D&D 5E Ill advised characters

I enjoy 5e and generally find EN World to be great when talking about characters.

that said, I would really enjoy hearing about some of your characters that go against conventional wisdom on boards but not only survive but thrive.

I like non-hexblade blade warlocks.

MAD, weak, fill in the blank…I am about to play another one and want to report back at level 10!

that said what have you played that ‘they’ say won’t “work?” Excited to discuss…
 

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toucanbuzz

No rule is inviolate
Characters based on role-play features rather than combat?

Whether by luck of the die or otherwise, the only surviving character in our current campaign from level 1 to now is that guy. The rest have all died.
 

I made a bard/paladin/sorcerer/warlock once. She did okay - lots of cantrips, a decent melee attack, bardic inspiration for allies, and plenty of low-level smites. Not my strongest character but lots of fun. Never got high enough level for counterspell, but she would have been good at that.

I've run a shadowblade-based warlock. No EB, no pact blade - but SB + booming blade makes for a pretty good hit (upside: it also doesn't want or need any combat invocations except maybe Armor of Shadows, so you're free to take fun stuff.)

The only genuinely ineffective characters I've seen didn't have bad builds, they just failed to use class features (ie a rogue that doesn't bother to Sneak Attack)
 

Swedish Chef

Explorer
I played a Cleric of the Trickery Domain. Did great while in the cities, decent skill rolls. In combat in the wilds? Not so good. But I had a blast playing him. So much so that he made an appearance as an NPC in Descent to Avernus. 😈
 

Another player in my group made a goblin wild magic sorcerer one campaign. Yeah, the chances of bad roll on the wild magic table dropping a fireball in the middle of the party made this an unpopular choice with the rest of the group. To make it worse the player decided his character was SO wild that he was going to re-roll his stats every time he long rested (4d6 drop IN ORDER). That lead to some ....interesting results like the time he went to bed wounded and woke up healed but with less HP because his CON modifier dropped from +2 to -1 overnight. When we got access to a magic item shop the PC spent most of his gold on a wand of wonder.

Mind you this was in a pretty challenging game where the previous campaigns had multiple PC deaths and near TPKs, so the rest of the players might have preferred a slightly more optimized character. No one complained (too much) though because it was a concept that fit the campaign world so well. The previous campaign had featured a guild of evil wizards who were using goblins as magic lab rats - the goblin sorcerer was a survivor of those experiments.

So yeah, it was an objectively bad character build, but a great concept and one the player had fun with. While the character DID eventually drop a fireball in the middle of the party we were pretty high level at that point so it wasn't a total catastrophe.
 

I have a character that started as a human rogue with ritual caster and stats of 10/14/11/13/11/14.
Now he is arcane trickster 3/sword bard 5/divine sorcerer 3.
He is knowledgeable, great in melee combat and very sneaky outside. Uses illusions and other utility spells.
Had a bit luck with magic items (gauntlets of ogre power he found at level 8 or so helped melee combat a bit).
So what started as quite hopeless character actually became quite a powerhouse.
 

Li Shenron

Legend
I played a couple of Wizards with an 8 on their spellcasting stat.

In 5e this affects the efficacy (chance of success) of almost all your offensive spells, because your spellcasting ability modifier applies to your spells DC and attack rolls. That means simply, don't focus such character on direct magical attacks, but build your tactics on buffing allies and manipulating the combat environment to their advantage.

Still, there are even a few direct offensive spells which are not affected by a low spellcasting ability score, for example Magic Missile and Sleep, and they are even scalable, so you still have options for direct attacks, just not the most optimized weapons as this kind of character is not supposed to have.

And of course an adventure is a lot more than combat, so focus spells which give you the spotlight in other pillars.

Now for the REAL downside I've encountered... that was the very low number of spells prepared! That is equal to your level + modifier, which was -1 for me, so I was stuck with only 1 prepared spell until level 3, yikes! That really sucked. I thought I would compensate with rituals (which a Wizard doesn't need to prepare) and that's when I learned there aren't actually that many rituals in the game besides stock stuff like Detect Magic or Identify (useful of course but not exactly exciting) so I had to be creative to get out as much as possible from Unseen Servant and Floating Disk. At some point I gave in a bit and just asked the DM to let me buy some scrolls... 🙄

I can see myself next time trying an absent-minded 8-Wis (or even less) Cleric. Domain spells being always prepared would help a lot, and there are for example many domains with channel divinity options that aren't based on your Wisdom score. For example I am pretty sure a War Cleric can be pretty powerful even with low Wisdom, although it would be a subpar healer.
 

I played a couple of Wizards with an 8 on their spellcasting stat.

In 5e this affects the efficacy (chance of success) of almost all your offensive spells, because your spellcasting ability modifier applies to your spells DC and attack rolls. That means simply, don't focus such character on direct magical attacks, but build your tactics on buffing allies and manipulating the combat environment to their advantage.

Still, there are even a few direct offensive spells which are not affected by a low spellcasting ability score, for example Magic Missile and Sleep, and they are even scalable, so you still have options for direct attacks, just not the most optimized weapons as this kind of character is not supposed to have.

And of course an adventure is a lot more than combat, so focus spells which give you the spotlight in other pillars.

