List of alternative Dungeons & Dragons classes
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This is a list of alternative base character classes to the Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game. As base classes rather than prestige classes, they can be taken by newly created characters without need for any prerequisites.
- 1 Original Dungeons & Dragons
- 2 Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st edition
- 3 Basic Dungeons & Dragons
- 4 Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd edition
- 5 3rd and 3.5 editions
- 6 4th edition
- 7 5th edition
- 8 References
Original Dungeons & Dragons
Two new classes were introduced after the release of the original D&D boxed set: Thieves in Supplement I - Greyhawk and Bards in The Strategic Review. New subclasses were introduced in Supplement I - Greyhawk, Supplement II - Blackmoor, Supplement III - Eldritch Wizardry and the Strategic Review.
|Sourcebook||New classes and subclasses|
|Supplement I - Greyhawk||Thief, Paladin (Fighting Man)|
|Supplement II - Blackmoor||Assassin (Thief), Monk (Cleric)|
|Supplement III - Eldritch Wizardry||Druid (Cleric)|
|The Strategic Review - Volume 1, Number 2||Ranger (Fighting Man)|
|The Strategic Review - Volume 1, Number 4||Illusionist (Magic-user)|
|The Strategic Review - Volume 2, Number 1||Bard|
Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st edition
Five standard base classes and five subclasses were offered in the Player's Handbook, with an optional 6th base class, the Bard, presented in an appendix. Additionally, various alternative base classes, subclasses and rule changes were offered in the magazine Dragon and elsewhere, such as the Mystic and the Witch. Eventually, some of these alternative rules came to be compiled in 1985 in the volume Unearthed Arcana. Among other changes, it included the thief-acrobat, a Thief subclass, and the barbarian, a Fighter subclass which had abilities such as summoning a horde of fellow barbarians to any location. Unearthed Arcana also included the cavalier class as "alignment champions" and reworked Paladins to be a subclass of Cavalier. The thief-acrobat, barbarian, and cavalier had previously appeared in Dragon magazine. Many existing classes were also drastically reworked and given different abilities. The Barbarian and Cavalier both had revised treatment in Dragon Magazine #148. The other major book that offered new base classes was the 1985 version of Oriental Adventures; it included the Bushi, Kensai, Ninja, Samurai, Shukenja, Sohei, Wu Jen, and Yakuza. Dragonlance Adventures presented alternative classes for Knights of Solamnia (Knight of the Crown, Knight of the Sword and Knight of the Rose) and Wizards of High Sorcery, as well as the Tinker class, which is exclusive to Gnomes.
Most NPCs did not technically have a class in 1st and 2nd edition; they were, instead, "0th level characters" or "hirelings." Most classes gained the ability to attract and recruit hirelings at 9th level and later; others could be hired for a fee. Their abilities were not normally laid out very specifically, leaving more to the Dungeon Master's improvisation. First Edition did have a few "quasi-classes" which acted in a similar fashion. For example, humanoids could become shamans and witch doctors, which were functionally equivalent to clerics and cleric/magic-users except highly limited in terms of maximum level advancement.
Basic Dungeons & Dragons
The "Basic" Dungeons & Dragons line introduced the Mystic, a counterpart to the AD&D Monk, in the Master Set as available from first level. Additionally, the Companion Set introduced a version of the Druid as an option for advancing a neutrally aligned character of ninth level or higher, and the Paladin, Knight, and Avenger as specialized paths for Fighters above ninth level of lawful, neutral, or chaotic alignment respectively.
Optional classes, both human and demi-human, were introduced in the Gazetteer series of setting accessories, and include the Dervish (GAZ2), Elf Wizard (GAZ5), TreeKeeper (GAZ5), Dwarf-Cleric (GAZ6), Wise Woman (GAZ7), Master (GAZ8), Merchant-Prince (GAZ9), Kobold (GAZ10), Goblin (GAZ10), Orc (GAZ10), Hobgoblin (GAZ10), Gnoll (GAZ10), Bugbear (GAZ10), Ogre (GAZ10), Troll (GAZ10), Merchant (GAZ11), Shaman (GAZ12), Shadow Elf (GAZ13), Shadow Elf Shaman (GAZ13), and Shamani (GAZ14)
Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd edition
AD&D 2nd edition introduced a large number of alternative classes in various supplemental handbooks, which also introduced a variety of "kits" to customize each base class. These kits would grant certain new special abilities at the cost of various restrictions. On occasion the concept of class vs. kit seemed to blur, for example, the Sha'ir of Al-Qadim was introduced as a wizard kit, but it had very different abilities from other wizards, and an alternative system of spellcasting, which warranted it being a class, and not a mere kit. It was treated as its own class in the release of The Complete Sha'ir's Handbook. As can be seen on the lists below, 2nd Edition had far more alternative classes than 1st Edition, and provided significant flexibility with dozens of kits.
The most common type of variant class was the specialty priest, which applied to almost all settings. Rules for specialty priests were in the 2nd edition Player's Handbook, with the druid offered as an example, and many campaign settings offered detailed abilities and domains for specialty priests of their deities.
