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There are 12 classes in the Dungeons and Dragons fifth edition (D&D 5E)  Player’s Handbook; from robed spellcasters, to great axe-wielding warriors, to enigmatic druids, fantasy fans are spoiled for choice. However, at first glance, the options may appear overwhelming when trying to build a character for your next bold adventure.

Each of the classes has unique mechanics and exciting roleplaying possibilities which will govern how you progress in your campaign, making them a key component in your D&D experience. Every choice comes with its own archetypes, playstyles, advantages and disadvantages, and, considering how much time you will be investing in your character, it’s vital to consider all options before you make a firm decision.

This guide covers all the D&D 5E Player’s Handbook classes, examining their basic stats, playstyles, and offering a few helpful tips. If you are a new player, or just fancy a quick refresher before deciding what class is best suited to you, this guide will help you choose before setting out on your next campaign.

Before we begin, let’s review the 12 classes on offer in fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons.

D&D 5E class guide party vs dragon

What’s in a name, you ask? Well, quite a lot, actually – remember, this class is going to be your character’s fundamental defining category. People who don’t know your character’s name may well address you by your class, all campaign long – so make sure to pick one you like.

These are the 12 current D&D 5E classes:

Think about your enemies:

Think about your enemies:

Different enemies in D&D 5E are weak against certain classes - for example, Clerics are unstoppable forces against undead. Ask your DM about this - and check the Monster Manual for more info!

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A big question to ask yourself when looking at classes is what kind of role you want to take in the adventuring party. Do you want to be the armoured support, like a Cleric? Or maybe the flashy damage-dealer as a Sorcerer? To help guide your choice, there are six primary abilities in D&D: 

  • Strength 
  • Constitution 
  • Wisdom 
  • Charisma 
  • Intelligence 
  • Dexterity

Each class will specialise in a primary ability that governs character building and roleplaying options. For example, a Fighter will focus on strength, maybe tending to run into battle impulsively and solve their problems with combat, while a Bard will focus on charisma and charm their way out of sticky situations. When picking a class, look at their primary abilities and consider what sort of character you would want to roleplay.

You might already have a class in mind – but a good adventurer knows their allies’ skills and characteristics as well as their own, so make sure you check out all the classes before before venturing forth!

Read our full Barbarian guide

Barbarian 5E

Party Role  Damage dealer, Tank
Primary AbilityStrength
Saving ThrowsStrength, Constitution
Hit Dice1d12 per Level 
HP at 1st Level  12 + Constitution modifier

Yep, that’s right, he’s the one on the left with the horned helmet.

The embodiment of anger management issues, Barbarians are the classic muscle-bound, hot-headed warriors we all know and love. Based on figures like Conan or Boudica, they are heavy hitters who excel in battle. With their rage ability and higher-level subclass features, they have the potential to deal devastating damage in combat and are near-impossible to take down because, of all the classes, they have the highest hit dice (which determine your health).

DM’s Guide: How to run the D&D 5E starter adventure

As this is a simple class that usually focuses on using brawn instead of brains, players will want to prioritise raising their strength, constitution and dexterity scores for an effective battle-ready Barbarian build.

Ready to start building your own skull-crushing, body-building badass? Read our full-on D&D Barbarian 5E class guide for all the best races, subclasses, and builds.

Read our full Bard guide

Bard 5E

Party Role  Utility, Support, Control
Primary AbilityCharisma 
Saving ThrowsCharisma, Dexterity
Hit Dice1d8 per Level 
HP at 1st Level  8+ Constitution modifier 

If you want to hone in on your roleplaying skills, the confident and charming Bard is a great choice. Often referred to as the ‘jack of all trades’ of the adventuring party, the Bardis a versatile class that can be a huge benefit to teammates, both in battle and social interactions.

Cast list: The D&D spells you shouldn’t leave camp without

A relatively tricky class to optimise, choosing the Bard’s spells requires strategic thinking and foresight. As they are primary spellcasters who truly shine in social situations, focus on raising their charisma score as you progress. 

Thinking of taking up your lute / violin / bagpipes and setting out on a musical tour of the Forgotten Realms? Play out your options with our in-depth Bard 5E class guide.

Read our full Cleric guide

Cleric 5E

Party Role  Support, Healer, Damage dealer
Primary AbilityWisdom 
Saving ThrowsWisdom, Charisma 
Hit Dice1d8 per Level 
HP at 1st Level  8 + Constitution modifier

Clerics are the divine agents of gods, and act as your tanky healer, smiting evil while keeping their party alive. However, Clerics can follow vastly different archetypes and playstyles based on which god and divine domain they choose.

The player’s handbook details seven divine domains that will dictate your party role; for example, if you are focused on healing, Life domain is a great choice, whereas combat-orientated Clerics will benefit from the War domain.

Takes all kinds: Our guide to all the D&D races

Since Clerics are primary spellcasters with a wisdom focus, and the party’s healer too, invest in their wisdom and constitution scores as you level up. With their simple spellcasting mechanic and baked-in roleplaying options, they are a great pick for first-time players.

Fancy yourself a devoted warrior of faith? Choose your pious path with our complete, in-depth Cleric 5E class guide. 

