Overview Paladin

Now we passed the midpoint and got to the paladin. To be honest, I love the archetypical paladin, since 3.0e. Kicking evil butts, saving the day with a heart that’s true, it’s like playing a superhero with armor instead of tights. I was totally with tenets and such and sadly said: I’ve seen too many paladin players, which didn’t even care what it means to be a paladin.

In 4e it became less restrictive, in 5e we’re back to tenets and I’m all for it. Now we’re going to get an overview of this class, even though I was about to make an in-depth at this point, but this have to wait for now. First overview, in-depths some time later.

This is an overview, so I’ll just categorize each class in certain categories to see how it cuts and give a personal grading. The end-grading won’t count the multiclass-strength in (for obvious reasons) and is more like an overall impression than a mathematical derivation.

Any feature in italic is from a subclass and a abbreviation will say which one (in the paladin’s case DV for Devotion, AC for Ancient, VG for Vengeance and OB from the DMG’s Oathbreaker). And red features means there is a flaw or a minus in said category.

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Multiclass-Strength:

  • If you’re a caster, a paladin will provide half its level to your spell-slots per day
  • Taking the 1st level brings about nothing what a typical multiclasser is looking for. 2nd level is the least you should take, there you get the first features which makes it worth, 3rd and 4th level are great choices, too.
  • 5th level gives Extra Attack, 6th a great buff to saves for you and even your allies, while 7th is especially valuable for AC-paladins and then you can get 8th level, too.
  • Up to 12th level, the only especially interesting feature (since grabbing any Ability Score Improvement is good, but not especially interesting) is the Improved Divine Smite at 11th, which will increase your damage
  • 14th brings Cleansing Touch, which is a strong feature, but not a must
  • the capstone is determined by your subclass, so far they’re good (DV), great (VG) and unholy shit of an angel! (AC)

Offensive:

  • Weapon Proficiency: Always have the better tools due martial weapons.
  • Fighting Style (Dueling, Great Weapon Fighting): More damage is more damage after all.
  • Spellcasting: You got a lot of damage enhancing spells in that list, even though it lacks in the direct damage department.
  • Divine Smite: And we’ve more damage again! And you can use any spell-slots, the ‘paladin spell-slots’ there is a typo (since you don’t have different spell-slots just because you have different classes).
  • Extra Attack: More attacks, more hits and more damage!
  • Improved Divine Smite: The fighter gets another attack, your damage increases per attack instead. Less effective, but more damage nonetheless.
  • Channel Divinity (Sacred Weapon; DV): Accuracy bonus (these are rare), weapon becomes magical, no concentration and it makes light so you can see the foe in darkness!
  • Holy Nimbus (DV): A surefire way to damage every enemy without radiant immunity near you.
  • Channel Divinity (Nature’s Wrath; AC): If it lasts, that makes an easy target!
  • Channel Divinity (Abjure Enemy; VG): An one-time advantage!
  • Channel Divinity (Vow of Enmity; VG): You know, having advantage all the time sounds better.
  • Soul of Vengeance (VG): Attack with your reaction when the target of your Vow of Enmity makes an attack… not too complicated, just means: Attack, attack, wait, attack!
  • Avenging Angel (VG): Advantage to the ones who fails the save for one time and wings with improved speed which will bring some more lines of attack.
  • Channel Divinity: Control Undead (OB): Turning enemy undead into allies is a way to increase your party’s damage.
  • Aura of Hate (OB): Only for you, undead and fiends, but there are commanded undead, there are fiend familiars and it’s still a nice self-buff.
  • Aura of Dread (OB): Quite some damage potential here.
  • Aura of Dread (OB): As long as you have darkvision, since you’re not immune to the dim-light effect.

Resource-Management:

  • Divine Sense: Uses an own ‘uses per day’.
  • Lay on Hands: Healing without spell.
  • Spellcasting: Buffs make it easier to end battles and lessens the burden of other resources.
  • Divine Smite: You can trigger it on a hit and since it’s extra damage… consider to trigger it, after rolling a critical hit to double the damage for that instant!
  • Channel Divinity (general): Regain it after a short rest.
  • Aura features: Auras cost nothing and gives some nice benefits for you and the allies around you.
  • Cleansing Touch: Uses its own per-day-pool.
  • Channel Divinity (Nature’s Wrath; AC): When using against a weak and clumsy foe, it’ll keep it quite a while busy.
  • Elder Champion (AC): Lessens the amount of time needed to use a spell and disadvantage makes each spell work more reliable.
  • Channel Divinity (Abjure Enemy; VG): Effect on succeeding save and if the enemy fails, you can effectively ignore it for a while, so you won’t waste any resources there.
  • Relentless Avenger (VG): Keep close right away instead of spending movement next turn.
  • Avenging Angel (VG): A once a day resource, which lasts an hour!
  • Spellcasting: There are some concentrating spells here, as someone who wants to take the front, it’s risky. And if you aren’t hitting with these smite-spells, they might get lost.
  • Divine Smite: Uses up spell-slots and the damage caps at 4th level spell-slots.
  • Channel Divinity (general): One pool for different uses.

Support:

  • Lay on Hands: Heal your buddies from damage, disease and poison.
  • Fighting Style (Protect): Protect those, who doesn’t want to stay away from action. Like they should, probably.
  • Spellcasting: Buffs, heal and protection spells. Even some debuffs for your enemy.
  • Aura features: Keep your friends close and all Auras will affect them, too.
  • Cleansing Touch: Spells can take out your companions for a while. And you can take out these spells, as long they’re not instantaneous.
  • Channel Divinity (Turn the Unholy [DV], Turn the Faithless [AC]): Creates a space around the paladin where the enemies of specific types who failed the save won’t enter anymore.
  • Channel Divinity (Nature’s Wrath; AC): Restrain an enemy and it make it so much harder for it to hurt someone.
  • Elder Champion (AC): Makes your debuffs more reliable! And that saves your allies and yourself!
  • Channel Divinity (Abjure Enemy; VG): An enemy fewer can make a lot of difference.
  • Avenging Angel (VG): Fear me and let my friends hit you better, while you’ll suck at hitting yourself!

