There’s two kinds of homebrew out there: one that adds onto the house, and another that invents a new concept of what a house can be. Making subclasses are one thing, but making a different character class is another rodeo entirely. Given that character classes are very much a cornerstone of Dungeons and Dragons, many people might be more keen to leave designing such things to WotC. (Okay, and Matt Mercer.)
And yet, some homebrew creators rise to the challenge and make their own class. And also sell them. Hence why I’m going to give you sort-of try before you buy. And what better way to step into the ring than with–
#1 – The Pugilist
Have you ever looked at your monk, sighed, and said “why couldn’t you be luchador?” Or maybe wish your rogue was less knife-y and more broken beer bottle-y. Or you’ve picked fighter, and are tired from your tablemates passing out from excessive laughter.
Well, ask Benjamin Huffman and ye shall receive. Specifically, with the pugilist class.
At A Glance
Take the bare-handed fighting style of the monk, the different fighting styles of the (woefully-misunderstood) fighter, and the underhandedness of the rouge. Mash it all together with knuckle dusters and you’ve got a pugilist doing sick elbow drops from the top ropes. Well, when they’re not solving crimes. Or working with their canine companions.
The pugilist class is all about strength, your biggest stats being strength and constitution. Physical activity such as sparring can count as light activity during rest. Take enough damage, you get temporary hit points depending on your level. Effects like being charmed or frightened can be shaken off if you’re a high enough level. If ever there’s a class for brawlers, it’s this one.
One of the biggest features of this class is the subclasses, which are called “fight clubs” here. Aesthetically and mechanically, they actually differ quite a bit from one another.
- Arena Royal. These guys are your pro-wrestler types, a second fighting persona you adopt being key in this fight club’s features.
- Bloodhound Bruisers. Your hardboiled detectives and seedy underworld divers. This is for the pugilist who’s more about observation.
- Dog and Hound. You’re punching faces in, but you’re doing it with your best friend. At 3rd level, you gain a canine companion.
- Hand of Dread. A pugilist that has gone to a pretty dark place. Your limbs monstrously transform, you become a tower of meat, and you can rip innards from your foe. Ick.
- P*ss & Vinegar. This time, words will hurt you. This pugilist is all about offending and playing dirty. (No joke, crotch shots are a specific thing.)
- The Squared Circle. A bit more mindful than other fight clubs. You’re more about grappling and pinning than knocking out foes. You totally could though. Just saying.
- The Sweet Science. Finally, we’re rounded off with our purely boxing subclass. You’re fighting your foes one-on-one here.
A pugilist shares much of their DNA with a monk, if only with moxie points. (Which is more or less a pallet swap of the monk’s ki points.) It’s easy to write off a pugilist as a monk reskin, but I personally think that its different enough to be separates. (As is, the pugilist class shares just as much DND with the fighter class.)
If you’ve been waiting to build that bareknuckle brawler, now’s you’re chance. Personally though, I would be more about multiclassing this character with something like an arcane trickster rogue or a wild magic sorcerer, but I’m a spell caster for life.
Round one begins here.
#2 – The Shaman
You know what’s harder than reinventing a wheel? Reinventing one that uses magic. Because- as pro-spellcasting class as I am- it can be pretty hard to think of a new way of handling magic. At least, in a way that doesn’t feel redundant when compared to other classes.
So…how does the shaman class stack?
At A Glance
As it turns out, pretty decently, if only at first impression. As a shaman, your main schtick is channeling spirit guides, which act as a sort of second character for you to act out. Each spirit, of course, giving you unique abilities. Which, we’ll discuss more thoroughly in–
Key Features/Unique Spin
In addition to the obligatory elemental types, spirit categories also include examples such as ancestral, mournful, and vengeful. By channeling one of these creatures once every long rest, a huge chunk of your spell list changes, including cantrips (or proficiencies). The number of available spirits to channel depends on your level, though you’re able to switch them out every level up.
