This article is a 15,000 word, in-depth analysis of multiclassing. In it, we discuss the benefits and drawbacks of multiclassing, as well as the most common mistakes people make when taking additional classes. It is divided into several sections going through what multiclassing is, how it works, and some suggestions for picking a class. Additionally, we have a final section that examines all the different combinations, which we have rated according to our own opinions based on the synergy of the class features and themes.
Magic had always run strongly through Carnell’s veins. It was a gift of her late father, who was a powerful sorcerer in his day. She studied at the War Wizard Academy to learn magical theory in hopes of putting her power to use, and became an Eldritch Knight. But the power in her blood is more than simply an innate connection to the Weave; she carries in her the blood of dragons, and the stronger she becomes, the more eagerly that power calls out to be tapped. One day, as a troll bears down on her, Carnell draws on that power to replenish her depleted magic and hurl the baleful flames needed to destroy her foe.
Scarcely a day has passed that Arlen hasn’t thought of his late master. After years in the clutches of the notorious bandit leader, Arlen had been rescued when the proud knight rode into camp and slew the outlaws, all save for the twelve-year-old boy, whom he took as a squire. When the civil war made him an outlaw again, Arlen took up with a free company across the sea, putting his sword to use for coin. Little had he suspected then that he would ever return to the dishonourable tactics he’d learned fighting bigger children in the streets. As he looks down at the corpse of the giant they’d slain, Arlen decides that he should try to integrate more old, dirty tricks into his regular strategy.
Lifting a piece of chalk, Adela clenches her teeth and curses her old masters again. Soon, they would see that she was right. She draws the final piece of the circle, a focus through which she could channel the magic for the spell. It had to be controlled this way; the power was far too great to contain in flesh and blood. She wasn’t seeking just any plane of existence, she was trying to pierce the metaphysical boundaries of the multiverse. With the circle complete, Adela focuses her mind, pulling against the strings of the Weave. Power flows through her and into the circle. Gradually, she draws more and more magic, until at last the circle resonated at just the right harmony. Sweat pouring down her brow as she balances the power, the young woman closes her eyes and looks into the void. And the void looks back.
All of these individuals are examples of multiclass characters—individuals who have expanded their abilities to include a new class. The reasons for taking a second class vary by character, and by player. Often, there are story-related reasons for the shift. Other times, it is simply to get access to features that compliment existing abilities. Regardless of the reasons, there are some important things to remember about multiclassing that will save you headaches later on.
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What Is Multiclassing?
Multiclassing is a simply taking one or more levels in a class that is not the class you started with. You could, for instance, take three levels in fighter to become an Eldritch Knight and then switch over to wizard in order to further your character’s magical abilities. Any class combination is possible, as long as you meet the prerequisites (see below).
It is important to note that multiclassing in 5th edition is a variant. Though multiclassing, in some form or another, goes back to 2nd Edition and has long been an established part of the game, there were many people who grew frustrated with the manner in which multiclassing allowed for combinations that completely destroyed any concept of balance and encouraged ‘min-maxing’. The edition that shall not be named attempted to resolve the problem by effectively destroying the multiclass mechanic, one of the many reasons the edition was crucified by fans. Realizing the error of their ways, the developers took a complete 180° turn on the matter (as well as pretty much everything else they had done) when designing 5th edition, eliminating virtually all the restrictions and divesting themselves of all responsibility for player shenanigans by slapping the ‘variant’ label on it, leaving discretion for the use of this mechanic up to the Dungeon Master. Some DMs do not allow multiclassing, and that’s their prerogative. Be sure to check with them before making a multiclassed character. Many DMs, including ourselves, are happy to allow multiclassing where a character has shown a compelling reason for it, and discourage it when it is simply done for mechanical purposes. For this reason, we will take class themes and roleplaying into consideration when discussing multiclassing options.
How Do I Multiclass?
The rules for multiclassing are explained in chapter 6, “Customization Options”, in the Player’s Handbook, including the prerequisites you must meet in order to advance in another class and how certain class features stack or do not stack. We have already written about the more confusing interactions: multiclass spellcasting and calculating Armour Class (AC) when you have multiple versions of Unarmoured Defence. There are a few other points that can be confusing for players new to multiclassing, outlined below.
- You Add Levels Together For Tracking Experience. Regardless of how many levels you have in however many classes, you always combine them to determine your total level and the experience points needed to advance to the next level. For example, if you have two levels in cleric and two levels in paladin and you want to gain a third paladin level, you must first accumulate enough experience to reach 5th level, not 3rd level.
- You Can’t Multiclass Into The Same Class. Many people have inquired about doing this in order to gain the perks of another subclass of their existing class. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way.
- You Must Meet Your Current Class’ Prerequisites To Take Levels In Another Class. For example, if you are a fighter who wishes to take levels in wizard, you not only need Intelligence 13 to become a wizard, you also need either Strength 13 or Dexterity 13 to multiclass as a fighter.
- You Must Meet Ability Score Prerequisites With Your Base Statistics. As confirmed by Jeremy Crawford, the developers intended for ability score prerequisites to be based on non-temporary scores. In other words, slapping on a headband of intellect to have a higher Intelligence score doesn’t qualify you to multiclass into wizard, nor does wearing gauntlets of ogre power qualify you to become a barbarian.
- You Don’t Get Multiple Extra Attacks. If you have levels in two classes that grant you the Extra Attack feature (for example, barbarian and ranger), you do not gain the ability to make three attacks as part of the Attack action. (The ability to make more than two attacks as part of the Attack action is exclusive to fighters of 11th level or higher, whose Extra Attack feature explicitly states that they may do so.)
How To Pick A New Class
Now that we’ve covered some of the common mistakes, we can move on to some of the more fun stuff. In this section, we’ll look at how to select the right class.
Suggestion 1: Pick A Class That Has The Same Primary Attributes
If you’re a sorcerer and you want to get access to some healing spells, you may think that you should take one or more levels in cleric. Certainly, there’s nothing wrong with such a decision, especially if you have a compelling roleplaying reason for taking cleric levels. However, another option that may work better for you would be to instead take levels in bard. Bards have the same primary attribute as sorcerers (Charisma), and so you won’t need to boost your Wisdom in order to get good use out of your healing spells.
Suggestion 2: Pick A Class That Covers Your Weaknesses
Every class has its weaknesses. Many spellcasting classes leave you with lower AC, while many martial classes have no reliable way to maintain battlefield supremacy or handle groups of enemies. Multiclassing gives you an opportunity to expand your abilities to cover your strategic shortcomings. If you’re a wizard with low Constitution, a dip into fighter could get you access to some decent armour and a higher hit die, as well as Second Wind, greatly improving your toughness.
Suggestion 3: Pick A Class With Synergistic Abilities
Different classes are designed around different playstyles, but their abilities can be equally valuable to other classes. If you are a fighter who shares the front line with other characters, taking a rogue level to get Sneak Attack will make you especially deadly because you will regularly have another character within 5 feet of your target. Likewise if you are a barbarian who already uses Reckless Attack every turn to get advantage on attack rolls with Strength-based weapons, that rogue level will really help with damage output (provided that you use a weapon with the finesse property).
Suggestion 4: Avoid Classes That Have Mutually Exclusive Abilities
There are not very many class combinations that don’t work well together, but many don’t work as well as they may initially appear. For instance, an Arcane Trickster who opts to take some barbarian levels for that juicy d12 hit die and the ability to add even more damage to their attacks while raging will be disappointed if they thought they could also cast their spells at the same time, since raging barbarians can’t concentrate on spells. Likewise with a fighter who is partial to heavy armour, as it is also mutually exclusive with the rage feature. Rogues and fighters can certainly get many benefits from multiclassing as a barbarian, but it may require that they give up other perks.
Suggestion 5: A One/Two/Three Level Dip May Be All You Need
Unlike in previous editions like 3rd, where you suffered penalties to all XP you gained if there was a significant difference between the levels you had in multiple classes, 5th edition leaves you free to take only a few levels from other classes. If you are a wizard who wants to hold up to punishment better, one level in fighter gets you armour proficiencies and Second Wind, two levels gets you Action Surge (the only way to cast more than one non-cantrip spell in a turn), and a third lets you take the Eldritch Knight fighter subclass that allows you to learn two more cantrips and three more spells—better than you would get by taking another level of wizard.
