5E -- Viable Bladesinger Multiclass Options?

Azaar

Explorer
So, I'm in the midst of sketching out a new 5E character for an upcoming campaign that will begin in February. I'm opting to go the wizard route, and specifically play a moon elf bladesinger. Part of our character creation, though, is coming up with a background -- not the mechanical background as part of 5E chargen, but a literal back-story for each character in the campaign for the DM's perusal. And so I've been looking at what seems intriguing for roleplay prospects.

While my original plan was to go pure bladesinger (I rolled 12, 15, 16, 16, 16, 17), the background I've concocted for my character doesn't lend well to a pure build. Short version: while born of an elven noble family, she wanted adventure and excitement (you know, all those things a Jedi ought not to crave). She fell in with a shady crowd, got into trouble, and while certain doors were no longer open to her, other avenues did open up. Ultimately, she's still become a bladesinger… just one with some extra skills that most wouldn't expect of your standard-fare wizard.

Mechanically, I was looking at Arcana and Investigation as skills from Wizard, Perception would be free for being high elf... and I really liked the flavor of the Urban Bounty Hunter, with the idea of taking Insight and either Persuasion or Stealth (hadn't quite decided on that front, but was leaning towards Persuasion).

With that in mind, I began to envision Bard 2 / Wizard 18 -- I would have the full spellcasting slots available, and have a couple of extra bard cantrips and extra 1st level spells, though at the cost of having to be more cautious in the spells I would ultimately choose for wizard as I leveled up. Multiclassing into bard would net me another skill (assuming that I went with Persuasion over Stealth, then I likely would have gone for Deception), and the second level would give me Jack of All Trades (allowing me to better my non-proficient skills, which would be nice since I'm leery of taking the Skilled feat). It would cost me my ASI at 19th level wizard, but originally I thought the tradeoff would be worth it.

Now, though, I'm not so sure. Part of me is starting to think a level of rogue (the initial level 1 choice, since it gives me a lot of bang for my buck) might be a better thematic fit for my bladesinger-to-be. Four skills, plus two from background (it would have to be a different background, at least in that it would be more themed as "arcane spy" or something along those lines, to have Arcana as a proficiency), plus Perception, and have two skills with Expertise. Then dive the rest of the way into wizard. This would mean I lose a 7th level spell slot by level 20, but I would have all my ASIs (even though they'd be one level behind everyone else's), and perhaps have better overall options: if nothing else, it would avoid me having umpteen million 1st level spells from multiclassing in bard and wizard both. Or, if I want to be even more of a skill money, do Rogue 1 / Bard 1 / Wizard 18 (still down a 7th level spell slot, lose an ASI, and have umpteen 1st level spells, but get another skill out of it, which I could assign as Arcana and then keep the Urban Bounty Hunter background).

I've read Inquisitor Lim's bladesinger guide, as well as familiarized myself with Treatmonk's take (which seems more centered around battlefield control than Lim's version). Both takes are pure bladesinger builds, and multiclassing isn't really encouraged.

So, I guess I'm asking whether I should try to multiclass (and if so, what option would be best), or whether I should stick with a pure bladesinger build and spend an ASI on the Skilled feat (I already fully intend on having War Caster at some point). Constructive criticism is welcome.
 

ccs

40th lv DM
What lv are you starting at?

Now what lvs do you realistically envision reaching?
I ask as I find it absurd to worry about how doing x now would cost you an ASI at 19th lv, or a spell slot at lv 20....

As usual, my advice is to write up a character. Then make whatever mechanical choices help you best represent that.
Worry about crossing 19th & 20th lv bridges once you hit about 16th lv or so.
 

Leatherhead

Possibly a Idiot.
Battlesmith Artificer. That's basically a compromise between rogue and bard while favoring your Int stat. Also, you have your own Droid companion (who scales with your proficiency bonus!) for added Jedi flavor.

Go up to level 3, have your "coming back to the light" moment, and level up the rest of the way as a Bladesinger.
 

delph

Explorer
What lv are you starting at?

Now what lvs do you realistically envision reaching?
I ask as I find it absurd to worry about how doing x now would cost you an ASI at 19th lv, or a spell slot at lv 20....

As usual, my advice is to write up a character. Then make whatever mechanical choices help you best represent that.
Worry about crossing 19th & 20th lv bridges once you hit about 16th lv or so.
Thats important, but as I read it it's 20 lvl char.

1 lvl rogue is almost everytime good choice when you play not only hack and slash style. Expertize on arcana and investigation is really good.

And not sure if you really need bard.
 