This easily balances out the rest of your spell pool, every non-spirit guide spell a shaman can cast exclusively being rituals. (Which, as many spellcaster can tell you, is neigh impossible to use in battle.) In addition, homebrew spells have also been included in this supplements. Which, unfortunately, might be a hard sell to your DM, especially if they were already apprehensive to a homebrew subclass.
But what about subclasses (or in this case, “spiritual practices”)? Well–
- Excorcism. Tired of extra-planar lifeforms griefing your party? Then this sort of shaman can help you, keeping irritating threats at bay.
- Sympatheticism. This shaman is all about binding a spirit to a target, whether to cause them more agony (think voodoo dolls, but not really) or relief (such as taking on some of their pain).
- Totemism. Focuses on a totem, an effigy you make that comes with its own AC and can act as a bit of a wild card in the field. You can manifest on your enemies, temporarily call upon a spirit guide you aren’t channeling….
- Warchanting. One of two support-heavy subclasses the shaman class has to offer. By using song, dance, and so on, you can buff your teammates in a variety of ways.
- Witch Medicine. The other support-heavy shaman subclass. They’re not so much about healing spells, so much as they are making healing stuff.
First and foremost, if you’re using this class, be respectful of other cultures, okay player? No making your shaman a stereotype. That being said, this class is packed with all sorts of cool concepts and would definitely be one for the bored spellcaster to check out!
Contact your spirit guides here.
#3 – The Witch
Not gonna lie, the fact that “sorcerer” and “wizard” always used the male forms nagged at me a little bit. Like, just a smidge; not something to write a whole think piece about. (Or two.) So when I saw the witch subclass, I immediately grabbed it, both for a dose of female naming and to answer the obvious question–
What’s so different about the witch class?
At A Glance
For one thing, it’s not a class for beginners. The writer’s introduction near the beginning mentions that anyone who picks this challenging class absolutely must be on their toes. However, as I was reading through this, I dare say that not since the warlock has there been such a focus on subclass.
Key Features/Unique Spin
Or rather, “covens.” Unlike most other character classes, there isn’t spellcasting ability score in the witch class. Rather, each subclass has a focus on either Intelligence or Wisdom, your witch only able to join with a given coven if they meet the ability requirement.
- The Concocters (Intelligence). Your potion-makers. This is, of course, in addition to creating chemical weapons to dump on your foes.
- The Cosmotologists (Intelligence). By joining forces with the celestial bodies above, you’re granted things like increased navigation and even gleaning battle facts about your enemies.
- The Hexmongers (Intelligence). So, a key spell that all witches learn is Hex. This coven will allow you to amplify both that and your general cursing ability, tormenting your foes.
- The Seers (Wisdom). As you can predict (pun intended), this has to do with seeing the future/present. However, you can also invade the minds of targets (like a bad pun).
- The Meanders (Wisdom). The coven for the support unity witches. In addition to healing spells, you can ethereally tether yourself to a teammate to further support them.
- The Summoners (Wisdom). This one is a no duh, I know. But in addition to summoning spells, you also have access to a semi-customizable familiar or warden.
But wait! Where does the difficulty come in, you ask? For one thing, a witch can be vulnerable in battle, being able to learn only few defensive spells for the most part. However, another complication can come in the form of having too many options to keep track of. In addition to coven perks, you also have the option of amplifying Hex based on what coven you join.
That being said, the Hex options are also pretty cool. You can stack additional effects on Hex, such as warping a target you hit 5ft/10ft (depending on your level).
It’s a bit complicated and definitely not for the novice player. However, that being said, the witch class might be a cool one to try out, if only for a short campaign.
You can join the coven here.
#4 – The Dancer
There are some ideas that just immediately grab one’s attention. Beloved authors getting murdered. TTRPGs about detective possums. Being able to play as the love child of a goliath and a flumph. Why should bards be the only artistic character class? Why can’t the other art forms have fun?
