A Complete Guide to Multiclassing in 5e, Photo Sketch of a Paladin in a Forest

Your Guide to Multiclassing in 5e

Multiclassing in Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition has a bit of a reputation as being overly complicated.

What is it? How does multiclassing work? When should you do it? And a myriad of other questions plague newer players and Game Masters alike.

So, in this article, we’re going to go over what multiclassing in 5e is and how it works.

Let’s get started with what multiclassing is in D&D.

What is Multiclassing in D&D 5e?

Multiclassing in 5e, Photo Sketch of a Woman Sitting on a Stone Stair's Rail with a Small Skeleton Beside Her
Multiclassing is an optional rule in D&D 5e that lets you take levels in additional classes after creating your character & over the course of your game

Multiclassing in D&D 5e is an optional ruleset that lets you customize your character by taking levels in another playable class.

Basically, multiclassing literally means taking multiple classes for your character.

Many D&D 5e players like multiclassing for the versatility it brings. Multiclassing gives your greater customization for your character, helping you develop a concept or build that steps outside of what your primary class is capable of.

So, simply put; multiclassing is the process of taking levels in multiple classes for your D&D 5e character.

Now, the simplest part of multiclassing is deciding you want to do it for your character. Assuming your Game Master (GM) allows it (it is an optional rule, after all), it’s really all about deciding to add a second class to your character build.

That said, there are quite a few rules you need to follow.

5e’s Multiclassing Rules: How Multiclassing Works

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Multiclassing has a few very specific rules to keep in mind, but they’re generally not too complicated

Multiclassing is a fairly simple system at its core. But, there are several rules that affect how you go about it.

The multiclassing rules in 5e is one of the main reasons this mechanic may scare off newer players. There are prerequisites, skill implications, and spellcasting complications that make it seem like a hassle.

But, this guide to 5e’s multiclassing rules will help clarify any confusion you may have.

When You Can Multiclass

You can only multiclass whenever you would normally gain a level. Instead of increasing the level of your current class by one, you may instead elect to take a level in another class.

The only way you can multiclass in 5e is when your character may normally level up. Whether that’s through experience points gains, milestones reached, or some other method of advancing your character, this rule remains the same.

Multiclassing Requirements & Prerequisites

Multiclassing into another class comes with a minimum required Ability Score. The prerequisite Ability Score depends on which class you want to multiclass your character into.

Basically, each class has a required minimum Ability Score your character needs to meet prior to multiclassing into it. Each class sets the same minimum score (13) but which Ability Score required changes depending on which one you want to multiclass into.

Here’s a table of D&D 5e’s multiclassing requirements for your reference:

5e Multiclassing Requirements

Class Prerequisite Ability Score
Artificer* Intelligence 13
Barbarian Strength 13
Bard Charisma 13
Cleric Wisdom 13
Druid Wisdom 13
Fighter Strength or Dexterity 13
Monk Dexterity and Wisdom 13
Paladin Strength and Charisma 13
Ranger Dexterity and Wisdom 13
Rogue Dexterity 13
Sorcerer Charisma 13
Warlock Charisma 13
Wizard Intelligence 13

*Found in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything

If your character meets the minimum Ability Score prerequisite of a class, you can multiclass into that class. No other requirements needed…y’know, aside from your Game Master’s approval.

Multiclassing & Saving Throws

Unfortunately, you don’t get your multiclassed class’ saving throws.

Honestly, this is most likely for balance’s sake. If you multiclassed and got more saving throw proficiencies, that’d make your character way more durable.

Let’s take a look at an example. Say you have a Barbarian with their Strength and Constitution saves. If you multiclassed into Druid, you’d get proficiency in Intelligence and Wisdom saving throws, effectively making your character great at resisting both physical and mental effects.

Multiclassing Skills

Some classes grant you additional skill proficiencies when you multiclass into them. But, not every class does this.

Generally speaking, you don’t gain additional skill proficiencies when you multiclass. Most of the classes simply don’t include this option when you take a level in them.

That said, there are three classes that do grant you another skill proficiency (it’s always only one) when you take your first level in them. These classes and the skills they grant are:

  • Bard: One skill of your choice
  • Ranger: One skill from the Ranger’s list
  • Rogue: One skill from the Rogue’s list

So, if you want to grab an additional skill when multiclassing, you’ll have to pick either the Bard, Ranger, or Rogue.

Multiclassing Proficiencies

Nearly every class grants additional proficiencies when you multiclass into it. These proficiencies vary depending on which class you multiclass into, but they usually include tools, weapons, and armors.

Outside of multiclassed skills, some classes give your character extra proficiencies in weapons, armor, and other tools. In fact, most classes grant additional item proficiencies. Only the Sorcerer and Wizard don’t grant your character extra proficiencies.

