Class And Race Combinations That Break The Mold

by Wimwick (Neil Ellis) on June 8, 2010

Certain class and race combinations in D&D just seem to make sense. They are the old favourites and the stereotypes that define the genre. We know them all, the sturdy Dwarven Fighter, the nimble Elven archer, the cunning Halfling Rogue and so on. These combinations are fun to play because they work and they are safe. Occasionally, a new wrinkle will be added to give these old classics some new flavour.

One of our original articles discussed Overplayed Characters, today I want to look at combinations that aren’t typical. I’m sure there are many other combinations beyond the ones I present here. The options listed below are ones where the racial attribute modifiers play towards the particular class or where engaging role playing opportunities are presented.

Dwarves

Dwarves are the best race and one of my favourite races in D&D. I was surprised at some of the similarities that Dwarves share with Elves when I took a look at some of the combinations here. These two races are often seen as having an historic feud, so recognizing that both excel at similar classes was refreshing.

Dwarves are known for being stoic Fighters. One of the greatest fantasy stereotypes is the Dwarven axe-wielding Fighter. While this stereotype exists for a reason, Dwarves are also very good at certain other roles. I’m constantly astounded by the versatility that this race provides when it comes to class choice.

In addition to melee combat, Dwarves excel at several primal and divine classes. The Seeker, Druid and Invoker all work off of Dwarves bonus to Wisdom. Dwarven Druid’s aren’t the typical stereotype that are associated with this race. Nor are longbow wielding forces of nature the typical thought we have of Dwarves, but the Seeker is a great fit for this race.

Another interesting options that keeps the Dwarf in the martial tradition is the Ranger. With the racial modifier to Wisdom that Dwarves receive, the secondary modifier for this class is well in hand. The Dwarf bonus to Constitution makes a great melee Ranger, but I think a ranged option could also have some intriguing possibilities.

Halfling

The first class that comes to mind when I think Halfling is the Rogue. However, this need not be the case. In fact there are a great deal of classes that work with the Halflings attributes and they are far from typical, though some of them still incorporate the mischievous nature of this race.

While the Halfling could be adept at any number of roles the Sorcerer and Warlock both fit perfectly into the mold of a character who is looking to have a little fun at the expense of his foes. Halflings aren’t typically known for being connected to the arcane power source, but these two classes fit nicely with the bonus to Charisma that the Halfling receives.

Another interesting choice for the Halfling is the Paladin. The Halfling Charisma bonus ties in nicely with the Paladin’s secondary attributes. To me this combination presents some interesting role playing possibilities. The Halfling stereotype doesn’t portray most Halflings as being very serious and the Paladin is seen as a class that almost takes itself too seriously. Some fun and interesting opportunities present themselves to me with this combination. What drove the Halfling to the life of a crusader on behalf of a deity?

Warforged

Created for war, this race best fits within the martial tradition. Two interesting class choices for this race that has been created are the Cleric and the Wizard.

The Cleric is an interesting choice as the Warforged are created in the forge and developing a relationship with a deity makes for a very interesting back story full of great role playing opportunity. How did the character come to faith? How do they reconcile being created to being born?

The Wizard offers another great role playing opportunity for a race created through arcane power, but built for just the opposite purpose. How did the character develop his understanding of arcane power?

While neither of these classes builds on the Warforged racial bonuses they present great role playing possibilities. Additionally, these two builds could result in well rounded and balanced characters.

What other class and race combinations break the traditional mold that you’ve had fun playing with?

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

1 adamjford June 8, 2010 at 9:07 am

Well, one of the wizard’s secondary stats is Constitution, so it’s not like the warforged is completely out of luck there!

2 Fedora.Pirate June 8, 2010 at 9:28 am

In my home game one of my players is a Warforged Bard; we’ve been playing for several levels and I still haven’t figured out if he’s playing it straight or if he’s just having a laugh.
All I know is it’s alot of fun.

