian||Strength||Defender, Melee Damage Dealer||A primal warrior with complete control of the rage within. Unleashes the rage to unlock their full potential, becoming hard to kill and vicious.|
|Bard||Charisma||Battlefield Control, Support Caster||A song-writer and performer, using arcane magic fueled by creative talent to influence the world around them|
|Cleric||Wisdom||Defender, Support Caster, Utility||A worshipper of a god who uses divine magic to heal and harm. Can be a durable frontliner or a robed priest at will.|
|Druid||Wisdom||Defender, Damage Dealer, Support Caster, Utility||A shaman with a connection to the wild. They can use that connection to transform into beasts to attack, or summon powerful magic to do the same.|
|Fighter||Strength or Dexterity||Damage Dealer, Defender||A disciplined and skilled soldier with a perfect understanding of weapons. Heavily armored, accurate, and hard-hitting.|
|Monk||Dexterity or Wisdom||Melee Damage Dealer, Utility||A perfectly-tuned martial artist. Harnesses their ki to perform incredible feats of strength and speed.|
|Paladin||Strength or Charisma||Defender, Melee Damage Dealer||A Paragon of the gods. Uses their force of will and proficiency with many weapons to push the ideals of their belief.|
|Ranger||Strength or Dexterity||Damage Dealer, Utility||A defender of nature. Uses incredible prowess with weapons, their massively skilled toolset, and nature magic to battle foes.|
|Rogue||Dexterity||Damage Dealer, Utility||A sneak who focuses on finding weaknesses and driving the knife point in quickly. Uses their immense skill set to solve problems.|
|Sorcerer||Charisma||Battlefield Control, Damage Dealer, Support Caster||A being overwhelmed by the magic in their blood. Uses their innate ability to flood the battlefield with magic potency.|
|Warlock||Charisma||Battlefield Control, Damage Dealer||A creature who formed a pact with a much greater being. Uses that being’s pact magic to destroy their foes with bursts of power.|
|Wizard||Intelligence||Battlefield Control, Damage Dealer, Support Caster, Utility||A studious magic-user, who learned magic from the books. Uses what they know to always have a spell up their sleeve to tilt a situation in their favor.|
The types, nor the “Primary Stats”, are necessarily final. A Paladin, for instance, tends to want to increase their Strength first. However, some specific builds might prefer to increase Charisma. Same thing with Monk!
DND Classes In Detail
The classes in 5E can’t just be explained on a table, though! Below is a brief description, some pros and cons, and one or two strong builds for each class. This is not a comprehensive list; hopefully, these will set you up to find a new class to love!
The Artificer is the newest class, and does it make a strange impact on a party! Their primary mechanic is the Infusion ability. Infusions are used to create magical items for your party, which take up slots just like usual. You can keep the Infusions to yourself or pass them around for whoever needs them. This ability to create magical items can be a godsend to any party where magic items are light.
In addition, Artificers are pseudo-casters with some powerful cantrips and a ton of Arcane utility. They aren’t quite as good at finding magical solutions to problems as Wizards, but they can still come up with cool stuff.
That’s, as usual, thanks to their handy-dandy toolkits! These guys love Artisan’s Tools, and double their proficiency bonus when making ability checks with them. You can really make artisan’s tools shine… But you still run into the issue of “will the DM let me use my tools here?” If you want to make these tools matter, the Artificer is going to help!
Out of the two Intelligence-based casters, the Artificer tends to take on a support role. Other than Infusions, they get a few abilities (like Flash of Genius) that helps the party out a bit. Flash of Genius in particular is an absolutely insane buff, straight-up adding your Intelligence to saving throws! That can save a life quite easily in the mid to late game.
The four archetypes of the Artificer are essential to discovering the Artificer’s build. The Alchemist, for instance, acts as a pseudo-healer, pseudo-damage dealer. Using cantrips as their only major source of damage (and some spells), the Alchemist focuses on making healing magic more effective. Despite their low number of spell slots, they receive enough buffs and utility to make them quite effective as a secondary healer or alongside a Druid (just to make sure there’s enough healing).
The Armorer and the Battle Smith both specialize in defending the party from damage. The Battle Smith summons a creature to take the hits for them as they wade into combat; two melee characters in one adventurer! The Armorer, meanwhile, can either be a ranged damage dealer or a melee tank, using a trustworthy suit of armor to keep them alive… Also, you’re Iron Man, and that includes the Inventor part. So that’s pretty cool.
The Artillerist is also a summon build, like the Battle Smith. Instead of a companion, you make guns. The guns can be targeted and destroyed, but they focus just a bit more on dealing damage or granting Temporary hit points. Thus, the Artillerist becomes a strange pseudo-support with damage-dealing qualities. Which is super unique!
We highly suggest running an Artificer if you want a new take on a Defender or Support class. They’re a really cool edition to a party, and everyone will be asking you for new magic items!