Survivability:

  • Hit points: A d10 is above the average d8.
  • Armor Proficiency: Take all the armor and shields you want
  • Lay on Hands: You carry your own healing power here.
  • Fighting Style (Defense): One of the few valuable ways to enhance your AC most of the time.
  • Spellcasting: More healing on the way and spells, which makes your enemies weaker.
  • Divine Health: First you could heal it with Lay on Hands, now you don’t even need to bother.
  • Aura of Protection: Since failing saving throws can bitterly make you suffer, it’s better to increase your chances in succeeding them.
  • Aura of Courage: This one always remind me of this OotS-Strip.
  • Cleansing Touch: As long as the spell lets you act and is not instantaneous, you can get rid of it.
  • Channel Divinity (Turn the Unholy [DV], Turn the Faithless [AC]): Keep those fiends and undead/fey away!
  • Aura of Devotion (DV): Nobody can seduce the paladin by unnatural means!
  • Purity of Spirits (DV): Imagine a demon lord, who came from the inner abyss only to destroy the world and all what he gets is a paladin, against he has permanently disadvantage on attack rolls, while the paladin gets advantage on sving throws vs. specific conditions, even though he’d be immune to most at this point. And the worst: It’s the effect of the spell, not a spell itself, so no anti-magic here.
  • Holy Nimbus (DV): Advantage on saving throws against anything a fiend, fey or undead will hurl at you. Nice.
  • Channel Divinity (Nature’s Wrath; AC): Restrained enemies have a harder time hurting you.
  • Aura of Warding (AC): Resistance to spell damage? This is sick and wrong on a character, who also got good AC and saves!
  • Undying Sentinel (AC): Keep standing once a day and be protected from (magical) aging, even though it doesn’t extend your lifespan.
  • Elder Champion (AC): For a minute you get a kind of regeneration. And since many smite-spells have save-dependent debuffs included, you can make the enemy work harder to even hit you.
  • Channel Divinity (Abjure Enemy; VG): Less damage incoming from foes, which are frightened and stopped moving!
  • Relentless Avenger (VG): No attacks of opportunity here!
  • Avenging Angel (VG): Make them all frightened of you and if that doesn’t help, you can fly away!
  • Channel Divinity: Control Undead (OB): An controlled enemy is an enemy less and a situational meat/bone/ghost-shield.
  • Channel Divinity: Dreadful Aspect (OB): If they’re afraid of you, they won’t attack you that easily.
  • Supernatural Resistance (OB): Since there are even a lot of nonmagical attacks in the high level tiers, this will be a life-saver… for yourself.
  • Aura of Hate (OB): Nothing there says ‘friendly’ undead and fiends.
  • Aura of Dread (OB): Dim light and the shadows makes it harder to hit you and the ones, who fight by your side.

Utility:

  • Divine Sense: Whenever you’re suspecting someone, this will be a great way to see if there is more to this.
  • Spellcasting: A handful spells which will be useful at some point.
  • Oath Spells: There are some wonderful non-paladin ones in there, which add up beautifully to your own spell-list.
  • Channel Divinity (Sacred Weapon; DV): Erm… light?
  • Holy Nimbus (DV): You’re shining!!! … great, right?
  • Avenging Angel (VG): Fly speed.
  • Channel Divinity: Control Undead (OB): You realize, that you have control for 24 hours, right? Might be very situational, but when it comes handy (like in a Vampire’s Castle), it will be very handy.
  • Channel Divinity: Dreadful Aspect (OB): A good DM will allow to use this condition to make intimidation even more intimidating.
  • Tenets: These will give you some restrictions in terms of options, even if you can lay them out widely most of the time.

Grading:

Multiclass: Great
Offense: Great (DV, AC) to Fantastic (VG, OB)
Resource Management: Good
Support: Great
Survivability: Great (DV, VG, OB) to Fantastic (AC)
Utility: Decent

Overall: Great

Or more of a great-plus. While the utility was saved by the spellcasting, the paladin can do about everything, even if he doesn’t put his focus there. Devotion is kinda lacking in general terms, but when facing undead and fiends regularly (which isn’t that uncommon in D&D campaigns) and counting in the rare and hellish strong accuracy buff there, you realize, that the class lacks nothing else but greater utility. And in everything else it can theoretically either keep up with most classes to a certain point.

The really dangerous point is the resource management. Since the paladin have a lot of different pools to use his features from, he can mitigate it to a certain point, but when he’s not careful, he will lose a lot of his punch. Especially after spending all spell-slots.

But this survivability is sick, spells to heal himself, lay on hands, immunity to a lot of effects, improved saving throws, possibly resistance to spell damage, after a few levels a paladin is someone who might survive about everything at his level-range, if he wouldn’t want to take the front row and use this multilayer defense to protect the allies. Good that he needs melee weapons for the best offense uses, this will force him one way or another to draw focus on him.

Even multiclassing to into and out of the paladin brings some of these powerful features right to your character.

What can I say? Great class overall.

Animal Companions which aren’t combat-focused

Time issues again, but that doesn’t mean, I can’t post anything. Just an overview is too much, especially now we got to the paladin, which is a very diverse class, bringing defending, striking, healing and even more to the table. For now we talk about a thing, which had my attention for a while: The ranger subclass Beast Master.

While this subclass is fairly easy to understand, it’s difficult to play it. All features but the very basic one (and partially Share Spells) are all about enhancing the combat abilities of the companion of yours. But let’s concentrate on the basic one for now: To have an animal companion at all! What are the benefits between an animal companion and a trained animal?

  • Animal Companions got better stats
  • Animal Companions aren’t running that free, your bound gives you an amount of control
    • Said Control means, you have to use (Bonus) Actions or an attack
    • Animal Companions won’t do actions unless you command one
  • Animal Companions are able to join in stealth-mode as fast as yourself in your favorite terrain
  • 8 hours beats training for weeks for combat readiness
  • sadly only up to medium size, so the medium-sized ranger wouldn’t get a steed. But gnomes and halflings flying on Pteranodons are A-OK!

Even though the survivability of the beast is better than that of other beasts of its kind, it will be always kinda squishy and even though you can muster a great offensive potential, it won’t survive many of the stronger attacks and spells.

