Update of the cleric’s and paladin’s overviews+BG-Campaign

Like the title says, I updated the cleric’s and paladin’s overviews. I replaced the Death Spoiler with the actual Death Domain in the DMG, which got some features changed (like no more ignoring necrotic immunity) and I added the Oathbreaker.

Seriously, the only reason I could understand why those weren’t included in the PHB would be, that they weren’t ready that time.


When writing the wizard’s overview, I will include the Artificer Arcane Tradition, of course. This turned out to be great, since I’m in love with resource management and this Arcane Tradition makes a lot of use of it.


btw, we had our first Baldur’s Gate Self-Made Campaign game session yesterday and it was great. Even though I realized, that you have to change some mechanism and events from the game (since you shouldn’t expect PCs running into someone’s else houses and asking them directly, if there is something wrong), I realized by playing it, that there are a lot of mechanism in 5e, which should be included, like cartography (and proficiency with its tools) or out of combat features, which can bypass some encounters entirely.

We got to level 3 and are currently in Beregost, even though it’s much more fast paced than the game in terms of level, it does feel right in terms of power so far. Next they want to hunt the gnolls at High Hedge, before going to Nashkel to investigate the iron shortage.

Lacking Capstones

Today I talk about our capstones. A capstone is a feature you gain when you reached the level cap, in D&D more specific the level cap in one class (means 20th level for now). The only D&D edition which made great capstones were 4e, Pathfinder got it right and made at least decent, but often not too great, capstones. In 5e, most are lacking.

Here I categorized them to usefulness:

Great and useful anytime

  • Barbarian’s Primal Champion (+4 STR and CON and the cap get increased to 24 for these two abilities)
  • Paladin’s [Ancient] Elder Champion (regain 10 hit points per turn, 1 action casts can be reduced to bonus action, enemies within 10ft have disadvantage to saving throws vs. your paladin spells and Channel Divinity).
  • Rouge’s Stroke of Luck (turn a miss into a hit or make a failure in a ability check to a natural 20 once per short rest)
  • Wizard’s Signature Spells (have two 3rd level always prepared and cast them once per short rest for free at 3rd spell level)

Useful in most cases

  • Cleric’s Improved Divine Intervention (100% chance that your god will help you once a week)
  • Fighter’s 4th attack (great at combat, otherwise useless)
  • Paladin’s [Devotion] Holy Nimbus (10 radiant damage per round for enemies within 30ft, advantage on saving throws vs. undead and fiend spells)
  • Paladin’s [Vengeance] Avenging Angel (Fly speed 60ft and 30ft fear aura).
  • Warlock’s Eldritch Master (regain once per day after 1min all expended Pact Magic spell slots)

Rather lacking, even though useful sometimes (like builds and cases)

  • Druid’s Archdruid (unlimited Wildshape for moon druids and spellcasting with your mind alone unless the material components cost gold)
  • Ranger’s Foe Slayer (once per turn WIS-mod. to attack or damage vs. favored enemy after seeing the roll but before knowing the result)

Useful when running into a lot of encounters

  • Bard’s Superior Inspiration (get one inspiration back when having none when rolling initiative)
  • Monk’s Perfect Self (get 4 ki points back when having none when rolling initiative)
  • Sorcerer’s Sorcerous Restoration (regain 4 expended sorcery points after a short rest)

Some of them would definitely rank higher, if there were only one to two changed details. Like the warlock’s Eldritch Master, if it’d only cost an action. Pact Magic slots are regained after an hour rest, too, after all, even though a minute is much better in that regard, I wasn’t that whelmed.

So why aim for the capstones after all, if most of them are underwhelming? Maybe high level campaigns in planning have a lot of encounters one after another, so regaining resources with initiative roll will have that much impact. Maybe the 21th+ levels will bring some juicy bonuses when you stay in your class and the ‘not-capstones-anymores’ are just a milestone to real power.

I personally think after gaining so much levels in one class, you can simply go all the way. Why would a character even bother at that point to pursue another path?

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). 😉

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.

Overview – Cleric

Finally after 2 days of delay, we got the cleric’s overview. The cleric is one of the most diverse classes in this edition now, since we got access to 7 domains/subclasses in the PHB and another one in the DMG. And since the old days, developers were always looking for ways to make clerics cool, so they got a lot of features in the newer editions, which makes them often somehow overpowered. But still not enough to ensure that every party have a cleric. Maybe this post of mine helps.

Again just copy-paste with minor adjustments:

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 cleric’s case: Death, Knowledge, Life, Light, Nature, Tempest, Trickery, War). And red features means there is a flaw or a minus in said category.




