D&D 4E Advice Wanted: 4e fan trying 5e

Alright. My personal taste in games is something I haven't even remotely kept secret--I'm a huge fan of 4e, and I found the 5e playtest profoundly disappointing. However, someone in a skype chat floated a trial balloon for interest in playing a 5e game, and there was fair interest. Since I know the system relatively well, haven't actually played after release, and saw that there might not be quite enough people to make a full group, I figured--hey, why not, I'll try to give it a shot. Maybe I'll end up pleasantly surprised.

The problem is, I'm not entirely sure what to play, class-wise. One of the other players has already got the exact class/subclass pair I'd usually use (Devotion Paladin) because I love Paladins. The next thing I'd like to play straight-up doesn't exist in 5e (Brawling Fighter)--or would be really underpowered and would probably sour my experience of the system, which I'd honestly like to avoid. And...unfortunately, the third thing I'd want to play doesn't exist either, namely Warlord. And no, I do not consider the Battlemaster, no matter what maneuvers or feats it has, to be a "Warlord." I strongly suspect my opinion on that front won't change.

So at this point I'm kind of floundering for what to play. Some things look kind of neat, but they sound like they'd leave me bored when mechanical engagement is important (rather than roleplay or story, which I have no problems engaging with in pretty much any system). For example, the Totem Barbarian has some interesting features, but apart from raging a couple times a day and almost purely passive totem benefits, the Totem Barbarian does...nothing non-combat until 10th level, which we may not even reach (the guy offering to DM has a spotty schedule in my experience). Other things sound like they'd be mechanically engaging, but won't deliver the experience I'd like to have--for instance one of my other go-to class choices, the Sorcerer, looks like it doesn't fight in melee very well at all.

Basically, I want three things:
1. Enough utility effects, in and out of combat, that I feel like I have tools to engage the system regardless of the challenge we're currently facing. Doesn't have to be 'a spell for every problem' or anything nearly so extreme...I just don't want to read my character sheet and wonder, "How little will my presence actually matter, in terms of successfully completing our goals?"
2. Primarily fighting as a melee combatant. I like to be more in the thick of things, rather than picking off enemies from afar, whether by bow or by spell.
3. Something that makes sense for a dragonborn, because I <3 dragonborn (even though they're painfully lackluster in 5e). I'm open to reskinning, but only to a point.

I'm not really looking for "optimization" advice per se, just...trying to get suggestions for where to start thinking about what to play. Thinking of things with a mostly 4e mindset makes it hard to get my bearings. I find myself pining for the INCREDIBLY flavorful early-playtest Sorcerer, that slowly experienced a transformation (from 'mostly caster' to 'mostly warrior') over the course of the day. Alas, that journey was killed before it even got a chance to start. :(

Also, some potentially useful information, e.g. what people have proposed/stated they want to play:
Devotion Paladin
Shadow Monk (possibly MC Moon Druid--because 'ninja bear' sounds awesome to him)
Bard (not sure which kind)

I don't know what level we're starting at, nor whether we are using a homebrew setting, a home-written campaign in an official setting, or a prewritten adventure path.

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Have you considered playing a valor bard? They can be a bit warlordy, and they can handle themselves in melee fairly well. They've also got great out of combat utility.
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A cleric sounds like it could be a good fit knowledge would give you some outside combat benefits in extra languages and skills along with some nice OoC utility's for your channel divinity you can all ways patch the lack of proficiency with feats or backgrounds(i could be making that part up) or you could go War domain to get you plate and martial profs allowing you to get stuck in to combat a bit more but your OoC goes down just a teeny weeny bit.

Theres also rogue but not very dragonborn


First Post
Honestly, it sounds like your group is very melee heavy at this point. You've got a stealthy unit, the paladin will either being going greatsword or sword/shield. If the pally goes greatsword, you'll probably be competing with him at being the big bruiser. Talk with them and see if he's going more support or heavy damage. I'm betting damage, since that Channel Divinity for +CHA to hit is great with Heavy Weapon Mastery.

