Choosing the right Dungeons and Dragons character class can be a daunting task. There are many different classes to choose from, each with a unique set of abilities. So which character class should you play in Dungeons and Dragons?
Thankfully, there are four easy methods you can use to pick the right class for you. I explain each one, outline some examples, and give you some questions to ask so you can choose the right class for you.
By the end of this blog post, you will know the answers to:
- What is Dungeons and Dragons?
- What are the different character classes?
- Which character class should you play?
What is Dungeons and Dragons?
Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) is a table top roleplaying game (TTRPG) you play with friends. Together you and your fellow adventurers complete quests in by exploring dungeons, fighting monsters, and solving puzzles.
I describe it to people as cooperative storytelling. Because you and your companions are all contributing to the story arc initially created by the dungeon master (DM). As a player, you create a character to experience the world imagined by the DM.
D&D is driven by the imagination of your DM, your companions, and you!
It is about envisioning the crumbling castle on the edge of a cliff and thinking about how your character might respond to any hurdles and obstacles they encounter as you make your way in. It’s picturing you and your traveling companions regrouping at a local tavern after escaping the pouring rain outside and discussing where you want to go next.
Using your imagination is the beauty of this game and why I love it so much compared to video games. What you can do in video games is strictly limited to what the developers programmed into the game.
But Dungeons and Dragons is different. If you can imagine it (and the DM will allow it), your actions are limited only by your imagination.
What are the different character classes?
There are 13 official classes in Dungeons and Dragons (and many unofficial classes to experiment with). Below you will find a list of the official classes with a brief description of each one.
My first tip for choosing a class is write down the classes that sound like fun as you go through the list:
- Artificers are the engineers and inventors of D&D. They use their intelligence, creativity, and magic to create powerful objects and amplify the abilities of existing objects.
- Barbarians are fearless warriors who charge into battle and tap into their feral nature to rage, making them terrifying on the battlefield.
- Bards are the entertainers of the world and use their charisma to weave magic through their words and music.
- Clerics are devoted to their deity and use their faith and strength of will to support their allies, heal the sick, and smite their enemies.
- Druids are protectors of nature and can shapeshift into different animals, call on the power of nature to cast spells, and even commune with the spirits to ask for assistance in and out of battle.
- Fighters are the most versatile class in D&D. They are skilled with all kinds of weapons and armor and can be proficient in many different combat styles.
- Monks are the masters of martial arts and use their agility, speed, and strength to defeat their enemies.
- Paladins are the champions of good, sworn to protect the innocent and smite evil wherever they find it.
- Rangers are expert woodsmen and trackers who use their skills to survive in the wild, find their prey, and take them down.
- Rogues are skilled thieves and assassins who use their cunning and dexterity to get what they want.
- Sorcerers are born with innate magical ability and use their power to unleash devastating spells on their enemies.
- Warlocks are seekers of knowledge and power who make a deal with a powerful being in order to gain access to their magic.
- Wizards are the masters of arcane magic and use their intellect and creativity to weave powerful spells.
Four Easy Methods to Crush the Question: Which character class should you play?
There are four methods you can you can use to answer the question, which character class should you play?
The Fun-Focused Method
The first method is choose the class that sounds the most fun to you! The number one goal of Dungeons and Dragons is to have fun. If you’re excited to play a certain class, there’s a good chance that class is right for you.
The Action-Focused Method
The second method is think about what you want your character to do.
Are you action-oriented? Do you like to plan? Do you want to be on the front line? Or do you want to hang back and support the front line? How do you want to tackle the obstacles your character encounters in the world of Dungeons & Dragons?
- Do you want to be a fighter who uses a spear and shield?
- A wizard who casts incredible spells?
- A druid who shapeshifts into her favorite animals?
- An artificer who invents weapons and gadgets to use?
- A ranger who tracks his enemies and takes them down with a longbow?
The Story-Focused Method
The third method is think about the kind of individual you want to be.
What’s your backstory? Who were your parents? How did you grow up? What’s your goal as a new adventurer? How did you end up with your skillset?
- Do you want to be a soldier returning from war, unsure of what to do with your skills and freedom?
- The son of a farmer leaving your family behind to pursue a life of adventure?
- A petty thief who lives in the slums of a big city just trying to get by on the fringes of society?
- A gladiator who won his freedom but has no idea how to get by in the real world?
The Team-Focused Method
The fourth method is choose a class that complements the rest of your adventuring party. This is my favorite because I know I’ll have fun regardless of the class I choose. So if my fun is taken care of no matter what, then I want to choose a class that will best support the group.
Let’s say you’re playing with three friends. One chooses to play a fighter, another one a rogue, and the last one a barbarian. So you have two classes who will be on the front lines and one who will need to jump in and out of combat to stay alive.
My first thought is, “Who’s going to heal these guys during and after a fight?”
Then I would look at the list and ask myself, “Which of these classes can provide healing support?”
The obvious choice is the cleric, but other classes are capable of healing as well, such as the bard, druid, and artificer. In fact, in the campaign I’ve been playing for over two years, two bards have saved my fighter’s life countless times using the most basic healing spells.
If you want to be a hero, you will be the hero if you save a character from permanent death in the middle of an epic boss battle. You will be the hero if you heal the barbarian just enough to survive one more round so she can deliver the final blow to a frost giant terrorizing the local ice-fishing village. And you will certainly be the hero if you can restore the king’s daughter after she was turned to stone.
Which character class should you play if you don’t want to play a healer?
A wizard or sorcerer would also complement that same group. The party would be well-rounded with you playing a spell slinger because it would give them a character who can cast wicked spells from the back to support the front line without getting in the way.
Not to mention, the utility of a magic user outside of battle is hard to match. Magic can pull off awe-inspiring feats in the world of D&D with a clever player at the helm. Never underestimate what a magic user can do with the right combination of spells, environment, and creativity.
Which character class should you play for your first campaign?
If you’re playing D&D for the first time, the standard recommendation is to choose the fighter class. Fighters are the most well-rounded and versatile class in the game and are proficient in all weapons and armor. They can excel at any role: damage dealer, tank, or support.
They’re also one of the easiest classes to play. Fighters don’t have a lot of complex options when it comes to their abilities, so you won’t need to spend as much time learning about your character’s capabilities.
I went with a Dragonborn fighter on my first campaign and he’s been one of my favorite characters because he’s a blast in battle and I set up his backstory to make him an enjoyable character to roleplay.
With that said, there is no wrong answer when it comes to choosing a character class. If you want to play a wizard because you think they’re cool, go for it!
Remember, goal number one is to have fun.
In a Nutshell—Which character class should you play?
There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question.
But there are plenty of questions and examples in this article you can use to get a better idea of the class that is right for you.
Do you like being up front near the action, dealing damage, and saving the day? Or do you prefer staying in the background, helping your friends and manipulating the environment to your advantage?
Is there a particular backstory or character archetype you want to explore? Are your traveling companions going to be in trouble without a fighter on the frontline or a rogue to disable traps and unlock doors?
In addition to the questions above, you can use four methods to pick the right character class for you:
- Fun—What class sounds the most fun to you?
- Action—How do you want your character to interact with the world, solve problems, and vanquish enemies?
- Story—What did your character do before becoming an adventurer and why does your character seek adventure?
- Team—Which class complements the other characters in your adventuring party?
Once you’ve determined which character class best suits your playstyle, it’s time to choose a race, roll some dice, and finish creating your hero.
With these tips in mind, go forth and save the world (or at least have fun until a beholder wipes the whole party)!
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