DnD Character Classes & Subclasses 5e

Learn about all the playable classes in D&D 5e and how to play them

D&D is home to diverse creatures and characters that follow a variety of paths. Each of these characters are unique with different skills, abilities and interests. The class you choose largely defines your skills and capabilities making it one of the most important aspects of character creation. Rogues are stealthy, wizards are spellcasting scholars and barbarians are rage-filled warriors. When creating a character, you’ll want to make sure you choose a class that fits the skillset of your character. There are 13 classes to choose from in total which we’ve detailed below.

Beyond that, each class varies in specialisms and as you progress in levels, you’ll also gain access to a subclass. Rogues for example have thieves (master burglars), assassins (exceptional killers), arcane tricksters (that combine stealth and spellcasting) and many more subclass options giving even more diverse skills to your character. There are 117 subclasses in total (as it stands) with more continually being added.

Below we’ve detailed the classes and subclasses officially released by Wizards of the Coast along with some tips on how to get the most out of each class. Feel free to click through to our even more detailed guides for each class so you can look at tactics, subclasses and how to best opitmise your character.

You can also diversify your character even further by multi-classing which means to take levels in multiple different classes. You can get all the details of each class and most subclasses from the Player’s Handbook, Xanathar’s Guide to Everything and Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything.

What is a class in D&D?

Xanathar Fighting

A class in D&D 5e is the discipline a character has trained in. There are 13 classes in total and each of these disciplines has unique and different benefits for an adventurer. Some classes focus on martial prowess like the fighter or barbarian, some focus on magic like wizards and sorcerors, others focus on stealth and other out of combat abilities like rogues and bards and others might be more support focused providing things like healing, like clerics and druids. There’s a lot of variety in the capabilities of each class.

Even the explanation of the capabilities of each class above falls short as many classes can’t be pigeon-holed to one particular function. For example, a bard will likely be great at charisma-based skills like performance and deception and using support spells that provide buffs and debuffs, but in reality, they can be pretty decent swordsmen and can access high damage spells from the spell lists of other classes.

Another example is a cleric. They often take the role of healer in a party, but also have access to high damage spells and are capable of becoming a bit of a tank with their ability to wear heavy armour.

You will likely want to choose your class based on the function you wish to perform in the party, but this doesn’t need to limit what your character does. You can stylise your character and class to fit a number of different roles. Despite this, there are limitations to the flexibility of a class. A wizard is never going to be as great a warrior or tank as a barbarian or paladin, even if they take the bladesinging subclass. Likewise, paladins will never be as good at stealth as rogues, monks and bards so understanding the strengths and weaknesses of each class is important.

What is a subclass in D&D?


A subclass is an option for a character to specialise further. There are 117 subclasses in total and each class has a list of subclasses they can choose from to show this specialism. For example, a rogue might be a specialist at deception and disguises, in which case, they might choose to have the mastermind subclass. Alternatively, they might be adept at assassinating their targets, in which case, they’d take the assassin subclass. Arcane tricksters use magic to supplement their stealth, thieves are excellent at stealing things, swashbucklers make great swordsmen and so on.

Most classes will choose their subclass when they hit level 3 which is also when characters start to become much more capable. There are a couple of exceptions. Clerics, sorcerors and warlocks receive their subclass at level 1 while druids and wizards receive their subclass at level 2. This is because these disciplines require specialism at an earlier state in their progression. For example, a cleric will choose a deity to worship from day 1 of their training, a sorceror is often born with their innate abilities and warlocks only get their abilities once they’ve made a pact with a powerful being.

It’s up to you and what works best for your character. While some classes are considered more powerful than others, all classes are great options in their own right and have different uses in different circumstances. For example, you may find that your bard does less damage than the barbarian or the wizard in combat, but you’ll likely outshine them in social encounters. Some players may want to choose classes that complement the party well so that there’s a variety of skillsets. A party of 4 fighters may find they lack the stealth or spellcasting abilities to deftly handle certain situations so you may want to discuss your character with your group in a session 0.

Ultimately though, the most important factor in deciding your character’s class is how well it fits your character and what you want to be. D&D is flexible enough that you can get around many situations in a variety of ways. You don’t need to unpick the lock to get through the door, you could bash it down, steal the key, trick someone into letting you through, use a spell or simply find another way round.

Below we’ve included a table with a few details about each class so you know a bit about what they all do. We’ve gone into a bit more detail in the sections below and if you’re looking to optimise your character class, you can read one of our class and subclass guides too.