2nd edition alternative classes
|Birthright campaign setting||Magician (Birthright Campaign Setting box set), Guilder (Havens of the Great Bay expansion)|
|Celts Campaign Sourcebook||Manteis|
|Chronomancer||Chronomancer, Temporal Champion, Temporal Raider|
|Cult of the Dragon||Incantatrix|
|Dark Sun Campaign Setting||Defiler, Elemental Cleric, Gladiator, Para-elemental Cleric, Templar, Trader|
|Defilers and Preservers - The Wizards of Athas||Dragon, Avangion|
|Domains of Dread||Anchorite, Arcanist, Avenger, Gypsy|
|Dragonlance Campaign Setting||Handler, Tinker, Commoner, Knight of Solamnia, Barbarian (Plains/Ice), Cavalier, Mariner, Wizard of High Sorcery, Holy Order of the Stars|
|Faiths & Avatars||Crusader, Monk, Mystic, Shaman|
|Legends & Lore||Ascetic, Pious Knight|
|Netheril: Empire of Magic||Arcanist|
|Sages & Specialists||Apothecary, Appraiser, Blacksmith, Cartographer, Engineer, Guide, Healer, Historian, Scribe, Seer|
|Shaman||Solitary Shaman, Spiritualist, Tribal Shaman|
|Skills & Powers||Alchemist, Geometer, Shadow Mage, Song Wizard|
|Spells & Magic||Artificer, Crusader, Dimensionalist, Force Mage, Mentalist, Monk, Shaman|
|The Complete Barbarian's Handbook||Barbarian Fighter, Shaman|
|The Complete Druid's Handbook||Arctic Druid, Desert Druid, Gray Druid, Forest Druid, Jungle Druid, Mountain Druid, Plains Druid, Swamp Druid|
|The Complete Ninja's Handbook||Ninja (Spy/Killer)|
|The Complete Psionics Handbook||Psionicist|
|Tome of Magic||Elementalist, Wild Mage|
|Vikings Campaign Sourcebook||Berserker, Runecaster|
|Masque of the Red Death and Other Tales||Adept, Soldier, Mystic, Tradesman|
|Warriors and Priests of the Realms||Harper, Crusader|
|Wizards and Rogues of the Realms||Spellsinger, Shadow Walker|
|The Scarlet Brotherhood||Assassin, Monk|
2nd edition kits
Character kits were conceived as a way for players to customize a class. A character kit is a collection of minor modifications to the standard rules (generally involving bonus languages, changes to forbidden/permissible weapons, bonus non-weapon proficiencies, et cetera). They tended to reflect culture, race, social class, or vocation.
Kit repetition was also not unheard of. Some kit names were used multiple times, occasionally with different descriptions, such as the diplomat. Kits and classes also sometimes duplicated themselves. For example, the shaman appeared in at least six products.
|Age of Heroes Campaign Sourcebook||Companion, Hero, Hoplite|
|A Mighty Fortress Campaign Sourcebook||Clansman, Courtier, Forester, Picaro, Preacher, Protector of the Faith, Scholarly Mage, Sea Dog, Vagabond|
|Arabian Adventures||Ajami, Askar, Barber, Beggar-Thief, Cleric of the Faith Pragmatic (Pragmatist), Cleric of the Faith Ethical (Ethoist), Cleric of the Faith Moral (Moralist), Corsair, Desert Rider, Elemental Mage, Faris, Hakima, Holy Slayer, Kahin, Mamluk, Matrud, Mercenary Barbarian, Merchant-Rogue, Mystic, Outland Priest, Outland Warrior, Rawun, Sa’luk, Sorcerer, Sha'ir|
|Chronomancer||Guide, Historian, Seer, Traveler|
|City of Gold||Clown, Fetishist, Trader, Hunter, Azupozi Healer, Bent Priest, Pueblo Priest, Sunwatcher|
|Defilers and Preservers - The Wizard of Athas||Advanced Being, Arena Wizard, Cerulean, Chasseur, Earth Defender, Exterminator, Free Wizard, Illusionist, Mercenary, Restorationist, Shadow Wizard, Tribal Wizard, Necromancer|
|Diablo II: The Awakening||Amazon, Barbarian, Necromancer, Paladin, Sorcerer|
|Elves of Evermeet||Elven Knight, High Mage, Skinwalker, Totem-sister, Unicorn Rider|
|Jakandor - Isle of Destiny||Artificer, Finder, Galvanist, Porter, Render, Sandman, Shadow Mage, Warden, Dilettante, Bandit, Chirurgeon, Companion, Guildsman, Scribe, Cultist, Jurist, Pantheist, Philosopher, Thanhotepic, Guardian|
|Masque of the Red Death||Cavalryman, Charlatan, Dandy, Detective, Explorer/Scout, Journalist, Labourer, Medium, Metaphysician, Parson, Physician, Qabalist, Sailor, Scholar, Shaman, Spiritualist|
|Maztica Campaign Set||Eagle Knight, Hishnashaper, Jaguar Knight, Plumaweaver|
|Of Ships and the Sea||The Fathomer|
|Player's Option: Skills & Powers||Acrobat, Amazon, Animal Master, Assassin, Barbarian, Beggar, Cavalier, Diplomat, Explorer, Gladiator, Jester, Mariner, Merchant, Mystic, Noble, Outlaw, Peasant Hero, Pirate, Pugilist, Rider, Savage, Scholar, Scout, Sharpshooter, Soldier, Smuggler, Spy, Swashbuckler, Thug, Weapon Master|
|The Complete Barbarian's Handbook||Brushrunner, Brute, Dreamwalker, Flamespeaker, Forest Lord, Islander, Medicine Man, Plainsrider, Ravager, Seer, Spiritist, Witchman, Wizard Slayer|
|The Complete Bard's Handbook||True Bard, Blade, Charlatan, Gallant, Gypsy-bard, Herald, Jester, Jongleur, Loremaster, Meistersinger, Riddlemaster, Skald, Thespian, Dwarven Chanter, Elven Minstrel, Gnome Professor, Halfling Whistler|
|The Complete Book of Dwarves||Animal Master, Axe For Hire, Battlerager, Champion, Clansdwarf, Crafts Priest, Diplomat, Entertainer, Ghetto Fighter, Hearth Guard, Highborn, Locksmith, Outcast, Pariah, Patrician, Pest Controller, Rapid Response Rider, Ritual Priest, Sharpshooter, Temple Guard, Trader, Vermin Slayer, Vindicator, Wayfinder|
