Welcome and greetings fellow nerdarchist. Nerdarchist Dave here to talk D&D character builds. But first you might be wondering if you are a nerdarchist or not. You decide-
Back in July of 2014 5E D&D was launched and since that time our gaming group has been enjoying it. The more we delve into this edition of Dungeons and Dragons the more we realize there are areas for customization. Now I’ve heard the detractors of 5th edition claim it’s a great starter game for RPGers, because the lack of choices or character build options. Which of course I disagree with.
The difference between 5th edition Dungeons and Dragons, Pathfinder, and 3.x D&D when it comes to character building is huge. In those other games most of the choices are either arbitrary or incremental. Which is fine if that’s what you enjoy.
The design of 5e D&D is very modular. What exactly does this mean in relation to character builds? It means every choice you make impacts your character significantly more than those other systems I mentioned the majority of the time in my opinion.
5E D&D character building requires a bit of fore thought, because of the way you gain stat bumps/feats if you are using multiple classes in your builds. These are tied directly to your class level not your character level. This is why you are going want to build multi-classes four levels at a time unless you are using the rogue or fighter who each break the standard.
Even initially starting out there are five areas important to think about right out the gate for character builds- Race, sub-race, class, archetype or path, and background. A sixth would be possible feat or feat combinations. You’ll need to pick your archetype/path somewhere between 1st-3rd depending on your class. I’d recommend knowing which way you are leaning when you start.
Character Builds Example:
I chose to play a dwarf. Now I need to select my sub-race. For now my choices are hill or mountain dwarf. I’ll get a bunch of stuff for just choosing the core race, but then I will get a whole sub set of abilities based on my sub-race choice.
Mountain dwarfs get a +2 to strength and light and medium armor proficiency. Hill dwarfs get a +1 to wisdom and 1 additional hit point per level. Only two features per sub-race, but this choice will begin to define my character.
Both have heavy bend towards martial classes with dwarfs getting a +2 to constitution and each has an additional feature to make them excel in combat. The armor proficiency of the mountain dwarf gets negated if I take any of the martial classes. Where as the wisdom bump of the hill dwarf isn’t as enticing as the strength increase.
For stats I went with a point buy-
str 13 dex 12 con 14 int 14 wis 12 chr 8
After racial adjustments-
str 15 dex 12 con 16 int 14 wis 12 chr 8
So to continue with the example-
I’m going to choose mountain dwarf with the idea I’m going to play against type. I like the idea of playing a wizard that runs around swinging an axe wearing scale mail armor and slinging spells. To complete this character build as a 1st level character I still need a background. Continuing with the martially themed wizard I choose the soldier background.
Now this is a character I’m actually playing and he’s gained two level so far. Level 2 I chose to dip into fighter for the features and shield proficiency. I know starting 1st level as a fighter was a far more optimized build, but I wanted to start off casting spells. My plan is to take a total of 6 fighter levels. Taking one level of fighter forced a choice that would change my character a bit. Fighters choose their fighting style at 1st level. I took the duelist style. This allowed me to take up a shield for added defense, not sacrifice the higher range of damage, and increased the lower range of damage when fighting axe and shield.
Currently I’m a fighter1/wizard2 the plan is to take two more levels of wizard in order to gain access to stat bumps. I’ll trade those for the feat. I’ve got my eye on heavy armor proficiency and warcaster right now.
First I’ll take warcaster to increase my ability to concentrate on spells and the ability use somatic spell casting components with a shield and a weapon in my hands. The ability to use a spell in place of an attack as reaction for attacks of opportunity isn’t half bad either. This was a tough choice because the stat bump to strength plus access to better armor was very tempting.
In the end I decided warcaster’s versatility combined with it’s thematic allure was the clear choice for me.
Taking that 2nd level in wizard triggered another character choice. I had to pick a school of magic to specialize in. It was another tough choice between abjuration, evocation, and divination. At the end of the day I saw my dwarf as more of a war wizard so I went evocation.
Next I’ll rush three levels of fighter in order to get that heavy armor proficiency. Before that happens I’ll need to choose an archetype between the champion, battle master, and eldritch knight. All are great choice and would increase my combat capabilities, but one achieves the theme I’m looking for more than the others.
I’ll choose to go eldritch knight for several reasons-
1) Weapon bond is a very thematic and cool magical class feature.
2) Eldritch knight levels with increase my spell casting abilities.
After getting to 4th level fighter I think going to 5th level wizard would be in order to gain access to 3rd level spells. Even though my three levels in eldritch knight combined with 4 levels of wizard would have given me access to 3rd level spell slots. They wouldn’t of given me the ability to prepare 3rd level spells.
After that it would be a little trickier. Do I continue to 8th level wizard for greater spell casting ability or bum rush 6th level fighter for an extra attack, another casting level for spell slots, and the fighters 6th level stat bump?
Finally after gaining 6 levels in fighter it’ll be wizard until the end.
Hope you enjoyed a peek into one gamers character build. Check out several more ideas below.
Here is a viewer request video-
Multi-Class Character Builds
Until next time “Stay Nerdy”
My name is Dave Friant I’ve been gaming off and on for over 27 years. But here is the thing it’s always been a part of my life I’ve kept secret and hidden away. I’ve always been ashamed of the stigma that gaming and my other nerdy and geeky pursuits summon forth.
Recently I decided screw it! This is who I am the world be damned. From now on I’m gonna be a geek, nerd, or however folks want to judge me and just enjoy life.
Currently one of my greatest joys is introducing my 13 yr old son to table top RPG’s.