The Barbarian… Oh, what to say about this fella! The Barbarian has been restricted to a frontline role. They are best with a huge weapon (or two medium-sized weapons) in hand, wading through a battlefield.
Their primary mechanic is Rage. When a Barbarian Rages, for a full minute, their melee attacks hit harder, they are stronger than Elephants, and they barely feel physical pain. This makes them extremely effective in bursts of threatening encounters. However, since Rage is such a limited resource, then Barbarians need to be careful when using it.
That’s not all that a Barbarian is good for, however. With a 1d12 for their hitpoints, a focus on Constitution (with their Unarmed Defense ability), they’re tanky as heck! This allows them to use Reckless Attack. Reckless Attack gives the Barbarian advantage on attack rolls, but gives all attacks advantage against the Barbarian. Thanks to the extra health and the durability that Rage gives to them, Reckless Attack is a fantastic tool to work with.
Barbarians are also fast, moving at +10 movement speed when not wearing heavy armor and getting advantage on initiative rolls.
The final major mechanic of the barbarian is critical hits. The Barbarian adds up to 3 dice to weapon damage rolls whenever they land a critical hit (1 dice at level 9, 2 at level 13, 3 at level 17). This is a late-game damage boost that works flawlessly with Reckless attack!
So, a Barbarian is brutally tanky and can deal a ton of damage. That comes at a cost; they aren’t as versatile as a Fighter even, being unable to do appreciable damage with ranged weapons (or even thrown weapons) due to how their Rage works. Barbarians also suffer from their Rage’s limited resources. Even at level 19, they can only use their Rage for 6 minutes per day. That’s not much! You don’t get to unlock your Barbarian’s true purpose too often in a day.
That being said, the Barbarian has plenty of builds! You can tank very well with Ancestral Guardian, Totem Warrior, and Zealot, blocking damage for your team with very little regard for your own life. Each of these tank in their own ways; Ancestral Guardian blocks damage against teammates, Totem Warrior (Bear) massively increases your durability, and Zealots can revive for free.
The Barbarian can also deal pretty good damage! Totem Warrior comes back with the Eagle totem, and even Zealot hurts just a bit. However, if you’re looking for numbers, Storm Herald really hurts people. They have an aura that harms those within it that you want them to. The Wild Magic Barbarian can deal pretty impressive damage by spending a Bonus Action, and even get ranged options out of it. Berserker and Battlerager are both damage focused, though they both have their own costs to using them. Berserker encounters the deadly Exhaustion mechanic and deals with it… poorly. Battlerager just doesn’t get many mechanics of great impact.
The Beast is the only support Barbarian, able to buff their allies and use their Bestial Soul ability to solve some problems.
If you’re looking for the most durable melee frontliner, and are good at spending your resources when you need to, the Barbarian is fantastic. We suggest saving this for your second or third character, because you really don’t want to spend Rages unnecessarily!
The Bard is a performer at heart, entertaining the masses with their innate Charisma and magical ability. The main mechanic that the Bard focuses on is the Bardic Inspiration dice pool. You spend a bonus action to give your allies dice, that they can add to attack rolls, ability checks, or saving throws. They can only spend it once, but they get to choose the roll within 10 minutes. This is such an important mechanic because it gives Bards a great way to help their party with a Bonus action! The Bard is one of the few ways to get truly ridiculous results on skill checks or attack rolls.
The Bard is a 9th level spellcaster in 5E, which gives them a ton of power. While their spell list might not necessarily be the strongest, they get a fantastic mixture of crowd control and problem-solving spells. They can cause people to laugh into incapacitation, create objects from thin air, or summon aggressive musical instruments. And the best part; you can use any musical instrument basically like a magic wand. That’s pretty awesome!
The Bard is also very skilled; so, not only magical, but great without spending magic too! Their Jack of All Trades abilities allows you to add a small bonus to untrained skills. Expertise lets you double your proficiency bonus on 2-4 skills, a great way to basically guarantee your skill checks.
Bards also get some out-of-class help. Their Magical Secrets ability lets them steal spells from any spell list that you choose. So you can get some help from Clerics, Paladins, Rangers, Wizards… Anything you really want!
The Bard is truly set up to solve problems and help the other members of your party. They are far from unthreatening, but they make the rest of their party massive threats rather than being truly strong by themselves. In addition, their spell list is very non-aggressive, and their weapon and armor proficiency is not amazing, lowering their damage potential significantly.
That being said, there are quite a few builds that can help them! The colleges of Swords and Valor can spend their Bardic Inspiration to deal more damage, either for themselves or otherwise. They also both gain great defensive skills. The college of Swords is more selfish than Valor, but Valor has better armor proficiency and better buffs for others.
The College of Whispers also can deal quite a bit of damage, and has really cool out-of-combat utility. However, it suffers quite a bit from it’s later-game abilities, as those abilities tend to be just a bit niche.
The College of Eloquence is a fantastic out-of-combat class, and has very efficient Bardic Inspirations. Bards tend to be way too good at talking to people; if you want to be even better at talking, this one’s for you!