|The Complete Book of Elves||Archer, Bladesinger, Collector, Elven Minstrel, Herbalist, Huntsman, Infiltrator, Spellfilcher, Undead Slayer, War Wizard, Wilderness Runner, Windrider|
|The Complete Book of Gnomes & Halflings||Bandit, Bilker, Breachgnome, Buffoon, Burglar, Cartographer, Forestwalker, Goblinsticker, Healer, Homesteader, Imagemaker, Leaftender, Mercenary, Mouseburglar, Oracle, Rocktender, Sheriff, Smuggler, Squire, Stalker, The Archer, Trader, Traveler, Treetender, Tumbler, Tunnelrat, Urchin, Vanisher|
|The Complete Book of Humanoids||Hedge wizard, Humanoid Bard, Humanoid Scholar, Mine Rowdy, Oracle, Outlaw Mage, Pit Fighter, Saurial Paladin, Scavenger, Sellsword, Shadow, Shaman, Tramp, Tribal Defender, Tunnel Rat, Wandering Mystic, War Priest, Wilderness Protector, Witch Doctor|
|The Complete Book of Necromancers||Archetypal Necromancer, Anatomist, Deathslayer, Philosopher, Undead Master|
|The Complete Druid's Handbook||Adviser, Avenger, Beastfriend, Guardian, Hivemaster, Lost Druid, Natural Philosopher, Outlaw, Pacifist, Savage, Shapeshifter, Totemic Druid, Village Druid, Wanderer|
|The Complete Fighter's Handbook||Amazon, Barbarian, Beast-Rider, Berserker, Cavalier, Gladiator, Myrmidon, Noble Warrior, Peasant Hero, Pirate/Outlaw, Samurai, Savage, Swashbuckler, Wilderness Warrior|
|The Complete Gladiator's Handbook||Arena Champion, Beast Trainer, Blind fighter, Convict, Gladiatorial Slave, Jazst, Montare, Professional Gladiator, Reaver|
|The Complete Ninja's Handbook||Consort, Eliminator, Intruder, Lone Wolf, Pathfinder, Punisher, Ravager, Shadow Warrior, Spirit Warrior, Stealer-In|
|The Complete Paladin's Handbook||True Paladin, Chevalier, Divinate, Envoy, Equerry, Errant, Expatriate, Ghosthunter, Inquisitor, Medician, Militarist, Skyrider, Squire, Votary, Wyrmslayer|
|The Complete Priest's Handbook||Amazon Priestess, Barbarian/Berserker Priest, Fighting-Monk, Nobleman Priest, Outlaw Priest, Pacifist Priest, Peasant Priest, Prophet Priest, Savage Priest, Scholar Priest|
|The Complete Ranger's Handbook||Beastmaster, Explorer, Falconer, Feralan, Forest Runner, Giant Killer, Greenwood Ranger, Guardian, Justifier, Mountain Man, Pathfinder, Sea Ranger, Seeker, Stalker, Warden|
|The Complete Sha’ir's Handbook||Astrologer, Clockwork Mage, Digitalogist, Ghul Lord, Jackal, Mageweaver, Mystic of Nog, Spellslayer|
|The Complete Spacefarer's Handbook||Aperusa, Arcanist, Astrologer, Astronomer, Corsair, Courier, Crusader, Diplomat, Evangelist, Frontiersman, Geomancer, Harlequin, Imposter, Marine, Medicus, Merchant, Missionary, Privateer, Salvager, War Mage|
|The Complete Thief's Handbook||Acrobat, Adventurer, Assassin, Bandit, Beggar, Bounty Hunter, Buccaneer, Burglar, Cutpurse, Fence, Investigator, Scout, Smuggler, Spy, Swashbuckler, Swindler, Thug, Troubleshooter|
|The Complete Wizard's Handbook||Academician, Amazon Sorceress, Anagakok, Militant Wizard, Mystic, Patrician, Peasant Wizard, Savage Wizard, Witch, Wu Jen|
|The Crusades Campaign Sourcebook||Monastic Warrior (Templar/Hospitaller), Pardoner, Warrior Priest|
|The Glory of Rome Campaign Sourcebook||Charioteer, Charlatan-Thief, Christian Priest, Gladiator, Military Tribune, Mithraic Priest, Philosopher-Mage, Priest of the Mysteries, Priest of the State Religion, Roman Legionary, Roman Politician, Roman Witch, Street Fighter|
|The Planewalker's Handbook||Planewalker Warrior, Planewalker Wizard, Planewalker Priest, Planewalker Rogue, Abyssal Warrior, Floating Sorcerer, Hinterland Bandit|
|Savage Baronies / Red Steel Campaign Setting||Inheritor, Local Hero, Noble, Spy, Swashbuckler, Beast Rider, Defender, Gaucho, Honorbound, Myrmidon, Savage, Militant, Mystic, Wokan, Fighting Monk, Shaman, War Priest, Webmaster, Bandit, Filcher, Scout, Herald, Skald, Trader|
|The Will and the Way||Auditor, Beastmaster, Mercenary Psionicist, Noble Psionicist, Psiologist, Sensei, Tribal Psionicist|
Spells & Magic
The book Spells & Magic introduced some new magic systems for wizards, and the practitioners of some of these systems could be seen as new character classes. The system of channeling seems to have been an exception, this was purely an alternative form of handling spell casting, and gives the example of a "channeling invoker". In other words, the class is invoker, but instead of using the normal method of spell casting, the character uses a different version, and for sake of clarity, is labeled a channeling invoker. The other alternative systems (Alienist/Summoner, Warlock/Wizard) lend themselves more readily to the concept of alternative classes in addition to an alternative form of spell casting (much as the Wild Mage and Defiler classes use modified means of casting spells). The book also introduced different spell systems for priests, but all of them were, like the wizardly form of channeling, of a nature that suggested a different way of handling spell casting (and acquisition) as opposed to outright classes.