Azaar

Explorer
We are starting at level 2. The current campaign I'm in (run by the same DM) looks to be hitting about 16th level or thereabouts, at least. So maybe that last ASI won't matter so much. I'm the sort who likes to plan characters out all the way to 20, though, and if we do go all the way and reach 20, I wanted to have Spell Mastery (for shield and misty step).

The main reason I looked at Bard was partially for the extra skill, but mainly for the full spell slot progression and Jack of all Trades -- having up to a +3 bonus to Acrobatics (especially since I'd have advantage on Acrobatics checks with Bladesong) would be nice, since my DM has shown that he does like to grapple. The idea for Bard, at that point, would have been to have more social skills and not be the typical bookworm/wallflower that wizards usually are in social situations.

If I do the one-level dip in Rogue, I'd have to decide where I want to go skill-wise -- the background (mechanically speaking), I'd likely mix-and-match between Faction Agent and Urban Bounty Hunter, and have Arcana and Insight. Rogue skills most likely would wind up being Acrobatics, Deception, Investigation and Persuasion (I'll forgo Stealth in that instance). However...

If I go Rogue 1 / Bard 1: I'd stick wholly with Urban Bounty Hunter and have Insight and Stealth. Rogue would be Acrobatics, Decepticon, Investigation and Persuasion. Bard would give me Arcana. And then, go from there in Wizard and bladesing my merry way.

I just like the idea of playing a character that has been exposed to the shady side of life, and found a way to incorporate and use that knowledge in a spy-esque fashion.
 
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Esker

Abventuree
The biggest cost to multiclassing isn't what you lose at level 19 or 20 -- if you do get there it's a small part of the campaign -- but being behind in spell levels. A two level dip means your biggest guns will be one spell level behind what they'd be otherwise for the entire campaign. Make sure you weigh that properly against the benefits.

It sounds like your main motivation for multiclassing is the skills... With your stats you'll presumably start with 18 INT, 18 DEX and 16 CON, giving you 20 AC in studded leather with bladesong, to 25 with shield. If you do still get hit, you'll have +7 on your concentration saves. So you can afford to delay taking feats to boost concentration, and as a bladesinger you can't use medium armor or shields even if you got proficiency. To me that suggests that you can afford to put an early feat into skilled. I think you will feel the price of the feat less than you would feel being down a spell level.

What other feats do you have your eye on?
 

Esker

Abventuree
If you stay pure bladesinger, you could take arcana and investigation from wizard, deception and persuasion from your background, and still have +4 with advantage on acrobatics in bladesong, which will usually be good enough to get out of grapples. You also get performance from bladesinger -- you could ask the DM if you could swap that for acrobatics (it certainly fits the class).

There is also the Fey Step feat, which you could pair with elven accuracy, or observant.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
Not that the ability score bonuses line up quite as nicely, but if you went Half Elf instead of High Elf you get an extra skill from that, plus you can take the Prodigy racial feat from Xanathar's which will give you a skill, a tool, a language, and an expertise. Without giving up any levels of spells known.

A dip I've looked at before but it doesn't look like it will fit your background in Cleric (Know) 1. Gives spell slots, known cleric 1st level spells and cantrips, and two expertise from an INT-based list.
 

Esker

Abventuree
I thought about the half-elf route, but it didn't seem like a good tradeoff to me.

Assuming Prodigy Half-Elf vs Skilled High Elf, half-elf gives:

expertise in one skill
slightly better social skills
two languages
one tool

and loses:

a point of INT or DEX
a cantrip
one skill proficiency (up one prior to L4, down one after)
some extra weapon proficiencies
access to Fey Teleportation feat (OP expressed interest in frequent misty steps)

I'm a big fan of expertise, but that doesn't sound like a great trade to me.
 

Azaar

Explorer
We've already got at least one, if not two half-elves, if memory serves, and one variant human (which, in a weird way, fits because the backdrop of the campaign is that there are not too many humans -- let alone human adventurers -- left, due to a war between humans and pretty much every demihuman race).

Esker called it right in that my plan was 18 in DEX and INT, 16 in CON. My original plan was War Caster at level 4, +2 INT (to 20) at 8, +2 DEX (to 20) at 12. 16 could potentially be +1 WIS/CHA (the original plan was CHA 15 and WIS 16, but if I went for more the social route, I could swap the stats around to fit)) from Elven Accuracy, making it 16, but there is also Mobile (which would net me 50 ft./round movement among other things). And the idea of bolstering CON is a possibility as well (because who doesn't like more hit points).