ClassRolePrimary Ability ScoreDescription
ArtificerUtility, Support Caster, ControlIntelligenceInventors and tinkerers that use magic and technology to enhance their capabilities.
BarbarianTank, Melee DamageStrengthRage-filled warriors that charge into combat with reckless abandon.
BardFace, Support Caster, Utility, Battlefield ControlCharismaPerformers trained in a wide variety of arts making them the ultimate jack of all trades class.
ClericHealer, Spell Damage, Support CasterWisdomDevoted adherents to a deity, clerics are primarily healers with a wide range of devastating spells to boot.
DruidTank, Healer, Utility, Support CasterWisdomOne with nature, druids draw their power magic from nature itself, including the ability to shapeshift.
FighterTank, Melee Damage, Ranged DamageStrength or DexterityTrained in martial combat, fighters are adept with a huge array of weaponry.
MonkEvasive, Melee Damage, StealthDexterity & WisdomMartial artists that are adept at unarmed combat. They use their ki abilities to enhance their anatural abilities.
PaladinTank, Healer, Support Caster, Melee Damage, FaceStrength & CharismaDevoted warriors that adhere to an oath which provides them with magical powers.
RangerRanged Damage, Survival, StealthDexterity & WisdomSurvivalists that live with nature. They are experts at tracking, foraging and hunting.
RogueStealth, Evasive, Melee Damage, Ranged DamageDexterityStealthy individuals that are adept at subterfuge and cunning to make their way in life.
SorcerorSpell Damage, Battlefield Control, FaceCharismaSpellcasters that have inherited their magic from some powerful source.
WarlockSpell Damage, Battlefield Control, FaceCharismaSpellcasters that have gained their abilities through a pact with a powerful being.
WizardSpell Damage, Support Caster, Utility, Battlefield ControlIntelligenceScholars that have studied to become hugely adept at magic.


Halfling Artificer
Halfling artificer
Party RoleUtility, Support Caster, Control
Main AbilityIntelligence
Saving ThrowsConstitution, Intelligence
Hit Dice1d8 + Consitution modifier per level
HP at 1st Level8 + Constitution Modifier
Spell Casting AbilityIntelligence
Armour ProficiencyLight armour, medium armour, shields
Weapon ProficiencySimple weapons, firearms (if agreed by your Dungeon Master)


Artificers are inventors and tinkerers. They turn mundane objects and items into unique artefacts, useful in a variety of circumstances, whether it’s contraptions that can distract, sentry guns to cause damage or armour for protection.

Similar to bards, this makes artificers a hugely flexible class that can provide support in a variety of ways while rarely being a master of any area of combat (apart from their ability to tinker and create). Artificers will want to focus on having a high intelligence as this is their spellcasting ability and the one used for some of their abilities. While your other ability scores may depend on the play-style you’re using and the subclass you choose, Dexterity (for a high AC) and Constitution (to boost your HP) are likely to be good options.

How to play as an artificer

Much of the variety of artificers comes down to the subclass they choose, and with this, comes a large variety in how you might choose to play them. Alchemists offer buffs and enhancements; Armourers turn themselves into tanks; Artillerists offer long range damage; and Battlesmiths can go, toe to toe in melee combat. There are lots of interesting enhancements and styles of play to be had here, though this ability to jump into any area, including spellcasting, does tend to dilute themselves as specialists of any one area. Armourers may be tanks, but they still suffer from that 1d8 hp, alchemists don’t have the same access to healing and buffs as clerics for example and all artificers lack in the spellcasting capabilities of full-casters like wizards or even bards.


All artificers have access to infusions, and this is their biggest asset. The ability to buff there’s (or even an ally’s) equipment. This is hugely beneficial, being able to improve the damage of a weapon, your AC and even create mechanical assistants. Their versatility means they can be adapted to very individual playstyles and circumstances; they can operate as secondary healers, damage dealers (both ranged and close combat), support casters and buffers.


Of course, with this increased versatility, comes a lack of mastery in any one area. Their close combat effectiveness is offset by a relatively measly 1d8 hp, their spellcasting is limited to 5th level spells (even when they reach level 20) and with their lack of spells, the necessity for a high primary stat of intelligence, is often somewhat wasted by the lack of spells to cast. This is offset somewhat by things like a Battle Smith’s ability to use intelligence in place of strength or dexterity for attacks, but there certainly is a trade off in mastery for being more versatile.

Artificer Subclasses

  • Alchemist – A master of potions, the alchemist can create powerful elixirs.
  • Armorer – A specialised armorer that can create a powerful and technologically advanced exoskeleton.
  • Artillerist – A builder and wielder of mechanised firearms.
  • Battlesmith – An artificer who enhances their martial abilities with machines and technology.


Orc barbarian
Party RoleMelee Damage, Tank
Main AbilityStrength
Saving ThrowsStrength, Constitution
Hit Dice1d12 + Consitution modifier per level
HP at 1st Level12 + Constitution Modifier
Spell Casting AbilityN/A
Armour ProficiencyLight armour, medium armour, shields
Weapon ProficiencySimple weapons, martial weapons


Barbarians are fierce warriors with primal instincts whose primary approach to just about anything involves brute force and a reckless abandonment of self-preservation. Barbarians can enter a rage in battle making them formidable opponents capable of dealing large amounts of damage and shrug off all but the most lethal of wounds. Barbarians will want to focus on Strength, Dexterity and Constitution for high damage, high AC and high HP.

How to play as a Barbarian

In a word, “Smash!” Barbarians are built to be thrown into the heart of combat, soak up the damage that might have gone on squishier characters, and hurt anything that isn’t an ally. Oh, and don’t forget to rage; rage is definitely your friend.