3rd and 3.5 editions
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Dungeon Master's Guide
In its Dungeon Master's Guide, 3rd edition introduced five NPC classes not intended for player use. These were the first official alternative base classes, and still the only ones detailed in the core 3 books. All five of these classes were retained in the 3.5 edition Dungeon Master's Guide.
|Adept||Adepts are practitioners of divine magic, similar to Clerics, but are less formally trained. They typically arise in poorer or frontier areas, and are common among bestial humanoids as their link to their deity. Unlike Clerics, who possess decent physical combat ability, Adepts' physical combat capabilities are poor.||OGL stats|
|Aristocrat||The Aristocrat class reflects those of a wealthy and refined upbringing. While nobles commonly meet the description, rich and educated commoners can as well. Due to their extensive education, good diet, and reasonable medical care, Aristocrats possess a wide variety of skills, are reasonably tough, and possess familiarity with combat and martial weapons.||OGL stats|
|Commoner||Commoners are unskilled average folk and comprise the bulk of the non-player characters of most settings, existing as peasants and laborers. They possess practically no skill at combat and have no special abilities.||OGL stats|
|Expert||Experts are skilled common people, such as tradesmen, scholars, and educated merchants. They possess considerable acumen at their areas of expertise, and receive a large amount of skill points to reflect this. While more familiar with combat than Commoners, Experts are only familiar with the simplest of weapons.||OGL stats|
|Warrior||Warriors are trained for combat, similar to Fighters. However, they possess more casual training, similar to that given to a town guard or low-ranking army recruit. This is reflected in their lesser rate of hit point growth than fighters and their lack of special abilities.||OGL stats|
The following base classes were introduced in other sourcebooks. Unless otherwise specified, all sourcebooks are for 3.5 edition.
|Archivist||Archivists are wielders of divine magic who learn and cast spells through diligent study rather than direct communion with their deity. They study and learn spells with a prayerbook, analogous to a wizard's spellbook, and their magic's strength is based on Intelligence. Archivists also have the Dark Knowledge class feature, which allows them to draw on their knowledge of aberrations, elementals, magical beasts, outsiders or undead with a successful skill check, most Dark Knowledge abilities grant allies an offensive or defensive bonus.||Heroes of Horror|
|Beguiler||Beguilers are similar to rogues, but possess a small suite of spells cast spontaneously, like a Sorcerer. Their spells are primarily focused on stealth and the manipulation of others; they also have the Cloaked Casting class feature, which raises the save DC and gives them a bonus on rolls to overcome spell resistance when casting a spell on an unaware target.||Player's Handbook II|
|Binder||Binders derive their power by making pacts with "vestiges," souls of legendary beings who have been "evicted" from the universe. Binders then fuse with the vestige, which affects their appearance (and possibly their personality) but grants them powers that can usually be used an unlimited number of times per day. This pact-making is despised by most clerics, because the gods were the ones who exiled most of the vestiges in the first place. Binder is the favored class of karsites, a new race introduced in Tome of Magic.||Tome of Magic|
|Crusader||Crusader is a martial adept class, meaning it utilizes the various boosts, counters, strikes, and stances in Tome of Battle. They may learn the Devoted Spirit, Stone Dragon, and White Raven styles; Devoted Spirit is exclusive to Crusaders alone. Crusaders may only use a randomized selection of maneuvers at the start of battle; they gain the rest one round at a time.||Tome of Battle|
|Dragon Shaman||Dragon Shamans earn their power by making a pact with a specific breed of dragon. Over time, they slowly begin to grow more like their chosen Totem dragon: they gain a draconic aura, can heal wounds similar to a Paladin's Lay on Hands ability, their skin becomes scales, they gain a dragon's breath, and lastly a dragon's wings. They must remain within one step of their chosen Dragon's alignment.||Player's Handbook II|
|Dragonfire Adept||Dragonfire Adepts receive spell-like invocations through some form of draconic tie, such as in-born talent, study, or from a deal with a dragon. This includes the ability to use a variety of elemental breath attacks. Despite not casting magic, their abilities are still hindered by armor.||Dragon Magic|
|Dread Necromancer||Dread Necromancers are focused students of undeath, fear-inducing magic, and evil-aligned spells. They cast spells spontaneously like a Sorcerer and do not have the breadth of a specialist wizard necromancer. Dread necromancers are also more combat-oriented than most arcane spellcasters, able to wear light armor without impacting their spells and possessing numerous abilities. Eventually, a Dread Necromancer can become a lich.||Heroes of Horror|
|Duskblade||Duskblades combine combat prowess with the ability to cast arcane magic while in light or medium armor. Their spell selection is limited and generally focused on a single target; however, their spells get a bonus against enemies whom they have struck in melee combat. They cast spells spontaneously, like a Sorcerer, but their spells are based on Intelligence, like a Wizard.||Player's Handbook II|
|Factotum||Factotums are jacks-of-all-trades and possess a variety of abilities. They can imitate other classes for a short time.||Dungeonscape|
|Favored Soul||The favored soul is similar to a cleric, but they may cast divine spells they know spontaneously, similar to a Sorcerer. They also acquire characteristics similar to their patron deity, such as expertise in their deity's favored weapons, and eventually grow wings. Favored Soul is one of the few classes with three good saves.||Miniatures Handbook, Complete Divine|
