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Every once in awhile, you get that urge to make that perfect character. But how do you do it? Will you copy fictional works and go for a Conniving Thief? How about a Stupid Bard?

Perhaps you will try to do something less overdone than a Drizzt Do'urden clone, or perhaps you will choose a simple meat shield fighter to give your wizard less to complain about. Either way, here is an incomplete list of published classes and prestige classes. Good luck.

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Note: For the iconic characters based on some of these classes, see Dungeons & Dragons.


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     1st through 3rd Edition Core Classes 

Assassin

A 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 OD&D and 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.

Barbarian

First 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.
    Grog: I would like to go into a FRENZIED RAGE!
  • Boring, but Practical: The class's main trick is to rage for stat bonuses, then get up in the enemy's face and wallop them with the biggest weapon available. It's not very versatile, but a well-built barbarian can pump out so much damage that it's generally the only trick they need.
  • Canon Immigrant: The barbarian first appeared in the British fanzine White Dwarf before being adopted by TSR.
  • 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 is rage. 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).

Bard

A 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

  • The Bard: The Trope Codifier for the concept of a Jack-of-All-Trades bard that uses magical music.
  • Characterization Marches On: Started out mechanically as a Prestige Class and thematically as a druidic lorekeeper who learned and taught magic through music. By third edition they're a starting class with closer thematic ties to skalds and who use Magic Music.
  • 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.
  • Make Me Wanna Shout: Their offensive spells (such as shout) tend to fall into this trope, as does their strongest performance ability, deadly performance.
  • 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.
  • Music for Courage: The inspire courage ability lets a bard enhance his allies and protect them from fear attacks.
  • The Power of Acting: Bards don't have to be musicians; any form of entertainment, including acting, can work as a source of power.
  • The Power of Rock: By default bards tend to be musicians with magic powers.
  • 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.
    • 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 was a sign that you were a badass - fighter, thief, and (thanks to your third and final class) loremaster and minor spellcaster as well.
  • The Red Mage: Bards are the inspiration for the Trope Namer from Final Fantasy I, actually, technically making them the Trope Maker. They're decent melee fighters, have a diverse if limited selection of magic, and come equipped with a raft of special abilities related to music and skills. The main drawback is that they'll be outclassed in almost any area by a more dedicated class.
  • 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 / Priest

One of the three original classes. Purportedly created during the Braunstein days of Blackmoor as a counter to one of the other players, who was playing as a vampire character. Class 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.
  • Good Shepherd: A common attitude for good-aligned clerics.
  • Healing Hands: A cleric's many healing spells tend to work as touch spells.
  • 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 CoDzilla.
  • 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.
  • Religion Is Magic: Have the ability to cast spells through the service of their god.
  • 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 restriction was created by Gygax, who supposedly based this on Archbishop Tilpin from La Chanson de Roland, even though Tilpin actually wielded a sword and lance (both named "Almace"). The idea of clerics wielding bludgeons was actually based on the Bayeux Tapestry, which depicts Bishop Odo of Bayeux wielding a club in battle. 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. It's unknown if the Braunstein Blackmoor era cleric had these restrictions or not.
  • 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.
  • Vampire Hunter: Word of God says they were inspired by vampire-hunting priests from Hammer Horror movies.
  • Warrior Monk: In every edition, standard clerics have excellent armor proficiency, decent attack progression, and adequate weapon proficiency.
  • White Magic: The typical cleric focuses on healing and support magic. However this can be subverted depending on the cleric's deity, especially if they're evil-aligned.

Druid

Originally 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.
  • Druid: The Trope Codifier for the concept of a Druid as a nature-themed magician.
  • Healing Hands: Though less effectively than clerics, by and large, they are capable of healing others.
  • 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: invoked 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.
  • Nature Hero: Many druids tend to be hermits who live in the wilderness, in harmony with nature.
  • 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.
  • Speaks Fluent Animal: Druids usually have access to the speak with animals spell from an early level, which allows them to do just that.
  • 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

One of the original three classes.

  • Badass Normal: None of their abilities rely on magic or supernatural means.
  • Bullfight Boss: Dungeoncrashers variants can pull this off.
  • Charles Atlas Superpower: Their main function was to kill things with weapons, so...yeah. The Greyhawk supplement made them beefier due to adding "to-hit" and damage bonuses for a high Strength stat, especially if they qualified for the Exceptional Strength percentile.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: In OD&D the School of Psionics was introduced as an attempt to give the Fighting Men their own set of spells.
  • Magically Inept Fighter: Trope Codifier, all non-spellcaster classes other than Rogue have no access to magic.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Illusionist

Originally 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) 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 recognizing the illusion for what it almost always negates all effects of the spell.
  • Master of Illusion: The name of the game for illusionists.
  • 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.

Monk

A 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. Taken Up to Eleven in their Advanced Dungeons & Dragons incarnation where their hit die was D4, the same as the Squishy Wizard magic-user class though they did get two hit dice at first level.
  • 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. Of course, by 3.x, trying to take down a good mage with the monk's anti-mage abilities is like trying to eat a brick wall while using a really well-made knife and fork.
  • 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 Dice 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?).
  • Wuxia:
    • 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.

Paladin

Introduced 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.

Ranger

A Fighter sub-class introduced in Strategic Review Vol.1 Issue 2. Made it's own class in AD&D 2nd Edition.

  • 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.
  • Forest Ranger: Many rangers tend to be woodsmen (or women).
  • Hunter of Monsters: 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 / Thief

Introduced in the OD&D Greyhawk supplement.

  • Back Stab: Sneak Attack! A common trait of the Rogue is the ability to do extra damage when the enemy is off-guard.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Stealth Expert: As the archetypical skill expert, Rogues are also proficient at sneaking. It helps them make use of their backstabs or sneak attacks in battle.
  • 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.

Sorcerer

An 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.
  • Empathy Pet: They have Familiars.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Superpowerful Genetics: A sorcerer's powers are innate, as opposed to wizards, who require years of study to learn their magic.
  • 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

One of the original three classes.

  • 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. 3.x Edition took this into overdrive.
  • Necromancer: Similar to Evil Cleric (see above), Wizard class is capable of reanimating undeads via the Animate Dead spell and creating undead via the Create Dead spell. They have early access to the Chill Touch, a lethal close range spell. 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.
  • Vancian Magic: The Trope Codifier. Wizards have to prepare their spells ahead of time, and can only have a certain number at once.

    Other pre-3rd-Edition Classes 

Cavalier

A Paladin without all holy calling and divine magic. Under the 1st Edition's Unearthed Arcana supplement, Paladins were a sub-class of Cavalier.

  • Awesome, but Impractical: Their signature trait is their horseback riding skills. Now good luck with fitting that horse into a claustrophobic dungeon environment.
  • The Determinator: Unlike most other characters, Cavaliers of good alignment do not fall unconscious if brought to negative hit points that do not exceed their initial first level hit point score. They can no longer fight but can retire from the battle to seek healing. This mechanic was probably included to stop them becoming a total combat liability as they normally refuse to retreat from combat while they are still capable of fighting - after a few battles where the Cavalier charges into the thick of the enemy forces and gets KO'd forcing the rest of the party to fight their way through to them before they bleed out most parties would just let the Cavalier expire.
  • 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 and the cavalier will always choose the closest to full plate available, even if the "lesser" armour has a truckload of magic bonuses.
  • Knight in Shining Armor: Cavalier's armour is as much a badge of their station as protection and as such it will be the most expensive and shiniest possible and made even more ornate with decorations, engraving etc.
  • Leeroy Jenkins: Actually built into the class. Cavaliers are literally uncontrollable in combat situations and will charge the most powerful monster in range, regardless of the tactical or strategic situation, at the first available opportunity.
  • 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'. The original version was also pretty bad - in combat they would charge the most powerful enemy in range as soon as they could regardless of the tactical situation or even allies in their way!
  • Mounted Combat: It's in the name, Cavaliers ride into combat on mounts, typically horses.
  • Too Dumb to Live: With their propensity to make suicidal attacks and reluctance to retreat, the fact that they often prize appearance over actual effectiveness in armour and their tendency to look down on anyone of a low social class they often ride into their own deaths. They are also incapable of feeling fear - even magical fear attacks have no effect.
  • 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-Acrobat

A 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.

  • Joke Character: They stop training in two things that make thieves useful in most adventuring situations - finding and removing traps and opening locks to train in tightrope walking and pole vaulting and other similar skills with very limited situational use.
  • 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 

Archivist

Introduced 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.

Ardent

Introduced in Complete Psionic.

  • 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.

Artificer

Introduced 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 Dancer

Introduced in Dragon #159, updated for 3.5e in the Dragon Compendium.

Beguiler

Introduced 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.
  • 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.

Binder

Introduced in Tome of Magic.

  • 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.
  • 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.
    • The WOTC message boards used to have an epic thread of fan-made vestiges. Many of these were also pop-culture icons, for those players who want to channel Ghost Rider or Homsar.
  • 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.
  • Stock Shout-Out: Many of the vestiges are named after demons from The Lesser Key of Solomon.
  • 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.
  • Unequal 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.

Crusader

Introduced 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).
  • 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 Master

Introduced in Dragon #76, updated for 3.5e in the Dragon Compendium.

Divine Mind

Introduced 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.
  • Recycled In Space: 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 Shaman

Introduced in Player's Handbook II (3.5e). Class Handbook: GITP version.

  • Breath Weapon: Dragon theme includes breathing fire or lightning or whatever.
  • 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 Adept

Introduced 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 Necromancer

Introduced 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: 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.
  • One Stat to Rule Them All: Charisma powers everything the Dread Necro needs to do.
  • Our Liches Are Different: 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.

Duskblade

Introduced 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.
  • Genius Bruiser: An Intelligence-based caster who has all Knowledge skills as class skills. Plenty of them also pick up Knowledge Devotion to do this even more efficiently.
  • 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 sight... 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.
  • Magikarp Power: They start to fall behind when full attacks become more common - but at 13th level, they gain the full-attack-channel, which handily combines the two.
  • 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.

Eidolon

Introduced 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)

Eidoloncer

Introduced in Ghostwalk. The spellcasting counterpart to the Eidolon.

(Needs entries)

Erudite

Introduced 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
  • 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. note 

Factotum

Introduced 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.
    • Not to mention careful (ab)use of the IaiJutsu skill...
  • 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 underpins their attack rolls, damage, spells,Iai Jutsu and other things.
  • 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 Soul

Introduced 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 Space: The Favored Soul is the Divine counterpart to the Sorcerer because they can spontaneously cast spells instead of preparing at set times and they may have an Unequal Rites thing with clerics because they don't have to be formally ordained or anything to use divine magic.

Healer

Introduced 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).
  • 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.

Hexblade

Introduced 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: A Hexblade has access to both arcane spells and the full Base Attack and high HD of a warrior class.
  • Master of None: They have almost no melee combat abilities outside of their chassis, and their spellcasting is scarcely better than a Ranger's.
  • Overshadowed by Awesome: Compared to the Duskblade or a multiclass character, they're not as powerful. 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.

Incarnate

Introduced 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.
  • Soul Power: Draws on the essence of souls from the past, present, and possibly those who have yet to be born to create pseudo-magical items for a variety of effects, most of which are passive bonuses.

Jester

Introduced in Dragon #60, updated for 3.5e in the Dragon Compendium.

Knight

Introduced 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.

Lurk

Introduced in Complete Psionic.

Marshal

Introduced in the Miniatures Handbook. Later evolved into 4e Warlord or 13th Age Commander.

  • The Face: They have a Charisma focus, an aura that boosts Charisma checks, decent skill points, and free Skill Focus (Diplomacy). They're very good at this.
  • Frontline General: They're not as good in combat as fighters or barbarians, but between their auras and their statline, they can usually handle themselves, and their auras require them to be fairly close to the frontline anyway.
  • Promoted to Playable: In an odd way, it can be considered one for the aristocrat; they have the same overall statline (average Base Attack, good Will save, four skill points, weapon and armor proficiencies), similar flavor, and a similar set of class skills. It's really not hard to stat out a more active king or noble as a marshal.
  • Status Buff: The class's main specialty is its auras, a means of buffing one's allies just by being there.
  • Underused Game Mechanic: The biggest weakness to the class is that it's designed to lead troops en masse by providing small buffs to large groups, and it's pretty good at doing so, but unless the campaign is explicitly designed around warfare, most of the time its auras are only going to be benefiting one or two people.

Mountebank

Idea suggested in Dragon #65, introduced in the Dragon Compendium. Shares the same name as the prestige class Mountebank.

