Which Class Do I Choose
DDO unlike other MMO gives the player much freedom in designing their characters. You can pick up sword and train as a fighter and halfway through your career, start reading books and learn spell casting. This part of this guide focuses on how each class measure up and what a player should do in order to get the character he or she wants. Due to the availability of abilities, feats and enhancements, the way the level split is performed can make or break a build. Here I discuss some of the more common splits as well as their merits. For a more detailed look at multiclassing, read .
The fighter is perhaps the most versatile among the melee classes. This is due to the extremely high number of feats that it has access to. Depending on how you set your fighter up, it can be either strength or dexterity based. It can work on maximising damage or to focus on defense. Many fighters are likely to go strength based due to it being the only class with enhancements to increase strength. The capstone enhancement of a fighter is 10% melee alacrity which basically means it is focused on offense.
A damage based fighter will likely go for kensei. Due to how the prestige class is broken down, the more effective builds go with 12, 18 or 20 levels of fighter. Builds with 12 levels of fighter do so for the power surge ability which increases strength by +8 for 1 minute. 18 level fighter builds in general do so to splash 2 levels of rogue or monk for evasion. Needless to say, level 20 fighters stay pure to take advantage of the capstone.
A defense based fighter will likely go for stalwart defender. Unlike the kensei, a stalwart defenders are likely to go 18 or 20 levels of fighter. The reason for 18 levels of fighter is to maximise out the defender armor class bonuses and stance. In addition, they will splash 2 levels of paladin for saves and aura bonuses. Of course, level 20 defenders do so for the very attractive capstone to increase their versatility by being able to deal more damage when tanking is not needed.
The barbarian's combat prowess is based on its ability to enter rage to increase power and endurance. Almost all barbarians are strength based to focus on its strength. Due to the decrease in armor class while raging, one can hardly find barbarians built for defense. Instead, many barbarians will take advantage of this disadvantage and load guard items which inflict damage to enemies that hit the barbarian. The capstone of the barbarian is a +2 increase to strength along with increased two handed fighting abilities.
Many barbarians are likely to remain pure to gain access to the capstone and a stronger rage. Due to the prestige enhancements, the more effective builds go with 12, 18 and 20 levels of barbarian. Builds with 12 levels of barbarian are likely to be tempest barbarians that do so to fit in 6 levels of ranger for the speed increase. 18 level barbarian builds in general do so to splash 2 levels of rogue for evasion or 2 levels of fighter for feats.
The paladin is the holy warrior in DDO. Its strength is the ability to call on upon holy powers to raise their defensive as well as offensive prowress. The main weakness of the paladin is its dependancy on a number of abilities. This is compounded by some abilities and enhancements that depend on the stats. While many paladins are strength based, there is an increase in the number of dexterity based paladins that take advantage of the compatibility with the monk class. The capstone enhancement of a paladin is the ability to inflict extra damage to evil enemies. In addition, it makes all equipped weapons good aligned for damage reduction purposes.
A damage based paladin will likely go for knight of the chalice while a defense based fighter will go for sacred defender. Unlike the other classes, paladins do not usually follow the same format for level splits. The likely level splits are 14, 18 and 20. The main reason for taking 14 levels of paladin is due to the availability of level 4 spells at L14, the more notable being holy sword and zeal. In addition, they will take 6 levels of ranger for the tempest enhancement. 18 is for the tier III enhancements and 20 for the capstone. Most multiclassed paladins will have 2 levels of rogues or 2 levels of monk for the evasion feat.
For more in depth information, read A Guide to Creating Paladins by Junts.
The ranger is based on the concept of a wilderness warrior who is hardy, skilled survivor. Rangers have excellent soloing capabilities due to their fighting prowress and selection of spells. While the other classes have no inherent ranged capabilities, the ranger is given many abilities which make it capable ranged opponent. In fact, the ranger is currently the only fighting class with access to ranged prestige class enhancements. The captsone enhancement of a ranger is ranged alacrity which gives the ranger a bonus to ranged attack speed. Due to the varied abilities of rangers, there are many ways to play them.