    • A main-caster, so every cleric-level is progression in a 1:1 rate spellslot-wise; additionally no spells known means much diversity on all accessible spell-levels.
    • most 1st and 2nd level domain features are strong and the most basic heal spell which will accompany you a long time (Cure Wounds) is granted as a 1st level spell. This way it’s possible to get heavy armor proficiency with multiclassing along with other strong features
    • 3rd level alone is not worth picking up, unless you need specific 2nd level spells. 4th is a bit better with Ability Score Improvement, but if possible, 2 level clerics as a dip is enough
    • 6th and 8th level features are somehow nice (depending on domain) but often not worth sticking in that class that long
    • Divine Intervention at 10th level is nice, but only benefits from cleric levels…
    • Strong features at 17th level, so main-cleric might be good, while dipping the last level in another class
    • an above average capstone. Less reliable since only once a week, but when shit hits the fan, you’ll be happy to have it.


  • Spellcasting: The spell-list doesn’t have as much offensive spells as other classes, but most of them are good enough. But still no wizard, druid or sorcerer.
  • Destroy Undead: You might think this will never come into play and maybe you’re right. But since in 5e a hoard of simple skeletons can still be darn dangerous and it’s easy for the DM to enhance the difficulty of an encounter by putting more critters into it, at least the undead ones won’t be a problem.
  • Bonus Proficiency (martial weapons; D, Te, W): Better weapons means better damage.
  • Reaper (D): Since Chill Touch is the only cantrip which actually benefits enough from this feature to be valuable: Hello you two creatures who are gonna chill-touched!
  • Channel Divinity: Touch of the Death (D): You hit with an melee attack, you can add quite some damage only by spending a short rest resource.
  • Inescapable Destruction (D): Bye-bye resistance for the damage type I’m going mostly to deal. Seriously, don’t mess with the Death Cleric!
  • Divine Strike (D, Lf, N, Te, Tr, W): Instead of two attacks, just make one and hit a bit harder.
  • Improved Reaper (D): More targets for your weaker, but well-used spell-levels? Of course!
  • Potent Spellcasting (K, Lg): More damage for cantrips at least.
  • Channel Divinity: Radiance of the Dawn (Lg): AoE damage which doesn’t hurt your allies? Damage might be on the lower side, but it’s still only Channel Divinity.
  • Corona of Light (Lg): Since it only applies to fire and radiant damage, it’s mainly for offense (even though some secondary effects might kick in).
  • Wrath of the Storm (Te): Hurt those fools who dared to hurt you!
  • Channel Divinity: Destructive Wrath (Te): Max damage with thunder and/or lightning means ‘ouch’!
  • Channel Divinity: Invoke Duplicity (Tr): You can actually grant yourself advantage to attack rolls? Means more hits and higher critical hit chance.
  • War Priest (W): More attacks means more damage.
  • Channel Divinity: Guided Strike (W): More accuracy means more hits means more damage.


  • Spellcasting: Buffing and control spells will help in bringing down the critters much faster or protect the hp’s by making it harder to deplete them. And of course one of the best healing spells resource-wise: Prayer of Healing!
  • Channel Divinity: Turn undead: If undead stays away, they won’t get your hp’s down. Or those of your allies within 30 feet of you.
  • Channel Divinity: Touch of Death (D): Using Channel Divinity after confirming a hit with no loss unless necrotic immunity (or resistance until 6th level) comes into play!
  • Improved Reaper (D): Two targets instead of one? This makes your 1st to 5th level spells pretty valuable.
  • Disciple of Life (Lf): Gain more hp with every 1st+ level spell. Means less spells for healing.
  • Channel Divinity: Preserve Life (Lf): Sometimes an AoE will hurt the party as hell and brings everyone to low hitpoints. When facing this situation, letting all allies under half hps regain some is a great way to safe not only lives, but resources in actions, spells and time.
  • Blessed Healer (Lf): Heal yourself while healing allies with no further costs.
  • Supreme Healing (Lf): To give your enemy the one finger salute. One healing spell, maxed hps.
  • Dampen Elements (N): Granting resistance for some common magic damage types for one damage? Half damage means less wasted resources, especially if this feature only uses your reaction and nothing else.
  • Improved Duplicity (Tr): More duplicates with only one channel.
  • Channel Divinity: Guided Strike (W): Don’t waste actions with certain misses. Especially after some time, since you get a feeling or guess for your enemy’s AC. And of course it can save your spell slots by not missing with spell attack rolls.
  • Channel Divinity: War God’s Blessing (W): Same for your allies. Especially some of them will have even greater resources they want to burn efficiently.
  • Channel Divinity (general): The fact that the domain grants new ways to use it, makes this a versatile tool. But since it uses up the same pool, the particular ways to use it are more limited. But at least you regain the uses after a short rest.