But I’m kinda tight on time, so I’ll not dig too deeply into it. For me, the Animal Companion is all about having a companion and a special bound to it, to have it trained and a trusted and useful friend and not a class feature, which I can regain after 8 hours bonding (I rather stick to the same companion) and if you see it that way, too, you might consider to take an animal companion, which aren’t as combat-focused. For combat-focused ones, I’d like to introduce this guide. These picks are some special ones, which either carries a lot of fluff or ultimate out-of-combat usefulness!

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These are those in the Appendix D of the PHB. There are some good choices in the DM-Base Rules and the MM (which I don’t possess at the moment, since it sucks to live in Europe when it comes to attaining rule books for U.S.-games). But time issues.

The Scouts: These animals are pretty good at scouting, either due their size, their senses and sometimes even both.

  • Bat: Best blindsense so far, can fly, can almost take over your whole job in the darkness
  • Cat: Climb, good senses and stealth
  • Hawk: Good senses and such, but inferior to the owl stat-wise in every way. At least if the DM allows the owl to be awake during the whole day.
  • Owl: Most likely best scout companion in existence. Might be night-active, depending on your DM. In my campaigns they will be.
  • Rat: Can squeeze into tiny holes and have advantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks for smelling. Not much, but at least a bit.

The Spies: Other than scouts, these animals are mostly about fitting into urban environment, since the ranger simply lacks in that one.

  • Cat: Use its scout abilities in the urban area! There are tons of cats in any human settlement.
  • Mastiff: Or any other dog, less obvious than wolfs. And sometimes simply more fluffy.
  • Rat: The reason why there are so many cats. Because there are much more rats!

The Surprises: These animal companions are either great psychological threats, secret weapons and guardians or have other forms of surprising hapless NPCs and monsters.

  • Frog: More meant to be a familiar, but seriously: I would be surprise to see a ranger to actually and totally waste all these attack enhancers for his companion by picking one which can’t attack!
  • Mule: If you have a beast of burden for your loot, you should be fair and make it a full member of the party, right? And it’s like a secret weapon, because who would think that actually a mule is a ranger’s beast friend?!
  • Poisonous Snake: A little blindsight (not enough to spy), a swim speed and poison, which is better used out of combat instead of in-combat.
  • Rat: Most people are disgust by rats. Maybe because they carries plagues.
  • Raven: Mimicry! Wonderful utility ability, especially on a bird.

My personal pick: The Rat! Why? Because rats are everywhere, so it can blend in totally fine. It can fit into most holes, means that it can even scout ahead to look into houses, etc. And the most important one: To use Sleight of Hand to get my rat under the clothes of my enemy, let’s see if the enemy is desperate enough to hit basically himself with spells or weapons, to get an annoyance out of the way. Even though strictly speaking there is no damage roll involved in its bite, so the proficiency bonus as an animal companion wouldn’t kick in… at least if your DM sees it like that. I’d definitely allow this.

You can carry it in your pocket, use it as an interrogation help and smuggle it into about everywhere. Even if the stats aren’t too promising, the utility you can get out of it is pretty good.

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Overview – Monk

Now we get to the class, which shows us, that D&D is not to be intended as a western medieval based game, but a fantasy one, which can include anything you wants, even eastern. Or maybe especially eastern. It’s time for the monk, who isn’t a western one and even not too much of an eastern, but based on a very specific order, which shows us, that the human body is capable of feats we didn’t even thought about. Mostly, because it’s either unrealistic or would hurt as hell without special training.

The monk always had his up and downs from my point of view, and this edition makes no real difference. But let’s see…

This is an overview, so I’ll just categorize each class in certain categories to see how it cuts and give a personal grading. The end-grading won’t count the multiclass-strength in (for obvious reasons) and is more like an overall impression than a mathematical derivation.

Any feature in italic is from a subclass and a abbreviation will say which one (in the monk’s case OH for Open Hand, SH for Shadow and FE for Four Elements). And red features means there is a flaw or a minus in said category.

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Multiclass-Strength:

  • 1st level brings a lot of thinks you might want to have, even if the usefulness of each feature depends on your build. But one of them is definitely useful. 2nd level the same, 3rd is as an OH-monk especially cool and you can grab the ability improvement on 4th as well
  • 5th level is good for classes which wants the Extra Attack feature, even though Stunning Fist is cheap enough to be useful for some melee-builds, too. As a rouge you get usage of both features. 6th is ignorable for multiclassing into monk, while 7th at least grants you evasion, which can be great of your main-class don’t have it. Afterwards you should rather use monk as a main-class
  • 14th level is the part you want to reach at least with a main-class monk. If you aim for higher, you might get disappointed, even though the 17th level feature is always great with these subclasses, they are pretty ki point intensive.
  • The capstone is good. Far more practical than most, even if you miss out your most powerful features with that amount of ki points.
  • Only the first levels are that interesting about the monk in terms of multiclassing, even if you can aim for 8th for Evasion and another Ability Score Improvement.

Offensive:

  • Martial Arts: A kinda better way of two-weapon fighting and gets only stronger with levels. And another reason why you can dump STR.
  • Ki: Flurry of Blows. More attacks, more damage.
  • Unarmored Movement: Get to the enemy faster, be it on normal footing or later even over water and walls.
  • Deflect Missiles: Even though it might not trigger that often or the ki point is too valuable, you can actually throw the stuff back!
  • Extra Attack: Extra hurt.
  • Stunning Strike: The rest of your attacks will thank you. And your next turn, too.
  • Ki-Empowered Strikes: Don’t think you can escape full damage because of some resistance or immunity to normal weapons.
  • Empty Body: Make yourself invisible without the worry of ending the effect by attacking. Sounds like a lot of unseen attacks for me.
  • Open Hand Technique (OH): Knock prone for more accuracy for the next attack roll. Just a minor bonus here, since you need to flurry there.
  • Quivering Palm (OH): Instant death or some damage. Means save and suck (without necrotic resistance/immunity) or die.
  • Shadow Step (SH): Use your bonus action for advantage once and to cover a great deal of distance. Downside is the needed dim light or below.
  • Cloak of Shadows (SH): And again only usable if the light is at least dim. But at the end only another way to advantage, which you already had.
  • Opportunist (SH): The power of teamwork relies on hitting enemies together.
  • Elemental Disciplines (FE): Most of them do damage.

