Brief Description of 5e Classes and Subclasses (Ideal to Show to your Players), Part 3
“New year, new me”, as the phrase says. It’s about time you create a new Player Character, be it for a new campaign, or to archive in case you have a spontaneous chance to play it. However, with the great variety of classes and subclasses that exist, it’s really difficult to choose. What’s more, subclasses can enormously change their perspective on the class, making them more or less interesting for you.
After surfing the web for a while, I could not find any place in which all the classes and subclasses were briefly explained for a quick read. What I want to create is 3 articles you can give to your players as a DM to help them choose or give an idea of the character they want to play. I tried to explain the best I could in the shortest possible format. I hope it is of use to you, as I expect it to be to my players:
- BARBARIAN, BARD, CLERIC and DRUID – PRESS HERE
- FIGHTER, MONK, PALADIN and RANGER – PRESS HERE
- ROGUE, SORCERER, WARLOCK and WIZARD – YOU ARE HERE
- PHB: Player’s Handbook
- SCAG: Sword Coast’s Adventurers Guide
- XGE: Xanathar’s Guide to Everything
Classes and Subclasses
Let’s get shady, grab a dagger and start stabbing. Rogues excel at sneaking around, scouting ahead, being dexterous and about everything you would expect a thief to be good at. In dungeons, they can help their party by deactivating traps or opening locked doors. Don’t expect them to wear much armor, nor be able to carry heavy stuff; but were your task to need some delicacy or swashbuckling, you’ve found the right person.
Arcane Trickster (PHB)
You wanted to play a spellcaster but really liked rogues too. Why not play both? Arcane tricksters tend to be more intelligent than the typical rogue (they use Intelligence for their spellcasting abilities). They are able to create illusions, distractions or do some damage with the power of the arcane by their side.
This is another one of those subclasses that doesn’t need much explanation. Pick your weapon of choice and become the new hitman, being able to plan ahead your enemies’ movements making it easier for you to assassinate them when combat arises. Just make sure you’ve got an ally by your side to work as a distraction for some heavy damage against your target.
Picture Sherlock Holmes in your mind. Now give him a dagger and/or bow. Inquisitives can easily find their enemies’ weak spots by quickly scanning them during combat. This allows them to fully exploit it. They’ve also got an eye for the detail making them the best detectives and lie detectors.
Excellent villain but also a possible option for a player character, masterminds are always 3 steps ahead of their enemies, both in combat and at manipulating. This is the best choice if you are going for something like Moriarty from the Sherlock Holmes series. Having such a vast knowledge of tactics and combat, they are a perfect addition to any party looking for someone who can help them at predicting their foes’ moves.
You get to be that person always scouting ahead looking for possible dangers or tracking something/someone. You trained to move extremely fast and evade all possible foes. By the time they’ve got near you, you’ve already stabbed them four times and escaped successfully.
Grab your sword and start fighting on the crownest of the ship, while being over a moving spherical stone, or on top of the roofs. Your grace and charisma during combat are marvelous things to watch, as well as your bravery to go full speed ahead to clash in a 1v1 fight against your opponent.
Fascinating during infiltrations, sneaking, or taking someone by surprise, thieves excel at doing stuff without getting seen. Opening locked doors, chests or mechanisms, stealing invaluable artifacts, and climbing walls to access places you shouldn’t be into are just a few things they are able to do in the blink of an eye.
Due to some random or pre-established occurrence, magic runs through you. This means you can “cheat” in a certain way to be able to use magic at will, instead of having to learn how to cast it. Sorcerers are also equipped with a pool of magic they get their sorcery points from, letting them twist spells to their will in different ways.
Divine Soul (XGE)
The gods have chosen you as the vessel for their powers. This means you will now be able to cast spells that only clerics should be able to cast. This gives you a lot of flexibility, making you have access to both the cleric and sorcerer spell list.
Draconic Bloodline (PHB)
Draconic blood runs through your veins. Depending which type of dragon it is you will be able to improve your spells associated with it. Moreover, dragon scales partly cover your skin, making you more resistant do damage.
Shadow Magic (XGE)
For some reason you are linked with death and darkness, making you comfortable at night. This means these sorcerers are less likely to die, as well as able to summon magical darkness and shadowy hounds of ill omen.
Storm Sorcery (XGE)
With the power of the storms running through their veins, storm sorcerers walk or fly with tempestuous gusts of air moving around them, shooting spells from afar. Call down lightning and destroy your foes with the true and explosive damage of the storms.
Wild Magic (PHB)
Wild magic sorcerers aren’t truly in full control of their magic. Every spell becomes unpredictable, with a chance of blowing everything up. Every time your DM tells you during an attack, there are 50 possible random things that can happen, that can turn a battle upside down for good, or possibly for bad.
Warlocks make pacts with extremely powerful beings, who don’t mind lending some power as they have so much they don’t even notice. However, it all comes with a price: There’s a reason this entity decided to accept the pact, and you might need to do some stuff to maintain the accord. Decide whether you want to have a big spellbook full of incantations, a strange summonable weapon or weird servants. Will you perish in the way to becoming an eldritch master?