An offense based melee ranger is likely to be strength based and with the tempest enhancement that provide at present the highest static melee attack speed. The more common builds are likely to be 18 or 20. Unlike the other classes, 12 ranger does not provide much notable benefits to the build. 18 levels of ranger currently provides more benefit compared to 20 levels. The main reason is it allows splashing 2 levels of other classes i.e. 2 levels of monk for more feats and wisdom bonus to armor class or 1 level of monk and rogue for extra feat, monk wisdom bonus and rogue skills.
A defense based melee ranger will be dexterity based to take advantage of the ranger's dexterity enhancements to allow extremely high unarmored armor class. Many of these builds will also have monk splashes to allow a further increase of armor class with a moderate wisdom score. Some will splash some paladin levels to gain a bonus to saves as well as immunities. Common builds include 15 and 18 levels of rangers. As will other melee rangers, such builds will be tempest rangers.
Due to the availability of ranged based abilities, ranged ranger builds are not uncommon. Due to the disparity of the prestige class enhancements, most of the ranged builds will likely be arcane archer rangers. As ranged combat is very slow in DDO, the increase in ranged speed from the capstone is very valuable and thus most of them will stay pure. That said, there are also a couple of rangers that will splash 1 or 2 levels of an arcane class.
Rogues are nimble melee or ranged combatants capable of dishing excellent damage by sneak attacks. A rogue can deal punishing blows on an enemy when it does not have the enemies' attention. In the hands on an experienced player, this is not a problem but when a new player is in control, it can mean stealing agro away from the heavy melee classes and thus getting unwanted attention. At present, the rogue capstone enhancement is the ability to cheat death by having a chance of a self resurrection.
There are many ways to build a rogue. Among the prestige class enhancements, the assassin and acrobat have the most melee value. The mechanic falls behind due to the bonuses being geared towards trapsmithing—which is not usually needed due to most players being able to acquire high quality gear and buff appropriately for critical traps. The ability to smite constructs is useful but there is a lack of constructs in much of the content which makes it truly useful as well as being limited to melee attacks. However, with the release of Update 5, Mechanics gained automatic proficiency in Repeating Crossbows, and a bonus to the new trapmaking skill, making mechanic a viable ranged choice. Mechanics add their Intelligence bonus to ranged damage making them—along with Rangers or others selecting the Bow Strength feat or an Artificer using Insightful Damage—one of the few characters to be able to add attribute bonuses to ranged damage. With the appropriate gear-- Deception/Improved Deception, blinding from radiance on green steel bows, and Nightshade Venom—mechanics can mitigate enemy aggro while dealing massive damage at short ranges.
The most common rogue builds go 12, 13, 18 and 20. The reason for 12 levels of rogues is due to the tier II assassin enhancement, which gives added sneak attack damage and assassinate ability, or acrobat enhancement, which gives a boost to melee attack speed with staves and immunity to knockdown effects. 13 levels of rogue gives 1 more valuable rogue feat as well as 1 more die of sneak attack damage compare to 12 levels. 18 levels are mainly for assassins for the tier III ability of vorpal effects with sneak attacks while 20 levels is mainly for players who want a higher assassinate difficulty check. Common splashes for rogue builds include 6 levels of ranger or some monk levels.
The monk is a dynamically versatile martial-arts style melee combatant that fights without wearing any armor and typically unarmed. All monks must be Lawfully-aligned.
Monks have incredible saves, resistances and immunities, building up over time. Monks often escape deadly traps that most other classes (save the Rogue) will succumb. They gain impressive jump and falling abilities and are low in cost to maintain, depending on your build.
By level 3 you must choose one of two paths for your Monk.
The Path of Harmonious Balance ("Light monk") gives a monk skills to assist your party over time with mass healing, removal of curses and disease, restoration, and even raising the dead. Properly played, a Light Monk is virtually self-sufficient.
