One of the biggest draws of playing Dungeons & Dragons is that, in theory, you can do anything. And being absolutely true, one of the options the Player’s Handbook offers players is the ability to use characters with more than one class, known as multiclassing. Mulitclassing opens up a lot of options for players, but also has some major drawbacks, as well as some challenges that DMs may need to overcome.
But before we even get to throwing in a level into a different character class, here are three questions you should ask before you go down this path.
Why am I multiclassing?
I’m not going to tell you what the right reasons for multiclassing a character are, because there are a lot of right answers. You may have a concept for a character that is impossible to execute without a multiclass (Batman in D&D is quite obviously a fighter/rogue multiclass character, and you can’t build him any other way). You may have a narrative reason that is compelling for a second class – a paladin who breaks from his god, becomes an oathbreaker and further chooses to level as a fighter would be a great example.
Multiclassing to make a character fill a concept is what will make that character compelling to play, both in and out of combat, no matter what the combination. The stronger your narrative and character concept, the more compelling the character will be to play.
The wrong answer, however, is to optimize for combat. If you’re multiclassing explicitly to kill things better, it is not the greatest idea.
First, a good DM will know how to deal with you, and take some of the teeth out of your character.
Second, while multiclassed character in lower levels feel pretty amazing, at higher levels the lack of specialization can really weigh a character down. A multi-classed barbarian/fighter at level 15 won’t feel quite as potent as either a fighter or barbarian at that level, and you’ll still be facing off against foes with higher challenge ratings, and the slide in performance is likely to get worse the more you progress. That gap is even more profound with spellcasting classes, as access to higher level spells is diminished and all you can do is just put more sauce on lower level spells by casting them using higher level spell slots.
The ugly truth is that those early levels fly by pretty quickly (and they’re meant to as you’re meant to level out of them reasonably quick) and you’ll be left with a character who won’t be performing as well as their party members because of a decision made in those early levels.
Do I have other options?
Even if you are considering multiclassing for a great conceptual and narrative reason, sometimes a simpler, easier solution is available, and you just have to look for it. Here are a few avenues to investigate:
- Have a good look at the feats available and see if you might be able to accomplish what you want with those.
- Talk to your DM – they might be able to provide a magical item or execute some other kind of DM shenanigans that would help more closely realize your character concept.
- If your DM would allow it, have a peek at experimental and home-brew character classes and archetypes – from Unearthed Arcana to the DM’s Guild, you might be able find something that’s a perfect (or close enough to perfect) fit.
Sometimes a simpler, more elegant solution is all you need to get that extra flavor into your character without having to split their levels into different classes.
What am I getting and giving up, and am I OK with that?
When you multiclass, you should have a plan in your head of how you’ll be building your character, and that means you ought to know exactly what levels will be going into which class. It’s easy to look at the classes available in D&D and see all the exciting things available to your character. You should be doing that when deciding to multiclass.
But you should also look at your character in the long run and know exactly what you’re giving up. With a rough idea of how you’ll be leveling up your character you can have an idea of what class abilities you’ll never have access to. Read those level 20 abilities. Check out those level 9 spells. Understand what you’re making impossible for your character to accomplish.
Yes, it’s kinda masochistic, and that’s the point. It’ll test your resolve in sticking with this multiclass and help minimize the buyer’s remorse you have for adding an errant level (or three) into a multiclass before you realize it’s not what you wanted. Being informed means knowing about the opportunity cost to your character in terms of the highest level class abilities.
Have you played a multiclass character in D&D? Tell us about their classes and how you liked playing them in the comments!
Image credits: Wizards of the Coast
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