Ninja

Introduced in Complete Adventurer.

  • Awesome, but Impractical: Unfortunately, most of their cool ninja tricks are pretty easy to copy with magic items, and come at the cost of being worse than the rogue in many areas.
  • Trap Master: Only rogues are allowed to have any chance of successfully disarming exceptionally difficult traps.

Psion / Psionicist

Psychic Rogue

Introduced 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.

Psychic Warrior

  • Empathic Healer: Can donate their hit points to their teammates, and later learns to drain enemies for quick healing.
  • Empathic Weapon: The Soulbound Weapon alternate class feature gives you one; it's considered a better soulknife than the actual soulknife.
  • Life Drain: Several of their abilities are based on this, most famously the King of Smack build.
  • Magic Knight: The psionic version thereof.
  • Nigh Invulnerable: At mid-level, with the Vigor power, a psychic warrior can take dozens of points of damage before even cutting into their actual hitpoints. With the right combo of feats, you basically become immortal.
  • Poor, Predictable Rock: Subverted: most of their attack spells do acid damage, but how many stock Monster Manual creatures resist acid?
  • Psychic Powers: An odd variant, in that their abilities focus mostly on pure physical combat.
  • Sizeshifter: One of the first powers they can pick up is Expansion, which doubles their size. With further investment, it becomes more efficient, faster, and even potentially lets them double their size again.

Samurai

Introduced 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 had a lot of stereotypical Bushido stuff that limited its actions or caused penalties.

Savant

Introduced in Dragon #140, updated for 3.5e in the Dragon Compendium.

(Needs entries)

Scout

Introduced 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.

Shadowcaster

Introduced 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'ir

Introduced in the Al-Qadim setting for 2nd Edition, updated to 3.5e in Dragon #315 and reintroduced in the Dragon Compendium.

(Needs entries)

Shaman

Introduced 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.
  • 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.

Shugenja

Introduced in Oriental Adventures, reintroduced in Complete Divine.

  • Elemental Powers: Its spell list consists of Cleric and Wizard spells re-flavored as elemental spells.

Sohei

Introduced in Oriental Adventures.

Soulborn

Introduced 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.

Soulknife

  • 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.

Spellthief

Introduced 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.

Spirit Shaman

Introduced 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.
  • 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.

Swashbuckler

Introduced in Complete Warrior/Adventurer books. A fighter style class that focuses on being Weak, but Skilled, with better mobility and use of Weapon Finesse.

  • Awesome, but Impractical: Awesome, you get to pull off all of your favorite Flynning and Swashbuckler tropes and you're more skillful than a fighter! Except, most of your damaging abilities, including the below listed Intelligence to damage, only work against foes not immune to sneak attacks or critical hits which is a problem at higher levels. Fighters can have enough feats, they'll be content to get a reach weapon with the ability to trip opponents with it, improved trip for the bonus attack after a trip, and then power attack for massive damage. Barbarians can just rage and pump their Strength stat enough to smash anything that gets in their way to a pulp. And the swashbuckler still lacks important skills and class features like the rogue's ability to find and disarm traps, the ranger's tracking skills, or either's access to the Evasion ability to maximize their Reflex save.
  • Flynning: Acrobatic Charge lets the Swashbuckler leap down from a balcony, run down stair cases, or tumble over tables to charge at their opponent. Also because of the Swashbuckler's focus on Weapon Finesse qualified weapons, they tend to end up using a rapier as their main weapon.
  • Genius Bruiser: Swashbucklers can apply their Intelligence to their damage when using certain weapons, but only when unburdened.

Swordsage

Introduced in Tome of Battle: The Book of Nine Swords.

  • 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.

Totemist

Introduced in Magic of Incarnum.

  • 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.

Truenamer

Introduced in Tome of Magic.

  • Broke the Rating Scale: Famously did this to the writers of the tier system, because the below-mentioned issues cause its power to fluctuate massively depending on build and level. Eventually, it got two tier placements: if it can consistently make Truespeak checks, it's about level with the warlock, if it can't, it's about level with the aristocrat.
  • Difficult, but Awesome: Downplayed, sadly; it's more like "Difficult But Functions." If you can get your Truespeak check high enough to stay ahead of the Game-Breaking Bug (an Item Familiar, for instance), then it ceases to be a problem and you can use your utterances basically all day. Some of them are even fairly decent... but they're still limited in usage, lacking in flexibility, poorly designed, and generally not very strong.
  • Empty Levels: As stated below, this class is beaten senselessly with this. Since you'll always be behind in checks there's not much you can do besides keep struggling...or change to a new class if you can.
  • 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 20 and can Gate in Solars, which can Gate in Solars, which can Gate in Solars... which lets the summoner use an absurdly powerful spell after an arbitrary amount of Solars summoned. 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 Druid

Introduced in Dragon #317, reintroduced in the Dragon Compendium.

(Needs entries)

Warblade

Introduced 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.

Warlock

Introduced 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.
  • Ironic Name: the literal etymology of the word "warlock" translates to "oathbreaker." In Dn D, maintaining one's pact is crucial to the class' power.

Warmage

Introduced in the Miniatures Handbook, and introduced again in Complete Arcane.

  • Black Mage: Spell list is filled with offensive magical damage with the occasional bad status inflicting attack thrown in.
  • Elemental Powers: Fire, cold, acid, electricity, sonic, and force.
  • 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.

Wilder

Wu Jen

Introduced in Oriental Adventures, updated for 3.5e in Complete Arcane.

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     3. 0 & 3. 5 Edition Prestige Classes 
(Needs Entries)

Alienist

A 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.

Arcane Archer

A prestige class from the Dungeon Master's Guide. This is an elf-specific class that mixes spellcasting with bow-wielding skill.

  • Mage Marksman: They are archers who infuse arrows with arcane power.
  • 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 Trickster

A 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.
  • We Need a Distraction: One way to interpret their "Impromptu Sneak Attack" ability, as using a minor magic trick to catch people off guard.

Archmage

A 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)

Auspician

A prestige class from Faiths and Pantheons. A chaotic spellcaster who uses the power of luck to strengthen himself/herself and manipulate the luck of both friends and foes alike.

  • Luck Manipulation Mechanic: The granted power of the Luck Domain (a requirement to enter the class), allows one re-roll of the die per day. However, you must take the second result of the roll, whether it's worse than the original roll.
  • Winds of Destiny, Change: Most, if not all of the Auspician's special abilities (both magical and extraordinary) revolve around harnessing the force of luck.

Beastmaster

  • The Beastmaster: Obviously. Even moreso than the druid. They're the only class that gets more than one animal companion, and their first animal companion is always 3 levels ahead of a druid's (of the same level).
  • Loyal Animal Companion: They get several beasts that accompany them on travels and into danger.

Blackguard

A 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 Disciple

A prestige class from the Dungeon Master's Guide. Dragon disciples draw out their innate dragon lineage to gain the powers of a dragon.

  • Artistic License – Biology: 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: Breathing fire or lightning etc. is a dragonic trait.
  • 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: Their dragon lineage eventually grants them wings.

Dread Pirate

A 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.
  • Pirate: "swashbuckling scourges of the sea" and all that.

Duelist

A 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 Defender

A 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.

  • Stone Wall: Takes it about as far as it can go, given that they get sizeable defensive bonuses while standing completely still.

Enlightened Spirit

The "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.
  • Redemption Promotion: Turning away from darkness to light grants them new abilities.
  • Power Gives You Wings: The Celestial Flight invocation.

Fiend-Blooded

A 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.
  • Black Magic: If a Fiend-Blooded doesn't choose a spell with the Fire descriptor via Fiendish Sorcery, he/she can pick any one spell (from any spell list), as long as the spell is from the schools of Necromancy, Illusion, or Enchantment.
  • Damage Reduction: Gained when the capstone ability (Fiendish Exaltation) is acquired.
  • In the Blood: Only spontaneous (and humanoid) 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.

Fleshwarper

Introduced 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.

Frenzied Berserker

  • 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.

Gray Guard

"How're we supposed to see the pally comin' when 'e wears armor blacker than ours?”
—Griv "Goblin Father" Chos, unfortunate cultist guard
A prestige class from Complete Scoundrel. These are paladins who fight dirty and can smite virtually anything.

  • Anti-Hero: A class requirement. There's just no way these brutal and hard-assed paladins can be considered classic heroes.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Invoked: Gray Guards exist specifically as Paladins with the capacity to go against the Paladin's Code under extenuating circumstances, so the bad guys cannot take advantage of the limitations it regularly imposes on them. Any bad guy that tries to use the Paladin's Code against a Gray Guard to force him to "play nice" is in for a RUDE awakening when the Gray Guard punches his teeth in.
  • 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: These are (most likely) paladins who have discarded the nicer aspects of the Paladin's Code in order to dispense justice by less pleasant means if necessary
  • Lawful Good: invoked 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 Sign

A 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 Seal

A 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).

Master Alchemist

Appears in Magic of Faerûn. For the spellcaster who dabbles in mixing potions, elixirs, and alchemy, he or she can create potions and oils beyond normal limits.

  • Item Caddy: Can eventually learn to brew potions of up to 9th level spells, identify alchemical substances faster, and brew more potions at a faster rate and reduced price.

Master of Radiance

A prestige class in Libris Mortis: The Book of Undead. A divine caster who draws on the energy of the sun to better combat undead foes.
  • Holy Hand Grenade: At 2nd and 5th level, the class grants Searing Light and Sunbeam as spell-like abilities.
  • Light 'em Up: Sun powder for radiant damage!
  • The Power of the Sun: Fluff-wise the class is usually taken by druids who revere the Sun, but is open to clerics who worship Light or Sun deities (such as Pelor or Lathander), or other divine casters who can use Daylight and worship Light or the Sun as an ideal/force of nature.
  • Turn Undead: Advances the character's turning effectiveness if he/she has the ability from other sources.
  • Weakened by the Light: Can project an aura of light which debuffs undead and creatures with light sensitivity, as well as empowering their spell-like abilities while the aura is active.

Mystic Theurge

A 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.
  • 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.

Ordained Champion

Steeped in a tradition older than most religions, the ordained champions stride through the chaotic fog of violence and bloodshed. Appears in Complete Champion.

Rainbow Servant

A 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.

Sacred Exorcist

Appears in Complete Divine. A spellcaster who can learn to banish ghosts and other evil spirits possessing the living, as well as specializing in fighting either undead or evil-aligned outsiders.

  • Detect Evil: At 2nd level, the exorcist gains the ability to use detect evil alignments at will, just as a paladin does.
  • Holy Burns Evil: Can pick up an aura that replicates the effects of Consecrate, and moves with the exorcist, eventually gaining Holy Aura as a spell-like ability.
  • Turn Undead: Advances turning if the character already has the class feature, or grants the ability to non-cleric spellcasting classes (such as sorcerers, wizards, shugenja, etc).

Shadowdancer

A 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: Gets a lot of defensive abilities, such as evasion, slippery mind and defensive roll, and a fairly good d8 hit dice, but gets no offensive abilities whatsoever.

Soulcaster

A prestige class in Magic of Incarnum. Combines the power of incarnum and arcane magic.

  • Soul Power: A soulcaster can augment their spells with essentia, making them more powerful and harder to resist.

Sunmaster

A 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.

Wild Soul

A prestige class in Complete Mage. An arcane spellcaster who forms an alliance with the fey courts of either the Seelie (if good-aligned) or the Unseelie (if evil-aligned). The caster gains the ability to summon a wider variety of fey, outsiders and magical beasts for aid.

  • Status Buff: Summoning a creature from the expanded list grants the summoner several perks as long as the summoned creature stays alive for the spell's duration (increased speed, resistance to sleep and charms, and making the caster's illusions and enchantments harder to resist).
  • Summon Magic: Adds several creatures to the caster's Summon Monster list, some of which usually only appear in the Summon Nature's Ally line, such as the unicorn.

     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).

Adept

Represents 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 a familiar as a class feature.
  • 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.

Aristocrat

Blue-bloods, courtiers, and the rich, aristocrats represent the general 'upper class' and their social skills without the added specialist knowledge of rogues or bards.

  • Crimefighting with Cash: They have the highest starting gold of any class at 1st level. People who choose to play an aristocrat as a Self-Imposed Challenge tend to take advantage of this by buying expensive armor and items, with some even taking the Mercantile feat to boost starting gold further and give bonuses to buying and selling things. Past that first level, though, it becomes irrelevant since starting gold is piddly next to what you earn from adventuring.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: The armor and weapon proficiencies would suggest this; presumably the aristocrat has enough free time to learn how to swing a sword around, even if they aren't especially good at it.