The College of Glamour is one of the best options if you want to be a hard support class. It can hand out temporary HP and heavily debuff enemies.
Finally, the Colleges of Creation and Lore are your best options to solve problems. Creation focuses on creating objects and summoning creatures to help you in combat, and their Mote of Potential makes Bardic Inspiration extremely effective to use. The College of Lore gains a ton of skills, uses their Bardic Performance to lessen damage, and learns a ton of spells from other classes!
Whether you want to solve problems or help your allies, the Bard will do it extremely stylishly.
For many players, the Cleric is the pick for the best class in the game. Obviously, every class is good in their own way, but the Cleric is unmistakably powerful in many, many different ways.
The Cleric is perhaps most notable for their fantastic spell list. They are a 9th level caster, allowing them to summon magic as powerful as possible. The Cleric spell list is great, because a Cleric technically “knows” all spells; they select whatever spells they want at the start of every day. If that wasn’t enough, Clerics gain access to a ton of spells to help out their party. From healing, to problem-solving, to defense, to offense, a Cleric has a spell for a situation. Once you get used to their spell list, a Cleric is hard to stop.
However, that’s not where the Cleric’s usefulness ends. They are extremely durable, with d8 health and medium armor proficiency. Many Clerics gain Heavy Armor Proficiency if their Domain expects them to be on the frontlines. These guys aren’t your typical caster; sometimes, they can be tankier than a Fighter!
The final general ability to talk about is Channel Divinity. This is a limited ability that a Cleric can burn to try and really mess up a battlefield. All Clerics can Turn Undead, which ruins a giant force of Undead. All Cleric Domains give an additional option for Channel Divinity, so pay attention to what your domain has! It’s really strong, and really useful!
Their domains are a crucial part of their builds, determining if the Cleric is going to be a caster or a caster with frontline capabilities. There are a ton of domains! But they fall into somewhat similar categories as one-another;
For problem-solving domains, there’s plenty; Clerics love utility! Arcana brings some Wizard magic to the Cleric spell list, and has some pretty fantastic anti-magic abilities. Knowledge provides great skill proficiency boosts, the ability to read thoughts, and can even see the past with perfect clarity. Nature brings some druid spells to the Cleric list, and is fantastic against anything with elemental damage. Trickery is the enchantment and illusion Cleric, which can make any combat interesting and work great outside of combat. Finally, Twilight has anti-darkness magic, can grant initiative bonuses, and even fly!
Some domains are supportive, but with a focus on dealing damage. The Death Domain focuses on using Channel Divinity to deal massive damage, as well as improve the potency of Necromancy spells. The Grave domain is fairly similar, but is also great at keeping people alive, and is much more supportive. The Order domain has fantastic ability to cast enchantment spells, and can have allies make additional attacks; a great combo with Rogues! Tempest is a ridiculous early-game build, shocking enemies to the core with a massive burst of reflective damage. Finally, War can provide great accuracy and bursts of damage for attack rolls.
Some domains are defensive, and don’t take damage easily. Forge is one of them, getting stupid high bonuses to AC and resistance to important damage types… Without using any magic! The Light domain isn’t tanky themselves, but instead makes other characters tanky. The Light domain also gets access to a ton of fire spells!
Finally, there are two domains with a heavy focus on healing. The Life domain strictly upgrades healing spells and turns your Channel Energy into a massive heal. The Peace domain allows for all of the party to be connected by a chain, healing them and buffing them in a group.
If you’re looking for the best support class in the game, mostly due to it’s incredible spell list, it’s durability, and huge variety of builds, the Cleric is for you.
The Druid is an incredibly unique class. Conjurers of the natural realm, Druids draw their power from every aspect of the wilderness, and thus have some particular niches that only they can fill.
Their spell list is wonderful, featuring a mix of elemental damage, great defensive buffs, and passable utility. While I’d struggle to call it as good as the Cleric list, there are spells that Druids get that Clerics could only dream of. Protection from Energy, Barkskin, Call Lightning, Wall of Fire… If you want to deal damage and still have some good support spells, Druids are incredible!
Druids also gain a really cool skill with Wild Shape. Using Wild Shape, a Druid can transform into an animal. They take the animal’s physical stats, and put the health on top of their Druid’s health! That allows for Druids to become very tanky with specific builds, since that’s a lot of health to cut through! However, while they are an animal, they cannot cast magic – they can only maintain spells that they’ve cast before. Timing is key!
Otherwise, the Druid gains some utility in the very late game. They eventually become immune to aging and can cast spells while in animal form, but only at level 18. Otherwise, the Druid is very defined by their Druid Circle.
Druid Circles get split into two “camps”; Caster Druids, and Wild Shape Druids.
Caster Druids expand their spell list and utility to help their party at all times. The Dreams druid has a pool of healing, can hide their rests, and teleport around the battlefield. The Circle of the Land can learn a ton of spells, based on their environment of choice, and can regain spell slots after a short rest. Land Druids also gain some defensive abilities, though those are situational. The Shepherd Druid is a summoner, bringing animals and fey into the battle to wreak havoc… and protect your party by soaking damage for them.
