The following article was written by guest post writer Travis Scoundrel of Nerds and Scoundrels.
Need to make a class recommendation for a first-time D&D 5E player? This list will help give you a recommendation that is friendly to a new adventurer. All three recommended classes have the following qualities in common: they are straightforward, easy to grasp from a role-playing perspective, and have enough options to customize without overloading the new player with information. By keeping it simple, a new player is more likely to feel comfortable during their first campaign.
The Fighter is as simple as it gets – they attack and they… attack. The Fighter is the easiest class to grasp because the actions that a Fighter take is something a new play could imagine anybody taking. Everyone knows how a Fighter looks and reacts because we have plenty of real-world examples to draw off of.
Mechanically, the Fighter is straightforward. Almost everything the Fighter advances when leveling up revolves around combat. Every ability they have is meant to strengthen an aspect of combat. Their saving throws are primarily made with Strength and Constitution; the same ability scores that are used when you are determining if you have successfully made a hit or determining damage.
Speaking of stats, the Fighter increases their ability scores much more frequently than any other class in the game. They get an increase at fourth, sixth, eighth, twelfth, fourteenth, sixteenth, and nineteenth, Everyone else increases at fourth, eighth, twelfth, sixteenth, and nineteenth. They get two additional stat increases a campaign! Pair this class with the benefits of being a human and you will have a stat building machine.
Just like the Fighter, the Barbarian is a very easy class to grasp, as we have several real-world examples that we can use for inspiration. Simply replace the sword with an ax and voila! And who does not like the idea of storming into combat, screaming at the top of your lungs – which is exactly what you are doing when you activate your Rage. Your Rage will give your character the following benefits:
- You have an advantage on Strength Checks and Strength Saving Throws
- When you have made a successful melee weapon attack using your Strength modifier, you gain a bonus on your damage roll. That bonus scales up with your level.
- You have resistance to bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage.
The amount of times you can Rage before needing rest is dependent on your level. Each rage will last until one of these timestamps have passed – one minute, you decide to not make a melee attack on your turn, or if you are knocked unconscious. And finally, you cannot cast a spell that requires concentration.
The Ranger is the perfect mix between spellcaster and melee that a new player could sink their teeth into. Specifically, the Ranger allows a player to pick a Fighting Style at the second level and a Ranger Archetype at the third level. This set-up gives the new players enough options to customize their character without having to put a bunch of small pieces together in hopes that it is cohesive.
The Fighting Style gives the new player four options:
- Archery: plus two bonus to attack rolls with a ranged weapon.
- Defense: plus one bonus to AC while wearing armor.
- Dueling: plus two bonus to damage rolls while equipped with a single one-handed melee weapon.
- Two-Weapon Fighting: can add ability modifier to the damage of your second weapon.
Obtaining your Ranger Archetype is the equivalent of accepting your place in society. You can select one of the following roles:
- Beastmaster: increased interaction with your animal companion.
- Gloom Stalker: combat and exploration focused.
- Horizon Walker: traveling and teleportation focused.
- Hunter: defensive stalwart.
- Monster Slayer: combat specialist.
With the right DM, a new player could make a variety of classes work. However, it is important to set up a new player to succeed. Classes that are unwieldy or confusing to play are likely to turn away a new player. The same is true for class choices that are hard to conceptualize. The options we discussed are a nice mix of simple to understand and fun to play.
Travis Scoundrel is a gamer, lawyer, family man, and D&D enthusiast. You can find more of his writing at his blog, Nerds and Scoundrels.