Commoner

Peasants, 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.

Expert

Blacksmiths, 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).

Magewright

An 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: invoked 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...

Warrior

They 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.

  • Mooks: This is the generic class given to untrained humanoid enemies like orcs and goblins (as well as common guards and foot soldiers), which allows them to handle a sword without actually giving them any distinguishing features. Good for a Zerg Rush and not much else.
  • Unskilled, but Strong: It'd be more accurate to say "no skills besides strong." With no abilities aside from pure numbers, a warrior can pick up a sword and hit with it more often than not, and that's basically all he can do.

     4th Edition Classes 

Ardent

The 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.

Artificer

The 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.

  • Science Hero: In a way, they are fighting monsters, evil mages and other enemies with items they have engineered for themselves.

Assassin

The 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.
  • 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.

Avenger

The 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.

  • 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: 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.
  • 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.

Barbarian

The 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.
  • 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 for throwing swords and other not-made-to-be-thrown weapons.

Beserker (Barbarian)

A Martial/Primal Defender/Striker introduced in Heroes of the Feywild.

Bard

The 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: They previous editions, they are an arcane spellcaster who works through songs and performances.
  • Magic Music: Singing or playing an instrument to cast magic.
  • Wandering Minstrel: A bard adventurer is one of these, traveling to collect songs or perform in far off places.

Skald (Bard)

The skald is an Arcane and Martial Leader sub-class of the bard from Heroes of the Feywild.

Battlemind

The 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: They can transform their bodies into things like iron.
  • 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".
  • Psychic Powers: They have psionic power. They battle with their mind.

Cleric

The 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.
  • Holy Hand Grenade: Holy magic as usual.
  • 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: Repeling undead creatures is still a feature.

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).

Druid

The 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.

  • 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.

Fighter

The 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, is similar in style to the barbarian.
  • 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
  • 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.

Invoker

The 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.

  • 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.

Monk

The 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

Paladin

The 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.

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.

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.

Psion

The 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.

  • 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.

Ranger

The 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: Like all Martial types, Rangers have no inherently magical powers, but can keep up with psychics, god-touched, mages and all the other mystics.
  • 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: This is literally the archetype that Rangers draw from.
  • Nature Hero: Downplayed; Rangers are adept at surviving in the wilderness, but they don't have the minor druidic spells and magical abilities of past editions.

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.

Rogue

The 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.

  • 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.

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.

Runepriest

The 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.

Seeker

The 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

  • Decomposite Character: In previous editions of the game, rangers were considered to be "mostly martial" characters who nonetheless were tied to the wilderness closely enough to perform some minor druidic magic. In 4e, the ranger was stripped of its magic and left as simply a skilled scout-type warrior. Seekers were born out of the "warrior druid" aspect left behind, focusing entirely on their combination of hunting-style weaponry skills and their magical connection to the Primal Spirits.
  • Nature Hero: They're a member of the Primal power source, meaning their powers stem from the animistic Primal Spirits, which are the embodiments of nature.
  • 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.

Shaman

The 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.

Sorcerer

The 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.

  • Black Mage: This is the basic role of the Sorcerer, and distinguishes them from the 4e Wizard. Whilst they have their own utility spells, a sorcerer's primary focus is one vaporizing individual targets to small clusters of targets with lots of elemental damage.
  • Breath Weapon: Many Dragon Magic powers are described as these.
  • Glass Cannon: As both an Arcane class (who have a tendency to be Squishy Wizards) and a Striker class (who, likewise, trade high damage output for low defenses), the Sorcerer is one of the frailer 4e classes. The fact two of its subclasses rely heavily on Constitution helps mitigate this somewhat.
  • In the Blood: One possible reason for a sorcerer's powers.
  • Knife Nut: Can cast spells through daggers.
  • Winds of Destiny, Change: A variant of the Chaos Sorcerer called the Luckbender was introduced in Dragon magazine. Handled as an assortment of new spells and a Paragon path, Luckbenders specialize in manipulating probability, giving them greater control over the normal "randomness" aspects of Wild Mages.
  • Wild Magic: The Wild Mage archetype of older editions appears as one of the default "subclasses" for the Sorcerer. Its subclass features are big on randomly generated effects, such as getting special bonuses when an attack roll is a natural 1 or a natural 20, and its associated powers tend to have different effects that trigger based on random criteria.

Swordmage

The 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.
    • Though, because their class is keyed off of using "Light Blade" class weapons and "Heavy Blade" class weapons, it's just as viable for a swordmage to be wielding a scythe, glaive or khopesh as it is for them to carry a dagger or sword.

Warden

The 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.

  • Gaia's Vengeance: Their class fluff actually explains they have been empowered by the Primal Spirits to defend nature.

Warlock

The 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: Warlock magic is considered strange and evil, and it tends to draw from sinister patrons that are at best amoral and at worst immoral.

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: In contrast to the Swordmage, however, hexblades are kind of a Squishy Wizard version. They specialize in fighting with magical sword and wand akimbo, destroying foes with overwhelming magical force before they get hurt in turn.
    • The "Knight" angle is played up with Fey Hexblades dedicated to the Lady of the White Well; the backstory for such a character is that they are a would-be suitor of the Lady, a cursed elven demigoddess, who she has gifted with her power via her enchanted blade that they might prove worthy of her heart and thus of freeing her.
  • Summon Magic: One thing that distinguishes Hexblades and Binders from the standard warlock is that they receive innate class features that allow them to summon magical monsters to aid them, with the precise monster depending on their pact.

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.

  • An Ice Person: At-will power slows opponents with cold.
  • Summon Magic: One thing that distinguishes Hexblades and Binders from the standard warlock is that they receive innate class features that allow them to summon magical monsters to aid them, with the precise monster depending on their pact.

Warlord

The warlord is a Martial Leader from the Player's Handbook.

  • Badass Normal: Like all Martial type classes, Warlords have no magical ability, but can mechanically keep up with any magical party member.
  • 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."
  • Genius Bruiser: Strength is required for many of their abilities, and many Warlords require Intelligence as their secondary attribute.
  • 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. This is apparently through either sheer leadership skill (if favoring Charisma) or tactical genius (if favoring Intelligence).

Wizard

The wizard is an Arcane Controller from the Player's Handbook.

Bladesinger (Wizard)

The bladesinger is an Arcane Controller sub-class of the wizard from the Neverwinter Campaign Setting. In contrast to the Swordmage, which strives to be an equally adept master of magic and melee combatant, the bladesinger is a wizard first and foremost, just with some extra melee training.

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.

Witch (Wizard)

The witch is an Arcane Controller sub-class of the wizard from Heroes of the Feywild.

Vampire

Vampires. 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.

     5th Edition Classes 

Artificer

Originally introduced as a wizard subclass, Artificer was fleshed out into a full class in the "Unearthed Arcana: Artificer" article. Artificers specialize in making magic items, whether by crafting permanent items over a series of levels or by infusing ordinary objects with utility spells.

At 1st level, they choose either the Alchemist or Gunsmith archetypes.

In February 2019, The Artificer class got updated again, making it much more powerful and versatile. The subclasses remain roughly the same in spirit, especially the Alchemist, but the Gunsmith became the Artillerist.

In May 2019, The Artificer class got updated once more, this time adding two new subclasses in the form of the Archivist and the Battle Smith, a revised spell list, a few new infusions, and a revision towards multiclassing and rounding up determined spell slots.

Information on the first version Artificer class includes:

  • Alchemy Is Magic: The Alchemist archetype can create a number of magic brews, from Healing Potions to vials of Hollywood Acid to Smoke Bombs and Thunder Blasts.
  • The Beastmaster: Can send their Mechanical Servant into battle.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Artificers have a number of utility spells that they can infuse into ordinary objects.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: Artificers specialize in this, creating magic items all over the place. Taken a step further at 6th level, when they create their Mechanical Servant.
  • The Gunslinger: The Gunsmith, obviously. They have a custom gun called the Thunder Cannon that they use as their primary weapon.
  • The Smart Guy: Before these guys showed up, the Wizard spell list was the only one that used the intelligence modifier.
  • Weak, but Skilled: In combat, they tend to be a one trick pony. Each gets one attack per turn. The Gunsmith fires their (admittedly really powerful) gun, while the Alchemist throws a harmful potion at the enemy (which, again, admittedly does a lot of damage). Outside of combat, they learn a ton of utility spells, can create some very useful magic items with no strings attached (including a Bag of Holding at level 2), and gain more tool proficiencies than any other class (with expertise in all of them).

Information on the updated Artificer class includes:

  • Alchemy Is Magic: The alchemist subclass is back. This time, they get potion boosts, and a Homunculus ally.
  • Animate Inanimate Object: The Alchemist Artificer can make their Alchemist Homunculus look however they want, provided it's tiny sized. Examples include mechanical hawks, to... Flying alchemy vials and moving cauldrons.
  • Awesome by Analysis: Their research of magic now allows them to imitate it, using science.
  • Badass Normal: One suggested way of playing this artificer; instead of actually casting spells, they're creating their effects, using their tools.
  • The Beastmaster: This version of the artificer has a strong emphasis on specialised pets, with each subclass getting one.
    • The alchemist gets a homunculus that can be anything from a robotic servant to an alchemically created monster. It can spit acid at foes and distribute a salve that gives players unique buffs.
    • The artillerist gets a mechanical turret it can deploy. You can choose between three different types of turrets: a flamethrower that shoots a cone of fire, a force ballista that shoots a single beam of force damage, or a defender that emits a field which grants allies temporary hit points.
    • The archivist gets a magically created artificial mind it can imbue in an inanimate object. The mind is capable of emitting a psychic blast that can damage foes, and it offers the archivist a number of utility features, from being used as a mini scrying beacon, gaining proficiency on knowledge checks, telepathically communicating with allies, and even teleporting.
    • The battle smith is probably the most blatant example of this trope, gaining a mechanical servant called an iron defender, which is shaped like a beast. As its name implies, its abilities focus on acting as as defender for the battle smith and its allies, and is even capable of healing them with one ability.
  • Choice of Two Weapons: They start with any 2 simple weapons of their choice.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: No word announced on the artificer between its last UA on it being its own class, and when it came back, two years later. Maybe they were taking much need classes in badassery?
  • Combat Medic: Enforced. On top of being a healing subclass, the Alchemist Artificer can also cast "Cloudkill", and other poisonous or otherwise deadly spells. This is to keep them still relevant, outside of healing.
  • Depending on the Writer: How their spells work is intentionally left ambiguous, for the purpose of having it work however the player wants it to work.
  • The Determinator: The Alchemist Artificer can invoke this in themselves or others, with spells that can reattach limbs or bring them back to life, without expending spell slots.

Barbarian

A warrior hailing from a distant land far from the comforts of civilization, Barbarians feel uncomfortable within the walls of a town or the claustrophobic confines of a crowd, but in battle they are transformed as they heft their huge weapons and enter the fray in a terrifying rage.

At 3rd level, barbarians can choose between one of a number of primal paths:

  1. The Path of the Berserker, barbarians who fall deeper into their rage.
  2. The Path of the Totem Warrior, barbarians who are on a spiritual journey, accepting spirit animals as guides, protectors, and inspirations.
  3. The Path of the Battlerager, barbarians that wade into battle while wearing armor covered in spikes. Introduced in the Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide, this Path is restricted to just dwarves in the Forgotten Realms setting.
  4. The Path of the Ancestral Guardian, barbarians who come from cultures that practice ancestor worship.
  5. The Path of the Storm Herald, barbarians whose rage draws primal magic from the world around them.
  6. The Path of the Zealot, barbarians who worship deities of war and channel divine magic during their rage.

The Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide introduced two more Totem Warrior animals, the Elk and the Tiger, and includes a table for how to portray Totem Warriors for Uthgardt barbarians. The Ancestral Guardian, Storm Herald, and Zealot Paths were introduced in Unearthed Arcana: Barbarian Primal Paths and finalized in Xanathar's Guide to Everything.

