Author Topic: Best Low-Level All-Rounder: Wizard? Cleric/Bard? Sorc/Lock?  (Read 5344 times)

Offline Jack the Lad

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Best Low-Level All-Rounder: Wizard? Cleric/Bard? Sorc/Lock?
« on: August 19, 2015, 06:44:56 PM »
Hi all

I'm joining a 5e game soon and I've been having some trouble deciding what to play.

I'm more or less settled on some kind of caster - the martial classes seem quite boring by comparison - but I can't decide which class(es) to go with and I'd be grateful for some advice.

We'll be starting at level 5 and I'd like to front-load the build, which I mention because a lot of stuff I've read talks about taking a 2-dip at levels 19 and 20, which won't be relevant to me for a long time, if ever.

In an ideal world I'd like to be as versatile as possible without sacrificing too much combat-effectiveness.

The three main options I'm considering at the moment are:

Necromancer Wizard 5
Life Cleric 1/Lore Bard 4
Favored Soul Sorceror 3/Tome Warlock 2

The Wizard I like because it has the best spell progression and I can see myself having a lot of fun mechanically and roleplay-wise with the necromancer thing and with having a bunch of minions. I'm concerned that it may be a bit too strong, though, and that a bunch of skeletons doing things on my turn will slow things down. It also loses out on some of the cool stuff that the other two get.

I mostly like Bard because of Magical Secrets. Cherrypicking spells feels strong and fun; I really like the idea of grabbing Find Steed for a Paladin mount and then using Polymorph to turn the mount and myself into T-Rexes with one spell. Or summoning some Pixies with Summon Woodland Creatures and having them turn the whole party into T-Rexes. Since it's quite support-y and because Lore Bards don't get good armour, starting as a Life Cleric to get heavy armour proficiency and grabbing Magic Initiate for Goodberry that can heal 40hp seems like a good move, but I'm not sure how good the dip actually is and whether straight Bard might just be better.

Sorclock feels super versatile and like it has an absolute ton of options with metamagic/invocations/short rest spells to convert to sorcery points, and also the strongest at-will damage, but the Warlock levels slow spell progression down a lot, especially since I'll want 3 to grab the Tome rituals.

Alternatively, am I overestimating how good casters are at low(ish) levels? Are there interesting martial builds? Conceptually I like Paladins and Rogues a lot, and I really like the look of the BJJ Master Monk/Rogue/Fighter in this build: http://community.wizards.com/comment/51293186#comment-51293186

Offline Childe

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Re: Best Low-Level All-Rounder: Wizard? Cleric/Bard? Sorc/Lock?
« Reply #1 on: August 19, 2015, 08:08:14 PM »
Level 5 Druids are powerhouses. Sure, you only have 1 3rd level spell slot per day (2/day with Circle of Land druid assuming 1+ short rests), but use it to summon 8 beasts (wolves) for an hour and that will wreck serious face. At level 7, start summoning Pixies and watch your spellcasting capability multiply instantaneously and gain serious utility.
EDIT: Saw that you mentioned Bard. If you don't mind waiting till level 6, that works as well.

Warlocks are always handy too, with at-will invocations, tome for extra cantrips and potential access to all classes' ritual spells.

Conjurer and Transmuter wizards can be very handy depending on your campaign with their respective level 2 features. If your campaign leans away from the Exploration pillar (or non-combat conflict resolutions in general), these fall flat though.

Arcane Trickster (Rogue 3) multiclass into Wizard can be hilarious for dropping Explosive Runes into peoples' pockets with various trigger conditions (the safest being a set distance away from you).
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Offline sambojin

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Re: Best Low-Level All-Rounder: Wizard? Cleric/Bard? Sorc/Lock?
« Reply #2 on: August 19, 2015, 09:14:00 PM »
Druid 5, definitely. But the real question is, Moon or Land?

Moon gets you a tonne of options in form switching and combat, whereas Grasslands lets you stealth a heap of stuff (including the whole party) and gives you the all important Divination spell (because some stuff is hard and you need a hint from the DM).

There's others, but the spell list can mutate magically day-to-day, yet you can always do something. Guidance and Resistance is golden (Resistance is amazing later on in campaigns, and not even that much later on). I'm personally in favour of Grasslands Druids over Moon, because Pass without Trace is so horribly useful to always know (and invis wildshapes, and haste for yourself or your fighting type friends).