Barbarians are the ultimate melee warriors, they deal high damage, are naturally tough and can brush off more damage than other classes. They’re a straightforward class, but also highly effective at what they do and a very useful option to have in combat.


If you can’t smash it, a barbarian is unlikely to be your best option for it. They don’t offer much in the way of utility, often lack skills that are useful outside of combat and often don’t have the same capabilities for the subtler arts such as stealth, negotiation or spellcasting.

Barbarian Subclasses

  • Path of the Berserker – Utilises their rage for maximum combat effectiveness.
  • Path of the Totem Warrior – Channels the animal spirits of the world to aid them.
  • Path of the Battle Rager – Utilises their body as a weapon giving little thought for self-preservation.
  • Path of the Ancestral Guardian – Draw upon the power of your ancestors to increase your abilities.
  • Path of the Storm Herald – Your attunement with nature enhances your ability.
  • Path of the Zealot – Your rage is a gift from the gods to enact their will.
  • Path of the Beast – You are attuned with the beasts of the world that enhance your abilities.
  • Path of Wild Magic – Your rage shatters the bounds of magic creating unexpected effects.
  • Path of the Giant – You draw upon the power of giants to wreak destruction on your foes.


Bards of different Colleges
Party RoleUtility, Support Caster, Battlefield Control, Face
Main AbilityCharisma
Saving ThrowsDexterity, Charisma
Hit Dice1d8 + Consitution modifier per level
HP at 1st Level8 + Constitution Modifier
Spell Casting AbilityCharisma
Armour ProficiencyLight armour
Weapon ProficiencySimple weapons, hand crossbows, longswords, rapiers, shortswords


Bards are the jack of all trades class who inspire those around them with music and tales of heroism. While they may be tellers of tales, and not necessarily combative in nature, bards aren’t afraid to throw themselves into the thick of danger in order to learn of the greatest of tales (think Dandelion from the Witcher). Bards can cast spells, capably swing a sword or wield a crossbow and get to pile extra points into their skills often making them your best option for charisma based skills (and lots of other skills too).

How to play as a Bard

While it may be tempting to think of bards as flamboyant and perhaps a little vulnerable, they are a hugely versatile class with a huge amount to offer both in and out of combat. They are full spellcasters and as such, gain access to a large repertoire of spells, on top of this, they are capable of wielding weapons well (especially if you belong to the College of Swords or Valor). They also make great support casters, especially as they can easily buff allies. Their great charisma and extra skill points also make them great in role-playing situations too. In reality, how you use a bard is partly down to your creativity and how well you utilise their abilities.


Bards are kind of good at everything, though not quite as masterful as some classes. They fight well, but not as well as a fighter or a barbarian, they cast spells well, though not quite as well as wizards or sorcerors, and they also provide buffs to other party members making them more effective. Where bards really excel though is in their out of combat abilities. With a high Charisma and lots of skill points, they make a great spokesperson for the party (be prepared to a lot of role-playing if you’re a bard by the way). They also have the dexterous skill-set of a rogue to add into the mix making them a great option for rogue-less parties.


Probably the main weakness of the bard is their difficulty in being played. They require a lot of creativity to be truely effective. They also have a lot of abilities to choose from, so knowing what ability to use is not always easy. On top of this, they can sometimes suffer from not being a master of any one area. They are a little squishy if thrown into close combat (with just 1d8 HP available). They also don’t have all the most powerful spells available to wizards and sorcerors, though they do have abilities that let them choose spells from other classes. In reality, bards are extremely strong character options, but beware of their challenging playstyle.

Bard Subclasses

  • College of Lore – A student of history and a story teller of the things of the past.
  • College of Valor – You inspire through tales of legends and heroes.
  • College of Glamour – A fey-touched bard who uses their appearance and charm to influence others.
  • College of Swords – A master swordsman capable of impressive feats of swordsmanship.
  • College of Whispers – A trader of secrets and subterfuge, you use knowledge of others as a weapon more powerful than the sword.
  • College of Eloquence – An incredible orator that uses words to convince or manipulate.
  • College of Creation – Words have a magic that can shape and alter reality around them. You use this power for your own will.
  • College of Spirits – you speak with the dead to tell their stories and to uncover hidden truths.


Half-Elf cleric
Party RoleSupport Caster, Healer, Damage Dealer
Main AbilityWisdom
Saving ThrowsWisdom, Charisma
Hit Dice1d8 + Consitution modifier per level
HP at 1st Level8 + Constitution Modifier
Spell Casting AbilityWisdom
Armour ProficiencyLight armour, medium armour, shields
Weapon ProficiencySimple weapons


Clerics are wielders of divine powers and are devoted adherents of one of the many gods/religions of the universe from whom they receive their power. Clerics operate primarily as healers and support casters, but are also capable of dealing large amounts of damage with their powerful spells. Wisdom is their primary ability as they use it for spellcasting, but abilities that will assist them in combat are also useful such as Strength, Dexterity and Constitution.

