Pondering the Imponderable
DDO limits characters to a maximum of only three classes. Three seems like a lot, and one could argue that there are very few effective builds that utilize all three possibilities. If any. But what if we were not limited to three? What if we could have as many as we wanted?
I got started on this chain of thought by one of Samius’ myDDO blog posts. I proposed a 2/2/2/2/2/2/2/2/2/2 build, two levels each of ten different classes, but in retrospect it would be silly to derive the build mathematically. Looking at each class and choosing the right number of levels to splash* into our build would make much more sense. Not that any of this would really make any sense. But I never let that kind of thing stop me.
* “Splash” in this context means to add a few levels of a class in order to cherry pick something specific from that class’s abilities. For instance, people commonly “splash” two levels of Rogue in a non-Rogue build in order to obtain Evasion. Or one level of Monk in order to get the WIS bonus added to armor class. Etc.
One would have to choose Chaotic or Lawful right away. Bards and Barbarians can only be Chaotic, Monks and Paladins only Lawful. Sadly, there will be no Bard/Monks or Paladin/Barbarians. I am going to choose Lawful as I already know I want to include a few levels of Paladin. Sorry Bard/Barbarian, maybe you’ll make it into the next over-the-top silly build idea.
So with that said, let’s go through all of the remaining eligible classes and see which to add to our theoretical, unlimited by classes build. I am doing this from memory, I am most likely going to miss something important, but here goes:
One level of Artificer adds the Steel Defender companion which scales in effectiveness based on Artificer levels, and opens up many skills that are class-prescriptive, and unlocks all of the crossbows including the Exotic ones. Two levels of Artificer add Rune Arms, a capability that scales up with total character levels vs. Artificer levels. [Edit] Thanks Ecgric for correcting me on the Iron Defender scalability
Nope, my character will be Lawful. Otherwise, one level of Barbarian allows Rage – an ability which scales on Barbarian level rather than character level – and unlocks all of the weapon types in the game except Exotics. A second level of Barbarian just adds another more hit points. Splashing Barbarian is often done for hit points, each level adds 12 (highest in the game) and the Barbarian enhancement line includes boosting CON.
Nope, my character will be Lawful. Otherwise, one level of Bard adds Inspire Courage (a group melee buff that scales up with additional Bard levels but not character levels), Fascinate (a very effective crowd control that scales up with skill points and character level not just Bard levels – I think?), very limited self-healing, essentially at-will casting of one first-level Bard spells (a mix of Arcane and Divine spells), and allows Wizards and Sorcerers to wear light armor without suffering a spell casting penalty.
Any levels of Cleric add the ability to use all Divine wands plus at least some self-healing. One level also unlocks all armors. One level allows essentially at-will casting of one of three first-level Divine spells. A second level adds another 1st-level Divine spell (2nd level spells do not unlock until three Cleric levels).
One level of Druid adds essentially at-will casting of one of three first-level Nature-based Divine spells and a Wolf Companion. Two levels adds another spell and the ability to shapechange into a Wolf or Bear. Three levels allows a 2nd-level spell including Flame Blades – the spell creates scimitars that do Flame-typed damage and use WIS to calculate attack and damage. Wolf Companions and Flame Blades scale on Druid levels only. I think this would also open up the ability to use every wand in the game but I am not as certain about that, I haven’t played a Druid yet. Having any Druid levels does restrict some armor and shield choices. [Edit] Thanks Sigfried for improving the accuracy of the Druid section
Any levels of Favored Soul would add the ability to use all Divine wands plus at least some self-healing. One level allows essentially at-will casting of one first level Divine spell. One level also unlocks all armors. A second level adds another 1st-level Divine spell (2nd level spells do not unlock until four Favored Soul levels).
Each level of Fighter adds hit points (next only to Barbarian), but also Fighters get bonus feats at 1st, 2nd and 4th levels. Bonus feats can really help if our build is feat-starved. One level of Fighter also unlocks all armors, all shields, and all of the weapon types except Exotic.
One level of Monk unlocks unarmed combat and allows the application of WIS bonus to AC. Two levels adds Evasion. Three adds dark or light finishing moves – giving a total of eight spell-like abilities – to unarmed combat. Having any levels of monk will prevent wearing any armor if you want to get the full benefit of those monk levels.
One level of Paladin provides the ability to use all Divine wands, a minor buffing aura that effects all around you, and a very limited Smite attack ability. Two levels of Paladin provide a limited self-heal capability. All of these abilities (except Divine wands) scale on the Paladin level not the character level. Also at two levels the character gains the ability to apply their Charisma bonus to all saving throws. One level of Paladin also unlocks all armors, all shields, and all of the weapon types except Exotic.
One level of Ranger provides the use of all Divine wands. Two levels of Ranger provides enough free feats to support both ranged Bow attacks and two-weapon fighting. One level of Ranger unlocks all of the weapon types except Exotic but unlike other melee classes does not unlock all armors or shields.
One level of Rogue adds Sneak Attacks to many melee damage attacks and opens up many skills that are class-prescriptive. Two levels adds Evasion. Three levels adds another 1d6 of damage to Sneak Attacks.
One level of Sorceror unlocks all of the arcane wands in the game and allows the use of one 1st-level Arcane spell pretty much at will. A second level of Sorceror adds another 1st-level arcane spell (2nd level spells do not unlock until four Sorcerer levels). Any levels of Sorcerer restrict the character from wearing armor or shields if you want to reliably cast spells but unlike the Monk armor restriction there are ways around this.
One level of Wizard unlocks all of the arcane wands in the game and allows the use of one of three 1st-level Arcane spell pretty much at will. A second level of Wizard adds another 1st-level arcane spell (2nd level spells do not unlock until three wizard levels). Any levels of Wizard restrict the character from wearing armor or shields if you want to reliably cast spells but unlike the Monk armor restriction there are ways around this.
As you can see, the primary spell casting classes are not as much fun to splash as the others. Most of the spell casting advantages come with the spells themselves. Spells do not scale with additional character levels, only with more levels of the same class, both in the number of spells that can be cast and also in the effectiveness of each spell. In other words, to get any advantage from splashing a spell caster, you need a lot of those levels. Not really a “splash” at all, more of a “deep dive” into the class.
Hmmm, this started out as a discussion of hyper-multi-classing but ended up being a categorization of class splashing advantages. Not that this is bad, it is just unexpected. Time to re-rail this train and think up a build that uses more than three classes. Ideally, one that would have a chance to be effective, in that it would have some solo-ability but also be able to contribute to a party.
I am thinking Cleric12/Rogue3/Paladin2/Druid1/Ranger2. This will give me a cleric that can raise dead and use Heal, can have Radiant Servant II, but also uses dual-wielded Flame Blades to apply Smiting Sneak Attacks that do +2D6 extra damage. I will have great Saving Throws, can easily swap to ranged attacking when needed, and also do traps and locks.
[Edit] Nope, broken, no Flame Blades unless I have three Druid levels. Meaning I have to think this through all over again. While waiting (and it may be awhile), may I suggest you instead check out Sigfried’s fine suggestion in the comments?
Will this be any more effective than just having 20 level levels of Cleric or Druid or Ranger? Who cares! Five times the classes, five times the fun.
🙂 😀 🙂