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1st through 3rd Edition Core Classes
AssassinA sub-class of the thief introduced in the OD&D Blackmoor supplement, the assassin became a Prestige Class in 3rd Edition.
- Boring but Practical: 3E Assassins have a very small list of spells they can use, but it contains almost all the spells a stealthy character would want (read: Invisibility), and the ability to cast arcane spells at all opens up huge new options for them.
- Master of Disguise: The assassin was the only class in 1st edition to include rules for disguising yourself, including the possibility of disguising yourself as a different sex or (humanoid) race.
- One-Hit Kill: Their signature ability in 1st edition was the ability to do this to any enemy they surprised (with a chance of failure depending on relative level). This is retained in 3.x edition, though you needed to observe for three rounds and the attack allows a save to resist dying instantly. At the Assassin's option, it can be modified into a paralyzing attack should they wish to take prisoners.
- Professional Killer: Their specialty is killing others cleanly and stealthily. And their powerful stealth abilities make it all the easier for them.
- Stealth Expert: Even more so than the Rogue. They can hide in plain sight and use stealth-based spells, which is everything the Rogue would ever want.
BarbarianFirst officially codified in the Unearthed Arcana supplement to 1st Edition (though it appeared in a fanzine before this); disappeared from 2nd Edition, only to be reintroduced in the Players Options series; finally recodified as a standard class in 3rd Edition. Class Handbooks: WotC 3.5 version, Brilliant Gameologists 3.5 version (copied from the GiantITP version), Gleemax 4E version.
- Badass Normal: All of their abilities are neither magical nor supernatural. Which means everything they do is something that, on paper, anyone can do.
- Barbarian Hero: The good and neutral aligned Barbarians are described as "free and expressive".
- The Berserker: In 3rd edition, where it was their signature ability.
- Canon Immigrant: The barbarian first appeared in the British fanzine White Dwarf before being adopted by TSR.
- Charles Atlas Superpower
- Lightning Bruiser: In 3.x, the barbarian has the highest base movement speed of any class except for the monk. In addition to that he has uncanny dodge, meaning that he reacts so quickly to danger that he gains a bonus to reflex saves against traps and cannot be flanked or sneak-attacked in combat.
- Made of Iron: Traditionally, barbarians have the highest hit points of the core classes, and in most cases, actually take reduced damage from all physical attacks at higher levels (the DR is so small that it only outright prevents Scratch Damage, though).
- Nature Hero: They were expanded upon in the splatbook "Masters of the Wild", and they are consistently described as being "wild" and appreciating nature in the books.
- Never Learned to Read: Possibly; in the third edition, barbarians must spend skill points for literacy, whereas other characters are automatically literate.
- One Stat to Rule Them All: In 1st Edition, Constitution. In 3rd, barbarians benefit from all physical stats (Strength, Dexterity, and Constitution).
- Unskilled, but Strong: Compared to the Fighter. Barbarians have more health, faster movement and huge stat boosts when raging, but not nearly as many combat feats.
- Unstoppable Rage: The barbarian's distinguishing characteristic in 3rd Edition. The original 1E barbarian from White Dwarf also had this ability, but the official one by Gary Gygax did not (it was defined by its extreme resilience).
BardA class introduced in Strategic Review Vol.2 Issue 1, converted to the Ur-Example Prestige Class in AD&D 1st Edition, then made it's own class again from 2nd Edition onward. Class Handbooks: Gleemax 4E version, Gleemax 3.5 version, Brilliant Gameologists 3.5 version
- Magic Music: Third edition made the bard's magical abilities into this; previous editions had them as merely bits of lore that the bard had picked up from his travels.
- Master of None: Bards have half-decent fighting abilities, a little bit of arcane (wizard) magic, and some thieving skills, but aren't particularly good at any of them. The best ways to make them good all involve specializing (as they are given plenty of options in source books due to their status as a core class). One interesting quirk in 3rd Edition was that while the little bit of magic they got was arcane, their spell list included a couple of divine spells — namely, the Cure spells. Of course, Clerics were still better healers.
- Prestige Class:
- The AD&D 1st Edition version could be considered the Ur-Example. A bard had to start as a fighter, work up to at least 5th level, then switch to thief and work up to at least 5th level again, and then switch to druid and only then - assuming your stats were also up to it - you could become a bard. (In 2nd Edition, though, you could start as a bard right out of the gate.)
- It may astound those accustomed to the notion of the Master of None, but the insanely high requirements to break into the Bard class in first edition meant that carrying a musical instrument there was a sign that you were a Badass - thief, warrior, and (thanks to your third and final class) loremaster and minor spellcaster as well.
- Simplified Spellcasting: Starting in 3.5, a bard's spells are simple enough that they can still cast them in light armor without any chance of spell failure.
- The Smart Guy: Fans of Elan might be surprised to learn that in 2nd Edition, Bards actually had the highest Intelligence ability requirement of any of the Core classes — a Wizard "merely" needed an Intelligence of 9 while a Bard needed a score of 13.
- Wandering Minstrel: Often joins up with an adventuring party to chronicle their exploits in song.
Cleric / PriestClass Handbook: Gleemax 4E version, Brilliant Gameologists 4E version, Gleemax 3.5 version, Brilliant Gameologists 3.5 version.
- All Monks Know Kung-Fu: The Cloistered Cleric (no armor or weapon abilities in exchange for knowledge skills and divination) variant in 3.5 finally provides an aversion for the system, as a class for a western book copying monk.
- Combat Medic: As the only one of the original three classes to get healing magic, clerics have been pigeonholed into this role ever since.
- Detect Evil: One of the cleric's spells is the Trope Namer.
- Evil Counterpart: Many evil cleric spells are evil counterparts to good cleric spells. In addition, evil clerics' ability to channel negative energy to cast inflict spells or rebuke and command undead is the evil counterpart to good clerics' ability to channel positive energy to cast cure spells or turn and destroy undead.
- Holy Hand Grenade: How much they use this trope depends on the edition. In 1st edition, this type of spell was either weak (e.g. Spiritual Hammer, which hit like a...slightly magical club), evil (reversed healing spells) or very high level (Flame Strike, on par with raising the dead or traveling to another plane of existence). On the other hand, 3rd edition's profligacy with this trope is what helped give rise to Co Dzilla.
- Necromancer: When you choose to become Evil Cleric, you gain access to undead summoning and dozens of rebuking spells for beefing your undead army. This can potentially outclass Wizard Necromancer in terms of quantities of undeads.
- Technical Pacifist:
- In the first two editions, clerics cannot cause bloodshed, and thus cannot use slashing or piercing weapons. Apparently, bludgeoning people to death with a big, heavy mace is just fine, though.
- This was based partially on Archbishop Turpin from Chanson of Roland - however, later editions and spin-off games like Pathfinder and 13th Age justify that by saying that Clerics are proficient in simple weapons - most of which are bludgeoning.
- Turn Undead:
- Though in the third edition, this applies only to good clerics and ones who are neutral but channel Positive Energy
- Evil Clerics get to control the undead instead — but be careful when trying to tame more powerful spirits.
- Warrior Monk: In every edition, standard clerics have excellent armor proficiency, decent attack progression, and adequate weapon proficiency.
DruidOriginally a sub-class of Clerics introduced in the Eldritch Wizardry supplement, turned into its own class in 2nd Edition.Class Handbook: Gleemax 4E version, Gleemax 3.5 version Brilliant Gameologists 3.5 version.
- The Beastmaster: The spell Animal Friendship, available at 1st level, allows druids to do this, with a one-time chance of failure. 3rd edition replaces the spell with an animal companion class feature which functions almost identically.
- Healing Hands: Though less effectively than clerics, by and large.
- Klingon Promotion: In 1st and 2nd edition, druids had to defeat (not necessarily kill) higher-ranked druids to advance in levels beyond 11th.
- Loyal Animal Companion: A 1st level spell which became one of the classes defining traits.
- Magnificent Bastard: In 2nd Edition, the Complete Druid's Handbook uses this outlook as an example for some class kits. An Advisor (the kit) to a king would suggest a particular area for hunting grounds (seems very non-Druid) because he knows that his king will see the beauty of the locale and instead ban anyone from hunting there or even approaching the would-be hunting grounds, thus fulfilling the Druid's obligation and duty to protect nature in some form.
- The Red Mage: Druids fall outside the dichotomy of white-magic clerics and black-magic wizards, with both healing and damaging spells regardless of alignment.
- Squishy Wizard: Only in 1st Edition, where they had similar armor restrictions to thieves (i.e. leather or nothing). After, they're still restricted to non-metal armor (but dragonhide is not metal).
- Summon Magic: Can summon animals, fey, and elementals.
- Voluntary Shapeshifting: Their signature ability, Wild Shape, allows them to change into animals at will a certain number of times a day. Eventually, this expands to transforming into elemental made of fire, water, wind, or earth.
Fighter / Fighting Man
- Badass Normal: None of their abilities rely on magic or supernatural means.
- Bullfight Boss: Dungeoncrashers variants can pull this off.
- Mighty Glacier: Although they do not have to be played this way, Fighters can equip the heavy class of armor, and are the only core class capable of properly wielding a tower shield (at least by default).
- Magically Inept Fighter: Trope Codifier, all non-spellcaster classes other than Rogue have no access to magic.
- Terror Hero: One of the few useful class skills a fighter gets is Intimidate. The Zhentarim Soldier upgrade makes them one of the best at it; take Imperious Command, and you can reduce an opponent to cowering in a single round.
- Overshadowed by Awesome: In 3.5, The Tome of Battle removed any incentive to ever play a fighter. A Warblade, even when denied access to the martial arts system he's the showcase for, has better base stats and fills the fighter's role better than the fighter.
- Weak, but Skilled: Compared to the Barbarian, although it's a very relative comparison - they have slightly less health, move slower and can't use Rage, but have more combat feats than anyone else.
- Weapon of Choice: In late 1st edition, Fighters gain an ability called "Weapon Specialization", which gives them bonuses when they use their chosen weapon. This was made optional in 3rd edition.
IllusionistOriginally a sub-class distinct from the magic-user class and with its own spell list (though there was overlap). Became "merely" one type of specialist wizard among several others as early as AD&D 2nd edition (though a remnant of the old separation stuck around until 3E — gnome wizards had to be illusionists). First introduced in Strategic Review Vol.1 Issue 4.
- Power Copying: The 1st edition DMG made it clear that illusionists could only make convincing illusions of monsters they had personally encountered, making the main "illusion" line of spells (Phantasmal Force, Improved Phantasmal Force, Spectral Force &c) function similarly to Blue Magic from Final Fantasy - the illusionist can, with clever use of his spells, "use" the powers of defeated monsters against his current foes. The weakness of the technique is that recognising the illusion for what it is almost always negates all effects of the spell.
- The Red Mage: Not as much so as the druid in 1st edition, but a sufficiently-leveled illusionist could prepare both healing and damaging spells, as well as the illusions and mezzing spells which were their stock-in-trade.
- Spiritual Successor: The Beguiler in 3.5, which specializes in magic to perform trickery and illusion.
- Squishy Wizard: Being a subclass of the magic-user, they inherit this trope from it.
MonkA Cleric sub-class introduced in the OD&D Blackmoor supplement. Made it's own class in AD&D 1st Edition.
- Awesome, but Impractical: Regardless of its flaws, not many other classes can literally punch out Cthuhlu.
- Bare-Fisted Monk: They gain the Improved Unarmed Strike feat, which lets them deal lethal damage with unarmed strikes. Their abilities eventually increase this damage dramatically and give them the power to ignore certain damage resistances as though they were made of certain powerful metals.
- Charles Atlas Superpower: Most of the monk's abilities are not magical in nature, but merely stem from years of training. Including the ability to do lethal damage with their fists, the only Core class that can do so without taking a feat.
- Early Installment Weirdness: When first introduced in OD&D they were a variant of the Cleric class (which made sense), who had all the abilities of a thief (which didn't), could fight effectively with any weapon and wear any armor, but fought best with bare fists and without armor. Not that they made much more sense when they returned in 3rd edition... (see Master of None below).
- Fragile Speedster: Even if you happen to roll 18 for all your ability scores, monks will never get as tough as the true fighting classes, with their naturally high AC and movement speed bonuses being their main boons.
- Invulnerable Knuckles: Said knuckles count as magic weapons for the purpose of piercing magic defenses. This also has the side-effect of letting a Monk punch ghosts.
- Ki Attacks: 3rd Edition describes many Monk abilities as being quasi-spiritual.
- Master of None:
- Have a lot of "flavour" abilities with no value, like the ability to partially slow your fall by using nearby walls (most wizards can completely slow all falls, period, with a level 1 spell). Most of its abilities are contrary, as well: The monk has a lot of mobility-enhancing powers that would lead to hit-and-run attacks... But Flurry of Blows only work when the monk stands still.
- Depending on the edition, in 3e monks are somewhere between a fighter (with unpredictable offensive powers) and a rogue (without sneak attack). 4e makes them strikers, and 13th Age monk is focused on using techniques and special attacks.
- Mage Killer: Practically the only thing they consistently outperform every other class in across the editions is getting around the enemy fighting line quickly and locking down their mage.
- The Paralyzer: Stunning Fist, which is essentially a "proc" in 1st edition (kicks in if you beat the required to-hit score by 4+) and part of a character build in 3rd edition (a possible free feat).
- Rapid-Fire Fisticuffs: Flurry of Blows.
- Required Secondary Powers: By strict rules as written, a Monk is arguably not proficient in Unarmed Strike.
- Touch of Death: Quivering Palm.
- Became a Useless Useful Spell in 3.5 when it could no longer affect targets of higher Hit Die than the monk. Most mooks at the level you gain it have more Hit Die than player characters, nevermind targets you'd actually feel like expending it on.
- It doesn't have to be instant-death, either; the monk is able to simply will the target to die at any time for at least a week after landing the attack (depending on the monk's Wisdom and level), and if the target fails a Fortitude save, they drop dead. Extortion ahoy!
- What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway?: Monks have tons of filler abilities that are easily replicated by cheap, common, magic items (What good is limited access to slow fall over 20 levels if a Ring of Slowfall is dirt cheap and easily afforded by the time you start getting the basics of the ability and does more than it ever will?).
- Averted. Playing your monk like a wuxia badass is a good way to get your ass handed to you by the guys who aren't fighting naked and barehanded.
- Played mostly straight in fourth edition and entirely straight in fifth, with the relatively balanced magic of fifth edition especially making the monk's mobility kit and large pool of varied tricks extremely powerful and never really redundant. In the mid-levels the monk will likely be the only player in the party with full vertical movement, for instance, and most enemies won't have it either.
PaladinIntroduced in the Greyhawk Supplement for OD&D as a Fighter sub-class. Made it's own class in AD&D 2nd Edition.
