- Best Broken Character Builds
- Underwhelming Character Builds
Some Fifth Edition like to engage with the rules on a deeper level than most. A lot of their fun comes from twisting the mechanics of D&D 5e to see what they can make. In particular, a lot of players like tinkering with higher-powered characters. Within the rules of 5e, plenty of builds are well-suited to this style.
On the flip side, some builds sound good in theory but prove underwhelming in practice. Despite promising mechanical or thematic interactions, the build proves not to work as well as players hope. This may disappoint some, but it could also be an inspiring challenge to make work.
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Updated March 23rd by Isaac Williams: Crafting builds is a popular pastime for many D&D players. With 5e's expanding list of sourcebooks and options, it can be hard to keep up with what works and what doesn't. This list has been updated with even more of D&D 5e's most entertaining and underwhelming builds.
Best Broken Character Builds
The Hexblade warlock is one of D&D 5e's most infamous subclasses for a reason. It's a well-balanced subclass on its own. However, it has immense synergy with plenty of other classes. In particular, a paladin sees vast improvement with a few levels of Hexblade warlock.
- Relies on a single ability score
- Requires very little investment
- Gives additional versatility from warlock spells
The Hexblade's most prominent ability lets characters wield weapons with Charisma instead of Strength or Dexterity. A paladin with this ability can attack, cast spells, use their class features, and improve all their saving throws with a single ability score. In addition, they get an additional spell slot per short rest for Divine Smite. This is for a single level in warlock.
Order Of Scribes Wizard/Tempest Cleric
The Order of Scribes wizard is one of Tasha's Cauldron of Everything's more unusual subclasses. They're a spellcaster focused on modifying their magic's essential properties. When they cast a spell, they can change its damage type to that of another spell they have at the same level.
- Massive damage output
- Minimal level investment
- Gives versatility from low-level cleric spells
This is a situational ability on its own. However, this is far more interesting when combined with the Tempest Domain cleric, a subclass that can maximize the damage of thunder and lightning spells. An Order of Scribes wizard can modify any spell to lighting and then let it inflict maximum damage. This delays the character's spellcasting, but they can still get ninth-level wizard spells with two cleric levels.
D&D 5e is a well-balanced system. It is rare for a single subclass to be overtuned to the point of broken. However, many players think that the Twilight cleric's abilities go much too far. Some consider it the single most powerful subclass in all of D&D 5e.
- Requires no multiclassing
- Protects the entire party from harm with an action
- All the power and versatility of any other cleric
The Twilight cleric's Channel Divinity provides every nearby character with many temporary hit points per turn. This negates a DM's ability to inflict significant damage to the party for little cost. Their other features are all useful in their own right. This all comes with a cleric's lethal spellcasting. The Twilight Domain is the easiest way to make a broken character in D&D 5e.
The . It's built around using weapons with its Charisma stat. It can seem an unusual multiclass with the fighter. At higher levels, however, this build can put out an eye-watering level of damage. The Hexblade gets several buffs that increase damage on each individual attack. The fighter makes more attacks than any other class.
- Incredible damage output
- Single stat for melee and ranged
- Spells and weapons add versatility in and out of combat
If a character stacks the spell Hex and the Hexblade's Curse feature on a single target, they deal 1d6 + their proficiency bonus in additional damage to each hit. Eleven levels in fighter, the Crossbow Expert feat, and a hand crossbow let them apply this damage four times on a turn. The Sharpshooter feat elevates this damage even further.
Battle Master Fighter/Swashbuckler Rogue
Martial characters can begin to feel like they have limited options in D&D 5e's combat. Casters get to choose between many powerful spells each turn. A martial character may feel like all they do is run up to the enemy and attack. They have limited ways to interact with foes beyond reducing their hit points.
- Tons of options keep combat interesting
- Ability to pivot between offense and defense
- Able to control and lock down enemies without spells
A Battle Master fighter multiclassed with D&D 5e's Swashbuckler rogue averts this problem. This character has a rogue's Cunning Action, Sneak Attack, Battle Master maneuvers, and the more esoteric abilities of the Swashbuckler. They have endless choices in combat without losing either class' effectiveness.
Druid/Life Domain Cleric
Healing tends to be limited in D&D 5e. Low-level healing spells are best used to stop allies from dying. Short Rests are the best way to regain lots of hit points. However, a Life Domain cleric can restore a staggering number of hit points with a first-level spell slot. They have to multiclass into druid and take the Goodberry spell.
- Incredible healing at little resource cost
- Two classes with complementary spellcasting stats
- Low level investment
The Life Domain ability Disciple of Life magical healing by 2 + the spell's level, bringing each berry up to 4 hit points. This nets 40 hit points at the cost of a single spell slot. This is less useful in combat, as each berry requires an action to eat. Outside of combat, however, it's better healing than any spell until a much higher level.