|Healer||Healers are divine spellcasters similar to clerics. Their spells focus on healing and removing conditions such as fatigue, fear, and paralysis. Healers also gain similar supernatural abilities and the services of a celestial companion, usually a unicorn. Like druids, healers are prohibited from wearing metal armor; healers are further prohibited from using shields. Healers must be of good alignment and may not refuse to heal an ally or good-aligned creature.||Miniatures Handbook|
|Hexblade||Hexblades are warriors who possess some arcane magic ability, which they may use while wearing armor and cast spontaneously. They may also curse their opponents and, at higher levels, inflict an aura of unluck upon them. Hexblades are only evil or neutral in alignment, never good.||Complete Warrior|
|Incarnate||Incarnates are characters that have learned to form soulmelds, magical items made from Incarnum, the material of souls. They gain the ability to shape soulmelds and bind them to different chakras, or body regions. This binding grants them additional abilities based on the soulmeld and chakra combination. Incarnates must be either Lawful Neutral, Chaotic Neutral, Neutral Good, or Neutral Evil, and some of their abilities change with alignment. It is the favored class of the Rilkan and Skarn race.||Magic of Incarnum|
|Knight||Knights are dedicated melee combatants based around protecting other characters, distracting enemies, and high resilience. Their main ability is the "Knight's Challenge," which can boost the morale of allies, goad strong enemies into fighting him or her, and scare weak enemies. Knights must be of lawful alignment and maintain a specific code of conduct.||Player's Handbook II|
|Marshal||The marshal is a military commander whose abilities are focused on leading others into battle and inspiring them to victory. They project auras that grant a variety of bonuses to nearby allies based on the marshal's Charisma.||Miniatures Handbook|
|Ninja||A 1st edition character class loosely based on the Japanese ninja in the 1985 Oriental Adventures, the Ninja was introduced into 3rd edition in Complete Adventurer. Ninjas are focused on stealth and mobility, and possess a sudden strike special attack on unprepared foes. They also use ki similar to a monk and can turn invisible.||Complete Adventurer|
|Samurai||Loosely based on the Japanese samurai, the Samurai in Oriental Adventures are those who learn a particular martial style from their clan. They possess a number of bonus feats, which must be taken from styles favored by their clan. Samurai may also sacrifice and empower their ancestral daisho, turning their family's weapons into magical ones in their hands. Samurai must be of lawful alignment. The class was revisited in Complete Warrior, but in a markedly different style dedicated to two-weapon combat.||Oriental Adventures (3rd), Complete Warrior|
|Scout||Scouts are experts at tracking and natural lore, and are similar to a more wilderness-oriented rogue. They possess a skirmish ability that allows them to do extra damage when moving.||Complete Adventurer|
|Shaman||Shamans are divine spellcasters who draw their spells from the spirit world.||Oriental Adventures (3rd)|
|Shadowcaster||Shadowcasters are spellcasters that draw power from the Plane of Shadow. They learn "mysteries" which start out similar to spells, though over time simpler mysteries become spell-like abilities and can be used more often per day. Eventually shadowcasters become immune to poisons and disease and no longer need to eat, sleep, or breathe.||Tome of Magic|
|Shugenja||Shugenja are loosely based on Asian mythology and are mechanically similar to traditional Clerics. Typically members of the noble class, Shugenja are spontaneous casters of magic. Shugenja are attuned to one of the four classical elements in particular; they are barred from learning spells of the opposed element. Through concentration, they can sense any element nearby in a radius that grows with experience.||Oriental Adventures (3rd), Complete Divine|
|Sohei||Sohei are militant religious warriors; they usually act in groups and are primarily employed by large temples and monasteries. They can shrug off a certain amount of damage and deflect arrows, and may also enter a "ki frenzy" of focused fury. Soheis must be of lawful alignment.||Oriental Adventures (3rd), Dragon #318|
|Soulborn||Soulborns utilize magic items called "soulmelds" to increase their own skills and abilities, though they have a more limited selection than Totemists or Incarnates. Soulmelds are made from Incarnum, the material of which souls consist. Soulborns must be of an "extreme" alignment: one of Lawful Good, Chaotic Good, Lawful Evil, or Chaotic Evil. Azurin have Soulborn as a favored class.||Magic of Incarnum|
|Spellthief||Spellthieves are a rogue-like class that acquires slightly fewer skills than rogues, but their sneak attack ability can steal spells or magical abilities from others. They also can detect magic and have a small chance of absorbing enemy magic harmlessly.||Complete Adventurer|
|Spirit Shaman||Spirit Shamans are similar to druids in that they use the druidic spell list, but they cast spells spontaneously like a Sorcerer. Spirit Shamans have their own spirit guide and possess special abilities that affect spirits (such as incorporeal undead, fey, and elementals). Unlike Sorcerers, Spirit Shamans may change their spell selection whenever they meditate to regain their daily allotment of spells.||Complete Divine|
|Swashbuckler||Based on a 2nd edition kit for Fighters and Thieves, Swashbucklers are a combat-oriented class that emphasizes finesse, style, and flair. They are surprisingly tough and have a Fighter's rate of attack bonus advancement, but can only wear light armor. Swashbucklers also gain a fair number of skills.||Complete Warrior|
|Swordsage||Swordsage is a martial adept class, meaning it utilizes the various boosts, counters, strikes, and stances in Tome of Battle. They may learn the Desert Wind, Diamond Mind, Setting Sun, Shadow Hand, Stone Dragon and Tiger Claw styles. Swordsages may only use light armor and have a slightly slower attack bonus progression, but are the most versatile of the martial adepts. They must spend a full round to recover one special maneuver.||Tome of Battle|