How to play as a cleric

Clerics are healing specialists and this should generally be their primary function once characters start to take damage. Prior to this, clerics can provide buffs and also dole out large amounts of damage with their spells. Having said that, clerics do have a fair bit of versatility and are able to wade into the thick of combat, encased in thick armour and wielding a hefty mace (or other big weapon) if that’s how you want to use your cleric.


Clerics are primarily spellcasters and are extremely useful support characters that can heal and buff others. They can deal out a lot of damage with their spells such as lightning bolt and spirit guardians. They’re not quite as capable in the heat of battle but are tough enough and potentially armoured enough to manage themselves capably, though if they have the spell slots for it, their best friend for dealing damage most certainly are their spells.


Being a healer is not as exciting as delivering a good old butt whooping, and as a cleric, you’re certain to be the designated healer. This means you will be a useful asset, but there may be the temptation to unleash the wrath of your god, until you realise the barbarian’s fainted again and needs reviving. The other challenge for clerics is the number of concentration spells they have at their disposal, often meaning there’s a limit to how many of these spells you can use in an encounter. And if you’re not careful, too much damage to your cleric can lead to lost concentration and wasted spell slots.

Cleric Subclasses

  • Knowledge Domain – Knowledge is power and it’s understanding must be preserved.
  • Life Domain – Consider life to be a wonderful thing to be preserved.
  • Light Domain – These clerics serve the light in order to fight back the shadows.
  • Nature Domain – These clerics serve nature and take their power from the natural domain.
  • Tempest Domain – See the power in nature and the elements.
  • Trickery Domain – See the power of trickery and deception to keep the world moving in whatever direction they see fit.
  • War Domain – Follow the ideology of war, whether that’s to conquer or protect.
  • Death Domain – Respected and gatekeepers of death understanding all things must come to an end eventually.
  • Arcana Domain – Adherents of the magical arts.
  • Forge Domain – Honour the powers of creation, using it to enhance.
  • Grave Domain – Servants of life and death seeking balance between each aspect.
  • Order Domain – Seek order through law and justice.
  • Peace Domain – Seekers of peace that avoid violence at all costs.
  • Twilight Domain – Work to stop those that would disrupt balance in the world.


Halfling druid
Halfling druid
Party RoleTank, Utility, Support Caster, Healer
Main AbilityWisdom
Saving ThrowsIntelligence, Wisdom
Hit Dice1d8 + Consitution modifier per level
HP at 1st Level8 + Constitution Modifier
Spell Casting AbilityWisdom
Armour ProficiencyLight armour, medium armour, shields (druids will not wear armour made of metal)
Weapon ProficiencyClubs, daggers, darts, javelins, maces, quarterstaffs, scimitars, sickles, slings, spears


Druids are wielders of ancient magics arising from nature itself. They show devotion to nature and have the ability to shapeshift into animal forms. It’s their ability to shapeshift and to cast spells that make them one of the more versatile classes in D&D 5e.

How to play as a Druid

Druids can be played in a variety of ways and can easily adapt to a given situation. They have a range of spells that can be used for buffs, healing or damage (though the damage output of their spells is more limited than that of other spellcasters like wizards, sorcerors and clerics). This is in part made up for with their wild shape ability which allows them to transform into another creature. These have obvious uses in combat (who wants to fight against a brown bear!) but also give you lots of options outside of combat. What’s more discrete and stealthy than a spider or a rat? Just make sure you don’t get stepped on!

A druid’s spellcasting ability is wisdom so you’ll want to make sure you make this strong. Druids are capable of getting into the thick of combat so decent stats around Constitution and Strength or Dexterity are also helpful (Dexterity in particular to beef up that AC as druids are limited to non-metal forms of armour).


Wild shape is a huge boon for druids. Not only can they benefit from the stats and abilities of a whole other creature, but this stacks with their HP so if they lose all their HP in their brown bear form, it’s OK, they just transform back into their humanoid form. As a full spellcaster, druids have access to spells that go all the way up to 9th level, and there’s variety here from healing, buffs and damage to out of combat spells as well.


To compensate for the great wild shape ability, the creatures druids transform into tend to have a low AC. And while they do have a strong repertoire of spells, these tend not to be high damage dealers making them reliant on their wild shape ability to dole out the damage. Oh, and don’t forget, druids don’t get to wear metal armour so you best make sure you beef out that Dexterity.

Druid Subclasses

  • Circle of the Land – Your power is derived from a specific location in nature.
  • Circle of the Moon – Have powers that come from changing forms.
  • Circle of Dreams – Blessed with the powers of the Feywilds to be able to heal.
  • Circle of the Shepherd – a protector of animals.
  • Circle of Spores – Uses mycelium for its many powers and abilities.
  • Circle of Stars – Look to the stars for power and guidance.
  • Circle of Wildfire – View wildfire as a catalyst to change and even enhancement. From the ashes of the old comes a stronger new.