  • Spellcasting: The cleric has a lot of support spells, beginning with buffs, excelling in healing and some vital control spells, which makes it easier for your allies to survive an encounter.
  • Channel Divinity: Turn Undead: Protects allies from undead, as long as the undead failed the save and your allies are near you.
  • Improved Reaper (D): Necromancy do have quite some debuff spells, and targeting two enemies instead of one with a bestow curse or a contagion can be pretty nasty and very supportive.
  • Channel Divinity: Radiance of the Dawn (Lg): Magical Darkness is a cheap way to make your party suffer greatly.
  • Improved Flare (Lg): Helps your ally by debuffing the enemy when needed.
  • Dampen Elements (N): Works on allies in 30ft.
  • Blessing of the Trickster (Tr): To be sure that your scout won’t be detect.
  • Channel Divinity: War God’s Blessing (W): Who doesn’t like a grant bonus to hit after seeing the die result (even though before knowing if it hit)?


  • Armor Proficiency: Shields keeps you alive and medium armor helps with a decent DEX score.
  • Spellcasting: If you’re normally the best healer in the party, that means that you have the best heal spells at your hands. Use them, since no one is helped if the healer is down. And protection spells are your forte, too!
  • Channel Divinity: Turn undead: Stay away from me!
  • Bonus Proficiency (heavy armor; Lf, N, Te, W): Thicker armor means more protection, especially if DEX can’t keep up.
  • Blessed Healer (Lf): Makes it a lot easier to stay in the game. Especially important for healers, since if they fall, the party most likely will, too.
  • Warding Flare (Lg): Nice one, even though it costs the reaction.
  • Dampen Elements (N): You are a creature in 30ft range.
  • Channel Divinity: Charm Animals and Plants (N): Helps only with 2 enemy types, but everything is fair at that point.
  • Master of Nature (N): See above, just better because you can use them for further protection.
  • Wrath of the Storm (Te): They dared once, but will they strike again, if you can hurt them at the same time?
  • Stormborn (Te): Better to be out of range if you want to be. In the sky!
  • Channel Divinity: Invoke Duplicity (Tr): As long your enemy doesn’t know which one is real, this might take at least one attack away from you. Better get stealth proficiency to hide away, while your fake will catch the attention.
  • Channel Divinity: Cloak of Shadows (Tr): If you run into trouble, make yourself invisible and walk away. Walk further next turn and heal yourself. Great thing!
  • Improved Duplicity (Tr): When you begin combat with that many duplicates, it means that there are higher chances that they might miss you the first few times.
  • Avatar of Battle (W): Nonmagical weapons only, but since many creatures don’t have those, it should come in handy often.


  • Spellcasting: Ritual Caster and some of the most useful exploration and enchantment spells to help you outside of combat. Especially Divination proofs super-useful when facing a wall of having-no-clue-what-to-do.
  • Domain Spells: Having two additional spells prepared for 1st to 5th spell level and some of them from different spell-lists can help you out in many ways.
  • Divine Intervention: It could be anything, but even though it’s kinda unreliable until 20th level and you ask your deity to assist you in pretty anything, it’s foremost an utility-tool.
  • Blessing of Knowledge (K): More skills are more ways to shine outside combat. Or in knowledge skills even inside combat…
  • Channel Divinity: Knowledge of the Ages (K): Granting yourself a skill or tool proficiency when needed? Kinda unfair.
  • Channel Divinity: Read Thoughts (K): Even though it can be used in combat, it’s real power lies outside of it.
  • Visions of the Past (K): Sure you aren’t a psion? Reading thoughts first and now psychometry? At least investigation shouldn’t be much problem at this point.
  • Bonus Cantrip (Lg): Light itself isn’t much of a problem most of the time, but don’t hurt to have this one.
  • Acolyte of Nature (N): One of three skills which are no class skill, one cantrip of the druid lists opens up some potential you normally won’t have.
  • Channel Divinity: Charm Animals and Plants (N): Definitely nice, even though quite limited. At least until you’re fighting against a mad druid, something even scarier than a mad wizard. Mad wizard will send golems, demons and other creatures out, that are definitely enemy. A mad druid will use beasts and plants… but they are everywhere and you won’t be able to distinguish – until it’s too late!
  • Master of Nature (N): Hah! Now they’re yours!
  • Thunderbolt Strike (Te): A feature with different usages, defensively after using Wrath of the Storm, preventing by delaying a slow enemy by pushing it back, offensive by pushing the enemy over an edge or supporting by pushing the enemy to your front-characters. But in the end an utility tool and too less of everything else to list it there.
  • Stormborn (Te): Flying speed outdoors. Says everything.
  • Blessing of the Trickster (Tr): Allows to be stealthy even without any talent.
  • Channel Divinity: Invoke Duplicity (Tr): Use your illusionary self to do bunch of trickery. Ambush those who thinks they can get you alone, distract someone while sneaking past him or behind him to knock him out. And adds to the range of spells, since the origin of the spell can be the duplicate. Means touch range, too, by the way.
  • Channel Divinity: Cloak of Shadows (Tr): Turn invisible for a round. Limited use, great ways to work with your imagination.
  • Improved Duplicity (Tr): More duplicates means a bit more utility.