Read our full Druid guide

Druid 5E

Party Role  Utility, Support, Healer, Control
Primary AbilityWisdom 
Saving ThrowsIntelligence, Wisdom 
Hit Dice1d8 per Level 
HP at 1st Level  8 + Constitution modifier 

Ever wanted to be one with nature or transform into any creature? If the answer is yes, then the Druid class is for you. Druids are incredibly versatile, able to polymorph into beasts, heal the party and control the elements to turn a battle in your favour. 

Go your own way: Check out our Pathfinder classes guide

With quirky spells and an aversion to metal, roleplaying as an eccentric Druid can be fun for players who love mysticism and folklore. Another primary spellcaster, you should focus on raising your Druid’s wisdom score first and foremost. 

If you’re set on becoming one with nature, plant yourself in the most fertile soil possible, with our comprehensive D&D Druid 5E class guide. 

Read our full Fighter guide

Fighter 5E

Party Role  Tank, Damage dealer
Primary AbilityStrength or Dexterity
Saving ThrowsStrength, Constitution 
Hit Dice1d10 per Level 
HP at 1st Level  10 + Constitution modifier

The classic action hero archetype, the Fighter is a specialised battle machine, and an excellent pick for players who love to deal damage in combat. Great for new players and an ideal base class to experiment with multiclassing, the Fighter offers a range of roleplaying possibilities.

Like the Barbarian, focus on strength/dexterity and constitution to make your Fighter a devastating force in combat.

Would you take the Fighter’s path? Begin your training with our complete D&D Fighter 5E class guide, including Fighting Styles, subclasses, races, builds, and more. 

Read our full Monk guide

Monk 5E

Party Role  Damage dealer, Control
Primary AbilityWisdom & Dexterity 
Saving ThrowsDexterity, Strength (gain all saving throws at level 14) 
Hit Dice1d8 per Level
HP at 1st Level  8 + Constitution modifier 

Monks are the martial arts experts of the D&D world. Driven by discipline and the mystical force Ki, they destroy their enemies quickly and effectively. With their speed, Monks make excellent strikers in combat, able to break through enemy lines and target spellcasters. Their abilities make them great damage-dealers, but they can be challenging to play, due to their low hit dice and lack of armour proficiency.

Worlds within worlds: How to play D&D’s starter set

The Monk class offers unique character options with tons of pop culture references for roleplaying, from ninjas to air/water/earth/fire-benders. Focus on raising your dexterity, wisdom and constitution scores as you progress.

Will you master the power of the Ki with your next D&D character? Our fully loaded D&D Monk 5E guide uncovers this class’s secret ways. 

Read our full Paladin guide

 Paladin 5E

Party Role  Tank, Damage dealer, Support, Healer
Primary AbilityStrength & Charisma 
Saving ThrowsWisdom, Charisma 
Hit Dice1d10 per Level 
HP at 1st Level  10 + Constitution modifier

Often taking the leadership role and becoming the face of the party, Paladins are a charismatic hybrid class, dealing in both spellcasting and melee combat. Unlike previous editions of the game, there are no alignment or religious restrictions for your Paladin in 5E, making them personality-driven and only bound to their chosen Oath. These Oaths will define your character’s play style, so pick carefully.

For a well-rounded Paladin that can support your party and act as the negotiator/diplomat in social situations, focus on raising your charisma and strength scores.

Are you truly set upon taking your Oath and joining the noble champions of the righteous? Dive into our comprehensive Paladin 5E guide for more.

Read our full Ranger guide

Ranger 5E

Party Role  Damage dealer, Utility, Support 
Primary AbilityDexterity &  Wisdom 
Saving ThrowsDexterity, Strength 
Hit Dice1d10 per Level 
HP at 1st Level  10 + Constitution modifier

A hybrid class perfect for any players that love exploration, Rangers are part-martial warrior, part-spellcaster and can be invaluable party members. A popular choice, Rangers are the masters of nature and can take on multiple party roles. They can be both melee and ranged damage-dealers, cast control spells, and provide heaps of utility for a campaign with their tracking abilities.

You can do it: Our guide to the very best D&D Feats

Rangers get a ton of choices as they level up. They can select things like favoured terrain and enemies, so it is always a good idea to consult with your DM when character building. Focus on raising your dexterity score for damage and wisdom or constitution for spells and skills.

Have you already donned your forest-green armour and nocked an arrow in preparation for the Ranger’s life? Best check out our comprehensive D&D Ranger 5E guide for all the key subclasses, races, builds, and more.

Read our full Rogue guide

Rogue 5E

Party Role  Damage dealer, Utility
Primary AbilityDexterity
Saving ThrowsDexterity, Intelligence 
Hit Dice1d8 per Level 
HP at 1st Level  8+ Constitution modifier

Rogues are an elusive class who pride themselves on their ability to pick your pockets while stabbing you in the back. Awarded the most skills out of all classes, a Rogue  can build themselves into an irreplaceable ‘multi-tool’ teammate, picking locks, gathering information and deceiving their way out of disputes.

With abilities like sneak attack, they can obliterate single targets, making them satisfying to play for damage-dealing. Focus on raising your Rogue’s dexterity score, and strategically pick your level-up options to support the playstyle you want.

Ready to hit the backstreets and make a name for yourself? Check out our comprehensive Rogue 5E D&D class guide to dive deeper into the shadows.