Party RoleTank, Melee Damage, Ranged Damage
Main AbilityStrength or Dexterity
Saving ThrowsStrength, Constitution
Hit Dice1d10 + Consitution modifier per level
HP at 1st Level10 + Constitution Modifier
Spell Casting AbilityN/A
Armour ProficiencyAll armour, shields
Weapon ProficiencySimple weapons, martial weapons


Fighters are trained warriors and students of combat. They’re versatile combatants capable with a range of weaponry and fighting styles. Fighters are certainly in their element while in the thick of battle, and while they have their uses elsewhere (need to intimidate an uncooperative guard for example, or bash down a door?), they are certainly at their best when fighting.

How to play as a Fighter

Get into the thick of combat! While they are great with ranged weapons, most parties will want their fighters in the heat of the melee, soaking up damage for squishier characters. This may all seem a little 1 dimensional, but it does make for a great class where players want to keep things simple, especially at early levels. That’s not to say there isn’t variety. Once you hit level 3, you’ll open a bunch of subclasses that add some new tricks to the fighter’s repertoire whether that be the battle master’s combat maneuvers or a bit of spellcasting from the Eldritch knight. You’ll definitely want to go big on Strength and Constitution for a fighter, Dexterity is also your friend here too to up your AC and for ranged weaponry but this will depend on the armor and weapons you choose to wear.


Well, I guess a fighter is good at fighting! But what you get is a tough, tanky character that can soak up damage and with extra attacks at 5th, 11th and 20th levels, you also have a major damage dealer. Add to that the ability heal themselves plus some handy subclass features, the fighter is a straightforward, but highly-effective character class.


The main issue with fighters is their usefulness outside of combat. This is due to their need for high Strength, Dexterity and Constitution at the sacrifice of things like Charisma and Wisdom. Fighters also lack the versatility that spellcasters and other classes gain from their abilities.

Fighter Subclasses

  • Champion – Particularly deadly fighters that enhance their critical strikes.
  • Battle Master – Highly trained warriors that use battle maneuveurs to gain the upper hand in combat.
  • Eldritch Knight – Use magic to supplement their martial prowess.
  • Purple Dragon Knight – A particularly brave and inspiring warrior.
  • Arcane Archer – A warrior that specialises in long range combat mixing magical means with their projectiles.
  • Cavalier – A warrior that excels in mounted combat.
  • Samurai – A warrior capable of defeating does in a flurry of blows.
  • Echo Knight – Able to create an echo to support in combat.
  • Psi Warrior – A warrior that fights with their muscle and psychic powers.
  • Rune Knight – A warrior that attunes the might of giants and their runes in combat.


Party RoleEvasive, Melee Damage, Stealth
Main AbilityWisdom and Dexterity
Saving ThrowsStrength, Dexterity
Hit Dice1d8 + Consitution modifier per level
HP at 1st Level8 + Constitution Modifier
Ki Points AbilityWisdom
Armour ProficiencyNone
Weapon ProficiencySimple weapons, shortswords


Monks are martial artists who follow a path towards spiritual and physical mastery. This makes them unique melee specialists, capable of weaving their way through combat to cause damage where they’re needed most. They also have access to interesting ki abilities that enhance their capabilities. They’re the equivalent of ninjas within the D&D universe.

How to play as a Monk

Monks excel at controlling combat and causing lots of damage with their many strikes. They aren’t as tough as the other melee specialists with just 1d8 hit dice and a lower upper limit on AC so they have to be more careful than the gnarlier fighters and barbarians, but can slip through combat easily to get where they need to be. On top of this, they have a lot utility outside of combat with interesting abilities and a propensity towards stealth. The most important ability for a monk is Dexterity as it will allow them to do more damage, up their AC (especially important with their armour limitations) and allow them to sneak around easily.


High damage and high manoeuvrability are the main strengths of a monk. That manoeuvrability is not only important to get them attacking the enemies they need to attack, but also to get them out of danger too. They make a great alternative to a rogue as well for their ability to move around stealthily. Their access to ki abilities gives some extra abilities that can be useful too beyond just punching everything really quickly!


For a melee-focused class, monks are the least tough. Their hp is similar to that of a rogue or bard (that might also dabble in melee combat, but exist at the lower range of toughness) and they have less armour and survivability than paladins and fighters. Despite these obvious drawbacks and the usual criticism that monks are a weak class, monks do offer unique abilities that work well both in and out of combat.

Monk Subclasses

  • Way of the Open Hand – Uses their fists and open hand to defeat their enemies.
  • Way of Shadow – Ninjas that strike from the shadows.
  • Way of the Four Elements – Monks that use the elements to supplement their powers.
  • Way of the Long Death – Monks that are the tools of death.
  • Way of the Sun Soul – Monks with such powerful will, they can ignite with fire.
  • Way of the Drunken Master – Monks that have mastered unpredictable fighting patterns causing them to confuse enemies.
  • Way of the Kensai – Your attacks are an art form in and of themself.
  • Way of Mercy – You use your abilities to bring peace more than harm.
  • Way of the Astral Self – You are able to use your spirit as an extension of yourself to aid in combat.
  • Way of the Ascendant Dragon – Monks that channel the spirit of dragons.