You better have a kicking playlist ready if you’re going to play as a dancer.
At A Glance
So, here we have another spellcasting class. One that actually puts heavy emphasis on physical movement. For example, gone are the days of needing vocal or material components for spells. You can now cast Cloud of Daggers by performing the cha-cha slide.
Key Features/Unique Spin
The customization to this class is actually pretty extensive. (And that’s after I covered the shaman class.) After 2nd level, you pick a “dance style,” which offers unique perks such as getting +1 to AC if you’re not wearing armor. (You can add a second at 11th level).
After that, you choose what subclass- “dance troupe”- you join up with. And unfortunately this time around, we only have three–
- Troupe of Angels. Light, heavenly magic. There’s heavy emphasis on summoning an angelic dance partner, which eventually graduates from tiny angel to deva.
- Troupe of Flames. The combat-heavy infernal dance style. You can summon a parameter of fire, which you slowly become immune to.
- Troupe of Shadows. The underhanded style of dance. Abilities include becoming invisible in darkness, controlling you foes, and summoning a circle of necrotic energy.
You can expect more homebrew spells here. However, interestingly enough, this also include cantrips, which actually sound pretty cool. For example, one of them animates a minor object; I imagine Fantasia style.
The class perks continue its trend using physical movement. In addition to using the rogue’s Uncanny Dodge feature, you have things like Reflexive Prance, a (hilariously-named) feature that allows you to add proficiency to initiative. This ultimately caps off at 20th level with Show Must Go On, which has any dancer that drops to 0 HP emaining alive/conscious for a number of rounds equal to their Charisma modifier.
If you’re looking for slightly less spellcasting and more physical aspects, this might be the class for you. And while I would suggest not multclassing, I shudder to imagine the foe who must face a dancer who multiclassed into the dance domain. Also, said player better bring a boombox or something to the game.
You can head to the dance floor here.
#5 – The Heretic
At first, I wasn’t hyped about this class. I imagined it as some scrapper fighter or demon power user. Then I discovered what this was. This was the anti-cleric. And after reading more of the flavor text within, I actually came to like this character class a lot. The sheer number of character ideas that can spring from it alone excites the writer side of me.
So…what makes a heretic?
At A Glance
For one, they don’t trust the gods, even outright opposing them. Maybe they were wronged, or their local gods were evil. Either way, heretics are out to oppose divinity, all while potentially helping other people. Honestly, if you’re the type who builds that atheist cleric for laughs, you finally might be able to do it for serious.
Key Features/Unique Spin
The parallels with cleric don’t stop at being an antithesis. In addition to being able to change your spell load out once every long rest (like clerics), you do support your team in a way. But rather than simply healing, your class abilities mostly center around negating an enemy’s efforts. For example, 2nd level gives you access to a pool of wards against spells/effects, 14th level allowing you to regain 2nd level spell slots when successfully casting Counterspell or Dispel Magic.
And while there’s some overlap between the available spell lists, the heretic spell list is a bit more…kill-y. (For example, you can learn Power Word: Kill.)
Once again, we only have three subclasses, called “godless disciples” here.
- Disciple of Daggers. For the heretic that always wanted to be a rogue. Infiltration, intel absorption, and weakness exploitation.
- Disciple of Scriptures. If your heretic actually listened to all those conflict resolution lessons in school. Diffuse situations, win people, and start a revolution.
- Disciple of Shields. If your paladin didn’t care about religion to begin with. Heavy emphasis on amplified melee attacks, shielding your allies, and turning skill checks on their heads.
As a lifelong cleric (and, okay, rogue), I never thought I’d say this: this class makes me want to consider changing sides. The concept of this class is absolutely great and I would love to actually see this in a campaign. Specifically with one that included a stereotypical pure-hearted, anime protagonist life cleric. Because hoo boy the roleplay alone…
The heretics meet here, but don’t tell anyone! Shh!