Resource-Management:

  • Ki: Your important resource is refilled by a short rest, mostly positive, sometimes you wish you would regain them in less time.
  • Stunning Strike: You use it after knowing you hit the target.
  • Perfect Self: Let you regain some ki points when having none. Better than nothing, I guess.
  • Open Hand Technique (OH): Additional effects for every flurry.
  • Quivering Palm (OH): For this effect, it’s not only cheap in ki points, but you can’t miss, since you decide on hit.
  • Disciple of the Elements (FE): Become more effective turn-wise by using ki points to enhance your spell-disciplines.
  • Ki: Since a lot of uses requires your bonus action, you can’t use it as effectively as you might like.
  • Disciple of the Elements (FE): Costs a lot.

Support:

  • Stunning Strike: A stunned creature is like Christmas for anyone who wants to put damage on that bastard.
  • Open Hand Technique (OH): Chance of knocking prone (regardless the size), chance of pushing the enemy into the front or away from the back is practical and no reactions makes reforming a much easier task. Or getting your allies away.
  • Shadow Arts (SH): Cover an allies retreat by making darkness, adding extra stealthiness by silence, some support potential.
  • Elemental Disciplines (FE): Some of them makes enemy more vulnerable.

Survivability:

  • Unarmored Defense: To help you forget the fact, that you can’t wear armor. Normally good enough to come by, but it’ll force you to get your DEX and WIS high, since you lack the hit points to be wide open.
  • Ki: Patient Defense is good when fearing multiple incoming attacks, while Step of the Wind brings you the hell out of sticky situations.
  • Unarmored Movement: Seriously, it becomes pretty hard to follow a fleeing monk at some point.
  • Deflect Missiles: Reduces damage by the cost of a reaction. Often a fair trade-off, since your attacks of opportunity aren’t as hard hitting as the ones other melee classes can provide.
  • Slow Fall: Less damage, even if it’s a special case.
  • Stunning Strike: A chance to take an enemy out for one round.
  • Evasion: Most damage spells are now much less frightening.
  • Stillness of Mind: And now nothing is frightening anymore. Or charming. Sad.
  • Purity of Body: And there goes the chance to be killed by alcohol. And green dragons might to express their displease by using their claws, teeth, tails and even wings about the whole immunity thing.
  • Diamond Soul: And finally, saves in general are pretty… well, save. All proficiency and a re-roll if needed.
  • Timeless Body: And age wouldn’t be a problem… at least the magical one, while the normal aging will never be disadvantageous. Except having less time to live.
  • Empty Body: You become invisible for a minute without any flaw, resistance to all but force damage? That’s some enhanced survivability.
  • Open Hand Technique (OH): All effects can make it easier to escape the engaging situation you got struck to. Use your movement afterwards wisely.
  • Wholeness of Body (OH): Self-Heal. Somehow good, but only once every long rest…
  • Tranquility (OH): As long you don’t hurt anyone, the enemy will have problems hurting you.
  • Shadow Step (SH): A great way to get away, when dark enough.
  • Cloak of Shadows (SH): Combine with Shadow Step and no one will be able to follow you when retreating.
  • Elemental Disciplines (FE): Few of them have defensive capabilities.
  • Armor Proficiency: You’ll miss armor for a long time, unless you got some strong stats in DEX and WIS.

Utility:

  • Tool Proficiency: Better one than none.
  • Martial Arts: You don’t need a weapon to be dangerous, so sometimes you can leave or drop it, when necessarily.
  • Ki: Step of the Wind provides longer jumps.
  • Unarmored Movement: Actually the 9th level improvement is much more interesting in the utility department here.
  • Slow Fall: Makes you braver when exploring cliffs and such.
  • Stunning Strike: A useful tool in impressing/intimidating someone with low-cost and a fearsome effect.
  • Tongue of the Sun and Moon: Talk to anyone who can talk. Practical at least.
  • Empty Body: Being invisible without much fail? Solid. Travel per Astral Projection? If you wouldn’t leave your body behind until reaching your destination, this would be a way to let the enemy far behind, but so we can only count in the travel factor.
  • Quivering Palm (OH): There are few better arguments than having your ‘business partner’ under that effect and explaining him, he could die within the next few days at any time you want. Unless of course he’ll do to your bidding.
  • Shadow Arts (SH): Mostly utility spells.
  • Shadow Step (SH): Some huge benefits in sneaking missions.
  • Cloak of Shadows (SH): And sneaking into anything at night became that much easier.
  • Elemental Disciplines (FE): A handful of them are able to uses utility effects as secondary effects, while a few have them even as primary effects.

Grading:

Multiclass: Decent
Offense: Good (SH) to Great (OH, FE)
Resource Management: Worse (FE) to Bad (OH, SH)
Support: Bad (SH) to Decent (OH, FE)
Survivability: Good
Utility: Decent (OH) to Good (SH, FE)

Overall: Decent

Again someone who mainly acts only in combat, even though the overall Ways of Shadow and the Four Elements have enough out-of combat uses to make it better. But the problem of the monk is mainly the fact that when trying to compete with another class, he’ll run quickly out of ki points. Too many uses for them, too less points to spent.

The monk gets so many survivability features, but most of them uses ki points or are too specific. To get the AC high enough to compete with front characters, you need exceptional ability scores. And the fact that spells and monster special actions becomes more unlikely to have effects on you makes up a bit, but this makes the monk someone who wants to skip the enemies front, even though he gets surrounded then… You have to play much smarter than the average front and even more smarter than the rogue, who get a fail save due his Cunning Action.

So my final impression would be: Be careful when playing a monk, this class is difficult to play. If you’re good in reading combat situations and don’t need to land hits every possible turn, you can make most of this class and then it becomes really strong. If you’re just about hitting something, the first few levels will most likely end deadly.

Overview – Fighter

OK, just let’s get over this. To be fair, I should say beforehand, that fighter might be my least favorite class. It’s neither the basic idea nor the rules themselves, I’m just missing the 4e fighter. While I do know, that the Battle Master gives something like all these cool and controlling powers, these are still a shadow of what the fighter could do back then, even when counting in feats. And of course the warlord-type options are nice, but I wanted a real warlord class, which could at least grant enough temporary hit points to be a healer substitute… but, oh well. I could write more about it, but now is not the time!