Now for the REAL downside I've encountered... that was the very low number of spells prepared! That is equal to your level + modifier, which was -1 for me, so I was stuck with only 1 prepared spell until level 3, yikes! That really sucked. I thought I would compensate with rituals (which a Wizard doesn't need to prepare) and that's when I learned there aren't actually that many rituals in the game besides stock stuff like Detect Magic or Identify (useful of course but not exactly exciting) so I had to be creative to get out as much as possible from Unseen Servant and Floating Disk. At some point I gave in a bit and just asked the DM to let me buy some scrolls... 🙄

I can see myself next time trying an absent-minded 8-Wis (or even less) Cleric. Domain spells being always prepared would help a lot, and there are for example many domains with channel divinity options that aren't based on your Wisdom score. For example I am pretty sure a War Cleric can be pretty powerful even with low Wisdom, although it would be a subpar healer.

I always planned to play a mountain dwarf wizard/abjurer this way and planned on justvusing shield as my only spell besides cantrips.
But probably you are better off increasing Int to 13. In point buy this is cheap and alsonallows you to mutliclass if necessary.

Actually I nearly played one... but I didn't roll a single stat below 14...
 

ECMO3

Hero
I enjoy 5e and generally find EN World to be great when talking about characters.

that said, I would really enjoy hearing about some of your characters that go against conventional wisdom on boards but not only survive but thrive.

I like non-hexblade blade warlocks.

MAD, weak, fill in the blank…I am about to play another one and want to report back at level 10!

that said what have you played that ‘they’ say won’t “work?” Excited to discuss…

1. In general I would say characters with a high constitution. Message boards and you tube channels put too high a premium on Constitution. In general I am getting a 10 or a 12 unless I have a breath weapon, or ability that uses constitution for a DC.
'
I just think constution is so useless, not used for any skills and not enough hps to make a difference. I find this especailly true with wizards where I am never going higher than 10 on point buy.

2. In combination with #1 I never dump intelligence, Wisdom or Charisma to 8. Those abilities are used too often with investigation, perception or discussion adn wisdom saves in particular can be extremely debilitating.

As far as specific classes:

1. Agree on warlock - Undead over Hexblade all the way for Gish warlock

2. Tank Bladesingers - This seems to be changing, but for a while people thought Bladesingers were Striker Gish with feats like mobile to go in and out of battle and that they are not pure frontliners. I completely disagree and after level 3 my bladesingers are right up in melee, their role generally being the blocker to keep enemies off of the strikers. People say they don't have the hit points for this, but with false life, blur, shield and absorb elements they are better suited for it than fighters or Paladins, even with a 10 constitution.

3. Flexible Fighters - On you tube and to a lessor extent here most Fighter builds tend to be very narrowly focused they are either sharpshooter or GWM and then they often add either XBE or PAM. This is a fine build and one of the players at my party plays a GWM often. I find these builds really lock you in and why such characters dominate ranged or melee with their assigned weapon, they suck when using another weapon and have little flexibility in combat. These guys have trouble late in tier 2 and beginning tier 3 because they don't have a magic weapon that matches their feats yet and they typically dump everything except S/D and Con because they are not getting enough ASIs. My fighters tend to be flexible, I might dump S but usually I am at least a 10 everywhere else. Instead of Feats I lean on the subclass for combat performance and I try to balance and I will take feats like prodigy or skill expert to give them out of combat abilities.
 

Richards

Legend
I haven't played him yet, but my next PC is going to be a sorcerer who originally has no idea he can cast spells - things just happen around him. As a result, almost all of his initial spell selection is going to be "comfort" based: mage hand, unseen servant, endure elements, open/close, prestidigitation (for keeping his clothes clean, naturally)...he won't have any attack or defensive spells until he hits 3rd level (and then I'll have to choose between giving him either mage armor or magic missile, not both). To make matters worse, he'll be a nobleman's second son, used to living in the lap of luxury and having servants to do stuff for him, suddenly disowned by his father (who's convinced the sudden manifesting of spellcasting abilities is proof positive his son has been trafficking with demons) and forced to go make a living on his own, a task for which he has practically no natural aptitude. (In 3.5 sorcerers don't get a whole lot of skill points to spend, yet I plunked one down on Craft (poetry) because what else would a nobleman's son be doing in his free time?) My sorcerer won't even know at first he has a familiar, continually wondering why that damned grackle keeps showing up each morning and cawing at him. Over time he'll gradually morph into a more competent spellcaster (I hope!) as he learns the ins and outs of being a sorcerer, but the first couple of levels are going to be a bit rough!

Johnathan
 

Stormonu

Legend
Recently had a monk character whose highest ability score was an 12. Not only did he survive for a good while (he had low enough hit points one good hit would have killed him), for a while because of my tactics, as best I could tell he was contributing the most to our combats. Unfortunately, he died while saving another PC and when making his second death save, rolled a nat 1.

Right now, I currently have a dwarf rogue I used Beyond to randomly roll up (everything except race randomly generated). His Strength is higher than his Dex, and who is a bit of coward. This lead to me using him where he runs in, stabs someone, then runs back away to cover without a chance of him being hit. He's now 4th level, has an AC of 12, and hasn't taken a hit point of damage yet.
 

jdrakeh

Front Range Warlock
I played a non-hexblade warlock specifically built around fire and flame spells up to level 15. I got a lot of naughty word for not optimizing him from two other players... until those fireballs and flame strikes started to drop.
 

I had a wizard/barbarian. Reached level 12, and only 2 levels in barbarian. But he could rage. Cast spell, bonus action rage. Cracked me up every time. Rage was mostly a defensive trick to take half damage. The guy had 16 CON so quite a decent HP (good INT, CON, STR, the rest was mediocre or a dump-stat). Unarmored defense was nice to have too.

Bonus action stop-raging, and back to wizarding/spell casting was also hilarious... and actually very useful.
 

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