Some of my friends want to play D&D5e. I really don't want to be excluded from playing, because at the moment, I feel enough of an outsider, but no matter how hard I try I can't make a decent gishy character at 1st level.

I've tried asking if they'd play something else instead - but the only response I've gotten is "You don't have to play" which really hurts.

We're still at character creation, and no one has confirmed to DM for us. I pretty much only like playing Gish characters, which with Pathfinder I could just use the Magus class and be happy but I'm finding it impossible to make such a character at first level in 5e.

I tried making a Half-Elf Bladesinger, but there doesn't seem to be any way to start the game at first level with that character being effective in combat due to missing weapon proficiencied until second level.

I don't know how to resolve this as it feels like I'm being shut out of the hobby I love by the existence of one particular game destroying the games I can actually play - I feel like I've suggested dozens, but people only want to play fifth edition - and I don't know what to do.

It feels like D&D5e is taking my friends and my hobby from me and it's only making me even more resentful of the system. I don't know what I can do about this. I feel like I've ernestly put in a lot of effort trying to give the system a fair shake but with each attempt to make a character I just feel utterly burned out and just don't see what everyone else likes about it but if they played without me it would leave me more isolated than I already feel and dig me deeper into depression.

How do I make my friends understand how they're hurting me and get them to play a game I can actually join in with?

  • \$\begingroup\$ Right now we haven't started playing, and I'm probably furthest along in character creation because of my anxiety about the system. We only have a potential DM, not a confirmed one. \$\endgroup\$ – Tarinaky Aug 19 '17 at 12:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ This question would be a better fit on interpersonal.stackexchange.com \$\endgroup\$ – user27704 Aug 19 '17 at 14:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm closing this question since at present it seems to be a rant or cry for help, but not in a problem we should be reasonably addressing. We're also not equipped to read the social landscape of your group to advise you on how to talk with them about it. You've expressed some messages in comments which suggest you should probably be seeking some professional assistance in overcoming the personal and emotional issues you're facing or reaching out to your personal support network. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Aug 19 '17 at 15:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ Agreed. Nothing about RPGs, choice of game system, or your gaming group is the problem here and no answer about any of it will really help you. Seek out local support for those suffering depression, every locality has a way to plug you into help. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Aug 19 '17 at 19:15

First, let me preface my answer with the following:

Depression, Anxiety, these are serious words and we don't take them lightly, for you and your friends' sake: Get help.

What I'm about to say might sound harsh, but believe me when I say I only want what's best for you and your group:

Don't try to change your friends

This situation is all on you, and how much you are willing to compromise in order to have a place at the table. You need to make a decision to either

  1. Decide that you cannot enjoy yourself while playing that game, in which case, you should ask to drop out. There's nothing wrong about this; not being part of this game does not mean that your friends will stop being friends with you. This is a common Geek Social Fallacy, that friends must do everything together (GSF5). You can still go and hang out in the arcade or whatever it is kids do these days (hint: you might even volunteer to GM another game that you want to play).

    The point is, if you force the system you want but your friends are not on-board with, the moment they aren't having fun with it, that growing resentment you feel right now will return to bother everyone else, and it will be directed at you and the system you chose.

  2. Stick around with your friends, even though you are not having as much fun. I know at least two people whom I regularly DM for who join just for the company, see if you can find the patience in yourself to tolerate the system at least until 2nd-level (which comes earlier than you are expecting, usually after 1 session, sometimes in the middle of the first!), and if the enjoyment from your fellowship is greater than the resentment, then you're still winning.

And that's it, those are the direct approaches to the problem you are having. For some indirect approaches, read on:

  1. Try to ask your GM if you could start at higher levels, I know many people who prefer to skip 1st-level (unless we're playing a module and want the extra challenge at the start), your GM might be willing to start at 2nd or 3rd, to give your characters the abilities that you want right off the bat.
  2. Try to ask your GM if you could start with a Rapier proficiency, perhaps as a replacement for a similar weapon like a Longsword.
  • \$\begingroup\$ I have offered to GM other systems. But people only want to play 5th edition now. I legitimately wish I could just climb into a time machine to before it was released. \$\endgroup\$ – Tarinaky Aug 19 '17 at 14:16
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Tarinaky this is a terrible way to be feeling and we all need support and a network around us. Have you got anyone to turn to at home? \$\endgroup\$ – user27704 Aug 19 '17 at 14:53
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Tarinaky I know it can seem hard to believe when you're in it, but that's a situation many of us can relate to. And, having been there (and eventually through it!) I can promise that the time machine wouldn't really help, because there is something deeper going on than the new edition. I really, really, encourage you to seek help from a therapist ­— just someone to listen to you and to bounce thoughts off of who isn't part of your family or friend group but is committed to supporting you. \$\endgroup\$ – mattdm Aug 19 '17 at 15:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Tarinaky come and join this site interpersonal.stackexchange.com and there's a chat room chat.stackexchange.com/rooms/61165/the-awkward-silence - you'll need to ask or answer a question to get the rep to come into the chat room - but this site might help you - you're not alone in this world . I've been where you are and it's a blackness - it doesn't stay like that - I know this, as I'm now 50 and have lived through many ups and downs. I can promise you - if you hang around and reach out - like you did here - things will always improve .. it's not always bleak \$\endgroup\$ – user27704 Aug 19 '17 at 15:21
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    \$\begingroup\$ @YvetteColomb He's got 20+ rep here, so that counts as 20+ rep across all of Stack chat (bar stack overflow, which has a separate server). He'll be OK to join the room immediately. :) \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Aug 19 '17 at 16:46