Knight of Solamnia
Human paladin
Party RoleTank, Melee Damage, Support Caster, Healer, Face
Main AbilityStrength and Charisma
Saving ThrowsWisdom, Charisma
Hit Dice1d10 + Consitution modifier per level
HP at 1st Level10 + Constitution Modifier
Spell Casting AbilityCharisma
Armour ProficiencyAll Armour, shields
Weapon ProficiencySimple weapons, martial weapons


Paladins are powerful warriors that have made a sacred oath. A paladin follows a strict code of discipline and devotion. While the archetypal paladin is lawful good, protecting the innocent and the weak, paladins in 5e can be much more varied than this (though certainly do steer towards being protectors). They are usually tough, well-armoured, damage dealers that can enhance their abilities with a solid number of spells.

How to play as a Paladin

Paladins are widely considered one of the stronger classes. They are tough with lots of HP, access to all armour types for high AC (and spells that can enhance this too), deal lots of damage (especially when paired with smites) and can heal. Some of their abilities allow you the ability to protect those around you too so you’ll usually want your paladin in the heat of battle. On top of the paladin’s battle prowess is the fact that they can also act as a support healer when your cleric isn’t available. This makes paladins very useful and versatile characters. Paladins use Charisma as their spellcasting ability so you’ll want to prioritise this ability to maximise on your spellcasting, this also makes the paladin a great option for out of combat interactions. Strength will also be important to get your paladin maximising their damage output.


High damage output, high defence, spells to cast, healing abilities and the ability to defend others gives paladins a lot of strengths. Unlike some of the other more versatile classes, paladins still manage to perform near the top for damage and defence while also having their uses outside of combat with some of their spells and their high charisma.


There’s not much here really, though they are found lacking when it comes to ranged combat and don’t really deal area of effect damage like some other spellcasters. They also come undone when it comes to stealth due to their usual reliance on heavy armour but in reality, paladins are one of the more powerful classes available.

Paladin Subclasses

  • Oath of Devotion – Holy warriors, devoted to their cause.
  • Oath of the Ancients – Paladins that seek to wage war against darkness for a love of light and life.
  • Oath of Vengeance – A paladin that has dedicated themself to punishing the crimes of others.
  • Oathbreaker – A paladin that broke an oath long ago and that is cursed for this choice.
  • Oath of the Crown – A paladin sworn to protect the crown and its lands.
  • Oath of Conquest – A paladin sworn to conquer and bring about victory.
  • Oath of Redemption – Paladins that believe anyone can be redeemed and will inflict death only as a last resort.
  • Oath of Glory – A paladin that has made an oath to win at all costs and have their name etched into legends.
  • Oath of the Watchers – A paladin that watches for and protects from the unnatural and alien forces of the universe.


Eladrin ranger
Party RoleRanged Damage, Survival, Stealth
Main AbilityDexterity and Wisdom
Saving ThrowsDexterity, Strength
Hit Dice1d10 + Consitution modifier per level
HP at 1st Level10 + Constitution Modifier
Spell Casting AbilityWisdom
Armour ProficiencyLight armour, medium armour, shields
Weapon ProficiencySimple weapons, martial weapons


Rangers live on the fringes of society and are capable fighters in their own right, often most at home in nature. They perform best in their favoured environments and when fighting their favoured enemies as well as being at an advantage when traversing the wilderness and tracking others.

How to play as a Ranger

Rangers make capable support warriors, though will often be used in a ranged capacity. They tend to fair best against multiple enemies due to their abilities and some area of effect spells. And on that note, they are half-casters so get access to a solid range of spells. With Wisdom being their spellcasting ability, it’s best to make sure your ranger is well stocked in this ability. They’ll likely be in combat too so Dexterity is likely a good bet for the heightened AC and to enhance their ability with ranged weapons.


Rangers fair particularly well against their favoured enemy and within their favoured environment so utilise this to your advantage as best as possible. If you know much about the campaign, this will help you better decide what your favourites will be. Rangers are fairly versatile and do well in the outdoors when tracking enemies or scouting. They’ll also do a decent amount of damage when coupled with their abilities.


While rangers have some decent versatility, a lot of their best abilities are quite situational. This unfortunately means that there will be times when a ranger isn’t useful, especially in some campaigns, particularly those that might involve a lot of dungeons or cities. And while they are effective warriors, there are better options for damage dealing if that’s what you want to do.

Ranger Subclasses

  • Hunter – A warrior that has honed their ability to hunt and trap their prey.
  • Beast Master – A ranger that handles animals and that fights side by side with an animal partner.
  • Gloom Stalker – A ranger that hunts in the night to hunt the creatures of night and shadows.
  • Horizon Walker – Hunters of creatures from other realms and planes.
  • Monster Slayer – Hunters of powerful creatures, deadly to most ordinary warriors.
  • Fey Wanderer – Rangers that use the powers of the fey to charm their enemies.
  • Swarmkeeper – Keepers of swarm creatures that aid them in combat.


