How to choose your ideal D&D character

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Welcome to the table.

What character are you going to play?

For first time players jumping into D&D, Pathfinder or other fantasy RPGs, picking what kind of character to play can be daunting. First off, there are loads of options (races, classes, subclasses, personality, equipment, backgrounds, feats, etc.). Second off, picking your class dictates how you’re going to experience the game.

You want to enjoy your character and how it plays, so we’re here to help you pick a character class.

For starters, what is a character class?

There are thousands of combinations that will make your character unique from its race (elf, dwarf, human, etc.) to what kind of weapons it carries (a short sword vs. a great axe vs. a holy symbol).

Your class is probably the most defining aspect of your character and dictates its abilities. Wizards cast spells. Rogues are good at sneaking and stabbing. Barbarians charge in like madmen and break stuff.

They all have some combination of combat abilities (attacks, damaging spells or abilities that strengthen other characters) and non-combat abilities (sneaking, picking locks, intimidation, diplomacy).

What role do you want?

What sounds fun to you? You can fight with swords or arrows or spells or fists. You can be the sneaky, stealthy guy who backstabs enemies or the wild and crazy girl who charges in with weapons swinging.

Think about a class your party needs.

A good party has balance. A crew of barbarians and fighters or a party made entirely of wizards might not work well.

A typical party has a magic user, a healer, a damage dealer and a tank, but parties can be balanced in diverse ways. If you’re having trouble choosing, ask the others at your table what they might need in the party. It could help you choose.

What class should you choose?

Let us help with that.

We broke out the core D&D 5th edition classes to help give you a sense of the differences between each one.

When you’re ready, crack open your Player’s Handbook and get to work.

Barbarian

Good for people who like: Fierce warriors, charging into battle.

Characters like: Conan the Barbarian, Drax, Hulk

Role: Tank that takes on enemies with its rage and reckless attacks.

Bard

Good for people who like: Magic that inspires others or music used as a weapon.

Characters like: Jareth the Goblin King, Tenacious D.

Role: A support class that uses magic and inspiration to control the battlefield.

Cleric

Good for people who like: Healing your allies, doing some damage.

Characters like: “Bones” McCoy, Thor, the healer class from your favorite video game.

Role: Often a healer, helping other characters stay upright while they battle. Occasionally a fighter who calls down the power of their god to help in battle.

Druid

Good for people who like: Using the power of nature or shapeshifting.

Characters like: Poison Ivy, Maui, Beast Boy.

Role: A magic user that casts spells and can shifts into a beast shape to fight.

Fighter

Good for people who like: A master of combat, weapons and armor.

Characters like: Wonder Woman, Captain America, Gimli.

Role: Your archetypal fantasy warrior, the fighter is a tank that does a lot of damage but also absorbs a lot from enemies.

Monk

Good for people who like: Martial arts and throwing punches and kicks.

Characters like: Rocky Balboa, Bruce Lee, Daredevil.

Role: A master of martial arts, the monk does a whole lot of damage with its fists and feet.

Paladin

Good for people who like: Calling on a favored deity as they run into battle.

Characters like: King Arthur, Darth Vader.

Role: A tank usually clad in heavy armor and using the power of its god to do battle and occasionally do some healing.

Ranger

Good for people who like: Lobbing in arrows and tracking down bad guys.

Characters like: Robin Hood, Legolas, Buffy, Link, Hawkeye, Katniss Everdeen.

Role: Often a ranged attacker, the ranger also has limited spellcasting ability.

Rogue
Good for people who like: Doing lots of damage, thieving.

Characters like: Han Solo, Loki, Black Widow.

Role: A sneaky character that can move around the battlefield, backstab and pick locks.

Sorcerer

Good for people who like: Blowing things up with magic.

Characters like: Scarlet Witch, Harry Potter.

Role: Damage dealers, Sorcerers are born with raw magic in their blood, but they have more limited access to spells than wizards but can cast them practically at will.

Warlock

Good for people who like: Dark deals and sinister magic.

Characters like: John Constantine, Silver Surfer, Jack Sparrow.

Role: Combat-focused, warlocks are given their magical powers by making a pact with an otherworldly patron.

Wizard

Good for people who like: Casting all kinds of magical and wonderful spells.

Characters like: Gandalf, Doctor Strange, Hermione Granger.

Role: Controlling the battlefield, Wizards study magic for years and are the masters of the arcane.

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