This attitude might warp my overview, even though I try to be fair and impartial. Well, let’s just get over this.

This is an overview, so I’ll just categorize each class in certain categories to see how it cuts and give a personal grading. The end-grading won’t count the multiclass-strength in (for obvious reasons) and is more like an overall impression than a mathematical derivation.

Any feature in italic is from a subclass and a abbreviation will say which one (in the fighter’s case CH for Champion, BM for Battle Master and EK for Eldritch Knight). And red features means there is a flaw or a minus in said category.

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Multiclass-Strength:

  • Fighting Style is the winner of 1st level, since Second Wind is stuck on the fighter level (and won’t be as good as the level and especially hit points rise)
  • 2nd and 3rd level are huge bonuses, Action Surge and Martial Archetype features are generally great, even though the EK is more about combining spell casters with fighters (to get your spell slots as high as possible). You might get 4th level for ability score improve and if you don’t get it otherwise 5th level for extra attack… and maybe 6th level for another improvement…
  • As long as you aren’t planning on playing a weapon-using spellcaster (like a Warlock/Fighter with a blade or perhaps a bow) you can most likely take a rest at 7th level, but one attack when using cantrips of the EK seems interesting here and then you can get up to 9th level, too
  • If you plan to have more fighter levels, the fighter is a pretty stable choice, 3 attacks at 11th level sounds good
  • afterwards it starts lacking a bit, since you simply get more of what you already have, until you hit 15th level with the Champion
  • Cap stone is nice in terms of damage output, but overall just that
  • Overall it might have even too many great features to multiclass in

Offensive:

  • Weapon Proficiency: Since martial weapons tends to hurt more.
  • Fighting Style (Archery, Dueling, Great Weapon Fighting, Two-Weapon Fighting): Increases the chance to hit, the amount of damage or even both in case of two weapons.
  • Extra Attacks: The only class that gets more than 2 inherit weapon attacks. The third attack will be standard for a while, but the fourth attack will be only important when playing at or above 20th level.
  • Improved Critical (CH): More critical hits means more damage.
  • Superior Critical (CH): Same as above.
  • Combat Superiority (BM): In most maneuvers the Superiority Die adds to the damage. And have sometimes another bonus there (like tripping, which enhances further attacks or damaging a target due Sweeping Attack).
  • Spellcasting (EK): Lot of evocation there.
  • War Magic (EK): Attack while cantriping. Attack cantrip and ranged attack together might be better than only attacking for a while.
  • Eldritch Strike (EK): Enemies getting disadvantage on saves for your damage spells is great, especially you’re not blessed with the great ones.
    • Arcane Charge (EK): When the enemy is far away or behind a minion-screen, what could be better than teleport right next to it and uses two actions to make that poor guy suffer?
    • Improved War Magic (EK): Casting your greatest damage spells and kill someone half-dead afterwards? Nice.

Resource-Management:

  • Second Wind: Self-Heal after every short rest.
  • Action Surge: Less time needed to do the things you want.
  • Indomitable: You need to fail to use it. Means that this feature manages itself.
  • Survivor (CH): Self-Heal that makes post-combat healing more effective, since it do a part of the job.
  • Combat Superiority (BM): Often you can make a maneuver after hitting the target, so you won’t waste Superiority Dice. And you regain those after a short rest, at least.
  • Relentless (BM): Now you can actually use a maneuver at least once per encounter.
  • War Magic (EK): When you’re forced to use a cantrip, you still get an attack out of it.
  • Eldritch Strike (EK): Waste less spell slots when casting a non-damaging spell with save, since often they have no effect when succeeding said save at all.
  • Improved War Magic (EK): Saves the time between buffing and attacking (even though once). You can do now both at once.
  • Combat Superiority (BM): Greatest subclass feature needs short rests, so you might not use it as often as you like.

Support:

  • Fighting Style (Protection): Protect those near you and better keep your friends close.
  • Combat Superiority (BM): A lot of maneuvers are actually supporting somehow, especially those who does nothing but support.
  • Spellcasting (EK): Abjuration and a few other schools are available.
  • Arcane Charge (EK): Be were you need to be.

Survivability:

  • Hit Die: Since most classes have d8, d10 is an improvement.
  • Armor Proficiency: Every armor and even shields sounds like a good chunk of metal to keep even low-dex fighters alive.
  • Fighting Style (Defense): Get hit 5% less of the time due bounded accuracy, which will even works with monsters with CR 30, as long your AC wasn’t too poor before.
  • Second Wind: At the beginning this will be a good way to heal yourself. At some point it’s only a drop in the bucket, but might negate at least one hit. And bonus action.
  • Indomitable: Improves the chance to save by a great deal. Especially important to save or suck/die elements.
  • Survivor (CH): Conditional Self-Heal, even though if you get it, you’re already somehow troubled.
  • Combat Superiority (BM): There are maneuvers which actually defends you.
  • Know Your Enemy (BM): You learn who not to piss off.
  • Spellcasting (EK): Abjuration mainly.
  • Arcane Charge (EK): When facing crisis, use all attacks and teleport yourself away afterwards. Or teleport and use actions to get yourself in better condition.

Utility:

  • Action Surge: Might be anything you desire, offense, survivability or even support. Depending on usage.
  • Ability Score Improvement: Two more than most classes, depending on attribute or feat you choose, the real category differs.
  • Remarkable Athlete (CH): Half proficiency rounded up instead of no proficiency. The funny thing is, initiative rolls are ability checks as well, so you’ll improve those, too. Developers found out after (due bard’s Jack of all Trades), but didn’t mind, so Remarkable Athlete to initiative is fair as well. And jumping a greater distance might come in handy sometimes.
  • Additional Fighting Style (CH): Depends on Fighting Style and these are already included.
  • Student of War (BM): Any proficiency adds to your utility!
  • Know Your Enemy (BM): Knowledge is power and here you might get a hint of what you have to do.
  • Improved Combat Superiority (BM): Depending on the maneuver, it boosts either damage, defense or support. Mostly damage.
  • Spellcasting (EK): The few spells outside evocation and abjuration (and the few within) helps a bit.
  • Weapon Bond (EK): Opens some uses by being able to act without weapon (because sneaking into a mansion is that much harder with the halberd which is always getting in the way and makes it easier to spot and more difficult to find a hiding spot), while having your weapon ready when you need. Was about to put it as a support feature, since it can be the main financial support a character can get. Sell weapon, call it later, keep the money. EVIL!