Multiclass: Great as dip, bad as more
Offense: Decent to good (D, Lg, Te, W)
Resource Management: Decent to great (Lf)
Support: good
Survivability: good
Utility: great to fantastic (K)

Overall: good

Even though my overall is good, it’s more for the cleric class itself, because the possibilities are often quite strong and cool, but if I had to tell a player how good the cleric class is, I would say with one word ‘good’ and two words ‘it depends’. No choice is actually bad, but having this many subclasses makes it hard to narrow it down. When a cleric domain provides something, it’s like out of scale, but only for said domain and its aspects.

This makes the cleric much harder to analyze, since a Tempest Cleric can be a powerful offense caster, but for now only few high level lightning/thunder spells and the lack of control an evoker would have. The Trickery Cleric provides some trickery, but the field is narrow and the domain spells impresses me more. The Life Cleric is a healing monster, but nothing more. And a Death Cleric is a powerhouse, who can dish out quite an amount of damage when needed.

But he has always a more than stable base, the domain will either specialize him in one category or build up on multiple categories to be more versatile. The field the cleric is really awesome (outside healing) is his utility, most domains gives great out of combat features and some for creative use, while the spell-list completes the build perfectly.

The support features are mostly his spells, but since the cleric has such a broad base, he can pretty much support by filling in everywhere someone needs him.

But in the end the true strength of the cleric lies in his player and its ability to make use of the features the cleric has. Only the fact that his base is so broad with great healing, while his peaks are solely domain dependent kept him away from ‘great’. In overviews I tend to see the whole class and some domains are harder to pull of efficiently (like Nature and Trickery) than others. But if you’re up to the challenge, try it. It’s by no means weaker, but you have to be more aware of the strengths of the domain.

Next days might getting tight again, so I might get to the druid not until next week.

Why DMG? WHY?!!

I postpone the overview of the cleric another day, I’ll start today, but since it has too many domains to cover, I simply can’t do it in one day. Work, sleep and such. But to fill the day, I picked up a small issue I have. And that have to do with the DMG.

For those who didn’t knew, the official release pushed back to 9th December, which doesn’t bother me too much. Inconvenient, yes. But I’d rather have a overworked product. That so many optional rules are there, which could easily be introduced in the PHB? We got a bit closer. Here is a list, which got around some forums, no one knows how accurate it is. I marked those red which were in the playtest, orange for systems which reminds me of specific aspects of the playtest and green which have my personal interest:


  • costs to construct building
  • costs for hirelings
  • downtime activites (most of which have a 20% chance of going to jail for 5d6 days)
  • domains (kingdom builder rules)
  • using miniatures!!!
  • travel hazards
  • diseases
  • poisons
  • madness
  • traps
  • puzzles
  • modifying races
  • creating new races
  • monsters as characters
  • modifying classes

optional rules:

  • training to level up
  • trading in magic items
  • flanking
  • attacking cover
  • morale
  • action points
  • called shots
  • alternate skill systems (13th age backgrounds are an option)
  • vitality
  • spell points
  • skill points
  • single strike (1 attack roll, cumulative damage)
  • second wind
  • rest variants
  • proficiency dice
  • massive damage
  • marking
  • facing
  • cleaving through the horde
  • automatic success
  • chases
  • cantrip slots
  • action points (again?)
  • group initiative
  • weapon speed
  • passive initiative
  • gestalt characters

There are some things which should interest me, but somehow don’t. Most likely since I’ll await something vague for these topics like the stuff they wrote about it in 3e and 4e. But even though I’m positive that I’ll never use some of these things (without knowing more than the name), I’m not displeased by it. But a little tiny fact is annoying me:

That at least 2 subclasses were transferred in the DMG!

On the cleric side the Death Domain and the paladin lost the Oathbreaker. Maybe even more. And the question remains: Why?


Because these paths are so evil-natured that only NPCs should have access to it? Double Bullshit! First, if that’d be the case, why even develop those classes and taking the Necromancer into the PHB, which Animate Dead Feature is clearly suggesting the most evil thing about necromancy: The ability to create undead! And second, they already wrote that it might be possible to play a cleric with the Death Domain if your DM allows it. Generally most subclasses should stand over the alignment chart, even though some are more into specific alignments… OK, take paladins out of this, since the oath’s tenets are more or less binding you to a limited numbers of possible alignments (hard to play an evil character under the oath of devotion).

So either both subclasses weren’t finished yet (another reason to push back the release date maybe) or they were not as logical about it, as I would prefer. I know, that sometimes it’s just better to keep to a logic, which doesn’t make too much sense, since other things (like feeling, setting, etc.) are more important. But we’re talking about Player Class’ options. So I just hope that the priority if these subclasses weren’t high enough to be developed as fast as the others or to push back the release date of the PHB. Because if this weren’t the case, I’d get really angry about it!