- Combat Medic: They can cast healing spells and their Lay on Hands ability allows them to heal others. They often heal others in the middle of combat.
- Cool Horse: The paladin's Special Mount, gained upon reaching level 4. Not only is it tougher than a standard Mount, it shares an empathetic bond with the paladin and levels up as she does. Though a warhorse is the iconic example, all sorts of different mounts have been presented as options.
- Detect Evil: One of the paladin's abilities duplicates the effect of the cleric spell of the same name, which is the Trope Namer.
- Evil Counterpart: The Blackguard prestige class is to evil deities as Paladins are to good deities.
- Healing Hands: the "Lay on Hands" innate ability, and at higher levels, healing clerical spells.
- Holy Hand Grenade: "Smite Evil", the alternate name to the page, comes from the Paladin's signature ability to do extra damage to Evil foes.
- Magic Knight: An offensive variant in 3rd edition, where they have their smite evil ability to take out evil foes; a defensive variant in 1st, where they project a permanent circle of protection from evil, giving their allies saving throw and armor class bonuses.
- Oathbound Power: Possibly the most famous example of this trope; See Right Makes Might for more details.
- Right Makes Might: A paladin's powers are tied directly to his alignment; if she strays from the path of righteousness, she loses all her special abilities.
- The Paladin: Trope Codifier.
- The Beastmaster: Not to quite the same extent as a Druid, but they still normally gain an Animal Companion.
- Bow and Sword, in Accord: A standard weapon selection since the class first appeared.
- Dual Wielding: First tied to the ranger class in 2nd edition, thanks to a certain drow ranger. Somewhat mutually exclusive with archery proficiency, though. 3.5 explicitly separated the two traits into distinct career paths. Some splatbooks added mounted combat and wrestling to Ranger styles.
- The Hunter: Their Favored Enemy ability increases skill checks and damage rolls made against specific creatures, and they tend to prefer to hunt these same creatures for varying reasons.
- Nature Hero: They tend to live in the wilderness, receive most of their powers from nature itself, and, like the druid and barbarian, will seek to protect it from harm.
- Speaks Fluent Animal: They are able to use Wild Empathy to communicate with animals and magical beasts and influence their behavior.
Rogue / ThiefIntroduced in the OD&D Greyhawk supplement.
- Badass Normal: None of their abilities are based on magic or supernatural means.
- Combat Pragmatist: Being the only core non-spellcaster with Use Magic Device as a class skill (the skill governing use of magic items like scrolls and wands) gives one a lot of options.
- Five-Finger Discount: Picking pockets is one of the standard Thief abilities.
- One Stat to Rule Them All: Dexterity. It is the key to their skills and defenses.
- Squishy Wizard: When they were introduced, they used a d4 to roll their health, although it was somewhat offset by them being able to wear leather armor. AD&D 1st Edition bumped it up to a d6.
- Thieves' Cant: This language is unique to this class, and is limited to the discussion of thievery-related activities.
- Trap Master: Only rogues are allowed to have any chance of successfully disarming exceptionally difficult traps.
- Utility Party Member: The Rogue has traditionally been the party's skill monkey, thanks to receiving, depending on the edition, the most skill points per level or the most non-combat skill boosts.
SorcererAn alternate arcane spellcaster introduced in 3rd Ediiton.
- Black Mage: Arcane healing is possible, but it's very inefficient compared to divine spells. Either by a spell that converts other spells into a small amount of healing, or taking damage from someone else and putting it on your self, or transferring it another target. Or the high level stuff like Limited Wish or Wish that can simply replicate almost any spell.
- Bullying a Dragon: According to the fluff, many sorcerers are persecuted by Muggles because of their supposed "freakish" or "demonic" nature. Yeah, actively making trouble with a guy who, for all you know, can blow up a city block or whistle up a dragon to fight you. Smart move.
- Glass Cannon: Like wizards, sorcerers can dish out huge amounts of damage with their spells, but their d4 Hit Dice means that they won't have many Hit Points.
- In the Blood: A sorcerer's powers are innate, as opposed to wizards, who require years of study to learn their magic.
- Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards: At the low levels, they struggle while the warrior-type classes shine. At the higher levels, they are blowing up entire armies and solving problems warrior-types could only dream of accomplishing.
- Not That Kind of Mage: Once again, with wizards.
- Remember the New Guy: The only 'new' class in 3e, introduced mostly because 1/4th of the PHB was wizard spells. Many worlds were retconned so that famous wizards were sorcerers.
- Squishy Wizard: Their hit die is only d4, the smallest hit die size and thus assures a low HP, and they cannot wear armor of any kind without risking spell failure, thereby assuring an easy hit. Between having low hit points and being easily struck, it wouldn't take much to put a Sorcerer out of commission.
- Vancian Magic: Of a different sort than wizards and most other spellcasting classes. Rather than being required to prepare spells in advance, sorcerors can spontaneously cast any spell they know, and are allowed to cast only a given number of spells per day (sorcerers also get to cast more spells per day than wizards). On the other hand, sorcerers are only allowed to know a limited number of spells, period. This gives sorcerers great flexibility to adapt their plans on the fly (in contrast to wizards, who are screwed if they go up against something they didn't prepare for ahead of time), but less flexibility in terms of the total range of situations that they can tackle.
Wizard / Magic-User / Mage
- Achilles' Heel: Wizards cannot prepare spells without their spellbooks. Very sadistic GMs wanting to equalize the sorcerer/wizard gap are known to exploit this fact.
- Badass Bookworm: Wizards study dusty old tomes for years to gain the ability to blow stuff up with a flick of the hand.
- Black Mage: Regardless of alignment, healing is one of the very, very few things they can't do.
- Crazy-Prepared: The 2nd and 3rd/3.5 edition wizard was best played with this mindset. Without the cleric's access to all spells each level, wizards must carefully shop for scrolls and prepare the 'right' ones each day.
- Empathy Pet: Familiars.
- Glass Cannon: They can inflict massive damage and do almost anything in the world, but their low HP and difficulty evading blows means they can be put out of commission in very few blows.
- Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards: At the low levels, the struggle to really do much of anything while the warrior-type classes knock down the enemies. At the high levels, they're solving problems left and right and taking out enemies before they even know what's going on, which is something warrior-types won't be doing any time soon.
- Necromancer: Similar to Evil Cleric (see above), Wizard class is capable of reanimating undeads via Animate Dead and creating undead via Create Dead. They have early access to a lethal close range spell Chill Touch. However, they cannot rebuke undead.
- The Smart Guy: The only core class whose most important stat is Intelligence.
- Spell Book: A wizard's spellbook carries notes on the spells that they've studied and learned.
- Squishy Wizard:
- OD&D magic-users used a d6 to roll their health, until the Greyhawk supplement introduced using a d4 as an alternate. The d4 stuck from then up to 3.5 Edition.
- The inability to wear most (in some editions, any) armor or use shields makes a wizard who doesn't have a defensive spell up in advance very easy to hit in combat, and especially in earlier editions the potential for any hit scored to ruin any spell the wizard might have been busy casting at the time.
Other pre-3rd-Edition Classes
CavalierA paladin without all the holier-than-thou claptrap. Under the 1st Edition's Unearthed Arcana supplement, Paladins were a sub-class of Cavalier with all the holier-than-thou claptrap.
- Ermine Cape Effect: The Cavalier absolutely refuses, if possible, to wear "common" clothing, settling for no less than scale mail or, if in the budget, plate mail. Even if leather armor is magical, it's refused simply because of how 'improper' it is.
- Honor Before Reason: The Fighter "class kit" version in 2nd Edition was extreme about this, to a point that, if a party member was in one-on-one combat, they refused to help, even if the ally was 'losing'.
- Upper-Class Twit: Possible way to play, given the above tropes.
- Weapon of Choice: Literally called this on p.14 of 1st Edition Unearthed Arcana. Cavaliers get bonuses to hit, to damage, and to the number of attacks they're allowed in a melee round, if wielding a lance, a broadsword/longsword/scimitar (player's choice), or a horseman's mace/flail/military pick (player's choice).
Thief-AcrobatA thief who gives up picking pockets for the sake of becoming a better catburglar. Walking on tightropes, tumbling, jumping, and pole vaulting are his specialties.
- Prestige Class: The earliest straight example of what would be codified in 3rd edition. Unlike later examples, the only entrance path was the thief class.
Other 3rd Edition Classes
ArchivistIntroduced in Heroes of Horror.
- Awesome, but Impractical: An Archivist can potentially be the most powerful caster in the entire game by scribing scrolls from domain spells, divine variants of arcane classes, and classes that get their spells at earlier levels, but that's dependent on the scrolls you can find or buy. Most DMs will at least give you domain spells and Druid spells, but the stingiest might not let you go past your core Cleric list, basically making you a lamer Cloistered Cleric. As a full caster, the Archivist is basically always going to be powerful, but how powerful can vary heavily between theory and execution.
- Awesomeness by Analysis: Dark Knowledge allows an Archivist to make a Knowledge check and instantly divine an advantage against his foe.
- Badass Bookworm: Archivists add spells to their prayerbook from divine scrolls, and can learn any divine spell in the game, giving them the most versatile spell list around.
- Disc One Nuke: Some casting classes have a slow progression, and learn high-level spells at a lower level than normal... which you can then copy and use several levels early. For instance, the Disciple of Thrym prestige class learns Summon Giants, a 8th-level Cleric spell that does exactly what it sounds like, as a 4th-level spell. If your DM is stupid enough to leave a scroll of it lying around, you can conjure up a trio of fiendish hill giants at a level where the wizard's lucky to get one dire wolf.
- Loophole Abuse: A smart Archivist will take heavy advantage of what can be called a divine caster. Paladins learn Lesser Restoration at first level, you say?
- Recycled In Space: They're Divine Wizards, as evidence by them needing Intelligence and prayerbooks to cast divine spells in similar ways to Wizards and their Arcane spells.
- The Smart Guy: Like the Wizard, half the power of his spells comes from Intelligence. The other half comes from Wisdom.
- Squishy Wizard: A consequence of being Divine Wizards; the only divine class with worse combat stats is the Healer. Of course, since Divine Power is on the Archivist spell list, this usually isn't as big a problem as it could be.
ArdentIntroduced in Complete Psionic.
- Mighty Glacier: They receive heavy armor, they can heal themselves, and their psychic powers often pack a whallop.
- Recycled In Space: Between their Wisdom-based casting, fighting style, and mantles, an Ardent is clearly meant to call to mind a psionic Cleric.
- Warrior Poet: An Ardent's power comes from his philosophies and personal conviction in the primal truths.
ArtificerIntroduced in the Eberron Campaign Setting.
- Clothes Make the Superman: Artificers cast spells indirectly by enchanting equipment. In other words, they can't fly, but their boots just suddenly sprouted little wings.
- Crazy-Prepared: Being only as good as the stuff they carry, experienced artificer players will have whole manifests of stuff they have in their interdimensional storage spaces. And if they don't have the exact right thing, their Infusions (at higher levels) can make a stick into a Holy Orc-bane Stick of Impact.
- Difficult but Awesome: Artificers require a massive amount of bookkeeping — keeping track of all of their magical items, how much XP was lost in creating all of them, how many charges each magical weapon has, how many Action Points they have at any given time — but when pulled off, they are awesomely powerful.
- Gadgeteer Genius: For that player who wants to craft their own equipment, this class can create almost any kind of magic item for lesser costs than normal and add additional abilities to weapons.
- Utility Belt: 4e makes them Arcane Leaders... which still works somehow, when they have the gadget for just the occasion.
Battle DancerIntroduced in Dragon #159, updated for 3.5e in the Dragon Compendium.
- Dance Battler: If the name didn't already tip you off...
BeguilerIntroduced in Player's Handbook II (3.5e).
- Charm Person: One of the most important spells a beginning beguiler has.
- Expy: Borrows the Warmage's system of casting, but for illusion and mind-control spells instead of blasting.
- Guile Hero: More or less a quintessential one.
- Invisibility: A popular spell for them.
- Magic Knight: Magic Rogue, more like. Unlike Rogues or Bards, though, Beguilers are pretty terrible at melee combat, and work best as controllers.
- One Stat to Rule Them All: Intelligence. A Beguiler's spellcasting depends entirely on it, and it nicely complements their large amount of skills.
- Stealth Expert: Easily so, between a wide skill set and many illusions.
- Trap Master: Can disarm exceptional traps, in the same way Rogues can.
- The Trickster: The book notes that the class is adept at mimicking this archetype.
BinderIntroduced in Tome of Magic.
- Ars Goetia: Many of the names of Vestiges that Binders make pacts with are based off of demons from the Ars Goetia.
- Combo Platter Powers: The many abilities vestiges provide can easily generate this if mixed together. Even a single vestige's abilities can cause this by being too spread apart in theme. For instance, Haagenti gives proficiency with axes and shields, immunity to transformation effects and a confusing touch ability, none of which work well together.
- Compelling Voice: Naberius provides you with one, though he also makes you sound all scratchy.
- Continuity Nod: Some of the Vestiges are based off of characters from events in previous editions of D&D that, due to how they died or were destroyed, have slipped outside of the normal order of existence.
- Dark Is Not Evil: Though some of the vestiges were evil in life and the Binder's methods seem a bit unsavory, the class has no alignment requirement whatsoever. Not even to bind Tenebrous, the shadow-powered castoff undead remains of a Demon Prince. Tell it to the Seropaenes, though.
- Dance Battler: Paimon makes you one of these.
- Deal with the Devil: While there are plenty of innocent or neutral vestiges, the whole process is considered unnatural. In the default setting, expect at least three Law-aligned deities demanding your head on a plate at any given time.
- Discard and Draw: One of the things that makes Binders unique is their ability to do this practically on the fly.
- Drop the Hammer: Eurynome's Maul is definitely one of these.
- Hero with Bad Publicity: Mainly among the religious, as mentioned, or the upper classes. A Binder requires very little training, knowledge, or equipment to become a potential threat, which means that even if you don't think Binders are selling their souls, you still aren't interested in seeing them stick around. Common people tend not to see the distinction between them and Druids or Clerics, and simply welcome the ones with Healing Hands and drive off the ones with horns.
- Instant Armor: Savnok gives you a nifty set of full plate.
- The Medic: Buer fulfills this role, providing her channelers a small Healing Factor, Healing Hands, and an immunity to poisons and disease that can be shared with nearby allies.
- Red Right Hand: Shows up when channeling — sometimes it is a literal deformity, other times it is a personality quirk like being unable to lie.
- This Looks Like a Job for Aquaman: Several examples, given that vestiges can have very situational abilities.
- Though Shax and Focalor do give you some nifty tricks with lightning and other abilities, they're clearly designed so that the Binder can help out in a water dungeon (Shax grants a swim speed, Focalor underwater breathing).