AFTER Druid 5, vaguely consider Life Cleric 1 for your sensu beans. Or Sorc/Wiz 1, for cantrip awesomeness.

But get your summons online straight away, and thank us later.
« Last Edit: August 19, 2015, 09:34:20 PM by sambojin »

Offline Jack the Lad

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Re: Best Low-Level All-Rounder: Wizard? Cleric/Bard? Sorc/Lock?
« Reply #3 on: August 22, 2015, 10:38:02 AM »
Hm! Thanks guys, that's really useful advice.

I hadn't considered Druid. Probably partly because I didn't realise wild shape refreshes on a short rest and not just long rests - that's crazy. I also didn't realise that they have the whole Druid spell list at their disposal every time they prepare spells, rather than having to choose which to learn/know.

Conjure Animals is another thing I hadn't considered, but after reading it does seem really good.

As a Druid the Circle tradeoffs seem to amount to:

Land: +1 Conjure Animals per day, access to Haste and Invisibility and some preparation slots freed up (though it does occur to me that Haste competes with Conjure Animals)
Moon: Be a Brown Bear or Polar Bear (at level 6) instead of a Warhorse or Crocodile, at least 2+ times per day

Which makes Land seem better on paper, but I don't know how well Moon's better wild shape forms scale and how big of a deal that ends up being. I do like the idea of being able to melee things sometimes and help with strength stuff.

What feats are good for Druids? Nothing jumps out at me, which is making me think Wood Elf may be better than Variant Human. Potentially I could go Magic Initiate Wizard for Mage Armour/Mage Hand/Minor Illusion or Cleric for Bless/Guidance/Resistance. Concentrating on Bless or similar while wildshaped seems like an efficient use of a spell slot and makes Resilient Con an obvious pick.

I'm thinking something like: Wood Elf Druid 5, Str 8/Dex 14/Con 14/Int 10/Wis 15/Cha 10, Magic Initiate or Resilient, then a generic spell prep of something like Charm Person, Detect Magic, Faerie Fire, Flaming Sphere, Goodberry, Heat Metal, Hold Person, Conjure Animals.

Is there any way to get a familiar as Druid, other than multiclassing? It's not on their list but I'd really like one and it does seem quite Druidic to have an owl or something.

-

All of that said, I do still really like Bard. I like the skill monkey/party face/support role a lot, but I'm having a hard time assigning it a value; it's not like I can't talk to NPCs without 18 Charisma.

As Lore, and with the Cleric start, I can grab Conjure Animals at 7 if I start as a Cleric, alongside Find Steed/Goodberry/Find Familiar/Hex/Eldritch Blast/Animate Dead/Fly/Haste. That said, as a level 7 Druid I can start summoning Pixies, as Childe pointed out.

Handing out 4 HP Goodberries alongside Song of Rest between fights and d8 Inspiration + d4 Guidance out of combat seems crazy nice, but it's possible I'm making too much of the healing; obviously parties without it do fine.
« Last Edit: August 22, 2015, 02:53:20 PM by Jack the Lad »

Offline Jack the Lad

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Re: Best Low-Level All-Rounder: Wizard? Cleric/Bard? Sorc/Lock?
« Reply #4 on: August 22, 2015, 03:02:02 PM »
Bit of an update:

1. It's going be a 3 player party, and the other two players are a Shadow Monk and a Fey Warlock.
2. Animate Dead, Polymorph, Reverse Gravity, Contagion, Counterspell, Forcecage and True Polymorph are banned.
3. We're starting with a very generous stat array of 18, 15, 14, 13, 10, 8

My thoughts are:

1. We don't really have a tank/front-liner, but I don't know how important that is.
2. No Polymorph kinda sucks and makes Conjure Woodland Beings much weaker.
3. The stats mean I can start on 18/16/16 or 20/16/14 after racial bonuses. Is there a class/build that makes more use of ability scores than the others?
« Last Edit: August 22, 2015, 03:04:19 PM by Jack the Lad »

Offline Jack the Lad

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Re: Best Low-Level All-Rounder: Wizard? Cleric/Bard? Sorc/Lock?
« Reply #5 on: August 22, 2015, 03:02:25 PM »
[Oops, I mixed up quote and modify - please ignore.]