The Path of Inevitable Dominion ("Dark monk") turns a monk into a whirling engine of destruction, using their abilities for quick dispatch of all but the strongest enemies.
Monks use a special ability known as ki (pronounced "kee"), which powers their spell-like abilities. Ki, however, drains from the monk over time, forcing them to attack to charge it up again. This disadvantage is also the monk's biggest advantage (especially for the Light Monk) as may not need to shrine nearly as often (if at all) as other classes.
Monks chain their special attacks to form Finishing Moves that release their ki for restorative or destructive effect.
While taking a couple of levels of Monk might make for an interesting effect for another class, it is very ill-advised to multiclass a Monk, for many of the feats and enhancements that empower a Monk will never appear, leaving a character in a very precarious state as they level--if they can level at all.
The Monk class is free to VIP players, but must be purchased by Free-to-Play or Premium account players.
The DDO wizard is a master of arcane magic who can specialise in the various spell schools due to the large number of feats. With one of the highest possible casting stats due to the +2 intelligence from the capstone enhancements, wizards can excel in crowd control, instant kill or and other spells with difficulty checks. Due to the lower spell point pool compared to sorcerers, spell point conservation is a must for all aspiring wizards. To aid this, a wizard has more spells per level and the ability to swap spells at shrines and taverns to be able to handle any possible situations.
The class spread for wizards is very narrow, limiting them to 16, 18 or 20 levels. The main reason is due to spell damage, difficulty checks and spell penetration being linked to class levels. Deep multiclassing thus reduces the effectiveness of the spells. Wizards with 16 levels are likely to be melee wizards splashing 2 levels of paladin and 2 levels of an evasion class. 18 levels of wizards allow the build to fit in 2 levels of rogue for evasion and trap skills. Pure wizards will be full spell casters who will be relying on the capstone to boost their spells.
What the wizard achieve in finesse, the sorcerer achieves with raw unbridled elemental fury. With almost twice the spell points and a faster casting time than a wizard, the sorcerer pummels the enemies into submission. The nuking ability of the sorcerer is further aided by a capstone which increases spell damage. All these power comes with a great cost. The sorcerer only has a small selection of spells and is unable to change them at will. Only 1 spell may be changed every three days at the trainer at a small monetary cost. As a result, one has to carefully choose spells for use in as many of the situations encountered.
Although they are different from wizards, they are essentially still an arcane casting class and are bound by the same limitations a wizard has. Like the wizard, 16, 18 and 20 levels are the most common level spread and for the same reasons as wizards.
The bard is not just a performer but an inspiration to the party giving them various bonuses to hit, fear resistance, damage and even armor class. Playing a bard is extremely difficult due to its generalist role in a party. It does not have as many heal spells or have access to the heal spell unlike the cleric or favored soul. It crowd control spells are limited and many are enchantment based unlike the wizard or the sorcerer. This does not make it a poor class but rather make it challenging to play well. In DDO, there are basically 2 types of bards, melee and caster. At present, the bard capstone offers a +2 to charisma and bonuses to spell difficulty checks.
A melee bard is usually built upon the warchanter prestige class enhancements. It excels in physical damage deal both through its songs as well as through melee. Typical class spreads for a warchanter based melee bard are 16, 18 and 20. Due to the feat requirements of the warchanter, it is very common to have players go 18 levels and splash 2 levels of fighter. Some prefer evasion and will choose to splash 2 levels of rogue, a small number will even have both splashes and keep bard levels to 16. Builds with 20 levels of bard do not do so for the capstone which does not help much. Instead, they do so to gain access to an additional +1 to their songs.
Casting bards can be spellsingers or virtuosos. Due to the lack of substiantial abilities for the virtuoso, spellsinger is thus more commonly seen. Due to the reliance on casting abilities, it is not common to see casting bards with deep multiclassing, preferring to go 18 or 20 levels. 18 levels of bards allows splashing of 2 rogue levels for evasion to increase the survivability. Pure casting bards will go for the capstone for stronger spells as well as an increase in the bonuses of the songs.