|Totemist||Totemists revere magical beasts, such as worgs and unicorns, whom they see as the most powerful forces of nature. They shape incarnum, the material of souls, to make magical items based around magical beasts, such as Displacer Mantles. Totemist is the favored class of Dusklings.||Magic of Incarnum|
|Truenamer||Truenamers are a type of wizard whose magic revolves around a primordial language that describes the universe. As they learn the true name of entities, they become able to affect them by "rewriting the universe." Mechanically, they are similar to sorcerers, except a Truenamer's skills affect the DC of their spell.||Tome of Magic|
|Warblade||Warblade is a martial adept class, meaning it utilizes the various boosts, counters, strikes, and stances in Tome of Battle. They may learn the Diamond Mind, Iron Heart, Stone Dragon, Tiger Claw and White Raven styles. The Warblade focuses on melee combat and can utilize light and medium armors and shields. They may acquire fighter-exclusive feats as if they were a fighter two levels lower than their Warblade level and recover maneuvers with a simple attack or by spending a turn.||Tome of Battle|
|Warlock||Warlocks are users of spell-like abilities either in-born or granted through a pact with some unearthly being such as a demon or a fey. Since a warlock's invocations are not normal spells, they may be used while wearing light armor and any number of times. Warlocks can later acquire energy resistance, toughened skin, fast healing, and the ability to force magical items to do their bidding.||Complete Arcane|
|Warmage||Warmages are battle-oriented mages associated with large army battles who focus on damage-dealing spells. They may cast spells while wearing light (and later, medium) armor.||Miniatures Handbook, Complete Arcane|
|Wu Jen||Wu Jen are Eastern-style wizards introduced in both versions of Oriental Adventures. They are similar to normal wizards statistically, but with slightly different spells and some additional meta-magic abilities. Wu Jen is the favored class of the shapeshifting Hengeyokai, also introduced in Oriental Adventures.||Oriental Adventures (3rd), Complete Arcane|
Core class variants
These are alternative versions of core base classes.
|Bardic Sage||Bard variant focused on knowledge.||Unearthed Arcana|
|Battle Sorcerer||Combat oriented sorcerer variant.||Unearthed Arcana|
|Cloistered Cleric||Variant cleric focused on knowledge and lore.||Unearthed Arcana|
|Divine Bard||Divine spellcaster bard variant.||Unearthed Arcana|
|Domain Wizard||Wizard variant with arcane domains.||Unearthed Arcana|
|Druidic Avenger||Variant druid focused on combat.||Unearthed Arcana|
|Paladin of Freedom||Chaotic good paladin variant.||Unearthed Arcana|
|Paladin of Slaughter||Chaotic evil paladin variant.||Unearthed Arcana|
|Paladin of Tyranny||Lawful evil paladin variant||Unearthed Arcana|
|Planar Ranger||Ranger variant focused on survival on other planes rather than wilderness survival.||Unearthed Arcana|
|Savage Bard||Variant bard focused on combat.||Unearthed Arcana|
|Specialist Wizard Variants||Wizard variants focused on specific schools of magic.||Unearthed Arcana|
|Thug||Urban variant fighter with fewer armor proficiencies and starting feats and more class skills and skill points.||Unearthed Arcana|
|Totem Barbarian||A barbarian variant with class features which vary depending on which totem animal is chosen.||Unearthed Arcana|
|Urban Ranger||Urban focused ranger variant.||Unearthed Arcana|
|Variant Paladin||Variant paladin without spellcasting.||Complete Warrior|
|Variant Ranger||Variant ranger without spellcasting.||Complete Warrior|
|Wilderness Rogue||Wilderness focused rogue variant.||Unearthed Arcana|
The Dragonlance campaign setting update for 3rd edition includes 2 alternative base classes (Mystics and Nobles), while further sourcebooks developed by Sovereign Press/Margaret Weis Productions ltd. introduce Masters (in War of the Lance), Mariners (in Age of Mortals and Legends of the Twins), and Nighstalkers (in Races of Ansalon):
|Mariner||Mariners are flamboyant sea-going people, a cross between swashbucklers and sea pirates. They are a cross between rogues (for skills and dirty tricks) and fighters (attack bonus) who have developed at skills specific to those on board ships.|
|Master||Masters are Krynn's enhanced version of experts. More talented, with skills unmatched in their chosen fields, masters are on par with other PC classes. They must specialize in a set of broad skills (craft, knowledge, perform or profession). They receive bonus skill-related feats and special talents akin to feats.|
|Mystic||Mystics are capable of casting divine spells without need of being a cleric; they are mechanically similar to a Sorcerer in that they cast spontaneously, but from a fixed spell list chosen from the spell list for clerics. This ability was important when Krynn was isolated from the gods for a time.|
|Nightstalker||Nightstalkers create magical effects, find traps, and see dead people.|
|Noble||Nobles are charismatic manipulators who leverage skills and connections to advance their goals. They are mechanically similar to rogues without the ability to sneak attack, and can call in favors they earn.|
Alternative base classes presented in the 3.5 edition Eberron campaign setting include:
|Artificer||Artificers are tinkerers and architects skilled at creating and modifying items. They cast "infusions" onto ordinary items and constructs so that they grant a bonus to themselves or their wielders. They also are familiar with security, able to tinker with traps and locks. House Cannith is known for their skill in this class.||Eberron Campaign Setting|
|Magewright||Magewrights are crafters of magical items. They are familiar with some magic, especially that which would aid the creation of other items. The Magewright class is intended for non-player characters.||Eberron Campaign Setting|
|Psionic Artificer||Psionic variant of the artificer class.||Magic of Eberron|
|Urban Adept||Urban variant of the adept NPC class.||Sharn: City of Towers|
The 3rd edition version of Oriental Adventures was set in Rokugan, the setting of Legend of the Five Rings. However, many of the classes in Oriental Adventures were used in other settings as well, and some were reprinted in other books independently. Alternative classes created for that book include the Samurai, Shaman, Shugenja, Sohei, and Wu-Jen; see above.