Drow rogue
Party RoleMelee Damage, Ranged Damage, Stealth, Evasive
Main AbilityDexterity
Saving ThrowsDexterity, Intelligence
Hit Dice1d8 + Consitution modifier per level
HP at 1st Level8 + Constitution Modifier
Spell Casting AbilityN/A (Except Arcane Trickster who uses Intelligence)
Armour ProficiencyLight armour
Weapon ProficiencySimple weapons, hand crossbows, longswords, rapiers, short swords


A master of stealth and trickery, a rogue is able to use more subtle means to achieve their goals. This might often involve theivery, deception and stealth. If you’re going to play a rogue, expect to approach your character with a bit more creativity and technical precision than the blunt force tools that are classes like fighters and barbarians.

How to play as a Rogue

Rogues are all about using the circumstances to their advantage. For example, a rogue can deal a lot of damage with their sneak attack if they have advantage, which may mean coordinating attacks with others for example. Rogues also have a lot of skills at their disposal and are 2nd only to bards in this regard, this gives them lots of options to take the lead on out of combat situations. While it’s natural to utilise a rogue to disable traps, pick locks and sneak around, they can be useful in many other situations as well. Dexterity will serve a rogue very well. Not only will it help them do more damage, it will also enhance their primary skills of things like sleight of hand and stealth.


Sneaking about, thievery and other subtle arts. They can also deal a lot of damage if used well, taking advantage of their sneak attacks and other abilities. With their ability to use bonus actions to disengage, dash and hide, they also have a fair bit of manoeuvrability.


Rogues are a little vulnerable, especially for characters that usually go out in front. Rogues tend to lack high HP or high AC, but often head out in front to check for traps, scout out and take out sentries. This can often mean that rogues are just one bad roll away from setting off an alarm or being spotted, potentially leaving them isolated from the rest of the party.

Rogue Subclasses

  • Thief – Experts at stealing and burglary.
  • Assassin – Trained in the arts of stealthy death, assassin’s are trained killers.
  • Arcane Trickster – Arcane tricksters combine their roguish abilities with magical prowess.
  • Mastermind – Masters of deception and disguise, masterminds stay one step ahead of their enemies.
  • Swashbuckler – Rogues that specialise in combat and swordsmanship.
  • Inquisitive – Detectives that study their targets, understanding their strengths and weaknesses.
  • Scout – Stealthy information gatherers.
  • Phantom – phantoms use magic to steal the souls of their victims.
  • Soulknife – Rogues that are able to enhance their abilities with psychic powers.


Tiefling sorceror
Party RoleSpell Damage, Battlefield Control, Face
Main AbilityCharisma
Saving ThrowsConstitution, Charisma
Hit Dice1d6 + Consitution modifier per level
HP at 1st Level6 + Constitution Modifier
Spell Casting AbilityCharisma
Armour ProficiencyNone
Weapon ProficiencyDaggers, darts, slings, quarterstaffs, light crossbows


Sorcerors have natural, innate magical abilities that often come either as a gift or inherited from some ancestor. They tend to be highly attuned to their innate magical abilities with the ability to magnify their spells beyond that of other spellcasters. Of course this greater spell power does come with drawbacks as they have less spells available in their repertoire compared to wizards.

How to play as a Sorceror

Sorcerors are best kept out of harms way while they blast out overpowered spells using their metamagic abilities. Action economy is important for sorcerors, without their spell slots, they’re quite ineffective in combat and become less effective as they run out of sorcery points. Charisma is their spellcasting ability so it’s important to make sure this is high. This does have the added bonus of making sorcerors good when it comes to role playing elements of the game.


Sorceror’s meta magic makes their spells extra powerful, whether that’s giving them extra range, extra damage, increasing the number of targets or one of the other effects of meta magic. Sorcerors can be terrifying opponents capable of dealing huge damage and providing extra buffs to allies.


The challenge for sorcerors is how to make them survive long enough to deal out the damage. They have a low AC and low HP so are best kept at long range. In addition to this is their limited repertoire of spells means they must choose their spell list wisely with a little less versatility than wizards for instance.

Sorceror Subclasses

  • Draconic Bloodline – These sorcerors have the powers of dragons coursing through their veins.
  • Wild Magic – Chaotic sorcerors whose magic is wild and unpredictable.
  • Storm Sorcery – Sorcerors whose abilities originate from the element of air.
  • Pyromancer – Sorcerors whose magical origins come from beings that control fire.
  • Divine Soul – Such sorcerors have their magic originating from divine sources.
  • Shadow Magic – Their magic comes from shadowy and sinister origins.
  • Aberrant Mind – Their abilities derive from psychic origins.
  • Clockwork Soul – Sorcerors with innate magic derived from mechanus.


Wizard casting spells
Human warlock
Party RoleSpell Damage, Battlefield Control, Face
Main AbilityCharisma
Saving ThrowsWisdom, Charisma
Hit Dice1d8 + Consitution modifier per level
HP at 1st Level8 + Constitution Modifier
Spell Casting AbilityCharisma
Armour ProficiencyLight armour
Weapon ProficiencySimple weapons


Warlocks are magic users that have made a pact with a powerful, magical being. The warlock draws their power from their patron bringing them great power, but at the cost of binding themselves to their patron. Often, these patrons have sinister desires for their warlock servants meaning warlocks can often end up conflicting with the more lawfully good members of a party.

