One of the issues with early roleplaying games, DnD included, was the rigidity of the class system. In those days, with the less developed character backgrounds that players had to work with, the character’s class defined almost everything about them.
Magic Users (as they were then called) were aloof and academic, Thieves were sneaky and weak, and Fighters were confident and punchy. And so on. All a bit cliché, all a bit limiting. But very soon, the rules introduced a way of making characters more unique. The Multiclass character was now an option.
Read out guide to Multiclassing 5e below.
Getting the Most out of Multiclassing in 5e DnD
Not only did this add a whole range of options for your initial character build, but it also made you ask many questions.
- Was the Illusionist/Thief someone who had dropped out of magical training and turned to a life of crime?
- Was the Fighter/Cleric a soldier who had got religion or a follower of faith with a reasonably aggressive recruitment policy?
Already you knew a lot more about the character you had just created.
The rules evolved, and many more options and choices regarding races, classes, feats, skills, and much more gave you so much scope that today it would be almost impossible to find two characters that close in their nature; multiclassing still sits at the heart of the character creation process.
Why Should You Multiclass?
Multiclassing can be a complex issue to get your head around. Still, it essentially comes down to whether you want to specialize in one class and gain all of the benefits open to it, or do you wish to have a broader range of skills available to your character but possibly not have access to some of the upper echelons of that career path.
There are some obvious advantages to building a multiclass character, such as a gain in armor class and low-level class skills, which might not usually be available to you, for example.
One of the main reasons not to combine classes is that campaigns are usually capped at Level 20, and as a multiclass character, your combined level counts. This means that many multiclass characters stay close to the powerful skills and abilities of levels 15 and upwards. For example, our Fighter/Cleric mentioned above might be 3rd level in the former class and 2nd in the latter but is classed as a level 5 character.
The Best Multiclassing Options
There are twelve main classes to choose from when building your character, and whilst not all combinations are permissible, this still makes for some exciting combinations. One thing to consider is that just because your choice of multiclass combination is allowed, does it give you the benefits you are looking for?
Getting the best out of your build means paying close attention to which classes offer valuable low-level skills you can best use. It’s called synergy!
However, depending on the style of play you are looking for or an interesting back story to embody, conflicting multiclass combinations might be precisely what you are looking for. I always advocate leaning towards exciting roleplaying options rather than merely trying to stack up the best statistics.
Your character is a living, breathing person with personality and ambitions, quirks and qualities, not just a pile of numbers designed to give you the best advantage when adventuring. Of course, a well-balanced character can be both.
|Class||Minimum Ability Score|
|Fighter||13 Strength or Dexterity|
|Monk||13 Dexterity and Wisdom|
|Paladin||13 Strength and Charisma|
|Ranger||13 Dexterity and Wisdom|
The Pros and Cons of Multiclassing
When choosing which classes you wish to combine, you must look beyond the superficial. The idea of a Fighter who also has some magical prowess might seem cool, but do their various skills get in the way of each other? You need to consider some specific points and rules before combining classes.
Don’t worry about gaining armor proficiencies from other classes when combined with the Barbarian class, as they already feature Unarmoured Defense. Combining this with wearing heavy armor and becoming over-encumbered will only conflict with this.
Another classic feature of the Barbarian class is the berserker frenzy they can employ called Rage. Using this prevents them from being able to concentrate on anything outside their desire to kill, and they certainly aren’t in the right frame of mind to focus on the intricacies of the spell caster.
Spell bonuses aren’t going to combine well with their combat attributes, though you could make them a sort of tribal shaman, both excellent in combat and helpful spell users once the action is over. But not both simultaneously.
The best Bardic combinations are with other classes that favor a high Charisma. The downside is that multiclassing with full-spellcaster classes will prevent you from unlocking the more potent, high-level spells of either of your chosen classes.
A better option is to go the combat Bard route, with the Paladin being an obvious candidate to combine with. But perhaps, if this is the route you want to take, stay single class and pick up the College of Swords option.
Depending on the subclass you choose, Clerics often steer clear of melees, acting more in a supporting role, so you may stay as a single class and pursue the Clerical route to its fullest. If you like the idea of a War Cleric, a sort of righteous crusader and defender of the faith, combining with the Paladin is the way to go.