Other classes require even less of a dip. Two levels in druid gets you access to the druid subclass of your choice, allowing you to jump up to CR 1 wild shape options if you go Circle of the Moon. Clerics only need a one-level dip to grant some very nice Divine Domain features—a single level of Life Cleric grants heavy armour proficiency and more effective healing spells. Yes, please!
Going beyond three levels in a class may be something that you consider for some classes (a rogue may really want the fighter’s extra attack). The only major caveat to this is that, if your main class is a spellcaster, you will need at least 17 levels in that class in order to gain access to its top-level spells. This is the case even if your other class is also a spellcaster, since you always know/prepare spells for each class as though you were a single-classed character (for more about this, check out our article on multiclass spellcasting).
In this section, we’re going to look at how useful it is to add levels of one class to another. The entries are listed in alphabetical order first by starting class, then by the additional classes that you can add. There are no restricted class combinations; you can combine any class with any class as long as you meet the prerequisites of both.
We have colour coded the different options for ease of reading. Red is awful, and should be avoided unless you have a very compelling story reason for it. Green is for a decent choice, either because it’s a combination that is sensible to each class or because they have synergy. Blue is like green, except that the combination has one build with thematic or mechanical synergy that stands out as superior. Gold is a great combination, with overall strong thematic connections and abilities that compliment each other perfectly. Ratings are subjective to the main class, not an objective assessment of the class combination itself; the same class combination may have different ratings based on which class is your primary focus, depending on how useful it is in comparison to other options.
To read the justification for the ratings, click on the arrow beside each class.
The greatest benefit with multiclassing as a barbarian is that the class is fairly limited in focus and nearly every other class can add something new to your playstyle. The greatest obstacle with multiclassing as a barbarian is that your Rage feature makes you unable to cast or concentrate on spells, making full-spellcasting classes a less appealing option. Barbarians benefit strongly from Strength and Constitution, and should also keep their Dexterity relatively high for better AC and initiative.
- Bard. This combination, often affectionately called the ‘bardbarian’, has plenty of novelty but little synergy. It has attracted a surprisingly loyal cult following that we at Dungeon Master’s Workshop never could wrap our heads around. You are much better off taking a level in rogue if you want to get more skills and additional use out of your bonus action.
- Cleric. As is the general trend with full-casting classes, the fact that barbarians can’t cast or concentrate on spells while raging is a major obstacle to any synergy between the two classes. The only reason this option is green is because of the benefits you could get from a single-level dip for the war domain. Being able to make use of any Wisdom modifier you may have to make bonus action attacks without having to go into a frenzy and, once per encounter, adding +10 to one attack roll are really great bonuses for a barbarian. Additionally, there are many gods of war who would look favourably on a barbarian.
- Druid. This combination can easily make a fantastic tank if you are a Bear Totem barbarian who takes the Circle of the Moon option. Suddenly, you can become an extremely tough beast that is resistant to all damage (except psychic damage) and can expend the spell slots you can’t cast with anyway in order to heal yourself. This choice would be gold if there was similar synergy with the Circle of the Land option.
- Fighter. One of the most likely multiclass combinations in the game, and for good reason. The themes have significant overlap and the abilities have great synergy. Taking a level in fighter grants access to a fighting style to boost damage even more, plus Second Wind for some additional toughness, and a two-level dip gives you the enormously useful Action Surge.
- Monk. Monk and barbarian double up on a lot of features like Unarmoured Defence and increased movement speed, and a barbarian is always going to be too busy using a greatsword (up to 8th level) or a battleaxe (after 8th level) to bother using monk weapons. On top of that, barbarians would never have the patience to excel at a monk’s path.
- Paladin. While you have the ability to siphon all your spell slots into divine smites to boost your damage, paladin is still not that great a choice. The class has two archetypes that are based around using features to gain advantage on attacks, which you are already doing well enough using Reckless Attack. As well, the chaotic nature of barbarians conflicts with the lawful nature of a paladin.
- Ranger. It’s not a level in fighter, but that doesn’t mean it’s wasted. Rangers get a number of very neat perks and both classes share a theme of wilderness survivalists. If you’re in a hack-and-slash campaign, the 3rd-level Hunter’s Horde Breaker ability will really help thin out the enemy ranks, while Colossus Slayer is always a great way to boost your average per-turn damage.
- Rogue. The other popular and powerful multiclass option for barbarians. A single-level dip gives you an extra d6 damage on all your melee damage rolls when you use Reckless Attack (otherwise known as ‘the reason you have the biggest hit die’). A two-level dip will let you more reliably close the distance to your intended target by letting you Dash as a bonus action. We honestly wanted to make this a green option at first because many rogues would spit on the honour that is so highly valued by many barbarian tribes. Then we accepted that the beneficial mechanics could be explained in ways that suited the theme of a barbarian, such as a hunter’s practiced aim (bonus damage from sneak attack) and exceptional athleticism (increased speed by dashing). The only thing to remember is that Sneak Attack only works with a finesse or ranged weapon, so you will have to trade in the two-handers for something lighter.
- Sorcerer. In general, taking a level in a class based around a single feature that you won’t be able to use in battle (spellcasting) is just a bad idea. Not even the shared tendency toward chaos between the two classes is enough to make up for this.
- Warlock. This option is green solely because of the possibilities with a Hexblade from Xanathar’s Guide to Everything. Get to 5th level in warlock and take the Eldritch Smite invocation to turn each of those two 3rd-level spell slots into an extra 4d8 damage you can deal while raging and dealing even more bonus damage to the target of your Hexblade’s Curse. The downside is that you need Charisma 13 in order to become a warlock, so you will be spreading yourself very thin if you have also invested in Strength, Dexterity, and Constitution.
- Wizard. These two classes are diametrically opposed in theme and playstyle, with no overlap in applicable class features.
The greatest benefit with multiclassing as a bard is that the class is a very well-rounded foundation for whatever build you want to make. The greatest drawback of multiclassing as a bard is that you want to have at least five or six levels in the class (depending on what you’re building) in order to get the most out of the investment, which can delay progression in other levels. Bards should always make Charisma their highest ability.
- Barbarian. As described above, the ‘bardbarian’ is a build with little synergy. At the end of the day, if you want to make a skald, just make a valour bard. That’s the whole inspiration behind that subclass. There’s no point in hindering yourself with a useless level to get flavour you are already able to justify using.
- Cleric. It’s honestly hard to go wrong with a level in cleric, simply because you get access to so much. Medium armour (or heavy armour with the right Domain choice), shields, three cantrips, cleric spells (two of which are always prepared and don’t count against your total number of prepared spells), and an immediate feature from your Divine Domain. This would be a gold option if the cleric spellcasting ability was Charisma, and not Wisdom. If you find yourself having to heal your companions frequently, go Life domain to immediately gain heavy armour and permanent access to a boosted cure wounds, allowing you to take a different bard spell with your very limited number of spells known. If you’re a valour bard in a more front-line capacity, the Tempest domain also gives you heavy armour as well as some added damage against creatures who attack you.
- Druid. While there could be some interesting thematic combinations with these classes, you really need to keep up your levels in druid for the abilities gained from that class to remain useful to you.
- Fighter. Though a decidedly better option for a valour bard, there’s still a lot of usefulness in getting Second Wind and Action Surge from a two-level dip. This option is blue as it has a lot of mechanical and thematic synergy with certain kinds of bards and only certain benefits for others.
- Monk. Not only do monks and bards have opposing natures—order vs. chaos—but their abilities simply don’t have any real synergy. Each class has a major ability that is useless to the other: Charisma (bards) and Wisdom (monks). Also, both classes would compete to use your bonus action, which should really be reserved to hand out your inspiration dice.
- Paladin. There is a lot of synergy between the abilities of bards and paladins. Unfortunately, to make the most out of the paladin class you need to invest at least six levels (for the Aura of Protection) or seven levels (for the second Sacred Oath feature). With this deep an investment, you will lose out on the bard’s 18th-level Magical Secrets and maybe the capstone ability of the bard subclass you took, which is a serious sacrifice. Not only that, paladins are a serious bunch, and simply taking a few levels for a perk or two is certain to anger the higher powers.
- Ranger. There is no benefit useful to a bard that you could gain from taking a few levels in ranger that you couldn’t get along with other, better benefits by going a different class.
- Rogue. What’s better than being proficient in at least five skills? How about proficiency in yet another skill and a damage boost with most weapons you’re likely to use? We considered making this green because anything more than a single-level dip quickly is worth less for the investment (you are already using your bonus action to inspire people, so Cunning Action is less useful to you), but the benefits from just one level really match the theme of the bard and so gold it is.