Offline sambojin

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Re: Best Low-Level All-Rounder: Wizard? Cleric/Bard? Sorc/Lock?
« Reply #6 on: August 22, 2015, 07:12:31 PM »
That does change it up a bit in favour of Moon Druid, so you can do a bit of tanking when required as well. Your healing should go "further" with such a small party, but likewise, this makes 4HP goodberries even better than normal. I'd still go straight to druid 5, but a cleric (life) level at 6 or 7 after looks very good now. Probably at 7, so you still get your CR2 wildshape forms as early as possible though.

I still like Grasslands Druids, but it's more of a personal preference. Natural Recovery is nice for more summons, but don't neglect other low level spells either. Spamming the hell out of Goodberry or Bless are also viable options. It's a surprisingly versatile ability, especially with some Cleric mixed in.

Druids tend to have a heap of resources, again, especially with some Cleric mixed in. Most of their spells are great at their basic level, with each level having something good to excellent to cast. Running out of higher level slots isn't as big of a problem as it can be with other spellcasting classes. Add moon wildshape/natural recovery to that mix and you're fine, even if it's a really long day without many rests.

For a familiar, you could always go for Magical Initiate (Find Familiar, Minor Illusion, Mage Hand) at level 1 if you don't mind being a human. You've still got a fair few vision options in wildshape to cover your weakness a bit, plus your familiar can help with that too.

If you don't mind spending a fair bit of time in wildshape, that stat array is excellent for Druids. All your physical stats are taken care of by the form anyway, so 3 high mental stats is good. Or whatever combo you want. Be a face or a dex monkey or power lifter in caster form if you'd like. Druids really aren't that stat dependent, and work fine even with low Wisdom (13-14). You lose a few spells, but most of your spells are buffs, not attacking, or are long lasting and scale amazingly anyway. But at Wisdom 18-20, you do end up with a glorious spell selection every day. Plus, perception is the greatest skill in the game.

High Wisdom and the Shillelagh cantrip also gives reasonable attack bonus in caster form when necessary.

While Guidance is your go-to cantrip for anything, when you don't know what to do and don't have any summons out, cast Enhance Ability (Wisdom) on yourself. High passive perception is great (22 in the build below), and you can wildshape into something with dark vision if you need to. There's actually plenty of forms with great perception anyway, but it's another part of your toolkit. Where Guidance or forms don't work, Enhance Ability does, for anyone, for anything.

You could just scrap all our advice and go for a bard though. Bards are pretty good, especially in small parties. Especially with a stat array like that. Not necessarily as powerful as a Druid, but still fairly fun.
« Last Edit: August 22, 2015, 09:19:59 PM by sambojin »

Offline sambojin

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Re: Best Low-Level All-Rounder: Wizard? Cleric/Bard? Sorc/Lock?
« Reply #7 on: August 22, 2015, 08:55:44 PM »
A quick character sheet on a quick build of this. Went with a Grassland Druid, Variant Human w/ Wizard Magical Initiate.

It's at level 6, so you can see where the build can go with that cleric level.

He's a sailor, just because. Actually, even with crappier wildshape forms, Athletics can be useful later on for strength related stuff.

I've left all the spell options open though, just so you can see all the awesomeness and potential. There's tonnes of options there, and you could run him as a Moon Druid just as easily (although, I'd hold off on the Cleric level until lvl7 if you do).

I'll admit that the damage output and tanking abilities are nowhere near what a Moon Druid could do, but as a comparison to a Bard 6, it holds its own pretty well.

Spoilered because it's long:

(click to show/hide)
« Last Edit: August 22, 2015, 09:43:19 PM by sambojin »

Offline Kremlin K.O.A.

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Re: Best Low-Level All-Rounder: Wizard? Cleric/Bard? Sorc/Lock?
« Reply #8 on: August 28, 2015, 09:35:57 AM »
I would seriously suggest single classed Warlock for your needs.

