Now, before we get started, let’s define some things. First, what is a dip? To me, a dip is the addition of a class to a character for 1 to 5 levels. Any more than that and I no longer consider that addition as eligible for this article. Yes, this definition is somewhat arbitrary, but we have to draw the line somewhere.*
I’d also like to cover how I am ranking these. My main two criteria are the overall power a dip adds to the builds it’s a part of and how widely applicable that dip is across multiple concepts. A dip that is incredibly powerful but only in one very narrow character design will rank lower than a dip that adds a moderate boost to a host of builds. All that being said, let’s take a look at ten useful multiclass dips.
10. Monk 1
Starting off our list is a bit of an odd inclusion. Some people* consider the monk to be one of, if not the weakest classes in 5E. However, for a very narrow set of builds, the ability to wield non-finesse weapons with dexterity using their Martial Arts feature is incredibly useful. One such example is a Bladesinger wizard who wants to dual wield two of the powerful magic quarterstaffs like Staff of Power or Staff of Striking. Honestly, if I weren’t condensing some of the more powerful dips, this one probably wouldn’t have made the list, but I think it’s interesting enough to bear mentioning.
9. Rogue 1
Coming in at number nine is a much stronger class, the rogue. A level 1 dip in this class is the easiest way to gain Expertise,* and an extra 1d6 per round from Sneak Attack can be very good in the early levels. I’ve seen other guides opting for 2 to 3 levels of rogue for the inclusion of Cunning Action and a subclass feature; however, I think the price for gaining those is too high. Cunning Action is incredibly powerful for rogues because they both want to be hidden and don’t have much to do with their bonus action. Most other builds do not fulfill both of those requirements, making the feature much weaker. As for the level 3 subclass feature, nothing rogues gain at that level is worth delaying your main class by that many levels. Still, if you want an easy way to become very good at a couple of skills, rogues are where it’s at.
8. Bard 2
One of the four classes that use Charisma as a main stat, the bard is one of the easier multiclass dips. The purpose of this dip runs similar to the rogue, only instead of specializing with Expertise, the bard dip grants Jack of all Trades, which allows a character to add half their proficiency to any skill check they are not already proficient in. This feature is great as it not only shores up any skill weaknesses but also grants bonuses to rolls like initiative, Counterspell, and Dispel Magic, one of the only ways to get such bonuses. The bard dip does all this while continuing to advance the spell slot progression of any caster character, reducing the impact multiclassing has on a build.
7. Paladin 2
Another charisma class, the paladin is famous in optimization circles for how well it pairs with any of the other three charisma caster classes. If you start a build with 2 levels of paladin, your character will receive all weapon and armor proficiencies, a Fighting Style, and the incredibly powerful Holy Smite. It’s this final feature that pairs so well with casters like the bard or sorcerer, as their increased number of spell slots allows for a greatly increased number of smites than would be available to a monoclassed paladin.* As for warlock, the combination of Hexblade and paladin allows for a character that uses charisma for everything and is one of the strongest builds in the game. While not all paladin dips result in an overpowered character,* there is no denying that 2 levels of paladin go a long way for many character builds.
6. Barbarian – Bear Totem 3
Rounding out the weaker half of this list is the Bear Totem barbarian. This dip has two incredibly useful features: Reckless Attack and improved Rage. Reckless Attack allows constant access to advantage on all your attacks at the cost of granting your opponents advantage against you. To counter this increased incoming damage, you have your Rage, which is now expanded to halve all forms of damage except psychic. The main reason this dip didn’t rank higher is that, while powerful, these barbarian features are very restrictive. Reckless Attack only works if you’re using strength to attack, a stat that is usually inferior to dexterity or charisma,* and Rage prohibits the casting or maintaining of concentration on spells. This is enough to lock many characters out of this otherwise great dip, but for those who fit the bill, I would highly recommend considering this 3 level inclusion.