- Primus is only truly useful against chaotic outsiders.
- Most of Desharis' abilities only work within cities, meaning that it's the perfect vestige for urban adventures.
- The main reason you'll want to bind Kas is to use it against undead creatures.
- Un Equal Rites: Oh, yes. Most Clerics and Paladins view Binders as unwitting dupes at best and abominations to the natural order at worst. Wizards find their method to be a bumpkin's magic, since binding doesn't take much training.
- Willing Channeler: The whole premise of the class, really.
- Working-Class Hero: They often act as this.
CrusaderIntroduced in Tome of Battle: The Book of Nine Swords.
- Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy: Pretty common; the class is essentially a Paladin 2.0 with the Tome Of Battle rules, and renowned for being so.
- Kung-Fu Jesus: They use divinely inspired martial arts to fight. Inspiration is represented by the DM offering them 3 random cards a turn, each card corresponding to a maneuver.
- Made of Iron: Damage taken can be delayed up to one round, and the Crusader can heal that damage before it happens (or use the Stone Power feat to negate it outright).
- Mighty Glacier: It's the only class in the Book of Nine Swords that is proficient with Heavy Armor. The class also has a strong focus on Hit Points (though not receiving as many as the Warblade), and is very hard to actually kill if played properly.
- Obvious Beta: In hindsight, anyway. Wizards of the Coast has confirmed that they were testing gameplay mechanics for fourth edition with this and the other classes in Tome of Battle. It's more obvious here than with earlier classes like the Warlock (see below).
Death MasterIntroduced in Dragon #76, updated for 3.5e in the Dragon Compendium.
Divine MindIntroduced in Complete Psionic.
- Obvious Beta: It's not mentioned on the back of the book (the Erudite is), its fluff makes little sense in context, and its abilities are a fairly clear rip from the Ardent (only made much weaker). Some people are pretty sure it was added in because they were planning to put the Erudite in the first chapter, but its status as a variant put a stop to this.
- Psychic Powers: From God(s).
- Recycled AS PSYCHIC: Much like Ardents are essentially psionic clerics, the fluff shows Divine Minds as essentially psionic paladins...though their aura class abilities make them resemble psionic marshalls, instead.
Dragon ShamanIntroduced in Player's Handbook II (3.5e). Class Handbook: GITP version.
- Breath Weapon: The "Dragon" part of the name...
- Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Dragon Shamans must choose a type of dragon as their totem and must adhere close to that type of dragon's alignment.
- Healing Hands: The Touch of Vitality ability allows them to heal wounds by touch (unlike many similar abilities, it has no effect on undead), with the healing point pool eventually being usable to remove various negative conditions.
- Status Buff: The "shaman" part of the class manifests in part through its auras. It works in a way similar to the Marshal, but with a smaller area and more overtly magical.
Dragonfire AdeptIntroduced in Dragon Magic.
- Breath Weapon: While other characters can pick one up through spells, feats, items, and class features down the line, the Dragonfire Adept is the only class that gets a breath weapon at level 1.
- Expy: Uses the same casting system as the Warlock.
- Full-Contact Magic: Has a higher hit die value than most "full" casters like the Wizard and Sorcerer, although still lacking any armor proficiencies or more than simple weaponry.
- Squishy Wizard: Averted, or at least downplayed (Dragonfire Adepts have the same hit die as a Cleric and benefit from high Constitution for their breath weapon, but unlike Clerics they have the same spell-casting penalties as Wizards and Sorcerers when wearing armour).
Dread NecromancerIntroduced in Heroes of Horror.
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Dread Necros have a limited spell list, drawn nearly exclusively from the Necromancy school.
- Expy: Borrows the Warmage's system of casting, but for necromancy spells instead of blasting.
- Healing Hands: Can expel negative energy at a touch. Infinite healing for any undead (or rare living being healed by negative energy), including themselves with the right options.
- Horrifying Hero/Terror Hero: Only natural, given the book they were introduced in. Alignment restrictions aside, a Dread Necromancer slowly turns into a Lich as they climb up the levels, gaining the immunities and traits of one as they go on, alongside several fear-based abilities. It's common to base entire builds around fear effects.
- Necromancer: Duh.
- One Stat to Rule Them All: Charisma powers everything the Dread Necro needs to do.
- Our Liches Are Different/Soul Jar: The Dread Necro's level 20 class feature is an automatic transformation into a Lich, complete with the obligatory Phylactery. They even get Craft Wondrous Item as a bonus feat to construct the phylactery, in case they didn't already have it.
- The Red Mage: The class utilizes spells taken from both the Wizard and Cleric spell-list, but cast as arcane spells, and spontaneously, like a sorcerer. Since the classes' spell list is fixed and automatically known when a character obtains access to a new spell level, this allows them a measure of versatility within their thematic.
- Black Magic: Most spells available to them involve death, destruction, evil, fear, and not much else.
- Simplified Spellcasting: Much like a bard, a Dread Necro can cast spells while wearing light armor without fearing a chance of failure. This makes them more resilient and melee-prone than other casters.
- Squishy Wizard: While only slightly less squishy than normal casters in theory, their infinite healing makes them fairly tankish at times. (For comparison, even the Monk's Healing Factor is limited to twice the Monk's class level per day.)
- Turn Undead: They can rebuke undead in the same way an evil Cleric can.
- Useless Item: WotC's Customer Service system has infamously claimed one of their class features does absolutely nothing beyond give them a box. This is one of the more frequently cited reasons why no one uses their rulings.
DuskbladeIntroduced in Player's Handbook II. The Duskblade competently combines Sword and Sorcery, using a large number of touch based spells, as well as spells that cast as a swift action AND the ability to cast several spells as swift actions so many times per day, thus allowing them to battle with both the sword and the spell as one, and while they never reach the level of power sorcerers and wizards can reach, they do gain several very powerful offensive spells.
- Chain Lightning: One of the strongest offensive spells in the their repertoire.
- Defense Mechanism Superpower: Several of the spells a Duskblade can learn are purely defensive... and can be cast as an Immediate Action, meaning on the OPPONENT'S turn.
- Elemental Punch: a couple of the Duskblade's spells effectively function as this, as they are touch spells that deliver damaging elemental attacks.
- Full-Contact Magic: Duskblades are explicitly designed to be capable of this, delivering their spells THROUGH their swords or other weapons.
- Glass Cannon: A Duskblade is limited to d8 Hit Dice and can't wear armor lighter than medium. By the time they've learned to channel spells into a full attack, though, they can certifiably murder everything.
- Lethal Harmless Powers: The Duskblade also has a few spells that in and of themselves can do a person no harm, yet can still prove deadly used correctly. Dimension Hop, for instance, is a touch spell that a Duskblade can delivery through a Melee strike, that teleports the target up to 5ft per 2 caster levels to an unoccupied space with line of site... including out into the middle of empty space past the edge of a cliff, or into the range of a devastatingly powerful spell or ability...
- Life Drain: Vampiric Touch, often considered a Duskblade's bread-and-butter attack.
- Magic Knight: The best single non-Prestige class example.
- Simplified Spellcasting: Duskblades can cast while wearing armor with no chance of spell failure. This is an incredibly potent ability as it gives very high AC, something most arcane casters don't have.
- Spell Blade: A Duskblade can learn to temporarily enchant his weapons so they deal more damage in combat.
EidolonIntroduced in Ghostwalk. One of very few base classes with racial requirements (in this case being a ghost). Focuses on becoming better at fighting and ghostly powers.(Needs entries)
EidoloncerIntroduced in Ghostwalk. The spellcasting counterpart to the Eidolon.(Needs entries)
EruditeIntroduced in Complete Psionic.
- All Your Powers Combined: Unlike standard Psions, Erudites can learn powers from all six psionic disciplines.
- Even more so with the Spell to Power variant, that allows the Erudite to learn arcane spells. These include wizard, bard, assassin and wu jen spells, making the Erudite even more diverse in repertoire
- Psychic Powers
- Secret Character: The Erudite was hidden away in one of the last pages of Complete Psionic, segregated from the other three classes introduced in that splatbook. Consequently, a fair number of people don't even know it exists.
- It was actually a Dragon Magazine-exclusive before it was printed in Complete Psionic. The class was originally slated for the Expanded Psionics Handbook, but was cut for space.
FactotumIntroduced in the book Dungeonscape.
- Badass Bookworm: A Factotum can supplement an attack or damage roll with their Intelligence modifier, but only a limited number of times per encounter. Also, they gain the ability to constantly apply their Intelligence modifier to Strength and Dexterity-based checks.
- Healing Hands: A Factotum can eventually do this.
- Iaijutsu Practitioner: One of the more popular builds for the class exploits this.
- Jack-of-All-Stats/Jack-of-All-Trades: This is what a Factotum is made to be. They have access to all skills, have some limited spellcasting abilities, have proficiency with all simple and martial weapons, and as noted, have access to limited Healing Hands and Turn Undead.
- One Stat to Rule Them All: Intelligence. Definitely Intelligence.
- Revive Kills Zombie: Possible using the above-noted Healing Hands.
- Turn Undead: A Factotum gets this ability. Rebuking doesn't work for a Factotum though, even an evil one.
- Trap Master: Can disarm exceptional traps, in the same way Rogues can.
Favored SoulIntroduced in the Miniatures Handbook, and introduced again in Complete Divine.
- The Chosen One: Your deity talks to you directly. Don't expect much vacation time.
- Power Gives You Wings: at high levels, a Favored Soul grows either Angelic or Bat like wings, depending on alignment
- Recycled In Religion: The Favored Soul is the Divine counterpart to the Sorcerer.
HealerIntroduced in the Miniatures Handbook.
- Crippling Overspecialisation: The Healer is an incredible healer, but healing (and some slight buffing) is all it can do. Unless your characters are wounded or suffering from something, the healer basically only takes up space.
- Expy: The most common first step in fixing the class among fans is to make it one of the Warmage expies (why it isn't one in the first place, when they debut in the same book, is not understood).
- Healing Hands
- Revive Kills Zombie: Without Sanctified Spells, this is probably the only reasonable way a Healer can fight until they get their Celestial Unicorn companion.
- Unicorn: The base companion for a Healer is a Celestial Unicorn (as mentioned above).
- Virgin Power: Averted; there is nothing in the rules saying a Healer has to be a virgin to keep their Celestial Unicorn companion.
- White Magic: The class specializes in healing spells.
HexbladeIntroduced in Complete Warrior.
- Bad Powers, Bad People: Cannot be outright Good, as a consequence of how their powers center on cursing others.
- The Beastmaster: The most popular Hexblade builds tend to focus on abusing its familiar. Since a familiar's HP is half that of its master's, a Hexblade's familiar is typically going to be far tougher than a Wizard's. Some go so far as to trade the feature for Dark Companion (itself an arguable example) and then take a feat to regain a familiar. Plenty of them add Improved Familiar for good measure, swapping out their cats and owls for winter wolves.
- Magic Knight: In theory, yes. A Hexblade has access to both arcane spells and the full Base Attack and high HD of a warrior class.
- Master of None: A consequence of the above. They have almost no melee combat abilities outside of their chassis, and their spellcasting is scarcely better than a Ranger's.
- Overshadowed by Awesome: A consequence of both of the above, compared to the Duskblade or a multiclass character. The Hexblade does have some neat tricks, including the Mettle ability and an altogether good spell list (though its casting ability remains limited), but compared to the raw power of a Duskblade or the greater versatility of an Eldritch Knight, the class ends up looking pretty iffy.
- Took a Level in Badass: The designers did some work to bring the hexblade up a notch, with its creator releasing an unofficial fix that placed the Hexblade more on the Duskblade's tier. These days, the Duskblade focuses on raw damage, while the Hexblade focuses on debuffs and melee support.
IncarnateIntroduced in Magic of Incarnum.
- Difficult but Awesome: Once you've learned how to play the class, you are nearly on-par with a Factotum.
- Incarnates are capable of utilizing defenses that are normally reserved for spellcasters/manifesters, and are numerically capable of covering any of the four standard roles. Whats more, an Incarnate can change his entire build within 9 hours' time.
- Guide Dang It: The Incarnate was introduced in a book that wears the title of Most Confusing Splat EVER. Very few people have the know-how to play the class, even on the most popular forums like GiantITP.
- Made of Iron: Thanks to having a huge amount of defenses and being focused nigh-exclusively on Constitution, an Incarnate is very durable. Only the Totemist and Crusader (and, to a lesser extent, the Barbarian) are comparable out of the non-casters.
JesterIntroduced in Dragon #60, updated for 3.5e in the Dragon Compendium.
KnightIntroduced in Player's Handbook II (3.5e).
- Determinator: A knight can continue to fight, even when they should be dead. Even when they ARE dead.
- Duel Boss: One of the main abilities available for use by expending a daily use of their Knight's Challenge.
- Honor Before Reason: Every time the Knight violates their code of conduct, such as making surprise attacks, or striking a defenseless foe, they lose uses of their Knight's Challenge for the day. Violating their code when out of Knight's challenges, applies a morale penalty to them for the rest of the day, and only get's worse from there.
- Knight in Shining Armor
- Mighty Glacier: The class's main purpose is to call out enemies in single combat to keep them away from your allies. As a result, the Knight has very high Hit Points (but for some reason, a poor Fortitude save). Notable for being actually being semi-effective at it, as they have abilities to prevent enemies from just targeting others.
LurkIntroduced in Complete Psionic.
MarshalIntroduced in the Miniatures Handbook. Later evolved into 4e Warlord or 13th Age Commander.
- Status Buff: The class's main specialty is its auras, a means of buffing one's allies just by being there.
- The Strategist: What this class is supposed to be.
MountebankIdea suggested in Dragon #65, introduced in the Dragon Compendium. Shares the same name as the prestige class Mountebank.
- Back Stab: Of a sort. A Mountebank's Deceptive Attack deals bonus damage against opponents whom they successfully feint against OR whom they have beguiled or otherwise lulled into a false sense of security.
- Deal with the Devil: The literal, sell-thy-soul-for-power kind. Not even a minion either, but a bonafide demon prince or a Duke of Hell.
- Greed: Whether for power, wealth, or the grim satisfaction of watching the world burn, Mountebanks tend to be big on the greed.
- Hypnotic Eyes: One of the class' earliest abilities, which naturally works rather well with their Deceptive Attack feature.
- Manipulative Bastard: The class' modus operandi when there's no fighting going on.
- Your Soul Is Mine: Regardless of your quality of service, at level 20, your infernal patron gets impatient and comes to collect his payment.
NinjaIntroduced in Complete Adventurer.
- Nerf: It's like a neutered Rogue. Even with the ability to become invisible, it's not that powerful.
- NINJA: The name says it all, folks!
- Stealth Expert
- Trap Master: Only rogues are allowed to have any chance of successfully disarming exceptionally difficult traps.