Grading:

Multiclass: Fantastic
Offense: Great to Fantastic (CH)
Resource Management: Good
Support: Bad to Decent (BM, EK)
Survivability: Great
Utility: Bad

Overall: Decent (read below)

Don’t misunderstand, the bad doesn’t mean that the fighter is actually a bad class. It’s only decent overall, since it excels in combat so much, while having serious problems to cover everything else. For combat, there is no better class, but when giving an overall grading, it seems just difficult to say: Hey, this class is overall good!

You can actually improve about anything with the additional ability score improvements used as feats, especially covering up some sore spots. But these aren’t strictly speaking fighter class options, so I didn’t count them in. And even though maneuvers do a lot of things, these are (of course) only combat and in terms of supporting, there are just so much better options from other classes. I think I’ll make a post about combat maneuvers someday, because they’re so diverse.

The utility department only got so many entries, because there are so many variety in fighters, but almost no real utility feature, which would get the utility grade (imo) higher. And even though the fighter is supposed to stand at the front and such, there is simple one optional feature which enhances it in the general class and a few more in the subclass, which is simply much less support value than the paladin or the barbarian. A BM might turn things around, but lacks the superiority dice to do so constantly.

So play a fighter, if you want to have a heck of a combat specialist, but the class itself lacks in other departments.

Be simple and happy!

Sadly no fighter today, no time, no motivation. So I just randomly picked a short topic from my memory and ended up with: The easiest subclasses in the PHB!

Sometimes there will be a player, who either doesn’t have much experience (D&D or P&P generally) or simply just fails in the organization/memorization/etc. department. But there is no need to fear, since the PHB actually got it covered. Some classes are more difficult to play than others (like the druid, who isn’t bad at all, but need some cautiousness), but generally no class just makes you better: Most features are situational and restrictive, so even with the easiest combo (feature-wise) it’s still more complicated than other systems. I’d like to say, that class-feature-wise, the 5e is even the most complex edition of D&D so far.

This is simple a list of the easiest class – subclass combos from the most difficult to the most easiest one. I assume the basic care of the specific class (to read and understand all the spells, decide between several options, etc.) and don’t add the basic playability to this, since the complexity of the fighter-class and the complexity of playing a fighter are different matters (since a fighter as a front-character have a lot to worry about and one or two wrong choices might get your teammates killed).

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12.) Druid – Circle of the Land: This might not be surprising, but the situationality of the spells and the wide variety of spells and wide-shape makes even the more easier druid a quite complex class, as long as you do even care a bit.

11.) Bard – College of Valor: The bard is a monster in terms of utility and variety, so of course he’s more complex. If the druid wouldn’t have wild shape which meant to look into a lot of additional future rulebooks (like the MMs), than the bard would be definitely up high. And it helps that other classes do have some spells so great, that you don’t actually research that much when hitting a Magical Secret.

10.) Paladin – Oath of Devotion: Being a paladin is an ordeal. Not only the vast spell-list, but so many options and choices you have to face every turn and often even outside of combat makes it simply hard to actually play the paladin, while his features are a tad lighter in terms of complexity. Some are kind of forgettable, but might be useful too often to do it with a clear conscious.
9.) Wizard – Evocation: While the wizard class itself is easy, the spell-list is humongous. Reading every spell might take a while and you can even prepare them…

8.) Warlock – The Great Old One: Down to it, the Warlock is almost easy in comparison in terms of complexity, since after choosing your stuff, you’re pretty much stuck with it, while only the selection procedure will take time. But since there are pretty much options here, that aren’t played by the same rules (when to regain, how often to use, etc.) it isn’t as easy as the next one imo.

7.) Cleric – Life: Since this domain only applies to one aspect, it’s much easier as a cleric. But still, the spell variety kicks in.

6.) Sorcerer – Dragon Ancestry: From all the main-casters, the dragon sorcerer makes up with easy to understand features and a not too complicated spell-list. Even though you still need to read a lot of them.

5.) Ranger – Beastmaster: After the initial decision, the Beastmaster is easy to handle, you got your companions hardstats and if it weren’t for the spells, he would even jump right ahead to 1st place.

4.) Rogue – Assassin: Now we’re down to the no-spell class choices. The rogue comes as third, because even though his features are much easier than reading a lot of spells, you’ve them all over the categories. The assassin was picked, because two of his features are so situational, that they might be forgot and/or never used.

3.) Barbarian – Berserker: The Barbarian should be a simple class, but most features remembers to the rogue, some variety and even if you don’t have much choices to make, remembering advantage on DEX-throws,

2.) Monk – Way of the Open Hand: The monk isn’t easy to play, but easy as a class. The only resource you actually have to manage is KI, but somehow the class still has some options to use these points and how which feature interacts with another one.

1.) Fighter – Champion: Some might suspected it already, but the reasons are really easy to understand. A lot of straight features which applies any time, while the rest is almost every time about when things get tight. It just does what it does and is almost every time easy to apply.

Overview – Druid

Finally we go on to the druid. I got some positive feedback for these overviews, because instead of just talking their stats and possibilities from up to down, my categorization seems to actually help to get a better feeling about what the class does how good, even without pointing out the myriads ways to build your character around it (I might pick it up at some point, but for now simple overviews).

This is an overview, so I’ll just categorize each class in certain categories to see how it cuts and give a personal grading. The end-grading won’t count the multiclass-strength in (for obvious reasons) and is more like an overall impression than a mathematical derivation.

Any feature in italic is from a subclass and a abbreviation will say which one (in the druid’s case LA for Circle of the Land and MO for Circle of the Moon). And red features means there is a flaw or a minus in said category.

