D&D FAQ: Answers and Explanations

Certain questions tend to be asked quite frequently by D&D players. We have compiled some of the most common ones here, along with the correct answers.

Character Options

The following section covers FAQ about character options.

Can [Insert Race] Become A [Insert Class]? 

Yes. There are no racial restrictions on classes. A half-orc or a lizardfolk can become a wizard, an elf or a halfling can be a barbarian, etc.

The only exception to this is certain subclasses like the Path of the Battlerager or the Bladesinger Arcane Tradition (Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide), which are normally restricted to certain races except where the DM decides that restriction does not apply (perhaps because you are not playing in the Forgotten Realms campaign setting).

Does a Paladin Have to be Lawful Good? 

No. Alignment restrictions for classes were a pre-4th Edition feature and should remain dead and buried. Your paladin’s alignment, while it should probably reflect the tenets contained in the oath you will take, is completely up to you. Some oaths actually work better thematically with evil characters.

How Do I Multiclass?

Multiclassing allows a character to gain a level in a different class, such as a fighter taking a level of rogue. You can do this when you accumulate enough experience points to level up.

There are four criteria you have to meet in order to multiclass:

  1. Your DM must allow it. Multiclassing is a variant rule, so it requires the DM to say it is permissible.
  2. You must meet the ability score requirements of your own class. (e.g. a fighter must have Str 13 or Dex 13 to multiclass)
  3. You must meet the ability score requirements of your new class. (e.g. a character must have Int 13 to become a wizard)
  4. You must not exceed 20 cumulative levels in all your classes. (20th level is the cap for player characters.)

What is a Good Multiclass Combination?

If you are interested in what multiclass combinations work well, check out our article D&D Tips: Multiclassing Like a Pro.

Can I Be a Gunslinger?

For character options that do not appear in the official rulebooks (the Player’s HandbookXanathar’s Guide to Everything, etc.), you are looking at what is called “homebrew”. Some options have already had rules designed by other players, but you or your Dungeon Master may choose to make the rules yourself. It is up to your DM whether or not you can take a homebrew option.

While we at Dungeon master’s Workshop strive to provide quality homebrew, we encourage you to carefully examine homebrew you find online because, unfortunately, a lot of it is terrible. In particular, we strongly recommend staying as far away as possible from dandwiki if you are a first-time homebrewer. If you can’t find an option here (you can search our website using the search bar on the right), we suggest that you check out Dungeon Masters Guild, the official third-party content store for Dungeons & Dragons (we even have a few options available there, like the Blood Mage prestige class). Most options you can find either here or on Dungeon Masters Guild have reviews that can indicate their quality.

How Do I Spell Rogue/Rouge?

Rogue. It’s someone with an aptitude for stealth, thievery, skulduggery, chicanery, etc., not a cosmetic to redden cheeks.

Combat

The following section covers FAQ about combat.

What Are Hit Points?

Hit points are more than just your physical hardiness. They are an abstraction of all of the aspects that go into determining how much you can put up with before being knocked unconscious. These include, but are not limited to: stamina, mental resilience, martial skill, and luck. Being “hit” in combat doesn’t necessarily mean your character is physically struck unless you and your DM choose to have that be the case, as may be appropriate because the attack has a rider such as additional poison damage or because it was a critical hit. Remember, this is a game, not a combat simulator; you occasionally have to be willing to just accept that it’s not perfect and doesn’t have to be in order to be entertaining.

For a more robust discussion on hit points, check out our article D&D Tips: Describing Combat & Hit Points.

Do Armour Bonuses Stack?

Yes and no. When you have two formulas for your AC, such as a lizardfolk’s natural armour and a suit of plate armour your character picks up, you must pick which formula you will use. However, items such as shields or a ring of protection simply increase your Armour Class and will stack with other AC bonuses, so a shield and a ring of protection together would grant a +3 bonus to whatever AC formula you are using.

For a full discussion on calculating Armour Class, check out our article Things You Didn’t Know About D&D 5E: Calculating AC.

Do I Count As Wearing Armour If I Have Natural Armour?

No. Natural armour does not count as armour and therefore does not interfere with features like the monk’s Unarmoured Defence (though you would still have to pick whether you want to use your natural armour or that feature, as opposed to combining the two [see “Do Armour Bonuses Stack”, above]) or the barbarian’s Rage, nor does it interfere with items like bracers of armour. However, it also does not benefit from a fighter’s Defense fighting style.

Do I Only Swing My Sword Once When I Have One Attack? Seems Slow For a 6-Second Round.

This is a bit complicated and tends to veer into how you choose to describe combat.

On the one hand, the attack action represents trying to hurt your opponent. How effective you are at it is represented by your attack bonus and the number of attacks you make. A character with the Extra Attack feature isn’t necessarily going to swing twice when just yesterday (before they levelled up) they had only been able to swing once. Rather, they are now twice as effective in their attack action, which can take the form of anything from a flurry of quick attacks to a single, heavy overhead swing meant to cleave into an especially tough opponent (like a dragon).

On the other hand, as specified on page 146 of the Player’s Handbook, ranged attackers “must expend one piece of ammunition […] each time” they attack, so they really are loosing multiple bolts or arrows. Skilled medieval longbowmen were expected to loose 10-15 arrows a minute, while crossbowmen were expected to loose 5 or 6 bolts. Crossbows required less training (which is why it works out that you can achieve this target in the 1st tier [levels 1-4]) while longbows required a lifetime of experience (which is why it works out that this is only possible in tier 2 [levels 5-10] or later). So while there’s less leeway in roleplaying combat with a ranged weapon, at least you have the solace of being historically accurate.

For a more robust discussion on narrating combat, see our article D&D Tips: Describing Combat & Hit Points.

General

The following section covers general FAQ.