  • 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 gaining excessive body hair, those who follow the eagle having their eyes turn bright yellow, or those who follow the wolf gaining more pronounced canine teeth.
  • Armor Is Useless: Unarmored defense means that their AC will generally be just as high or even higher without armor. And they can't wear heavy armor at all (but they can still use shields). Averted with Battleragers, which rely on their spiked armor.
  • Attack! Attack! Attack!: Reckless Attack grants them advantage on all attack roles for that turn in exchange for granting all their enemies advantage on theirs because they have forsaken defense for offense.
  • Barbarian Hero: In 5E, the PHB describes one aspect of the archetypal barbarian as a tribal leader, defender or otherwise an alpha-guardian type. There can, of course, be barbarian villains as well.
  • 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.
  • Charles Atlas Superpower: Barbarians can potentially get maximum strength and constitution stats of 24. To put things into perspective, just having 20 in a stat is implicitly superhuman, and worthy of a lower-tier demigod.
  • In a Single Bound: Totem Warriors with the "Eagle" Totemic Attunement can fly for a single turn when raging.
  • The Juggernaut: Bear Totem Warriors can resist all damage except psychic which means they can be very difficult to stop when they rage. Also the entire 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.
    • High-level Zealots cannot die or be knocked unconscious from being knocked to 0 hit points while raging. 20th level Zealots can just not stop raging, meaning they can shrug off any amount of damage if it doesn't take enough at one time to take fatal massive damage. They still die or go unconscious as soon as they have to stop raging, though, but if they do die then their allies will have an easier time reviving them. One of their features, Warrior of the Gods, is a supernatural eternal-battle designation that frees a cleric from requiring material components.
  • Lightning Bruiser: All Barbarians gain an extra ten feet of movement when not wearing heavy armour at level five, as well as advantage to initiative rolls at level seven, but Eagle Totem Warriors get to hurtle around the battlefield while raging due to also gaining Dash as a bonus action, and anyone who tries an Attack of Opportunity against them has Disadvantage. It is made literal with Path of the Storm Herald's Sea path, as lightning arcs off the Barbarian while raging.
  • Made of Iron: Even barbarians whose rage is not augmented with supernatural sources of power can still resist all bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage while raging, letting them shrug off deadly punishment.
  • Magic Knight: The Paths of the Totem Warrior, Ancestral Guardian, Storm Herald, and Zealot cause/portray obvious supernatural or magical affects.
  • Nature Hero: The Totem Warrior and Storm Herald are barbarians who get in touch with animal spirits or nature itself, in a shaman-like capacity for magic.
  • Psychic Static: A Berserker Barbarian's Mindless Rage feature means they cannot be charmed or frightened while they are raging because their mind is too full of "RRAAA! IMMA GONNA KILL EVERYTHING!" to be swayed by supernatural influence or fear.
  • Scarily Competent Tracker: Totem Warriors who choose "Wolf" as their Aspect of the Beast get extra ability to track, as well as the ability to move stealthily without slowing down.
  • Spider-Sense: All Barbarians have Danger Sense which is an "uncanny" instinct-like reflex to danger, thus providing them with advantage on Dex saves as long as they are aren't unconscious, blinded or deafened.
  • 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 Toughness: 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.
  • Super Strength: Totem Warriors who choose "Bear" as their Aspect of the Beast, but only for lifting, carrying, moving or breaking objects, not combat.

Bard

An 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. Inspiring their friends while confusing and debilitating their foes, Bards are also masters of all manner of esoteric knowledge and forgotten lore.

At 3rd level, Bards can join a bardic college:

  1. The College of Lore, bards who focus on learning a bit of everything and whose loyalty lies in the pursuit of beauty and truth.
  2. 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.
  3. The College of Swords, a rework of the 'Blade' Bard class kit from 2nd Edition. Circus-like performers who blend dazzling tricks with cunning swordplay, and likely to have a double-life as a thief, assassin, etc.
  4. The College of Satire, a rework of the 'Jester' Bard class kit from 2nd Edition. The classic court jester, telling jokes to make others laugh while criticizing the powerful. They are very nimble, very lucky, and very likely to troll their enemies.
  5. The College of Glamour, bards who learned their craft from creatures of the Feywilds.
  6. The College of Whispers, spymasters who coerce secrets out of people to turn them against one another, often masquerading as being from other Colleges and giving Bards in general a bad name.

All the Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide introduced was 12 more musical instruments and some Forgotten Realms related roleplaying fluff. The Colleges of Swords and Satire were introduced in Unearthed Arcana: Kits of Old. The Colleges of Glamour and Whispers were introduced in Unearthed Arcana: Bard Colleges. The Colleges of Glamour, Swords, and Whispers were finalized in Xanathar's Guide to Everything.

  • The Bard: As the name would suggest, their class focuses on lore, songs, performance etc.
  • Charm Person: In addition to all Bards having access to the Trope Namer spell, Bards from the College of Glamour are the masters of this trope as they can weave seductive, enthralling fey magic into their performances and charm multiple creatures at once.
  • Honest Advisor: College of Satire bards can be "the conscience of the realm" because of their willingness to speak openly, honestly and comically about anyone, no matter how highly positioned.
  • I Know What You Fear: Bards from the College of Whispers have access to an ability called "Shadow Lore" effectively tricking a creature into thinking that the Bard knows its darkest secrets. The target will then follow the Whisper Bard's commands out of utter fear.
  • The Fair Folk: Glamour bards learned their craft from the Fae and their skills revolve around charms and illusions while temporarily becoming more like them. At 14th level, they permanently look "more lovely and fierce".
  • Jack-of-All-Stats: One of their class features, aptly named "Jack of All Trades", allows them to add half of their proficiency bonus into abilities that they aren't proficient in. This includes checks that normally can't get any proficiency bonus, such as initiative and the Telekinesis and Counterspell spells.
  • I Shall Taunt You: Invoked by the bard-exclusive cantrip Vicious Mockery and the class feature Cutting Words, both of which debuff the enemy by attacking them where it most counts: in their feelings.
  • I Work Alone:
    • Flavor text for Sword Bards states that they often work alone and are never fully trusted by their performing troupes, because of their class's tendency for a double life. This is reflected in how their Bardic Inspiration can be used to fuel their own techniques, Sword Flourishes, instead of supporting allies.
    • Averted for every other type of Bard — Bardic Inspiration can by default only be used on other party members, meaning without a team around them, the Bard simply can't use his signature ability.
  • The Jester: College of Satire bards are literally called "jesters" because they can mock the rich and powerful in their jokes, and said rich and powerful have to accept it or sully their reputations further by showing themselves as poor sports. When that isn't enough, jesters can use their Tumble skill to disengage and dash as bonus actions (and take less damage when falling).
  • Magic Knight: The Bard's spell list consists of mostly supportive spells, with some offensive spells thrown in. Valor and Sword Bards get medium armor and more weapons, granting them more durability and fighting ability.
  • Magic Music: Can use a musical instrument as a spellcasting focus, in lieu of material components.
  • Music for Courage: The Bard's "Bardic Inspiration" ability gives an ally a one-time bonus to any attack roll, skill check or saving throw they made. The bonus being equal to the roll of an Inspiration die (a d6 initially, a d12 by level 20) of which the Bard has a pool of.
    • Valor bards go beyond this. Their inspiration can be added to damage rolls or AC as well.
  • The Red Mage: The Magical Secrets feature lets Bards take magic from any spell list, giving them options for just about any situation. They're equally adept at both healing and damaging magic — though not as much as Clerics or Wizards are at either — and in the College of Valor especially, can hold their own in a melee — but not to the extent that Fighters or Barbarians can. This middle-of-the-road versatility lands them firmly in this trope.
  • Renaissance Man: Lore bards seek out knowledge everywhere in order to learn as much as they can. They find the wizard in the tower, the scholar in the literal college, other bards in taverns, knights in their fortresses, rangers in the wild etc. This leads to them possessing proficiency in many skills, even by bardic standards.
  • Troll: Basically the MO of the College of Satire is to make sure no one takes themselves too seriously by mocking them and making a clean getaway.
  • Support Party Member: Bardic Inspiration and other class abilities are meant to aid party members and their diverse skills enable them to slip into any role their party needs at the time. Notably, by default the Bard explicitly cannot use Bardic Inspiration on themselves — only certain Colleges allow it, otherwise the benefit must go to another allied character.
  • Weak, but Skilled: Bards are rather squishy in combat due to their D8 hit dice and few learn to use heavy armor but they have a vast repository of abilities and get expertise in four of them at max level. All bards can gain proficiency in any three skills at character creation with Lore Bards choosing another three.

Cleric

Clerics are the mortal champions of the gods and walking conduits to their miraculous powers, capable of healing their allies, provoking awe or dread, cleansing (or laying!) curses of plague, poison and corruption, and smiting the unworthy with holy fire or simply using heavy maces to crack their skulls.

At 1st level, a Cleric chooses a Domain of their patron deity.

  1. Knowledge Domain, deities of knowledge, learning and understanding.
  2. Life Domain, deities of vitality and healing.
  3. Light Domain, deities of radiance and flame.
  4. Nature Domain, deities of the forests and natural world.
  5. Tempest Domain, deities of storm and wind.
  6. Trickery Domain, deities of mischief and chaos.
  7. War Domain, deities of battle and strife.
  8. Death Domain, deities of undeath and evil.
  9. City Domain, deities of community and civilization.
  10. Arcana Domain, deities of magic and arcane lore.
  11. Forge Domain, deities of artisans and craftsmen.
  12. Grave Domain, deities of mortality and afterlife.
  13. Protection Domain, deities concerned with preservation and the defense of the weak.
  14. Order Domain, deities concerned with obedience of the law above all else.

Their chosen domain grants them a number of divine spells that are always prepared and don't count against their default prepared spells. 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. Unearthed Arcana: Cleric: Divine Domains added the Forge, Grave, and Protection domains, with Forge and Grave being finalized in Xanathar's Guide to Everything. Unearthed Arcana: Order Domain added the Order domain, which was finalized in the Guildmaster's Guide to Ravnica.

  • The Blacksmith: Forge clerics can use their Channel Divinity ability to spend an hour creating a nonmagical item that includes metal in some fashion, although it can't be worth more than 100 gold pieces.
  • 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.
  • Deus ex Machina: The Divine Intervention ability all Clerics get. If the Cleric is stuck in a bad spot, describe the assistance you seek from your god and roll a percentile die; if the result is lower than your level, your god will directly intercede. It is equivalent to a free (if quite unreliable) Wish spell that can only be used once a week. Bring a recently deceased character Back from the Dead, temporarily give lightning resistance and Haste to your allies in an arduous battle against a blue dragon, temporarily become the avatar of their god with huge stat bonuses, all this and more!
  • Everybody Hates Hades: Zigzagged. The Death domain is more symbolic of the fantasy style "Death God as Ender of Life" archetype; it thusly specializes in killing foes swiftly and grants access to necrotic energy-based offensive spells normally found on the wizard's spell list. For this reason, it's placed in the Dungeon Master's Guide as a "villainous" character option. The Grave domain, on the other hand, is derived from the more reality-based "Death God as Guardian of the Dead and Maintainer of the Cycle of Life" archetype, and thusly it specializes in fighting the undead.
  • Genius Bruiser: Clerics of the Knowledge domain can temporarily gain proficiency in any skill or tool through the divine knowledge of their gods. They are also Clerics, able to wield weapons and armour and throw down in combat quite effectively.
  • Holy Hand Grenade: The Light domain focuses on damaging holy spells.
  • Jack-of-All-Trades: A cleric does not have to be a heal bot in this edition. Each of the 14 domains gives a cleric a whole new skillset. A Life domain cleric can do the best healing and a War domain cleric can do especially well on the front lines. Nature domain does the best with animals and other aspects of nature.
  • Light Is Good: Archetypal clerics are good and particularly those of the Light and Life domains.
  • The Medic: They have access to the best healing spells in the game. Special mention goes to the Life Domain Clerics, who gain boosts to their healing spells and a feature that induces a Heroic Second Wind in an ally (or allies) at less than half health. Grave domain Clerics, in contrast, do better when healing allies that are at Death's door, can negate critical hits, and can eventually steal the remains of an enemy's life force to heal either themselves or an ally.
  • Necromancer: Subverted. In 2nd and 3rd edition, clerics made much better necromancers than wizards did, due to access to unique spells and having the inherent ability to try and force "wild" undead into compliance. By comparison, a wizard had the inferior "Command Undead" spell that was 6th level (of 9) and weaker. But, in 5th edition, the ability to command "wild" undead is inherent to wizards exclusively, and there are no undead-related spells exclusive to the cleric. The Death domain, which in 3e was synonymous with the necromancer-cleric (until the subsequent addition of the Undeath domain), is instead focused on slaying the living in 5e, whilst the Grave domain is specialized in battling the undead.
  • Playing with Fire: Light Domain gets fire spells as domain spells. They ultimately get the sun itself.
  • 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.