- Sorcerer. Since Charisma is already going to be your highest ability score, sorcerer is a great option if you’re looking to add spells to your repertoire. Though both bard and sorcerer have a notably limited spell list, there isn’t a whole lot of overlap between the two and you can certainly find a number of offensive spells in the sorcerer list that can be of great use.
- Warlock. A two-level dip into warlock is probably the single best multiclass option for bards. With a single level, you get access to the best cantrip in the game: eldritch blast. With a second level, you can make the best cantrip in the game even better by adding your Charisma bonus to the damage, in addition to getting access to your choice of Pact Boon. What’s more, you can still advance bard to level 18 off that dip and get access to 9th-level spells from any class. Oh, and the spell slots you get from this dip are in addition to the spell slots you get from bard, as opposed to the warlock levels counting toward your level on the multiclass spellcasting table, meaning that you actually can get a maximum of six 1st-level spell slots. Plus, the musician who sells their soul to the devil to play music is a fantastic trope worthy of being played. Alternatively, a bard may look to the mysterious and beautiful archfey as a kind of muse. The options are many and varied.
- Wizard. One of the biggest restrictions with bards is their limited number of spells known. One of the biggest benefits of being a wizard is getting to have more spells than you know what to do with, including unparalleled access to utility spells. What’s more, a two-level dip also gets you an Arcane Tradition feature. Overall, a solid choice. The only reason this is green is because it requires that you invest in Intelligence—an ability which no other class uses, not even bards. Given that you are already focusing on Charisma, Dexterity, and probably Constitution, this is asking for quite a bit.
The greatest benefit with multiclassing as a cleric is that you will already have your first Domain feature and a solid basis for who your character is. The greatest drawback of multiclassing as a cleric is that it delays your access to higher-level cleric spells. Clerics should always have a high Wisdom score.
- Barbarian. Generally, barbarian is a poor choice for anyone who has taken levels in a full spellcasting class because their Rage feature prevents them from casting or concentrating on spells during battle.
- Bard. Clerics are already spread thinly enough. Having to have 13 in both Wisdom and Charisma in order to make this combination doesn’t leave much room for Strength and Constitution. Only a few clerics atypical clerics would benefit from this combination.
- Druid. Even though both classes share a spellcasting ability (Wisdom), they also share much of their spell list and therefore will only manage to double-up on what they could get by staying in the same class. Additionally, many Domains that you could have chosen would have granted you heavy armour proficiency—which is entirely wasted on druids who don’t wear armour made of metal (read: all the heavy armours, with the possible exception of ring mail (so… all the heavy armours that matter)).
- Fighter. Unlike their crusading brothers, the paladins, clerics are a bit shortchanged in the combat department. Adding martial weapon proficiency, a Fighting Style, and a bonus action heal for yourself (saving your spell slots for others) sets you fairly well in the front-line capacity. Grab a second level for the highly desirable Action Surge, allowing you to attack in the same turn you cast that clutch healing spell (or cast two healing spells).
- Monk. While it requires ignoring the cleric’s very appealing armour proficiencies and trading out an investment in Strength for Dexterity, a War Domain cleric/monk makes sense thematically and would get abilities that use different elements of the action economy, allowing for a fully-rounded character.
- Paladin. It’s an old story. Acolyte goes on an adventure. Acolyte finds they need to focus a bit more on their martial abilities. Acolyte enters a sacred order of their faith to bring new features to the battlefield. The cleric/paladin combination is probably the most likely of all multiclass combinations. At least, thematically. This build can be forgiven for spreading you a bit thinly (Strength, Constitution, Wisdom, and Charisma) by paying enormous dividends on your investment. Even just going three levels into paladin will get you very useful Sacred Oath features as well as count as an additional level on the multiclass spellcasting chart. This option is the reason why Fighter option above is green; a cleric of a war deity is a lot more likely to take a level in paladin to explore martial supremacy.
- Ranger. A Nature Domain cleric/ranger can be a force to be reckoned with, being able to stack Divine Strike on top of a Hunter’s Colossus Slayer feature, not to mention the hunter’s mark spell, dealing an average of 17 (3d8 + 1d6) plus Dexterity modifier damage at 11th level (cleric 8/ranger 3) while wielding a longsword or a longbow. This while benefiting from heavy armour proficiency and the ability to use a reaction to become resistant to your choice of elemental damage type as a reaction (take that, dragon breath). Plus, you get a bonus skill when you multiclass into ranger. With the right kind of character backstory, this could be better than the gold options.
- Rogue. Two words: Invoke Duplicity. A cleric with the Trickery Domain can sneak attack all by themselves by getting all up in their target’s face along with their illusory duplicate. And, as many inclined to roguish tendencies are also likely to whisper prayers to gods of trickery, the combination also makes thematic sense. If there were more builds that made sense thematically or mechanically with these two classes, this option would be gold.
- Sorcerer. It is rare for two full spellcasting classes to have any synergy, and that’s not why this option is green. Any level investment into sorcerer, barring story reasons, is largely a waste up until you get three levels in the class. It is at this point that you get access to the Metamagic feature and can choose two options for improving any spell you cast—including cleric spells. Pick Distant Spell to be able to deliver cure wounds at a 30-foot range, or Twin Spell to deliver it to two creatures at once!
- Warlock. The introduction of the Celestial patron option in Xanathar’s Guide to Everything really brought this class combination to the fore. Not only does the warlock now have thematic connections to the cleric, but the way that Pact Magic works presents an enormous mechanical advantage, as well. For a two-level dip, you get a divine patron (probably a celestial servant of your god…) who gives you more cantrips and more healing, two cool invocations that can really make your character unique, and two bonus 1st-level spell slots that are in addition to what you get from the cleric’s Spellcasting feature (allowing you a maximum of six 1st-level spell slots).
- Wizard. Two full spellcasting classes rarely combine well as it is difficult to balance the investment needed to keep both options relevant. You gain spell slots on a 1:1 basis on the multiclass spellcasting table, but you lose out on being able to actually cast the higher-level spells, and both wizard and cleric have spells above 6th level that are not worth losing out on. That said, a two-level dip into wizard gets you access to an Arcane Tradition of your choice, which comes stock with some extremely useful abilities. Divination is easily our favourite for this kind of multiclassing, as the free “re-rolls” from Portent have the same usefulness across every tier of play, while some of the other features are eventually overshadowed by other magical effects the character will learn.
The greatest benefit to multiclassing as a druid is that they get a lot of mileage out of Wisdom-based abilities. The greatest drawback of multiclassing is that it delays progression in the druid’s own class abilities, which become less effective if you don’t keep your levels up. Druids should always have high Wisdom.
- Barbarian. What’s better than turning into a bear and mauling your enemies? Why, turning into a bear and ragemauling your enemies! This is the sole occasion where it makes sense to take levels in a barbarian when you are a spellcaster. With three levels in barbarian, you can follow the Path of the Berserker to make an additional attack with whatever natural weapons your form has, or follow the Path of the Totem Warrior to become resistant to all damage types (except psychic). We prefer the latter option, as then you aren’t exhausted if you have to drop your rage (and wild shape) to cast a spell, not that you will usually be casting spells since you’ll be using a bonus action to burn the slot for healing.
- Bard. Generally, two full spellcasting classes don’t make for a good combination. Additionally, the fact that the bard uses a different spellcasting ability means that you would have to find some way to get your Charisma high enough without sacrificing the investments you should be making in Dexterity and Wisdom (and, if you’re a non-Moon Circle druid, you should also be investing in Constitution, as well). And, if you do happen to have a high enough Charisma, you’d going to want to have at least five levels in bard in order to get the Bardic Inspiration every encounter. It takes too steep of an investment to really be worth it when you consider that this also would keep you from getting 9th-level druid spells.
- Cleric. You don’t want to take more than two levels in cleric, and that’s to get access to the Divine Domain of your choice and maybe the appropriate Channel Divinity option. Some options are better than others, depending on what you want to do. If you want to play support, go one level of Life domain to get cure wounds permanently prepared as well as a bonus to all healing spells (including goodberry). If you want to improve your combat abilities, take two levels of the War domain for extra bonus action attacks and a once-per-rest +10 to hit. The former option makes more sense with the theme of the druid, otherwise there isn’t as much great synergy options. Certainly, if the Nature domain was similarly great at low levels, this would be a solid gold option. As it is now, it’s halfway between good and amazing.