The following table outlines the extra item proficiencies each of the classes give your character when you multiclass into them.

Multiclassing Proficiencies Table

Class Proficiency Gained
Artificer Light & Medium Armor, Shields, Thieves’ Tools, Tinker’s Tools
Barbariand Shields, Simple & Martial Weapons
Bard Light Armor, One Musical Instrument of Your Choice
Cleric Light & Medium Armor, Shields
Druid Non-Metal Light & Medium Armor, Non-Metal Shields
Fighter Light & Medium Armor, Shields, Simple & Martial Weapons
Monk Simple Weapons, Shortswords
Paladin Light & Medium Armor, Shields, Simple & Martial Weapons
Ranger Light & Medium Armor, Shields, Simple & Martial Weapons
Rogue Light Armor, Thieves’ Tools
Sorcerer None
Warlock Light Armor, Simple Weapons
Wizard None

So, once you take your 1st level in one of the above classes, excluding the Sorcerer and Wizard, you’ll gain the corresponding proficiencies.

Hit Points & Hit Dice

Whenever you take a level in another class, you gain a Hit Die and number of Hit Points according to the new class’ die. Also, you follow the rule for gaining hit points after 1st level.

Basically, you gain Hit Points and Hit Dice in accordance with your new class. The caveat is you don’t follow the 1st level rules for gaining hit points.

Now, what does this mean?

Well, as character creation for a 1th level character, you get a number of Hit Points equal to the highest number on your class’ hit die plus your Constitution modifier. For example, if you’re making a Barbarian character, you start with 12 hit points plus your Constitution modifier due to the Barbarian’s d12 hit die. Every level-up thereafter gives you either the average (7 in this example) or you roll for your hit point increase.

But, when you multiclass, you don’t get the max number of hit points according to your new class even though you’re technically starting at 1st level in that class. Instead, you follow the level-up rules for hit points when taking a second class to your character.

Proficiency Bonus

Your character’s proficiency bonus is based on their total level. So, multiclassing doesn’t negatively affect your proficiency bonus progression.

Here’s the deal; your character essentially has two levels, their class level(s) and their character level.

Your class level is exactly how it sounds; how many levels you’ve taken in a given class. This level is how you determine when you get that class’ features and all the other good stuff that comes along with it (like spell slots, prepared spells, and so on).

Now, your character level is the sum total of all your class levels combined. This is the number you use to determine your proficiency bonus.

So, how does this work?

Well, let’s compare two characters; a 5th level Cleric and a character with four levels in Paladin and one in Sorcerer (Paladin 4/Sorcerer 1). Both of these characters have different class levels with the former having five in a single class and the latter having two classes with differing levels. That said, they have the same character level of five, so they’ll have the same proficiency bonus of +3.

It’s honestly as easy as that. Just add up your total class levels for your character level and compare that with the chart below to figure out your proficiency bonus:

  1. 1st-4th Level: +2
  2. 5th-8th Level: +3
  3. 9th-12th Level: +4
  4. 13th-16th Level: +5
  5. 17th-20th Level: +6

So, multiclassing in 5e doesn’t hurt your proficiency bonus progression in any way because it depends on your total character’s level.

Class Features

Multiclassing into a class grants you access to the level appropriate features starting at 1st level.

Taking levels in another class through multiclassing means getting access to that class’ features. So, even just taking a single level in a class means getting all that class’ 1st level features.

For example, if you’re playing a Fighter and decide to multiclass into Barbarian by taking a single level in the latter, your character gets the Rage and Unarmored Defense features.

Multiclassing & Subclasses

When you take levels in a new class, you eventually gain access to that class’ subclass options. You follow the normal subclass rules according to your secondary (or tertiary) class.

Much like gaining access to a class’ features, you’ll eventually (or immediately) gain access to your new class’ subclasses. You’ll choose your multiclassed class’ subclass (because that’s not a confusing phrase) at the level-appropriate milestone.

For example, if you multiclass into Warlock, you’ll choose your Otherworldly Patron (the Warlock subclass) immediately since Warlocks make this decision at 1st level. In contrast, you wouldn’t choose your Martial Archetype for a Fighter until 3rd level since that’s when that class chooses its subclass.

Multiclassing Spellcasting & Spell Slots

Multiclassing adds a new level of complexity when it comes to spellcasting and the number of spell slots your character has.

Here’s the complicated part of multiclassing.

The initial rules concerning spellcasting and multiclassing actually aren’t all that difficult. To start, you simply follow a class’ normal spellcasting rules when you start taking levels in them. For example, say you want to add magic to your Fighter character and take a level in Wizard. You’d get the Spellcasting class feature and all the stuff that comes along with becoming a 1st level Wizard including getting a spellbook. You then follow the normal rules for determining how many cantrips you have and the number of spells you may prepare.

