Multiclassing DnD5e

Posted by Andrew E. on

multi-classing dnd5e

How to Build Your Own Hero

5e D&D has a plethora of options for you to choose from when making a new character, but what if they aren’t enough? What if you want to don a paladin’s armor while strumming a bardic lute? Or what if you want to channel the might of your god, while also transforming into a giant eagle? Multiclassing allows you to remix the existing classes into a hero all your own, it takes a few extra steps and a little work, but you’ll create something that’s synergistic and utterly unique (or potentially a broken mishmash). Grab your #2 pencils and your character sheets as we walk you through everything you need to know.

Why Should You Multiclass?

Generally, you don’t need to. 5e classes are designed to fill their roles optimally (mostly) and you don’t need to mess with the plan. Most characters will be just fine taking levels in the same class for the entirety of a campaign.

Multiclassing is usually the answer when you want to focus down on something, like damage output, or AC. Through a combination of some very key abilities spread through multiple classes, you can optimize a particular strategy, or create a new strategy altogether. Keep in mind though, you’ll be sacrificing many of the high-level abilities you would have gained pursuing the same class all the way through.

Multiclassing Basics

Let’s go through each chunk of the multiclassing rules piece by piece and go over what they mean:

With this rule, you have the option of gaining a level in a new class whenever you advance in level, instead of gaining a level in your current class. Your levels in all your classes are added together to determine your character level. For example, if you have three levels in wizard and two in fighter, you're a 5th-level character.

So very simply, whenever you level up, you can choose to take a level from any class. You can stack these levels up however you like, and in any order. For clarification though, in that example, a character with 3 levels in wizard and 2 levels in fighter has all the abilities of a 3rd level wizard, and a 2nd level fighter, no 4th or 5th level abilities.

Prerequisites

To qualify for a new class, you must meet the ability score prerequisites for both your current class and your new one, as shown in the Multiclassing Prerequisites table. For example, a barbarian who decides to multiclass into the druid class must have both Strength and Wisdom scores of 13 or higher. Without the full training that a beginning character receives, you must be a quick study in your new class, having a natural aptitude that is reflected by higher-than-average ability scores.”

Multiclass Prerequisites

Class

Ability Score Minimum

Artificer

Intelligence 13

Barbarian

Strength 13

Bard

Charisma 13

Cleric

Wisdom 13

Druid

Wisdom 13

Fighter

Strength 13 or Dexterity 13

Monk

Dexterity 13 and Wisdom 13

Paladin

Strength 13 and Charisma 13

Ranger

Dexterity 13 and Wisdom 13

Rogue

Dexterity 13

Sorcerer

Charisma 13

Warlock

Charisma 13

Wizard

Intelligence 13

 

Basically, they don’t want your barbarian with 8 Intelligence to suddenly learn spells. Your character must be at least somewhat suitable for a new class before starting up in it.

“Experience Points

The experience point cost to gain a level is always based on your total character level, as shown in the Character Advancement table, not your level in a particular class. So, if you are a cleric 6/fighter 1, you must gain enough XP to reach 8th level before you can take your second level as a fighter or your seventh level as a cleric.”

Most DMs nowadays use milestone advancement instead of EXP anyway, so this isn’t something you’ll need to worry about. But this rule just makes it so you can’t cheese the experience point system by multiclassing.

“Hit Points and Hit Dice

You gain the hit points from your new class as described for levels after 1st. You gain the 1st-level hit points for a class only when you are a 1st-level character.

You add together the Hit Dice granted by all your classes to form your pool of Hit Dice. If the Hit Dice are the same die type, you can simply pool them together. For example, both the fighter and the paladin have a d10, so if you are a paladin 5/fighter 5, you have ten d10 Hit Dice. If your classes give you Hit Dice of different types, keep track of them separately. If you are a paladin 5/cleric 5, for example, you have five d10 Hit Dice and five d8 Hit Dice.”

The starting hit points thing is self-explanatory, but the hit die thing can be confusing. Most likely, you haven’t been tracking your hit dice much at all, but there are situations that really care about your hit dice and if your classes have different hit dice you’ll need to track them separately. This usually only matters for short rests, in which you’ll need to choose which hit dice you roll for healing.

“Proficiency Bonus

Your proficiency bonus is always based on your total character level, not your level in a particular class. For example, if you are a fighter 3/rogue 2, you have the proficiency bonus of a 5th-level character, which is +3.”

If they didn’t have this rule, your proficiency bonus would get left in the dust, but thankfully you get to keep up the same proficiency bonus as your single class friends.

“Proficiencies

When you gain your first level in a class other than your initial class, you gain only some of new class's starting proficiencies, as shown in the Multiclassing Proficiencies table.”

Multiclassing Proficiencies

Class

Proficiencies Gained

Artificer

Light armor, medium armor, shields, thieves’ tools, tinker’s tools

Barbarian

Shields, simple weapons, martial weapons

Bard

Light armor, one skill of your choice, one musical instrument of your choice

Cleric

Light armor, medium armor, shields

Druid

Light armor, medium armor, shields (druids will not wear armor or use shields made of metal)

Fighter

Light armor, medium armor, shields, simple weapons, martial weapons

Monk

Simple weapons, shortswords

Paladin

Light armor, medium armor, shields, simple weapons, martial weapons

Ranger

Light armor, medium armor, shields, simple weapons, martial weapons, one skill from the class's skill list

Rogue

Light armor, one skill from the class's skill list, thieves' tools

Sorcerer

-

Warlock

Light armor, simple weapons

Wizard

-

 

When you take a level in a new class, you don’t get absolutely all of the proficiencies they’d get at 1st level. Instead you get a sampling of their proficiencies from the table up there. This is mainly to stop everybody grabbing heavy armor with just 1 level dipped into paladin.

As a general tip, if you plan on multiclassing, take your 1st level in the class with the most proficiencies, as you’ll lose out if you go the other way around.

“Class Features"

When you gain a new level in a class, you get its features for that level. You don't, however, receive the class's starting equipment, and a few features have additional rules when you're multiclassing: Channel Divinity, Extra Attack, Unarmored Defense, and Spellcasting.”

Some features get wonky when you multiclass, and the official explanations for them are very technical but we can boil them down to something simple:

  • Channel Divinity. If you multiclass cleric and paladin, you don’t gain extra uses of channel divinity, but you can freely choose between your cleric and paladin channel divinity abilities.
  • Extra Attack. If you get “extra attack” from multiple classes, you don’t double up on them.
  • Unarmored Defense. You only get one “unarmored defense”, getting it again from another class does nothing.  
  • Spellcasting. This is the one that’s the most complicated, but we can tear it down to 3 points. You keep your Knowledge of your spells separately, your number of spells known never gets mixed together. Secondly, Pact Magic is completely different from all the other classes’ Spellcasting. You can use spell slots from pact magic for spells from spellcasting, and vice versa. Finally, when you have multiple spellcasting classes, your number of spell slots gets really wonky. Rather than the number of slots you’d get for each class, you use this following table to determine your slots:

Multiclass Spellcaster: Spell Slots per Spell Level

Caster Level

1st

2nd

3rd 

4th

5th

6th

7th

8th

9th

1st

2

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

2nd

3

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

3rd

4

2

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

4th

4

3

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

5th

4

3

2

-

-

-

-

-

-

6th

4

3

3

-

-

-

-

-

-

7th

4

3

3

1

-

-

-

-

-

8th

4

3

3

2

-

-

-

-

-

9th

4

3

3

3

1

-

-

-

-

10th

4

3

3

3

2

-

-

-

-

11th

4

3

3

3

2

1

-

-

-

12th

4

3

3

3

2

1

-

-

-

13th

4

3

3

3

2

1

1

-

-

14th

4

3

3

3

2

1

1

-

-

15th

4

3

3

3

2

1

1

1

-

16th

4

3

3

3

2

1

1

1

-

17th

4

3

3

3

2

1

1

1

1

18th

4

3

3

3

3

1

1

1

1

19th

4

3

3

3

3

2

1

1

1

20th

4

3

3

3

3

2

2

1

1

 

Your “multiclass caster level” is different from just your character level. You only count class levels from spellcasting classes to find your “multiclass caster level”. To make it even more confusing, some of the spellcasting classes are sort of “half-casters”, and they only count half their levels for determining your spell slots.

So, to recap:

  • Add together all of your levels in the bard, cleric, druid, sorcerer, and wizard classes.
  • Add together all of your levels in the artificer, paladin, and ranger classes, then cut them in half (rounded down). 
  • Add those two totals together, that is now your “multiclass spellcaster level”, check that against the table above to find your total spell slots.

One last note, there are some weird situations where the multiclass table would give you spell slots higher than spells you know, you can only use those slots for lower level spells that you actually know.

Famous Multiclass Builds

Furious Beast (Barbarian / Druid)

You can use barbarian rage while transformed into an animal using wild shape. Take circle of the moon and path of the totem warrior for the best results. You’ll be able to rage and wild shape, for a buffed animal form, and you can even sacrifice your druid spells to heal yourself. You’ll want at least 3 levels in each class, but afterwards I recommend advancing with Druid for access to better wild shapes and the primal strike ability which lets your many natural attacks count as magical.

Knight of the Patron (Paladin / Warlock)

A 2-level dip into paladin gives massive boons to a melee warlock build. You can use your warlock spell slots to fuel massive smites, and you can really think of this combination as a smite optimization build. Warlocks regain their slots on a short rest and can really up the number of smites you can do throughout a day. You also gain great armor proficiencies and the lay on hands ability. Consider this level dip for hexblade builds as it goes a long way towards making you survivable and upping your DPS.

Wilderness Stalker (Ranger / Rogue)

A 2-level dip into ranger gets you a fighting style and access to the ranger spell hunter’s mark which is especially great for two-weapon fighting rogues and stacks with sneak attack. A 3rd level in ranger gets you a ranger archetype, take the hunter archetype and choose colossus slayer for maximum DPS. Using this setup, Dexterity 16, and two shortsword attacks, a character with 3 levels ranger and 3 levels rogue would deal 6d6 + 1d8 + 3 damage each round.

 

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Last updated: January 27, 2019

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