Read our full Sorcerer guide

Sorcerer 5E

Party Role  Damage dealers, Control
Primary AbilityCharisma
Saving ThrowsConstitution, Charisma 
Hit Dice1d6 per Level 
HP at 1st Level  6 + Constitution modifier 

Unlike other spellcasters, Sorcerers have their magic granted through natural means; their powers come from raw ability. Quite a complex class but offering versatile spells make Sorcerers well-equipped for most dungeon crawling and social interactions.

Write ’em up: Our guide to the best D&D character sheets

With their proficiency in constitution saving throws and ability to use sorcery points to make more spell slots, they are an enticing spellcaster class for any player. Focus on raising your charisma score for spellcasting and remember that fire spells in D&D 5E are always a powerful choice.

Think you can feel the arcane blood coursing through your veins? Read our exhaustive Sorcerer 5E class guide to channel your powers. 

Read our full Warlock guide

Warlock 5E

Party Role  Utility, Damage dealers, Control 
Primary AbilityCharisma 
Saving ThrowsWisdom, Charisma 
Hit Dice1d8 per Level
HP at 1st Level  8 + Constitution modifier 

Spellcasters who form a pact with an otherworldly patron, Warlocks are granted incredible powers, making them uniquely strong damage dealers and unlike any other spellcaster in 5E. Despite their deceptively easy spellcasting, Warlocks are a mechanically complex class. Each level-up choice is meaningful and requires strategic thinking.

Their obligation to and relationship with their patron make them a story-building goldmine. You can be a cultist working for the fiends of hell, or an agent of the fey – the possibilities are endless. Great for damage-dealers to multiclass into, too. Focus on your charisma score for spellcasting.

Ready to make your pact with forces unknown? Dive in deep with our Warlock 5E guide, complete with all the Warlock races, subclasses, and builds you’ll need to get started. 

Read our full Wizard guide

Wizard 5E

Party Role  Utility, Damage dealers, Control
Primary AbilityIntelligence 
Saving ThrowsIntelligence, Wisdom 
Hit Dice1d6 per Level 
HP at 1st Level  6 + Constitution modifier

Wizards and fantasy go hand in hand, and many players will no doubt gravitate towards this class. With eight schools of magic to choose from and a unique spellbook mechanic, Wizards immerse players completely into the ‘studious magical genius’ role, making roleplaying a breeze. They are a versatile class and can obliterate multiple enemies at once, but are quite vulnerable due to their low hit dice.

Power of creation: The best online D&D character creators

Although tricky at first, once you understand the spellbook mechanic and how to utilise abilities like mage armour, a Wizard can be one of the party’s most effective damage-dealers. Focus on your intelligence score for spellcasting – and remember to keep your spellbook safe!


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Character class (Dungeons & Dragons)

A character class is a fundamental part of the identity and nature of characters in the Dungeons & Dragonsrole-playing game. A character's capabilities, strengths, and weaknesses are largely defined by their class; choosing a class is one of the first steps a player takes to create a Dungeons & Dragonsplayer character.[1] A character's class affects a character's available skills and abilities. A well-rounded party of characters requires a variety of abilities offered by the classes found within the game.

Dungeons & Dragons was the first game to introduce the usage of character classes to role-playing.[1] Many other traditional role-playing games and massively multiplayer online role-playing games have since adopted the concept as well. Dungeons & Dragons classes have generally been defined in the Player's Handbook, one of the three core rulebooks; a variety of alternate classes have also been defined in supplemental sourcebooks.

Classes by type[edit]

Principal base classes[edit]

These classes have appeared as character classes in the core books of multiple published editions:

Alternative base classes[edit]

While the main character classes available have remained fairly consistent since the 1st edition of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, a variety of alternate base classes have been offered in supplemental books. The release of Unearthed Arcana in , for instance, introduced the base class of Barbarian and reworked Paladins to be a type of the new base class "Cavalier".[2]Oriental Adventures also introduced a number of alternate classes more appropriate for an Eastern setting.[3] The 2nd edition added several completely new base classes (e.g. Runecaster and Shaman);[4][5] in addition, supplemental handbooks offered a variety of "kits" to customize each base class,[6][7] and the Dungeon Master's Guide offered rules for creating new character classes.[8] The 3rd edition introduced five classes for use in creating non-player characters in its Dungeon Master's Guide.[9]

Non-core base classes are considered optional and do not always exist in all settings.[3][10] For example, the Samurai class introduced in the Oriental Adventures book may not make sense in a game set in a standard European-style realm. Similarly, classes associated with psionics such as the Psychic Warrior don't apply to worlds without psionics.


Most editions of Dungeons & Dragons have allowed for the possibility to either advance in more than one class simultaneously, alternately taking levels in more than one class, or branching out in a second (or more) class at a specific point defined by the first class, a concept generally called multiclassing.[11]:&#;82–84&#;

In the 1st and 2nd editions, changing a character's class is difficult. Only those playing as humans can, and it requires extremely high stats to do so. This is called "dual-classing". Non-humans, on the other hand, can "multiclass" where they effectively learn two (or rarely even three) classes at the same time at the cost of a slower character level progression.[11]:&#;82–84&#;

3rd edition allows players to mix and match levels from any number of classes, though certain combinations are more effective than others. In addition, Prestige classes add more options for multiclassing.[11]:&#;82–84&#; This edition offers the most freedom regarding multiclassing. There are, however, penalties to the rate of experience point gained if classes are added haphazardly. The 3rd edition version of Unearthed Arcana includes rules for gestalt characters which combine the advantages of two classes.

