How to Create Custom Character Classes in Dungeons Dragons

Regardless of the version of the game you’re playing, there are dozens of character classes available in Dungeons & Dragons already. It’s a prolific brand, and given the number of offshoot companies that offer similar products, most possible creations have probably already been covered.

Maybe you have a different idea, however. A better idea. Or maybe you just want to create a variation of something else. You’re completely free to do so by generating a custom character class for your Dungeons & Dragons campaign – though bear in mind that it is not an easy process.

Deciding on a Class

Presumably you’ve already come up with a concept, but perhaps not. Maybe you want to give the process a try, but don’t have somewhere to start. Fortunately, there are many sources of inspiration somebody can use to generate a custom character class:

– Books, fictional or not

– Comics

– Movies

– Myths, folk tales or legends

– Modern or ancient jobs

– Particular weapons

– Pure imagination

The key to creating an interesting custom character class is to do something that hasn’t already been done – or try to, anyway. Rehashing the same territory over and over is boring.

Creating Class Abilities

The primary focus of creating a new class is giving that class special abilities that no one else can use. This is the best part of the creation process, though it’s also the most dangerous as you may unbalance your class and render it too powerful for casual use. Make sure your abilities are strong, but not from the start, and not so much so that they outdo the abilities of other classes.

How do you do this? Simple enough – compare your class to other base classes in the Player’s Handbook. For example, if you’re creating a strictly magical class, compare your abilities to those of a Wizard or Sorcerer. If you’re going for a mixed class, try a Ranger or Paladins. Purely combat-based classes might want to look to Fighters or Barbarians. Make sure your ability progressions fall in roughly the same places as these classes, and ensure that the outcome of your abilities is not above what they should be at a particularly level. For example, your character shouldn’t be able to Reincarnate someone much earlier than, say, a Cleric could.

It’s also important to try and fit your new abilities into the existing rules of Dungeons & Dragons. Let’s say, for example, that you’re creating a class that can build a suit of semi-robotic armor for itself. You’ll want to steadily mount the capabilities of the armor over time, and have it conform to the capabilities of other automatons – like, say, golems. Whenever possible, use existing rules to justify the progression of your new class.

Last, keep in mind that all statistical progressions – spells per day, new spells learned, new feats, boosts to Will, Reflex and Fortitude, that sort of thing – should more or less sync with those of other classes.

Balancing Your Class

Perhaps the most important aspect of creating a custom class is bearing in mind that there are drawbacks to every class. For example, a Barbarian’s Rage ability gives him greater Strength and Constitution – but at the expense of AC. If you have mighty abilities, there should be some kind of loophole that keeps them from becoming utterly infallible. These little problems also shouldn’t disappear until your character class reaches extremely high levels.

Testing Your Class

Most important for creating a custom character class in any RPG is testing it. Thoroughly. Create sample situations for yourself in which the character is facing enemies, then use your abilities and see how they do. You’ll realize quickly if a character is unbalanced, because they’ll either be slaughtered by the enemy or slaughter that enemy without any trouble. Never deploy a custom character class into a campaign without first testing it – and, more important, letting others look it over and test it out.