My spell selection was going to be... interesting, to say the least. I've been considering running not so much the direct-damage spells in favor of more battlefield control, with some subterfuge and skirmish tactics thrown in (for instance, steel wind strike as one of my 5th level spells, and stuff like slow, counterspell and the like). I know we have a Rogue going into Swashbuckler, a Ranger and a Paladin, and I think maybe a Barbarian as well), which would lend me to play a support role rather than be another front-line melee, but melee can be done in a pinch -- I'm just not going to disillusion myself that this is like 2nd edition bladesinger kit from Complete Book of Elves. And I'd even considered playing around with the prospect of simulacrum and maybe clone as an insurance policy of sorts.
 

Azaar

Explorer
Alas, my DM is not fond of artificer -- a former member of the group apparently somehow convinced him to let him "multiclass" to take two different branches of artificer (this was back with the UA version, not the official version in Eberron: Rising from the Last War), and it made for a mess. It's also why my DM wants nothing to do with warforged (same player and character). Otherwise, I'd have made a warforged artificer as well... even if the double-bladed scimitar looked like fun (though if I'd wanted to play with that, I would have gone hexblade warlock, but that's another discussion entirely).
 

Esker

Abventuree
I think your spell selection approach is solid. With that party, control spells will be very effective; much more so than focusing on melee. And as a control caster, keeping up with spell progression is that much more important: you're not going to be using all your slots upcasting shadow blade and the like: you want your Slows and Walls of Force, etc. ASAP.

I agree with @doctorbadwolf, but would rephrase: bladesinger mixes well with rogue more so than rogue mixes well with bladesinger. That is, bladesinger provides a nice melee boost to a rogue who is primarily doing melee. A couple of rogue levels for cunning action can be good on a primary bladesinger who does a lot of melee, but if you're only a backup melee, it's less useful.
 

Esker

Abventuree
Another consideration that occurs to me is that with a swashbuckler in the party, they may have the primary face role covered. It'd be worth checking with them what skills they're planning to take expertise in so you don't wind up stepping on each other. The paladin may want to take persuasion too. So could be you'd want to drop one of persuasion or deception, opening up room for acrobatics (or something else of interest), and then maybe Skilled isn't such a high priority and you could just max out your INT and maybe take Mobile (maybe taking Skilled later when proficiency matters more).
 

Azaar

Explorer
So, an update: I'm actually steering away from Rogue, in part because I'm gonna try and have a house moonblade feature as part of my character's backstory -- specifically, that it's been stolen and that one of my goals is to get it back. Even if rogues have a "heart of gold", I'm a little leery of it (and it's entirely possible that there will ultimately be no moonblade, that will be something for the DM and I to work out), but I do want to be considered "worthy" of the blade if it does actually come to pass.

As a high elf, I'm starting with STR 12, DEX 18, CON 16, INT 18, WIS 16, CHA 15. Skillwise, I'll have Perception from high elf, Acrobatics and Stealth from my custom background (an infiltration/sneaky type blending part of Faction Agent and Urban Bounty Hunter from SCAG), and both Insight and Investigation from wizard (scary that I'm ignoring Arcana and History, right?). As we're starting at level 2, I decided to stick with the idea of a 1-level dip... in Cleric. So, I get light and medium armor, plus shields... I get 1st-level cleric spells as well. That's sorta okay (at least I'm not losing progression in spell slots), and I'd get light armor from going into Bladesinger anyway (and medium armor and shields are admittedly a waste). But... Divine Domain (Knowledge) gives me Arcana and History, as well as Expertise in both. So, seven skills (with Performance coming as number eight next level), six languages (Common, Elvish and one other from high elf, another from the custom background, and two more from Blessings of Knowledge from Divine Domain (Knowledge)).

This lets the paladin and swashbuckler both be the dominant social faces of the party (though I can be an entertainer of sorts after next level with Performance), yet allows me the flexibility to take on a unique (for a wizard) skillset.

I've admittedly asked about this on Reddit as well, and while I'm still a little leery of it, upon closer inspection of the spells I do feel a little better about trying to get into melee some more, so I'm going to try and mix it up a bit between battlefield control and some damage, as well as play into some more melee as well. Having detect magic and identify as part of Knowledge cleric spells opens up some of the known first-level spells from wizard, if nothing else.
 

Azaar

Explorer
Okay, another update:

Several of us were able to get a few more details out of the DM, as well as chat a little with one another about our planned characters... and boy, do I have some decisions to make.