Psion / Psionicist
- And I Must Scream: Psionic powers can be nasty.
- Back from the Dead: There are a couple of ways to go at it, some more complicated than others.
- Mana: Called Power Points, but function as a mana meter, in contrast to normal Vancian Magic casters.
- Mind Rape: In several delicious flavours. Injecting an enemy's mind with a second, simultaneously-functioning personality that hates them is only one example.
- Psychic Powers: See the name.
- Your Head Asplode: Kind of expected...
- Decerebrate is not quite this, but comes close. You teleport part of the target's brain out of his head.
Psychic RogueIntroduced in the Wizards of the Coast's Mind's Eye articles.
- Back Stab: Much like their nonpsionic cousin class, Sneak Attacks are part of the deal. Psychic Rogues get a slower bonus damage progression, but can potentially reinforce them with psychic power.
- Lovable Rogue
- Master of Unlocking
- Psychic Powers: It's in the name.
- Stealth Expert
- Empathic Healer: Can donate their hit points to their teammates, and later learns to drain enemies for quick healing.
- Magic Knight: The psionic version thereof.
- Poor, Predictable Rock: Subverted: most of their attack spells do acid damage, but how many stock Monster Manual creatures resist acid?
- Psychic Powers
SamuraiIntroduced in Oriental Adventures (3.0), revised and reintroduced in Complete Warrior (3.5).
- Ancestral Weapon: The Oriental Adventures version had this as a feature. It allowed the Samurai to start off with a Masterwork weapon (typically a katana or bastard sword), and enchant it by offering monetary sacrifices and meditating and praying to their ancestors
- Dual Wielding: Part of the Complete Warrior version, they receive Two Weapon Fighting as a bonus feat, but it only applies when using a daisho (wakizashi/shortsword and katana/bastard sword
- Iaijutsu Practitioner: Both versions. the Oriental Adventures version could invest in a skill called Iaijutsu Focus, which allowed them to do bonus damage on a surprise round if they could draw their weapon and attack in the same round. The Complete Warrior version however, is a toned down version, and only provides the Quick Draw feat for their daisho
- Lawful Stupid: The initial 3.0 version, unbearably so...
SavantIntroduced in Dragon #140, updated for 3.5e in the Dragon Compendium.(Needs entries)
ScoutIntroduced in Complete Adventurer.
- Stealth Expert: Not to the same extent as the Rogue, since its Skirmish ability doesn't rely on surprise like a Rogue's Sneak Attack, but Scouts are still good at remaining unseen.
- Took a Level in Badass: The Swift Hunter feat turns this class and the Ranger into a solid Tier 3 build. It's also possible to combine Swift Hunter with Cleric spellcasting, making it even better.
- Trap Master: Only rogues are allowed to have any chance of successfully disarming exceptionally difficult traps amongst the core classes, but scouts are one of a few other bases classes to have the same ability.
ShadowcasterIntroduced in Tome of Magic.
- Dark Is Not Evil: Shadowcasters are not inclined toward evil any more than other classes. The fluff does say good shadowcasters are exceedingly rare pretty much because of Dark Is Evil, but exceedingly rare is explicitly not the same as non-existent (the class has no alignment restrictions), and there is nothing suggesting evil shadowcasters are any more common than neutral ones.
- Simplified Spellcasting: The main mechanical thrust of the class. Their fundamentals (the equivalents of the spell level 0 cantrips and orisons for other casters) start out as supernatural abilities, their mysteries move from being cast as spells to being cast as spell-like abilities to being supernatural abilities depending on the tier and level, none of their mysteries have verbal or material components (or foci) in the first place, and they have a feat available that allows them to cast all their mysteries without gestures.
- Squishy Wizard: Slightly downplayed, relative to actual wizards. Shadowcasters have the hit points of a sorcerer, but good fortitude saves, are a single feat from not having to worry about spell failure from armour at all (though they still don't have proficiency with armour, so only the lightest armours are worth it) and eventually can maintain a constant small deflection (meaning it applies against everything) bonus to AC.
Sha'irIntroduced in the Al-Qadim setting for 2nd Edition, updated to 3.5e in Dragon #315 and reintroduced in the Dragon Compendium.(Needs entries)
ShamanIntroduced in Oriental Adventures.
- The Beastmaster: Shamans get up to two animal companions (with a total Hit Dice limit), and can easily charm other animals into helping out in a pinch.
- Evil Counterpart: Similar situation to Clerics.
- Invulnerable Knuckles
- I See Dead People: Shamans gain the ability to see ethereal creatures, such as ghosts that are not currently manifesting in the Material Plane (a manifested ghost would be visible to everyone). To a Shaman, ethereal creatures are visible, but appear translucent and somewhat indistinct.
- Turn Undead
- White Magic and/or Black Magic: Much like Clerics in this regard.
ShugenjaIntroduced in Oriental Adventures, reintroduced in Complete Divine.
- Elemental Powers: Its spell list consists of Cleric and Wizard spells re-flavored as elemental spells.
SoheiIntroduced in Oriental Adventures.
SoulbornIntroduced in Magic of Incarnum.
- Holy Warrior: What the class is billed as. Like the Paladin and its Unearthed Arcana variants, required to be at one of the four corners of the alignment chart (no neutral components).
- Magic Knight: Except with incarnum. Without it, they're just Fighters with Smiting but without most of the bonus feats.
- Awesome, but Impractical: There are three phases of learning about the Soulknife. Phase 1 is "Sweet, lightsabers!" (Alternately, "Psylocke!") Phase 2 is "What, average BAB? No heavy armor? Crappy skills? Mind Blade kinda sucks as a weapon? What a gyp." (Phase 3 is learning about the Soulbow.)
- Laser Blade: The Soulknife's signature weapon is his Mind Blade, a glowing sword formed from psychic energy.
- One Stat to Rule Them All: A Soulbow with Zen Archery basically has no reason to advance anything but Wisdom.
- Throwing Your Sword Always Works: "Throw Mind Blade" is a class feature gained at later levels, and the Soulknives default option for ranged combat.
SpellthiefIntroduced in Complete Adventurer.
- Anti-Magic: Spellthieves have a natural spell resistance to offset the inherent danger of their profession. At higher levels, they are absorbing fireballs like some sort of fire sponge.
- Impossible Thief: Specializes in stealing units of Vancian Magic from spellcasters. Later branches out to stealing innate spell-like abilities and elemental resistances from monsters.
- Stealth Expert
Spirit ShamanIntroduced in Complete Divine.
- Difficult but Awesome: About as good as you'd expect a Spontaneous Druid to be, minus the Wildshape and Animal Companion. Still relatively good, and is the only Spontaneous Caster capable of completely rewriting its own spell list every 24 hours.
- Nature Hero
- Spirit Advisor: Instead of a familiar or animal companion, Spirit Shamans have a spirit guide. Since it hangs out in their mind it does not have actions of its own, but it can give a second chance at resisting mental manipulation or handle concentration on an already cast spell.
SwashbucklerIntroduced in Complete Adventurer.
- Genius Bruiser: Swashbucklers can apply their Intelligence to their damage when using certain weapons, but only when unburdened.
SwordsageIntroduced in Tome of Battle: The Book of Nine Swords.
- Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy: Pretty common amongst swordsages.
- Plays like a Monk, but with AWESOME mixed in for good measure.
- Casting a Shadow: The Shadow Hand discipline is chock-full of shadow and darkness-based attacks.
- Charles Atlas Superpower: These guys can teleport without using a spell or any sort of supernatural ability. And if they are using supernatural abilities, hoo boy...
- Flaming Sword: The Desert Wind school is full of techniques that do this.
- Flash Step: The above-mentioned non-supernatural teleports from the Shadow Hand school.
- Fragile Speedster: High armor class despite light armor (thanks to dodging), very high initiative, techniques to improve their base speed... pretty low HP for a frontliner.
- Playing with Fire: Their blades aren't the only thing Desert Wind swordsages light on fire...
- Spoony Bard: A Swordsage actually has some trouble finding a role in a small party. They're too fragile to fit the Fighter's shoes, can't heal like a Cleric, lack many of a Rogue's crucial skills such as trapfinding, and although they can debuff and serve as a good secondary melee.
- Weak, but Skilled: The most fragile, least accurate, least armored Tome of Battle class; also the ones with the most skill points, most maneuvers, and the most evasive.
TotemistIntroduced in Magic of Incarnum.
- Badass: The only class in the game capable of keeping up with Polymorph in terms of sheer power, but is balanced by comparison. Seriously, name a class capable of grappling a Great Wyrm Gold Dragon without using spells.
- Difficult but Awesome: As with everything Incarnum-related, this class takes a lot of effort to learn. Thankfully, the payout is worth-while.
- Gaia's Vengeance: Basically a Druid that focuses on Magical Beasts and can't cast spells.
- Idiot Hero: Thanks to Never Learned to Read below, as well as the fact that Totemists aren't incentivized much to put points in any mental stats.
- Multi-Armed and Dangerous: Via the Girallon Arms soulmeld, which can give a Totemist several extra attacks and a bonus to grappling.
- Nature Hero
- Never Learned to Read: Same as the Barbarian.
- Noble Savage: The class description requires this of you, regardless of race.
- Made of Iron: Almost better than the Incarnate thanks to a Soulmeld or two.
- X Meets Y: Basically a Druid's Wildshape mixed with the Incarnate's Meldshaping.
TruenamerIntroduced in Tome of Magic.
- Game-Breaking Bug: Due to the way Truenaming checks scale compared to levels (the DC of the checks scales twice as fast as a character can acquire ranks in the skill), the Truenamer gets worse as it levels up, until it hits around level 19 and can Gate in Solars, which can Gate in Solars, which can Gate in Solars.... It also has key information missing for an entire set of class features in initial printings.
- I Know Your True Name: As the name says, this is how Truenamers do their magic.
Urban DruidIntroduced in Dragon #317, reintroduced in the Dragon Compendium.(Needs entries)
WarbladeIntroduced in Tome of Battle: The Book of Nine Swords.
- Badass Normal: Lack any real supernatural abilities by default, but fairly useful despite this.
- Blood Knight: According to fluff text, warblades really love fighting.
- Calling Your Attacks: Not technically part of the mechanics, but almost inevitable when playing with the Tome of Battle maneuver system.
- Charles Atlas Superpower: Though Swordsages share several disciplines with them and Barbarians are more adept at raw damage, Warblades are capable of some really outrageous moves, like deal dozens of attacks in a single round, boost the abilities of other allies in melee and shake off negative effects with sheer willpower.
- Dual Wielding: Some of them are capable of using a weapon in each hand with extreme ease. These typically invest in the Tiger Claw discipline, which is all about this trope.
- Finishing Move: An actual manuever by the same name can be learned by them. As the trope implies, it deals much more damage if the enemy is at half his health or less; at any other state of health it only deals unremarkable damage.
- Genius Bruiser: Most of their class features apply their Intelligence score to different combat tactics.
- Made of Iron: Despite not being as focused on defense or Constitution as a Crusader, Warblades actually get a larger amount of base hit points, comparable to a Barbarian's.
- Simple, yet Awesome: The Warblade-exclusive Iron Heart discipline bases itself on this. It's not flashy or cool like more supernatural martial disciplines. It's not good for utility, and it carries no DeathOrGloryAttacks like others, either. What it gives is things like being able to redo an attack after missing or getting extra attacks when fighting multiple foes, which are still pretty practical, if not amazing. This culminates in the level 9 manuever of the discipline, which adds 100 damage to a single attack - nothing extraordinary at the level you can obtain it, but not something to be ignored, either.
- Spin Attack: The Mithril Tornado and Adamantine Hurricane maneuvers they can learn is all bout spinning around and striking all surrounding enemies with one or more attacks.
- Time Stands Still: The capstone manuever of the Diamond Mind discipline bears this name, quite aptly - it allows one to do two full-round attacks in a round instead of only one. With certain builds this means easily dozens of attacks in one go.
WarlockIntroduced in Complete Arcane.
- Ascended Extra: The one non-core base class to appear in Neverwinter Nights 2 without mods or expansions. See also 4E and 5E below.
- Bullying a Dragon: Due to the source and nature of their powers, warlocks get this a lot. Arguably, this is even dumber than persecuting a sorcerer. An inexperienced sorcerer will swiftly run out of spells to hit you with. A warlock will not. (And one of their "spells" is an energy blast with a range that can bypass armor and shields.)
- Dark Is Not Evil: A warlock does not have to be evil (they can be chaotic instead), despite often getting their powers from fiendish sources.
- Deal with the Devil: The ultimate source of a warlock's power, although it may not have been the warlock himself who struck the deal.
- Magic Knight: The Glaivelock build.
- Not That Kind of Mage: With sorcerers and wizards.
- Unequal Rites: Warlocks get no respect at all.
- Vancian Magic: Completely and totally averted.
- Words Can Break My Bones: One-word invocations include Baleful Utterance, Weighty Utterance, and Word of Changing. An epic-level warlock can also qualify for a feat that allows them to use all three of the Power Word spells at will.
WarmageIntroduced in the Miniatures Handbook, and introduced again in Complete Arcane.
- Fireballs: Blasting things is their intended purpose. Blasting isn't very good in 3.5 though.
- Lethal Joke Character: Any ability that improves their spell list turns them into this.
- Poor, Predictable Rock: An arcane caster with only damaging spells, lacking in debuffs, buffs, and utilities. Unless you have large hordes of easily disposable cannon fodder Zerg Rush you, the Warmage's utility is fairly limited.
- Training from Hell: Warmage schools are described to be run in a boot-camp fashion. Aspiring warmages have their spells drilled into them while wearing heavy, cumbersome garments and attempting to cast spells beyond their level.
- The Berserker: In psionic format, no less.
- Psychic Powers
- Puberty Superpower
- Tim Taylor Telekinesis: A Wilder can put MORE POWER into their psychic... powers... by adding more power points, but doing this too much or too often can have consequences.
Wu JenIntroduced in Oriental Adventures, updated for 3.5e in Complete Arcane.
3. 0 & 3. 5 Edition Prestige Classes
AlienistA Prestige Class introduced in Complete Arcane. The Alienist is a spellcaster who summons things from beyond and deals with things man was not meant to know.
- Body Horror: Alienists tend to grow eyes, tentacles, or mouths where there previously were none. Any Familiar the alienist has develops them first.
- Dragged Off to Hell: A 9th-level Alienist does not age. The tradeoff? At the moment they should have died of old age, they are brought to the Far Realm.
- Eldritch Abomination: You get to summon minor ones. You also need to meet one first to qualify to become an Alienist.
- Humanoid Abomination: Eventually, Alienists become this.
- Insanity Immunity: You might want to hold off reading their minds, too.
