For the newcomer, Dungeons and Dragons can be overwhelming when it comes to choosing what character to make first. Each of the twelve core classes have their own mechanics, spells and abilities and there can be a lot to take in at first. So if you’re in the position of dipping your toes in the water, here are our suggestions for the easiest classes to start out with.
The fighter, as its name suggests, is all about fighting. The character class spans a wide variety of concepts from noble knights to vicious mercenaries. Able to use almost every weapon and armour, they offer a lot of flexibility for the new player. Fighters are tough and durable, well placed to be in the front line of any battle.
Attributes wise, fighters are fairly simple to build for. Every fighter wants as much constitution as they can get, especially given their habit of being target number one for every monster out there. Strength is the other typical fighter attribute as it gives the most bonuses for the heavy melee weapons that they like to use.
Mechanically the fighter is a simple class to start out with. Their two class features are Fighting Style and Second Wind. The first, Fighting Style allows you to choose from a list of options that specialize how your character fights for example, providing benefits when wearing armour or wielding great weapons.
Meanwhile Second Wind grants you a free heal that you can use once per short or long rest for added durability. It is a bonus action, which means you can do that and attack in the same turn – ideal for the warrior on the go!
Whether sneaky thief, deadly assassin or irrepressible prankster, the rogue is a walking fantasy trope. Specialists in the stealthy and the precise, they are equally at home scouting ahead of the party in the shadows as they are pickling locks and pockets.
They’re also one of the easier classes to start with owing to their relatively simple mechanics. Dexterity is the key stat for most of their attacks and those skills most typical of the criminally inclined. So long as this is prioritised, its quite possible to do well as a Rogue no matter the build.
The rogues’ starter mechanics are also relatively simple. Expertise doubles the proficiency bonus on two skills (or one skill and thieves tools) of your choice. This is a huge boost, especially early in the game that only climbs higher as your proficiency does. Meanwhile, sneak attack adds a nice chunk of extra damage to attacks.
Living the Conan dream is what playing the barbarian is all about. The animalistic fury in every attack. The stoic refusal to bend no matter how much punishment you take. The heaving muscles on sweaty exposed skin…
Personal reasons for playing the Barbarian aside, they make good starter characters by virtue of being hugely difficult to kill. This is largely due to their two starter features. The first, unarmoured defence sets the characters Armour Class to 10 + their Dex and Con modifiers when the character isn’t wearing armour. Wearing nothing more than a loincloth and carrying a shield, a Barbarian can potentially have a higher AC than nearly anyone else in the party. They also are the only class to boast a D12 hit dice, giving them potentially more HP than any other.
The other feature is their core class mechanic rage. At the players whim, the Barbarian can enter a bezerker fury which both increases the damage they put out and makes them resistant to most common forms of non-magical damage. This means they take half the damage anyone else takes.
Admittedly rage does have some limitations – it can only be used a certain number of times per day and requires the character to be actively attacking or taking damage or it ends early. But combining this with an already large hit point pool and solid AC results in a beast of a close combat character that any newcomer to the game can do well with.
By Gareth Patterson