The 4th edition allows characters to take a feat that grants access to specific facets of another class. The class-specific multiclass feats are also prerequisites for the power-swap feats, each of which allows the character to swap out a daily, encounter, or utility power from their first class for one from their second class. Also, at level 11, a character with a multiclass feat and all of the power-swap feats is eligible for paragon multiclassing, which allows them to gain additional powers from their second class in lieu of taking a Paragon Path. Some classes are only available through multiclassing; the first such class was Spellscarred, introduced in the Forgotten Realms Player's Guide.[12] In the 4th edition, each character can only multiclass into a single class, unless otherwise stated by their primary class (such as the Bard). The Player's Handbook III introduced "hybrid" classes, a deeper form of multiclassing in which elements of two classes are combined each level.

In the 5th edition, multiclassing requires minimum ability scores before it can be chosen; however, the requirements are not as steep as in previous editions. The core classes only require an ability score of 13 or greater in the specific requisite score, except for the Monk, Paladin and Ranger (who need 13s in two stats).[13]

Classes by editions[edit]

Main article: Editions of Dungeons & Dragons

Original Dungeons & Dragons[edit]

In the original Dungeons & Dragons boxed set, there were only three main classes: the Cleric, the Fighting man, and the Magic-User. The first supplement, Greyhawk, added the Thief as a fourth main class, as well as the Paladin as a Fighting Man subclass. These four fantasy gaming archetypes represent four major tactical roles in play: the Fighter offers direct combat strength and durability; the Thief offers cunning and stealth; the Cleric provides support in both combat and magic; and the Magic-User has a variety of magical powers. In many ways, other classes are thought of as alternatives that refine or combine these functions. Dwarves and Halflings were restricted to the Fighting Man class, and Elves were restricted to the Fighting Man and Magic-User classes; all three non-human races had limited level advancement.

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st edition[edit]

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons loosened the restrictions on race and class combinations, although non-human races often had restricted choices among classes and maximum levels they could reach in a class. Additional classes that had first appeared in supplements and articles in The Strategic Review magazine were included as base classes. The Player's Handbook also introduced the Bard as a sixth base class; however, its usage in 1st edition was more akin to what would be called a prestige class in later editions, as it was not a legal choice for a starting character. Instead, a character had to start as a Fighter, change classes to a Thief, and finally switch classes once more to become a Bard.

A character's ability scores directly tied into what class choices were legal for them. For instance, a character wishing to be a Fighter required at least 9 Strength; the more discriminating Monk required 15 Strength, 15 Wisdom, 15 Dexterity, and 11 Constitution.[15] Unusually high or low ability scores could proscribe class choice further; "too high" an Intelligence could prohibit being a Fighter, while a Charisma of 5 or less would require the character to become an Assassin. High ability scores in statistics considered pertinent to the class would grant an experience bonus.

The Player's Handbook brought about other changes in the game and its character classes.[16] Fighters, clerics, and thieves have improved hit dice over the previous edition. The effects of a character's strength score on hit probability, damage, weight allowed, and open doors rolls were changed. High intelligence conferred an increased chance for both spell knowledge and ability to learn languages. A high wisdom score now gave clerics a spell bonus, while low wisdom gave a chance of spell failure. New charts delineated the effects of constitution, dexterity and charisma. Each of the five main character classes and five sub-classes had its own experience table; for most classes it was now harder to gain promotion above third or fourth levels. multiclassed characters were also introduced.[16]

Unearthed Arcana added the Cavalier, Barbarian, and Thief-Acrobat classes.

Dungeons & Dragons Basic Set[edit]

The second version of the Dungeons & Dragons Basic Set combined the idea of race and class; non-human races did not have classes. Hence, a character might be a (human) Cleric or else simply an "Elf" or "Dwarf". The Basic Set presented four human classes: Cleric, Fighter, Magic User and Thief, and three demi-human classes: Dwarf, Elf, and Halfling. The Companion Set introduced four optional classes for high-level characters: the Avenger, Paladin, and Knight for Fighters, and the Druid for Clerics. The Master Set introduced one additional class: the Mystic. The Gazetteer series included many optional classes for humans and non-humans, including the shaman (GAZ12) and shamani (GAZ14). Additional human and race classes were also presented in other supplements.

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd edition[edit]

The 2nd edition of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons attempted to streamline what had become a hodgepodge of rules that only applied in specific cases in 1st edition. As such, it sought to simplify the rules and straighten out contradictions. Character classes were divided into four groups or "metaclasses": Warrior, Wizard, Priest, and Rogue. Each of these groups had a "base" class which only required at least a 9 in the "prime requisite" statistic in Fighter, Mage, Cleric, and Thief; these were intended to be playable in any setting. The Player's Handbook went on to say that "all of the other classes are optional."[17] Each group of classes had the same hit dice (determining hit point growth), THAC0 progression, and saving throw table.[17] 2nd edition maintained minimums in certain statistics to qualify for some classes, but removed many of the other restrictions such as one extremely low statistic forcing a character into a specific class.