“Wild Shape” druids refer to druids that spend Wild Shape to attain a benefit for a limited amount of time. The Circle of the Moon is the traditional Wild Shape Druids. They Wild Shape faster, can assume the forms of much more devastating beasts, and can even become elementals! The Circle of Spores spend Wild Shape to create a radius of damage and make their weapons stronger. Spores also can summon zombies and eventually become immune to a ton of status conditions. The Circle of Stars become a brilliant constellation when they spend Wild Shape, heavily augmenting their casting ability or damage potential. Stars Druids also gain the ability to see the future, and eventually become brutally tanky. Finally, the circle of Wildfire expends Wild Shape to summon a small spirit. The spirit helps them harm and heal with spells.
If you’re comfortable with nature, and want to embrace spellcasters in a legitimately fantastic way, Druids are great! They can tank, support, or deal damage with the best of them, and are really based on your Circle choice.
The Fighter has earned the title of the “basic” class, but that’s not exactly well-earned. The Fighter is a disciplined warrior with a focus on weapons, and a well-built Fighter can become the party’s main source of damage.
Fighters are quite versatile, for a class without spellcasting. Their Fighting Style ability allows them to focus on any weapon they’d like, or assume a Defender role and become the party’s frontline tank. Second Wind gives them a small heal which keeps them in the fight for longer. The Indomitable class feature helps them save against extremely deadly spells.
However… That’s not what the Fighter is known for. At level 2, the Fighter can use Action Surge, allowing them to take yet another action in their turn. This can be anything from making as many attacks as you can, to casting another spell. This ability alone is one of the best reasons to multiclass into a Fighter!
Fighters are also unique in that they get up to 3 extra attacks. That means, with no bonus action or spending any resources, a Fighter can make 4 attacks in an action. That can lead to a lot of damage! They also gain more Ability Score Improvements than other classes, which were intended to be used for Feats.
Fighter Archetypes do a lot to either increase the utility and options that a Fighter can have, make them deal more damage, or allow them to protect the party.
For combat utility, you have a ton of options. The Battle Master uses Maneuvers to absolutely decimate enemies while spending a resource. If you can time your abilities correctly and keep track of dice, this archetype is absolutely crazy! Echo Knights can teleport, make additional attacks from a Summon’s position, and distract foes using their summon (which looks just like you!). The Eldritch Knight allows the Fighter to learn a limited pool of Wizard spells, letting the Fighter become a caster! The Rune Knight is extremely unique, able to become massive in size and affix runes to their weapons and armor to explode during combat.
Whew! Thankfully, very few Fighter archetypes are strictly for dealing damage. The Champion hits harder, jumps farther, and crits more than any other fighter. Psi Warriors are psychic warriors with great ability to harm enemies’ mind with a pool of dice. They do have great utility, like teleportation, but their focus is dishing out numbers. The Samurai is the last damage dealer, and can use their great abilities to gain Advantage and then spend Advantage to instead make additional attacks.
Finally, there’s the durable archetypes. The Cavalier is designed to intercept damage and force enemies to focus on yourself. The Banneret is a charisma-focused Knight whose cries and shield will deflect damage and give temporary health to all allies. The Banneret essentially spreads the Fighter’s benefits to those who want it.
Fighters have a ton of choices, but you’ll always be the damage dealer whose lack of spellcasting makes you not very useful outside of fights. But hey, that’s in the name! If you want to deal damage, protect your allies, and make boss fights look like chumps, the Fighter is here for you.
The Monk is the disciplined fisticuff user of any specific party. Monks control their ki to produce empowered punches and flurries of hits.
Monks start with two abilities that completely ignore the normal adventuring requirements of needing magical items to become stronger; unarmored defense and martial arts. Unarmored defense adds your Wisdom modifier to your AC if you’re not wearing any armor, effectively replacing armor bonus. No matter what – an acidic slime, a kidnapping, a formal event – you can have almost as much AC as someone in Full Plate. The other aspect, Martial Arts, increases the damage of your fists, up to a 1d10 in the late game! Martial Arts also lets you punch with your Bonus Action, basically giving you better Two-Weapon Fighting.
Ki greatly increases your combat power. Starting at level 2, you get ki, which you can spend for things like more movement speed, dodging quickly, or more attacks as a bonus action. As you level up, you can spend ki points for more and more things, such as Stunning Strike, or getting a reroll on a saving throw.
Monks are also the fastest class, getting +10 movement speed at level 2 and boosting up to 30 feet by level 18. They’re really great at zipping around the battlefield and hitting important backline targets!
Monks aren’t too durable, but they do get abilities to keep themselves alive. They can try and catch projectiles, for instance, and they have crazy good saves at level 10! They are a legitimately good option against mages.