- Fighter. There’s really only one major benefit druids can get out of taking some fighter levels, and that’s Action Surge. This is one of the single best features in the game, and druids can really make excellent use out of it. In beast shape, they can use it to make another Multiattack. In non-beast shape, they can use it to cast a second full-fledged spell. Perhaps our favourite combination is when they’ve already cast call lightning and entered a wild shape; they can use their normal action to Multiattack, and then use Action Surge to call down another bolt of lightning. If there were more features that had the same applicability, or if it didn’t require a significant investment in fighter to get more action surges, this would be a gold option.
- Monk. While there isn’t much thematic synergy between the two classes, a single-level dip into monk is enough to get you a bonus to AC better than any armour you could wear. Just remember that Unarmoured Defence is a formula for calculating your AC, and therefore it doesn’t stack with the bonuses you would get to AC from natural armour in wild shape. For more about how AC works, check out our article about calculating AC.
- Paladin. An Oath of the Ancients paladin dip would certainly fit the theme of a druid character, even if you don’t actually put in the full three-level investment and just aim to get Divine Smite at paladin level 2. With this, you could get another use for those spell slots while in wild shape, turning them into extra damage on your beast form attacks. Unfortunately, there’s not much else by way of synergy between the two classes, and to even take paladin levels you’re going to need to have 13 in both Strength and Charisma—two stats that druids really don’t need. If adding Divine Smite to your beast shape wasn’t such a fantastic combination, this option would be red because it spreads you so thinly in attributes that aren’t useful to the other class.
- Ranger. This is an easy multiclass for druids, since they will almost always have 13 in Dexterity and Wisdom. Additionally, there’s the whole wilderness survivalist theme that the two classes share. One single level in ranger gives you the really cool 1st-level abilities Favoured Enemy and Natural Explorer. These may not be especially applicable to combat, but that’s not to say that they won’t be of enormous aid to the exploration pillar of the game. If you take ranger to 3rd level, the Hunter archetype has some fantastic options that will enhance your wild shape combat, too.
- Rogue. If you share the front line with allies, a single level of rogue is a great option to help boost the damage of your attacks with Sneak Attack. If you go to 3rd level, we recommend taking the Inquisitive archetype from Xanathar’s Guide to Everything to be able to Sneak Attack all by yourself. If there was any thematic synergy between the two classes, this would be a gold option.
- Sorcerer. As a Charisma-based, full spellcasting class, the sorcerer has little to offer as a multiclass option that is worth the investment. While the Metamagic options may be of use to non-Moon Circle druids, the proportion of druids who opt to not go that route is understandably small. Additionally, there’s not a lot of synergy between the two classes; one derives power from their bloodline, the other communes with nature to gain magical abilities.
- Warlock. While the warlock is a Charisma-based spellcasting class, a single level dip into a warlock of the Archfey patron immediately gets new cantrips, a bonus spell slot that stacks with the spell slots you get from your Spellcasting feature, and one of the best early-game crowd-control abilities that doesn’t rely on spells. With two levels, this increases to two spell slots and also grants you your choice of two Eldritch Invocations, which can really make your character unique.
- Wizard. These two classes are polar opposites; the druid channels the divine power of nature—an act of devotion—to cast divine spells, while a wizard approaches magic like a science, studying for years to manipulate the laws of magic to their desire. Even though wizard has one of those coveted 2nd-level archetype benefits, those are two levels that you are delaying your wild shapes or spell recovery, not to mention advancing your primary spellcasting class (the one that should have your highest stat).
The greatest benefit to multiclassing as a fighter is that you get more ability score increases, allowing you a wider range of options because you can get the requisite ability scores. The greatest drawback to multiclassing as a fighter is that it delays access to the unique benefit for fighters that makes the class so strong: the additional extra attacks, with even a single level elsewhere costing the coveted four attacks per Attack action. A fighter’s highest statistic should be Strength (for melee fighters) or Dexterity (for finesse/ranged fighters).
- Barbarian. This is a match made in the celestial realms. A single level dip gets you bonus to your attack damage, the only hit die that’s higher than your starting one, and resistance to the most common damage types in the game. Additionally, going Path of the Berserker lets you use your bonus action to make yet another attack. This would easily be a gold option if it worked just as well with Dexterity-based fighters.
- Bard. If you’ve got the Charisma for it, a dip into the bard class would grant you significant support abilities. However, the role of the fighter is to be up front and centre, devoting your attention to keeping your foes focused on you and dishing out as much damage as you can. If you’re multiclassing to make the most out of your bonus action, there are so many other, better options for your role.
- Cleric. Now we’re talking. Let’s look at just a few of the options that stand out as amazing Divine Domain choices for a multiclassed fighter. The Tempest domain lets you deal free damage to someone who hits you, which becomes the maximum of that free damage with a second level. Surely, that’s the best choice, right? Well, hang on now. The Light domain let’s you impose disadvantage on an attack made by enemy you’re harassing, once a round up to your Wisdom modifier. Two levels in that gives you a free blast damage effect that also dispels those pesky fields of magical darkness. Sold, aren’t you? Well, just wait until you hear this! The War domain gives you a number of free bonus action attacks equal to your Wisdom modifier with just a single level dip and, with a second level, lets you add +10 to an attack that you really, really need to hit (once between rests). Wow. And, not only all that, but with so many different domains it is easy enough for several different characters to have several different motivations to make this combination. It practically begs you to make a cool story for your character being chosen by the gods!
- Druid. Probably the best way to boost your ability to soak up damage is to add on another health bar. Enter the druid’s wild shape ability. With two levels in druid, you can add another 34-37 hit points to your total (depending on what shape you take), in addition to gaining the fearsome natural attacks of your wild shape. A 2nd-level fighter/2nd-level druid can use his or her Action Surge to make two Multiattacks in bear shape in a single turn! The only way that Action Surge could be more amazing in this combination is if it turned you into two bears. If the CR of your wild shapes wasn’t tied to your druid level, or if there was any thematic connection at all between these two classes, this option would be rated at least blue.
- Monk. The best way for a fighter to improve his or her average damage per round is to find a way to make use of their bonus action. With a two-level dip, you gain enough ki points to make two unarmed attacks as a bonus action twice between rests. Given that most fights don’t last longer than three rounds, this is a fairly solid option. Unfortunately, while many monks may naturally branch into fighter (see below), the opposite is not usually the case. If there were a stronger thematic connection between the classes, this would be a better-rated option.
- Paladin. The paladin offers a fantastic way to use your bonus action through their many unique spells, such as searing smite and thunderous smite. Alternatively, if your bonus action has already been used somehow, you can just burn the spell slots to boost your attack damage with the Divine Smite feature. It’s a solid option for multiclassing, but its features come with some pretty serious strings attached. Being a paladin is not a part-time job, it’s a calling, and any DM should push for this commitment to be taken seriously, especially if their character is a fighter just looking to min-max. With the right kind of story, this option could be gold. Otherwise, it cheapens the significance of the paladin’s oath.
- Ranger. This is a multiclass option that really depends on the kind of campaign you’re in and the kind of character you have. Many characters from a rural background could conceivably progress into this class and get significant benefit from it in the form of the Colossus Slayer and the hunter’s mark spell. However, many other fighters wouldn’t come from an appropriate background to make this a reasonable choice unless they had particular experiences in the campaign.
- Rogue. It is important to remember that the classes that we choose for our characters don’t actually exist. By this, we mean that a fighter won’t think of themselves as belonging to a distinct class of people called ‘fighters’. Some fighters are part of a warrior caste, such as samurai, while others are knights, mercenaries, legionnaires, etc. While the concept of a ‘warrior’ may be shared by all these examples, it is not exclusive to them. The same is true of rogues. There are scouts, assassins, pickpockets, spies, and all manner of other expressions of the class, many of which overlap with roles you would expect to be occupied by fighters. In fact, these two classes more than any others are divorced from specific institutions and philosophies, and are therefore most likely to share skills. The rogue’s Sneak Attack feature doesn’t need to represent dirty, underhanded techniques; it can represent the fighter’s focus on employing unpredictable or even unorthodox techniques in their attacks. Similarly, the ability to Dash and Disengage as a bonus action using the Cunning Action feature is gained by superior training allowing the fighter to maintain battlefield superiority. Unlike the many other multiclassing options, those gained from the rogue can be gained without having to change your fighter’s paradigm. And then there are rogue archetypes like the Swashbuckler, which you can play completely true to the trope and get some crazy good benefits.