Magic-using classes were altered in the 2nd edition. The 2nd edition had two unified spell groups, one for wizard spells and another for priest spells. These lists were then further subdivided by school of magic and sphere of influence, respectively. Different classes had access to different schools or spheres, allowing for each class to have distinct spell lists.

The illusionist class from 1st edition, for example, became a type of specialist wizard; specialists gained the ability to cast extra spells of their chosen school of magic in exchange for the inability to cast spells of "opposed" schools; an illusionist would gain extra spells per day in the school of illusion, but would be denied access to the schools of abjuration, necromancy, and evocation.

A similar distinction was made for priests. 2nd edition introduced priests of a specific mythology who would gain their own specific abilities, restrictions, and sphere of influence selection. The druid was provided as an example; the specification of other specialty priests was left to dungeon masters and setting books. As an example, a specialty priest of Tempus, the god of war in the Forgotten Realms campaign setting, can incite a berserker rage in allies and lacks the "only blunt weapons" restriction of normal clerics. The selection of spheres of influence worked similarly to the allowed and forbidden schools of magic.

The bard class was changed to be a normal class that could be chosen at character creation. The assassin and monk classes were removed from the 2nd edition Player's Handbook.[11]:&#;84&#; The Dungeon Master's Guide clarified the rationale behind the decision in a section on creating new character classes:

What is a Viking but a fighter with a certain outlook on life and warfare? A witch is really nothing but a female wizard. A vampire hunter is only a title assumed by a character of any class who is dedicated to the destruction and elimination of those loathsome creatures. The same is true of assassins. Killing for profit requires no special powers, only a specific reprehensible outlook. Choosing the title does not imply any special powers or abilities. The character just uses his current skills to fulfill a specific, personal set of goals.

—&#;Dungeon Master's Guide, 2nd edition

Class-specific supplements for 2nd edition introduced a number of additional class modifications called kits, which allowed players to create characters with particular themes without having to introduce additional classes. The assassin, barbarian, and monk were re-implemented in such fashion.

Supplemental books introduced new classes. The barbarian returned as a class in the Complete Barbarian's Handbook which also introduced the shaman. The berserker and the runecaster classes appeared in the Viking's Campaign Sourcebook, and the manteis in the Celts Campaign Sourcebook. The psionicist class was introduced in the Complete Psionics Handbook. Campaign settings also introduced new classes, such as the magician and guilder from Birthright, the gladiator and trader from Dark Sun, and the anchorite and arcanist from Ravenloft.

Dungeons & Dragons 3rd edition[edit]

The 3rd edition abolished the practice of grouping classes directly, allowing hit dice, attack bonus, and saving throws to vary for each particular class again. 3rd edition also saw the return of the Monk as a base class, the creation of the new Sorcerer class, and the inclusion of Barbarian as a base Player's Handbook class, previously described in 1st edition's Unearthed Arcana rules and as an optional kit in 2nd edition. Statistical requirements on classes and experience bonuses were abolished, though a low score in an important statistic to a class would still adversely affect a character in it.

3rd edition allows for a much more fluid idea of multiclassing than earlier editions, as one unified experience-points-per-level table was made. Rather than earlier editions' rules on splitting experience, characters can simply choose which class they wish to take a new level in and add the appropriate bonus from the class.

Prestige classes were also introduced in the 3rd edition's Dungeon Master's Guide, with new classes only available at higher level and after meeting several prerequisites.

In addition to the eleven classes presented in the PHB, various alternate base classes were presented in supplements, and the Dungeon Master's Guide presented five weaker classes designed for NPCs (the adept, aristocrat, commoner, expert, and warrior).

Core character class[edit]

The eleven base classes presented in the 3rd edition Player's Handbook are:

Alternative classes[edit]

In addition to class variants for the eleven core classes, many of the supplemental books introduce new base classes which can be taken from first level or multiclassed into. Some of these books also present prestige classes which have entry requirements only accessible by taking levels in the base classes described in those books (e.g. the Soulcaster prestige class requires the soulmelding class ability, only offered by the three classes in Magic of Incarnum).

Prestige classes[edit]

Prestige classes were introduced in third edition as a further means of individualizing a character.[11]:&#;64&#; They expand upon the form of multiclassing and are inaccessible at 1st level, specifically meant to be multiclassed into from the base classes. To attain a specific prestige class, a character must first meet a number of prerequisites, such as certain feats or membership in a specific organization. Prestige classes offer a focus on different abilities that may be difficult to attain otherwise; for example, the 3rd edition version of the Assassin prestige class grants minor magical powers, more sneak attack damage, and better usage of poison.

The third edition Dungeon Master's Guide included prestige classes such as the Arcane archer, Blackguard, Mystic theurge, and Shadowdancer, while the revision included classes such as the Arcane trickster, Archmage, Dragon disciple, and Duelist. Many other sourcebooks introduced additional prestige classes, such as the Bladesinger in Tome and Blood; Blighter, Geomancer, Shifter, Verdant lord in Masters of the Wild; Divine champion in Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting; Cerebremancer and Elocater in Expanded Psionics Handbook; Fochlucan lyrist in Complete Adventurer; and Chameleon in Races of Destiny. Some of these classes were readjusted for balance in the revision of the game.

Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition[edit]

Core character classes[edit]

The 4th edition heavily retooled the class system in favor of a more unified set of mechanics for characters, which was in part intended to reduce some of the perceived imbalance between spellcasters and non-spellcasters in the 3rd edition. Classes can be defined as the combination of a character role with a power source and are differentiated by what active-use class features and powers they give, all of which follow the same pattern of at-will, once per encounter, once daily and utility powers.

The 4th edition Player's Handbook does not include some classes from 3rd edition, such as the Barbarian, Bard, Druid, Monk, and Sorcerer (though these classes returned in the second and third volumes of the Player's Handbook) but does include the Warlock (originally introduced the v sourcebook Complete Arcane) and Warlord (originally introduced as the Marshal in the 3rd edition Miniatures Handbook) which had not appeared in the Player's Handbook in previous editions. Twenty-six classes were released in total.

Power sources[edit]

Different classes draw on different power sources for their abilities.[18] The power sources used by the Player's Handbook classes are arcane, divine, and martial. Arcane classes gain magical energy from the cosmos, divine classes receive their power from the gods, and martial classes draw power from training and willpower.[19] The Player's Handbook 2 introduces the primal power source, which draws power from the spirits of the natural world and features transformation as a theme. Dragon No. included the Assassin class, introducing the shadow power source. The Player's Handbook 3 introduced the psionic power source, which draws power from the mind. Player's Option: Heroes of the Elemental Chaos introduced builds which use the elemental power source.[20]

Character roles[edit]

Characters of a given class are said to fill a particular role in the party, especially in combat. Leaders are focused on buffing and healing allies. Controllers focus on affecting multiple targets at once, either damaging or debuffing them, or altering the battlefield's terrain. Defenders focus on blocking attacking enemies or drawing their attacks to themselves and are typically focused on melee combat. Strikers are focused on mobility, dealing heavy damage to single targets and avoiding attacks. While some Leader and Striker classes and builds are focused towards either melee or ranged combat, the roles as a whole are not.

Paragon paths and epic destinies[edit]

The optional prestige classes from earlier editions have instead been replaced by paragon paths and epic destinies as methods of character customization. Each character may choose a paragon path upon reaching the paragon tier at level 11 and an epic destiny upon reaching the epic tier at level

Paragon paths are often (though not always) class-specific, and some have additional prerequisites. Other paragon paths are restricted to members of a certain race or are associated with a nation or faction in a campaign setting. Paragon paths generally expand on a character's existing abilities. For example, fighter paragon paths improve a characters toughness, resilience, or damage with melee weapons.

Epic destinies generally have looser prerequisites than paragon paths; many are available to multiple classes, and some, such as Demigod and Eternal Seeker, have 21st level as their only prerequisite. Each epic destiny includes at least one way in which a character can establish a legacy and at least one way in which a character can retire. Most epic destinies provide fewer benefits than paragon paths, but the benefits that they provide are far more powerful. A common feature of an epic destiny is to allow characters to (usually once per day) return to life or otherwise continue to function after dying.

Unlike prestige classes, a character may only take a single paragon path and a single epic destiny, and path and destiny advancement is in addition to class advancement rather than being in lieu of it.[21][22]

Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition[edit]

Classes in the 5th edition are mechanically and thematically similar to the versions in the 3rd edition. Classes gain new abilities as they reach each level, allowing them to combat stronger monsters and more difficult perilous situations, but unlike 4th edition, lower-level opponents remain threatening as power levels do not scale in tandem.[23]


There are 12 classes included in the 5th edition Player's Handbook ().[24][25] The first new character class, the Artificer, for the 5th edition was released in Eberron: Rising from the Last War ()[26] and in Tasha's Cauldron of Everything (). [27]


Each class in the Player's Handbook () has multiple subclasses, which allow players to choose an archetype of their class they want to follow (e.g. the Berserker Barbarian, the Evoker Wizard, the Wild Magic Sorcerer, the Beastmaster Ranger, etc.),[24][28] chosen at 3rd level or earlier.[29] This archetype defines many of the abilities that the class receives.[24] The Dungeon Master's Guide () includes two nonstandard subclass options for evil characters that are only allowed in the game by permission of the Dungeon Master: the Death Cleric and the Oathbreaker Paladin.[30]

Additional subclasses have been added to the game with the publication of various sourcebooks and campaign guidebooks, for example, in supplements such as the Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide (), Xanathar's Guide to Everything () and Tasha's Cauldron of Everything ().[31][32][33]


In an article comparing the Player's Handbook and the Player's Handbook, James Floyd Kelly, for GeekDad, highlighted that the earlier edition had inconsistencies in leveling across the different character classes. Floyd Kelly wrote: "For all of the classes, the XP chart for leveling varied. Paladins required ,XP after level 11, while Fighters only required ,XP after the same level. Poor Magic-Users, though… after level 18 each additional level came at a price of ,XP while the Illusionist could rock after level 12 with a requirement of only ,XP per additional level. Oh, and the Monk had to stop at level No further advancement".[29]