It is very difficult, if not impossible, to build a 5e character that is a (true) gish at 1st level. That said, 1st level is over very quickly, and 2nd level shouldn't take that much longer. As long as you are willing to wait:

Try the following 5e gish builds:

  • Warlock, Pact of the Blade, Fiend Patron (starts being properly gish at 3rd level; magic > sword).
  • Fighter, Eldritch Knight Archetype (starts being properly gish at 3rd level; sword > magic).
  • Bard, College of Valour (starts being properly gish at 3rd level; magic > sword).
  • Other classes which combine melee and magic: ranger, cleric, and paladin (although these do not qualify as traditional arcane gish classes).
  • A multiclass of the above.

There are lots of forum threads around about 5e gish builds, particularly multiclassed ones, so you are not short of inspiration.

Alternatively, and perhaps better:

Try something new.

Playing the same or similar characters over and over again can become monotonous. Perhaps the new system could be an opportunity to try a new character type. If you don't want to lose the magic side, perhaps consider a cleric or paladin (or perhaps something entirely different would be more interesting). In my own campaign, players roll on d100 tables for race, and background, and roll ability scores straight down. Although some initially complain about their results (as class is very much restricted by ability scores rolled), I've yet to have a player who hasn't come to like their character after a session of playing them.


There are a number of "gishy" builds you can make in 5E, although most of them do not really kick in until 2nd or 3rd level. That seems to be a lot of your frustration, so I think it's important to call out that in 5E, the first level — and to some degree even the second — go very quickly. Third level is really where things settle in.

The level progression clearly expects 1st level to be a quick "get comfortable" thing (and as a barrier against multiclass dips). Keeping this in mind gives you several options:

  1. Grin and bear it for a session or two. It's not the end of gaming or the end of your friendship. Play your character as a fighter who is striving to learn magic, or a wizard who wants to also master the blade — but is just starting on that path. You won't necessarily be the most effective or awesome, but it won't be terrible, either.
  2. Tell your DM your plans, and ask for an exception for the needed proficiencies for the first couple of levels. This isn't going to be so overpowered as to break anything, and in my experience many DMs are happy to work with you on this kind of flavor-enhancing rules-bending (as long as you come into "compliance" within a few levels).
  3. Ask to start the campaign off right at third level — if everyone wants to be an awesome hero at the beginning rather than just starting out, this can make a lot of sense. (See DMG, page 38.)

Beyond that, I think it's worth considering what you really find important in a "gishy" character. What makes this particularly fun for you? What aspects are appealing? What things can you not live without?

  • \$\begingroup\$ All of the options available. So there's always something unexpected I can do. The ability to constantly throw curveballs. \$\endgroup\$ – Tarinaky Aug 19 '17 at 14:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Tarinaky This may be an entirely different and longer topic, but it's important to realize that in D&D (in any edition!) any one character will never have all of the options available. It works best when you have a well-coordinated party and can trust your companions to handle their areas of strength. That said, I do understand the appeal of having more options. \$\endgroup\$ – mattdm Aug 19 '17 at 14:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think 5E (with some hard lessons from 4E!) is, more than any previous edition, designed to make sure that there's usually something interesting every character can do. There are many classes with a wide portfolio of options — and a lot of interesting multiclass combos — that could give you that "tricks up my sleeve" feeling in ways other than combining arcane magic and melee fighting. \$\endgroup\$ – mattdm Aug 19 '17 at 14:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ Clarification questions should have been done on the question before answering, don't you think? \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Aug 19 '17 at 19:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ @mxyzplk Yes, I do think. In fact, I did ask them on the question, but they were removed for whatever mysterious reason. They aren't the core of this answer, though. \$\endgroup\$ – mattdm Aug 19 '17 at 19:57

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