5. Sorcerer – Divine Soul 5
Sitting squarely in the middle is the one true sorcerer, the Divine Soul. In another article, I explained how the Divine Soul is miles ahead of any other sorcerer subclass, and that holds true for multiclassing as well. This is one of the largest dips I would suggest, but if you can afford it, the reward is access to 3rd level spells* of both arcane and divine lists. This includes little things like Haste, Fireball, and Spirit Guardians. On top of these powerhouse spells is the sorcerer’s Meta Magic feature, allowing you to twin single-target spells like that Haste I mentioned earlier. For any build that already has access to heavy armor, I find this dip a straight upgrade from cleric, and it is one I’ve worked into multiple builds I’ve written about here on Mythcreants.
4. Cleric – Forge, Life, Nature, Order, Tempest, or War 1
Speaking of cleric, how did this dip make it higher on the list than something I consider an upgrade? Well, notice the qualification I made when talking about sorcerer. Many caster builds don’t already have access to heavy armor, and 1 level of any of these cleric subclasses grants that proficiency without slowing down spell slot progression. Even better, unlike other classes that are often used to grant heavy armor, this cleric dip can be made at any time, as heavy armor is granted as a class feature and is not subject to the reduced proficiency table that governs multiclassing. This makes cleric a very flexible 1 level dip that a huge number of builds can take advantage of, beating out the more powerful but less widely applicable sorcerer.
3. Cleric – Life1 & Druid 1 or Ranger 2
Coming at number three is the only dip I recommend that contains more than a single class, one being the ever-maligned ranger at that. This dip is a great 2 to 3 level investment that means your party will never have to worry about out-of-combat healing again. This is done by combining the Life cleric’s Disciple of Life with the spell Goodberry. This turns each casting of Goodberry from restoring 10 hit points to 40. For most builds I’ve made, I prefer the 1 cleric/1 druid. However, if your build can’t live without its metal armor, then 2 levels of ranger will do the trick. With the recent nerf to Healing Spirit, this combo is now the premier healing method, and your party will love you every time the Goodberry sack* comes out.
2. Fighter 1
Simple, yet effective, the fighter claims the second-place spot. There is so much to love when taking your starting level in fighter. You get every weapon and armor proficiency under the sun, a Fighting Style at level 1,* and the all-important constitution save proficiency for caster builds. On top of that, the fighter’s multiclass stat requirement is the easiest to meet, being a 13 in dexterity or strength, meaning almost every build can afford it without compromising their stats. This flexible dip has made its way into many of my builds, from Bladesinger wizards to WrestleMania bards, and the fighter dip always pays off.
1. Warlock – Hexblade or Fiend 1, 2, 3, or 5
Finally, at number one, we have the entry I’m sure many of you saw coming. Always the dip and never the main: the warlock. This class is by far the strongest multiclass dip in 5E. So much of this class’s power is frontloaded in its first 5 levels. Hexblade is notorious for its ability to turn charisma into a character’s martial stat on top of medium armor, shield, and martial weapon proficiencies, plus a good single-target debuff. If none of those features interest you, then the Fiend patron offers a renewable source of temporary hit points whenever you kill something. Alongside these subclass features comes spells like Hex and Eldritch Blast, the best cantrip in the game, all at level 1.
Level 2 introduces Eldritch Invocations like the ability to see through magical darkness and a massive damage increase to your Eldritch Blast. At level 3 you gain a pact, almost a subclass in its own right, offering things like every ritual spell you can lay your hands on or a special familiar that maximizes all healing dice rolled to heal you. Finally, at level 5, you get 3rd level spell slots that recharge on short rest. This is especially good for Fiend warlocks, as their subclass spell list includes Fireball.
All these features add up to the most flexible multiclass dip. Pairing well with bard, fighter, paladin, sorcerer, wizard, and rogue, this dip blows away the competition. The only problem I’ve seen with this dip is its power tricking players into believing that a monoclassed warlock will continue to be as relatively strong at later levels, which sadly it is not.
And there you have it, ten multiclass dips that I hopefully explained well enough for you to slot directly into your next character build. I’d like to give an honorable mention to Moon druid 2, but it was simply too narrow a dip to beat out the more interesting monk inclusion.
If you haven’t tried multiclassing yet, I highly encourage it. Not only does it result in more powerful characters, but it opens up a host of new roleplay opportunities for you to enjoy while adventuring.
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