The 2004 release of Unearthed Arcana for 3.5 edition included 3 "generic" base classes: Warrior, Spellcaster, and Expert (no relation to the DMG's Warrior and Expert). These classes cover three basic archetypes without any frills and are easily modified. However, these classes were not recommended for use with the standard base classes. The Warrior is similar to the Fighter, with hit points and a strong attack but few skills; the Expert has a large variety of skills but middling combat capabilities (similar to a Rogue); and the Spellcaster has little combat capabilities but the ability to cast spells (similar to a Wizard). Many class features from the core base classes, such as Familiar, Sneak Attack and Turn Undead, are available to the three generic base classes as bonus feats.
Psionics in 3rd edition were originally detailed in Psionics Handbook. 2nd edition had only one character class, the psionicist; 3rd edition renamed it the psion and introduced various new alternative classes based on psionics usage. Psionics Handbook was later updated for version 3.5 with the Expanded Psionics Handbook, and new material was added in the Complete Psionic book.
|Ardent||Ardents derive their powers from a focus on primal truths or concepts ("mantles"); different mantles offer different abilities to an Ardent. They possess a smaller selection of powers than the more versatile Psion, but enjoy greater martial abilities.||Complete Psionic|
|Divine Mind||The Divine Mind is a character who chooses to serve a deity using psionic powers; they are thus somewhat similar to Clerics. Like clerics, they may choose mantles a deity represents, similar to domains. They may also exude Attack, Defense, or Perception auras that grant bonuses to nearby allies.||Complete Psionic|
|Erudite||Rather than learn powers upon level gain like Psions, Erudites may theoretically use any psionic ability by "copying" another person or a psionically-infused item. In exchange, they may call upon only a limited selection of powers per day. Mechanically, they are thus somewhat similar to unspecialized wizards rather than Psions.||Complete Psionic|
|Lurk||Lurks are similar to rogues who call upon psionic powers to aid them. They may perceive the weaknesses of enemies and make sneak attacks, as well as use psionic augments to their abilities.||Complete Psionic|
|Psion||Psions are dedicated to the usage of psionic power. Mechanically, they are similar to Sorcerers; however, like Wizards, they can (and in fact must) choose a specialization of their school of psionics. In 3rd edition the various disciplines were each linked to a statistic; for instance, clairsentience is linked to Wisdom and Psions who specialize in it are known as Seers. This was changed in 3.5 so that all disciplines are linked to the Intelligence statistic. Psion is the favoured class of the elan race.||Psionics Handbook, Expanded Psionics Handbook|
|Psychic Rogue||Psychic Rogue is a Rogue with psionic abilities.||http://archive.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/psm/20040723b|
|Psychic Warrior||Psychic Warriors are a blend between Fighters and Psions. Like fighters, they gain bonus feats, and like psions, they wield psionic powers, though at a slower rate than either specialized class. Their attack bonus and hit point growth is similarly in the middle.||Psionics Handbook, Expanded Psionics Handbook|
|Soulknife||Soulknives are warriors who have learned to channel psionic power into "Mindblades", or swords composed of psionic energy. Their broad training allows them to take many occupations and be a "jack of all trades." It is the favoured class of the Xeph race. Soulknives were a prestige class in the original Psionics Handbook, but made into a base class with version 3.5.||Expanded Psionics Handbook|
|Wilder||Wilders can use "wild surges", which allow them to augment their psionic powers to a greater extent than normal. Doing so is dangerous and there is a chance every time a wild surge is used that the wilder will suffer from "psychic enervation" causing them to become dazed and lose power points. They are slightly tougher than psions, but gain fewer abilities and slower. Wilder is the favored class of the maenad race.||Expanded Psionics Handbook|
|Class||Primary role||Secondary role||Power source||Description||Sourcebook||Playtest/Preview|
|Ardent||Leader||Defender or Striker||Psionic||Ardents use their psionic power to use emotions to their advantage. They fill their enemies' minds with negative emotions, creating gaps in their defenses. At the same time, ardents fill their allies minds with encouraging thoughts and strengthen their resolve.||Player's Handbook 3||None|
|Artificer||Leader||None||Arcane||The artificer acts to contain magic energy within vessels, whether it's animated constructs or infusing magic into his/her allies.||Eberron Player's Guide||Dragon Magazine #365 (July 2008)|
|Assassin||Striker||?||Shadow||Assassins make a deal with Death, displacing part of their soul with a reflection from the afterlife. The deal struck gives them the power to move through shadows and gather power to strike at a creature's weakness.||Dragon Magazine #379 (September 2009), Heroes of Shadow||None|
