If you’re new to Dungeons & Dragons character creation, picking a class and figuring out how to build a fun-to-play first level character can be overwhelming and intimidating. Trying to figure out which stats should be a priority, which skills and spells you should invest in and how to get the numbers on the sheet so you can start playing can be a juggling act.
With that in mind, we’ve compiled guides to starting characters of every D&D character class to get you rolling. These aren’t pre-built characters, however, so you have lots of room to play with your race and stats, as well as your background. Each guide gives you advice on which stats should be a priority, and which ones you can relegate as a dump stat, where you dump your lowest stat roll (hint: it’s almost never charisma if you’re starting out), and other helpful tidbits about the class. Click the character class to check out the guide for that class. We’ve grouped them generally, but with unique subclasses (like the Rogue’s Arcane Trickster, which bestows magical abilities to a Rogue) these categories are, like all things in D&D, generalizations rather than hard boundaries.
Magical Character Classes
As a Wizard, the first place to start is by taking your highest attribute and putting it into your Intelligence. Intelligence is what you use to cast your spells so this must be the highest. For your lowest, unless you have a compelling backstory reason for it, pick Strength. We can wreak havoc with our minds, we don’t need to be able to do pull-ups (punch wizards, or wizards who cast punch, are a different class).
Druids are nature wizards. They have the same amount and breakdown of spell slots as a Wizard does, with the only exception being that wizards learn one additional cantrip and have a much larger pool of spells to choose. What do druids get? All of their magic is focused on nature and life.
Warlocks are the magic users who cheated their way through Final exams. They’re a really cool class who have made a Pact with a powerful entity, for some greater purpose; be it their soul, influencing events in the mortal plane for their chosen patron, or even cookies.
Sorcerers are like the slacker kid in high school who skipped most of the classes and still managed to get better grades than the Valedictorian. They gain their magic abilities due to their origins and have been magical their entire lives. This allows them to tweak spells in ways other classes can only dream of and creates some really cool roleplaying possibilities.
Combat Character Classes
Fighters in D&D are the Swiss Army knife of combat characters. They are capable of anything and lend themselves to being soldiers or mercenaries. There isn’t a weapon that can be held in the hands of a fighter that cannot be mastered.
Barbarians are a really fun class in D&D. They forego armor and training and favor a much, much more direct approach. Hallmarks of a Barbarian are mountains of hit points and really big, heavy weapons.
There’s nothing like playing the sneaky character who disappears into the shadows at the first sign of danger. This isn’t to say that Rogues aren’t brave and they’re trying to retreat; odds are, they are just trying to get behind the enemy and try to get a killing blow that finishes the fight before it even starts.
Monks in D&D focus on both unarmored and unarmed combat and they are very, very good at it. A monk’s spirituality is able to manifest itself through a calm, centered being and subsequently they have abilities which function similarly to magic but are directly the result of a disciplined mind.
Hybrid Character Classes
Bards are incredibly fun to play and are able to offer support to your entire party. That’s the first thing to keep in mind when playing a Bard; you are not dealing a huge amount of combat damage but you are making sure the rest of your party is.
Rangers are the elusive forest ninjas of D&D. Don’t mistake Rangers for only being bow users (although they are some of the best in the game with a bow), because they have the option of taking fighting styles that can really push their melee damage up as well. Rangers are a great class who marry a useful group of combat abilities with incredible deep roleplay opportunities.
Clerics are the embodiment of their deity’s blessings. They wield magic and travel the land in the name of their god, looking pretty cool while they do it. Because Clerics are in the service of a deity, their individual play styles will represent the type of deity they worship.
Sometimes faith in your Deity isn’t enough to keep you and your loved ones safe while adventuring. For those times, a strong sword arm and encasing yourself in armor is the key to success. Paladins in D&D marry the best elements of being a Cleric with the best elements of being a Fighter.
There is, of course, more to a character than their skills and stats, so if you need help creating a backstory, personality, and motivations for your character, we’ve also got a guide for that too.
Originally published on September 29, 2017.