How to play as a Warlock

Warlocks have much less spell slots than other full casters, but with the caveat that these spells are usually more powerful than those of other spellcasters, being able to use them in their most powerful form every time. To compensate for this, warlocks have access to some great cantrips that can be used like ranged weapon attacks. Like most spellcasters, Warlocks are best used at range and as far as possible from danger, though some warlocks, like the hexblade, are built for melee combat. Warlocks use Charisma as their spellcasting ability so it’s best to pump lots of points into this ability.


Warlocks can take advantage of a great bunch of cantrips for regular, decent damage output. They also get to use all spells in their highest possible form meaning when they use spells, they tend to do more damage than other spellcasters. They’re a little tougher than sorcerors and wizards with a higher HP and with a high charisma, are pretty good in social situations too.


Action economy is a major challenge for warlocks as they have very few spell slots. This does mean that they can quickly run out of effective things to do in combat. This is particularly problematic as unless you’re a hexblade, you’ll have very few combat focused abilities. They do have decent cantrips to keep them going though so it’s not such a major issue.

Warlock Subclasses

  • The Archfey – Warlocks whose magic comes from a pact with a powerful fey creature.
  • The Fiend – Warlocks whose magic comes from a pact with a powerful fiend.
  • The Great Old One – Warlocks whose magic comes from a pact with a powerful unknown creature from beyond the known universe.
  • The Undying – Warlocks whose magic comes from a pact with a powerful undead creature.
  • The Celestial – Warlocks whose magic comes from a pact with a powerful celestial creature.
  • The Hexblade – Warlocks whose magic comes from a pact with a powerful weapon or who have been gifted a weapon.
  • The Fathomless – Warlocks whose magic comes from a pact with a powerful creature from the depths of the ocean.
  • The Genie – Warlocks whose magic comes from a pact with a powerful genie.
  • The Undead – Warlocks that have made a pact with an undead being.


Party RoleUtility, Spell Damage, Battlefield Control, Support Caster
Main AbilityIntelligence
Saving ThrowsIntelligence, Wisdom
Hit Dice1d6 + Consitution modifier per level
HP at 1st Level6 + Constitution Modifier
Spell Casting AbilityIntelligence
Armour ProficiencyNone
Weapon ProficiencyDaggers, darts, slings, quarterstaffs, light crossbows


Wizards are scholars who are educated in the ways of magic using spells as a tool to further their own pursuits. Unlike sorcerors, who inherit their magical abilities, and warlocks who are gifted it in a pact, wizards dedicate themselves to endless study in order to gain access to the powers of magic. As such, wizards are capable of hugely powerful feats of magic, though often are not prepared to go toe to toe in melee combat.

How to play as a Wizard

As a wizard, you’ll want to maximise your use of intelligence as this is your spellcasting ability. You’ll have a low HP and low AC so you’ll want to steer away from melee combat as much as possible, especially if you’re using concentration spells. For a wizard, their brain is their greatest asset and will need to be used to its utmost to get themselves out of tricky situations.


Wizards are one of the more versatile of full-spellcasters. Not only do they have a large repertoire of memorised spells (more than any other class), but they’re also able to learn new spells whenever they rest enabling them to adapt to any situation. This does mean that wizards are not just useful in combat, but in a wide variety of situations for which spells might be useful.


There’s no surprises here. Wizards are not great with weapons and do not have much HP or AC so are best kept far from combat. Spellcasting is their primary tool and they’re extremely good at it, but in most other areas, wizards tend to find themselves lacking.

Wizard Subclasses

  • School of Abjuration – Wizards that specialise in abjuration magic.
  • School of Conjuration – Wizards that specialise in conjuration magic.
  • School of Divination – Wizards that specialise in divination magic.
  • School of Enchantment – Wizards that specialise in enchantment magic.
  • School of Evocation – Wizards that specialise in evocation magic.
  • School of Illusion – Wizards that specialise in illusory magic.
  • School of Necromancy – Wizards that specialise in necromantic magic.
  • School of Transmutation – Wizards that specialise in transmutation magic.
  • Bladesinging – An order of wizards that incorporates artistic swordsmanship with their magic.
  • War Magic – Wizards that are adept at casting magic in combat.
  • Chronurgy Magic – Wizards that specialise in chronurgic magic.
  • Graviturgy Magic – Wizards that specialise in graviturgic magic.
  • Order of Scribes – Lore masters that gain magical mastery through intense study.

Published by DM Ben

Ben is an experienced dungeon master and player who's been immersed in the D&D universe since he was a teenager over 20 years ago. When he's not writing for Dungeon Mister, Ben loves creating fiendish puzzles and devious dungeons for his players. He's an especially big fan of the Ravenloft and Dragonlance settings.