- Power Born of Madness: Alienists gain an insanity score which equals half their class level. This score is detracted from their Wisdom attribute (meaning they may not be hearing or seeing the things normal folk do), but added to their Intelligence attribute for additional spells. Once or twice per day, they can pull off crazy stuff because of their insanity.
- Squishy Wizard: As with most spellcasters, Alienists aren't that hardy (barring creative use of the half-Farspawn template), but gain a measure of Damage Reduction, energy resistances, and immunity to some Standard Status Effects.
- Summon Magic/Enemy Summoner: Now with added tentacles!
Arcane ArcherA prestige class from the Dungeon Master's Guide. This is an elf-specific class that mixes spellcasting with bow-wielding skill.
- Mage Marksman
- One-Hit Kill: Their most dangerous attack is an arrow that is effectively this, although they can only carry one at a time.
- Roboteching: Eventually, they can shoot arrows that completely ignore cover or can pass through intervening obstacles to hit someone.
- Trick Arrow: Get the option to channel area spells via their arrows at high levels.
Arcane TricksterA prestige class from the Dungeon Master's Guide. This class mixes spellcasting ability with trickery akin to that of the Rogue class.
- Glass Cannon: Sneak Attack *and* arcane spellcasting ability means they can pack a lot of punch.
- Magic Rogue
- We Need a Distraction: One way to interpret their "Impromptu Sneak Attack" ability, as using a minor magic trick to catch people off guard.
ArchmageA prestige class from the Dungeon Master's Guide. Archmagi delve deeply into the workings of magic, learning to eke out more abilities from their spells.
Assassin(See the Assassin entry in the "1st through 3rd Edition Core Classes" folder)
- The Beastmaster: Obviously. Even moreso than the druid. They're the only class that gets more than one animal companion, and there first animal companion is always 3 levels ahead of a druids (of the same level).
- Loyal Animal Companion
- Nature Hero
- The Nose Knows
- Speaks Fluent Animal
- Super Senses
BlackguardA prestige class from the Dungeon Master's Guide. Blackguards are evil divine warriors much in the way that Paladins are good ones.
- Fallen Hero: Paladins who have forsaken their mindset gain special bonuses upon becoming blackguards. Especially high-level fallen paladins can immediately become max-level blackguards by trading in 10 levels of paladin.
Dragon DiscipleA prestige class from the Dungeon Master's Guide. Dragon disciples draw out their innate dragon lineage to gain the powers of a dragon.
- A Wizard Did It: Levelling up by, essentially, altering your genetic code to emphasize specific traits is pretty cool, but very hard to roleplay while making any sense.
- Beast Man: Increasingly so, the more levels they get.
- Breath Weapon
- In the Blood: The fluff says that spontaneous spellcasting is only possible if you have some draconic heritage (though more commonly it says this is an in-universe theory by sorcerers, or indicates that there are other heritages possible — dragon is just the one that gets the most focus). This prestige class is about tapping into it.
- Power Gives You Wings
Dread PirateA prestige class from Complete Adventurer. Dread pirates are swashbuckling scourges of the sea with fearsome reputations.
- Bad Boss: "Motivate the Scum" allows dishonorable dread pirates to motivate their crew by killing a helpless individual. If the individual is one of the dread pirate's own crew, the bonus is doubled.
- The Dreaded: Dread pirates who so choose can take advantage of their fearsome reputation for boosts to Intimidate.
- Dressed to Plunder: The character in the illustration sports full pirate regalia, with beard, bandana, breeches, and Badass Longcoat.
DuelistA prestige class from the Dungeon Master's Guide. Duelists are similar to Swashbucklers in that they use their Dexterity and Intelligence as their defense rather than armor or shields.
Dwarven DefenderA dwarf-only prestige class from the Dungeon Master's Guide. Dwarven defenders are stalwart crusaders for the dwarven cause that can become living walls if needed.
- Stance System
- Stone Wall: Takes it about as far as it can go, given that they get sizeable defensive bonuses while standing completely still.
Enlightened SpiritThe "redeemed Warlock" prestige class in Complete Mage. Turning their backs on continuing down the fiendish path, they instead walk towards the light. An Enlightened Spirit trades away invocation progression for a suite of celestial based abilities.
- Holy Hand Grenade: Can turn Eldritch Blast into a Spirit Blast or Holy Blast, which deals extra damage to undead or evil outsiders.
- Omniglot: At 4th level, an Enlightened Spirit gains the Tongues ability, which can be turned on and off at will.
- Power Gives You Wings: The Celestial Flight invocation.
Fiend-BloodedA prestige class introduced in Heroes of Horror. Fiend-Blooded are humanoids whose ancestry traces back to the union between a fiend or half-fiend (usually an evil outsider such as a devil or demon) and a humanoid/mortal partner. With training, they can awaken the power of their fiendish heritage.
- Acquired Poison Immunity: At 3rd level, "Blood of Fiends" grants resistance to poison and reduces damage done by poison, and the class' final ability, "Fiendish Exaltation" grants complete immunity.
- In the Blood: Only spontaneous casters with traces of fiendish blood need apply.
- Playing with Fire: "Fiendish Sorcery" allows a Fiend-Blooded to learn any spell from any class list as long as the spell has the Fire descriptor.
FleshwarperIntroduced in Lords of Madness, these freaky dudes are all about grafts — taking bits of other creatures, and sticking them on yourself...or any guinea pigs you can find.
- Body Horror: Part and parcel of the whole "grafting" thing, really. The final ability they get is "Aberrant Apotheosis", wherein the Fleshwarper has gone so far as to become an Aberration simply from all the funkiness they've visited upon themselves.
- Their familiars, in particular, get more aberrant the longer they stick near the Fleshwarper, no grafts necessary.
- Dark Is Not Evil: Their only alignment restriction is "non-lawful." Make of that what you will.
- Power Upgrading Deformity: Beholder Eyes? Illithid tentacles? A cobra for an arm? Yes please.
- These Are Things Man Was Not Meant to Know: Their "elder secret" class feature gives them the special abilities of certain Aberrations.
- Berserk Button: Taking damage has a chance of triggering the character's frenzy.
- The Berserker: to the point where once he runs out of enemies, he starts attacking the rest of the party.
- Unstoppable Rage: Steps up the barbarian rage required to take the class in the first place. While in a frenzy, the frenzied berserker can't die of hit point damage.
- "How're we supposed to see the pally comin' when 'e wears armor blacker than ours?”—Griv "Goblin Father" Chos, unfortunate cultist guard
- Anti-Hero: A class requirement. There's just no way these brutal and hard-assed paladins can be considered classic heroes.
- Badass: The Paladin class is generally this by default, but these chaps takes this to a whole new level as they're often described as seasoned and experienced paladins, knowing they need to perform harsher means to combat evil and defend the oppressed.
- Good Is Not Nice: These are experienced paladins who combat evil by whatever means necessary. The illustration shows a gray guard strangling a necromancer with his bare hands in a scene that looks like it's referencing Darth Vader in A New Hope.
- Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Debilitating Touch lets you use Lay on Hands to cause pain, and the entry suggests use in interrogation.
- Holy Hand Grenade: Notable in that their smite evil can, at high enough level, let them effectively smite anyone including other Lawful Good paladins.
- Knight in Sour Armor: Almost a class requirement.
- Lawful Good: Class requirement. Violating the code of conduct costs them their powers, but doing so in service to the faith negates the experience requirement of an atonement spell, until they reach their 10th level in gray guard.
- The Paladin: The vast majority of entries are paladins (it requires class features that, among the Player's Handbook classes, only paladins have).
Keeper of the Cerulean SignA prestige class in Lords of Madness. A Keeper uses the "Cerulean Sign", an ancient rune that embodies the power of the natural world to hunt down and defeat aberrations and cults worshiping them.
- Amulet of Concentrated Awesome: The cerulean focus, which a prospective keeper must make in order to take levels in the class and use its abilities. It usually is made as an amulet, though it can be personalized by making the sign in the form of a mantle, ring, medallion, or periapt.
- Detect Evil: "Detect Aberrant Taint".
- Words Can Break My Bones: A 3rd level Keeper can use "Word of Revelation" to dispel illusions cast by aberrations (or aberration cultists) and deal charisma damage.
Knight of the Sacred SealA prestige class introduced in Tome of Magic. For the martial-minded Binder, these individuals have formed a special bond with a single vestige. This bond grants them abilities beyond what normal binders receive from making pacts with vestiges.
- Guardian Entity: The vestige the knight chooses as his or her patron. Binding a patron vestige is automatically successful (the vestige cannot influence you and you can freely suppress its sign).
Mystic TheurgeA prestige class from the Dungeon Master's Guide. Mystic Theurges are adept in both the arcane and the divine.
- Can't Catch Up: The traditional entry into this class requires 3 levels in a divine spellcasting class and an arcane spellcasting class. This is about 3 level each before you qualify for this prestige class. If you take 10 levels you become a 13th level divine and 13th level arcane caster at level 16, allowing you to cast 7th level spells where a dedicated caster is 1 level away from their 9th level spells. And that's to say nothing about the class features you're missing out on.
- Lethal Joke Character: Each level of Mystic Theurge grants the character one level in "any one arcane spellcasting class" and "any one divine spellcasting class". However, it is never defined exactly what an "arcane spellcasting class" or a "divine spellcasting class" is. Most interpretations are that an "arcane spellcasting class" is a class that casts arcane spells (same for divine), plus any other class that specifically state they benefit from levels in 'any one arcane/divine spellcasting class'. However, since the class does not mention that each class can be picked only once, a character that can somehow cast both 2nd level arcane and divine spells can apply both levels of Mystic Theurge to the same class, effectivly DOUBLING the speed at which the character gains spellcasting ability for 10 levels.
- The Red Mage: Probably the purest example D&D has to offer, since the mystic theurge casts both cleric and wizard spells, but will never be as good at either as a single-class character of the same level.
Rainbow ServantA prestige class from Complete Divine. Rainbow Servants are the agents of the Couatl on this world, a race of Lawful Good feathered serpents wanting to maintain peace and vanquish evil.
- All Your Powers Combined: The main reason to pick this class. At levels 1, 4 and 7 the Rainbow Servant can learn and cast spells from the Good, Air and Law domains. But at level 10 they become able to learn and cast ALL spells from the Cleric list. This grants them light-oriented combat spells, healing magic, protection magic, buffs and all other spells a Cleric can normally use.
- Detect Evil: A Rainbow Servant gets this at level 1, and Detect Chaos at level 7.
- Good Wings, Evil Wings: From level 4 onwards they can use rainbow-colored wings for 4 to 10 minutes, depending on their Rainbow Servant level.
- The Team Benefactor: The description of the class mentions that while a Rainbow Servant is allowed great leeway in their daily actions, they should be aware that a Couatl can drop into their lives at any moment to send them on some great quest. A DM can use this to introduce the party to a Quest Giver in an isolated area without resorting too much to a Deus ex Machina.
- Telepathy: They learn Detect Thoughts at level 10.
ShadowdancerA prestige class from the Dungeon Master's Guide. Shadowdancers are experts in hiding and using the shadows.
- Awesome, but Impractical: Shadowdancers are the most easily accessible for rogues and rangers, the two core classes that are best at stealth. However, the class has medium BAB and no sneak attack, gimping the main appeal of both the classes that would normally have use for its abilities.
- Casting a Shadow: The main focus of their abilities. At higher levels, they can send their own shadow on the offensive.
- Flash Step: As long as they enter and exit via a shadowed area.
- Stone Wall/Ninja Tank: Gets a lot of defensive abilities, such as evasion, slippery mind and defensive roll, and a fairly good d8 hit dice. Gets no offensive abilities whatsoever.
SunmasterA prestige class from Lost Empires of Faerûn. Sunmasters claim the 3E sun god Lathander is really the ancient Netherese sun god Amaunator. 4E reveals they were right. They have great powers over light.
- Blinded by the Light: Defied: the 2nd level ability grants an immunity to being blinded or dazed by light effects.
- Glowing Eyes of Doom: Starting at second level, their eyes glow orange, and they can shoot beams of light from them.
- Law Versus Chaos: Strongly on the law side. Amaunator was viewed as a deity who brings order to the world.
- Light Is Not Good: Potentially. Lawful Evil is an allowed alignment.
- Voluntary Shapeshifting: 10th level sunmasters can turn into an Energy Being similar to a miniature sun once a day.
3. 5 Edition NPC Classes
Not everybody can be a hero. These classes are for background characters and Mooks, although you can play them too if you are feeling masochistic (or are using the right crazy build).
AdeptRepresents the stay-at-temple clergy and the B-students of your local wizard. Simply having magic makes the adept more powerful than most martial PC classes.
- Familiar: The only Divine caster that gets them
- Lethal Joke Character: Typically rather high on Character Tiers lists, as their spell list has some surprisingly useful gems despite its shallowness.
- We are not kidding when we say it's a higher tier than the Samurai.
- Eberron Campaign Setting boosts them so they can add one Cleric domain of spells to their spell list which can boost their versatility significantly or allow them some spells otherwise restricted to a once a day on a cleric.
- Magikarp Power: Intended to be the only class capable of classifying for the Hexer prestige class, which progresses your spellcasting at the same rate as an adept while also giving them full melee ability and powerful curses. In practice, other classes can also qualify through backdoor methods.
- Religion Is Magic: Less magical than a Cleric, but magic nonetheless.
- Squishy Wizard: These are normal, average-joe ministers, not badass warrior-priests.
AristocratBlue-bloods, courtiers, and the rich, aristocrats represent the general 'upper class' and their social skills without the added specialist knowledge of rogues or bards.
- Royals Who Actually Do Something: The inexplicable armor and weapon proficiencies would suggest this.
CommonerPeasants, dirt farmers, unskilled workers: The commoner represents the starving useless masses and is at the bottom of the totem pole for utility.
- Lethal Joke Character: The "Chicken Infested" joke "flaw" lets them produce infinite chickens.
- Muggles: A Commoner is about as weak as a class can get without already being dead. Few hit points, skills more suited for menial labor than adventuring, and no unique abilities whatsoever.
- This Loser Is You: Averted. The Dungeon Master's Guide is very clear on the fact that the NPC classes are not suitable for player characters, on the basis of their laughable weakness.
ExpertBlacksmiths, scribes, candlestick makers or cartographers, the 'expert' is a catch-all class intended to cover any non-magical expert in any field.
- Iaijutsu Practitioner: While not as good as the Factotum at it by virtue of no other abilities, an Expert is also able to exploit their "any 10" class skills with this.
- Lethal Joke Character: As noted below, Experts are meant to be a generic NPC class representing artisans and experts, and this is achieved by having them choose ten skills as class skills. The lethal part comes from there being no restrictions on which ten skills, allowing access to some unusual tricks like iaijutsu as well as being able to qualify for a number of feats and prestige classes.