Some other player’s are sharing my displeasure, but while it’s more of a logical question in my case and my aversion of (letting my players) cramming more rulebooks than needed, other have other issues, like the fascination of playing an evil character. Since evil is cool… I suppose. At least a lot of people like villains more than heroes, but playing an evil character would be pretty boring for me after a while… Unless the campaign is cleverly written, but even then I’d have more fun playing a good campaign than being an evil character…


The standard party and how to balance around it

Since I’m tighter on time and the cleric has a lot of subclasses (and I even plan to count in the Dead Domain spoilers), today I’m pausing the class-overviews and take a less time-consuming topic: Party balancing.

There are a lot of ways to balance a party, so I just picked the classic way today: The classic 4 player party with a fighter, a cleric, a rogue(thief) and a wizard/Magic-User. Of course with the original rule-set as a basic (even though I won’t get too deep to it). OK, truly, the thief was a supplement class, since the first D&D edition only had Fighting Man, Cleric and Magic-User.

  • Fighter: A classic fighter gets a lot of attacks, heavy armor and more out of its STR, but outside battle and strength tasks he’s pretty useless.
  • Cleric: Another armored dude with less good weapons, but to be able to support the fighter at the front at least. Healing and support magic mostly, but only to 7th level.
  • Thief: Thieves weren’t combat characters at all, light armor, attack bonus like a wizard and the same hit points. But they had something, which made up the early skill systems (when D&D was much more dungeon focused), which allowed them to move silently, find traps, open locks and pick pockets.
  • Magic-User: Magic-User were bad in combat, but were able to use magic and even in 1e afterwards they were the only class, which could use up to 9th level. Can do almost everything with magic, only healing is missing.


In this constellation, we have the following:

  • One character who does well in melee and one, who can support him there (50% can be at front)
  • Two characters which can cast spells (50%), even though one is a decent melee, while the other is a better caster
  • One character can heal
  • One character who can take care of traps, pick locks, etc.

Of course editions changed, even though the classic party remained. And is still the classic balance, now I’m using my own impressions of the balancing factors in this party and how you can ensure, that your party can stay in said balance.

  1. About 40% of the characters should be able to hold a front. To protect your squishy guys, you really need some meat at the front, who can stay there constantly. A monk or a bard may stay there one or two rounds, but should only to give a front-character a break for healing purposes.
  2. At least one real melee-character: Even though you can make up a front, at the melee must be pressure for your opponent, means above average survivability to tough it out, enough damage to keep being dangerous and simply a presence.
  3. There should be at least 2 spellcasters: Instead going with a percent value here, I think 2 spellcasters are plenty for a 3-5 headed party. Following spell-tasks should be present: Healing, supporting, AoE damage, controlling and some divination. Since only 3 classes don’t have automatically spellcasting abilities (even though 2 can get it and the other can use a pseudo spellcasting build), this shouldn’t be a problem.
  4. Someone who gets around a dungeon: Since dungeoneering will stay a vital part of D&D, someone should be able to pick locks and find and disable traps.
  5. A variety of skills: More like a new feature, but most skills should really be covered by the party. Not all are as essential, but most will come in handy at some point.

If you want to look for simple substitutes, you can use this:

  • Fighter: Barbarian and Paladin
  • Cleric: Valor Bard and Moon Circle Druid
  • Rogue: Lore Bard, Ranger, Warlock
  • Wizard: Land Circle Druid, Sorcerer, Tome Warlock

There are plenty of ways to actually hold up that balance in other ways, but here we’re just talking about the simple way. Maybe I might take that topic up again another time, to introduce other means of maintaining a party balance (like how a barbarian, rogue, bard and sorcerer party of mine in 3.5e had their own quirky balance).

And remember: Just because the iconic group makes often appearance in Starter Sets, etc. there are still plenty of functioning parties out there, which aren’t made by that formula. Some of them are even representing D&D.


OK, bad example…

Let’s Rock with Roles!

Finally I got this written, now see, what I was writing about the last few days: Roles!!!

In D&D 4e a lot of players were repulsed by the introduction of the class-roles, even though the books said, that they existed long ago and the classes were more built around those roles. Personally, I didn’t care about it, it just made party building that much easier. But since being classified as a role makes it much harder to actually visualize a different build, I thought: Let’s group any class into a group!

Here I will make a difference between combat-roles and outside-combat-roles, since every character should be able to participate in battle, while Social Interaction is often made by a single character. And I’ll dip into the archetypes a bit, without in-depth explanation, there are some builds out there, which makes it much clearer, if you prepare for a specific campaign.

Here the combat-roles:

Defenders are the typical front-liners, which can take punishment, are able to hold a line, protecting the backrow, and of course brings some punishment to the foes. In 4e he’s a very tactical role, in most previous editions, he is just swinging a weapon around hoping that his damage and presence is enough to fulfill that role.

