Protect Newbs and Enable Teamwork with these D&D Builds!

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hello world!
Sam Nilsson
| May 2, 2024
hello world!

I play D&D with a mix of groups. Some are so highly experienced that my 11 years of playing make me the newb. Sometimes, I’m the protecting guide for the other players. This is a great spot to be for the type of D&D nerd I am. Because I am a builder. I build characters. Concepts, creations, mechanisms, quirks, tricks, triggers, breakpoints. I live in the realm of trying to make a character that looks, feels, and plays the way I want. 

But out of all the builds I’ve spitballed, workshopped, and theorycrafted, these ones I’ve loved. Check it out.

#4 Lady Harrow, the Problem Solver

Fighter (Battlemaster)+ Rogue (Soulknife.) Loadout: Any. Race: Variant Human.

With free knives, you can spend all your loot on outfits

The Lady Harrow was a build that fulfilled a few needs for me. I wanted to be insanely good at skills. I wanted to be a Bene Gesserit, with the ability to cloud minds and poison people. I wanted to gaslight, gatekeep, and girlboss my way out of situations I couldn’t stealth into. I rolled crap stats and then proceeded to roll poorly in the campaign, but it didn’t matter. The appeal of this build is that you simply have more dice. You’re not content with rolling a d20. Just add d6’s to everything.

For Classes, choose Fighter/Battlemaster and Rogue/Soulknife. For your stats, put them mostly in Dexterity and mental stats. Fighting style? More maneuvers. All of your maneuvers are the ones that you can add to skills in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything. So you can add superiority dice to a wide variety of skills.

Soulknife gives you 3 fantastic things when you take the subclass. First, magic brain knives – in order to be disarmed, you have to be decapitated. The next is straight-up telepathy. We’re here for Psi-empowered Knack, allowing more dice on failed rolls.

Here’s how it works: Take expertise in stealth because you’re a rogue. You need to make an extremely difficult stealth roll because you’re stealing the crown off the king during his coronation. Your DM tells you it’s nigh impossible –  DC35, good luck. However, your average roll is 27(after failing.) At level 6. You’re a distraction, a prayer, and a little luck from pulling that off.

Bring this to a party that needs a ninja to solve things behind the scenes. This is a complicated build to play, though, so you are a newbie-enabler. 

#3: Maul, the Nature Barbarian.

Class: Barbarian (Beast.) Loadout: Shield and Weapon. Race: Wildhunt Shifter

Team Jacob

I built Maul for my fiance, who wanted something smashy and simple and tough and nature-themed. These instructions are both narrow and broad in 5th Edition. Here’s what we made.

Race: Shifter (Wildhunt) from the Eberron book.  Wildhunt grants immunity to being attacked with advantage, which negates the downsides of Reckless Attacking every single attack. For the uninitiated, a Barbarian may choose the high-risk, high-reward strategy of declaring a Reckless Attack. This lets you hit with advantage (rolling twice and taking the higher) but attacks against you also have advantage.

You always have advantage on attacks. You are utterly inconvenienced by the trivialities of being prone or blind or grappled. 

How it works: Use your bonus action to shift; next turn, use it to rage. In your Barbarian (Beast) options, you always choose the tail, which gives you +1d8 AC as a reaction. With shield, tail, and unarmored defense, you are incredibly tough to hit. When you are hit, you are a raging barbarian and take half damage. Because your Shifter bonus Temporary HP runs off your Constitution, you are very focused on the Ability Scores that best serve you.  

Give this character sheet to someone who hates taking damage but still wants to be in the thick of it. This is a great intro character to enable a newcomer to the game who wants something cool, feral, and effective.

#2 Labyrinth Golightly, Small Gentleman at Large

Class: Rogue (Scout) + Barbarian (Any.) Loadout: Shield+Shortsword. Race: Forest Gnome.

With no armor, you can spend your loot on mustache wax

The world this character lived in was a delightful giant-bug-themed wildlands, with the small races being the vast majority, and knights riding dragonflies. I wanted to be the best Dragonfly Knight. So I made a Gnome Barbarian.

Using a Yuan-Ti pureblood would work better, but Forest Gnome is still fantastic for this. Choose a background that gives you the skills you want and won’t get from being a rogue. Start with Rogue for more expertise; Scout gives even more expertise and move speed.

In addition to great AC from unarmored defense and a shield, you have rogue skills for staying alive in combat, such as Evasion and Uncanny Dodge. You also have Bonus Action Dash. With a few levels of Barbarian, you can take a Reckless Attack to give yourself Advantage to get a Sneak Attack. Triple-move in a turn to make a Gnome move 75ft. And remember how I said you should take non-rogue skills? If you took athletics, you can take expertise and be crazy good at grappling (or animal handling, history, or whatever) as a small creature. Gnomes have advantage on Mental Saves versus spells, negating a major weakness of Barbarians. Yuan-Tis get total spell resistance and are medium-sized, but that’s a little cheesy, even for me.

This is a delightful build to play, requiring personal bravery and audacity. However, you are a bog-standard rogue/barbarian, so it’s also simple. Give this to someone who is Audie Murphy – They will have to tone down their own exploits for the movie adaptation!

#1 Yawala the Wise, Venerable Ecowarrior

Class: Rogue (Any)+ Druid (Shepard.) Loadout: Sling. Race: Tortle

I am not a pet. I am a 300 year old ecowarrior

This is another build for my fiance after she watched Princess Mononoke and wanted to enact her own ecowarrior fantasy of killing all humans – in addition to being exceptionally good at speaking to animals. And why not be a 300-year-old turtle at the same time?

We start with Rogue. Any subclass will do; we are in it for the expertise, bonus actions, and sneak attack. After 3 levels, we add some Druid. For a newcomer, I prefer to avoid Circle of the Moon Druid, as it requires too many stat blocks. Any Circle of the Land is a good choice, but Shepard gives totally free Speak with Animals, which really works for the concept. Wild Companion gives a free-ish Find Familiar, who can grant you advantage for sneak attacks.

We take a sling because of the delightful Magic Stone cantrip. Hello, magic sling stones. It’s a ranged weapon, so sneak attack applies. This is where Tortle comes in. You simply set your AC to 17. Focus on Dexterity and Wisdom.

How it works: out of combat, you have utility spells and expertise in skills. In combat, you cast Magic Stone and deliver 1d4+3d6 (Sneak Attack) + Wisdom damage on an advantaged attack on someone. Every. Stinking. Turn. Put your pet weasel in your sling, yeet them at the enemy, then throw haunted rocks at them.  Heat Metal, or Call Lightning, and be a one-Tortle force of nature. You also have the delightful area buff of your shepard totem. It’s rarely a game changer, but everyone loves and protects the buff-dispenser[citation needed].

I hope you find yourself inspired to create something weird. Push the boundaries of who you can be on the tabletop. Be the hero that saves your friend, moves the plot, and lives to retire. If you’re not the weirdest character at your table, why not? Comment with your favorite builds!

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Shana Martin
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17 days ago

I think my favorite character description is the gnome musketeer type character. That is fantastic! I’ve always wanted to learn TTRPG.

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