- Sorcerer. While the class is based around a common ‘dump stat’, the sorcerer class does offer a better way to blend might and magic. Normally, it takes until you are 18th level in the Eldritch Knight archetype to actually be able to cast a full spell and attack in the same turn (you can do a cantrip and an attack at 7th level). With a few levels in sorcerer, you can do this much earlier by using the Quicken Spell metamagic option. Plus, this makes the spell your bonus action, allowing you to actually take the Attack action and get the benefit of the fighter’s Extra Attack feature, whereas the Eldritch Knight makes a single melee attack as a bonus action after casting a spell. However, remember that there’s a reason that the Eldritch Knight was designed this way. When you cast a spell as a bonus action (such as with the Quicken Spell metamagic option), the only other spell that you can cast in that same turn is a cantrip with a casting time of 1 action. The brilliant thing with the fighter’s Action Surge feature is that it gives you another full action, meaning that at 18th level you can cast a levelled spell with your first action, make a bonus action melee attack, then use your second action from the Action Surge to cast another levelled spell. This won’t make much of a difference to you if your character never gets to that level, but if you think you will make it you should remember that the three-level investment into sorcerer for the Metamagic feature will preclude you from making it to 18th level in fighter (since the cap is level 20).
- Warlock. I know, four blue options in this one class? Well, remember that blue indicates that it is a decent choice, with one amazing option that requires you to follow a specific character archetype. In this case, it’s the Hexblade. Introduced in Xanathar’s Guide to Everything, a single level in the warlock class for the Hexblade patron lets you add your proficiency bonus to your damage rolls and critically hit on a roll of 19+ on the d20—doubling the likelihood that you will critically hit your enemies. On top of that, it gives you access to shield and wrathful smite, two of the most useful spells for a front-line tank. While you wouldn’t get a Pact option until 3rd level (sacrificing your fighter archetype’s capstone ability if you go that route), you get access to a fair number of useful invocations with two levels. Consider taking Grasp of Hadar in order to use your eldritch blast cantrip to pull enemies closer to you (away from your squishier allies and possibly into your threat range). If, for some reason, you invest seven levels into the class, take Relentless Hex in order to be able to use your bonus action to teleport adjacent to the target of your curse (or the hex spell).
- Wizard. Yep, a fifth blue option. This combination is really only beneficial at early levels for Eldritch Knights, boosting their spellcasting abilities by bumping them up on the Multiclass Spellcasting table and offering an Arcane Tradition feature at 2nd level. We avoid going with Abjuration tradition because the ward only gets better with wizard levels (not fighter levels). Hands down our favourite choices are the Evocation tradition for the ability to exclude friendly squares from your evocation spells and the Divination tradition for the highly useful Portent feature.
The greatest benefit to multiclassing as a monk is that you very quickly get a way to use all of your actions in a round with the Ki feature, allowing you to focus your efforts on improving what you can already do. The greatest drawback to multiclassing as a monk is that it delays making the best use of your monk features, which scale with your monk level. A monk’s highest ability score should be Dexterity.
- Barbarian. We love and hate this combination. On the one hand, the two classes are antithetical (order vs. chaos) and you can’t benefit from either the bonus to your damage rolls (unless you make Strength-based attacks) or the barbarian’s Unarmoured Defence feature (since you already have [see PHB 164]). On the other hand, a 2nd-level monk/2nd-level barbarian wielding a staff (using Strength) can use Reckless Attack for advantage on their three attacks (one for the basic attack and two from Flurry of Blows), and that’s just amazing. At 3rd level monk, you can then go into the Way of the Kensei (Xanathar’s Guide to Everything), trade your staff for a longsword, and give yourself a +2 to AC using the Agile Parry benefit. All you have to do is come up with a convincing reason why a monk character would embrace such a chaotic class option.
- Bard. There are no thematic or mechanical advantages to this combination.
- Cleric. With their Wisdom already boosted, monks would certainly qualify to advance in the cleric class and grab their very appealing 1st- and 2nd-level bonuses. It’s hard to go wrong with any of the domain choices, as all can be used as flavour for the particular temple you studied at in your youth and all have some very useful abilities.
- Druid. Druid abilities only remain relevant if the class level keeps up with the threats you face, just like with monks. This is not an ideal combination.
- Fighter. Whenever someone creates a monk character, the gods toss a coin. On a heads, the character is destined to be Bruce Lee. On a tails, the fighter class is still an amazing option from which many monks would still gain significant benefit. Two levels gets you your choice of fighting style (you want Duelling), Action Surge and Second Wind, not to mention a nice d10 hit die for each level. If you really are interested in getting access to one of the fighter archetypes, going Eldritch Knight would also allow you to cast shield to boost your AC even higher.
- Paladin. Advancing in the paladin class will require that you have not three, but four ability scores that are 13 or better. Yikes. Plus, according to that killjoy Jeremy Crawford, the paladin’s Smite won’t work with the monk’s unarmed strikes by RAW. (At our table, we allow the paladin’s Smite to work with the monk’s unarmed attacks for two reasons; first, because it fits the trope of the monk; second, because you don’t get enough paladin spell slots to actually make this combination as broken as it might seem to be.)
- Ranger. This unlikely combination, if a compelling story reason for it can be found, is actually quite strong. With a three-level dip, you would get Wisdom-based spellcasting, a fighting style of your choice, and free extra damage once per turn with the Colossus Slayer option from the Hunter’s Prey feature. This means that the target of your hunter’s mark would take an additional 4 (1d6) damage every time you land a hit, which you can do thrice a turn with Flurry of Blows, and an additional 5 (1d8) damage per turn, easily making this one of the best consistent damage builds. Again, you just need to explain why your monk would ever become a ranger.
- Rogue. Not only is there a deep contradiction in the thematic elements of this combination, it also presents significant bonus action competition. Nonetheless, any monk should be able to meet the Dexterity 13 prerequisite to multiclass for the Sneak Attack at 1st level, and a ninja-flavoured character is certainly possible. This option would rate higher if there weren’t so many other excellent choices.
- Sorcerer. Outside of the thematic combination of a Way of Shadow monk and a Shadow Magic sorcerer (from Xanathar’s), this combination requires too many stats and offers too little in return. Both options will compete in the action economy rather than enhance what the other can do, and it will spread your focus too thinly. These classes are better off being taken by separate characters.
- Warlock. In addition to having no thematic synergy, the options gained by dipping into warlock are simply not worth the investment.
- Wizard. Let’s be clear, here: a class that already should be focusing on three ability scores (Dexterity, Constitution, and Wisdom) should not be bothering with a class that prioritizes the least-used ability score in the game (Intelligence). If you want spells, you’re better off going for a Wisdom-based spellcaster. Plus, there’s very little synergy in theme between the two classes outside a very niche backstory.
The greatest benefit to multiclassing as a paladin is that the class is so robust that it can form a solid foundation for any build you want to pursue that would improve your performance in a given party role (such as tanking, damage dealing, or supporting). The greatest drawback to multiclassing as a paladin is that you already have three abilities you will be trying to focus on, which limits your options. Paladins should always have a high Strength and Charisma.
- Barbarian. As their Dexterity is likely to be low (due to heavy armour not allowing a Dexterity modifier bonus to AC) and their Constitution is unlikely to be as high as it could be (due to having to also focus on Strength and Charisma), it is a steep sacrifice to give up heavy armour in favour of being able to roll your attacks with advantage—especially when they then get to do the same against you. That said, the fantastic thing about the paladin’s Divine Smite feature is that it isn’t casting a spell, and so you can do it while raging, which is a frightening possibility. Additionally, the two classes have little thematic overlap. An Oath of Vengeance paladin could get away with this combination, but not any other kind.
- Bard. The Jack of all Trades (higher initiative on a typically low-Dexterity character) and Bardic Inspiration (better support) are nice, but the real benefit of this combination is getting higher-level spell slots with which to smite. With that in mind, there are better options.
- Cleric. This is the most thematically appropriate multiclass choice for a paladin. A paladin’s vow has sacred weight, and receiving divine favour for your devotion can almost be expected. That said, adding yet another ability score prerequisite while still having enough hit points to tank is a tall order and would spread you very, very thinly.