Druid

The reclusive priests of the Old Faith, druids gain their magical powers from nature itself rather than from a deity. Druids can summon forth the elements to bring low their foes, change into deadly animal forms, commune with the land to shape it in almost any way they desire, and aid their allies with bounties of food and drink as well as spells of recovery.

At 2nd level, Druids gain Wild Shape and can join a druidic circle. In the base game, there were only two, though Unearthed Arcana: Druid added an additional three:

  1. Circle of the Land, a druid with a connection to the land itself, gaining a slew of free spells based on the environment they were initiated on and other utilities such as a bonus cantrip, immunity to poison and disease, and spell slot recovery from a short rest.
  2. Circle of the Moon, a druid with a connection to the wilds and the moon, which grants more powerful possible Wild Shape forms, Wild Shape use as a bonus action, and the ability to heal in Wild Shape form by expending spell slots.
  3. Circle of Dreams, a druid with a connection to good fey creatures and some expanded healing powers, a short-distance teleport, and the ability to end spells which hamper you and your allies.
  4. Circle of the Shepherd, a druid with a connection to beasts and animals, granting animal spirit auras, the ability to speak to animals, and other summoning powers.
  5. Circle of Twilight, a druid dedicated to the cycle of life and death, granting several abilities that allow them to commune with the dead, fight against the undead, and save and restore life.
  6. Circle of Spores, a druid who sees beauty in decay and believes that Life and Death are part of a grand cycle. They even view the Undead as part of the cycle, so long as they don't try to disrupt said cycle.

All the Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide added for druids was roleplaying fluff. The Circles of Dreams, Shepherds and Twilight were added in Unearthed Arcana: Druid. The Circle of the Shepherd was updated in UA: Revised Class Options. The Circle of Spores was added in UA: Three Subclasses, and it was finalized in the Guildmaster's Guide to Ravnica. The Circles of Dreams and Shepherds were finalized in Xanathar's Guide to Everything. Xanathar's Guide also includes a Wild Shape list, listing off the animals that are seen in each of the world biomes and their Challenge Rating.

  • The Beastmaster: All druids get spells that can summon different kinds of animals. Circle of the Shepherd has abilities that make those summoned creatures stronger.
  • Cold Iron: Druids can't use armor or shields made from metal, only from natural sources. This can be open to abuse, however: scale mail made from horn or ivory, shields crafted from dragonscale or tortoise shell, breastplates made of ironwood or bronzewood, etc.
  • Difficult, but Awesome: Druids are some of the hardest classes for new players because the majority of their spells are meant specifically for battlefield control. They don't have nearly the same amount of overall damage dealing ability as Wizards, let alone specialized 'nukers' like Sorcerers and Warlocks, and their support and debuff abilities pale in comparison to Clerics and Bards. Battlefield control takes a lot of prediction on the part of the player to figure out how a monster moves and how it thinks, but once mastered, a Druid can completely shut down almost any encounter the party runs into, allowing the dedicated damage dealers to completely curbstomp the sequestered foes. This is helped by the sheer variety of control spells Druids have; they have an answer for any enemy, it's just on the player to figure out which spell works best for which monster.
  • 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.
  • Druid: reclusive priests of the Old Faith, magic from nature, yes they still fit.
  • The Fair Folk: Druids tend to have these as allies, manifesting either as themselves or in the forms of animals. Circle of Dream druids in particular specialize in it.
  • Gaia's Vengeance: Circle of the Land Druids gain a number of spells depending on the environment where they were initiated - grasslands, forest, mountains, deserts, the Underdark, etc.
  • The Grim Reaper: Circle of Twilight druids have this as sort of a motif, and get death-related abilities.
  • 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. They can still die of old age, but old age really isn't going to slow them down at all.
  • Language of Magic: Druids exclusively know Druidic and can leave messages written in it. Those who don't know the language can only see the message with a Wisdom check, and still need magic to decipher it. Any Druid who teaches a non-Druid the language risks losing all their powers.
  • The Medic: The best class at it aside from Clerics. Circle of Dream Druids more so than others
  • Nature Hero: The 5th edition PHB writes that the vast majority of druids live in isolated places of nature and protect it from abuse. One reason for adventuring is either to gain strength to do so or because their previous home was corrupted.
  • Poisonous Person: Circle of Spores is mostly this, along with a few necromancy Spells.
  • Speaks Fluent Animal: Communicating with wild beasts is possible thanks to certain spells, and a specialty of Circle of the Shepherd Druids. It's more useful than it sounds.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: Their Wild Shape ability. Circle of the Moon Druids specialize in this, gaining the ability to use more powerful forms earlier, and can also use Alter Self spell at will at the 14th level.

Fighter

From canny archers to stalwart soldiers, from noble knights to scarred pit-brawlers, Fighters can be found practically anywhere and are proficient with weapons and armor of all shapes and sizes. Training their bodies and senses to peak excellence, Fighters are always first to step into the fray and always last to leave it.

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:

  1. The Champion, who focus on training their raw physical power into honed deadly precision.
  2. The Battle Master, who treat combat as an academic field, gaining a number of combat maneuvers to use in battle.
  3. The Eldritch Knight, who combine martial prowess with learning abjuration and evocation magic.
  4. 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 is generically named the "Banneret" for settings other than the Forgotten Realms.
  5. The Cavalier, a rework of the 'Cavalier' Fighter class kit from 2nd Edition. Combatants that are at home in the saddle while on the battlefield.
  6. The Scout, a rework of the 'Scout' Fighter class kit from 2nd Edition. Ranger-like pathfinders, minus the ability to cast spells.
  7. The Monster Hunter, fighters dedicated to slaying monsters such as the undead, lycanthropes, and vampires.
  8. The Arcane Archer, fighters who enhance their archery with arcane magic.
  9. The Knight, a reworked version of the Cavalier mixed with the 4th Edition version of the Fighter, focused more on tanking and protection than actively attacking.
  10. The Samurai, fighters who draw on an implacable fighting spirit to overcome foes.
  11. The Sharpshooter, fighters who are masters of ranged combat.
  12. The Brute, fighters who bank on their own might and durability to make it through a battle.

Additional fighting styles have also been created for Fighters, Paladins, and Rangers: the Mariner from Unearthed Arcana: Waterborne Adventures, and the Close Quarters Shooter and the Tunnel Fighter from Unearthed Arcana: Light, Dark, Underdark. The Cavalier and Scout were introduced in Unearthed Arcana: Kits of Old, while the Monster Hunter was introduced in Unearthed Arcana: Gothic Characters. The Arcane Archer, Knight, Samurai, and Sharpshooter were introduced in Unearthed Arcana: Fighters. Cavalier was updated in UA: Revised Class Options. Brute was introduced in UA: Three Subclasses. The Arcane Archer, Cavalier, and Samurai were finalized in Xanathar's Guide to Everything.

  • Archer Archetype: Sharpshooters abilities are all about shooting arrows and they do a frightening amount of damage with them.
  • Badass Normal: The Champion, Battle Master, Sharpshooter, Scout, and Brute martial archetypes. No magic, no special powers, just raw physical and mental prowess, yet they can still kick ass with the best of them.
  • Boring, but Practical: The Champion is a throw back to the "vanilla/classic" fighter, a big block of stats and passive bonuses that focuses purely on the fighter's physical skills and their damage in combat, with no additional active abilities. As this includes an additional fighting style and eventually up to a 15% chance of scoring a critical hit with every attack roll, on a class that can eventually make 8 or more attack rolls on their turn with their extra attacks and Action Surge ability, the damage a Champion can do will very quickly add up. Oh, and Regenerating Health to boot if they fall below 50% HP at high levels. The Brute is another version of this, trading out the Champion's greater critical hit chance rate for regular and critical attacks causing more raw damage and the ability to add a d6 to their saving throws.
  • Charles Atlas Superpower: Champions focus on reaching the peak of physical performance, while Brutes focus on sheer ferocity and durability.
  • 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. The Purple Dragon Knight and the Samurai are both so cultured and adept at courtly proceedings that they gain their own unique extra skills at persuasion.
  • Difficult, but Awesome: The Battle Master archetype compared to the Champion's raw power. The Battle Master relies on a maximum of 4 to 6 combat superiority dice which are spent to perform special maneuvers of various effects. Many of the maneuvers are useful for locking down an enemy, improve your own chances at hitting or avoid being hit, maximizing your action economy, and helping allies move around the battle or get in their own attacks. But it also requires more tactical thinking than most of the archetypes, making it more difficult for starting players.
  • Empowered Badass Normal: They start out as pure physical attackers, but ones who become Eldritch Knights and Arcane Archers learn spellcasting.
  • Jack-of-All-Trades: Probably the biggest reason it comes so recommended for new players. A fighter can be specced to fight in any way, using any kind of weapon. They can be a Fragile Speedster, Stone Wall, or anything in-between. The Scout leans even further into this, with almost rogue levels of proficiencies and the ability to further empower them.
  • Heroic Second Wind: Literally it is called "Second Wind"; the fighter musters their resolve to power through injuries. It allows the player to roll a single hit die to restore HP.
  • Heroic Willpower: Their Indomitable feat allows them a second chance at a failed saving throw and since most fighters are not magical this is generally considered the willpower of a seasoned warrior.
  • Made of Iron: Champions and Brutes regain hit points equal to 5 plus their Constitution modifier if they fall below half health. The finalized Samurai gets temporary HP whenever they activate their Fighting Spirit ability and their Strength Before Death ability lets them have one last turn when they hit 0 HP.
  • Magic Knight: The Eldritch Knight martial archetype is a fighter who dabbles in arcane spellcasting although they're (mostly) restricted to evocation and abjuration spells.
  • Mage Marksman: Arcane Archers are trained to infuse their arrows with arcane magic.
  • Mounted Combat: An added benefit for the Cavalier class. While the original version in Unearthed Arcana was basically mount-focused Battle Master with fewer combat maneuvers, the Knight was more focused on tanking and defending, while the finalized version is a mixture of the two.
  • Regenerating Health: Again, Champions and Brutes via their Survivor trait.
  • Spam Attack: For most fighters this is their bread and butter, thanks to a combination of gaining the most extra attacks from leveling (aside from Monks using Ki for Flurry of strikes), and their Action Surge ability which grants another action. This is aided more by the fact that basic movement does not prevent anyone from using all of their weapon attacks in 5th edition.
  • Summon to Hand: Eldritch Knights can magically bond two weapons to themselves. They can throw it at the enemy and then call it right back. In the case that they are incapacitated and their weapon is taken from them, they can teleport it right to them.
  • Weapon of Choice: Well, fighting style of choice, which is where the Fighter chooses to specialize. There is Defensive, Archery, Two Weapon Fighting and more; all shows the potential for customization of the class. The Champion and Brute archetypes can learn a second one.

Monk

A 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 pseudo-magical effects, or hinder the ki flow of opponents.

3rd level Monks can commit themselves to one of many monastic traditions:

  1. The Way of the Open Hand, the ultimate masters of martial arts.
  2. The Way of Shadow, who value stealth and subterfuge and train as spies and assassins.
  3. The Way of the Four Elements, monks who train their ki to be able to harness the four elements as an extension of themselves.
  4. The Way of the Sun Soul, monks who can focus their ki into radiant energy.
  5. The Way of the Long Death, monks obsessed with the means and mechanics of dying.
  6. The Way of the Kensei, monks who train with a trio of weapons until they feel like an extension of their own body.
  7. The Way of Tranquility, monks who focus on peaceful mediation and see violence as a last resort.
  8. The Way of the Drunken Master, monks who move with jerky, unpredictable motions in an effort to frustrate their opponents' attacks.

Both the Way of the Long Death and the Way of the Sun Soul were introduced in the Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide. The Ways of the Kensei and Tranquility were introduced in Unearthed Arcana: Monk Traditions, and the Way of the Drunken Master was introduced in the "Trio of Subclasses" UA. The Way of the Drunken Master and Way of the Kensei were finalized in Xanathar's Guide to Everything, with the Way of the Sun Soul reappearing in it.