Strikers are able to bring a humongeous amount of damage fast to the enemies. His main-role is to defeat the biggest threats as fast as possible or kill those off, which got some amount of damage from the Controller to lessen the numbers of enemies.

Leaders brings buffs for the party, leading how the battle will go on. AC-buffs for grindy battles, damage buffs for fast ones, the right buff at the same time is one of the most powerful thing. And of course he’s healing the party, ensuring their lifes while deciding effectively, who can participate how long in the thicks.

Controllers got are effects and strong debuffs. They often have damiging powers, which are able to get a lot of enemies in one sweep, they can change the battlefield to the party’s liking and make powerful foes to helpless ones (like stunning the same opponent consequently for 5 rounds).

No class is a pure build on these 4 basic roles and I chose the 4e terms, since Pen and Papers aren’t MMORPGs and therefore these roles have different ways and things to offer, than the correspondentive MMO-Role (Tank, Damage Per Second [DPS], Healer, Crowd Control)

Outside of Combat, these roles are more defining (not counting all possible, but those who I personally think are important):

Knowledge is power, and the Bookworm have all kind of knowledge skills paired with above average Intelligence (this is why they’re most often wizards), if the party needs more explanation, z

With a Brawn, you don’t have to worry about any physical challenge: Climbing a mountain path? No problem. Carrying the petrified Rogue out of the dungeon, while a cockatrice is at your heels? Piece of cake! Breaking a door? D’oh, rolled a 1!

Everyone who is a main-magic user is able to fulfill the Caster-role, when mundane tools ad tactics won’t work, just use a spell! There is treasure at the bottom of the lake and monsters which guard it? Water Breathing! We have to storm a fortress, overtaking the walls, fighting the guards and traps and get weakened to the final fight? Divination to find the treasure room, Dimension Door to shortcut! Some problems aren’t even remotely as easy to solve without a caster, like traveling to the City of Brass in the fire plane. To look for a portal which travels to it, getting to said portal while fighting off anything which is in the way or might think, that it’d be unwise to open a gate to the elemental fire? Annoying!

Without a Face, a person looks funny, a party looks poor. This is the guy who takes all the Charisma-based skills, to be able to smoothtalk, bluff or even force himself and his party members out of the most dangerous situation. A silvery tongue to a slippery guy. Or girl.

The Sneak(y Guy) is someone, is able to sneak ahead of the party for scouting, preparing ambushes or finding a way into a building (like climbing up the walls of a castle, take out the guard post and drop a rope for the rest). Sneaks and Spotters are natural enemies, even though a lot of Rangers fulfill both spots so well, that he should be his own archenemy.

Spotters are the ones who pumped everything in their Perception scores to be able to spot and search for everything. No enemy unseen, no treasure unfound, no DM slightly to really annoyed. There are reasons, why there is so many stealth options around.

Trappers are most often the Sneaky Guys as well and are responsible for traps and often locks as well. Since the Rogue (and later some rougish base classes) in 3e was the only one, who could find and disable magical traps, he was normally the trapper, in 4e and 5e everyone with an ability score to find traps (WIS or in 5e WIS or INT) and the right skill training/proficiencies can be a trapper now. Or leave the finding to the Spotter, even though it wouldn’t hurt to have him concentrate more on enemies.

Now that we know our roles, let’s see how our classes in 5e are to be categorized.


Combat-Role: The classic Barbarian is a more offensive, less defensive version of a Fighter and is therefore a Striker. Right? Actually, I think he shifted to be a Defender with a Striker secondary role. While Raging he can take a humongous deal of punishment to weapons, due his resistance to slashing, bludgeoning and piercing damage, as a Totem Warrior with the Totem Spirit of the Bear it extend to all damage except psychic and Danger Senses protects him even further. His Reckless Attack makes him a better target, provoking enemies to attack him rather his allies, Feral Instincts let him get a higher initiative, so he can better choose where to build up the front line. Most of his features makes him harder to kill or influence, better at being where he needs to be to protect others or helping out his allies or hindering his enemies, in both paths. On the Striker side he only get 2-3 attacks, a single reliable attack with advantage, a smallish bonus damage for Rages and a stronger Critical Hit, which only have a higher chance when using Reckless Attack. Enough Damage to be a threat to enemies, not enough to be an actual Striker, comparing with other classes.

Outside-Combat-Role: When there are no heads to smash, a Barbarian makes a wonderful Brawn, using his Rage feature to get Advantage on Strength rolls himself for a turn and much later Indomitable Might to always get high rolls. There is no special synergy with other roles, even though it’s common to let the strong guy make the intimidation with his muscle and charismatic Barbarians are always kinda neat and works well with the Berserker’s Intimidating Presence.