|Avenger||Striker||Controller||Divine||Avengers act as the avenging agent of their faith, vowing enmity against a particular foe and gaining power from that vow.||Player's Handbook 2||None|
|Barbarian||Striker||Defender or Leader||Primal||Rage is the main weapon in the barbarian's arsenal. By driving themselves into a state of primal chaos, they can crash through a battlefield and deal heavy damage.||Player's Handbook 2 ||Dragon Magazine #368 (October 2008)|
|Bard||Leader||Controller||Arcane||Bards perform music that taps into arcane energies, imbuing allies with power and harming enemies.||Player's Handbook 2 ||Dragon Magazine #369 (November 2008) (Ampersand Preview)|
|Druid||Controller||Leader or Striker||Primal||Druids control powerful flora and fauna to attack at long range. They also transform themselves into agents of primal power, such as bears, monkeys, wolves, cheetahs, boars, treants, etc.||Player's Handbook 2||Dragon Magazine #370 (December 2008) (Levels 1-3 Preview)|
|Invoker||Controller||Leader or Striker||Divine||The Invoker channels the divine magic of their gods directly to castigate their foes and control the battlefield. They wear light to medium armor and can use simple weapons but they usually rely on divine spells to weaken, slow, or otherwise hamper their enemies while aiding their allies.||Player's Handbook 2||Dragon Magazine #370 (December 2008) (Levels 1-3 Preview)|
|Monk||Striker||Controller||Psionic||Focusing psionic energy, monks act with little armor and usually unarmed. This energy also allows them to move about the field of battle quickly and in unexpected ways.||Player's Handbook 3 ||Dragon Magazine #375 (May 2009)|
|Psion||Controller||None||Psionic||Psions are the archetypical channels of psionic energy. They use either telekineses or telepathy to control and befuddle their foes.||Player's Handbook 3 ||Dragon Magazine #377 (July 2009)|
|Runepriest||Leader||Defender or Controller||Divine||Runepriests know the divine secrets inscribed in forgotten runes. Like other leaders, they heal and buff their allies. More importantly, they gain secondary effects to all of their powers depending on which rune state they are in.||Player's Handbook 3||None Available.|
|Seeker||Controller||Defender or Striker||Primal||Versed in hunting techniques handed down through the generations, seekers combine thrown weapon and bow techniques with primal evocations. The combination allows seekers great range in which to deliver deadly attacks that confound and hamper their enemies.||Player's Handbook 3 ||Dragon Magazine #380 (October 2009)|
|Shaman||Leader||Defender or Striker||Primal||Shamans gather spirits to intervene in the material world, healing their allies and disabling their foes. These spirits group under grand marshals like the World Serpent, tied to specific abilities.||Player's Handbook 2 ||Dragon Magazine #372 (February 2009) (Levels 1-3 Preview)|
|Sorcerer||Striker||Controller||Arcane||Sorcerers are wielders of raw arcane power. Where a wizard wields magic like a fighter wields a sword, a sorcerer wields magic like a barbarian swinging a greataxe. The magic they use is hardly controlled and may have some chaotic side effects.||Player's Handbook 2||Dragon Magazine #371 (January 2009) (Levels 1-3 Preview)|
|Swordmage||Defender||None||Arcane||The sword is used as an arcane focus for the swordmage's abilities, including aegises of shielding, ensaring, and attacking. They ward themselves and enchant their blades to combat any foe.||Forgotten Realms Player's Guide||RPGA Forgotten Realms Player's Guide preview (July 2008)|
|Warden||Defender||Controller or Striker||Primal||The warden uses the power of the primal spirits to protect their allies. They are defenders of the wilderness and make moving around the battlefield very troublesome for their enemies.||Player's Handbook 2||Dragon Magazine #371 (January 2009) (Levels 1-3 Preview)|
These classes are only available through multiclassing. They cannot be chosen as a character's main class.
|Spellscarred||None||Arcane||Those who were touched by the wild Spellplague may have developed a spellscar. The spellscar manifests as wild lines of blue that may ignite when the subject is under the effect of a certain emotion. They can bestow weird magical powers but a small few attempt to master the gifts they bestow.||Forgotten Realms Player's Guide||None|
No official base classes beyond the Player's Handbook have been released for the fifth edition of Dungeons & Dragons as of January 2019. The Dungeon Master's Guide contains alternate class options for the Cleric and Paladin (the Death domain and the Oathbreaker, respectively), while accessory books Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide and Xanathar's Guide to Everything contain multiple additional subclasses for the base classes in the Player's Handbook in keeping with the fifth edition's use of such archetypes to vary classes.
Many of these were introduced as playtests in the article series "Unearthed Arcana" on the Wizards of the Coast web site. Other "Unearthed Arcana" articles presented playtest versions of full classes, with rules for psionics for 5th edition as a class called the Mystic, and a 5th edition version of the Artificer class.
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