Saturday, September 15, 2018

5 Fun Multiclass Dips For 5th Edition

As folks who are regular readers know, I don't really do single-class characters. It's just not my thing. While multiclassing in 5th Edition isn't for everyone, given that it pushes back your additional attacks, attribute bumps/feats, etc., but I've got a handful of tricks that I've come to really favor. So I thought I'd share them, in case there were folks out there who haven't tried multiclassing themselves, or who are wondering what benefits you could really get out of it.

So, without further ado, here are some of my thoughts, and a few of the potential paths you could take. Also, if you're the sort of DM who feels that multiclassing is something that requires even more red tape, might I recommend checking out DMs, Stop Putting Up Barriers To Multiclassing.

#1: Just A Hint of Barbarian

Got a problem?
For most people, barbarian is a big commitment... but it doesn't have to be. There is nothing wrong with only taking 1 or 2 levels if that's all it takes to get the goodies you want. What do you get for those levels? Well you get Rage, which gives you a bit of bonus damage and advantage on Strength checks, but more importantly gives you resistance to slashing, bludgeoning, and piercing damage. You also get Unarmored Defense, which is ideal for those with a high Con score who don't want to stomp around in armor all the time. And if you take the second level you get access to Reckless Attack, which is a cheap way to get advantage on an attack when you need it.

So who benefits from that? Well that handy advantage could be particularly useful for an assassin who wants to stick their short sword right where it needs to be for their sneak attack damage. Sure it leaves them open for counterattacks, but if you're dropping half a dozen d6s on someone's head, they might not live to stab you back. It's handy for fighters with high Constitution scores who just want to walk out on the field with sword and shield... or who prefer a bow or a crossbow, giving them a high Dex and a high Con to add to their armor class.

Whether you're a brute-force knife fighter, a tough-as-nails duelist, or a Wyatt Earp-style lawman who just walks out into a hail of gunfire like it ain't no thing, a few levels of barbarian will stand you in good stead.

#2: A Touch of Monk

I take my bonus action to kick him in the head. Twice.
Much like the barbarian, people tend to think of characters as being either all monk, or no monk. But while characters who spend their lives in monasteries training in esoteric martial arts can be perfectly viable PCs, monks can also be pit fighters, gladiators, brawlers, and other warriors who know their way around a battlefield even when they're unarmed. Much like I said in The Non-Problem of Making Monks Fit Your Setting, there are all sorts of things this class can be.

And if all you want are their early building blocks, they lend themselves well to a lot of concepts.

The first thing you get is Martial Arts, because of course you do. This lets you deal some real damage with your unarmed strikes, but it also lets you use Strength or Dexterity for your attack and damage rolls. That will come in handy later. You can also make an unarmed strike as a bonus action, if you're wielding a monk weapon (defined as shortswords and any simple weapon that doesn't have the two-handed or heavy property). So, right out of the gate, you have something you can do with your bonus action. You also get unarmored defense, allowing you to add your Wisdom modifier to your AC along with your Dex modifier when not using a shield or wearing armor. Then at second level you get ki points, and you can do all sorts of fun things with those even if you stop at 2 levels.

So what would you mix that with? Well, there are all kinds of possibilities.

For example, let's go back to the rogue. Whether you're a spy trying to look unassuming, or you're an enforcer who doesn't need showy weapons to put a hurt on your target. All you need is a dagger (since sneak attack requires a weapon, and your unarmed strikes specifically don't fulfill that requirement), and then once you get your big shot in, you finish them off with a strategic kick to the throat. Or two. Alternatively, say you were a fighter who relied more on their Dexterity than raw power, typically fighting with nothing more than a shortsword. The dueling fighting style dovetails perfectly with monk abilities, letting you stick, move, and headbutt someone if the stab doesn't do the job. That works quite well if you're going for a Porthos kind of feel.

#3: A Whiff of Rogue

It doesn't take much.
Rogues are, honestly, one of my favorite classes to dip with. While I am firmly opposed to the arbitrary limitations on sneak attack, and this edition's insistence that good rogues are Dex-based rogues, the class still offers advantages. First level gives you sneak attack, expertise, and thieves' cant, which are all handy things to have. Then second level gives you Cunning Action, which is one of the most fun bonus actions to abuse in the whole game. Especially if you're annoyed that you can't just make an Acrobatics check to avoid opportunity attacks like you could in older games.

And rogue mixes with all kinds of fun stuff. A rogue/barbarian might be a wrestler using Expertise and Rage to choke out opponents far larger than himself. A rogue/fighter might move around the battlefield with ease, dashing, evading, and remaining mobile in order to do the most damage. Even a rogue/warlock might always have a trick up their sleeve, especially if they've gone pact of the blade and want to appear unarmed when they enter hostile territory to do a job.

#4: A Dash of Fighter

I had to pay for wizard college somehow... so I did cage fights on the weekends.
A level dip into fighter is a long-standing tradition among multiclass enthusiasts because it's front-loaded with so many fun toys. That, at least, didn't change with editions. At first level you get to grab a fighting style, which is always a glorious thing to have, and you get Second Wind to help keep you going. At second level you get Action Surge, letting you take two actions on your turn once per day.

Now, spellcasting enthusiasts are well aware of the shenanigans that a fighter dip can give to any caster class. In addition to that extra action (which has to follow all the rules for casting more than once on a turn), you also have armor and weapon proficiencies you wouldn't otherwise have. And since you can cast in armor you're proficient with, if you really want a warlock in full-plate, or a sorcerer in enchanted scale mail, this is an easy way to make that dream come true.

Non-casters can get a lot of extra oomph out of a fighter dip as well. A barbarian with a great ax, the great weapon fighting style, and the ability to get back some hit points while they keep on trucking is going to tickle. A rogue with the duelist fighting style, as mentioned above, is just adding insult to injury. Even monks who want to do some two-weapon fighting can boost their impact with a few fighter levels.

#5: A Little Bit of Ranger

Come to papa... just a few more steps...
Rangers get a lot of hate, and in my opinion the complaints are more than valid. That's another discussion for another day, however. What I will say is that the ranger takes the biggest dip before you get any useful toys, and they may not be to everyone's taste... but they can still be a lot of fun.

At second level, for example, you get a fighting style. The list is smaller than the fighter's, but it still has some goodies on it. At third level, though, you can take the Hunter archetype and grab Colossus Slayer, which gives you a bonus d8 of damage once per turn when you hit a creature below its maximum hit points. You'll also get some spells, but just putting your foot into the class won't make those a huge investment.

Who does this work for? Well, if you wanted to be a rogue with a fighting style who gets that extra d8 to make up for lost sneak attack, that would work quite nicely. Especially if you're an ambush archer sort of character. Barbarian/rangers might make for interesting bounty hunters whose tenacity and refusal to go down make them terrifying pursuers. Fighter/rangers might make good switch hitters, able to combine multiple fighting styles into a single whole. Even monk/rangers could get some benefits from their high Wisdom scores while hunting targets with their bare hands.

Remember, Your Class is Not Your Character

Though 5th Edition does its best to push characters into stereotypical roles, it's important to remember that classes are just a meta-term for a certain set of skills. They're building blocks, meant for you to put together an ideal character who does all the things you want. Or, as I said way back in What's In A Name? How Your Character's Class is Limiting Your Creativity, just because you're a member of a certain class, that doesn't mean people immediately see a label on you. So if you need two, or even three, different building blocks, don't be afraid to use them.

That's all for this week's Crunch topic. As readers, do you enjoy seeing Crunch for multiple games, or would you rather I go back to Pathfinder Classic? Leave a comment below!

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