Shannon Appelcline, author of Designers & Dragons, highlighted that while OD&D only had three character classes, "which made it easy to balance a party", "as character classes proliferated in later editions, it became less clear which classes could fill which roles".[34] The 4th Edition classes were designed for specific party roles and these "classes were unified in how they were defined and how they progressed. [] The difference in the character classes now focused on what powers they had and what they could do".[34] Appelcline wrote that the addition of warlock and warlord to the 4th Edition base classes was "surprising" and "with so many new races and classes, it's not surprising that some classics got dropped. The [] assassin, bard, and druid were all classics that were missing from the class list. This generated even more controversy, and the designers later said that they regretted not saying that the first Player's Handbook was just a starting place for D&D 4e".[34]

In the AV Club's review of the 5th Edition, Samantha Nelson wrote: "Just like in 4th Edition, there are several versions of each class, which provide a high level of diversity in the party. [] But the different character classes play far more like than 4th Edition. [] Many of the classes have been radically improved. There isn’t a single leveling up where the only benefit is a few more hit points. Each new benchmark unlocks some new component of your class, rewarding your dedication to one path over the course of the game’s 20 levels".[28]

In SLUG Magazine's review of the 5th Edition Player's Handbook (), Henry Glasheen wrote: "I didn't feel like any race was unduly pidgeonholed into one class or another []. Classes are deeper now, with more meaningful customization options and a more modest progression. Multiclassing is still available, but it seems like the development team has found a way to balance the overpowered multiclassing opportunities of D&D while avoiding the convoluted clusterfuck that was multiclassing in 4th Edition. In most cases, you’ll want to stick to your starting class, but there are some interesting multiclass builds that I certainly want to try out".[35]

Screen Rant rated the wizard class as the most powerful class and the ranger class as the least powerful of the base 12 character classes in the 5th edition.[36]

Gus Wezerek, for FiveThirtyEight, reported that of the 5th edition "class and race combinations per , characters that players created on D&D Beyond from" August 15 to September 15, , fighters were the most created at 13, total followed by rogues (11,) and wizards (9,). Druids were the least created at 6, total. Wezerek wrote "when I started playing 'Dungeons & Dragons' five years ago, I never would have chosen the game’s most popular match: the human fighter. There are already enough human fighters in movies, TV and books — my first character was an albino dragonborn sorcerer. But these days I can get behind the combo’s simplicity".[37]

In popular culture[edit]


  • In the American science fiction horror television series Stranger Things, a Dungeons and Dragons game played by the main characters is one of the first scenes of the show and the game reappears throughout the show.[38] In , Wizards of the Coast released a 5th Edition Stranger Things themed starter set that includes "five pre-generated characters, one each for the five members of the party as described in Stranger Things Season 2. Fans can step into the shoes of Mike's paladin, Will's cleric, Lucas' ranger, Dustin's bard, and Eleven's wizard".[39]