The really good dragonborn classes are blade'lock/fighter mix, the valor bard, the paladin, the berzerker, the favored soul. Basically, any gishy mix of CHA caster and STR melee, though the berzerker gets honroable mention for his CHA ability. Bard and paladin are covered, so you might enjoy going Favored Soul or Fighter 1/Warlock X for a different take on a magical type.
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I'd suggest a Circle of the Moon druid. Not only do you get all the druidic spells wherein you have that out of combat utility... you also get all the different forms that you get to wildshape into for really strong melee combat. Whereas it seems like most people I read about have just like one main form they always go into... in point of fact not enough is made about the tactics of selecting which form at which point in which fight you should select to change into in order to best take advantage of the situation. The giant tiger's Pounce ability... the giant spider's web and wall-walking... etc. etc. With all the animal selections you have and the special abilities they each get... choosing which form to take is oftentimes as tactically challenging as spellcasting (unless you're the type of player that just goes "highest damage" or "highest AC".)


Dragon Lord
I'd go with the following:

1. Valor bard
2. A war or tempest cleric.
3. Hunter Ranger
4. Shadow or Open-hand monk
5. Eldritch Knight Fighter
6. Moon Druid

All of them can be built into a very interesting, potent melee-type of character with lots of versatility.


Once A Fool
Actually, grapple builds are among the strongest in 5e, especially in melee-heavy groups like the one you're describing.

Here's why: almost nothing of the appropriate size ranges in the MM actually has numbers to escape from someone with maxed strength, expertise and/or advantage on athletics. And you can still attack as part of your action if you've got extra attacks.

So, often, that'll mean you give nearly automatic advantage to all allies' melee attacks against someone you've got pinned to the ground and, unless they somehow manage to escape--costing, at the very least, one action, they can't even stand up!


As a fellow 4e fan whose group converted to 5e, I am going to join the chorus suggesting a bard. The bard always feels like it has something to do. Its a credible melee combatant, the best skill monkey in the game, and a full 9 level spellcaster. Then it has its inspiration dice to hand out on top of that. I honestly think its the most engaging class in 5e.


First Post
I've had a lot of fun as a Melee Bard, a Rogue Thief, a Paladin, and a Battle Cleric. Lots of options in every situation, and some impressive combos and "exploits" to take advantage of as well. However, I would suggest you play a Fighter and see how you enjoy the class in actual play. It seems that is the class you prefer to play but "on paper" it looks underwhelming to you. You might be surprised how the game plays with the Battle Master dice. Also, you can take advantage of the grapples, shoves and pushes better than other classes.

Open hand monk has been the most versatile melee combatant my group has seen. Plenty of options in combat, and a decent amount of utility abilities.

A dragonborn monk would be pretty cool.


Rules-lawyering drama queen but not a munchkin
Monk might fit your bill. Or maybe a Warlock/Bard or Warlock/Sorc (Start sorc for the Con save). If your group isn't playing with errata, a good ol' dragonborn dragon fire sorcerer could be cool for you.


Honestly, most people consider it a bit under-powered but a Hunter-Ranger is a pretty good mix of combat (two attacks, fighting style), magic (druidic; healing, buffing) and Skills/Utility (Primeval Awareness, Hide in Plain Sight). You can go Strength-heavy, wield a longsword with duelist and have medium armor and a shield to be a decent tank or go dex-heavy and rock archery or dual-wield/hunter's mark for DPS. As for spells, you can get Cure Wounds, Hunter's Mark, Conjure Animals/Woodland Beings, Stoneskin, and Lesser Restoration. (You're also a "spellcaster" for purposes of wands, staves, and scrolls). The beauty of the ranger is not that its necessarily unique but that it can poach good things from the Fighter, Druid, and Rogue classes and blend them into a decent build. Just avoid Beastmaster.

I've had a lot of fun as a Melee Bard, a Rogue Thief, a Paladin, and a Battle Cleric. Lots of options in every situation, and some impressive combos and "exploits" to take advantage of as well. However, I would suggest you play a Fighter and see how you enjoy the class in actual play. It seems that is the class you prefer to play but "on paper" it looks underwhelming to you. You might be surprised how the game plays with the Battle Master dice. Also, you can take advantage of the grapples, shoves and pushes better than other classes.

Although I agree that the Fighter would sound like the best option, if someone were just generically describing the classes to me while AFB, I'm...*VERY* hesitant. In terms of whether I'd enjoy my 5e experience or not, it's a pretty big gamble: if I DID end up liking it, my opinion of 5e would change significantly, but if I end up disappointed, I'll feel like all my criticism of the class and the game as a whole have been vindicated. Hence why I'm trying to find something that really speaks to my interests on its own. It's...metaphorically speaking, I'm trying to find the "olive branch" options, the places (which seem frustratingly rare) where 5e is already doing something that I can reasonably predict I'll enjoy. As it stands, I'm not much of a fan, often the opposite, and I'd really like the game to at least somewhat meet me in the middle.

