9 of the Best Human Classes in D&D

In the vast and diverse realms of Dungeons & Dragons, the distinction between a Standard Human and a Variant Human lies in the nuances of their innate abilities and characteristics. While both variations share similarities in average age, size, speed, and language options, their unique traits set them apart. The Standard Human, characterized by its broad adaptability, gains a universal boost with a +1 to all ability scores. On the other hand, the Variant Human takes a more specialized approach, receiving a +1 to two different ability scores, the benefit of one additional skill proficiency, and the coveted choice of a Feat right from the outset at level 1. These differences in customization add depth and flavor to the player’s experience, allowing them to tailor their character to specific roles and playstyles.

While a broader spectrum of abilities may initially sound beneficial, most Dungeons & Dragons characters benefit from a specialized path. Unfortunately, this often means players prefer Variant Humans over their versatile Standard cousins for most character classes. Still, there are a few that benefit from the adaptable approach.

1 Bard: Jack of All Trades

The Standard Human’s universal +1 to all ability scores doesn’t always align with the specialized needs of specific classes. However, known for their versatility, Bards can use this balanced boost to maximize the benefits of the Jack of All Trades feature. This broad approach may make them less effective in specialized roles, but it can create a character with more of a fun and gimmicky build in most games.

2 Barbarian: Unarmored Defense Advantage

Standard humans hold a slight advantage for barbarians focusing on Unarmored Defense, as the +1 to each ability score can lead to a slightly higher AC. However, the availability of feats providing a +1 ability score increase allows Variant Humans to achieve similar results. The advantage of a Standard Human in this regard remains niche, and the Variant Human’s flexibility can outshine it.

Players interested in the more focused approach of Variant Humans will find success in a broader range of class options. Regardless of choice, Variant Humans provide a versatile canvas for customization. The unique combination of ability score increases, and the choice of a Feat at level 1 allows players to tailor their characters to excel in specific roles that can help fill out their party’s dynamic.

3 Artificer: Intelligence Specialization

In the intricate world of Artificers, Intelligence is the key to unlocking their full potential. With their +1 boost to two specific ability scores, Variant Humans allow Artificers to maximize their Intelligence while maintaining flexibility in other areas. The extra skill proficiency becomes invaluable as Artificers often find themselves in situations that demand diverse abilities. Additionally, the choice of a Feat at level 1 allows Artificers to customize their characters further based on their chosen specialization, whether Alchemist, Artillerist, or Battle Smith. This synergy between the Variant Human’s features and the Artificer’s needs makes it a compelling choice for players seeking a harmonious blend of intelligence and versatility.

4 Cleric: Divine Choices

Divine power conduits, Clerics benefit significantly from Variant Humans‘ customization options. The strategic allocation of ability score increases allows clerics to enhance their primary stat of Wisdom while addressing secondary attributes crucial for their chosen playstyle. Warcaster becomes an enticing option for clerics planning to engage in melee combat, ensuring the continuity of their spellcasting even when wielding a weapon and shield. On the other hand, Resilient, which boosts durability through Constitution, is particularly useful for clerics focusing on support roles or enduring harsh environments. The versatility of Variant Humans complements the diverse roles clerics play within a party, making them adaptable healers, front-liners, or ranged spellcasters.

5 Druid: Nature’s Versatility

Druids are attuned to nature and find Variant Humans ideal for expressing their diverse capabilities. The capacity to cover all necessary ability score increases, combined with various feats like Elemental Adept for spellcasting druids or Defensive Duelist and Mobile for Circle of the Moon druids, enhances their adaptability to challenges presented by the natural world.

6 Monk: Balanced Mastery

Monks, masters of martial arts, thrive on precision and flexibility. Variant Humans become an excellent choice for monks seeking a balanced mastery of their abilities. While they may sacrifice universal ability score increases, the benefits of choosing feats offset this loss. Monks, heavily reliant on Dexterity for attack and defense, can prioritize this stat while boosting their Constitution for increased hit points and Wisdom for enhanced monk features. Feats such as Acrobat, Durable, Observant, and Resilient become valuable tools in a monk’s arsenal, providing defensive capabilities, improved saving throws, and heightened awareness. This nuanced approach to character building allows monks to become versatile combatants, excelling in offense and defense.

7 Paladin: Holy Customization

Champions of righteousness and wielders of divine power, Paladins find Variant Humans ideal candidates for customization. The strategic allocation of ability score increases allows paladins to strengthen their primary attributes—Charisma and Strength or Dexterity—which are essential for spellcasting and combat prowess. Variant Humans, with their choice of feats, can tailor their paladins to excel in specific roles within the party. The versatility offered by Variant Humans allows paladins to adapt to different combat scenarios and effortlessly fulfill diverse party roles.

8 Rogue: Stealthy Choices

Rogues, masters of stealth and cunning, find Variant Humans to be perfect candidates for honing their unique skills. Allocating ability score increases strategically ensures that rogues can enhance their Dexterity, the primary attribute for attack rolls and Armor Class. Variant Humans elevate rogue gameplay with a selection of feats that cater to different playstyles. Crossbow Expert and Sharpshooter empower ranged rogues, enabling them to deliver precise and deadly shots. Skulker enhances the stealth capabilities of rogues, allowing them to operate effectively in the shadows. This customization sharpens their combat prowess and improves their ability to navigate the intricate webs of intrigue and deception. Whether specializing in ranged precision or close-quarters agility, Variant Humans empower rogues to be versatile and formidable operatives.

9 Warlock: Pact Enhancements

Patrons of otherworldly entities and wielders of eldritch power, Warlocks thrive on customization to amplify their pact abilities. Variant Humans, with their flexible ability score increases, cater to the diverse needs of warlocks. Eldritch Blast-focused characters can capitalize on feats like Spell Sniper, expanding their range and overcoming obstacles in combat. Hexblades, who often find themselves up close and personal, benefit from feats like Tough, bolstering their hit points and survivability. The strategic choice of a Feat at level 1 allows warlocks to specialize in areas that align with their chosen pact and playstyle. Whether casting spells from a distance or engaging in melee combat, Variant Humans empower warlocks to harness the full potential of their otherworldly connections.

The choice between a Standard Human and a Variant Human in Dungeons & Dragons ultimately depends on the desired playstyle and the class’s specific requirements. While Standard Humans offer broad adaptability, Variant Humans provide a more specialized and customizable experience, allowing players to tailor their characters to excel in their chosen roles.

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