- Druid. Not only would it require also having to meet yet another ability score prerequisite, but a few levels in druid will quickly become obsolete as the game advances into higher levels. Yes, adding Smite to the multiattack of a bear would be fun, up until the bear form is able to be taken out in a single fireball and you have nothing tougher to become.
- Fighter. Paladins are hardy front-liners, but they truly excel at dealing significant damage quickly using their Divine Smite feature. Two levels in fighter gives you a bonus fighting style (probably Defence if you’ve already got your choice of Great Weapon Fighting or Duelling), Second Wind, and—most importantly—Action Surge. Because smiting twice the number of times in your turn is exactly what would help you be the best paladin you can be.
- Monk. Trying to make a better front-liner by adding on another class that requires you to meet the ability score prerequisite in four abilities, none of which are Constitution, is an exercise in absurdity. Additionally, that killjoy Jeremy Crawford has confirmed that Divine Smite does not work with a monk’s unarmed strikes, so you’re giving up using one of your paladin-only smite spells (wrathful smite, thunderous smite, etc.) for the monk-specific ki bonus actions. Not really a fair trade for your role. Plus, the two classes have no thematic synergy.
- Ranger. Just as with the monk, this is an option that would force a front-line character to have 13 in four abilities, none of which are Constitution. Whatever benefits you could want out of this combination are simply not going to be cost effective with this high an investment. Additionally, the combination would only make sense with an Oath of the Ancients paladin, so you’re extremely limited in that regard, as well.
- Rogue. With only three requisite attributes that aren’t Constitution, this option is less ability-intensive than some of the other options. Someone who shares the front line may want to take a level in rogue for the damage boost from Sneak Attack, maybe going into the Swashbuckler archetype (from Xanathar’s Guide to Everything) to add their Charisma bonus to their AC. However, with the two classes being at such odds thematically, we don’t feel it rates as a good combination.
- Sorcerer. Mechanically, this is one of the strongest combinations you can get. Getting access to higher-level spell slots for using Divine Smite, not to mention the ability to use Quicken Spell on one of the cantrips from the Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide (such as green flame blade) and then take the Attack action, adding Divine Smite to all of those attacks… you would be hard-pressed to out-damage this build. Also, with the addition of the Favoured Soul sorcerer (in Xanathar’s Guide to Everything), there is now a reasonable thematic tie between the two classes. Or, you can even sidestep the thematic incongruity of a different choice (such as the Dragon bloodline) by claiming that the sorcerous power is growing of its own accord in response to your experiences (as a sorcerer’s power is wont to do).
- Warlock. Thematically, this is a combination that requires a truly fascinating backstory. The most likely combination that a DM would accept would be the Celestial patron (from Xanathar’s Guide to Everything), or an Archfey patron with a paladin of the Ancients, but those options we would only rate as green. Yes, you get free Divine Smites back on a short rest because of the warlock’s Pact Magic mechanic replenishing that quickly, but you also have fewer uses per fight because warlocks get fewer spell slots, and they won’t increase in level unless your warlock level increases (because they don’t stack with the Spellcasting mechanic).
Where this combination really becomes amazing is the far, far less likely combination of paladin and Hexblade. Introduced in Xanathar’s Guide to Everything, the Hexblade allows you to use Charisma as your attack ability with your pact weapon. This means that you can stop focusing on Strength and instead dedicate your efforts to increasing your Constitution, drastically increasing your durability in a fight. However, many DMs (including us) would ask you to have a compelling backstory to explain how you could simultaneously maintain the necessary devotion to your paladin Oath and also have truck with a Shadowfell-based entity that manifests in sentient magic weapons. We can think of a few, but they would require a specific flavour of character.
- Wizard. Aside from story reasons for a very unique character, there’s no reason to take this class combination over sorcerer.
The greatest benefit to multiclassing as a ranger is that the first five levels of this class are actually quite strong before they give way to dead levels that make multiclassing not only viable, but also smart. Seriously, there’s no reason to not multiclass. Oh, you lose out on the capstone ability that was so underwhelming that it was retconned in the Revised Ranger to be a 1st-level feature? Hang on, we may have a care just tiny enough for that tucked in some corner of our pocket… nope. Rangers need high Strength (if you plan on swinging a big sword) or Dexterity (if you plan on going the
Drizzt two-weapon fighting build or the archer method).
- Barbarian. While it makes sense thematically and could work for a Strength-based ranger, the fundamental issue is that you can’t focus on hunter’s mark while you rage, negating one of the ranger’s most central strategies. Add to that how a Strength-based ranger will already qualify to wear medium armour that provides just as much protection as Unarmoured Defence and there really isn’t much benefit to taking this combination. Sorry, Drizzt.
- Bard. This build requires 13s in three ability scores that aren’t Constitution, meaning that you’ll be losing out on health for some benefits that you can really afford to do without. This combination is probably best left for niche builds.
- Cleric. With their shared spellcasting ability and the cleric’s immediate access to great features that can suit many different character archetypes, this is a fantastic choice for multiclassing. Really, once you have five levels in ranger, you may as well just keep going with cleric.
- Druid. While the metal armour restriction can be burdensome, wild shape doesn’t scale with ranger level, and there is significant overlap in the spell lists, there are also a number of reasons to go for this class. Both share a spellcasting ability, there is thematic synergy between the two classes, and it actually allows non-Moon Circle druids to finally shine. While the Circle of Dreams would be absolutely fascinating to add to a ranger (getting excellent healing and free uses of misty step is a sure and swift way to our hearts), we’re really looking here at the Circle of the Shepherd with its Mighty Summoner feature. We recommend talking to your DM about summoning before attempting it in game, as it can make the process a lot smoother. Remember that your DM has final say on what creatures are summoned, and keeps track of their statistics (which is why he or she needs to know if they have more hit points).
- Fighter. With their existing martial abilities, it only makes sense for rangers to consider improving their combat prowess by advancing in fighter. What’s more, there are so many appropriate options for your fighter archetype, if you wish to take three or more levels in the class. Our personal favourite is the Arcane Archer (from Xanathar’s Guide to Everything), using the non-arcane flavour options that are so nicely presented in the Arcane Archer Lore feature.
- Monk. While both classes share core ability scores, the features have little synergy and the classes share no thematic elements.
- Paladin. This combination would come with four ability score prerequisites, none of which are Constitution, and offer little option for thematic or mechanical synergy. Either you are a glass-cannon front-liner or a ranged combatant who can’t add the best feature you multiclassed for (Divine Smite) to your ranged weapon attacks. This is best left for niche build characters.
- Rogue. Now we’re talking. There are so many thematic combinations between these two classes, from the stealthy scout to the fierce monster hunter who roots out corruption. The backstories practically write themselves! Additionally, the class abilities all compliment each other, making for a character who can more effectively specialize in whatever role the party requires.
- Sorcerer. For adding on another ability score prerequisite that isn’t Constitution, you get some spell slots and some metamagic options of dubious value. Most ranger spells are already bonus actions, so Quicken Spell doesn’t help you overmuch. Subtle Spell is handy if you are two-weapon fighting and want to cast a spell like daylight, which has a somatic component, without having to drop one of your weapons. Fortunately, however, Mike Mearls didn’t screw up the spellcasting so badly that your most commonly used combat spells like ensnaring strike and hunter’s mark also have somatic components, and so such occasions will be less frequent (but still inexcusable on the part of the developers) and the importance of the metamagic option somewhat reduced. This combination is probably best left for niche builds.
- Warlock. Another option that would require you to meet three ability score prerequisites that aren’t Constitution, warlock offers no benefits that you don’t already have (hunter’s mark is a ranger’s hex) or can get elsewhere with less investment. Additionally, the only thematic synergy is with the Archfey patron. We suggest leaving this combination for niche builds.
- Wizard. Investing enough into Intelligence to meet the ability score prerequisite is just not worth it for the abilities you would gain, which have no real synergy with the ranger abilities and don’t share a theme with your existing class. We suggest leaving this for niche builds.
The greatest benefit to multiclassing as a rogue is that it offers a solid foundation with excellent bonus action options that can form the basis for any strategy. The greatest drawback to multiclassing as a rogue is that rogue abilities are level-dependent and any deviation from the class delays improvement of the features. Rogues should have a high Dexterity.
- Barbarian. Step one: learn to channel your inner anger and dump two levels in barbarian. Step two: grab a rapier and fly into a rage, gaining resistance to the most common damage types and rolling your attacks with advantage, adding sneak attack every turn. Step three: ??? Step four: profit!