- New Job as the Plot Demands: The D&D class version. Experts are generic classes that are allowed to have whatever skills the Game Master wants, letting the same class represent any profession.
- Power Creep: Unfortunately, their niche of "any ten class skills" was compromised by the Savant and Factotum, which treat all skills as class skills. Of course, if you were playing an Expert to begin with, you probably don't care about that (and Experts were supposed to be weaker than actual player classes like the Factotum).
MagewrightAn NPC class integral to the setting of Eberron. They specialise in repeatedly casting the cheap, non-combat utility spells driving the Magitek of the setting.
- Fridge Logic: Magewrights were born from the question of who is manufacturing all these cheap magic items. See, there are these weak, common arcane spellcasters with only passive spells...
WarriorThey may be called the Palace Guard, the City Guard, or the patrol. Whatever the name, their purpose is identical: To exist in any encounter with non-unique non-boss enemies, attack the heroes one at a time, and be slaughtered. No one ever asks them if they wanted to.
4th Edition Classes
ArdentThe ardent is a Psionic Leader from the Player's Handbook 3. The ardent's psionic powers revolve predominantly around the themes of empathy and telepathy, allowing them to manipulate the emotions and minds of their enemies and their allies in battle.
- The Empath: The predominant motif of the ardent is manipulating emotions. Enemies are hindered by plaguing them with guilt, fear, doubt and rage; allies are bolstered with courage, confidence, hope and joy.
- More Than Mind Control: Ardents have some telepathic skills as well, but predominantly they use emotional manipulation to attack their foes.
- Psychic Powers: The source of their combat effectiveness.
- Your Mind Makes It Real: Half of an ardent's attacks are rooted in the target's own mind. The other half is typically rooted in the great big weapon the ardent is hitting them with.
ArtificerThe artificer is an Arcane Leader from the Eberron Player's Guide. These mages specialise in "imbuing" temporary enchantments into physical objects or other people. Even spells that don't directly enhance armor or weapons still use a physical object as the source for a spell to, for example, create a burst of electrical energy.
AssassinThe assassin is a Shadow Striker from Dragon Magazine. They are similar to the Assassins of 3.5 in that they are differentiated from regular Rogues by having access to magical powers; 4e Assassins use shadow magic to enhance their stealth and to attack their foes.
- Casting a Shadow: The reason why they are a "Shadow" class is because they can literally control darkness to attack their enemies or aid themselves.
- The Dark Arts: What shadow magic is.
- Master Poisoner: The Assassin gets some powers based on using poison; the Executioner "sub-class" for Essentials relies upon using different kinds of poison for its attacks.
Executioner (Assassin)The executioner is a Martial and Shadow Striker sub-class of the assassin from Dragon magazine and Heroes of Shadow. It differs from the standard assassin by not having attack powers (except for certain weapons), instead using only basic attacks modified by powers and poisons.
AvengerThe avenger is a Divine Striker from the Player's Handbook 2. Avengers are described as being practicioners of strange, cult-like variants of mainstream religions, giving them access to divine powers that regular Clerics don't possess. They often serve as assassins, executioners or special agents for their faith — and not always with the blessing of their patron god's mainstream church.
- Badass Preacher
- BFS: As strikers, avengers prefer to wield double-handed weapons for maximum damage. Swords are favored, but hammers, axes and various big hurty things also get their look in, depending on an avenger's personal faith.
- Church Militant
- Holy Hand Grenade: The avenger's role is to be a living one of these, using the most offensive array of divine powers to slay the enemies of their church.
- The Hunter: The role of the avenger is typically to hunt down and destroy enemies of the faith, while the cleric's is to heal and lead the faithful and the paladin's is to defend the faithful.
- Religious Bruiser (If not a Church Militant)
- Warrior Monk
BarbarianThe barbarian is a Primal Striker from the Player's Handbook 2. Savage, brutal warriors from the wilderness, barbarians eschew armor in favor of endurance and agility, calling upon the primal spirits of their tribe to possess their bodies and imbue them with supernatural powers in the form of "rages".
- Animal Battle Aura: A common effect, as their big powers revolve around letting spirits, including animal totems, possess them.
- Barbarian Hero
- The Berserker: Made more fantastical by having their berserk rages A: stem from spirit possession, and B: grant them magical powers, like being surrounded by burning flames.
- Dual Wielding: The "Twinclaw" path for the barbarian focuses on wielding two weapons at once.
- Magma Man: The "Stonefire Rager" paragon path.
- Make Me Wanna Shout: Thunder-spirits provide a number of magical warcry-based powers; there's a dedicated character path to using these battle-cries called the Thunderborn.
- Nature Hero: By way of drawing magical powers from the spirits of nature.
- Throwing Your Sword Always Works (They have a feat that lets them do this)
- Unstoppable Rage
Beserker (Barbarian)A Martial/Primal Defender/Striker introduced in Heroes of the Feywild.
- The Berserker: Well, duh.
- The Mario: A reasonably good Defender, and a pretty decent Striker.
- Turns Red: When bloodied, the go into an...
- Unstoppable Rage
BardThe bard is an Arcane Leader from the Player's Handbook 2. Bards use the inherent magic of stories, songs, music and dance to achieve a wide variety of effects. They specialise in demoralising their foes and bolstering their allies.
- The Bard
- Magic Music
- Make Me Wanna Shout
- Musical Assassin
- Music for Courage
- The Power of Rock
- Wandering Minstrel
Skald (Bard)The skald is an Arcane and Martial Leader sub-class of the bard from Heroes of the Feywild.
BattlemindThe battlemind is a Psionic Defender from the Player's Handbook 3. These psionic characters channel raw psychic energy through their bodies, weapons and armor to achieve spectacular feats of martial skill; the flashiest psionic powers allow them to transform their very bodies.
- Chrome Champion
- Flash Step: The signature technique of the Harrier path for battleminds, and they have a number of generalist powers that allow this to be pulled off.
- Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: It's noted in the Psionic Power splat that many battleminds actually don't realise their powers are magical in nature until and unless someone more knowledgeable points it out, instead chalking their spectacular feats up to "luck" and "skill".
- Made of Iron: And more literally than other examples.
- Psychic Powers
- Super Reflexes
ClericThe cleric is a Divine Leader from the Player's Handbook. Ceremonially invested with a connection to the Astral Sea, clerics draw upon divine powers to aid their allies and impair their enemies.
- Combat Medic: The best class in the game at healing, but also heavily armored and quite adept at cracking skulls in his own right.
- Frickin' Laser Beams: A cleric who chooses mostly ranged, radiant damage prayers is known as a "laser cleric", because he or she basically runs around throwing beams of energy to hurt his enemies.
- Light Is Not Good: Even evil-aligned clerics tend to focus on radiant damage. One recommended houserule for evil clerics in the dungeon master's guide lets them use necrotic damage in place of radiant.
- Healing Hands
- Holy Hand Grenade
- Technical Pacifist: With the Pacifist Cleric feat, a cleric who damages a bloodied enemy becomes stunned. Using a non-damaging power that lowers defenses or creates vulnerability is fine.
- Turn Undead
- Warrior Monk
Warpriest (Cleric)The warpriest is a Divine Leader sub-class of the cleric from Heroes of the Fallen Lands. It differs from the standard cleric by having specific domains as class features (and not having Turn Undead).
DruidThe druid is a Primal Controller from the Player's Handbook 2. Druids communicate with the primal spirits of plants and animals, and have a deep personal connection to a greater spirit known as the Primal Beast, which allows them to assume all manner of bestial or monstrous forms. Some druids even master the art of assuming the forms of swarms of creatures.
- Bee Bee Gun
- Nature Hero
- Summon Magic: Some druids can summon animal spirits to fight at their sides.
- Voluntary Shapeshifting: The class feature of the druid, with one path (the "Swarm Druid") differentiated because of his ability to become a swarm of creatures.
Sentinel (Druid)The sentinel is a Primal Leader sub-class of the druid from Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms. It differs from the standard druid by being a melee weapon-user, and having an animal companion based on a season chosen as a class feature.
Protector (Druid)A Primal Controller reminiscent of the Wizard. Introduced in Heroes of the Feywild.
FighterThe fighter is a Martial Defender from the Player's Handbook. Specializing in all kinds of armor and weapons, fighter paths mostly differ depending on what array of equipment they prefer;
- Badass Normal: Fighters explicitly have no magic whatsoever... and can stand up and kick ass just as much as any magic-user ever could.
- The Berserker: The Battlerager Fighter Build, from Martial Power
- Charles Atlas Superpower: Though their powers are explicitly not magical in nature at all, fighters can still pull off superhuman feats by virtue of "training hard".
- Combat Pragmatist: The Brawler Fighter Build, from Martial Power 2
- Dual Wielding: The Tempest Fighter Build, from Martial Power
- Luckily, My Shield Will Protect Me: The Guardian Fighter Build, from the Player's Handbook
- Made of Iron
- Weapon of Choice: To the extent that fighter powers, feats and paths/builds are differentiated based on what kind of weapon they prefer.
Knight (Fighter)The knight is a Martial Defender sub-class of the fighter from Heroes of the Fallen Lands. It differs from the standard fighter by not having attack powers, instead using only basic attacks modified by stances and powers.
Slayer (Fighter)The knight is a Martial Striker sub-class of the fighter from Heroes of the Fallen Lands. It differs from the standard fighter by not having attack powers, instead using only basic attacks modified by stances and powers (and being primarily a Striker instead of a Defender).
- Bow and Sword, in Accord: Due to the slayer's use of basic attacks and high Dexterity, they can do this better than other fighters.
- Simple Staff
InvokerThe invoker is a Divine Controller from the Player's Handbook 2. Possessing a direct connection to astral power and the gods by nature instead of by investiture, with example reasons including being chosen by a god or having divine lineage, invokers are often at odds with the other Divine classes and especially established churchs, who view them as dangerous outsiders and potential heretics as often as they view them as messiahs and chosen ones.
- Bolt of Divine Retribution: Several powers have you calling these down on your opponents.
- Divine Intervention
- The Heretic: May be viewed as one for eschewing the church for a more direct connection to the deity.
- Mission from God: And not the church, which is what separates Invokers from Clerics and Avengers.
- Summon Magic: The only Divine class which has access to these powers.
MonkThe monk is a Psionic Striker from the Player's Handbook 3. Monks channel their psychic powers through their bodies through combat training, learning to turn their bodies into psychically imbued weapons and perform superhuman feats. As they gain in skill, they also learn to expel that energy for more explicitly supernatural powers, such as hurling blasts of energy.
- Fragile Speedster: Monks aren't good at wearing armor and they have low health, but they are amongst the most mobile classes.
- In a Single Bound: The monk has a lot of techniques that include leaping ridiculous distances.
- Invulnerable Knuckles: A monk's path feature is that their unarmed hands are valid weapons. This means a monk can punch to death things like living statues of solid metal without breaking their hands.
- Ki Attacks: The monk's various projectile attacks
- Psychic Powers: The source behind their "ki powers".
- Supernatural Martial Arts: Justified by the fact that they're psionic.
- Walk on Water
- Warrior Monk: While the monk is not necessarily religious, Religion is a monk class skill, and training in it is a prerequisite for the Radiant Fist paragon path, which is particularly Divine.
PaladinThe paladin is a Divine Defender from the Player's Handbook. Divorced from their traditional restraints of Character Alignment must always be Lawful Good, 4e Paladins are the armored defenders of the faiths... All faiths. Meaning that paladins of gods like Melora, Asmodeus and Gruumsh are all perfectly valid in 4th edition.
- Combat Medic
- Cool Horse
- Healing Hands
- Holy Hand Grenade
- Knight in Shining Armor
- Magic Knight
- Warrior Monk
Blackguard (Paladin)The blackguard is a Divine (with some Shadow) Striker sub-class of the paladin from Heroes of Shadow. It is more similar to the cavalier, but chooses a vice instead of a virtue.
- Dark Is Not Evil: Unaligned Blackguards with the Domination vice may be hard-assed Knight Templars, but they're not hypocrites and usually focus on clearly evil threats by default. Blackguards with the Fury vice can even be Good (though not Lawful Good), reserving their rage for foes that well and truly deserve to be torn apart.
- Evil Counterpart
Cavalier (Paladin)The cavalier is a Divine Defender sub-class of the paladin from Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms. It differs from the standard paladin by having specific virtues as class features.
PsionThe psion is a Psionic Controller from the Player's Handbook 3. The "purest" psyker, psions use telepathic and telekinetic powers to attack multiple foes at once. Some psions are actually capable of manifesting their thoughts as reality, becoming what are called "Shaper" build psions.
- Crystal Ball: One of the Implements they can use.
- Mind Control: The Telepathic build, of course.
- Mind over Matter: Telekinetic Build.
- Psychic Powers
- Simple Staff: One of the Implements they can use.
- Squishy Wizard: Like the traditional Wizard, they have lousy armor and health, but dramatically supernatural powers.
- Summon Magic: The Shaper build functions like this, in that it creates objects and creatures from the psion's thoughts to do the psion's will.
- Telepathy: Telepathic Build.
RangerThe ranger is a Martial Striker from the Player's Handbook. A lightly armored warrior, the ranger focuses on offense and manueverability to defeat its foes. Some go to battle alongside a bestial battle companion, some are master archers, some favor melee and ranged combat equally, others wield two weapons.
- Badass Normal
- The Beastmaster: The Beastmaster Build from Martial Power. Possible beasts they can fight alongside include giant spiders, giant snakes, wolves/hunting dogs, big cats, bears and hawks.
- Bow and Sword, in Accord: The Hunter Build from Martial Power 2
- Dual Wielding: Two-Blade Build.
- Forest Ranger
- The Hunter
- Nature Hero
Hunter (Ranger)The hunter is a Martial and Primal Controller sub-class of the ranger from Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms. It differs from the standard ranger by not having attack powers, instead using only basic attacks modified by powers.
Scout (Ranger)The scout is a Martial and Primal Striker sub-class of the ranger from Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms. It differs from the standard ranger by not having attack powers, instead using only basic attacks modified by powers.
RogueThe rogue is also a Martial Striker from the Player's Handbook. They rely on surprise attacks and agility to avoid damage while dishing it out, and excel at crippling their foes to impair their ability to fight on.
- Back Stab
- Badass Normal
- Combat Pragmatist
- Disc One Nuke: Base weapon damage is ~1d6+6 (assuming Dex of 18 and short sword). Ambush/Tactical trick grants combat advantage in most situations allowing sneak attack (3d6+6). If you take Surprising Charge feat, +1d6. This alone bloodies a single target making it easy for cleanup - or on a critical hit, either does a One-Hit Kill or brings down to a sliver of health. You may even throw in backstab for a better chance to hit and additional damage. While highly damaging in normal play, experienced GMs can counter this tactic by using minions.
