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A friend of mine picked up the starter kit for 5e. Our group is very inexperienced and are going for a few short campaigns while we all learn. So far, we have a mage and a cleric.

What is a fun character class to play while learning the ropes of both 5e and tabletop gaming in general?

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Just a warning: In my experience, starting a new player with the "easiest" game or class sets a tone with them. Most, not all, but most of the players I've seen start with an easy class just because they're the easiest to play will never play anything more complicated. I strongly recommend, if she likes playing the blaster, letting her run a wizard or sorcerer first. Then, when she later picks up a barbarian or fighter, she can be overjoyed at how easy they are, instead of moving the other way and saying "this class is too hard..." –  gatherer818 Aug 22 at 3:11
    
@gatherer818 Doesn't have to be the easiest, just want to avoid the hardest. If she starts out frustrated, there won't be a 'later' to pick up a barbarian. –  Dan Aug 22 at 15:13
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After this has been so heavily edited by other people, I no longer feel it is my question. It has become a wiki page. I considered deleting it, but now that it has finally been unlocked, some of the answers do contain useful knowledge for others, so I will leave it. Thanks for ruining what should have been a pleasant experience by making me fight to have the question up at all. And since you'll probably delete this comment along with the others, well, bye. –  Dan Aug 25 at 21:52

4 Answers 4

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A Fun and Easy Character Class

Fighters are fun! Pretty easy, too. You can choose to circumvent the whole spell-casting thing as a fighter. That being said, your wife (?) may not be much motivated to learn things.

Also, just having a ranger with an animal companion/bow specialization would work out pretty well. She'd be motivated to play this character, and would likely have fun. Rangers tend to be pretty low on magic, and you can get the satisfaction of kills. Starting at low levels, you all can ease your way into things.

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Chosen because it was the most helpful answer in my question's original format (before it was gutted by doppelgreener) –  Dan Aug 25 at 21:52

Depending on what the person you are teaching wants to do, this question can be answered with any class in the game. That's problematic for choosing, but here are a few suggestions:

  • Fighter. This is the boring option, but it actually comes with a ton of chances for improvisation. With simple "I hit things with my sword and I'm an awesome athlete" class features, you are combat effectively right away. One of the benefits (and potentially detriments), is that you don't have much cool stuff to do that is immediately codified in abilities or spells, a lot of your utility is up to you. That can be good or bad. Pros: easy to learn, easy to play. Cons: making it fun may require too much improv for a new RPer.

  • Rogue. Marginally more fun. Much more codified out of combat utility, and you get to be sneaky which can be way fun. Two equally viable alternatives in ranged (provided you play a halfing or have good access to terrain you can hide in regularly) or melee (go two weapon fighting with another melee class and you've got easy SA dealing). Pros: More to do, tons of codified out of combat utlity, considered a fun class. Cons: more work to play it well (you have to think about positioning to get your SA off).

In D&D 4th edition we talked a lot about funneling new players into the game with striker classes. Things like the sorcerer, blaster wizard, rogue, ranger, were classes where you could do a lot of damage (fun!) and do other cool stuff (usually skills etc). The equivalent classes in 4e come in a far greater variety of complexity (Ranger and Monk are both casters Rogues and Fighters have that option. Casters are much more complicated in 5e than they were in 4th). So I would definitely recommend taking a martial character as your first one if you want something low maintenance.

However, nothing is going to be a substitute for sitting down and coming up with a character concept together. Have the person you are working with describe the character they want to play. If you can, match it up to an existing class, if you can't, we might be able to help with that specifically.

Coming up with a character someone wants to play isn't necessarily about identifying an easy to play character (although that can be helpful), it's mostly about identifying what they want their character to be able to do and then designing a character (together), that fulfills that criteria.

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+1. On the plus side for Fighters, I find that new-to-RPGs players are usually really good at improv. The only exception is if they're also shy and in a group they perceive as more knowledgeable (even if by only an iota), then they're usually too timid to take the initiative with improv. –  SevenSidedDie Aug 25 at 17:01
    
@SevenSidedDie yeah, that's part of the reason I think Fighter can be really good for a new player if they are the type to come out of their shell, it's pretty tabula rasa. Rogue can be a bit better if they need more direction I think (but still very welcoming of free form play when they do open up) –  wax eagle Aug 25 at 17:03

For a first time player I would recommend the rogue.

There are a number of reasons for this.

  • The rogue does not use spells. Spells are the most time consuming part of character creation and add a lot of complexity to the game. They also add the most amount of time per round as new players fear they made the wrong choice.
  • A first level rogue is very simple with the only choices being race and weapon choice.
  • A second level rogue is much more complex than a first level rogue. By gaining cunning action the player has a lot more things to think about. The things the player needs to consider are the areas in which 5e thrives. Improvisation, advantage rules, and battle field mobility. While a champion fighter is good for basics and improve , the rogue also teaches rules crunch. This prevents the player from staying stuck and helps them learn the rules of the game.
  • Added bonus, if the player by third level wants to learn the magic system, you can get the players handbook and take arcane trickster.
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Well, the most correct answer is to play the class that looks like the most fun for the individual. But, since you are asking for recommendations:

Personally, I recommend the Fighter for now.

There are several reasons for this:

  1. Fighters are FUN

    You certainly do not need to be limited to "I hit it with my sword." The world is wide open in terms of what you can do with a fighter. Their absence of mechanical abilities means that you spend less time saying "I use magic missile, how much damage is that? is there a save? do I have to roll an attack? how many bolts does that produce?" and more time saying things like "I sneak up behind the dragon, leap onto his back, and thrust my sword into his hide."

  2. Fighters are DIVERSE

    There is nothing more iconic than the old sword and board, but fighters actually offer much more diversity than this. You can literally choose to do ANYTHING with a fighter. Dual finesse weapons do great damage while giving you the chance to dump strength, Two handed fighters are just beastly, ranged fighters are able to deal good damage while keeping a safe distance. For someone new to the game fighter will give them a good taste for what is possible, and allow some room to grow and try new things.

  3. Fighters are, mechanically, EASY

    As several have already mentioned, Fighters are pretty easy to learn since there is not much going on mechanically, they don't require much in terms of complicated build decisions, and they are open to many different possibilities in terms of roleplay.

  4. Fighters are SURVIVABLE

    With d10 hit dice, full armor capabilities, plus the option to use a shield, the fighter is much less prone to the "you turn the corner and take a crossbow bolt to face, it crits and you die" syndrome that some of the squishier classes are (this literally just happened to a Tiefling Sorcerer I was playing, RIP). A few deaths when your brand new to the game can be a real turn-off for some people. A fighter should allow them to keep playing rather than keep them constantly rolling characters. This may be especially important if the DM is also new since balancing encounters can take some getting used to.

  5. Fighters are IMPORTANT

    Way back in the beginning, fighters were one of 3 classes. Though many new classes have emerged, fighters remain one of the core classes. There is a reason for this. You need someone who can deal enough damage to get everyone's attention, and then stand back and take the brunt of the attacks. Fighters work excellent in the "Tank" role. Though I would not recommend that a new player get "stuck" into a role that they do not want to play, it is worth noting that your group is currently missing a tank (depending on the build and play style of your cleric). TPKs are no fun. Enough said.

Lastly, I know this is off topic but it is important to add. In the long run, I would not worry too much about the first class that someone plays. Group dynamics and table atmosphere contribute way more to someone's overall experience much more than their class. Just make sure that everyone is working together and having fun.

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