  • All Monks Know Kung-Fu: Even the first level monk is an expert at martial arts.
  • Bare-Fisted Monk: Due to their extensive martial arts training, Monks are the only class which automatically gets the ability to use a full d4 when making unarmed damage rolls.
  • Character Alignment: invoked Even though classes are no longer restricted to alignment, the Player's Handbook does say that Monks are usually lawful, due to their structured lifestyle and the discipline involved to harness ki.
  • Cultured Badass: The Way of the Kensei grants Monks proficiency with either calligrapher's supplies or painter's supplies.
  • Death of a Thousand Cuts: Among melee classes, their up to four attacks in a round are among the highest of any auto-combo. They're also one of the bigger Fragile Speedster classes.
  • Drunken Boxing: The Way of the Drunken Master is based on the real-life martial art, which imitates intoxication for unpredictability and fluid movements.
  • Elemental Powers: Four Elements Monks, who do channel supernatural fire, water, earth and air in a similar way to the Benders from Avatar: The Last Airbender.
  • Fragile Speedster: Monks have relatively low health, compared to other classes of equal level. They're also among the fastest classes, and can attack up to four times in a single turn.
  • Flash Step: Shadow Monks can across great distances silently and quickly, but are only restricted to moving between dark or dimly lit areas. They needs shadows to do it.
  • Healing Factor: Open Hand monks gain the ability to use their ki to heal themselves once a day.
  • Healing Hands: A class feature of Tranquility monks, which functions just like the paladin's version.
  • Heroes Prefer Swords: Short swords are one of the few Martial Weapons covered under Martial Arts. That said, the standard Monk alignment is Lawful Good.
  • 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.
  • Kame Hame Hadoken: The special "ki blast" techniques available to monks of the Way of the Sun Soul looks like something out of Dragonball.
  • Le Parkour: At a high enough level, they gain the ability to run up walls and diminish/negate falling damage.
  • Normally, I Would Be Dead Now: Way of the Long Death monks can just choose not to die when they hit 0 hit points. So long as they have ki points left, they can more or less just ignore guaranteed death blows.
  • Omniglot: Their Tongue of the Sun and Moon ability allows them to understand, and be understood by, any language.
  • 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: One of their abilities is to run up walls and it is shockingly viable in 5th Edition, thus allowing the Monk to move swiftly and unpredictably within enclosed spaces.
  • Weak, but Skilled: On one hand, they're one of the Fragile Speedster classes. On the other hand, they can stun enemies, punch mobs off ledges, and other means of enemy-messing, and party-assisting tomfoolery.
  • Weapon of Choice: The Kensei gets anywhere from 2 to 5 weapons, so long as they don't have the heavy or special properties, that count as "kensei weapons". As the Kensei Monk levels up, their ki aura makes their kensei weapons count as magic weapons for the purpose of bypassing resistance and immunity to nonmagical weapons and damage.
  • When All You Have Is a Hammer...: Open Palm specialists alone can stun enemies, knock them prone, push enemies two squares away, eliminate the enemy's ability to react, and so on. They do all of this by punching them.
  • Wuxia: The typical depiction, especially with the flavor of the monastic traditions. Although compared to earlier editions, the relatively balanced magic of fifth edition makes 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.
  • You Are Already Dead: Quivering Palm, a late-game Open Hand move, which can kill a foe weeks after the actual blow has been dealt.

Mystic

Mystics are the 5th edition answer to psionics. They use psionic energy to fuel a mental disciplines that grant them a number of supernatural powers, ranging from Telepathy to Teleportation and many more.

At 1st level, Mystics choose which Order they belong to, which determines their psychic specialty.

  1. Order of the Avatar, Mystics who focus on manipulating emotions.
  2. Order of the Awakened, Mystics who focus on unlocking their mind's full potential.
  3. Order of the Immortal, Mystics who focus on using their minds to perfect their bodies.
  4. Order of the Nomad, Mystics who focus on knowledge and travel.
  5. Order of the Soul Knife, martial Mystics who utilize psychic weapons.
  6. Order of the Wu Jen, Mystics who focus on manipulating the fundamentals of reality.

The full Mystic class was introduced in the article "Unearthed Arcana: The Mystic Class" after two previous drafts had been released and tested in earlier articles.

  • Mind Rape: Order of the Awakened Mystics can cause hallucinations, psychic illusions, and can forcibly extract information from your mind.
  • Sizeshifting: The Dimunition and Giant Growth disciplines.
  • Unskilled, but Strong: The Order of the Soul Knife don't get any extra disciplines, but can be capable martial fighters.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: Order of the Immortal Mystics can transform their bodies in a number of ways.

Paladin

Holy warriors bound to sacred oaths, Paladins swear to uphold justice and righteousness wherever they walk and to stand with the good things of the world against the encroaching darkness. Or at least most of them do. Paladins train for years to master their weapons and the combat arts to hunt and destroy the forces of evil where they lurk.

At 3rd level, paladins swear their final oath of their chosen path of upholding the cause of righteousness:

  1. The Oath of Devotion, paladins who aspire to the loftiest ideals of justice, virtue, and order.
  2. 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.
  3. The Oath of Vengeance, paladins who are willing to forego their own righteousness to punish wrongdoers by any means necessary.
  4. The Oathbreakers, decadent paladins who succumb to the darkness in their hearts and willingly break their oaths.
  5. The Oath of the Crown, paladins sworn to protect the ideals of civilization under the command of a nation or sovereign.
  6. The Oath of Conquest, paladins sworn to enforce order, no matter the cost.
  7. The Oath of Treachery, paladins who have either forsworn other oaths or only care for their own power and survival. A reworking of the classic Blackguard anti-paladin class.
  8. The Oath of Redemption, paladins who believe in using violence only as a last resort, and believe that no one is beyond redemption.

The Oathbreaker was introduced in the Dungeon Master's Guide. The Oath of the Crown was introduced in the Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide. The Oaths of Conquest and Treachery were introduced in Unearthed Arcana: Paladin Oaths, while the Oath of Redemption was introduced in UA: Trio of Subclasses. The Oath of Conquest was updated in UA: Revised Class Options. The Oaths of Conquest and Redemption were finalized in Xanathar's Guide to Everything.

  • 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. The Conquest paladin gets abilities that break a foe's will and inflict terror. Treachery paladins get their classic "blackguard" arsenal of illusions and misdirection.
  • Character Alignment: invoked Fifth 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; Vengeance is Lawful Neutral or True Neutral; Oathbreaker is Evil-aligned; Crown is Lawful Good or Lawful Neutral; Conquest is Lawful Neutral or Lawful Evil; Treachery is Chaotic Evil; Redemption is Good-aligned.
  • Combat Medic: While not as robust as Clerics, Paladins have their Lay on Hands ability and access to healing magic.
  • 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 life's "light".
  • Good Is Not Dumb: All of the Oaths which lean towards the side of good have parts of their tenets written in a way to encourage this trope and to avoid the pitfalls of taking their code of conduct to a negative extreme. Most can be summed up as "while you are encouraged to grant mercy, or mete out justice where appropriate, temper your judgement of when to provide either with wisdom and that The Needs of the Many is often the path to the Greater Good".
    • One of Oath of Redemption's four tenets is to have the wisdom to acknowledge that there eventually comes a point where someone can't or won't seek forgiveness for their evil actions, and to make the careful and grim final judgement that there is no hope of redeeming the subject in question. At which point, they will follow through with ending that villain's existence for the safety of the world.
  • Healing Hands: Their Lay on Hands ability.
  • The Power of Love: An Oath of Redemption Paladin uses the Agape version of this to turn themselves into a Stone Wall that acts as an Attack Reflector upon the aggressor in their presence, or take the damage from an attack that hits someone near them in their place. They eventually gain resistance to all damage, Regenerating Health, and when combined with the standard array of Paladin abilities can be nearly impossible to take down while acting as a Gradual Grinder towards anyone that refuses to yield to peace.
  • Heel–Face Turn: The end goal for paladins following the Oath of Redemption is to cause this in their foes.
  • Heel–Face Revolving Door: It is possible for the good-aligned paladin to become an Oathbreaker, gain redemption (with the DM's discretion) and become an Oathbreaker again. Thankfully, the DMG prohibits the second redemption, to prevent this trope from reaching ridiculous heights.
  • Heroic Second Wind: The 15th level ability for the Oath of Redemption is an automatic, once-per-round heal that triggers when the Paladin is below half health.
  • 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. Jeremy Crawford ruled that for Ancients Paladin, immunity to drawbacks of old age here also means that they can't die due to old age, unlike the Monk's version of the ability.
  • Knight in Shining Armor: Paladins who make the Oath of Devotion are the stereotypical For Great Justice type who enforce chivalrious ideas of honor and justice with the point of a sword and a righteous soul. The Oath of the Crown or Oath of the Ancients can also fit this, although a bit less explicitly (Crown is about the "ideals of civilization" and Ancients is more supportive of happiness and beauty then honor and justice). The rest mostly avert this.
  • Knight In Sour Armor: A paladin who makes the Oath of Vengeance will often be this because they disdain fair play and may be cynical about justice but are still trying to protect the innocent and smite evil.
  • Magic Knight: Quite literally; the 5e paladin is a Knight in Shining Armor who possesses (divine) magical spells as a secondary ability. The "Sword Coast Adventure Guide" sourcebook even notes that reflavoring Oath of the Crown Paladins as drawing their magic from arcane sources instead of divine ones could be used to easily portray them as elite wizard-knights.
  • Martial Pacifist: Oath of Redemption paladins have powers geared towards ending and preventing violence.
  • Mighty Glacier: They tend to play this way most of the time. They wear heavy armor and can dish out fairly impressive damage, but they don't get a speed boost and prefer to stay near the rest of the party where their protective auras can be of most benefit. Vengeance Paladins are the exception to this, being a more offensively oriented Lightning Bruiser.
  • My Country, Right or Wrong: The Oath of the Crown is beholden to their sovereign and/or ruling city, though they are held to account if they cross the line.
  • Nature Hero: Oath of the Ancients paladins gain several Druid spells, and most of their powers have a nature theme. They use these powers to protect and nurture "the light", which here means the life and beauty of nature.
  • Taking the Bullet: Crown and Redemption paladins can absorb damage that would hit their allies at level 7.
  • Terror Hero: Oath of Conquest paladins gain a lot of abilities that revolve around causing fear.

Ranger

Rangers stalk the wilderness hunting the deadly creatures which lurk on the edges of civilization. Emphasizing quickness and stealth, Rangers can become knowledgeable at stalking and slaying specific foes from rampaging orcs to vicious dragons, communing with the beasts of the wild, and using some nature magic.

3rd level rangers can chose a Ranger archetypes:

  1. 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.
  2. Beast Masters, rangers who embody a friendship between the civilized races and the beasts of the world.
  3. Gloom Stalkers, rangers who solely fight the horrors of the Underdark.
  4. Horizon Walkers, rangers who defend the Material Plane from extraplanar entities.
  5. Primeval Guardians, rangers who protect the oldest of druidic conclaves and forests, who can transform themselves into tree-like people.
  6. Monster Slayers, rangers who specialize in eliminating powerful magical threats such as vampires and dragons.

The Deep Stalker archetype was introduced in Unearthed Arcana: Light, Dark, Underdark. All the Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide added roleplaying fluff for rangers of different races. The Horizon Walker and Primeval Guardian were introduced in Unearthed Arcana: Rangers & Rogues, and the Monster Slayer was part of UA: Trio of Subclasses. The Deep Stalker (renamed Gloom Stalker), Horizon Walker, and Monster Slayer were finalized in Xanathar's Guide to Everything.

Due to how divisive the vanilla Rules-as-Written Ranger was, WotC has been working on variants. Unearthed Arcana: Modifying Classes has an entry for making a more martial focused Ranger that doesn't have the ability to cast spells, while Unearthed Arcana: Ranger presents a revised version of the class based more on the classic "skirmisher-wanderer-guardian" concept. Yet another variant was revealed in Unearthed Arcana: The Ranger Revised, relabeling the archetypes as Ranger Conclaves and reworking the archetypes a bit; this was the only Unearthed Arcana article that was allowed for Adventurer's League play.