3 KBPrinceO June 8, 2010 at 2:33 pm

A warforged Infernal Warlock works out really well. Checkout the “Hexforged” build for something REALLY interesting. The Dwarven HexHammer is what that build is based off of, which is a pretty unique setup as well.

4 Chromed Cat June 9, 2010 at 4:42 am

Halfling Paladin is a fun build. There are feats that work well with the build like Lost in the Crowd and Second Chance is great for the Defender role. It’s a little odd ball but fun. :)

5 LWB June 9, 2010 at 2:30 pm

I didn’t find the combos listed here to be as compelling as I had hoped. Here are a few I think are great. BTW we play D&D 3.5.

Dwarf Wizard. I’ve played one of these and its great. +2 Con is fantastic for any Wizard, and -2 Cha is fine for a Wizard. The save bonus vs spells is great for spell battles, and having a save bonus vs Poisons is always handy. You get Dark Vision, lots of little stuff like stone cunning to make your Wizard different, etc. Moving slow can be a bit of a problem, but that is what a Wand of Expeditious Retreat is for.

Half-Orc Warmage. OUCH. You would think -2 Cha (main spellcasting stat) and -2 Int (secondary spellcasting stat) would be crippling for a Warmage, but it actually isnt too bad at all. OK, it isn’t roses either, but conceptually, a Half-Orc Warmage is a perfect fit. I played one for over a year and he was great. For extra flavor, I took a feat that let me take Perform as a class skill, and when he wasn’t frying bad guys for a living, he was making a living as a composer / performer. Oh and while I didnt do this, use Arcane Disciple (Healing Domain) with Spontaneous Healing to surprise your allies with your flexibility. :)

Half-Elf Barbarian. There is no real advantage here (other than low light vision). The combo is just different. I mean, in 3.5, there is no reason to play a Half-Elf anyway, so that already makes it unique. Then to be a Barbarian is even more weird, since most people will either play the brawny races or else play the deliberately silly options (gnome, halfling). A Half-elf Barbarian sits smack dab in the middle of “say what?!” territory. It also gives you some interesting background story options to play with.

6 pdunwin June 9, 2010 at 7:19 pm

Halfling paladin by now verges on being as much of a stereotype as halfling rogue. There’s even a mini for it.

My suggestion is the tiefling barbarian. His Intelligence bonus might go to waste (except maybe as an AC bonus) but Charisma helps some builds. Their bonus to attack bloodied targets meshes very nicely with certain barbarian powers and gets part way around a Strength score that may be on the low side. I liked the build better when they got an extra +1 to attack per encounter, but their automatic damage once per encounter could help bloody a key target.

7 Wimwick June 10, 2010 at 9:06 pm

@ adamjford
Good point. More and more I’m of the belief that building a character around secondary class attributes can build a more roboust and enduring character. The RP implications of a race created through magic embracing and learning to channel that same magic is a very compelling motivation to me.

@ Fedora.Pirate
Warforged Bard sounds like a riot, let us know how that works out.

@ KBPrinceO
With the Warforged bonus to Con I can see how that would be an interesting build.

@ Chromed Cat
I agree that Halfling Paladin seems like a lot fun and there is a great deal of versatility that could be built into the character.

@ LWB
I really like the idea of a Half-Elf Barbarian. As you say the back story options there could be very interesting and the combo is far from typical.

@ pdunwin
Tiefling Barbarian sounds interesting. I’ve always been fond of a Tiefling Paladin of a lawful good deity. The build tends to raise a few eyebrows.

8 Ricolyte February 2, 2011 at 4:33 pm

Ive always been partial to the thri-kreen bard who uses his back legs as a violin (james and the giant peach), and whose songs are composed of clicks and screeches so annoying to the average person, it explains how music could possibly do damage to other people.

9 Dax August 13, 2012 at 2:27 am

Try a Goblin Executioner choosing the way of the ninja for guild attacks. Now this is a interesting character.

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