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D&D Subclass Highlight

Dungeons and Dragons can be intimidating for beginners. But fear not! Freya Petterson has crafted a list of her favourite subclasses to help readers out.

Dungeons and Dragons has historically had a pretty bad rap, as far as popular opinion goes. However, in recent years – thanks to Stranger Things and the increasing popularity of actual play D&D shows like Critical Role and Dimension 20 – the classic fantasy role-playing game has had a PR glow-up.

I’ve come across heaps of people who are interested in playing, but feel like they don’t really know where to start. And I get it. Seriously, it’s intimidating. The published source material amounts to dozens of books and thousands of pages, and if you are considering tackling the task of DMing a campaign then that’s even more to read. (Just a hint: as a player, the Players Handbook will get you there on its own). 

This article was prompted by a recent literary deep dive of my own. I’m currently coasting on the heels of my first-ever attempt to DM a campaign, so I’ve got residual wizards and warlocks on the brain. This might be a little crunchy to people not already somewhat familiar with the game, so the intended audience is definitely people already interested in playing.

So, without further ado, I’d like to highlight some of my favourite subclasses that I found in books outside of the Player’s Handbook that could be really fun to incorporate into your game!

College of Swords Bard

A College of Swords Bard is a Bard whose performative talent is, instead of a musical instrument, the art of swords – blade throwing, blade juggling, blade swallowing, and so on. Bards aren’t built for close-up combat and are typically more of a support class, so this subclass is all about adding some extra fighting prowess for a Bard with a more fully rounded skill set. You can even choose a fighting style!

This subclass was actually what first inspired me to write this article – one of its features is an ability called a ‘Flourish’. Whenever they make a weapon attack, they can also use a ‘Blade Flourish’. This move increases the damage and lets them use one of their Bardic Inspirations to add to their AC, deal damage to an additional opponent, or move someone five feet in any direction. In the game, this translates to the characters showcasing their swordplay skills in an artful and entertaining way.

Bladesinging Wizard

The Bladesinging Wizard is compelling because typically wizards have too little HP and too low AC to be effective in hand-to-hand combat and this subclass is an exception to the norm. Usually, Wizards must stay in the back and cast spells to avoid getting hit and going down too fast. Bladesinging Wizards are different because they use a form of wizardry that incorporates swordplay and dance. Their magic can be channelled into stronger attacks and an improved defence, allowing them to get up in the mix when they want to. 

As a bonus action, they’re able to invoke a magical ability called the ‘Bladesong’, which increases their AC, gives them an advantage on a bunch of checks, and adds a bonus to any concentration check made. You also get a second attack at the sixth level, which is unique to this subclass.

Circle of Spores Druid

In D&D, Druids are all about nature and magic. Even though they have access to many of the same spells as the other spellcasting classes, Druids differ in that they rely heavily on their ability to Wild Shape into different animals. I’ve always loved the idea of playing a Druid, but I’m more interested in the nature imagery aspect of it rather than being reliant on shapeshifting in combat. What’s really cool about the Circle of Spores Druid is that they are centred around concepts like decay, mushrooms, and death as a natural and sacred part of life. 

They can use their Wild Shape ability to shapeshift into a more combat-efficient version of themselves that’s worded as awakening their spores, their ‘Symbiotic Entity’ form. They can also create a Halo of Spores to create little motes of spores in the air that can be blown towards an enemy for extra damage on impact every turn as a reaction.


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