You mentioned social and skillmonkey
For talkyness the beguiling whispers Invocation gives you everything you need.
For sneaky take the Chain pact. Your new invisible friend can help you spy. Urchin background does help. Take variant human as your race and pick perception for your skill choice.
For Infiltration you can go a few different ways, 1: Take Mask of Many Faces and just use whatever face you need. 2: Take Voice of the chain master and use your familiar (Imp) as a remote controlled invisible spy drone. (if you don't mind a 1 mile range limit, you can ignore voice of the chain master)
For 'sneak attack' (read: Alpha strike) capability, the fiend pact serves you well. You can keep Hex up for 8 hours at a time. This allows you to use your other spell as a 12d6 Scorching ray attack.
Feat wise, observant seems to be your best option. As for level 4? Take Actor. It will max out your Cha score, maximizing your battle prowess.

Stats: STR 8 DEX 16 CON 14 INT 10 WIS 14(13 before Observant) CHA 20(19 until you take Actor at level 4)

With this set up your skills are Stealth, Perception, Sleight of hand, Persuasion, Deception, Investigation and Arcana. You also know Disguise kits and thieves' tools.
Your Invocations are Agonizing Blast, Mask of many faces and Beguiling influence. (Devil's sight or Voice of the Chain master are good level 7 choices.)

Hell, you get the ability to shoot people with your finger.

Also, you can replace Mask of Many Faces with a Hat of disguise if you really want Devil's sight early, pr to go Booklock and get the ritual invocation. Either way you can make your Studded leather look like a suit of fine clothes... and play fantasy James Bond.


As for what Moon Druid has over land? Tanking power. Remember your wild shape HP are basically ablative HP. WHen they run out you revert forms and can Wild shape again on your next action. This gives you the wild shape's HP as free bonus health.

Offline Jack the Lad

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Re: Best Low-Level All-Rounder: Wizard? Cleric/Bard? Sorc/Lock?
« Reply #9 on: August 30, 2015, 06:18:07 AM »
Thank you very much for your advice, guys, especially sambojin for yours; the example character sheet was a real help.

My DM disallowed the Life Cleric/Goodberry combo, which helped make up my mind, and I eventually settled on Moon Druid and came up with a concept for it that I really like.

The game started yesterday and the first session went well; one pretty easy combat which bear form was more than enough to handle.

It did get me thinking, though; other than Conjure Animals for tough fights and Goodberry for healing, I'm not quite sure when I should be casting. Only when I can't wild shape? It seems like generally a worse use of my action than bear attacks.

I went with the following spell loadout. Is there anything good I'm missing for general purpose stuff?

0: Guidance (not sure what else is good)
1: Goodberry, Faerie Fire, Detect Magic, Fog Cloud
2: Enhance Ability, Flaming Sphere, Hold Person
3: Conjure Animals, Call Lightning

I also went with more or less the stat array that Sambojin recommended: Str 8, Dex 14 (13), Con 16 (15), Int 10, Wis 19 (18), Cha 14. I've only picked one feat (Resilient) so far, and I'm not sure whether Magic Initiate (Wizard or Cleric for Find Familiar or Bless) or Observant (to go up to 20 Wisdom) is better.

Offline Childe

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Re: Best Low-Level All-Rounder: Wizard? Cleric/Bard? Sorc/Lock?
« Reply #10 on: August 30, 2015, 11:56:10 AM »
My DM disallowed the Life Cleric/Goodberry combo
That's unfortunate, because Jeremy Crawford, the 5e rules manager, says it should be allowed. But anyway.

Save your casting mainly for utility spells, other than conjuring (i.e. for your cantrips and level 1 and 2 slots).

If your DM allows variant familiars, those can be very useful. Otherwise I'd recommend Observant if you're at 19 Wisdom now.
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Offline sambojin

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Re: Best Low-Level All-Rounder: Wizard? Cleric/Bard? Sorc/Lock?
« Reply #11 on: August 30, 2015, 09:38:22 PM »
Kind of a random list of thoughts, mostly all competing for bonus actions/concentration. When you run out of summons, you can try these (although you have to cast them before wildshaping):

Flaming Sphere is nice for bonus action AoE damage. You can use it to help you not get mobbed in melee, or move it back to protect your party. It's like having a mini-moving-fireball minion to watch your back.

Dust Devil from EE is the same. Less damaging, but uses Str instead of Dex saves, and offers pushback too. Good for when light or burning things is a problem.

Heat Metal is great for anything in armour. It's extra damage and a debuff all-in-one.