Combat-Role: As a class with good support, Bard’s were always the Leaders, even so their healing abilities came first at 3e pretty weak, in 4e stable and in 5e they’ve become main-casters with any vital healing and revive spell in their spell-list. The Bard’s features allows him to support his party in many ways, buffing them, removing mind-affecting affects and some other stuff. Due his Bard College and Magical Secret’s feature, he can easily fill some parts in other roles.

Outside-Combat-Role: Of course the Bard is your archetypical face, but he can get into other skill-depending roles due his skill-monkey features, so if you’re asking yourself, which ability to boost second after Charisma, you should consider which role outside of combat is still unfilled. Bard’s in the past were known for their aptitude in being the Bookworm, now there are less features for it, but the spell-list do have the vital divination spells. And as a main-caster he can fulfill the Caster role pretty well, having many diverse spells even outside combat and using spells from other classes as well.

So the Bard could fulfill any role quite easily.



Combat-Role: If the Cleric wouldn’t be a Leader, no one would. He have the most healing and removing condition spells and a bunch of buffs. Depending on domain he could take any secondary role, even though it’s easiest to him to become a secondary Controller.

Outside-Combat-Role: Clerics are obviously Casters, even though they’re lacking the flexibility of a Wizard, they have other great spells, which makes a combination with a Wizard that much powerful. Since 5e doesn’t require the Cleric to have a high Charisma score, his Face value dropped as well, even though they’re still good as Bookworms, if INT wasn’t dumped. Since WIS is their main ability, clerics makes good Spotters, even though they can’t get proficiency with Perception on their own, so you have to get it otherwise. For most other roles they’re mediocre or just bad, depending on their armor.



Combat-Role: In one way or another the Druid was always stuck between being a Leader or a Controller, even though I’d put him in as a Controller, since his healing was lacking compared to a Cleric and his spells to control the battlefield and deal with multiple enemies are so great.

Outside-Combat-Role: Wild Shape makes the Druid the perfect Spotter and even as a Sneak, he can use this feature. No guard post will take any notice of a squirrel in a tree, as long they don’t have reasons to fear a Druid and even then it might be a ‘friend’ of said person and killing it would only summon the Druid’s wrath, right?

Druid’s get enough knowledge skills to stand in as a Bookworm and outside in nature he’s most likely the best Caster in the game. And Wild Shape can make him a decent Brawn at some point, in Circle of the Moon even a great one (a Rhinoceros certainly helps you with breaking doors).



Combat-Role: As the archetypical Defender, the Fighter is supposed to have all the stuff you want a Defender to have. In pre-3e being at the front and hitting stuff was enough, in 3e he got Bonus Feats which could grant him special attacks without risk (like Disarming, Trip, etc. But hey, most spent them in Two-Weapon Fighting and ways to increase the damage) in 4e he got straight up powers to do his job. In 5e he get… the option to be a Defender. Unlike the Barbarian, who is a Defender at default, the Fighter do have the basics to be a Defender, but can easily be a Striker as well. For Defender take the Protection Fighting Style and the Battle Master archetype, for Striker the Champion archetype and any other Fighting Style (even though Defense won’t make you a better Striker). And the Eldritch Knight is a Striker with the ability to become a tertiary Controller. Pretty much Striker focused…

Outside-Combat-Role: Since old times a Fighter was always a Brawn, even though DEX-Fighters became popular in 3e and 5e makes it easier for them to survive without down-classing STR-Fighters too much. But after that, the Fighter do not have any special aptitude of being anything useful outside of combat, which means you have to choose your ability scores and background wisely, to be not a burden, when violence won’t help.



Combat-Role: Some might ask themselves, why Monks are in the first PHB, when this is so western heavy fantasy, but this goes some way back and the class is popular. I think because they’re deadly Strikers, which can deal a lot of attacks per turn, allowing them to hit the enemy almost every turn and when hitting is no concern, dealing a massive damage over time. Their features allows them to shake of effects which would hinder them, avoid damage if needed and to actually outrun foes, when they’re low on hit points. Since there is so much protection, he could stand in as a Defender as well, the Way of the Open Hand supports this, while Way of the Shadow makes him a more sneaky version of the Striker and Way of the Elements could bring him into either Defender or apprentice Controller direction.

Outside-Combat-Role: Monks are normally good Sneaks and Spotters, since their DEX and WIS is generally high and they have both proficiencies available. The Way of the Shadow brings a lot of Sneak options, which is great. In previous editions, they could be Brawns, too, but that will be now more the exception than the rule, since STR isn’t as necessary as before. The other roles don’t lie on the way of being a Monk.