Monks gain a ton of various utility abilities over the course of their level path. Evasion allows them to avoid damage from Dexterity saves, Stillness of Mind counters Fey and other enchantment characters. You’ll find that your monk tends to have a way to avoid taking conditions for 90% of the weird conditions in the game, making them a utility tank rather than a healthy one.
Monk archetypes are really important for their build, but don’t tend to deviate from many, small-damaging attacks.
Some archetypes use Ki to become pseudo-casters. The Four Elements monk learns how to cast legit spells, as well as some spell-like effects, making the monk great Area of Effect damage with even some battlefield control! The Monk of Mercy can spend ki points to heal them, allowing the monk to use their Flurry of Blows to heal allies instead of just deal damage. Don’t worry, though; the Monk of Mercy still hits damn hard! The Sun Soul is the final hard caster, being able to throw darts of light at a distance. Eventually, it can even throw Fireballs and throw Burning Hands, which can be pretty cool!
Of course, most Monk archetypes are dedicated to making punching people a more effective tool. The Astral Self monk is a Wisdom-based bruiser that spends Ki to produce astral arms. They are arguably the best out-of-combat monk archetype thanks to the bonus utility offered by the Astral Body. The Kensei Monk allows the monk to use weapons as a defensive tool, or make archery a valid option for Monks. If you decide to go kensei, try and get the Dedicated Weapon optional class feature. The Open Hand monk has fantastic combat control with Open Hand Technique, and eventually learns Quivering Palm to decimate an enemy’s body. The Shadow Monk is able to cast darkness spells using Ki, teleport between dark patches, or even jump on enemies that are being attacked by another ally!
The final type of Monk Archetypes are the tanks, which are really fun to play! The Drunken Master lurches between enemies, easily dodging hits and never being within melee range of a target that it doesn’t want to be in the range of. The Monk of Long Death focuses on survivability early on, and eventually becomes nearly impossible to kill.
Monks are strange melee fighters with a bunch of utility in areas that no other class can dream of. Whether that extra utility makes them better than a Fighter or Barbarian… It can be hard to tell, a lot of the utility ends up being niche. Still, if you want to be a resource-based frontliner with a ton of weird abilities, and are good at keeping track of those abilities, then Monk might be your choice!
Paladins are the paragon champions of a given god, and thus are blessed with a mix of divine magic and godly durability.
Paladins are a 5th level caster, getting 5 levels of spell to play around with. These are usually buff spells, or create Auras around the paladin to help or harm others. They can also be like Compelled Duel, and help the Paladin defend the party from threats. If you don’t like your spells, you can channel your magic into Divine Smite, dealing a d8 per spell slot burnt… which can annihilate enemies in just one hit!
Paladins get a ton of useful abilities outside of spells, though! Paladins are just as tanky as fighters, with Full plate allowance, great weapon proficiencies, and d10 hit dice. You wade to the frontlines and just slam everyone in your way!
Lay on Hands is a small but potent healing ability, allowing the Paladin to become an emergency healer with an okay pile of hit points. Paladins also get a Fighting Style, though their choices are limited to melee-only. Paladin’s are meant to hit people in the face!
Paladins also get the Channel Divinity class feature, just like Clerics. Unlike Clerics, Paladins don’t get as many uses of them, and can only use them on their Oaths… Unless your DM allows you to take Harness Divine Power, which can be nice.
You become immune to diseases, massively boost Saves to creatures around you, and become immune to Frighten. What an incredibly useful tank!
Paladin oaths tend to pull paladins closer to the tanking role than the damage-dealing one. Oaths are unique, in that each oath has a list of tenets to follow. Failing to follow the tenets for any bad reason will result in you being thrown out of the oath. So, pay attention to what your Paladin needs to do to stay in their oath!
The Oath of the Ancients adds druid flavor to the paladin… Which isn’t a good thing, always. It’s a bit too focused on nature, but it has a fantastic ability in Aura of Warding, giving everyone nearby resistance to spell damage. Good for an anti-mage build!
The Conquest Oath is about destruction and tyranny, though usually for a good cause. Conquest is all about causing creatures to grow frightened, and dealing psychic damage to those who dare fight back. It’s a great support archetype, with the ability to crowd control enemies.
Crown is about serving others, and intercepting hits thrown against your allies. They have some enchantment spells as well, just to help guide others on the “right path”.
The oath of Devotion is about loyalty to the party. It’s channel is great, it has anti-charm, and even gets permanent protection from evil and good. Awesome against fiends and undead!
The Glory domain is about negating damage with temporary hit points and giving your allies movement speed. Deflecting hits is Glory’s jam, and it gets a few more utility abilities just to make you a baller.
The Oathbreaker is an evil archetype, since it broke its Paladin oath. The Paladin hits hard, gets resistance to physical damage from non-magical weapons, and has a few debuffs. It’s a pretty cool damage-dealing archetype, but tends to stumble when it fights demons, due to giving demons a bonus to damage.
