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FiveThirtyEight has a fun little article about the frequency of race/class combos. You can see which are the most popular (human fighters) and which are the least (aasimar ranger). This got me thinking about race/class affinity, so I weighted the data to see which races have the strongest class identity (and, alternatively, what the strongest race/class aversions are).

The results aren't surprising - goliaths are barbarians, tieflings are warlocks - but one fun thing you can pull out is which race/class pairings are mathematical opposites (goliath barbarian and half-elf bard take the cake). This is grounds for odd couple hijinx in of itself, but to take it a step further...

Say two characters have swapped classes. The circumstances for this can be 'Freaky Friday' (maybe leaning towards 'Face/Off' for extra fighting), or drunken bets that 'anything you can do I can do better', or even just bored adventurers looking for a career change. Here are some pairings on the table:

  • Goliath bard, half-elf barbarian
  • Aasimar druid, elf paladin
  • Half-elf barbarian, half-orc sorcerer
  • Gnome barbarian, goliath wizard
  • Halfling paladin, dragonborn rogue

Obviously casting these characters against type negatively impacts their proficiency, and I wonder if I can mitigate that. One thing that jumps to mind is the element of surprise - when charging a gnome, you might not expect it to respond like a barbarian. Are there any other ways these rare-probably-for-reason race/class combos might actually be viable?

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closed as too broad by NautArch, Joshua Aslan Smith, Pyrotechnical, Zachiel, GreySage Oct 16 '17 at 17:43

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Are you asking how to optimize an initially "un-optimized" class/race combination, or are you asking for ways that playing against type can pay off? \$\endgroup\$ – MonkeyKB Oct 16 '17 at 17:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MonkeyKB Both, actually, but probably more the latter \$\endgroup\$ – ognockocaten Oct 16 '17 at 17:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ Voting to close as too broad, this seems like an invitation to discussion rather than trying to solve a specific problem. Now if you asked "How can I optimize a half-orc bard to have X when casting spells" that would be a much better question. \$\endgroup\$ – Joshua Aslan Smith Oct 16 '17 at 17:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ ...or are you asking for house rule suggestions? It doesn't look like that's what you want, but if the question is "How do I make these clearly sub-optimal builds not clearly sub-optimal?", it seems like that's what you're going for. \$\endgroup\$ – Ben Barden Oct 16 '17 at 17:35

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