- Knife Nut
- Lovable Rogue
- Master of Unlocking
- Master Poisoner: The Master Of Poisons paragon path.
Thief (Rogue)The thief is a Martial Striker sub-class of the rogue from Heroes of the Fallen Lands. It differs from the standard rogue by not having attack powers, instead using only basic attacks modified by tricks and powers.
RunepriestThe runepriest is a Divine Leader from the Player's Handbook 3. They use ancient runic sigil patterns, remants from the creation of the world, to call upon the powers of the gods and manifest spectacular effects.
- Drop the Hammer: "Wrathful Hammer" runepriests gain proficiency in military hammers and maces.
- Heroes Prefer Swords: The "Serene Blade" build.
- Instant Runes: The basic nature of their class; they sketch a rune on an item or in the air, and the rune instantly manifests as their power brings it into being.
- Status Buff
SeekerThe seeker is a Primal Controller from the Player's Handbook 3. Empowered by the primal spirits to seek out and slay the enemies of the world, the seeker's weapons are conduits to the spirit world, making them a shout-out to the spellcasting abilities of Rangers in editions past.
- Nature Hero
- Trick Arrow: Any projectile or throwing weapon used by a seeker can channel a spirit in it, allowing it to perform all manner of strange effects. These include turning blood into acidic slime, making barbed vines sprout from the victim's body, and dissolving in mid-flight into a ravenous swarm of flesh-eating locusts that start gnawing their way into the target.
ShamanThe shaman is a Primal Leader from the Player's Handbook 2. Blessed with the truest connection to the spirit world, shamans are intermediaries between mortals and the spirits. Accompanied by a powerful totem spirit ally, shamans call upon the spirits to empower their allies.
- Bond Creature: The "spirit companion" class feature is the center of a shaman's offensive skills and many spells.
- Nature Hero
SorcererThe sorcerer is an Arcane Striker from the Player's Handbook 2. Possessing an innate affinity for raw, wild magic, sorcerers unleash devastating surges of arcane power. Sorcerers are defined by the type of magic that resonates with their soul; dragons, chaos, storms and cosmic energy.
- Breath Weapon: Many Dragon Magic powers are described as these.
- Glass Cannon
- In the Blood: One possible reason for a sorcerer's powers.
- Knife Nut: Can cast spells through daggers.
- Simple Staff
- Squishy Wizard
SwordmageThe swordmage is an Arcane Defender from the Forgotten Realms Player's Guide. Lightly armored, if at all, swordmages combine martial training with any sort of light blade or heavy blade weapon with arcane magic, channelling spells through their swords to create a wide variety of offensive techniques.
- Fire, Ice, Lightning: They have other powers as well, but these are their main go-to elements for damaging opponents.
- Genius Bruiser: They require a high Intelligence stat to function, like most Arcane characters, but their combat role is based on mixing it up in the melee.
- Magic Knight: Perhaps one of the purest examples of a "Gish" class to be made for D&D.
- Squishy Wizard: Averted, at least in theory. They may be weaker than other Defenders, but they have the highest armor and health of the Arcane classes and their "Aegis" literally shields them from harm by boosting their Armor Class.
- Teleport Spam: Not quite so adept at it as the Battlemind, but Swordmages get a lot of teleporting moves.
- Weapon of Choice: Go on, guess.
WardenThe warden is a Primal Defender from the Player's Handbook 2. Charged with defending the natural world from all who would despoil it, wardens allow primal spirits to use their bodies as a conduits to the physical world, allowing them to command nature around themselves or to shapeshift into inhuman, spirit-bestowed forms to do battle with.
- Combat Tentacles
- Gaia's Vengeance: Their class fluff actually explains they have been empowered by the Primal Spirits to defend nature.
- Luckily, My Shield Will Protect Me
- Made of Iron
- Nature Hero
WarlockThe warlock is an Arcane Striker from the Player's Handbook. Forging bonds, voluntarily or otherwise, with all manner of strange and eerie entities, warlocks wield Black Magic as the most offense-orientated of the Arcane classes.
- The Dark Arts
- Dark Is Not Evil: Spelled out in the handbook.
- Deal with the Devil: Literally, with the Infernal pact. Other choices include the Fey pact, Star pact, Dark pact (made with assorted shadowy entities) and Sorcerer-King pact.
- Lovecraftian Superpower: The other motif behind the Star pact.
- Magic Wand
- Star Power: Star Pact warlocks, who gain their powers by making a pact with an Eldritch Abomination that lives among the stars.
Hexblade (Warlock)The hexblade is an Arcane Striker sub-class of the warlock from Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms. It differs from the standard warlock by having a melee weapon granted by its eldritch pact, making it similar to Elric of Melnibone.
- Evil Weapon: According to one of the pacts.
- Magic Knight
- Summon Magic
Binder (Warlock)The Binder is an Arcane and Shadow Controller Warlock subclass from Heroes of Shadow. It differs from normal Warlocks by being geared towards controlling the battle rather than dealing massive amounts of damage.
WarlordThe warlord is a Martial Leader from the Player's Handbook.
- Badass Normal
- Boring Yet Practical: A Warlord is a sub-par fighter and a sub-par healer, but grants immense tactical advantages to the rest of the party - bonuses to initiative, extra moves, extra attacks. Great for the strongly teamwork-oriented player, but a poor choice for those who yearn to be The Hero. The saying is: "A barbarian hits you with his axe; a warlord hits you with his barbarian."
- The Captain
- Drill Sergeant Nasty
- Genius Bruiser
- Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Somehow, without any knowledge of spells, a warlord can make his teammates move faster, attack more often, hit harder, and otherwise act exactly as if certain powerful magical enhancements had been applied to them.
- The Strategist
WizardThe wizard is an Arcane Controller from the Player's Handbook.
- Crystal Ball: Orb of Imposition Features.
- Glass Cannon
- Magic Wand: Wand of Accuracy Features.
- Not That Kind of Mage
- Simple Staff: Staff of Defense Features.
- The Smart Guy
- Spell Book: Spellbook Features.
- Squishy Wizard
- Summon Magic
Mage (Wizard)The mage is an Arcane Controller sub-class of the wizard from Heroes of the Fallen Lands. It differs from the standard wizard by having schools of magic as class features.
- Casting a Shadow: The Nethermancer school from Heroes of Shadow.
- Necromancer: The other school from Heroes of Shadow.
- Playing with Fire: The Pyromancy School.
Witch (Wizard)The witch is an Arcane Controller sub-class of the wizard from Heroes of the Feywild.
VampireVampires. Obviously. A Shadow Striker class from Heroes Of Shadow.
- Bare-Fisted Monk: Vampires are geared towards melee combat, and have literally no need to use weapons, as one at-will power (which doubles as a basic attack) does 1d10 damage at first level; this puts their basic damage on par with a fighter using a greatsword.
- Blood Magic: The powers that cost them healing surges are flavoured as such.
- Cast from Hit Points: Many of their powers become stronger if you sacrifice a healing surge.
- Dark Is Not Evil
- Healing Factor: The only class that heals itself automatically. This means that anything that doesn't instantly kill them will just make them angry.
- Lethal Joke Character: Very weak in combat, dealing lower damage than even the Assassin. Also, Made of Iron.
- Our Vampires Are Different: Close-combat experts that develop magical powers which put the original Dracula to shame.
- Voluntary Shapeshifting: Into a bat.
- Weakened by the Light
5th Edition Classes
BarbarianA fierce warrior from primitive lands who can enter a battle rage. At 3rd level, barbarians can choose between one of a number of primal paths:
- The Path of the Berserker, barbarians who fall deeper into their rage.
- The Path of the Totem Warrior, barbarians who are on a spiritual journey, accepting spirit animals as guides, protectors, and inspirations.
- The Path of the Battlerager, barbarians that wade into battle while wearing armor covered in spikes. Introduced in the Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide and is restricted to dwarves in the Forgotten Realms setting.
- Animal Battle Aura: Totem Warriors gain both mundane and supernatural effects from their patron spirit animals. Sometimes they gain some form of physical change due to it, such as those who follow the bear gain excessive body hair or those who follow the eagle have their eyes turn bright yellow.
- Barbarian Hero
- The Berserker: The class has this trait in general, with the rage ability, but the aptly named "Berserker" subclass lets the barbarian, among other things, enter a frenzied state which allows you an additional attack each round...and when the frenzy ends, the barbarian becomes exhausted, a stacking effect that gets more and more crippling until leading to outright Character Death.
- In a Single Bound: Totem Warriors with the "Eagle" Totemic Attunement can fly for a single turn when raging.
- The Juggernaut: The class has a trait where, should they succeed in a constitution saving throw, they can outright No Sell what would be a killing blow. They can only do this so many times, however.
- Made of Iron: While raging the barbarian gains resistance to (meaning takes half damage from) all physical damage. The Bear Totem Warrior takes this Up to Eleven, gaining resistance to all damage except psychic while enraged.
- Nature Hero: The Totem Warrior.
- Scarily Competent Tracker: Totem Warriors who choose "Wolf" as their Aspect of the Beast get this, as well as the ability to move stealthily without slowing down.
- Spikes of Villainy: Inverted. Battleragers typically wear spiked armor in battle, but most of them are heroic.
- Super Senses: Totem Warriors who choose "Eagle" as their Aspect of the Beast get telescopic and enhanced low-light vision.
- Super Strength: Totem Warriors who choose "Bear" as their Aspect of the Beast, but only for lifting, carrying, moving or breaking objects, not combat.
BardAn inspiring magician whose power echoes the music of creation. Bards believe that the gods Spoke the multiverse into existence, using the primordial Words of Creation. At 3rd level, Bards can join a bardic college:
- The College of Lore, bards who focus on learning a bit of everything and whose loyalty lies in the pursuit of beauty and truth.
- The College of Valor, daring skalds who tell the tales of great heroes past and inspire future great heroes, wading into the heat of the battlefield to witness history-changing events.
- The College of Blades, a rework of the 'Blade' Bard class kit from 2nd Edition. Sort of an Errol Flynn styled swashbuckler, compared to the Valor's pseudo-Warlord.
- The College of Satire, a rework of the 'Jester' Bard class kit from 2nd Edition. Very nimble, very lucky, and very likely to troll their enemies.
- The Bard
- Jack-of-All-Stats: During character creation, Bards have the option of picking any three skills with no restrictions like other classes.
- One of their class features, aptly named "Jack of All Trades", which allows them to add half of their proficiency bonus into the skills that they aren't proficient in.
- I Shall Taunt You: Lore Bards can use their wit to distract/confuse/insult or otherwise sap the confidence and competence of others.
- Also invoked by the bard-exclusive cantrip Vicious Mockery.
- Magic Music
- Music for Courage
ClericA priestly champion who wields divine magic in service of a higher power. At 1st level, a Cleric chooses a Domain of their patron deity. Their chosen domain grants them a number of divine spells that are always prepared. The initially available domains are Knowledge, Life, Light, Nature, Tempest, Trickery, and War. Later, the Death domain was added in the Dungeon Master's Guide as an optional path. A new domain, City, was revealed in the Unearthed Arcana: Modern Magic article. The Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide added the Arcana domain, even listing a number of deities outside of the Forgotten Realms who govern the domain.
- Combat Medic: The Life domain gains proficiency with heavy armor, the Death domain with martial weapons, and the War and Tempest domains with both. This makes them a potent force on the front lines.
- Dark Is Not Evil: Clerics of the Death domain may have spells that revolve around draining life and raising undead monsters, but they can be just as good as the disciples of other domains.
- Detect Evil
- Healing Hands: Everyone can do it, but the Life domain specialized in it.
- Holy Hand Grenade: Especially the Light domain focuses on damaging holy spells.
- Nature Hero: The Nature domain, obviously.
- The Red Mage: Several domains allow their clerics to use spells outside the cleric list, but the Arcana domain grants two wizard cantrips right off the bat, and ultimately allows the player to pick four spells from 6-9th wizard levels (including wish).
- Turn Undead: Typical for clerics. Arcana domain clerics also gain the Arcane Abjuration ability, which lets them turn celestials, elementals, fey, and fiends as well.
DruidA priest of the Old Faith, wielding the powers of nature — moonlight and plant growth, fire and lightning — and adopting animal forms. At 2nd level, Druids gain Wild Shape and can join one of two druidic circles: the Circle of the Land, druids who draw power from the land that they were initiated on; and the Circle of the Moon, druids who use the primal magic they draw upon to augment their Wild Shape into more dangerous forms. All the Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide added for druids was roleplaying fluff.
- Doesn't Like Guns: Along with the Sorcerer, is the only class to not get firearms as a class or subclass feature in The My New d20 Modern Campaign article.
- Immortality Begins at 20: 18th level druids gain the Timeless Body feature. Due to the primal magic they wield, a druid's physical aging is slowed on a 10-to-1 scale: they only physically age a single year over the course of 10 years.
- Nature Hero
- Voluntary Shapeshifting: Their Wild Shape ability.
FighterA master of martial combat, skilled with a variety of weapons and armor. Fighters can choose a specific fighting style at 1st level from among Archery, Defense, Dueling, Great Weapon Fighting, Protection, and Two-Weapon Fighting. At 3rd level, fighters can choose a martial archetype from which to perfect their fighting style:
- The Champion, who focus on training their raw physical power into honed deadly precision.
- The Battle Master, who treat combat as an academic field.
- The Eldritch Knight, who combine martial prowess with learning abjuration and evocation magic.
- The Purple Dragon Knight, a former prestige class that functions like the Warlord class, allowing them to share their abilities with the party. Introduced in the Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide and generically name the "Banneret" for settings other than the Forgotten Realms.
- The Cavalier, a rework of the 'Cavalier' Fighter class kit from 2nd Edition.
- The Scout, a rework of the 'Scout' Fighter class kit from 2nd Edition. Ranger-like pathfinders, minus the ability to cast spells.
- The Monster Hunter, fighters dedicated to slaying monsters such as the undead, lycanthropes, and vampires. Introduced in the Unearthed Arcana: Gothic Characters article.
- Badass Normal: The Champion and Battle Master martial archetypes.
- Cultured Badass: Battle Masters earn a proficiency in a set of artisan's tools and can study people/creatures outside of combat in order to learn more about them.
- Charles Atlas Superpower: Champions focus on reaching the peak of physical performance.
- Magic Knight: The Eldritch Knight martial archetype.
- Mounted Combat: The focus of the Cavalier archetype. Unfortunately, it still has the weaknesses that it's earlier incarnations had.
- Weapon of Choice: Well, fighting style of choice. The Champion archetype can learn a second one.
MonkA master of martial arts, harnessing the power of the body in pursuit of physical and spiritual perfection. Monks train in manipulating ki - the element of magic found in living bodies - in order to enhance their physical prowess, create magical effects, or hinder the ki flow of opponents. 3rd level Monks can commit themselves to one of many monastic traditions:
- The Way of the Open Palm, the ultimate masters of martial arts.
