5 Favorite 5E D&D Characters
Over at Nerdarchy the YouTube channel Nerdarchists Dave and Ted take a cue from a fellow YouTuber and share tales of adventurers — and more specifically adventurers — past. It’s indulgent, it’s fun and it’s introspectively interesting to take a long view back at all the fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons characters who’ve solved puzzles, talked with other characters, battled fantastic monsters and discovered fabulous magic items and other treasure. And since they got to do it in the video I’m gonna do the same thing right here. A huge roster of 5E D&D characters took up the adventuring life in the last six years and from the group I culled my top five favorites, hopefully each with a little nugget of usefulness to you but certainly a hefty load for me. So let’s get into it.
Playing favorites in 5E D&D
For most of my D&D experience I’ve been the Dungeon Master starting way back in the early 80s. The era of 5E D&D changed this paradigm for me largely thanks to the internet and online gaming opening up so many opportunities to meet new people, make new friends and play more games together. And I’m not going to lie, being Nerditor Doug puts me in a position to play more games too. In addition my tastes and approach to gaming changed tremendously in the last few years so my goals for characters became much different. Plus I’m a content creator and professional game designer now so there’s a deeper mechanical curiosity component to character creation for me. All of these things converge to provide a frame of reference for my favorite 5E D&D characters presented here in alphabetical order. (These top five are equally adored by me!)
This firbolg Twilight cleric stands out as the most memorable one shot character I’ve ever played. The game was a random Death House pickup with a fantastic DM who not only ran a great adventure but gave me several new perspectives applicable to either side of the DM Screen. At the time the Twilight Domain was the latest Unearthed Arcana and my favorite of the particular bunch so I wanted to try it out. I absolutely love this Divine Domain! If I’m honest it’s the part of Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything I’m most looking forward to. Whenever I play a one shot one of my goals is trying out all the features of a character and even though Endost was only 2nd level I feel like I really got a wonderful feel for a Twilight cleric. I would love to revisit this character more when the right campaign or adventure comes along.
You can read more about the Death House one shot experience here.
Secrets of Castle Greyhawk certainly holds a special place in my heart. Sean McGovern (PowerscoreRPG) is one of my favorite DMs to play with and it was super exciting for me when he invited me to play in this campaign, which was special for him as his take on the classic dungeon. Like Endost this was an opportunity to try out an Unearthed Arcana subclass, in this case Circle of Spores druid. We played this campaign for the better part of a year and advanced from 3rd to 10th level. This was the first time I ever got a chance to really let a character’s story and personality slowly come to light over a long period of time and it was very satisfying. I’d go so far as to say playing Gus was a turning point for me as a player because the group dynamics became so impactful. As a side note I’ve danced around this for years but now I’ll just straight up point out if you take the last syllable of his last name and put it at the front of his first name it spells out “Fungus Among Us.” Maybe no one ever picked up on that or maybe it was just too ridiculous to acknowledge but I always get a kick out of it.
This examination of actively playing your character touches on Secrets of Castle Greyhawk and Gus a bit more here.
If I positively had to choose a favorite character above all others it’s Schecky Glitterdark. This drow charlatan goes by many names but that’s his actual real name, which I’ve never before revealed to anyone. Mesmogdu began life as a School of Enchantment wizard and immediately made an impression on the rest of the players in the group from the moment he opened his big mouth. Two different artists created art of Mesmogdu and I’ve played him in different iterations in several 5E D&D games. He’s lazy and loves using magic to make his life easier. Selling 5 Hour Energy Drinks (those vials of colored liquid charlatans start with that I imagine are sugar water) is a hallmark of Mesmogdu’s schtick along with his signature spell color spray.
Mesmogdu is a great character but not so great a person, which became a springboard for how great stories don’t need great people here.
Mesmogdu’s character sheet isn’t on D&D Beyond. Instead he exists in an Adventure Journal. Sorry, world!
This fire genasi barbarian began as a silly one shot concept several years ago at a convention and more recently the fires were stoked again for Nerdarchy Live’s live play games launch with Those Bastards! Exploring DM Megan’s amazing world along with his half siblings quickly asserted itself as one of the best campaigns I’ve ever participated in. I have never known as much about either my own character or all the other characters in the group as through this campaign, which had a profound effect on my perspective. I adore everything about this campaign and Vent…excuse me, Prince Vent definitely reigns as one of the greatest character experiences ever for me. I cannot wait to revisit this character in the future!
You can learn a lot more about Vent and Those Bastards! here.
Where to start? Zandu is a duergar Path of the Azure barbarian from a Waterdeep: Dragon Heist campaign. That sentence pretty much encapsulates everything I love about 5E D&D. Duergar are a personal favorite of mine and Path of the Azure was my first crack at content creation, which I put on the Dungeon Masters Guild even before I became associated with Nerdarchy. I know. Whoa, right? Waterdeep: Dragon Heist is pound for pound my favorite official 5E D&D adventure and in the course of it Zandu acquired Azuredge too! (I suspect this was a special circumstance orchestrated by the DM but I’ll take it!) Zandu and her companions reveled in being not only residents but business owners in Waterdeep and honestly I remember way more about those antics than anything in the actual adventure.
If you’re curious about the Path of the Azure check out a design diary here.
Bonus. Check out Zandu’s Pinterest board here!
5E D&D characters for any occasion
One of the things I’ve taken to doing in the 5E D&D era is replaying characters in different iterations and campaigns. Mesmogdu has showed up at least three times, as a wizard, a bard and warlock for example. Some folks I’ve talked with seem shocked by this behavior but for me what I love most about these characters are their personalities, motivations and perspectives irrespective of their class or other mechanical factors. They’ve my favorite because of who they are, not what they can do.
And now I’m champing at the bit to get involved with some new 5E D&D campaigns to revisit these favorites. Guess I’ll have to just keep playing more games, meeting new people and making new friends. It’s a rough life!
Until next time, stay nerdy!