What Stats Would a Katana Have?

The same stats as a longsword. This is covered in the Dungeon Master’s Guide, page 41.

Before we are inundated with amateur swordmasters trying to make a case for different (read: superior) stats: No, a katana is not superior to a longsword. In fact, it is objectively worse when fighting an armoured opponent.

Yes, we know about steel folding. We actually know more about it than you probably do. The reason a katana gets folded about 8 times (not 1,000 times, as that would cause too much carbon diffusion and leave you with a Play-Doh sword) is because Japan has poor-quality iron (tamahagane) that needed extra refinement so swords didn’t simply shatter on impact. In the West, tamahagane was called “pig iron” and no swordsmith would ever have polluted his products with it when he could use perfectly good materials that don’t need to be folded.

The poor quality of Japanese iron also meant that it was completely impractical to fashion metal armour, and so katanas were not designed to defeat heavily armoured foes because they were not commonly encountered on the battlefield. Against even a poor harness of European plate armour, a katana’s blade would bend or break rather than slice or thrust through.

Ultimately, this discussion is irrelevant because Fifth Edition attempts to streamline combat rather than complicate it. Mechanically, a katana is similar to a longsword in settings where it is commonly encountered, and so you should use the longsword stats. It works out better for you this way, trust me.

Can I Have a Gun?

Talk with your Dungeon Master. Most DMs disallow firearms for their own reasons (chiefly, that period-appropriate guns suck and they want to avoid the anachronism of semiautomatic weapons in a late medieval setting). Your DM might require that your character have a certain backstory if you want to use guns.

Skills

The following section covers FAQ about skills.

I Critically Succeeded My Check, Now What?

You cannot critically succeed (or fail) an ability check. Critical successes and failures apply only to attack rolls.

I Critically Failed My Check, Now What?

You cannot critically fail (or succeed) an ability check. Critical successes and failures apply only to attack rolls.

Can I Roll Below My Passive Perception?

This question is based on a false premise. Passive Perception is a DM tool. In other words: you do not use your passive Perception, your DM does. The role of the player is to describe what their character says and does in the moment; the DM will determine when and if a roll is necessary. For a more robust discussion on this, see our article D&D Tips: Using (Passive) Skills.

Can I Use Strength Instead of Charisma For My Intimidate Check?

The short answer is yes, provided that you do something intimidating with your brawn. There are no “Intimidate” checks, nor any other “skill checks” for that matter. Rather, there are ability checks, and you can add your proficiency bonus if you are doing a task that you are trained in (such as intimidating somebody). Theoretically, any skill could potentially apply to any ability check (though some combinations are harder to find an appropriate situation to, like a Charisma (Athletics) check, for instance). For a more robust discussion on this, see our article Things You Didn’t Know About D&D 5E: Ability Checks.

Spellcasting

The following section covers FAQ about spellcasting.

How Does Multiclass Spellcasting Work?

Quite easily. At least, when you know where to look for the rules. We discuss how to figure out your spell slots and what spells you know/can prepare in our article Things You Didn’t Know About D&D 5E: Multiclass Spellcasting.

What Are Spell Components?

Spell components are pesky things that some people call “flavour” and other (more rational) people call “a gag that should have died in 2nd Edition”. There’s some argument that they serve to balance magic, but a much better argument that there are better ways to balance magic that don’t impose flavour on your game. For a full discussion on Spell Components, see our article D&D Tips: Spellcasting Components and Focuses.

Can My Eldritch Knight with the Extra Attack Feature Cast Two Spells A Round?

No, not unless you use your Action Surge to gain a second action. The fighter’s Extra Attack feature allows you to make an additional attack when you take the Attack action. Casting a spell might involve making an attack roll, but it does not fall under the Attack action; rather, it falls under the Cast a Spell action. See the “Actions in Combat” section on page 192 of the Player’s Handbook.

Sorry, a 5th-level fighter can’t cast greenflame blade twice with his Extra Attack. The closest you can get is a 7th-level Eldritch Knight who uses his action to cast a cantrip (such as greenflame blade) and can make one melee weapon attack as a bonus action due to the War Magic feature.

Can I Cast Two Spells In The Same Turn If One Is A Bonus Action?

Not unless the non-bonus action spell is a cantrip with a casting time of 1 action. For a more robust discussion on this topic, see our article D&D Tips: Bonus Action Spells.

Does Teleporting Negate Momentum?

This question is generally posed along the lines of “If I am falling and I cast dimension door or misty step to get to the ground, do I take falling damage?”

While not expressly covered in the rules, the answer to this should be “Yes, teleporting negates momentum”. The reason being that, if your motion vector is preserved while teleporting, you would be instantly slain if you were to teleport to the other side of a rotating planet, since your relative velocity would send you crashing into the ground at a speed of several thousand kilometres an hour (more than 3,300 kph if you are near the equator). Therefore, unless you plan to limit all teleportation to a maximum “safe range” of about 500 kilometres, you absolutely must ditch momentum as you teleport. It’s just physics.

What Level Is A Spell if You Cast It Without A Spell Slot?

Such a spell is always cast at its lowest level. For example, the warlock’s Thief of Five Fates feature allows you to cast bane with a spell slot, which means it is based on the level of the warlock’s spell slots. However, the Chains of Carceri feature allows you to cast hold monster without using a spell slot, and therefore it would always be cast at 5th level.

The same rule also applies to creatures with the Innate Spellcasting feature, with the exception of cantrips, which use the monster’s spellcasting level (if any is indicated in the Innate Spellcasting feature) or, if no level is mentioned, the monster’s challenge rating. A CR 6 creature would therefore cast cantrips like a tier 2 character, meaning 2dx for the damage of most cantrips.


Are there any commonly asked questions you’ve encountered that don’t appear above? Let us know in the comments below! 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *