The Multiclassing rule, while optional in Dungeons and Dragons' Fifth Edition, has always been a popular one with players. The sheer scope of customization and choice that comes with the rule can be overwhelming for some, while others dive eagerly into its complexities. To those players who delight in creating unusual character builds, Multiclassing offers a wealth of potential combinations, and for those role-players who want their characters to be able to grow and change naturally, without being locked into a single-class their entire life, it offers the chance for the story to shape their character's skills.
There is one key problem with Multiclassing in Dungeons and Dragons' Fifth Edition however, and that is balance. While the tiny minority of broken combinations that do exist may be the reason that many DMs ban the feature from their table, the truth is that most Multiclasses will be less effective than their single-class counterparts. While always gaining versatility, Multiclassing can put a character multiple levels behind their party on key features such as Ability Score Increases, Extra Attack, and high-level spells, leading to a insurmountable power gap.
Fortunately for those who love the feature, this is not always the case, and a well chosen Multiclass can match or even exceed their single-class counterparts. Below we've picked out a few of our favorite Multiclass combos, all of which are fun to play, can hold their own in a party, but aren't so powerful that they'll put the rest to shame.
When to Multiclass?
Although the answer to this question often depends on which classes are being combined, there are a few ground rules that should be observed while Multiclassing. The first is to avoid making a character that is Multiple Ability Dependent, or MAD, which means combining classes that require different Ability Scores to function correctly. For example, Monks need a high Dexterity, Wisdom and a decent Constitution to best fill their role, so any player that combines one with a Charisma-dependent class like Paladin or Warlock will simply not have enough Ability Points to go around. It's worth noting that while players who roll their stats rather than using the Point Buy or Array systems may get lucky enough with the dice to be able to build a MAD class successfully, it's definitely not something to rely on.
The other factor that players should be aware of when trying to Multiclass effectively in Fifth Edition is the location of the game's power spikes. For most players, and almost all classes, the power spikes that will most often affect Multiclassing are found at levels 4 and 5. Getting to level 4 within a single class gives the first opportunity to raise attributes, or pick up a game-changing feat, while Level 5 brings Extra Attack for martial classes, and powerful 3rd Level spells for pure casters. Because of this, most good Multiclass combos will wait until their primary class has reached 4 or 5 before even thinking of Multiclassing.
The Arcane Crusader - Paladin/Sorcerer Or Sorcerer/Paladin
Anyone looking for a self-sufficient class capable of holding their own in almost any situation should look no further than the Arcane Crusader, a heavy-armor Gish of Paladin and Sorcerer. A Gish, for those unfamiliar with the term, is any character that combines magic and martial power, rather than focusing on one. A jack-of-all-trades, and master of a few as well, the Arcane Crusader is Gish capable of filling a number of party roles simultaneously. Need healing? Simply Lay on Hands or cast Cure Wounds. Need damage? Divine Smite, Scorching Ray and Fireball are all potent damage options whether against a dragon or a horde of goblins.
Despite this versatility, there are two features that lie at the heart of the Arcane Crusader's power. The first is Divine Smite, the Paladin feature that allows Spell Slots to be converted into Radiant damage following a successful hit. The interaction here is as obvious as they come, Sorcerers have more Spell Slots, more Spell Slots means more Divine Smites in a day. This makes the Arcane Crusader the king of burst damage, albeit at the cost of resources that can't be recovered easily. Unfortunately, once the Spell Slots have dried up what is left is really just a slightly less-effective, if charismatic, Fighter. However, with the sheer amount of damage an Arcane Crusader can put out, the good news is that most things should be dead long before this can happen.
The second pillar of the Arcane Crusader is Metamagic. The problem with most Gish classes is that each turn they need to make a choice between casting a spell or using their weapon. An Arcane Crusader with the Quicken Spell Metamagic option asks: why not both? Quicken allows a spell to be cast as a Bonus Action at the cost of just two Sorcery Points, setting up of some truly terrifying combos. Casting a Quickened Hold Person, then following it up with a guaranteed critical melee attack on the paralyzed target, and a critical Divine Smite on top may require two Spell Slots and two Sorcery Points to pull off, but is a combo that puts out such ludicrous damage that even bosses may be killed in a single hit.
Unfortunately, all this power comes with a cost, and even the most potent of Multiclass combos have weaknesses. For the Arcane Crusader this weakness comes in the form of the Sorcerer's weedy 1d6 hit die. Even in quite a short campaign, each level the Arcane Crusader takes in Sorcerer comes with a meager HP boost better suited to a back-line skulker than a front-and-center tank, though this disadvantage can certainly be mitigated with spells like Shield, or patched with Lay on Hands or Cure Wounds.
The Eldritch Chanter - Bard/Warlock
For those who prefer something a little more flexible than the heavy-armor Arcane Crusader, the Eldritch Chanter is a Bard/Warlock combination that can be played either as a front-line Gish, or a back-line Blaster. While Warlock/Bard can also work as an Eldritch Chanter, the combo we're talking about here is specifically Bard/Warlock, with Bard as the primary class, and Warlock as a two-level dip.
The strength of the Eldritch Chanter comes from the fact that the Warlock is an extremely front-loaded class, offering large amounts of damage and utility with just a two-level investment. The core of this DPS comes from the combination of Eldritch Blast, widely recognized as the best damage Cantrip in the game, and Agonizing Blast, an Eldritch Invocation that Warlocks can pick up at level 2 to add their Charisma Modifier to Eldritch Blast. Because Eldritch Blast adds an extra attack at level 5, rather than simply an extra die like most Cantrips, this Agonizing Blast bonus doubles even for Multiclass characters when their combined total level reaches 5. This, combined with Spell Slots that recover on a Short Rest and the many unique powers that can be gained from another Eldritch Invocation, make the Eldritch Chanter a fun, thematic and powerful caster class.
But that's not all, for those who'd prefer to wade into melee than hurl spells from the rear-line, the Hexblade Warlock subclass can completely change how the Eldritch Chanter plays. While it also grants proficiency in Medium Armor, Shields and Martial weapons, the main draw of the Hexblade is the ability to make weapon attacks using Charisma rather than Strength or Dexterity. This allows an Eldritch Chanter to lean fully into Charisma as their primary Ability Score, boosting their spell-casting while retaining an impressive punch in melee combat.
The Ninja - Monk/Rogue
Here to prove that a character doesn't need to be a Charisma-based Gish to make a good Multiclass in Fifth Edition is the Ninja, a combination of Monk and Rogue. While it can go the other way, a Ninja will most likely lean toward its Monk side, and can get away with investing as little as two or three levels in Rogue. Despite the small investment, these levels cover a lot of what makes a Rogue a great class in and out of combat, and can really bring a lot to the less-versatile Monk.
The first Rogue feature that Ninjas will be looking for is Sneak Attack, adding bonus damage to attacks made with a Finesse weapon and either Advantage or a friend nearby. Sneak Attack can be applied once per turn on any successful hit, which is actually ideal for the Monk, as their philosophy of quantity over quality when it comes to attacks gives them more chances of landing the single hit they need to trigger it.
The other two low-level Rogue features that Monks will be particularly interested in are Expertise, and Cunning Action. Expertise can make any character a master of two of their skills, which is something the Monk can really benefit from with their lack of out-of-combat utility, and while at first glance Cunning Action may seem to overlap with the Monk's Step of the Wind Ki action, the ability to use Disengage as a Bonus Action without spending a Ki point can be huge, especially for a Ki-starved Multiclass character. The Monk and the Rogue both often fill the role of a melee glass-cannon, and as such the ability to get themselves out of trouble, or slip past the enemy front-line to beat down their squishy rear, is a massive advantage.
Dishonorable Mention - The Coffeelock (Sorcerer/Warlock)
Claiming the Dishonorable Mention prize in the Multiclassing pantheon is the infamous Coffeelock, a broken spell-spamming mess that is only included on this list as a warning to DMs of the danger of free Multiclassing. While technically still legal, unless a DM is using the optional resting rules from Xanathar's Guide to Everything, this is a multiclass combo that should, and would, be banned at most DMs' tables.
The core of the Coffeelock is the interaction between the Pact Magic Warlock feature, and the Sorcerer's Sorcery Points. Pact Magic allows Warlocks to regain their spell slots on a short-rest, which Sorcerers can then convert into Sorcery Points, then convert back into Spell Slots of any level.
While the exchange rate isn't favorable, it hardly matters as Sorcery Points stack indefinitely. Spending a relaxing evening in the tavern? The Coffeelock is gaining Spell Slots every hour. Taking a long rest? The Coffeelock just regained 8 short-rests worth of Spell Slots. With just a few days of inactivity at the start of a campaign, a Coffeelock can have built up such a trove of Sorcery Points they can spend them like candy, throwing out handfuls of spells in every fight.
The name Coffeelock comes from the fact that this broken blaster never takes long rests, simply spending a few of their many Spell Slots on healing if they're wounded, and using the time the rest of the party spends long-resting to gain even more Slots. If it isn't obvious by this point, we recommend players don't roll a Coffeelock, unless they're looking to see it crushed under a pile of rocks while a mad DM tears their character sheet in half.