- Bard. A rogue who invests three levels into Lore bard gets four bonus skills, expertise with another two on top of what your rogue option gave you, and half your proficiency bonus on whatever you haven’t yet managed to become proficient in (including initiative). A half-elf with this combination should be proficient in a whopping 12 skills! You delay the increase to your Sneak Attack damage for this, but if your party is hopeless in ability checks, this can really make a big difference for the exploration pillar of your game. Of course, there isn’t really a natural reason why a rogue would make the jump to bard, and there’s bonus action competition between Cunning Action and Bardic Inspiration, and the straight fact that you may not really need to be proficient in a full two thirds of the skills in the game. If it works for your character and your party, then it’s a good choice.
- Cleric. Even though rogues don’t need a high Wisdom, most will naturally try to boost it for the benefit of Wisdom saving throws and a higher bonus to Wisdom (Perception) checks. This means that meeting the ability score prerequisite will probably be easier than it would at first seem. And it’s certainly worth it. While the Trickery domain is a natural choice that has the added benefit of allowing the rogue to sneak attack in collaboration with their illusory duplicate, there are many other great options. Additionally, since rogues don’t naturally have something to concentrate on and try to avoid getting hit, they can really step up their party support with spells like bless and shield of faith.
- Druid. As a light armour wearer, the restriction against metal armour doesn’t make much difference to a rogue, and their frequent role as party scout means that even if they don’t follow the Circle of the Moon for a higher-CR beast shape, they will still be able to make use of their wild shapes in ways other characters could not. Additionally, the Wisdom prerequisite will be easy enough to achieve given that most rogues already ascribe some priority to Wisdom, as it governs a very important save and boosts their Wisdom (Perception) bonus, meaning that this will be an easy multiclass most of the time.
- Fighter. For a mere three-level investment, your rogue can gain Second Wind, Action Surge, a fighting style choice, proficiency with medium armour and shields, and an archetype bonus. To really make the best of your abilities, take the Battle Master archetype and the Riposte manoeuvre for yet another possible chance to deal sneak attack damage (remember, sneak attack is once per turn, but that’s any turn; you can deal it on your turn on an attack, one enemy’s turn on an opportunity attack, and now perhaps a third enemy’s turn with the Riposte feature).
- Monk. While there is some competition for bonus actions between these two classes, a rogue who invests a few levels in monk can build a deadly ninja-like character. Many rogues will meet the prerequisites with a little planning, as Wisdom is normally increased so as to boost Wisdom saves and Wisdom (Perception) checks. Outside of this trope, the combination doesn’t make much thematic sense, though.
- Paladin. Having to meet the prerequisite for a third ability that isn’t Constitution is tough, especially when you would be doing so in order to get access to a feature that only works in melee (Divine Smite). Outside of compelling story reasons, there’s little sense in this combination.
- Ranger. A scout-flavoured rogue could quite reasonably invest three levels in ranger for the hunter’s mark spell, a fighting style, a new skill, proficiency in medium armour and shields, and an archetype feature. Going Hunter and taking this class to 5th level would let you consistently put out scary amounts of damage. For rogues without the appropriate flavour, this is a less likely class combination and you may want to go the fighter route to avoid raising the ire of your DM.
- Sorcerer. While it requires meeting a Charisma prerequisite, a rogue who embraces their innate magical gift can dish out scary amounts of damage. With three levels in sorcerer and one of the cantrips from the Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide, a rogue can use Quicken Spell to cast an attack cantrip on their turn, dealing sneak attack damage, and then ready an action to attack another creature on another turn, dealing sneak attack damage again (remember, sneak attack is once per turn, but that’s any turn).
- Warlock. An assassin who pledged himself to some fell patron would be able to assassinate that much more reliably by giving his or her target disadvantage on Dexterity checks before initiative was rolled using hex. Additionally, a two-level dip would get you two cool invocations, with Devil’s Sight being an obvious choice for rogues without darkvision. The combination would require meeting a Charisma prerequisite, which can be more difficult than other options, but if it suited the character’s backstory and theme, it is a very solid choice.
- Wizard. Arcane Tricksters will naturally gravitate to this class if they want to increase their spellcasting abilities. Elven characters will especially benefit from such a choice, as they are eligible for the Bladesinger tradition that helps them maximize the investment in their Intelligence. Plus, adding green flame blade to your repertoire is sure to maximize your Attack action. Non-Arcane Trickster rogues will find this option less palatable, as it involves meeting the prerequisite for an ability that no other class uses.
The greatest benefit of multiclassing as a sorcerer is that you’re effectively a weaker wizard that comes with a wider skill set that works better with other classes. The greatest drawback to multiclassing as a sorcerer is that it delays your spell progression. Sorcerers should have a high Charisma.
- Barbarian. Aside from granting you an ability to turn off your spellcasting feature for no real gain, there’s no reason aside from a questionable backstory to pick this class.
- Bard. There aren’t any really useful benefits to this combination, and the two classes compete for spellcasting levels. We would leave this for niche builds.
- Cleric. A Storm Sorcerer who invests two levels into a Tempest domain cleric can get much more mileage out of their lightning or thunder damage spells and abilities. Otherwise, there is no more thematic reason for a sorcerer to become a cleric than anyone else, and it ultimately comes down to the character backstory. If you’re really looking to cast cleric magic, you may be better off choosing the Divine Soul origin from Xanathar’s Guide to Everything.
- Druid. While a druid discovering their sorcerous gifts and nurturing them can make a lot of sense, a sorcerer who has embraced his or her magical destiny opting to spend time learning Druidic traditions is rather less likely. In addition, there isn’t much synergy between the features from the different classes. Rather, they compete for levels.
- Fighter. This combination is the only way to cast three spells in a turn (one quickened or bonus-action spell, and two cantrips), a terrifying possibility. Not to mention that advancing in the fighter class grants proficiency in medium armour and shields, a sure way to improve your defence. Consider taking this as your first level in order to get proficiency in heavy armour as well as Constitution saving throws—very handy for maintaining concentration on spells down the road. Thematically, any sorcerer who goes on an adventure may realize how wise it is to learn to cast spells in armour.
- Monk. This combination requires that you meet prerequisites in three ability scores, none of which are Constitution, putting you at a disadvantage if you invest in this class in order to survive the front line. Additionally, there’s little thematic or mechanical synergy to this combination, as there is quite a bit of bonus action competition. We suggest leaving this for niche builds and unique backstories.
- Paladin. A two-level dip into paladin gives you access to armour proficiency, martial weapon proficiency, and lets you pump your large number of spell slots into the paladin’s Divine Smite feature. A three-level dip also gives you a Sacred Oath feature. This option is blue because there’s little overlap in themes between the two classes. Being a sorcerer requires you to embrace the destiny of your birthright, and being a paladin is a holy calling. The two would be extremely difficult to balance outside some very creative character origin, though it would be more than worth it to go through the exercise of creating one.
- Ranger. There is not much mechanical or thematic synergy to this combination. We suggest leaving this to niche builds and unique backstories.
- Rogue. If you can conceive a reason why your sorcerer would branch into the rogue class, this can grant you some skill bonuses, some bonus action options to compete with your Quicken Spell, and some bonus damage to the melee weapon attacks you won’t be making any time soon. Not an objectively useful level investment.
- Warlock. Easily one of the best multiclass combinations available. Not only is this is the only way for you to gain more than 4 spell slots of any given level, as Pact Magic is in addition to the Spellcasting feature, but it also grants you access to some choice warlock-only spells, including the most powerful cantrip, eldritch blast. And if that wasn’t enough, you can get access to some interesting invocations to really personalize your character. Plus, with the many and varied ways in which a sorcerer may have gained their power, it’s more than possible that the your warlock patron could be behind your sorcerous origin, making this a very thematic choice. We recommend asking your DM if you can use our Fey, Abyssal, or Infernal Sorcerous Origin if you took the Archfey or Fiend patron and don’t want to use the Wild Magic Sorcerous Origin.
- Wizard. Aside from the possibility of getting some extra spells to supplement your very limited spell list (including rituals), both of which you can do much more effectively with other options, the only reason you would want to advance in this class would be for story reasons, such as a sorcerer who is set on understanding the magical theory behind his power.