The oath of Redemption is all about finding the good in people. It can block hits, reflect damage back on violent fools, protect allies, and even heal up to half health! This tends to just be a better Crown, but both have their merits.
The Oath of Vengeance is all about beating the hell out of people, and is the only archetype purely dedicated to damage. These guys target a single creature and chase them down, not relenting until it is dead.
Finally, the Oath of Watchers are all about anti-extraplanar creatures. If it comes from another plane, these guys will absolutely thrash them. In addition, they’re crazy good at initiative, which is nice, and are decent anti-mages as well.
The Paladin is arguably the best tank in the game, and has a ton of good support spells and healing. They can also deal a massive amount of damage if they’re willing to burn their spell slots. A great archetype, if you’re willing to play by the tenets given to you!
The Ranger is a natural version of the Paladin, dedicated to defending the wildlands. Unlike Paladins, these guys are more focused on dealing damage.
Rangers have Favored Enemies and Favored Terrains. They know a ton about their favored enemies, and can track them with ease, even learning how to speak their language. Rangers are also incredible at exploring nature, but only in areas that they know well. If the campaign seems like it’s going to travel a lot, then we suggest taking the Deft Explorer optional feature instead.
Rangers get a few other abilities focused on finding enemies and tracking things down. Primeval Awareness allows them to sense a creature, despite it being miles or even planes away. They can travel faster than most others. They’re also relatively good at becoming stealthy, either by becoming actually invisible or just having good stealth abilities.
The Ranger spell list might be one of the better parts of the Ranger. Their spells are pretty aggressive, offering great debuffs, even better buffs, and alright area of effect damage. Their healing options are limited, but do exist. Also their keystone spell, Hunter’s Mark, is a huge boost to damage, and even allows you to track things down easier.
Ranger archetypes are all about increasing utility and allowing the ranger to deal damage in some way. All that changes is the how!
Beast Master brings a loyal animal companion to your side, but we suggest skipping on this archetype; the animal companion is not very durable and doesn’t hit hard outside of the late game.
The Fey Wanderer uses teleportation a ton to zip around the battlefield, and gets some fey-based magical synergy.
The Gloom Stalker sticks to the shadows, dealing extra damage to those who don’t know they’re in the fight, and get extra attacks if they miss.
Horizon Walkers are the anti-plane archetype, and are specifically designed to sniff out those who shouldn’t be on the Material plane. If you know your campaign is going to be plane-based, try this out!
Hunters are your basic damage dealers, but gain a ton of options so you can build the hunter that you want to be! They’re almost entirely damage-focused, but do gain an ability that helps keep them alive.
Monster Slayers pick a singular target (usually a monster or spellcaster) and just absolutely crush it. Really strong anti-mage.
Finally, the Swarmkeeper summons spirits to deal damage or provide weird and fun mobility tools. It’s also fairly tanky for a Ranger archetype, though it only gets its durability later on. Better as a utility caster!
The ranger does it’s job alright; it’s a good, damaging ranged character with some decent magic options. If you’re wanting to stab people relatively well, but are wanting a bit more natural flavor than a Fighter can handle, then a Ranger might be where you’re looking!
A good Rogue can be one of the most damaging classes in the entire game, and are also great out of combat!
Their main damaging tool is Sneak Attack, giving up to 10d6 damage to stabs with advantage or having at least one ally distracting the enemy. This lets rogues get away with only having one attack per turn, since sneak attack only triggers once per turn.
Rogues gain a ton of additional combat tools, though. Cunning Action lets them move fast as a Bonus action, greatly boosting their mobility. Their Uncanny Dodge and Evasion abilities will keep them alive, and Slippery Mind will keep them from getting too messed up by Dominate spells. They can even negate advantage on attack rolls, if you get to level 18!
However, Rogues are also well-known for their out-of-combat ability. Expertise is a massive increase to their skill system, giving up to a +6 to 4 skills! That can really increase your effectiveness in whatever situation that you specialize in. Eventually, you can’t roll below a 10 on attack rolls, and you’ll be able to see everything (even invisible creatures) within 10 feet! You’ll be a critical part of any expedition.
And that’s before we talk about archetypes! Rogue archetypes are almost universally about changing how a Rogue’s Sneak Attack works, in some way. Each of them change your game plan just a bit, but they’re all about boosting utility while occasionally upgrading damage.
Arcane Tricksters add 4 levels of spellcasting and Mage Hand utility, letting you get advantage on attack rolls easily. Assassins are all about the first turn of combat, eliminating a priority target quickly and then just becoming a Default Rogue. Scouts are all about preparing for combat and exploring the area around you… And invalidating the Ranger, sorry Ranger! Both of these archetypes are great if your party likes being prepared for fights.
Inquisitives and Masterminds are both out-of-combat classes with awesome flavor, and usually an additional way to get attack rolls. Inquisitives are mostly about noticing things, Masterminds are more about talking to others and knowing things. The Thief is also all about out-of-combat utility, focusing on making the Rogue fast, good at lock-picking, and incredibly mobile.