The cleric is a divine class that thrives on using divine spells to bring destruction to evil and as well as to restore the wounds or even resurrect fallen allies. Due to the unparalleled healing abilities of the cleric, they are most sought after for parties. There are many ways to build a cleric, probably even more than the other classes due to the good mix of both physical and spell damage abilities. In general, they can be classed under melee, caster and healer. The capstone enhancement of the cleric is an ability to ward of death on an ally within a short period of time.
A melee cleric will be strength or dexterity based combatant and are often simply called battleclerics. Battleclerics are unlikely to be pure as they utilize cross class abilities to increase their melee abilities. Strength based battleclerics commonly have class spreads of 17, 18 or 19 levels. 17 levels of cleric allow the battlecleric to splash 3 levels of paladin for saves, immunity and auras. 18 levels is for splashing 2 fighter or 2 paladin, while 19 levels allow them to splash 1 level of any melee class to access martial weapons. Dexterity based battleclerics more often than not stay 18 levels and splash 2 levels of monk for evasion and wisdom bonus to armor class.
Casting clerics, or nuker clerics, are often pure clerics whose main focus is on increasing the effectiveness of spells. Staying pure allow them to get the highest spell penetration for spells such as destruction and implosion. Some may go 19 levels and splash in 1 level of sorcerer for more spell points but this only works if the charisma of the cleric is high. Healing clerics solely focus on healing and thus often called healbots. As spell penetration, difficulty check or melee combat is not important, they are often found with 18 or 20 levels. 18 levels allow the cleric to splash 2 levels of an evasion class while staying pure allow them to gain more spells, spell points and the capstone.
The Artificer is a unique base class that reflects many of the core themes of Eberron. With a masterful knowledge of magical devices and constructs, Artificers keep the cogs of the technological marvels of Eberron running. In addition to advantages in Cannith crafting, Artificers are the second character class able to search for and disarm most traps in the game as well as being a combat caster and general damage dealer. Artificers gain additional buffs to Use Magic Device including increased caster levels on a variety of items like scrolls and wands.
Artificers are finesse casters like wizards: able to change out spells at shrines as well as provide magical support to others in the form of defensive buffs, weapon buffs to increase damage or break enemy damage reduction, as well as some healing and/or repairing. Like Wizards, Artificers are an Intelligence-based class with a relatively limited spell point pool. Other than buffs, most of an Artificer's spells are focused on positional damage-over-time spells like blade barrier and flame turret or spells that combine damage with either crowd control (Tactical Detonation, for example) and/or "stunning" (Prismatic Strike).
Artificers directly contribute to the fight through crossbow damage in addition to spells, although other weapons may also be used or optimized through feat selection, weapon buffs, and the spell Master's Touch to produce credible melee damage. Runearms are used by Artificers to "imbue" or add damage to a crossbow or one-handed weapon as well as contribute damage directly without using spell points. Enhancements—including the Battle Engineer prestige class—can be used to increase both crossbow and rune arm damage directly. Other enhancements are similar to a Wizards and can increase the damage for particular types of spells.
Artificers may also employ a trainable Iron Defender. Depending on the build and how it's used, the pet may act as a tank, a distractor, a close defender, or a means to identify and flush out enemy mobs. A well-built pet can become an asset in many situations, especially when geared properly, or a serious liability.
Artificers are very gear dependent—especially for rune arms—as well as being somewhat complex to run requiring all of the same gear as a rogue for trapsmithing, all of the same gear for spell casting as a Wizard or Sorcerer, a collection of scrolls and wands for general use (Including Heal scrolls and Raise Dead scrolls, at level), as well as the gear needed for general survival. Runearms are currently all named items and usually drop as quest chain end rewards or rare items in specific content. For a player without access to most of the Adventure Packs, acquiring appropriate Runearms may be difficult as the few auctionable Runearms tend to be very expensive.