I mostly mentioned Magical Initiate (Wizard) because you wanted a familiar. But as a Moon Druid, you essentially are your own familiar. So you could grab Expeditious Retreat if you wanted. Fast bears are scary bears. It makes other forms nicer to consider as well, even aquatic ones on land. Giant Octopi and Plesiosaurs are actually pretty mobile with Longstrider and Expeditious Retreat cast on them, for some fun reach/restrain related combat shenanigans. Or be a land shark, or a killer whale, stalking its prey across the mountain tops with its blindsight. Or be a mining engineer Giant Badger, and put the dwarves to shame. There's heaps of dumb stuff to do, and using a couple of lvl1 slots for an encounter isn't bad for the hilarity value. Your monk will love you too.

There's very little reason to not have a Mage Hand carrying an open bag of caltrops or ball bearings (or both mixed, 5 pounds is a lot) ready to be poured wherever you want. The save DC isn't great, but the more battlefield control, the better. Thus MI(Wizard) being awesome.

If you really do want Magical Initiate (Cleric), then your lvl 1 slots will go a long way with Bless. Pity the cantrips aren't great. But Bless makes up for it. Just make sure with your DM that you can cast it with normal slots too.

You may as well have an attack cantrip. Produce Flame, Thorn Whip, Acid Splash, Frost Bite, Shillelagh and Magic stone all have their uses. Produce Flame is probably best, with Thorn Whip being close behind (anti-grapple CC).

Faerie Fire anything you want to fight if your concentration is free. Advantage is good.

Out of combat, in caster form, you're golden. Charm Person, Guidance, Enhance Ability, Pass without Trace, even Longstrider all do "stuff" for various situations. Remember to blow any remaining slots at the end of the day on Goodberries though (they'll last into the next day, so you've sort of pre-cast some your healing for the day, freeing up lots of slots tomorrow. Those rest days are amazing for you, for the amazing day after).

Unless it's a particularly deadly one, you can wildshape to tank traps if you're out of summons. Cast resistance (or guidance if you think it's a different save type), wildshape into something tanky, walk up, headbutt trap. Keep casting Resistance if it's a 3 save-or-die poison or something, or change form into something with good stats for that save. But HP sponge is HP sponge, usually with good Con and Wis saves.

Beg your Warlock to cast invisibility on you sometimes. You're a jack of all trades, a tank, a healer, a wizard, but you're a scout as well. Invis+PwT+Wildshape makes you essentially undetectable, but you might have blindsight, darkvision or advantage on perception yourself.

If you've ever got someone entirely incapacitated, and you're going to kill him anyway (or question him fairly strenuously), wildshape into a rot grub and get one of your party members to put you into the badguy's ear. He'll talk. Or you'll eat his brain over the next few days.

Jump and Spider Climb are surprisingly useful, even with wildshape. Be a drop-bear. Be a ninja. Be a ninja drop-bear! It also helps other party members keep up with your shenanigans. You'll be flying at will long before them.

Remember that you can grapple a bit when necessary (you've got Athletics). As forms get bigger, you get better at it. You can also carry a heap when needed. When you can fly, grappling is evil. People can also ride you. You are a Yoshi when needed. A flying Yoshi, later on.

Sleet Storm is a nice CC and anti-magic spell. Dispel Magic is an even nicer anti-magic spell. You should at least have one of them prepared (DM), but maybe both.

Barkskin and Lesser Restoration should pretty much always be on your 2nd level list as well. Tanking and curing what ails people is what you do. Plus lots of other stuff.

Sometimes your DM may say something like "Bears can't do that." Even stuff that they could, if they knew how to. Apes have hands though, 16Str, +5 Athletics and a climb speed. If a bear can't do a strength job, an ape probably can.

Even if you can't do the sensu bean combo, it still might be worthwhile picking up a level of Cleric (Life) at some point. You get bless, can round out your cantrips, make your non-berry related healing better, and get a stack of lvl 1 utility spells. Actually, any domain is pretty good. Depends on the campaign. Consider it at lvl 7 as a flavour choice on how your character is forming up and what you think you'll be doing with him/her. There's nothing wrong with staying mono-Druid either (getting to Moon Druid 8 ASAP is pretty much unlimited flight for the effort), but having a silly amount of level 1 spells that you can change day-to-day, and having Bless as a backup "whatever, combat" spell is probably worth the level regardless. Bless also keeps your forms relevant longer, because they do start to tail off a little bit after this (In combat. Fortunately you're also an awesome caster by this point, with form utility and HP sponge as well). And everyone likes +d4 more relevance, not just you.