Phantoms are resource-based area-of-effect rogues that deal a ton of damage, if you spend the resources right. Soulknives are also resource-based, but have a pool of dice that they spend to help them out-of-combat. Their Psychic Blades are cool, but are difficult to enchant.
The Swashbuckler is the only one which is entirely combat-focused. It can sneak attack against almost any creature, can force duels with enemies, and can almost never fail acrobatics or athletics checks. A really good choice if you want to mess someone up in melee.
Rogues are fantastic team-based damage dealers, and are a critical part of the team. They die relatively fast if focused down, so they will usually want a little help in a fight. However, if you think you can play the skill-based second fiddle to another melee character, Rogues destroy fools!
Sorcerers have magic flowing through their blood, and unleash that magic against fools that think they’re smart. They are d6, no armor, late-game spellcasters… Good luck early on, but they become so worth it after the early stages!
Sorcerers are 9th level spellcasters, and their spell list is ridiculously aggressive. Sorcerers are best at dealing damage or debuffing enemies, with some buffs to round things out. There’s a ton of spells on the Sorcerer list that will decimate battlefields, from Hold Person to Fireball to Misty Step! Knowing what spells to learn is probably the hardest part of being a Sorcerer.
Sorcerers also gain an ability called Font of Magic, which give them Sorcery Points. These points can be spent to regain spell slots, or augment spells with Metamagic. Metamagic changes spells in great ways, such as causing a spell to bend in midair, or increasing the length of the spell. Depending on your sorcerer, you might really like a certain group of metamagic! Though, Quicken Spell tends to be a safe bet; casting spells faster is always nice!
Other than spells and metamagic, Sorcerers don’t get much outside of their Archetype. Really, they’re so focused on magic that even their optional class features are all about sorcery points and metamagic!
Thankfully, the Sorcerous Origin changes the build for a Sorcerer… a lot! Sorcerous origins split the sorcerer into either a Support Caster or a Damage Dealer.
For support casters, we have three primary archetypes. Aberrant Mind is all about mind control and psychic stuff. These sorcerers can read minds, remove memories, and stop creatures in their tracks. They lack a bit of damage, but they more than make up for it with utility! The Clockwork soul does a great job manipulating dice to best help their team out, and even get access to solid Cleric spells to help heal conditions! The actual healer is the Divine Soul sorcerer, which gains a bunch of healing, a bunch of buffs, and curatives for conditions. These guys can theoretically replace clerics, though you might want a Bard or Druid, just in case the Sorcerer starts trying to kill people again.
Now, for damage. The Draconic bloodline focuses on one element to deal extra damage, and is also the tankiest bloodline thanks to Draconic Resilience. They can even cause frightening, if you want! The Shadow sorcerer gets a bunch of ways to manipulate darkness to their advantage, and can even summon beasts! Storm Sorcerers suffer a bit from the spell list, since it has limited sources of lightning and thunder damage. Thanks to metamagic, though, you can now really become a Thunder God, pushing people around and moving out of danger with ease.
Last, but not least, the Wild Sorcerer is all about random events, where they trigger insane escapades constantly. Leveling up a Wild Sorcerer is basically only giving you some support abilities, and more control over the random events.
Sorcerers are best at dealing damage, debuffing enemies, and buffing allies. If you want to be a support caster, or to decimate a battlefield, check out the Sorcerous Origins and make a choice!
Warlocks have made a deal with a being much stronger than they to secure additional power. The reason behind the pact doesn’t matter; all Warlocks, whether virtuous or not, have made a deal, and are now stuck with their consequences.
Warlocks have a very unique spell system. Rather than having a pile of spells at different levels, Warlocks have a small pool of 1-4 spells. These spells are always cast at the maximum level (up to 5 at level 9) and are replenished on short rests. This means that the Warlock is always casting the most powerful versions of spells, but they do not have extra spell slots to use on weaker, but still useful, spell effects. This can be problematic, but makes Warlocks very effective at casting spells that scale well, like damaging spells or scaling buffs. They also have limited spells known, which can be an issue if you wanted increased combat utility.
This is not the only way that Warlocks are able to cast spells. The Mystic Arcanum feature allows them to cast a single 6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th level spell per day, at the specified levels. So, your highest level spells are quite limited; make them count!
Warlocks also get Invocations, which are small buffs that they get constantly; they get 8 total by level 18! These are customizable buffs to your character, which normally increase an aspect of it by a little. They’re also critical to your build; the Eldritch Blast warlock, for instance, really wants at least 2 invocations dedicated to Eldritch Blast, and likely wants more! These are super useful in building your character to be the best it can be.
Finally, there are pacts boons. The Pact of the Blade allows you to create a melee weapon that’s impossible to disarm, great for melee warlocks. Chain gives you a familiar, but the familiar is crazy strong, especially early on! Talisman is a support warlock tool, and allows you to defend allies. Tome gives you more spell options and, eventually, more spell slots to play around with.