The greatest benefit of multiclassing as a warlock is that your Pact Magic feature gives you spell slots that are in addition to those you gain with the Spellcasting feature from other classes, as opposed to contributing to your cumulative level on the Multiclass Spellcasting table (PHB 164). The greatest drawback to multiclassing as a warlock is that it is difficult to pair the theme of the warlock with certain other classes. Warlocks should have high Charisma.
- Barbarian. The sole option this combination is green is for the potential benefits to a warlock who has chosen the Hexblade as their patron. Simply make sure you only cast spells that don’t require concentration (such as armour of Agathys) before going into a rage, as otherwise they will be lost because the Rage feature ends concentration.
- Bard. This is one of those combinations that works better the other way. The warlock abilities a bard gains from investing a level or two are much more beneficial for the bard than are the early bard abilities for a warlock. It isn’t that the Jack of all Trades and Bardic Inspiration features aren’t great, it’s just that if you’re going to take levels in a non-stacking spellcasting class, it should be one that delivers more of a boost to your magical efficacy.
- Cleric. Thematically, the only warlock that should be taking cleric levels is one whose patron is a celestial (see Xanathar’s Guide to Everything). All other combinations involve too much conflict between your patrons, both the otherworldly one and the divine one. If you can justify the combination, there are so many options for synergy. We enjoy taking the Life domain option in order to heal more using vampiric touch.
- Druid. There is a natural thematic synergy with this class for a warlock of the Archfey, especially if you opt to go for the Circle of Dreams (from Xanathar’s Guide to Everything), but unfortunately there’s less mechanical synergy to be found here. If you want healing magic, either multiclass into cleric or take the celestial patron (also from Xanathar’s).
- Fighter. While it is especially helpful (and thematically appropriate) for Hexblades, the fighter’s armour and shield proficiencies (as well as access to features such as Action Surge) are universally helpful to warlocks of any pact. Consider delaying warlock to take this as your first level in order to get access to heavy armour and Constitution saving throws that will help you maintain your spells later on.
- Monk. A character that invests levels in monk has to meet three ability score prerequisites that are not Constitution, severely limiting any close-combat effectiveness they would have hoped to gain with this combination. Additionally, the only thematically appropriate combination that stands out would be a warlock of the Fiend training in the Way of Shadow taught by a temple patroned by a shadow demon. While it may work well for a character in an evil campaign, few DMs tolerate characters of such alignment.
- Paladin. A warlock of the Celestial who has taken the Pact of the Blade and a few levels of paladin would be thematically appropriate, and would gain the ability to turn their spell slots, which are always the maximum level they can cast as a warlock and which all recharge on a short rest, into powerful damage boosts using Divine Smite. Other patrons would be less appropriate thematically, but even more dangerous mechanically. A Hexblade wouldn’t have to bother with boosting Strength beyond the prerequisite to become a paladin, and the medium armour proficiency means that their Dexterity also doesn’t have to be all that high; they can dedicate their ability score increases to Charisma and Constitution.
- Ranger. Easily the least attractive option for a martial class to multiclass into, as it offers little to no synergy in its features, there is also really only one kind of warlock that would go for this class thematically (one with the Archfey patron). We suggest leaving it for unique backstories and niche builds.
- Rogue. Depending on your party composition, an investment in rogue can really be of great assistance. You get Sneak Attack, Cunning Action, and some skill proficiencies, a good choice for a warlock with the Pact of the Blade. Are there better choices? Yes, but if the theme of your character calls for rogue, there are worse choices.
- Sorcerer. Even just a single level of sorcerer can double (or triple) your spellcasting ability. Not only that, but it would give you more 1st-level spell slots so that you don’t have to waste your precious few higher-level warlock slots on something like hex, which is rarely worth casting using a spell slot above 1st level. For the best results, take three levels of sorcerer for the Quickened Spell metamagic option, allowing you to cast an important higher-level spell as a bonus action while maintaining your eldritch blast spam using your action. Plus, sorcerers also use Charisma as their spellcasting ability, so you don’t have to spread yourself thinly with your ability scores. Not to mention that on top of all that, it’s quite possible that your warlock patron is also your sorcerous progenitor (we recommend asking your DM if you can use our Fey, Abyssal, or Infernal Sorcerous Origin if you took the Archfey or Fiend patron and don’t want to use the Wild Magic Sorcerous Origin).
- Wizard. If you really want to boost your spellcasting potential, there are other—better—options. However, an underappreciated aspect of warlocks is that they crave new knowledge, and that gives them a strong thematic connection to the wizard class that can also offer a boost to their spellcasting abilities by granting them access to the largest class spell list, not to mention the highly useful ritual casting and early access to an archetype feature of their choice.
The greatest benefit of multiclassing as a wizard is that even just a few levels can make a huge difference in the long run, allowing you to then continue advancing the wizard class without falling too far behind in your highest-level spells. The greatest drawback to multiclassing as a wizard is that you only have a few levels to play around with before you lose out on getting access to 9th-level spells. Wizards need high Intelligence.
- Barbarian. The rating of this combination should surprise absolutely nobody. You have a class that is based around spellcasting, and a class that is based around not spellcasting. There is no thematic or mechanical synergy—in fact, they’re complete and total opposites.
- Bard. You already have one of the least-used ability scores (Intelligence), going for a second (Charisma) with bard is really spreading yourself thinly. As a wizard, you have the lowest hit die, and so you need to be putting some effort into raising your Dexterity and Constitution if you intend to survive. You simply don’t get that with bard.
- Cleric. There are many deities of magic who would be pleased to receive more than just lip service from their faithful, and many domain choices that allow you to improve your spellcasting in ways no pure wizard ever could. Additionally, cleric Channel Divinity features are earned at 2nd level in cleric, which allows you to still get 18 levels in wizard for the Spell Mastery feature and two more 9th-level spell choices.
- Druid. With so many abilities that scale only with druid level (like Wild Shape), this is an unappealing choice for a level dip. We suggest leaving it for unique character backgrounds and niche builds.
- Fighter. The main weaknesses of the wizard class—the lack of armour proficiency, the low health, the restricted action economy—are all solved by a few levels of fighter. Consider delaying your wizard levels in favour of starting off as a fighter in order to get proficiency with heavy armour and Constitution saving throws, which will really make a difference for maintaining concentration on your wizard spells. An eldritch knight who becomes a war wizard is thematic gold, but any fighter can decide to pick up some magical tricks to expand their abilities on the battlefield.
- Monk. Ultimately, there is little to be gained by way of features which will be of use to you with an investment into monk. Chances are, your AC will be better improved with mage armour than Unarmoured Defence, and your monk’s bonus action options will quickly become obsolete when you learn how to cast spells like Bigby’s hand. This is a combination we would leave unique character backgrounds and niche builds.
- Paladin. A wizard/paladin may be objectively worse than a sorcerer/paladin, but that doesn’t mean it’s a complete waste. If you have other party members who can step up to the role of maintaining battlefield supremacy, then using your Action to lay down Divine Smites with higher-level spell slots while your bonus action is spent stabbing, crushing, or burning things with spells like Bigby’s hand sounds pretty fun… provided that you can meet all three of the ability score prerequisites (none of which are Constitution).
- Ranger. There are some benefits to be gained from this combination, none of which lend all that well to a wizard’s playstyle. We would leave this for unique character backstories or niche builds.
- Rogue. Just like with the ranger, the benefits that you can gain from this combination simply don’t make that much of a difference to wizards. This is a combination we would leave for characters with unique backstories and niche builds.
- Sorcerer. You take levels in sorcerer for one thing: metamagic. There are many options that have a significant impact on your spellcasting, including ones which are not tied to your Charisma modifier. Twinned Spell can let you cast something like hold person on two enemies, while Quickened Spell can help shape the battlefield while still letting you unload cantrips on your enemies for consistent damage. If more sorcerer features were ability-agnostic, this would be a better-rated option.
- Warlock. Wizards who find themselves unable to progress in their research, or have become frustrated with the time it is taking to improve, may turn to entities of greater power for guidance. This choice can grant them many useful abilities, including spell slots that are in addition to those they gain from the Spellcasting feature and access to some of the few spells that are not already on the wizard’s list such as hex and eldritch blast. Unfortunately, these spells are less effective for a wizard than, say, a sorcerer thanks to the different spellcasting abilities. It comes down to character backstory whether this is a better option than sorcerer.
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Art credit: “Multiclass”, artist unknown (© Wizards of the Coast)
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