So, the campaign setting: humanity was in a war with the demi-human races in the past (at least two hundred years before "present day" when the campaign begins), and they lost... BADLY. At this point, by population, elves are the most numerous, followed by dwarves, orc, gnomes, halflings, the half-races (half-eves, half-orcs), tieflings and then humans at the bottom of the list -- they are considered pretty rare (the survivors are either enslaved by the other demi-human races or living in hidden enclaves), and there are definite racist undertones (though, with my party, it's generally petty insults at best -- I know this from my female drow Celestial warlock bearing the brunt of it, but I gave as good as I got and it's all in good fun at the table, so no harm, no foul). Dragonborn are pretty non-existent -- as are dragons, apparently: at least, no one has seen a dragon in a LONG, long time.

There are seven large islands (very large, maybe as much as subcontinent in size) that will be feared, and each one will be ruled by a warlord. Into the Badlands was specifically mentioned as an inspiration for this; with the swashbuckling and the apparent plan to be going back and forth between the various islands, I'm adding a bit of Pirates of the Caribbean into the mix. So I'm seeing swashbuckling, a bit of piracy, and looks to be a fair bit of political intrigue in the mix as well.

This all sounds great, and we're all looking forward to it, but... our party is gonna have the deck stacked against it, despite having six in the party. Right now, three are apparently planning to be variant humans (a barbarian who might go monk instead, hasn't decided for certain yet; a ranger who's going Monster Hunter; and the rogue who's going Swashbuckler). Of the remaining members: one is a complete unknown aside from being a druid (no idea on race or on the druid circle he's aiming for), and the remaining two of us (myself included) are moon elves -- one a paladin going either Oath of the Ancients or Oath of Vengeance, and my "wizard".

The rogue going Swashbuckler seems interested in trying to be the main social "face" of the party, but the only way he'll be able to do that is to use a disguise kit on a daily basis to pretend to be an elf. I figure it won't be too long before the paladin or my character would discover the truth, and if he has a bad roll, the party will have quite the uphill climb when making any sort of negotiations. I'm pretty sure the paladin will cover Persuasion, but I'm beginning to seriously consider whether to try and be a backup social "face" as well, especially seeing as how we're six strong, and three of them are going to have the decks stacked against them from the start.

============================

With all that above, I'm honestly feeling confused about what I should consider doing. The more I look at this, the more I think multiclassing is going to have to be the main option, but I have no idea which way to go. I've waffled between a two-level bard dip, to a single-level cleric or rogue dip. And at this point, I'm actually open to alternatives: I've idly considered maybe doing something a bit twisted (for instance, hexblade warlock dip for a sorcerer going with Shadow Magic) -- I do want to keep it arcane spellcasting, but I need advice on whether to try and build towards being a social "face", or whether to keep with the current build I'm favoring (Wizard 1 / Cleric (Knowledge) 1) to be a more stealth-oriented, acrobatic bladesinger-to-be.

Any advice or thoughts are very welcome.
 

Esker

Abventuree
Between a barbarian/monk, ranger, paladin and rogue, your party has a lot of martial capability, so I think leaning heavily into being a support-focused caster makes sense. Particularly if the first player goes with monk, there's already going to be a lot of mobile acrobatic business going on, and so it could be that bladesinger isn't the best choice of wizard subclass, if only to give others a greater sense of uniqueness.

If you are really worried about the party not having enough face capability, you could even opt for being a charisma-based caster and not doing wizard (bards are great support characters, especially in larger parties, and can do a lot to help the others shine). And a lore bard in particular can pick up a ton of proficiencies, and use that 6th level magical secrets to fill a gap in the party (e.g., fireball). I personally like lore bard for you more than I like shadow sorcerer, simply for versatility reasons.

If you go with bard, would you consider (and would you be allowed) to be an eladrin instead of a moon elf? (Mainly for the CHA bonus, since it sucks to have to start with a +2 in your casting stat; but the Misty Step 1/SR is also great.)

With only one other full caster in the party, I would recommend against multiclassing, at least before level 5. You really want to be able to cast the highest level spells possible when needed.

All of that said, I wouldn't think that posing as an elf would be too tall an order for a human rogue, and you also have the paladin, so just sticking with wizard seems like a solid plan too. You might consider diviner instead of bladesinger: being able to toss a low portent roll onto a key NPC's insight check (or a high one onto the rogue's deception check) is also a good way to be an "assistant face", not to mention all the other uses for portent.
 
I had to come up with a 6th level character recently in Adventurer's League and I made a Bladesinger that is actually multiclassed.

The key role to fill was to be a ''tank'' and a big AC/HP pool kind of character. I took a twist on things and multiclassed twice to come up with a mix of Druid (Moon), 1 level of Barbarian and 3 levels of Bladesinger.


Barbarian 1/Moon 2/Bladesinger 3.