  1. ^ abFine, Gary Alan (). Shared Fantasy: Role Playing Games as Social Worlds. University of Chicago Press. pp.&#;16– ISBN&#;.
  2. ^Appelcline, Shannon. "Unearthed Arcana (1e) | Product History". Dungeon Masters Guild. Retrieved August 19,
  3. ^ abAppelcline, Shannon. "Oriental Adventures (1e) | Product History". Dungeon Masters Guild. Retrieved August 19,
  4. ^Appelcline, Shannon. "HR1 Vikings Campaign Sourcebook (2e) | Product History". Dungeon Masters Guild. Retrieved August 19,
  5. ^Appelcline, Shannon. "Shaman (2e) | Product History". Dungeon Masters Guild. Retrieved August 19,
  6. ^Kulp, Kevin. "PHBR1 The Complete Fighter's Handbook (2e) | Product History". Dungeon Masters Guild. Retrieved August 19,
  7. ^"Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (AD&D) Guides - Wayne's Books RPG Reference". www.waynesbooks.com. Retrieved August 19,
  8. ^Appelcline, Shannon. "Dungeon Master Guide, Revised (2e) | Product History". Dungeon Masters Guild. Retrieved August 19,
  9. ^
  10. ^Appelcline, Shannon. "Player's Option - Skills & Power (2e) | Product History". Dungeon Masters Guild. Retrieved August 19,
  11. ^ abcdeTresca, Michael J. (), The Evolution of Fantasy Role-Playing Games, McFarland, ISBN&#;
  12. ^Bart Carroll. "Dungeons & Dragons Roleplaying Game Official Home Page - Article (July and Beyond)". Wizards.com. Retrieved June 30,
  13. ^Mearls, Mike; Crawford, Jeremey (). Player's Handbook. Wizards of the Coast.
  14. ^Livingstone, Ian (). Dicing with Dragons. Routledge. p.&#; ISBN&#;.
  15. ^"A Look Back at Player's Handbooks". Archived from the original on September 30,
  16. ^ abTurnbull, Don (December – January ). "Open Box: Players Handbook". White Dwarf (review). Games Workshop (10):
  17. ^ abCook, David () [b]. Player's Handbook (Revised&#;ed.). TSR. ISBN&#;.
  18. ^McElroy, Griffin (July 9, ). "Here's how Dungeons & Dragons is changing for its new edition". Polygon. Retrieved August 19,
  19. ^"4th Edition Excerpts: Powers". Wizards of the Coast. Retrieved March 28,
  20. ^"Dungeons & Dragons Roleplaying Game Official Home Page - Product (Heroes of the Elemental Chaos)". Wizards.com. February 21, Retrieved June 30,
  21. ^"4th Edition Excerpts: Paragon Paths". Archived from the original on May 18,
  22. ^"4th Edition Excerpts: Epic Destinies". Archived from the original on May 13,
  23. ^Ed Grabianowski. "Everything You Need to Know about the 5th Edition D&D Player's Handbook". Io9.com. Retrieved March 28,
  24. ^ abcBolding, Jonathan (July 30, ). "Here's the Classes and Specializations in the D&D Player's Handbook". The Escapist. Retrieved August 19,
  25. ^D'Anastasio, Cecilia (November 18, ). "How To Choose Your D&D Character Class". Kotaku. Retrieved August 19,
  26. ^Plante, Corey (November 19, ). "D&D: Eberron's Artificer class just became canon. Here's why that's huge". Inverse. Retrieved August 19,
  27. ^Hall, Charlie (November 16, ). "Tasha's Cauldron makes D&D a better game, but whiffs on race changes". Polygon. Retrieved November 17,
  28. ^ abNelson, Samantha (September 23, ). "The new Dungeons & Dragons is more streamlined but no less of a challenge". AV Club. Retrieved August 19,
  29. ^ abFloyd Kelly, James (August 18, ). "A Tale of Two Handbooks - AD&D and D&D". GeekDad. Retrieved August 19,
  30. ^Dungeon master's guide. Mearls, Mike,, Crawford, Jeremy,, Perkins, Christopher, , Wyatt, James, , Schwalb, Robert J.,, Thompson, Rodney (Fifth&#;ed.). Renton, WA. pp.&#;96– ISBN&#;. OCLC&#;CS1 maint: others (link)
  31. ^Tito, Greg (July 22, ). "Spice Up Your Story | Dungeons & Dragons". dnd.wizards.com. Retrieved August 19,
  32. ^Lucard, Alex (November 9, ). "Tabletop Review: Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide (Dungeons & Dragons, Fifth Edition)". Diehard GameFAN. Retrieved August 19,
  33. ^"Xanathar's Guide to Everything - Preview Updated". Tribality. October 16, Retrieved June 23,
  34. ^ abcAppelcline, Shannon. "Player's Handbook (4e) | Product History". Dungeon Masters Guild. Retrieved August 17,
  35. ^Glasheen, Henry (February 12, ). "D&D Fifth Edition: Player's Handbook Review". SLUG Magazine. Retrieved August 19,
  36. ^"Dungeons And Dragons: Ranking All Of The Base Classes, From Least To Most Powerful". ScreenRant. February 14, Retrieved November 26,
  37. ^Wezerek, Gus (October 12, ). "Is Your D&D Character Rare?". FiveThirtyEight. Retrieved November 26,
  38. ^"Stranger Things Is a Nerdy Story That Is So Much More Than Its References". io9. Retrieved November 26,
  39. ^Hall, Charlie (April 22, ). "Stranger Things D&D Starter Set is a surprisingly good introduction to the game". Polygon. Retrieved November 26,

External links[edit]

Sours: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Character_class_(Dungeons_%26_Dragons)
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Core Classes

Class Description Hit Die Primary Ability
ArtificerA supreme inventor capable of unlocking magic in mundane objects. d8 Intelligence
BarbarianA fierce warrior of primitive background who can enter a battle rage d12 Strength
BardAn inspiring magician whose power echoes the music of creation d8 Charisma
ClericA priestly champion who wields divine magic in service of a higher power d8 Wisdom
DruidA priest of the Old Faith, wielding the powers of nature— moonlight and plant growth, fire and lightning—and adopting animal forms d8 Wisdom
FighterA master of martial combat, skilled with a variety of weapons and armor d10 Strength&#;or&#;Dexterity
MonkA master of martial arts, skilled with fighting hands and martial monk weapons d8 Dexterity & Wisdom
PaladinA holy warrior bound to a sacred oath d10 Strength & Charisma
Ranger (UA)A master of ranged combat, one with nature. d10 Dexterity & Wisdom
RogueA scoundrel who uses stealth and trickery to overcome obstacles and enemies d8 Dexterity
SorcererA spellcaster who draws on inherent magic from a gift or bloodline d6 Charisma
WarlockA wielder of magic that is derived from a bargain with an extraplanar entity d8 Charisma
WizardA scholarly magic-user capable of manipulating the structures of reality d6 Intelligence

Caster Categories

Full Casters

Earn First Spell Slots at 1st Level, and can eventually cast 9th Level Spells.

  • Bard
  • Cleric
  • Druid
  • Sorcerer
  • Wizard

Pact Casters

Full Casters, in the sense that they earn their First Spell Slots at Level 1, and can eventually cast 9th Level Spells. But, until they can cast a Level 6 spell, all their Spell Slots are of the same level. (At Levels , all spell slots are First Level. But, at Levels , all spell slots are Fifth Level)

Half Casters

Earn First Spell Slots at 2nd Level AND/OR they don't earn spell slots higher than Fifth Level

One Third Casters

Earn First Spell Slots at 3rd Level

  • Arcane Trickster (Rogue)
  • Eldritch Knight (Fighter)
Sours: https://d-n-d5e.fandom.com/wiki/Classes
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All Spells

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What Class Should You Play in Dungeons \u0026 Dragons

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