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Multiclass-Strength:

  • A main-caster, so every level bard is progression in a 1:1 rate spellslot-wise.
  • Most DMs would still insist of the fact, that druids won’t wear metal armor, which can be a great down with some classes
  • The best features (like Wild Shape) are druid-level dependent
  • The four three levels are actually kinda decent, there are some good control spells, advanced basic healing+goodberry, there is Wildshape, a semi-useful sublass-feature, but overall it just feels that most  womain-casters are actually a better choice for dipping overall, at least unless you’re after some 1st level spells or cantrips (like Shillelagh).
  • The 6th to 17 levels continues the trend, the land druid gets some semi-useful features, which aren’t too bad, but no reason to multiclass, the moon druid gets better with higher levels, but I’d say the Elemental Wild Shape makes multiclassing viable, but it’s at 10th level. While the spells still punches a pack of damage, control and heal + several nature based utility, it still feels like wizards, clerics or bards just have better spell-lists for multiclassing (since it means to stop your progress in the druid list at some point), 17th level brings you 9th level spell slots, but even then I’d rather go to 18th (at least as a moon druid)
  • 18th gives the ability to cast spells while in Wild Shape, even though it’s kinda late for this. Here you might start to think about taking up another class (if you haven’t already)
  • the capstone is practical, but not too important to really have

Offensive:

  • Weapon Proficiency: At least you have the scimitar for some two-weapon fighting, I guess. But still only a minor plus.
  • Spellcasting: The druid has some good offensive spells, even if he’ll never reach the wizard or sorcerer. But where he lacks the damage, he makes up to some very vast AoEs, multiple spells which can be used more than once (Call Lightning, Sun Beam) and such. Actually pretty reliable.
  • Wild Shape: Every druid will be glad to have it for the first few levels, since it improves your offense without using your few spellslots you have.
  • Circle Forms (MO): Will make Wild Shape forms more competitive in the damage department, as long as you raise your level as a druid.
  • Primal Strike (MO): Wild Shapes stays in the game, even versus opponent’s which wants a magical weapon beating.

Resource-Management:

  • Tool Proficiency: Proficiency with Herbalism kit means making your own Potions of Healing and Antidotes. Even though with crafting rules and no help it might need a while…
  • Spellcasting: Since the druids have multiple spells which only needs to cast once and can be re-used in later turns (Flame Blade, Flaming Sphere, Call Lightning, etc.) he can pretty slow down his damage for saving his spellslots. Not always the best solution, but at least good in the resource-department. Goodberry is a great spell after combat and slot-wise, since it’s unlikely that you’ll heal more with a die throw
  • Wild Shape: Regain it every short rest, even though there will be times you’ll make a short rest, so you can regain your Wild Shape for exploration purposes.
  • Archdruid: Unlimited Wild Shape. No need to manage anymore.
  • Natural Recovery (LA): Regain spell slots up to 5th level at a short rest, means you can dish more out without worrying.
  • Spellcasting: Even more than other classes, the druid’s best spells tends to be concentration. This makes it harder to actually manage these spells effectively, since a bad choice of prepared spells might end you up just switching spells instead stacking them (e.g. when you want to use damaging spells while using Faerie Fire, you shouldn’t cast Flaming Sphere).
  • Combat Wild Shape (MO): Bonus action instead of action is improved time-management.
  • Circle Forms (MO): Stronger wild shapes makes more of every use of it.
  • Wild Shape: You lose spellcasting while using Wild Shape until you hit 18th level, which means that you actually is a great restriction

Support:

  • Spellcasting: Druids can give a lot of support by delaying opponents and bringing them down faster, the spells are few, the effect are immense, Faerie Fire is almost criminal, and early and strong spells for conjuring creatures increases the numbers of attacks quite a bit. Then there is healing, a few strong buffs and some control, which makes it that much harder for your opponents to even get to you.
  • Wild Shape: Become a (flying) mount, get into the pocket of your companion, who is supposed to meet an enemy alone, as a mouse, become a swordfish to function as a wea…-wait, that’s going to far. But spitting webs as a wolfspider, tongue-grapping as a Giant Frog, so many possibilities…
  • Elemental Wild Shape (MO): Especially the air elemental’s whirlwind is to be mentioned here, but elemental forms in general provides some supportive traits and actions.

Survivability:

  • Spellcasting: Heal yourself, buff yourself, do as you like.
  • Armor Proficiency: Normally I wouldn’t complain here, but there is the minor flaw of not being able to equip metal armors. Would be not problem, if DEX would be an actual secondary stat, but some builds might not want to spent much to it and you won’t be able to feat yourself to heavy armor. I’m sure there will be cases, when medium and heavy armor aren’t made of metal, but of a mystical material (like Dragon Scales, Demon Bones, etc.), but you shouldn’t count on it.
  • Wild Shape: You practically your Wild Shape hit points to your own. More hit points are generally better, as long your AC don’t drop too much. And you can cast an offensive concentration spell, Wild Shape into a bird and send lightning and fire to your enemies while remaining in the air! Or hide yourself as a rodent. Or be a fish in the water instead drowning.
  • Timeless Body: Was hard to decide on a category here, but you’ll actually live longer! And it’s a defense against magic aging curses and such.
  • Beast Spells: Now cast a lot more of your spells from the air! Better to take your druidic focus into your claws.
  • Archdruid: Same as above, just without druidic focus.
  • Land’s Stride (LA): Advantaged saves for some spells (mostly druidic ones) and if the terrain is helpful, it will enhance your chances here to get somewhere the enemy won’t reach you.
  • Nature’s Ward (LA): Immunity to poison and disease: Bought. Take that, green dragon! Now you’ll have to shred me to death! Immunity to frightened and charmed due elementals and fey creatures… less helpful, but depending on campaign its worth will rise immensely.
  • Nature’s Sanctuary (LA): Might protect you from beasts and plants. Not too sure if these are appropriate enemies for a 14th level druid though. OK, plants might be and war-elephants and dinosaurs.
  • Combat Wild Shape (MO): Heal yourself while taking a Wild Shape. As a bonus action!
  • Circle Forms (MO): Better stats from your wild shapes means more chances to survive all this.
  • Elemental Wild Shape (MO): When facing a pyromancer, maybe being a fire elemental might help you survive this.
  • Thousand Faces (MO): Get some environmental adaption without forfeiting your spellcasting ability until you hit 18th level.