  • Archer Archetype: The iconic image. Rangers are described as rugged wilderness men and women who are independent to a fault and lack confidence in city dwellers. They place their faith in their keen aim and calm minds. Of course, rangers don't necessarily have to be played that way. You don't even need to use a bow.
  • The Beastmaster: One of the two default archetypes is one with the animal companion and it is 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 note  , 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 reworked the archetype. As of November 2018, the errata has added new text to give your animal companion to be a bit more independent and viable at higher level play.
  • Bow and Sword, in Accord: Part of their standard "quick setup" is a longbow and either 2 short swords or 2 simple weapons.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: A ranger has to choose early on what sort of terrain they are capable in (Forests, mountains, et cetera) and what sort of creatures they are familiar with, neither of which can be changed and new ones learned only at a fairly-slow rate. Which means if the ranger equipped for travel in the forest ends up in a campaign primarily in swamps or plains, they don't do anything another class with their relevant skills couldn't do. Unlike the paladin, fighter, or rogue, all of which gain useful combat powers out of the box, a first level ranger gains no combat benefits of any kind. The Revised Ranger fixes this by making all wilderness terrains the expertise of the Ranger, and making the categories of creatures that the Ranger is good at fighting much more encompassing (ie, "humanoids" rather then picking specific types of humanoid like orc or gnoll), as well as making sure that the options on the first tier of Favored Enemy were common enemies for lower levels, while the options on the second tier were more "epic" monsters like giants and dragons that are much more commonly faced on the higher levels. It also adds a damage and defensive benefit against Favored Enemies, meaning that a first-level ranger now has some kind of combat niche.
  • Dual Wielding: One of their fighting styles is two-weapon fighting.
  • Hunter of Monsters: 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. Some of the archetypes have their own general focus on what they fight against.
  • Lightning Bruiser:
    • The Hunter archetype had already fared much better than the Beastmaster due to its focus on increased damage output. The revisions in Unearthed Arcana give it increased mobility and advantage on initiative rolls. It also gains many useful defensive tricks on top of the class's native high hitpoints and good armor, with Multiattack Defense in particular being a fantastic counter to many monsters with high attack volume.
    • The Horizon Walker learns Haste (increasing armor class and speed, as well as an extra attack), gaining a once-per-turn damage boost not unlike the paladin's divine smite, and being nearly impossible to pin down due to its signature Teleport Spam. At higher levels, they can resist large amounts of damage with an Uncanny Dodge like class feature that lets them halve damage against any one attack once per round.
  • Mage Killer: The Monster Slayer gets a lot of ways to counter enemy magic, being designed to take on supernatural prey.
  • Magic Knight: Good with weapons and spells alike. In fact, the purpose of their signature spell, Hunter's Mark, is to make their weapon attacks do more damage.
  • Mighty Glacier: The Primeval Guardian's Guardian Form makes the ranger bigger, increases hit points and damage, emits an area-of-effect aura that heals allies and slows down enemies, and can only move 5 feet per turn.
  • 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: Two of the spells they have are 'animal friendship', which lets them convince a creature they mean no harm, and 'speak with animals', which lets them gather information from the local wildlife.
  • Stealth Expert: The class in general is pretty good at this. The Gloom Stalker in particular specializes in ambush tactics.
  • Teleport Spam: Horizon Walkers not only get access to teleport spells like misty step, but also have the ability to temporarily enter the ethereal plane for the duration of their turn and eventually to teleport up to ten feet before every attack they make.

Rogue

Rogues come from all walks of life: thieves, assassins, charlatans, vagabonds, spies and exterminators. Hence they can perfect an unmatchable assortment of skills, from lockpicking to acrobatics. Rogues prefer cunning and surprise to physical or magical might, striking unseen to knock the enemy out of the fight with a single strike to the vitals.

At 3rd level, Rogues can choose to focus their skills towards different archetypes:

  1. Thieves, who hone their larcenous arts.
  2. Assassins, who focus on the art of death.
  3. Arcane Tricksters, who enhance their skills and agility with magic enchantments and illusions.
  4. Swashbucklers, a former separate class; think of the old Errol Flynn type rogues.
  5. Masterminds, a sort of spymaster and master manipulator.
  6. Inquisitive, a mix between Van Helsing and Sherlock Holmes that focuses on empowered Sneak Attacks and seeing through deception.
  7. Scouts, rogues more skilled at surviving in the wilderness than their contemporaries.

The Mastermind was introduced in the Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide alongside the finalized Swashbuckler, which was initially introduced in the Unearthed Arcana: Waterborne Adventures article. The Inquisitive was introduced in Unearthed Arcana: Gothic Heroes. The Scout was introduced in Unearthed Arcana: Rangers & Rogues. The Scout and Inquisitive appear finalized in Xanathar's Guide to Everything, alongside reappearances of the Swashbuckler and Mastermind.

  • 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: Stab an unwitting opponent in the back! Skewer an opponent with a critical hit before they can even take their turn! Confuse your enemies with illusions and invisibility! Coat your blades in poison making even a tiny scratch deadly! Use wands and other magical devices that were never intended for you to blow enemies away! Rogues provide loads of tricks for getting the edge over an opponent who would otherwise kick your ass in a fair fight. Hey, they're suckers for wanting one anyway.
  • Confusion Fu: Cunning Action, Fast Hands, and Use Magic Item can all make the Thief archetype a highly unpredictable fighter, depending on what's in their inventory.
  • Five-Finger Discount: While not exclusively a Rogue skill, Sleight Of Hand is one of their class skills and can be used for pickpocketing or planting objects on someone, which can made easier to accomplish thanks to Rogue's Expertise and Reliable Talent traits. The Arcane Trickster archetype lets a Rogue perform this from a short distance away thanks their legerdemain ability with the Mage Hand cantrip.
  • Glass Cannon: All of them, but the Swashbuckler is a notable example since it's the only archetype meant to fight enemies head-on.
  • Great Detective: The Inquisitive is basically a detective adventurer.
  • Lovable Rogue: One of the suggested quick builds in the Player's Handbook is to pick Charisma as a tertiary attribute and several of the social skills, such as Persuasion, Deception, and Insight.
  • 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: All rogues get proficiency with thief's tools at first level.
  • Nature Hero: The Scout archetype has shades of this, either getting proficiency in the Nature and Survival skills and having their proficiency bonuses for those skills doubled.
  • 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 put it into their own. They then have an 8 hour window of time to cast said spell before it leaves their own memory, though.
  • Professional Killer: The Assassin archetype, previously a prestige class, is a rogue who specializes in reaching a target and doing as much damage as they can with their first surprise strike.
  • Psychic Block Defense: 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.
  • Sherlock Scan: The Inquisitive Rogue in a nutshell, which grants them bonuses both in and out of combat.
  • The Spymaster: The Mastermind archetype is a rogue focused for spy work.
  • Thieves' Cant: All Rogues are familiar with a language of criminal jargon which can be mixed into normal conversation, or scrawled codes and symbols which indicate things like territory which is dangerous or claimed by another thief, or the location of loot, easy marks and safehouses. Rogues can use the cant to identify other Rogues and organize criminal activity in an area with a strong authoritarian presence which would otherwise swiftly swoop down on lawbreakers.
  • Weak, but Skilled: Rogues start with proficiency in four skills from their skill list, an additional two from their background, and possibly up to two more from their race for a potential of eight skills they're proficient in at first level when most other classes might have four to six. Plus they also start off with thieve's tools proficiency and at first gain Expertise (Double Proficiency bonus)in two of those skills or one skill and thieve's tool, and another two choices at sixth level. Rogues also eventually get the Reliable Talent trait, which causes any dice roll for an ability check they're proficient in to count as a ten plus bonuses, if they roll nine or less on the dice. In combat, they can deal high damage from a single attack thanks to their Sneak Attack damage, routinely can take various movement and stealth related actions as bonus actions instead, and gain several defensive abilities which lets them dodge attacks and spells, reduce damage taken, and eventually add a third saving throw proficiency. The catch however is that they're limited to light armor, use the second smallest Hit Dice for determining Hit Points, and only make a single attack each turn without Dual Wielding, feats, an archetype ability, or multi-classing.

Sorcerer

A spellcaster who draws on inherent magic from exposure to raw magic, a family curse, an inhuman or supernatural bloodline, or some other fluke of birth. A Sorcerer's magic is very powerful, but also very unpredictable, being 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.

At 1st level, Sorcerers choose the origins of their magical powers:

  1. Draconic Bloodline, Sorcerers who draw on their draconic heritage.
  2. Wild Magic, Sorcerers who channel uncontrollable, chaotic magic.
  3. Storm Sorcery, Sorcerers whose magic comes from the power of elemental air.
  4. Divine Soul, Sorcerers blessed by a divine being.
  5. Phoenix Sorcery, Sorcerers who carry the spark of the legendary phoenix.
  6. Sea Sorcery, Sorcerers whose souls are touched by the power of elemental water.
  7. Stone Sorcery, Sorcerers linked with the power of elemental earth.
  8. Shadow Sorcery, Sorcerers whose magic stems from the Shadowfell.
  9. Giant Soul, Sorcerers whose ancestors were blessed by the Giants.

The Storm Sorcerous Origin was introduced in Unearthed Arcana: Waterborne Adventures, with the finalized version appearing in the Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide. The Shadow Origin was introduced in Unearthed Arcana: Light, Dark, Underdark!. The Favored Soul class was reintroduced as a Sorcerous Origin in Unearthed Arcana: Modifying Classes, with a reworked version appearing in Unearthed Arcana: Sorcerer alongside the Phoenix, Sea, and Stone origins. The Favored Soul class was ultimately reworked again in Unearthed Arcana: Revised Subclasses. The Favored Soul (renamed Divine Soul) and Shadow Magic origins were finalized in Xanathar's Guide to Everything, alongside a reappearance of the Storm Sorcery origin. The Giant Soul origin was introduced in Unearthed Arcana: Giant Soul Sorcerer.

  • Born Lucky: 6th level Wild Sorcerers can spend 2 sorcery points to twist fate to their favor.
  • The Chosen One: The Favored/Divine Soul origin, which was previously it's own separate class, is now a sorcerer who is favored by a deity for some reason.
  • Combat Medic: The Divine Soul origin grants a Sorcerer access to Cleric spells.
  • 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-effects. 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.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Shadow Sorcerers, who get their power from the inherently life-corrupting, perpetually dark Shadowfell plane and gain darkness-related abilities, can still be as good as any other Sorcerer archetype. Even if the resulting personality quirks makes them Creepy Good.
  • Doesn't Like Guns: Along with the Druid, Sorcerer was the only class to not get firearms as a class or subclass feature in the Unearthed Arcana: My New d20 Modern Campaign article.
  • Glass Cannon:
    • Even moreso than wizards: sorcerers get far fewer spells, but thanks to their Sorcery Points, they're capable of empowering their spells to incredibly destructive extents. That said, they still can't wear any real armor (resulting in low AC) and have low HP, so they're still pretty fragile.
    • Phoenix Origin Sorcerers, unlike most of the other specializations, lacks the added defensive options or additional proficiencies that several other Sorcerer classes gain. However, their Mantle of Flame ability makes them incredibly strong, as it allows them to add their spellcasting modifier to any fire based spell used, and their do gain the ability at high levels to regain health when they damage an enemy with their fire spells.
  • Heroic Second Wind: High-level Divine Soul Sorcerers gain a once-a-day feature that restores half their HP if they drop bellow half HP, potentially saving the Sorcerer from death.
  • In the Blood: Sorcerers who draw their power from a Draconic Bloodline. Also possible sources for the Divine Soul, Storm, and Shadow origins.
  • Magic Knight: Stone Sorcerers get proficiency with weapons and shields, along with a boost to AC and some defensive abilities. They're still pretty squishy, though.
  • Shock and Awe: The Storm origin. Although their weather control makes them popular with seafarers, for better or for worse.
  • Squishy Wizard: Although far less squishy this time around. Their hit die is a d6 rather than a d4. Sorcerers with a Draconic Bloodline are even more durable, starting with 1 more hit point at 1st level and gaining 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.
  • Unskilled, but Strong: Most sorcerers lack the same magical training that wizards do since most of them instead are gifted with magical talent from when they were born. They know a limited number of spells, whereas a wizard can prepare any spell they are able to add to their spellbook. What the sorcerer lacks in flexibility, they make up for in sheer strength, since they can use a special pool of points to overcharge their spells, adding bonuses to damage, duration, making it more difficult for the target to resists the effects, etc.
  • 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.

Warlock

A 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, and they grow in power in exchange for fulfilling favors for this entity. Warlocks retain some proficiency with simple weapons and light armor.

At 1st level, Warlocks choose their Otherworldly Patron:

  1. The Archfey, an inscrutable and sometimes whimsical lord or lady of the fey.
  2. The Fiend, a demon lord or an archdevil.
  3. The Great Old One, a Lovecraftian horror.
  4. Ghost in the Machine, a futuristic and fully digital being.
  5. Undying Light, warlocks that somehow found a way to draw power from the Plane of Positive Energy. Later replaced with the Celestial, powerful beings of the Upper Planes.
  6. The Undying, a lich, vampire, mortal-ascended-to-godhood or any other kind of immortal being that death has no sway over.
  7. The Seeker, warlocks who have made a pact with a Knowledge domain deity.
  8. The Hexblade, warlocks who have made a pact with an artifact-rank sentient magic weapon. Later modified so that they instead draw power from the force that powers weapons such as the Blackrazor.
  9. The Raven Queen, a mysterious being from the Shadowfell who despises death-cheaters.

