For years I’ve studied the arcane arts. Countless failures, explosions, and other various disasters pepper my days at the academy. I have poured my blood, sweat, and tears into this craft, and this book contains all I have to show for it. Countless spells, incantations, and rituals fill these pages and will not show mercy. I hope you like toasted fiends, because I’m packing some serious heat. Fireball!
An excerpt from Gerald’s Grimoire of Quotes, Chapter 6: Moments Before Disaster.
Character creation is a wonderful part of Dungeons and Dragons. But beyond choosing Proficiency Bonus, Background, Ability Scores, and Race, your Class determines most of what your character can do. And because of this, it’s probably one of the most important choices for your character as without it, you end up with almost nothing particularly exciting unless your DM is nice enough to grant you a magic item, a powerful pet, or another fun thing to get you started. So, allow me to take you through a journey to find what fits you and your journey best!
What I do not consider with class
Now that I have your attention, allow me to clear up some things: First, there is no single class that is best, especially if your DM is smart enough to design adventures to test the characters you create. If not… They’re probably running a module, in which case, you should be able to just ask them if there are any classes that are needed. Even then, modules should still provide key NPCs to fill any gaps the party may have, plus every class has a subclass that alleviates at least one issue, so I will not be covering them much.
Second, just because one class is best, doesn’t mean you have to use it all the time. In fact, I personally think it would be best to mix things up by taking a different class each campaign unless the last campaign ended before you got to the good part multiple times in a row. That wouldn’t really be fun, would it?
Third, you don’t have to play a flawless min/maxer. In fact, it’s ok to skip over the obvious choice in favor of something more flavorful or dramatic… Though True Strike and Blade Ward are acceptable cantrips to skip (unless you’re like me and you tweak them to be handy!). Actually, a warlock can be incredible with Toll the Dead or (upgraded) True Strike instead of Eldritch Blast, especially if it fits the character you want to make! In addition, if you make fun of people for this, I will send my pet gazer to silently stare at you in your sleep. Or maybe not, I have better things for her to do. Somebody needs to keep my experiments from blowing everything up!
A classy decision
And now to the real stuff, How to find the best one for you. First, ask yourself what kind of style do you enjoy? Killing enemies really well? How about single versus group? Taking damage like it’s nothing? What about avoiding it entirely? Supporting others? Combat or Roleplay? Magic, Religion, Science or Mundane? Knowing what style you want most can help you choose what class best suits your overall desire most.
If you’re looking for something that’s good at dealing damage… Basically, everything is good at that if built right. Bards are the one class that struggles, getting only a couple offensive cantrips that deal little damage, being more focused on supporting others with Vicious Mockery, and Bardic Inspiration. But in terms of crowd control, the martial classes struggle when they have too much to attack, while spellcasters are better geared for ranged carnage.
Maybe you need to take damage? Ok, then avoid Wizard and Sorcerer as even their avoidance isn’t great without cranking up their dexterity. Instead, focus on Barbarian, Fighter, Ranger, or Paladin as their hit dice help them to take loads of damage before going down, particularly the Barbarian with their ability to Rage, and the Paladin’s ability to restore 5 times their level in hit points as an action to them or their allies, followed up by the Fighter’s Second Wind and the Ranger’s Cure Wounds. But don’t count out Armor of Agathys which deals damage as you take it. And if you play your cards right, a Druid can perform tanking with Wildshape.
As for avoidance, Monk, and Barbarian take the top two spots for this, followed by the Rogue’s abilities that reduce damage -restricted from the last list by the d8 hit die, though it can stack with resistance- and then the ShieldSpell for Sorcerers and Wizards adds 5 AC for a round on top of all other armor enhancements for some Crazy armor, though it is available to Bards through Magical Secrets as well as Hexblade Warlocks and a couple of Artificer Subclasses. The only real problem with Shield is that it absolutely burns spell slots if you’re using it regularly, and is a major risk without damage reduction
Away from battle!
Ok, maybe healing/support is your thing? Bards are #1 for this with their Bardic Inspiration and smorgous board of beneficial spells, while Druids and Clerics follow closely behind through their healing and empowering magic while the other spellcasters are left carrying the rear with spells like Haste and Faerie Fire, which while not unique, can still provide a little boost to your allies.
Do you want loads of utility? Bards, Artificers and Rogues gain the top spots here thanks to Jack of All Trades, and Expertise, plus Spells for Bards and Artificers, with all the other spellcasters trailing behind through the use of various spells and cantrips that resolve most issues, while reducing others.
Would you like magic? Wizards, Warlocks, Sorcerers, Clerics, Bards and Druids can get spells up to 9th level, with their own unique spell lists and gimmicks to separate them, while Rangers, Artificers, and Paladins all get lesser spellcasting, that compliments them and their capabilities. Of course, you can craft or purchase magic items if you don’t pick one of these assuming your DM allows it, but if you want a lot of different spells, it’s good to pick up one of these classes.
Now, of course, this is all subjective. You may not like the class you really need, and perhaps the one you pick turns out to be less than you had hoped for. In the end, you can ask your DM for a bit of help in adjusting your character and their features in order to make it feel better for you. But that’s a topic for another day. Now it’s Halloween, I need to work on my costume, and it also sounds like another experiment’s going critical, so I bid you adieu while I figure out which tower will explode this time.