Utility:

  • Druidic: Having your own secret language that only your ‘real friends’ share is cool, being able to leave signs that only your peers can read, while others have trouble finding it, makes it even cooler. But the utility is very depending…
  • Spellcasting: I’d say the druid’s spelllist is pretty much about utility, even though in another way than the wizard’s: It’s more about variety and focused outdoor activity. Facing a druid outdoor is a pretty dumb idea. And of course Ritual Casting!
  • Wild Shape: Wild Shape is like the king of exploration feature. Since you can transform you (at some point) about freely to your needs, as a land druid mostly for scouting, spying and sneaking, while as a moon druid it’s actual gonna be useful for combat purposes even after the first few levels. And there are other uses, too, depending on your fantasy: Spilling oil on your enemies as a Giant Eagle right before your Sorcerer casts his fireball has to be great thing! And so many beasts have fantastic actions to use.
  • Beast Spells: Combines the plus of Spellcasting with the plus of Wild Shape.
  • Archdruid: Practically cast most spells out of your mind? FRIGGIN’ AWESOME! And nobody should be able to actually notice who does all that stuff, in- and outside combat a great boon, if you’re a bit creative.
  • Bonus Cantrip (LA): Another Cantrip of your choice, more options means normally more utility.
  • Circle Spells (LA): Most spells are utility spells itself, but gaining some mainly wizard spells here and there helps. Especially since some of the greatest spells of their levels are there (like Haste).
  • Circle Forms (MO): Broader variety. Break doors as a mammoth later on!
  • Elemental Wild Shape (MO): When an element is calling, be its elemental to gain some special abilities which might help.
  • Thousand Faces (MO): One spell, multiple applications. Disguise, adaptation to the habitat, gaining claws or other features. Great thing if you know what you want and what to do.
  • Spellcasting: Even though the spell-list of the druid is great utility, the flaw of having a lot of his spells restricted to either outdoor, plant or animal is a bit of a minus here.

Grading:

Multiclass: Bad
Offense: Decent
Resource Management: Good
Support: Decent
Survivability: Decent (LA) to Great (MO)
Utility: Fantastic

Overall: Good

The druid isn’t much of a multiclasser, except maybe the last 2 levels. But on the other hand, after taking 18 levels druid, you might consider to make the set complete and stay single-classed.

One of the real jokes is: The druid is most likely the best caster in terms of variety. He doesn’t only get his own niche (nature, animals, plants, etc.), but has access to above average healing spells, some good support spells, decent to good damage spells, nice exploration and utility spells, etc. This variety is its strength, but for multiclassing you’re more looking for gaining general strong points in other classes instead of depending strong points (like plant&animal spells) and variety, since at least the latter should come by itself with multiclassing.

Even though the druid has very strong features and can possibly out-tough the Tarraske at 20th level, it’s kinda hard to give him more than a good seeing, how dependent and restrictive his features are. Even though the moon druid is much better in the survivability category, when he wild shapes he loses much of his spellcasting potencial, which the land druid excels. But since the moon druid doesn’t need to wild shape, he’s theoretically not that much weaker there…

The druid is a complex class, since you have to consider a lot and must live with a lot of limitations and choices. Variety and adaptability are its trademarks, but if you don’t watch out, he can become pretty ineffective and weak. So be sure to know when to use what and to which degree.

4e Deities and Domains

Even though the 4e did kinda scared me away at some point (mostly due the PG-mechanism and all releases bginning with Heroes of the Fallen Land), there are still a lot of things I liked. In this case, I like to talk about the Pantheon there.
Other than the Forgotten Realms Pantheon, you could actually oversee the numbers of these gods, other than a Greyhawk campaign, these gods seemed more natural and less special, which made it easier for players to understand. Other than the Eberron Gods, players actually cared about knowing most, because in Eberron they only remembers: ‘Sovereign Host had some gods, but the Host itself is more important. There are the Dark Six and I know the Traveler, because he’s funny. And there were these Light-thingies and I think the Elves did have religion and these evil guys, you know, emerald claw, erm…’ And I won’t start with racial gods.

The sad fact is, that gods are only as important as the players think they are. Most will only remember those who are either important to their characters or the campaign, but 4e was able to let my players remember multiples gods who were neither. I think it’s because of two reasons:

1.) The numbers: There were only few gods, you could rename them to different cultures while the deities remained the same. Even though you wouldn’t recreate any general racial god there, you could degrade those to exarchs, etc.
2.) The width: Moradin was the creator of dwarves, but foremost the god of creation and patron of artisans. Bahamuth was the god of justice, protection and nobility and not just some obscure dragon god. The deities covered a lot of the necessary domains, without even the need to get more specific to the actual worship in different cultures. These days paladins of Bahamuth were standard, while in the Realms these are more special. Can be interesting, too, but since fewer gods were assigned for a broader spectrum, they remained more rememberable.

OK, it helps definitely that most of these gods were recruited from another setting (like Kord, Pelor and Vecna from Greyhawk). đŸ˜‰

So here my list of deities of the 4e pantheon, since the 5e didn’t include it up to now:

Name Alignment Domains
Asmodeus Lawful Evil Trickery
Avandra Chaotic Good Knowldge, Trickery
Bahamuth Lawful Good Life, War
Bane Lawful Evil War
Corellon Chaotic Neutral Light
Erathis Lawful Neutral Knowledge, Life
Gruumsh Chaotic Evil Tempest, War
Ioun Neutral Knowledge
Kord Neutral Tempest, War
Lolth Chaotic Evil Trickery
Melora Neutral Nature, Tempest
Moradin Lawful Good Knowledge
Pelor Neutral Good Life, Light
The Raven Queen Neutral Death
Sehanine Chaotic Neutral Trickery
Tharizdun Chaotic Evil None* or Trickery
Tiamat Chaotic Evil Trickery
Torog Neutral Evil Death, War
Vecna Neutral Evil Knowledge
Zehir Neutral Evil Nature, Trickery

*Since Tharizdun is chained, you might rule that he won’t give domains, and can only be taken as patron of the warlock pact ‘The Great Old One’.

A lot of Trickery and in other departments pretty sparse. Well, like every former pantheon, these weren’t made to be included in a 5e system. And I guess most deities will get much more domains after a while, because there is still much untapped potential there.