For cantrips, I'd pick: Guidance, Resistance, Produce Flame.
For MI (Wizard), I'd pick Mage Hand, Minor Illusion, Expeditious Retreat.

As you can see, there's heaps of options for different situations and spells to use. Probably not enough preparation slots for it all, but Druids are never boring. Powerful, versatile and fairly fun, both in and out of combat.
« Last Edit: September 01, 2015, 06:11:41 PM by sambojin »

Offline awaken_D_M_golem

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Re: Best Low-Level All-Rounder: Wizard? Cleric/Bard? Sorc/Lock?
« Reply #12 on: September 01, 2015, 04:22:00 PM »
 :plotting

Life Cleric 1
Druid 1 ... for Goodberry
Warlock 1 ... near order of magnitude more healing potential
Warlock 2 ... certain order of magnitude
Moon Druid 2 ... see I'm such a nice guy I gots the healing first

Probably wants GOO for the mooning, and Half Elf.
Name it with some combo of life goo(d) goo lark lock legolas
So call it :  Leg-Goo-Lark

varHuman can get Goodberry via feat, so that's
more likely gonna go Life Cleric 1 / Warlock X.
Your codpiece is a mimic.

Offline sambojin

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Re: Best Low-Level All-Rounder: Wizard? Cleric/Bard? Sorc/Lock?
« Reply #13 on: September 03, 2015, 04:10:28 AM »
Considering your DM, don't expect this to fly with him/her. But it can't hurt to ask. You've got a level or two before you get to find out (go straight to Druid 6/7/8, depending on what you like).

It's one of those "probably broken" builds. The AniMonk (Moon Druid and 1-2 levels of Monk).

Take 1 monk level at 7 after asking about all the stuff below.

See if wildshape attacks are considered unarmed attacks. They should be. Giggle. You can use your bonus action for another attack every turn. Whichever one is the biggest for the form you're in, use that. It doesn't cost resources, it's just what you do.

See if Unarmored Defense transfers to wildshape forms. All your forms just got +4AC (+5 when you cap Wis). This is good. Tank+damage=good. Ignore my advice about Barkskin being a good spell if this allowed. Unarmored Defense is a great ability, you have high Wis, and there's no reason that it wouldn't apply to wildshape. You are particularly wise in the ways of combat. Almost worth the level of Monk without Martial Arts, but not quite. Maybe.
--------

Then consider taking another level of monk.

Does Unarmored Movement transfer to wildshape forms? Not a biggy, but more movement is better. See Giant Octopus and Killer Whale above. It's mostly just for giggles, but it can make some forms better at stuff. Stacks with Longstrider too.

See if you can do "Flurry of Blows" with your unarmed wildshape attacks. It's a nice little damage boost, twice per short rest.
--------

One level of Monk is awesome if you can use all their stuff in wildshape (all the Martial Arts stuff is "can", so it's optional for you if you want to use it, so you'll still have proper bear claws to do damage with). There isn't anything contradicting their use, plenty to say you can, even if they're very good in-game. Some Domain bonuses work, Expertise works, Action Surge works, pretty much everything works in wildshape as long as it's not spellcasting, talking, or using weapons/items (unless you're an ape. But sometimes even when you're not. Everything can have a sprig of holly or a religious symbol "somewhere" on some string. Bardic Inspiration might even work, depending on how inspiring a lion's roar can be). You've even got a Monk in your party to help you learn this stuff. And since you live on berries, are in-tune with the world around you, and bear-punch everything anyway, there's little reason RP-wise that Druid and Monk don't work well together as a build either.

It's way better than a level of Cleric at 7 if you want to stay "combat'y", but many DMs don't allow it. You did ask what the most powerful build was though.

This will make your monk cry. You have HP, damage, summoning and spell casting. He punches things softly and farts tiny spells.

One level of Monk is the best combat option (+AC, +bonus action melee) for a Druid, while one of Cleric is probably the best spellcaster option. You could even grab both if you really want. Two of Monk is nice, but you're probably best just leveling more into Druid. Druid is good. Druid+Monk is very good.
« Last Edit: September 03, 2015, 05:24:20 AM by sambojin »