The Archfey (PHB)
Maybe you found a way into the Feywild, or were peculiar enough to pick some archfey’s interest. Whichever the way, you ended up in a pact with one of them. Masters of disguise, enchantments and illusions, their powers are transmitted to you. But are you truly willing to be in debt with a creature like this?
The Celestial (XGE)
For some reason you decided to make a pact with a celestial being, or maybe it decided for you. They tend to be good willed and pass on spells of this kind through the pact, as well as healing ones. This makes it the only warlock subclass focused in healing, and a really good one at that.
The Fiend (PHB)
Possibly for some kind of miracle to happen you decided to make a pact with a powerful demon or devil. Fiends don’t really care much about those who make pacts with them. However, they will give you their destructive powers in exchange of some things of their like, such as the player character’s soul.
The Great Old One (PHB)
If you are a lovecraftian, or Cthulu fan, this might be the subclass for you. You create a pact with a great old one, a creature that has been sleeping for a long time, but is now starting to show its presence. Get ahold of their powers of corruption, mind reading and/or craziness and let’s hope your mind survives by the time you finish your journey.
The Hexblade (XGE)
The shadowfell speaks to you from your blade/bow, or is it just a creature from there? You don’t really know, but as long as you keep it in your grasp, a pact between the two of you is formed. This entity will give you shadowy powers and curses, while also making you an expert fighter, but what will it want in exchange?
The Undying (SCAG)
Death and time mean nothing to your patron, who you have come to make a pact for some reason. You can bring back people in the brink of death, or spray diseases to cause it yourself. After some time, aging will mean nothing to you, to a point of not being sure whether you are dead or alive.
Wizards decide to go in adventures to further their knowledge. The great world in front of them has thousands of spells for you to learn and master. With a spellbook at hand, they will look for or buy them to become a greater spellcaster. Just transcribe them to the book and you’ll understand why wizards are such a versatile class. The amount of spells they can learn greatly surpasses all other classes’ lists.
Bladesinger (SCAG) *
*Elves and half-elves only (unless your DM says otherwise)
Bladesingers are wizards trained in a specific elven way of combat and wizardry. They are taught the bladesong, a sort of elven magic that allows them to enter a trance during combat, making them faster and harder to hit.
School of Abjuration (PHB)
Abjuration magic helps protect the caster, as well as cast defensive spells both for the wizard of its allies. Some of these wizards are seen as the protectors from evil, or exorcists even. Get ahold your arcane ward as a shield and go straight into battle!
School of Conjuration (PHB)
Conjurers are the masters of summoning, both living creatures and objects out of thin air. Have these summonings fight by your side or use them to surpass a specific obstacle or path. As long as it’s something you’ve seen before, you can make it appear.
School of Divination (PHB)
Wizards of this subclass become diviners, people that can see beyond the presence looking for things that are yet to happen. Foretell the future and shape it your way to help your party or change your enemies’ fate.
School of Enchantment (PHB)
Some people find these wizards extremely charming. That may not be because of their looks, but because of their power. Enchanters are able to get whatever they want with their magical spells and gaze, while also charming creatures to fight by their side.
School of Evocation (PHB)
Evocation is the school of magic of destruction and explosions. Thunders, fire, acid and more come out from your spells. If you were looking for the all-powerful destructive wizards, this is your best choice! Don’t worry that much about your allies, you can always shape your spells a bit so they don’t receive as much damage.
School of Illusion (PHB)
Everything coming out of these wizards is smoke and mirrors. Everything you can think of can appear in front of you as an extremely believable illusion. Deceptive, entertainers, and great for making big scares. Want a T-Rex to appear from underwater during a ship battle. Why not? That’s the kind of things this class is all about!
School of Necromancy (PHB)
Shapers of life and death, creators of the undead. Necromancers are all about death and decay, stealing life’s forces and creating thralls to fight for them. While not always evil, people don’t often feel good about people using their passed loved ones for slavery, making them hated most of the time by people.
School of Transmutation (PHB)
Transmutation is all about changing. Wizards of this school believe in the change of all things in existence, and try to find the way to master creation. This can make them excellent pranksters by transforming people into other things, or alterers of physical forms and mental qualities.
War Magic (XGE)
Followers of this school become war mages, scholars who mix both abjuration and evocation magic instead of specializing in only one of them. This allows them to deal great amounts of damage while also staying protected. What use would the wizard be if it were dead?
I must say I never expected as many people to react in such a possitive way to these kind of articles. What this means is that DM’s (and their players) nowadays are looking for different ways to make the game more accessible to the ones at their tables and friends who don’t know how to play the game.
Because of this, I’ll be making a races article in the same way I made these ones so you can give your players the links to easily choose how they want to make their characters.
Found something weird in one or more of the descriptions? Do you think I missed something when explaining one of the classes/subclasses? Let me know in the comments below!
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