You're looking at a build that is fairly tanky while dishing out reasonable damage. We can grapple stuff around if we want (the bear gives us +7 athletic, I plan on getting expertise through one dip into Rogue at some point, but when my proficiency bonus will be a bit higher then + 3 (I'm thinking right after Bladesinger 6 for Extra Attack).

13 Strenght
14 Dexterity
14 Consitution
13 Intelligence
(19 with headband of intellect)
14 Wisdom
9 Charisma

As a Wood Elf. You get 35 base speed.

The characters has plenty of options to boost his AC in Wild Shape(Mirror Image into Bladesong turn 1, something with concentration you want or Attack, with Wild Shape as a bonus turn 2).

Through a mix of Brown Bear from, Rage, Bladesong and some nice battlefield control spells (Entangle, Web, Grease) you get a difficult foe to ignore that will certainly demand attention.

You can also break your concentration with a rage as a bonus action if the battlefield shifts a bit. Placing an early Web and getting rid of it by turn 2-3 when the spell got the job done is clearly a transition that is a switch hitter playstyle.

The damage is not too shabby. If your DM is ok, Bracers of defense/Headband of intellect are two items I gave my character that can meld into a Wild Shape form (AL stuff, I DM a lot and I have a lot of stuff to create characters I never play with).

Brown Bear represent an AC of 10 + 3 Consitution modifier + 4 Intelligence modifier while we are into a Bladesong. If you rage on top of that, you're negating by half all damage that comes from bludgeoning, slashing and piecing weapons.

That is a multiclass that will scale well due to having access to a lot of spells and being a prime grappler. As of level 6, you can grapple foe up to one size larger then a Huge creature. (Enlarge is a Wizard spell). You can also give yourself a natural advantage with your Find Familiar, as well as retain insane utility with a lot of handy rituals in your spellbook.

Add on top of that some healing from the Druid spell list and you're a pretty well rounded tank that comes off as a support while being a good damage dealer.
 

Azaar

Explorer
If I stayed with Wizard 1 / Cleric (Knowledge) 1, my plan was this:

High Elf: Perception proficiency, Common, Elvish and one additional language, cantrip (booming blade)

Background: custom background with Acrobatics and Stealth, one language and thieves tools (though I could go with forgery kit instead, since it was gonna be themed as an infiltration type.

Wizard 1: Insight and Investigation skill proficiencies

Cleric (Knowledge) 1: get light + medium armor and shields, simple + martial weapons; Blessings of Knowledge give us two more languages, plus choosing Arcana and History (which will come with Expertise)

Skill-wise, this gives me Acrobatics, Arcana*, History*, Insight, Investigation, Perception and Stealth, with Performance coming on the following level when entering the Bladesinger arcane tradition (asterisks indicate expertise). I was gonna be a bit of a mini-skill monkey in that regard.

One alternative, ironically, would be to go back to my original plan of a two-level Bard dip. I could start off as Wizard (Bladesinger) 2 in that regard, get to 5th level for the 3rd-level spells, then dive into Bard for those two levels. Skillwise, I'd have Arcana, History, Insight, Investigation and Perception (the background might wind up being either Sage or Faction Agent). Come 6th level and Bard 1, I'd likely take Acrobatics (partially to go with the Bladesinger's bladesong, partially because my DM likes using it as a means to evade grapple checks), and then the Bard 2 (7th level) would get Jack of All Trades to get half my proficiency bonus to all the other skills (and Initiative).

The other alternative would be to take a level of Rogue, then Wizard as a straight shot. That would give me just as many skills at level 1 as the Wizard / Cleric multiclass would give me.

====================

Given what's happened, though, and how martially-oriented my party is, I can't help but wonder if perhaps I should consider something different. I have something in mind, but I'll have to check with my DM to find out for certain whether he'd allow the Pyromancer or Phoenix Sorcery Sorcerous Origins (Pyromancer from Planeshift: Kaladesh; Phoenix Sorcery from Unearthed Arcana) to go along with Warlock (could be Hexblade, could go Celestial) -- it might not be an optimal build like the Divine Soul Sorcerous Origin, but we've got more than enough healing, what with a druid, paladin and ranger with cure wounds in their spell list (more than my current party, which is now (and was originally) me as a Celestial warlock, though for the main thrust of the campaign I had a bit of help from the dwarf fighter who multiclassed into a few levels of cleric, but I was still the main healer even then).

If only there were a way to gestalt in 5E: Celestial Warlock with Pyromancer/Phoenix Sorcery Sorcerer would actually blend together very well, given the Celestial Warlock's 14th level Searing Vengeance ability.
 

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