Good afternoon everyone! Today we’re going to be kicking off a new series of articles that talk about everyone’s favorite alternate ruling, fea- no, multiclassing! Get those Wizard levels ready, because we’re diving right into dissecting the Basics of Multiclassing!!
What is Multiclassing and Why Do It?
Multiclassing is an optional (though often used) ruling that allows you to take levels in multiple different classes. That means that your Fighter that started out just swinging around a sword can pick up a spellbook and begin to practice arcane magic and take some levels in Wizard. Likewise, he could travel down a more vicious path, opting to lean into the rage of combat and take some levels in Barbarian. When you multiclass, you gain all the features of the new class available at whatever class level: their hit dice, certain proficiencies, and class features such as Channel Divinities, Extra Attacks, Spellcasting, etc. For example, if our aforementioned Fighter takes a level in Wizard, he uses a d6 as his level up die, doesn’t gain any weapon/armor/skill proficiencies, but does gain the Spellcasting feature available to Wizards as well as their Arcane Recovery.
Now the real question, why multiclass? If I’m spending levels in other classes, that means I’m missing out on capstones and higher level abilities right? I feel that multiclassing has two purposes: to cover the weak points of a single class or to amplify the strengths of a single class. Let me explain….
Rangers. What they lack in combat, they make up for in natural exploration and guiding the party into uncharted territory. However, many campaigns including the modules released by Wizards of the Coast don’t have many places for that natural exploration to shine. One way to help shore up the weaknesses of ranger is taking levels into rogue, granting you extra damage with Sneak Attack and some good bonus action economy with Cunning Action. You can also use the Expertise to gain proficiency in skills like Perception, Survival, or Investigation… three key skills for a Ranger! Just two levels into Rogue turns your Ranger into a very mobile character that takes advantage of Ranger spells like Hunter’s Mark and other features that deal damage in conjunction with Sneak Attack to keep their damage competitive with other classes.
On the other hand, let’s take a look at Warlocks. Let’s be real, their defining feature is Eldritch Blast. With invocations like Agonizing Blast, Lance of Lethargy, and Repelling Blast, this cantrip is going to be your go to for nearly everything. If you wanted to focus on this and make it even better, you could pick up a few levels into Sorcerer. Grabbing Twinned Spell allows you to effectively double your Eldritch Blasts each turn, and you can feel free to turn those Warlock spells into Sorcery Points since you get them back on a short rest!
As you can see, multiclassing grants you much more versatility than a single class will. It allows you to both make very specific characters who are good at one thing as well as jack of all trades characters that can do it all (looking at you Hexblade Warlock/Vengeance paladin). However, multiclassing isn’t all fun without any drawbacks…
Drawbacks of Multiclassing
One drawback I mentioned earlier is the loss of capstone features. While classes like the Ranger don’t mind this too much since their capstone is awful, the thought of losing Primal Champion on a Barbarian, Archdruid for your Druid, and your totally badass Paladin capstones is a little worrisome. This can be slightly assuaged by the knowledge that most campaigns don’t go up to level 20, but for those that do losing out on a capstone can be really unfortunate.
However, perhaps the biggest drawback of multiclassing is getting it started. Many “builds” online detail a character at level 20, with 10 Bard levels, 7 Fighter levels, and 3 Rogue levels. However, your average multiclass will take more time than a single class to “power spike.” Personally I’ve experienced it where I’m just hitting level 5 in a class while my other party members are getting their 5th level spells, and it’s a feeling that can start to actually make you feel a little underpowered while you wait for your class combination to kick in.
Finally, and this one is another that I have personal experience with… it could lead to inter-group conflict at the table. Let me regale you with a short story…
| And he rose, cursed sword in hand… what was once a stalwart Fighter now dedicating his servitude to the entity within the Sword, whatever it may be. With this boon, the fighter…|
Learned to tempt and honey his words where he could not before. The Bard slowly became quieter as the Fighter took his place in diplomacy.
Learned to swing his sword with greater efficiency and call upon his patron to smite his foes, causing the Paladin to question her own combat effectiveness and devotion to her Oath.
Learned to transmute his weapon, forging it into an Obsidian Bow that always found its mark. Doubt seeded into the Ranger’s mind, for why would they need her as a sharpshooter if the Fighter could do it himself?
Slowly, the Fighter needed not to rely on his party. His patron made him stronger, his patron made him self-reliant and arrogant. No longer did he need this group to weigh him down…
Okay so a little dramatic, but in a game we played the DM allowed the Fighter to basically switch his character down later into the game, including moving his 22 in Strength into Charisma. The fighter quickly became better at everything than everyone else, and it caused some animosity at the table. Consider this when you multiclass, since it can lead to some out of game conflict when you end up stepping on the toes of other party members!
Tips for Multiclassing
Finally, we’re going to get into some tips for multiclassing and some general things you should know! Perhaps the first and most clear choice for multiclassing is that you should multiclass into something that would make sense for your character, and this is sort of reflected in the rules. In order to take levels into a certain class, you will need at least a 13 in the main and sometimes secondary stat of the class. This often doesn’t allow the odd multiclass such as Barbarian/Wizard, but it’s also completely up to you with how you build your character.
While some multiclasses are optimal (Warlock and any other Charisma class) and others are… questionable at best (The Monk that sings while he punches), all of them are possible and should reflect your character and their development!
Another tip for multiclassing is to keep track of your spell slots! Put simply, full casters get all of their normal spell slots. If you go 5 levels into Wizard and 5 levels into Cleric, you’ll have the same amount of spell slots if you were to go 10 levels into Wizard. However, you can only prepare spells up to level 3 in each class, since that’s what you can prepare at level 5! If you’re multiclassing into a half-caster say, 5 levels into Sorcerer and 5 levels into Paladin, then you use your full caster table for Sorcerer and add half your Paladin levels rounded DOWN. Therefore, you’ll have the spell slots of a 7th level Sorcerer, since you’re rounding down the Paladin spells. That’s why they’re called half casters! Same mantra for third-casters, so a Level 5 Wizard/Level 5 Eldritch Knight will have the spell slots of a Level 6 Wizard!
Here‘s an awesome link to help you calculate the spell slots you’ll have with your multiclass. Finally, Pact Magic from Warlocks is completely separate from Spell Slots, so you have your normal Spell Slot table from your Sorcerer levels and then your separate Pact Magic spell slots.
The last tip and most important one… have fun with it! While most people multiclass to optimize, I’m a personal believer in multiclasing to fit the character. If my fighter had a soul shaking experience that caused them to lose the things they fight for, maybe they take up a new set of Oaths and take levels into Paladin. I DM for a rogue that was offered strength and power for exacting vengeance on behalf of his patron, prompting him to take a few levels into Warlock! Talk with your DM about it, since randomly springing a multiclass onto them could really screw up with their plans for their campaign/your character development!
As a closing statement on why you should multiclass, I leave you with this.
Alright, we’re gonna go ahead and call it there for today since this is article is getting long! Moving forward, we’ll take a deeper dive into multiclassing and even look at some choice multiclasses to analyze them. Thank you all for tagging along and feel free to ask us any questions or give us feedback over on our twitter or instagram! Again, thank you guys so much for spending the time to give this a read 🙂