As a little bit more background: 4e is definitely my favorite system, but the system I have the most experience actually playing is Dungeon World. DW is a lovely system for encouraging fiction-first, high-drama story. It's also about the absolute bare minimum of crunch I can handle without going completely, table-gnawing crazy. The story is always awesome, that much never changes, and I'm always deeply engaged when my DW group is deep in our most recent hijinks. But as a mechanical structure, a game framework I can take hold of, kick the tires, give a test drive? It tends to fall pretty flat, especially in combat. To my chagrin, I find myself frequently tuning out during fights that aren't specifically made to be a complex and dynamic event, as I need barely pay any attention at all due to the loosey-goosey positioning and the general lack of anything to do when my turn does come up. Hit things until they fall down and move to a new thing when they do, maybe run to an ally in the (now rare) event that someone gets seriously hurt, very rarely cast a spell that may or may not make any difference even if it succeeds (I play a Paladin with the "cast as a Cleric of one level lower" move, but even fighting demons and undead didn't make my spells feel useful in-combat, other than pinch heading.)

When I look at 5e, and especially the Fighter...well, I see a very similarly combat-simple class, yet one that lacks the (IMO) significantly interesting moves available to the DW Fighter, *especially* when it comes to non-combat stuff (and the DW Fighter it's pretty slim on that to begin with).

So yeah. The 5e Fighter, in any form, is...a bit too risky. It's just...it feels like it has such a high chance for disappointing me, which would really suck.

I wasn't aware that there were any reasons at all to grapple/grab things, almost nobody talks about it. The few opinions I've seen were decidedly mixed (one person was defending it in the abstract, a few others were...less enthused) and...I honestly don't remember seeing anything about it in the rules, anywhere. Not saying it's not there, just that whatever is there completely escaped my notice.

I've noticed the frequent Valor Bard suggestions. Since it's very likely that another player will have a Bard as well, I'm hesitant (probably a lingering DW influence: it explicitly recommends avoiding doubled-up classes because they will be too similar). For those suggesting it, how would you recommend building to avoid excessive/obvious overlap? Would you bother doing anything at all, or is it a non-issue?


I am a 4e fan and I have found the Light Cleric to be a lot of fun (after a few levels). Sure I find it frustrating having to devote around about 75% of my spell slots for healing - rather than them being siloed in 4e - but I find I do have a lot of choices.

While I miss the mechanics and high fantasy stakes of 4e I have enjoyed the faster and more casual feel of 5e.


I suggest you go right back to the start and play your Devotion Paladin. What does it matter that there is another? I think that would be cool. Two knights from the same order sent on mission. Or competing orders, or whatever.

5E is not as reliant on roles as 4E. Well, sorry, our games are not. We never worry too much about forming the 'correct party'. Play what you want. It often turns out to be a lot of fun when you double up on things. Yes it creates situations where you wish you had a (insert class), but that adds to the fun, and well, you can't have everything in the group.

Not a massive difference between a party having a fighter and and a fighting cleric than 2 Paladins. If this will taint views of 5E, don't look for replacements. Play what stood out to you in the first place. Give it a go - the interaction b/w the paladins might actually add to the game. :)
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A couple more suggestions.

Find out if the game is going to be using a grid or played out theater of the mind. If it's online, if it's going to be using Roll20 or Fantasy Grounds, or whatever.

Find out if the DM is amenable to using the optional Marking rules and/or feats. Marking + Sentinel goes a long way to giving a 4e Fighter feel.

Finally, I would never say that the Battlemaster is an adequate replacement for a 4e Warlord. But forgetting that for a moment, and based on everything else you've said in this thread about what you're looking for, I'd recommend the Battlemaster.


Bourbon and Dice
One idea I've been tossing around for my next character is a "Paladin of Wrath". Which is essentially a lvl 1 great weapon fighter, lvl X fiend (re-flavored to angel of wrath) warlock that takes the blade boon. It should be able to compete damage wise with the great sword and armor of agythys (sp) and the temp hp from the armor and fiend pact combined with heavy armor should make him tanky enough. The warlock invocations should add enough utility for a face type and the spells add enough utility for me.

I'm trying to decide what level order to go though. F 1, Wk 1-5, is my start but after that I'm tempted to add a bit more fighter for the combat power or stick with warlock for the utility.

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