But realistically, these aspects pale in comparison to how important your Patron is to your build! Patrons are critical to building a good Warlock. Their names are generic placeholders; you and your DM can decide who you are actually bonded to!
Archfey grants tricky spells and access to charm and frighten effects, making the Warlock stellar at battlefield control. It’s also got stellar mobility!
Celestial allows the Warlock to become a pseudo-healer, giving a ton of Cleric utility and healing spells as an option for the Warlock to learn. It also grants them a pool of dice for just healing! Not bad, if you want a blaster with some healing spells.
The Fathomless is a resource-based damage dealer and battlefield controller, revolving around slapping a tentacle on the field. Bring down the tentacle and slap enemies around with it. Oh, and get some cool spells to help you control an area.
The Fiend has you linked with demons, and thus you’re a gambling with the devil! You gain a bit of durability right away, whenever you kill something. Then you get some rerolls, resistances, and can even send someone to hell!
The Genie is a highly customizable class that’s reliant on a lamp… That can only be used once per rest. Ouch. However, it still deals good damage and has great cantrip-spam potential. It even gets alright durability by level 6, which is nice! It ends with the ability to cast a limited Wish spell, which can come in handy no doubt!
The Great Old One is the psychic warlock, ad thus is better as a supportive option. They don’t deal as much damage as other archetypes tend to, but have fantastic utility, and are even anti-psychic! Their level 14 ability even allows you to dominate creatures without spending a spell slot.
Hexblades are gifted from Shadowfell, and are the only realistic melee warlock. They use hexes to debuff enemies, and blades to hit enemies. These guys use their Charisma modifiers to absolutely crush enemies with melee weapons, letting you be a caster with a deadly weapon! Great multiclassing tool, but a fine debuffer as well!
Finally, the Undying Warlock is great if you don’t like combat or being useful out of combat either. That’s a bit harsh, but the Undying Warlock simply doesn’t work out well; it’s not even good at not dying!
Warlocks are defined by their pacts, though many builds end up just casting Eldritch Blast over and over again. These guys are very unique casters, and very aggressive as a result. If your goal is to decimate enemies, and you want a healthy amount of customizability to do it with, Warlock is your choice!
Perhaps the company’s name has something to do with this, but Wizards are a very loved and very useful class. Wizards are the cream of the crop magic user, the class you should think of when you think “magic”.
Wizards learn magic in a spellbook. This book has a list of spells that a Wizard can prepare. The Wizard can then cast those spells using whatever spell slots they have. This is not the same level that Clerics and Druids have, but Wizards can learn many, many more spells than Sorcerers or Bards can!
The Arcane Spell list tends to be ridiculous, and Wizards can theoretically write down the answer to any problem a party could possibly have. Between damaging spells like Fireball, support spells like Haste, and problem-solving spells like Shape Stone, they’re crazy! Try and learn a big spread of spells to help your party, and prepare what you think you’ll need.
Wizards can also restore spells that they have spent after a short rest. This is just a little refresh, but it can be all it takes to keep the Wizard going into the late game, where the Wizard shines!
Then, Wizards have an Arcane Tradition that they learn. There is a Tradition for every school of magic, and then a few more afterwards.
The schools of magic more or less make the Wizard better at what the school provides. Abjuration is durable with some great buffs, Conjuration is about summoning (though it’s not great at it). Divination is about information and dice rerolls, Enchantment is about taking turns and actions away from enemies, and Evocation is all about damage and area of effect. Finally, Illusion is all about trickery, Necromancy is all about debuffs, and Transmutation is all about buffs (though it’s not great at it either). Each school has its upsides, and they’re all much more complex than this paragraph makes things seem, but that’s more or less the build paths each.
Bladesinging puts a sword in a Wizard’s hand. They get buffed durability, Intelligence to attack and damage with swords, and can even attack twice. Really fun idea, but doesn’t really help casting, which can be annoying since Wizard spells are incredible.
Chronurgy is about manipulating time and dice, allowing you to force rerolls and almost always go first in a fight. It has good battlefield control too! A nice all-rounder Wizard option, really.
Graviturgy is all about battlefield control and messing with enemies’ positions. Cool if you want to mess with your enemies’ plans.
The Scribes school lets you wield a book and practice your penmanship. It’s a strange summoning build with the ability to slightly alter spells to help you out. It’s a preparation-based subclass, with the wizard also being preparation based!
The Wizard is an incredibly difficult class to master, but it has so many tools, damaging spells, and utility options that it’s easily one of the best classes… Once you get out of the very early game. Try it out, if you want to help parties solve all kinds of problems!
Conclusions – 5e Classes Guide
We hope our DND 5e Classes Guide has been helpful in directing you to a few classes of note! All classes in this game can handle themselves in a fight, but each of them contribute to a party in fantastic ways! Whether you’re wanting to start playing the game, or just wanting to try something new, every one of these classes has something to give. Have any thoughts on our d&d classes guide? let us know in the comment section below!