But, what you gain in the more martial areas also means that you might not get to the higher Clerical levels and the ability for three uses of Channel Divinity and guaranteed success on the Holy Hand Grenade of Divine Intervention.
A Druid’s spellcasting is Wisdom-based, so avoid multiclassing with the magical classes that draw their power from Charisma or Intelligence, which is a lot of them. Druids are also limited to wearing lighter, non-metal armor, so combining with a class that gives you armor proficiency is low on the list too.
Also, Druids get some fantastic abilities at higher levels, such as Wild Shape, that you are going to miss out on. Druids are best just being Druids.
As a Fighter class has Strength as its core statistic, pairing up with other classes who benefit from a high strength is advisable. This is, arguably, one of the best classes to have as part of your multiclass make-up as they are very versatile, and there isn’t too much lost by not reaching the higher levels of the Fighters trade.
And don’t worry too much about combining with classes strong in armor proficiencies. You already have that covered.
A Multiclassing Monk should look to combine with classes that do have good additional damage bonuses. They already have a higher-than-average number of attacks, so the combination will make them very dangerous.
Like the Barbarian, armor proficiency is unimportant as they also have Unarmoured Defense in their skill set. This class is already extremely diverse, so you can do almost anything within their subclasses, so multiclassing doesn’t bring that much to your varied skills.
But if you do, multiclassing with Cleric could be a good option. It ups the religious qualities and adds some valuable skills and abilities.
As Paladins are natural leaders who favor Charisma as a core statistic, combining with similar charisma-based classes is a good idea—that or multiclass with a full-spellcaster to bolster the Paladin’s partial spellcasting prowess.
Like Druids, and for similar reasons, Rangers are Wisdom based. They also require a higher than average Dexterity. They are also half-spellcasters and should choose to combine with other classes that also favor such requirements.
One of their favored features is the use of Hunters Mark, so merging with a class that can give access to multiple attacks is an excellent option to make the most of this.
Rogues gain access to Charisma-based spellcasting, so combining with a class that doesn’t contradict this is crucial. Sorcerers and other spell casters have no initial armor proficiencies, so multiclassing with them could be a good blend. If you take the Rogue as your core class, consider yourself a support role to the party, multiclassing to gain buffs and other spells to benefit your party.
Sorcerer is one of the best classes to multiclass. Their inherent magical abilities come in the form of Sorcerer points that let them manipulate spell slots and their casting. This is balanced by their low spells slots. Multiclassing with the Sorcerer can focus on one of two paths.
The first is to give them a bit of brute strength. Paladins and Sorcerers work well together by giving the Paladin’s spell power a boost, but also adding their martial strength to the mix. The downside of course is that you’ll have to balance your ability scores to ensure you can actually hit things effectively.
The next path is to supplement the Sorcerer’s spell manipulation with MORE SPELLS. Bards actually add quite a variety to their spell list and allow for more flexibility all around.
Perhaps my favorite combination however is the Sorcerer Warlock. The Warlock also doesn’t have a lot of spells slots, but they have the Cantrip to end all Cantrips, Eldritch Blast. Combine that with the Sorcerer’s Metamagic and your Sorcerer will be a monster on the battlefield.
Yet another Charisma-based spellcaster, the Warlock gains their own additional set of spell slots when multiclassing with other spellcasters. Additionally, they are already proficient in light armor and can use Pacts and Invocations for additional bonuses if desired.
It is best to keep Wizards concentrating on what they do best as they have access to some impressive spells at higher levels, something which multiclassing will cut them off from.
If you do multiclass, keep the secondary class limited to two levels; otherwise, you will never get to the 18th-level Wizard and access to the Spell Mastery that it brings.
Multiclassing in 5e DnD: The Best of Both Worlds
Multiclassing is an interesting addition to the character build. The perfect combinations can make you a force to be reckoned with, and more contradictory choices will give you some exciting backstories and roleplaying situations to work with. Perhaps a bit of both is the way to go.
Kendra has always been a hardcore fantasy nerd. Growing up in the worlds of Tolkien, Sanderson, Jordan, and Abercrombie, DnD & board games just came naturally. She and her husband, Bryan, started GameCows.com in 2018 as a fun passion project that just took over their lives. An avid board gamer since childhood and chronic DnD chronicler for more than two decades, she loves to play, write, travel, and learn dead languages.