- The Way of Shadow, who value stealth and subterfuge and train as spies and assassins.
- The Way of the Four Elements, monks who train their ki to be able to harness the four elements as an extension of themselves.
- The Way of the Sun Soul, monks who can focus their ki into radiant energy.
- The Way of the Long Death, monks obsessed with the means and mechanics of dying.
- All Monks Know Kung-Fu
- Bare-Fisted Monk
- Elemental Powers: Four Elements Monks, who do this in a similar way to the Benders from Avatar.
- Flash Step: Shadow Monks can do this, but are only restricted to moving between dark or dimly lit areas.
- Healing Factor: Open Palm monks gain the ability to use their ki to heal themselves once a day.
- Holy Hand Grenade: Sun Soul monks channel their ki to perform Dragonball-style ki blasts that deal radiant damage.
- Immortality Begins at 20: 15th level monks gain the Timeless Body feature. Unlike the druid's version, the monk's version functions differently: they are immune to the drawbacks of old age, immune to magical aging, and no longer require food or drink to survive. They can still die of old age, though.
- Le Parkour
- Shout-Out: The Way of the Four Elements is a nice one to Avatar: The Last Airbender and three of the Sun Soul's four abilities can be seen by Saiyans in Dragon Ball.
- Wall Run
- You Are Already Dead: Quivering Palm which can kill a foe weeks after the actual blow has been dealt.
PaladinA holy warrior bound to a sacred oath. Paladins swear to uphold justice and righteousness, to stand with the good things of the world against the encroaching darkness, and to hunt the forces of evil wherever they lurk. At 3rd level, paladins swear their final oath of their chosen path of upholding the cause of righteousness:
- The Oath of Devotion, paladins who aspire to the loftiest ideals of justice, virtue, and order.
- The Oath of the Ancients, paladins who cast their lot with the side of the light in the cosmic struggle against darkness because they love the beautiful and life-giving things of the world, not necessarily because they believe in principles of honor, courage, and justice.
- The Oath of Vengeance, paladins who are willing to forego their own righteousness to punish wrongdoers by any means necessary.
- The Oathbreakers, decadent paladins who succumb to the darkness in their hearts and willingly break their oaths.
- The Oath of the Crown, paladins sworn to protect the ideals of civilization under the command of a nation or sovereign.
- Bad Powers, Bad People: The Oathbreaker paladin, who is mandatorily evil and possesses powers such as creating and controlling undead creatures, enhancing the damage made by fiends and undead around him, and creating an aura of faint darkness around him and using the shadows in the aura to directly attack his enemies.
- Character Alignment: Shockingly, 5th Edition paladins aren't restricted to Lawful Good like all the past iterations were. That said, each Oath encompasses one or more Alignments: Devotion is the typical Lawful Good, Ancients is Neutral Good or Chaotic Good, Vengeance is Lawful Neutral, Oathbreaker is Lawful Evil/Neutral Evil/Chaotic Evil, and Crown is Lawful Good or Lawful Neutral.
- Combat Medic
- Ethical Hedonism: The Oath of the Ancients Paladins aren't just encouraged to delight in beauty and joy, it's outright a part of their creed.
- For Happiness: The tenets of The Oath of the Ancients is all about spreading, protecting and partaking in all of lives "light".
- Healing Hands
- Immortality Begins at 20: In a sense. 15th level Paladins of the Ancients earn the Undying Sentinel trait, which makes them immune to both magical aging and the drawbacks of old age.
- Knight in Shining Armor: Paladins who make the Oath of Devotion.
- Magic Knight
RangerA warrior who uses martial prowess and nature magic to combat monsters that threaten the edges of civilization. They specialize in combat techniques effective against specific types of monsters, called favored foes. 3rd level rangers can chose a Ranger archetypes:
- Hunters, who accept their place as a bulwark between civilization and the terrors of the wilderness, learning more specialized techniques for fighting the threats of the wilderness.
- Beast Masters, rangers who embodies a friendship between the civilized races and the beasts of the world.
- Dark Stalkers, rangers who solely fight the horrors of the Underdark.
- The Beastmaster: One of the two default archetypes. Not particularly well liked for two reasons: 1) your companion is limited to creatures with a Challenge Rating of one-fourth and lower; and 2) you have to spend an Action to give it any order other than moving, rather than it acting on it's own or using Animal Handling to give it orders as a Free Action. The Unearthed Arcana: The Ranger, Revised article almost completely reworked the archetype.
- Forest Ranger
- The Hunter: The second of the default archetypes, focused on wading in and out of battle.
- Nature Hero
RogueA scoundrel who uses stealth and trickery to overcome obstacles and enemies. Rogues come from all walks of life: criminals, charlatans, investigators, locksmiths, assassins and exterminators. At 3rd level, Rogues can choose to focus their skills towards different archetypes:
- Thieves, who hone their larcenous arts.
- Assassins, who focus on the art of death.
- Arcane Tricksters, who enhance their skills and agility with magic enchantments and illusions.
- Swashbucklers, a former separate class; think of the old Errol Flynn type rogues.
- Masterminds, a sort of spymaster and master manipulator.
- Inquisitors, a mix between Van Helsing and Sherlock Holmes that focuses on empowered Sneak Attacks and seeing through deception.
- Back Stab: Their signature Sneak Attack bonus.
- Born Lucky: Their "Stroke of Luck" feature allows them to turn a missed attack into a hit and a failed ability check into a success.
- Combat Pragmatist
- Five-Finger Discount
- Immune to Mind Control: Masterminds that reach 17th level gains Soul of Deceit, which lets them actively protect their mind from being read by any means and lets them fool magic that compels them to tell the truth.
- Lovable Rogue
- Magic Knight: Well, magic rogue. The Thief archetype can use any magic device once they hit level 13. Arcane Tricksters, previously a prestige class, focus on learning enchanting and illusion magic.
- Master of Unlocking
- Power Parasite: If a level 17 Arcane Trickster has a spell from 1st level and up cast on them, they can use their reaction to potentially "steal" the spell from the caster's memory and use it themselves. Granted, once they steal the spell, they have an 8 hour time limit to use it.
- Professional Killer: The Assassin archetype, previously a prestige class.
- The Spymaster: The Mastermind archetype.
- Thieves' Cant
SorcererA spellcaster who draws on inherent magic from a gift or bloodline. As a testament of their power, Sorcerers are the only magic using class who can use Metamagic and can tap into the wellspring of magic deep within themselves to allow themselves to cast more spells each day. Sorcerers draw their powerful magic from one of several sources:
- A Draconic Bloodline from somewhere in their family.
- Being touched by raw Wild Magic.
- Being empowered by a divine being (Favored Soul).
- Empowered by Elemental Air (Storm origin).
- Being touched by the Shadowfell (Shadow origin).
- Born Lucky: 6th level Wild Sorcerers can spend 2 sorcery points to twist fate to their favor.
- The Chosen One: The Favored Soul origin.
- Dangerous Forbidden Technique: The wish spell has a very big drawback this time around. Using the spell to cast any 8th-level or lower spell has no side-affects. Anything other than that stresses the caster: they take necrotic damage if they cast any spells afterwards, their Strength score drops to 3 for 2-8 days, and they have a 33% chance of being unable to ever cast wish again.
- Doesn't Like Guns: Along with the Druid, is the only class to not get firearms as a class or subclass feature in The Unearthed Arcana: My New d20 Modern Campaign article.
- In the Blood: Sorcerers who draw their power from a Draconic Bloodline.
- Shock and Awe: The Storm origin.
- Squishy Wizard: Although far less squishy this time around. Their hit die is a d6 rather than a d4. Sorcerers with a Draconic Bloodline start with 1 more hit point at 1st level and gain 1 more hit point at each level as a sorcerer, and their base unarmored Armor Class is 13 instead of the default 10.
- Touched by Vorlons: One of the ways of getting Draconic Sorcery is to make a pact with a dragon, or be descended from such an individual.
- Wild Magic: Sorcerers touched by raw chaotic magic. Whenever they cast a spell 1st level or above, they have the off-chance that they cast another random spell along side the original spell.
- Winged Humanoid: 14th level Dragon Sorcerers and Favored Soul Sorcerers can sprout a pair of wings from their back at will, draconic for Dragon Sorcerers and either feathered or bat-like for Favored Souls.
WarlockA wielder of magic that is derived from a bargain with an extraplanar entity. Warlocks earned their magic from a Pact with an Otherworldly Patron, whether it be an Archfey, one of the Fiends, or a Great Old One. 3rd level Warlocks can receive one of three Boons from their Patron: a familiar from the Pact of the Chain, a pact weapon from the Pact of the Blade, or a Book of Shadows from the Pact of the Tome.The Unearthed Arcana: Modern Magic article introduces the "Ghost in the Machine" as an otherworldly patron. The Unearthed Arcana: Light, Dark, Underdark! article added the Undying Light "patron", warlocks that somehow found a way to draw power from the Plane of Positive Energy. The Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide added the Undying patron: a lich, vampire, mortal-ascended-to-godhood or any other kind of immortal being that death has no sway over. The Unearthed Arcana: The Faithful article introduced the Seeker Patron, warlocks who have made a pact with a Knowledge-domain deity, and the Seeker-specific Pact of the Star Chain, which grants the Warlock a number of knowledge-based advantages.
- Born Lucky: Warlocks who make a pact with a Fiend can ask them to alter fate to the warlock's favor.
- Dark Is Not Evil: While tales abound of warlocks making pacts with the Fiends, there are warlocks who stumble upon a fey lord/lady by accident, read a Tome of Eldritch Lore from a Great Old One, or gain the favor of one of the Undying. The Seeker is anything but dark.
- Deal with the Devil: Pacts made with Fiends are blatantly this. Pacts with Archfey or Great Old Ones are more ambiguous. Pacts with Undying vary from pretty close to the Fiend side of the spectrum to less ambiguous, in a positive way, than Archfey, depending on the Undying in question.
- The current iteration of the Undying Light warlock averts the deal thing entirely. Rather than making a pact with a discrete entity, Undying Light warlocks somehow managed to hook themselves into the basic energy of life, as radiating from the Plane of Positive Energy.
- Dragged Off to Hell: Fiend-pact warlocks get a once-per-day ability called Hurl Through Hell, which temporarily warps the target through the nightmarish landscape of the lower planes.
- Ghost in the Machine: An upcoming pact patron.
- Immortality Begins at 20: Tenth level Undying Warlocks gain the Undying Nature feat, which is very robust: they can hold their breath indefinitely, don't require food, water, or sleep, their aging has been slowed to a 10-to-1 ratio just like druids, and they are immune to magical aging.
- Lovecraftian Superpower: Warlocks who make a pact with a Great Old One can use their mind to Mind Rape creatures.
- Morph Weapon: Warlocks who take the Pact of the Blade can shape their pact-weapon into whatever facet they wish, on the fly. They avoid the normal drawback of this kind of weapon in that the weapon's innate magic grants Possession Implies Mastery — but only for that weapon.
- Spontaneous Weapon Creation: The default form of the Blade boon; a warlock's pact-weapon is literally shaped from their will, so it only exists as long as the warlock consciously wills it to do so.
- Summon to Hand: A Warlock with the Blade boon can choose to forfeit their default pact-weapon and magically attune themselves to an existing magical weapon instead. As part of the bond, they can do this, and in fact it gets stored in Hammerspace when they don't need it.
WizardA scholarly magic-user capable of manipulating the structures of reality. Wizards spend years studying the arcane and being lured by prospect of knowledge and power from ages past. Once they reach 2nd level, Wizards can pursue one of the eight arcane traditions: Abjuration, Conjuration, Divination, Enchantment, Evocation, Illusion, Necromancy, and Transmutation. The Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide added the Bladesinger arcane tradition, magic swordsmen who channel their magic into devastating attacks and cunning defense. Similar to how the Battlerager is racially restricted to dwarves in the Forgotten Realms setting, the Bladesinger is likewise racially restricted to elves and half-elves.The Unearthed Arcana: Eberron article reintroduced the Artificer class as an arcane tradition. Another arcane tradition, Technomancy, was discussed fairly early on and finally revealed in the Modern Magic article. The Unearthed Arcana: The Faithful introduced the Theurgist tradition, which grants the Wizard limited access to Cleric spells.
- Badass Bookworm
- Black Mage
- Crazy-Prepared: Not as much so as their past counterparts, due to a combination of how spells were streamlined and the overall power levels were reduced. Based solely on leveling, level 20 Wizards know 5 cantrips and have 44 spells in their spellbook. Wizards can still shop around for spells to transcribe and still have the largest spell selection of the arcane spellcasting classed.
- Although still a work in progress, the Artificer has been nerfed to hell and back compared to how crazy-prepared they were in the past. What was once a massive armory catalog of created magic items is now a case of temporary potions and equipment enchantments. Artificers can infuse potions, enchant weapons and armor, and create spell scrolls, but at the expense of their spell slots. While 14th level Artificers can create magic items, they're restricted to around 40 magic items that they can create, said items take a full week to create, and a full month of rest before they can create another magic item.
- Dangerous Forbidden Technique: Just like sorcerers, wizards can also cast the wish spell, and suffer the same drawbacks.
- On a lesser note, 14th level Evocation Wizards can Overchannel any 5th level or lower spell. Attempting to do this repeatedly causes them to take necrotic damage, with the effect increasing each time.
- Dark Is Not Evil: Not all necromancers are Evil, but the forces they command are usually taboo.
- Hypnotic Eyes: Enchanters get this as a feature.
- Magic Knight: The Bladesinger tradition, which grants proficiency in both light armor and a single type of one-handed melee weapon.
- Master of Illusion: The School of Illusion.
- Seers: The School of Divination.
- The Smart Guy
- Spell Book: Only required to cast spells from spell level 1 and beyond. Level 0 spells, or cantrips, are now "always ready" and can be cast an infinite number of times.
- Squishy Wizard: Although not quite as squishy as before. Wizards use a d6 to roll their health, just like they did in the default OD&D, rather than the d4 used from the Greyhawk supplement up to 3.5 Edition.
- Still literally the squishiest class in the game, though. The d6 is the lowest possible hit die and they are unique in that their class gets zero defensive abilities and features with level, something that's very important in a system where you can only focus on one buff spell at a time, and it's probably 'haste' on the fighter.
- The Bladesinger tradition makes them slightly less squishy due to gaining proficiency in light armor and the bonuses gained while their Bladesong is active.
- Philosopher's Stone: A Transmutation specialist can create a generic transmuter's stone which stores transmutation magic in it. Three functions of the stone that a 14th level transmuter can perform are Panacea (remove all curses/poisons/diseases and heal all health), Restore Life (a raise dead spell), and Restore Youth (reduce a willing creature's apparent age from 13-30 years).