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.

Unearthed Arcana: Modern Magic article introduces the "Ghost in the Machine" as an otherworldly patron. Unearthed Arcana: Light, Dark, Underdark! article added the Undying Light "patron". The Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide added the Undying patron. Unearthed Arcana: The Faithful article introduced the Seeker Patron, and the Seeker-specific Pact of the Star Chain, which grants the Warlock a number of knowledge-based advantages. Unearthed Arcana: Warlock & Wizard article introduced more Eldritch Invocations and two new Patrons: the Hexblade, and the Raven Queen. Unearthed Arcana: Revised Class Options revises the Undying Light into the Celestial patron. The Celestial and Hexblade pacts were finalized in Xanathar's Guide to Everything.

  • Bargain with Heaven: If the pact is with a Celestial then the warlock finds themselves doing good on behalf of an angel or unicorn. The flavor text also speaks of a longing for their patron's home plane that some of these warlocks feel.
  • Beam Spam: Their Eldritch Blast cantrip can be upgraded to shoot multiple beams.
  • Born Lucky: Warlocks who make a pact with a Fiend can ask them to alter fate to the warlock's favor.
  • Combat Medic: Warlocks who make a pact with a Celestial gets limited access to healing magic.
  • 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.
  • 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 original iteration of the Undying Light warlock averted 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. The reworked version, the Celestial pact, fully inverts this into a Bargain with Heaven due to making a Pact with the (good) beings of the Upper Planes.
    • The Seeker pact may or may not be one, based on the alignment of the deity in question, but the pact itself was inspired by Celestian, the Neutral aligned Greyhawk god of stars, space, and wanderers.
    • Very ambiguous with the Hexblade. The final version is effectively a Shadowfell pact: Hexblade Pact Warlocks draw power from the source that powers sentient magical weapons such as the Blackrazor. No one knows what this is. It could be non-sentient. Since the first of these weapons was created by her, it could be the Raven Queen herself.
  • 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.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: More than most classes, Warlocks don't have a ton going for them at lower levels, with a small amount of spells for a spellcasting class and weird restrictions on how they can use their magic. However, as they start accruing invocations and gaining more pact features a suitably specced Warlock can be a fearsome force on the battlefield and off, and they're the only class that regains spells on a short rest.
  • Haunted Technology: The 'Ghost In The Machine' patron is literally based on the idea that the warlock is taught their magic by a sapient AI or a magical entity that is possessing technology.
  • 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.
  • Implacable Man: One of their invocations, Relentless Hex, allows the Warlock to teleport up to 30 feet towards an enemy that they have cast Hex on or cursed with features such as the Hexblade's Curse or the Sign of Ill Omen, getting in closer for a melee attack.
  • Ironic Name: the literal etymology of the word "warlock" translates to "oathbreaker." In Dn D, maintaining one's pact is crucial to the class' power.
  • Lovecraftian Superpower: Warlocks who make a pact with a Great Old One can use their mind to Mind Rape creatures. Even the spell list gets in on it, giving the Warlock access to spells that can alter or read minds and 'Evard's black tentacles'.
  • Magikarp Power: Eldritch Blast is a definite case since at the start it is essentially just a slightly stronger Magic Missile dart that you actually have to aim to cast. Take invocations such as Eldritch Spear or Agonizing Blast, and level up accordingly, and Eldritch Blast can have as much utility and damaging potential as Scorching Ray, and can be cast at will to boot.
  • Morph Weapon: Warlocks who take the Pact of the Blade as their Pact Boon 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. The only other drawback is that the pact-weapon is restricted to being just melee weapons. However, the Improved Pact Weapon invocation can remove that drawback entirely.
  • Nonindicative Name: In the final version, Hexblade Pact Warlocks don't necessarily have to be Magic Knights; they could use the dark energy of the Shadowfell to power their magic without touching a weapon. They do get a couple of abilities that would be useful for a gish, and bonus armor and weapon proficiencies.
  • Signature Move: You will almost never see a warlock without Eldritch Blast and the Agonizing Blast invocation, which lets them reach a damage output close or even superior to that of a dedicated fighter without even having to use any limited-use spells, to the point that detractors of the class often mockingly say that eldritch blasting is all a warlock is really good for. Hex is also a popular choice, it's available quite early, can last a long time, and has a great synergy with Eldritch Blast by adding an additional 1d6 damage every time one of the beams connects, which can be up to 4 times at higher levels.
  • 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.
  • Weapon Wields You: Xantar's Guide to Everything states that some patrons see their warlocks as slaves or tools that expect immediate action against their enemies. Thus, it's possible that a Hexblade patron sees its pact-makers as mobile platforms for itself.
  • When All You Have Is a Hammer...: A crafty Warlock can do a surprising amount with just Eldritch Blast, to the point that there's Eldritch Invocations dedicated to buffing it.

Wizard

Scholarly and intelligent, Wizards spend years pouring over entire libraries of magical tomes and arcane lore to gather their spells. Wizards can use almost reality-warping power to see into the future, teleport, turn the slain into zombies, summon creatures from other planes of existence, control the minds of the living, and throw explosive fire, shards of ice and bolts of lightning.

At 2nd level, Wizards may choose one of the following arcane traditions

  1. School of Abjuration, magic that blocks, banishes or protects.
  2. School of Conjuration, magic that produces objects and creatures out of thin air.
  3. School of Divination, magic that grants the wizard a clearer understanding of the past, present and future.
  4. School of Enchantment, magic that entrances and beguiles others.
  5. School of Evocation, magic that creates powerful elemental effects, such as fireballs and great storms.
  6. School of Illusion, magic that dazzles the senses and befuddles the mind.
  7. School of Necromancy, magic that gives one control over the forces of life and death.
  8. School of Transmutation, magic that can modify energy and matter.
  9. Bladesinging, a magic tradition that can be channeled into devastating melee attacks and cunning defense. Introduced in the Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide and is restricted to elves and half-elves in the Forgotten Realms setting.
  10. Technomancy, magic that interacts with modern technology.
  11. Theurgist, a tradition that melds the scholarly pursuits of wizardry and religion.
  12. Lore Master, a tradition that focuses on the academic side of wizardry.
  13. War Mage, a tradition combining principles of evocation and abjuration, focusing on both defense and offense in combat.
  14. School of Invention, wizards that seek to push arcane magic to it's limits and are regarded as savants or lunatics.

Unearthed Arcana: Eberron reintroduced the Artificer class as an arcane tradition, although it was later made a separate class in Unearthed Arcana: Artificer. Another arcane tradition, Technomancy, was discussed fairly early on and finally revealed in the Modern Magic article. Unearthed Arcana: The Faithful introduced the Theurgist tradition, which grants the Wizard limited access to Cleric spells. Unearthed Arcana: Warlock & Wizard article introduced the Lore Master, the closest thing that 5th Edition gets to a "generalist" wizard combined with a low-key version of metamagic. Unearthed Arcana: Wizard Revisited introduced the War Mage tradition, while repeating the Theurgist tradition with some slightly different wording. The War Mage tradition was finalized in Xanathar's Guide to Everything. The School of Invention was introduced in UA: Three Subclasses, and seems to be a reworking of the Lore Master archetype.

  • Badass Bookworm: Unlike other classes, who gain magic through more powerful entities or are naturally magical through their ancestry, Wizards gain access to magic through research and learning.
  • Black Mage: Wizards have a very wide repertoire of spells but they can almost never cast healing magic.
  • 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 for Fifth Edition. Based solely on leveling, pure 20th level 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 spellcaster classes.
    • The UA: Eberron version of 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.
    • The Lore Master archetype gets in on it, although it's more the fact that the archetype is mostly about changing spell formulae on the fly. Their Spell Secret ability lets them change the elemental damage type of whatever non-cantrip spell they cast at will and change the saving throw of a single spell once per encounter. Alchemical Casting lets them alter their 1st, 2nd, and 3rd level spells at the expense of requiring a second spell slot to do so (1st level spells do more damage, 2nd level spells get more range, 3rd level spells get a higher threshold for saving throws). Prodigious Memory lets them switch out a memorized spell for another prepared spell once per encounter. And Master of Magic lets them cast one spell from any spell list, so long as it's of a spell level they have access to.
    • Played with for the Invention School: their Reckless Casting feature lets them cast spells they don't have prepared, although there's the chance that they can just waste their action. A straighter example is their Prodigious Inspiration feature, which lets them use a bonus action to switch a prepared spell out once per short or long rest. They also have the Lore Master's Alchemical Casting feature, but it's been changed a quite bit: they can only use the feature if they're wearing their arcanomechanical armor and they can either change the damage type (expend an additional 1st level spell slot) or increase the damage against one target (expend an additional 2nd level spell slot).
  • 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.
  • Fragile Speedster: Bladesingers when the bladesong is active. The bladesong gives them a speed boost, proficiency in acrobatics, the ability to add their Intelligence modifier to their weapon attacks and AC (which, when combined with the Shield and Mage Armor spells, can make the bladesinger ridiculously hard to hit), and the ability to reduce the damage they take when they do get hit. They also get an extra weapon attack at Level 6. But they are still wizards. They still have the lowest hit dice in the game, they can't wear medium or heavy armor, and they generally don't have a lot of muscle.
  • Magic Knight: The Bladesinger tradition, which grants proficiency in both light armor and a single type of one-handed melee weapon. It's not quite as good at it as its 4th edition counterpart, the Swordmage, because it's still a Squishy Wizard and it lacks the abundance of close-to-mid-ranged spells that swordmages had.
  • Magic Music: Bladesingers get the bladesong, as well as proficiency in the performance skill.
  • Master of Illusion: The School of Illusion.
  • Necromancer: 5th edition is the first edition where wizardly necromancers really shone. They gained the innate ability to command "wild" undead, a feature normally exclusive to clerics, and their Animate Dead spell is more potent than normal.
  • 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).
  • Reality Warper: When Wizards really high level they start getting really powerful.
    • A conjuration specialist could twist their surroundings however they want.
    • A minor version of this is the School of Divination's Level 2 Ability, Portent: after a long rest, the player throws two d20s and write down the numbers. At any point, they can spend one of those numbers and replace any attack, saving or skill roll with that number.
  • Seers: The School of Divination.
  • The Smart Guy: The only base class in the game that has intelligence as their primary stat before the Artificer came along.
  • Spell Book: Now only required to memorize 1st to 9th level spells. Level 0 spells, or cantrips, have been changed so that they're at-will and can be cast an unlimited number of times. Every day the wizard has to review this book to prepare their spells. If they lose it then they have to start over with a new one.
  • Squishy Wizard: Although not quite as squishy as before, wizards are still the squishiest class in the game. While they use a d6 to roll their health instead of a d4, the d6 is the lowest possible hit die and they are unique in that their class gets zero defensive abilities and features as they 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 School of Abjuration offsets this issue, with their Arcane Ward and Spell Resistance features. The Arcane Ward creates a Deflector Shield around the Wizard when they cast an Abjuration spell, effectively functioning as an ablative layer of hit points which regenerates some Hit Points afterwards whenever the Wizard casts another Abjuration spell. Spell Resistance gives the Wizard additional defense against all spells and spell damage.
    • The Bladesinger tradition makes them slightly less squishy due to gaining proficiency in light armor and the bonuses gained while their Bladesong is active.
    • While the War Mage tradition doesn't give them any armor proficiency, their 'arcane deflection' feature lets them use their reaction to give themself either a +2 bonus to their Armor Class when they're attacked or a +4 bonus to their Saving Throw if they failed one, at the expense of being unable to cast anything more powerful than a cantrip until their next turn. Their 'durable magic' feature gives them a +2 to their AC and all saving throws while sustaining a concentration spell.
    • The School of Invention gets proficiency in light armor and can create a magic item that only they can attune to - arcanomechanical armor (a suit of specially enchanted studded leather armor).
  • Super Mode: The Bladesinger's Bladesong, described as a secret elven magic which graces the user with supernatural speed, agility, and focus. In game terms, it boosts their AC, walking speed, ease of maintaining concentration for spells, and advantage to acrobatics for one minute per use. At higher levels, Bladesong also grants additional damage to melee weapon attacks, and allow the Bladesinger to sacrifice spell slots to reduce damage from an oncoming attack. The catch being they can only activate this twice before needing to rest to use it again and that these are the bulk of the Bladesinger's additional abilities.
  • Teleport Spam: Completely possible with Conjurer Wizards if given the right spells, such as using Far Step to constantly proc Benign Transposition.


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