This general rule applies even if you take levels in two separate spellcasting classes. The trick here is you must track what each class uses as its spellcasting ability. So, if you have a Ranger/Sorcerer build, you need to know what your Ranger spells use Wisdom and your Sorcerer spells use Charisma. And, you’ll need to track your Spell Save DCs and Spell Attack Bonuses separately.

Now, spell slots are when things get tricky for multiclassing for spellcasters.

You need to do a bit of math when determining how many spell slots you get when multiclassing. Luckily, it’s only addition.

To figure out how many spell slots you have when multiclassing, you follow the following rules:

  • Add your total levels in Bard, Cleric, Druid, Sorcerer, and Wizard
  • Add half (rounded down) your total levels in Paladin and Ranger
  • Add half (rounded up) your total levels in Artificer
  • Add one-third (rounded down) your total levels in Eldritch Knight Fighter and Arcane Trickster Rogue

You add up all these numbers to figure out your number of spell slots. For example, if you’re playing a Paladin 3/Sorcerer 3 character, you’d count as a 4th level spellcaster; one level from Paladin (half of three, rounded down) and three from Sorcerer.

Once you’ve figured out this number, you consult the table below or page 165 of the Player’s Handbook.

Multiclassed Spell Slots

Level 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th
1st 2
2nd 3
3rd 4 2
4th 4 3
5th 4 3 2
6th 4 3 3
7th 4 3 3 1
8th 4 3 3 2
9th 4 3 3 3 1
10th 4 3 3 3 2
11th 4 3 3 3 2 1
12th 4 3 3 3 2 1
13th 4 3 3 3 2 1 1
14th 4 3 3 3 3 2 1
15th 4 3 3 3 2 1 1 1
16th 4 3 3 3 2 1 1 1
17th 4 3 3 3 2 1 1 1 1
18th 4 3 3 3 3 1 1 1 1
19th 4 3 3 3 3 2 1 1 1
20th 4 3 3 3 3 2 2 1 1

So, after adding your spellcasting levels to find your total, you reference this table to see how many spell slots your character has. Using the above example, a Paladin 3/Sorcerer 3 character would have a total of four to determine their number of spell slots. That means this character would have four 1st level and three 2nd level spell slots.

This does mean your character could end up with spell slots for spells of a higher level than your class(es) allows. Again, using the Paladin 3/Sorcerer 3 example, you may have 2nd level spell slots, but you don’t have access to 2nd level Paladin spells yet because that class doesn’t get those until 5th level.

Now, Warlocks are a special case when it comes to spellcasting and multiclassing.

Since Warlocks have a set number of spell slots, they don’t factor into the multiclassing spell slots calculation. That said, if you play a multiclassed character that has both the Spellcasting feature and the Pact Magic Warlock feature, you may use your Pact Magic spell slots to cast known or prepared spells from classes with the Spellcasting feature and vice versa.

Basically, you can use your Warlock spell slots to cast another class’ spells and vice versa.

Special Rules for Multiclassing

There are a few special multiclassing rules concerning specific class features. Channel Divinity, Extra Attack, and Unarmored Defense all come with particular caveats when you multiclass into a class that has one of them.

Channel Divinity

If your character already has the Channel Divinity feature and you multiclass into another class that has it, you gain the effects but not additional uses.

This basically means you can do the things outlined in the new version of Channel Divinity but you don’t get more uses of it.

For example, if you already have Channel Divinity as a Cleric and you take three levels in Paladin, you’ll get your Paladin’s Channel Divinity effects but not extra uses.

That said, if you’re a high enough level as a Cleric, you can use your Paladin Channel Divinity effects more than the base class. This is because the Cleric eventually gains the ability to use Channel Divinity more between rests. At 6th level you may use it twice between rests and three times once you reach 18th level. But, you wouldn’t have Channel Divinity as a Paladin by the latter because they don’t get their version of the feature until 3rd level.

Extra Attack

If you already have the Extra Attack feature and take enough levels in a secondary class to get it again, you don’t add the additional attacks from the second feature.

You only ever have the number explicitly mentioned in either instance of Extra Attack. This usually means you only have the ability to make two attack rolls when you take the Attack action on your turn.

Now, if you take enough levels in Fighter, you do get more attacks as that class’ version of Extra Attack progressively adds more and more. But, you still don’t add the extra attacks if you get the feature a second time through multiclassing.

This rule also applies to the Warlock’s Thirsting Blade invocation. If you have Extra Attack, you don’t add the bonus attacks from Thirsting Blade to your already existing number of attack rolls.

Unarmored Defense

If you already have the Unarmored Defense feature, you can’t gain it from another class through multiclassing.

It’s honestly as simple as that. You can only benefit from your first instance of Unarmored Defense.

For example, a Barbarian that multiclasses into Monk can only use the version of Unarmored Defense from the Barbarian. In this instance, you’d still use the former’s calculation for Armor Class; 10 + Dexterity modifier + Constitution modifier. That said, the inverse is also true; multiclassing from Monk into Barbarian means you must use the Monk’s version of Unarmored Defense; 10 + Dexterity modifier + Wisdom modifier.

Is Multiclassing Good in 5e?

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Multiclassing is generally considered a good option for player characters

Whether multiclassing is good in 5e or not depends on which classes you combine. That said, overall, multiclassing is a good option for diversifying your character’s capabilities.

As with all things in D&D, considering something as "good" is purely based on opinion.

But, generally speaking, multiclassing is a good route for almost any character as you diversify what your character is capable of. Also, many of the best character builds in 5e use some bit of multiclassing.

For example, the Sorcadin is one of the most brutal character builds in 5e. It’s capable of a crazy amount of damage and it fills almost every party role in D&D. There’s also the Druid/Barbarian multiclass build that adds a whole mess of hit points to your character. These are just two examples of amazing character builds using multiclassing.

Of course, how good a multiclassed character is depends on how well you merge the two classes and balance their various Ability Scores and features. This can make multiclassing complicated as you need to understand the synergies between class features and how to keep your required Ability Scores up to par.

But, as a whole, I’d say multiclassing in 5e is pretty good.

When Should You Multiclass?

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Generally, you should only multiclass when it makes sense for your character in the story, not just because it’s the most optimal thing to do

Generally speaking, you should only multiclass if it fits your character or the story. But, there are a few reasons why you shouldn’t multiclass as well.

It’s important to note that multiclassing is an optional rule in D&D 5e. This means you only have access to multiclassing if your Game Master allows it. So, before you even decide to make a multiclassed character, you need to clear it with your GM first.

Anyway, there are reasons both for and against multiclassing your character. So, let’s get into those.

When to Multiclass

You should multiclass when it fits your character. If you’re looking for the best level to multiclass, 5th level is generally accepted as one of the better times with a few exceptions.

Mechanically speaking, multiclassing after reaching 4th level in a class is usually the best time to multiclass. This is due to two reasons:

  1. Every class has their subclass by 4th level
  2. You’ll have your first Ability Score Improvement feature

That said, taking a few levels earlier is often just as good of an option. For example, some builds for a Sorcadin have you take two levels in Paladin and three in Sorcerer so the character "comes online." It all depends on your build and how you want your character to progress.

Outside of the best level, you should multiclass when it makes sense for your character.

Depending on your character’s experiences during your game, it might make sense to take a level or two in another class. This adds to both your character’s and the overall story as it shows how they take their experiences and learn from them. For example, if your character spends a few months in a monastery, maybe they take a level in Monk due to their training and newfound knowledge of martial arts.

When Not to Multiclass

You shouldn’t multiclass just because you want a strong character. Also, you might want to avoid multiclassing if you’re brand new to D&D 5e.

NMulticlassing tends to lead players down a path of powergaming and min-maxing. Basically, you want your character to the best, most strongest being ever.

Now, there’s nothing inherently wrong with wanting a strong, capable character. But, this mindset often brings a sense of self-centeredness and plays out at the detriment of the fun at the table. So, you shouldn’t really multiclass just because it’s the most optimal thing to do.

That said, there’s also nothing wrong with starting with a character concept that is strong so long as it fits in with the world and story of your game.

This leads to my second reason for not multiclassing in 5e; don’t do it if it doesn’t make sense in-game. You should have an in-game justification for taking a level in another class. Otherwise, it won’t make any sense and can remove some of the immersion of your game.

Why does your character know these new features? Why didn’t they have those abilities before? Who or what taught them these new abilities?

So, I’d advise against multiclassing if you can’t justify it in your game.

Multiclassing in 5e FAQ

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How Many Times Can You Multiclass in 5e?

You can multiclass in 5e as many times as you like up to the number of available classes and levels. So, there is something of a cap on the number of times you can multiclass based on the fact that there are a finite number of classes (13 counting the Artificer) and levels (up to max 20th level).

Can You Multiclass Subclasses?

No; you cannot multiclass subclasses in D&D 5e. Once your choose a subclass, you cannot add features from another in that class. Now, you do get access to the subclasses of your multiclassed class. But, you follow the rules as normal and only choose the single subclass at the appropriate level.

 

Summary of Multiclassing in 5e

That about covers multiclassing in 5e.

Multiclassing is an option ruleset that lets you add levels from other classes to your character. You usually gain these levels when you would normally level up and start gaining access to the various features and abilities of these additional classes as you progress. There are both reasons for and against multiclassing and it all depends on whether your GM allows it and how you want to play your character.

Do you allow multiclassing in your game? What’s your favorite multiclassed character you’ve played? Leave a comment below to let us know your story!

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