Combat-Role: Since old times, Paladins were the defenders of good, justice and the weak, so you should suggest, that they’re Defenders as a combat-role. Actually they’re more of Leaders, if we just take the Paladin’s features into account, Lay on Hands, a lot of supportive auras, etc. The real defending comes from the spells, especially those with Smite in their names, which can inflict several conditions depending on spell, which hinders the opponents to act as they want. And there is a lot of Striker potential, seeing how many ways the Paladin has to increase his damage, he’s able to real burn out a lot of resources to deal a humongous amount of damage, if he rolls critical, he could one-hit even a deadly foe. So it depends how you play if the Paladin will be more of a Striker, Leader or Defender. So I guess there will be a lot of Striker Paladins out there…

Outside-Combat-Role: If the Paladin is not a Face, nobody should. He use Charisma for his Paladin features, so it’d be higher than average, he got useful skills and from a role-play point of view, everybody with a pure heart should be friendly to a real Paladin. Most Rogues and other less morally inclined characters might have some problems here and there. As a secondary role, being a Brawn fits the classic Paladin, who wields a sword or a hammer as the main weapon, while wearing a shield.



Combat-Role: Rangers were like highly specialized strikers in pre4e, since the Favored Enemy feature granted extra damage from the get-go, while in 4e they were definitely Strikers. Normally a Ranger was more like a warrior-type skill-monkey, a bit squishier than their Paladin and Fighter comrades, so they often stacked to ranged combat, which is a Striker part. And even in 5e, most combat-oriented features are more Striker focused, like a Striker oriented Fighting Style of choice, Foe Slayer or the subclasses, especially the hunter. The spells are some self-support to be more strikerly, a lot of utility and some group support. It’d be safe to say, that the Ranger is a Striker.

Outside-Combat-Role: The Ranger truly shines outside of combat as the most likely best single-classed Sneak, using three features which strengthens stealth (being stealthy while traveling at normal pace in your favored terrain, being able to get a +10 when lying in ambush and being able to hide as a bonus action), combining Ranger and Rogue might be a powerful option. Even as a Spotter he get some features, like Primeval Awareness and Feral Senses and as a Beat Master, he can have a great Spotter as a companion, so he don’t need to do it by his own. And he open up the tracking department, which isn’t an as important role, since most adventure’s will get you were you want, but open up new options. As a Bookworm, he’s more of a specialist for his Favored Enemies, using that feature to get advantage to the rolls.

Finally, since his spell-list is much about utility, he is a decent Caster in the wilds.



Combat-Role: Striker. Sneak Attack, a lot of features to get out of trouble while providing no special support to other, no questions.

Outside-Combat-Role: Like Bards, Rogues have a lot of skill support, so he could be any role, except the Caster. If we pick the Roles he fulfills with the least effort, it’d be Trapper and Sneak, getting the first at the start and some supporting features like the Cunning action or the Thief subclass, even though an Arcane Trickster is even more potent, using magic to support this build while being able to even cast the Mage Hand spell stealthily.


Combat-Role: This is a tricky one, in 3e the Sorcerer could be a real mean Controller, while the Striker role is also possible in 3e and the main focus in 4e. In 5e I’d stick to the Striker with the option to widens the area of effect to multiple enemies, taking care of some of the Controller’s tasks. Mainly because of the options of Metamagic, Twin Spells is a real mean thing, making it possible to leash at two opponents with strong spells, but the features also enhances his damage capabilities with some self-buff methods.

Outside-Combat-Role: Having a high Charisma score and at least some viable skill proficiencies, a Sorcerer is making a good Face, especially with some spells like Friends, Enchant Person and Disguise Self. His lack of spell-variety is making it hard to see him as a great Caster, especially since his spell-list is less about out of combat utility. The other roles aren’t fitting without some work.



Combat-Role: The Warlock is trapped between being a Striker and Controller, because he can up his damage a bit by taking the Agonizing Blast Invocation and other Eldritch Blast enhancers, but most of his effects are more about debuffs and some battlefield control. So I’d personally see him as a mainly single-target Controller with Striker tendencies, since he has a lot of features, which are more Striker-like.

Outside-Combat-Role: The warlock can be a powerful Caster, using Rituals as main-focus and Invocations for some real utility outside combat and resetting spell slots due Pact Magic. Most of the Warlock’s features, Invocations and falls into the Caster department. After that, Face for high Charisma.



Combat-Role: As you thought, having access to 7 subclasses and the broadest spell-list, the Wizard is pretty good at shifting his focus to be what the player want, but in the end, his spell-list is clearly that of a Controller, while having access to all kind of damaging spells, which enriches the Striker aspect. But that’d mean to leave out some of the best tactical advantages, a party can get at any time. And most Arcane Traditions are more about being a Controller.

Outside-Combat-Role: As an INT-based class, the Wizard is the archetypical Bookworm, who also can use his magic, to be even more knowledgeable. And nobody can be a better Caster than a Wizard, even though he lacks some stuff, the Cleric and Druid can do, but the Wizard has magical answers to almost every problem.


(OK, nowadays 1d6… they got too healthy!)

After reading this, you’ll see that most classes are what they’re promising, while some have potential or even main-builds which might be surprising. But