The warlock and sorcerer are one of D&D 5e's most infamous multiclass combos. A build combining the two is often dubbed the "coffeelock." This build takes advantage of the warlock's ability to regain spell slots on a short rest and the D&D sorcerer's ability to convert spell slots into sorcery points. These spell slots can, in turn, create more spell slots.
- Nearly endless spell slots and sorcery points
- Compatible spellcasting stats
- Fantastic staying power throughout the adventuring day
On top of this, the Aspect of the Moon Eldritch Invocation rids a character of the need to sleep. A warlock can take several Short Rests instead of a Long Rest. This gives several warlock spell slots, which are then turned into Sorcery Points and sorcerer spell slots. This can result in an infinite number of spell slots. However, it requires rule interpretations that many DMs will reject.
Underwhelming Character Builds
The monk and barbarian can seem like a dream multiclass. The monk makes plenty of attacks. The barbarian's Rage buffs damage on each individual strike. They both have abilities designed to let them fight unarmored. Furthermore, the idea of a calm and collected warrior giving into their anger appeals to many as a fantasy.
- Conflicting ability scores
- Redundant features
- Synergy isn't worth the loss of levels
Unfortunately, this build has many problems. Most of them come from conflicting ability scores. The barbarian's features use Strength, but the monk encourages using Dexterity. Their Unarmored Defense features are mutually exclusive. No class gets enough Ability Score improvements to make this build optimal. It hits less hard and can take less damage than either class separately.
The wizard and cleric are two of D&D 5e's most powerful spellcasting classes. Some players may want to multiclass them for the ultimate spellcaster. In theory, this build would have unmatched magical versatility. However, it has several debilitating weaknesses.
- Sacrifices power for versatility
- Contradictory ability scores
- Better options with similar theming exist in both classes
The classes use different ability scores for their spells. The build would need to sacrifice one of Intelligence or Wisdom, or be mediocre in both. Furthermore, the actual spells they can cast would remain low level. The character wouldn't get to use either class' devastating high-level magic.
Monk And Rogue
The that looks to have synergy with the monk. They both emphasize Dexterity for their weapon attacks and Armor Class. Monk damage can falter in the late game. Sneak Attack looks like the perfect way to bolster it. However, this build doesn't work as well as many hope.
- Martial Arts and Sneak Attack lack synergy
- Risk of redundant features
- Not much pay-off for the cost
For one thing, a monk's Martial Arts attacks don't have the Finesse property. Even though they use Dexterity, they cannot trigger a Sneak Attack. This build must use specific monk weapons to enable a crucial rogue ability. In addition, it risks doubling down on features like Evasion and making them redundant.
A popular joke build is multiclassing a Circle of the Moon druid with a Barbarian. This is due to the Circle of the Moon's ability to shapeshift into a bear coupled with the Bear Totem barbarian. Some players have tried to make this build work. The combination of a druid's Wild Shape and a barbarian's Rage could be dangerous.
- Druid requires too much level investment
- No staying power for multiple fights
- Sacrifices spell levels
However, there is no good way to distribute levels for this build. The Circle of the Moon druid needs as much level investment as possible to acquire better Wild Shape forms and spells. A low-level barbarian's two Rages per day won't go very far in combat. Ultimately, the build delays both classes without adding enough to make it worthwhile.
D&D 5e's sorcerer and bard have some synergy. They both use Charisma for their spellcasting and many of their skills. In addition, they can fill holes in the other class' toolkit. One level in sorcerer can give a bard some offensive spells. Starting as a sorcerer gives proficiency in Constitution saves. A handful of bard levels can give a sorcerer more utility outside of spellcasting.
- Requires too much investment from one side
- Delays spellcasting
- Feats can provide much of the same power
However, the payoffs are never worth the cost. This multiclass delays a character's progression, especially their spellcasting. In particular, a character needs several levels of bard to make its features worthwhile. Anything sorcerer levels can give a bard, such as useful combat cantrips, can be gotten with a feat instead.
The rogue and wizard seem to have a fair amount in common. They're both versatile classes that can specialize in indirect methods. Wizard spellcasting can aid a rogue's hijinks and give them a much wider toolbox. However, there are much better ways to achieve a similar pairing.
- Delays valuable rogue features
- Offers underwhelming benefits
- Outdone by a subclass
Levels in wizard only slow down a rogue's progression. They'll lose out on Sneak Attack dice and vital high-level features in return for mediocre spellcasting. The Arcane Trickster rogue subclass offers wizard spellcasting with a much lower opportunity cost. Extra wizard levels don't bring enough to the character.
A Level In Every Class
Another popular joke build involves taking one level in every single class. With thirteen to choose from, a character could go a long time without taking a second level. As fun as the idea is, and as much versatility as it promises, there is no way for this build to amount to anything.
- Complete lack of synergy
- Sacrificing high-level abilities and spells
- Requires mediocre stat spread across the board
Characters in Dungeons & Dragons tend to scale quickly in power when increasing in level. Additional low-level abilities can't make up for this. Too many classes add conflicting features, ability scores, and class roles. The result is a character that does nothing well and some things mediocrely.