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I was recently watching some Youtube gaming videos and came across this one in which the narrator created a character he said was book legal: a 14th level character who had at least one level in each basic class. The player in the video was allowed to make the character as a 14th level character, even though there are 12 classes.

Question: Is there any reason this can't be done in 12 levels instead of 14?

Assume either point buy or basic array for ability scores, only published races and the base PHB classes allowable. Character must meet all requirements for multiclassing.

Extra love given to an answer that explains the general advantages and disadvantages of doing so.

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    \$\begingroup\$ What makes you think that this can't be done? \$\endgroup\$ – Derek Stucki Jul 17 '18 at 4:30
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    \$\begingroup\$ In terms of advantages/disadvantages, existing questions like "What are the downsides to multi-classing?" may already address that topic. \$\endgroup\$ – MikeQ Jul 17 '18 at 5:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ Is it possible he used 14 levels because he included the Mystic and Artificer? \$\endgroup\$ – Miniman Jul 17 '18 at 5:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ And they say nobody doesn't like negative questions! (While some folks may have to curate their answers, Can this be done in 12 levels? allows answers to be clearer.) \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Jul 17 '18 at 8:21
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    \$\begingroup\$ For people who are wondering why the video was a character with a 14th level character: This has nothing to do with the amount of classes. It's a oneshot and they were allowed to start with a 14th level character. This gave the player the idea of making a character with every class, because level 14 is enough to fit in every class. \$\endgroup\$ – Theik Jul 17 '18 at 9:54
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You can be a multiclassed character with all classes at level 12, but only with point buy

TL;DR

Point buy can leave you at 13 in all stats, except CON, regardless of race.

Overview

Let's first make an overview of the stats needed for multiclassing:

Class Ability - Score Minimum

  • Barbarian - Strength 13
  • Bard - Charisma 13
  • Cleric - Wisdom 13
  • Druid - Wisdom 13
  • Fighter - Strength 13 or Dexterity 13
  • Monk - Dexterity 13 and Wisdom 13
  • Paladin - Strength 13 and Charisma 13
  • Ranger - Dexterity 13 and Wisdom 13
  • Rogue - Dexterity 13
  • Sorcerer - Charisma 13
  • Warlock - Charisma 13
  • Wizard - Intelligence 13

To summarize the stats on 13 needed:

  • 3x STR
  • 3x DEX
  • 0x CON
  • 1x INT
  • 4x WIS
  • 4x CHA

So we see that CON is not used, we can keep that low (which also means low HP)

Let's also take in account that there are restrictions on the first class you pick, according the PHB page 163 (Thank you Theik):

Prerequisites

To qualify for a new class, you must meet the ability score prerequisites for both your current class and your new one, as shown in the Multiclassing Prerequisites table.

Races

Races give a way to compensate or raise the stats if needed.

  • Dwarf - CON+2

    • Hill Dwarf - WIS+1
    • Mountain Dwarf - STR+2
  • Elf - DEX+2

    • High Elf - INT+1
    • Wood Elf - WIS+1
  • Halfling - DEX+2

    • Lightfoot Halfling - CHA+1
    • Stout Halfling - CON+1
  • Human - All stats +1

  • Dragonborn - STR+2, CHA+1

  • Gnome - INT+2

    • Forest Gnome - DEX+1
    • Rock Gnome - CON+1
  • Half-Elf - CHA+2, 2 other stats +1

  • Half-Orc - STR+2, CON+1

  • Tiefling - INT+1, CHA+2

Standard array

With standard array, we start with the following possible stats: 15, 14, 13, 12, 10, 8

Since there is no race in the PHB with a +3 to make the 10 a 13, this means we cannot get all stats to 13.

For standard array it is not possible to create a level 12 character with all classes.

Point Buy

With point buy, you can easily get all stats on 12, bump 1 stat to 14 or 3 stats to 13, and then pick Human for a +1 in all stats.

Or you can go 13 in all stats, but 10 in CON (or 8 and spend the leftover points elsewhere), and pick a race you want.

Advantages

All-round character: good at everything

All the 1st-level bonusses of the classes (except all proficiencies, see PHB 164 for specifics)

All weapons and armor proficiencies (except Heavy armor, you'll only get this if you start with Fighter or Paladin, or pick certain Cleric domains)

A few more skill proficiencies: single proficiency from the bard, rogue and ranger classes (thank you Theik)

Access to higher level spell-slots

Lots of utility and flexability

Lots of Roleplaying opportunities

Disadvantages

The disadvantage is that you're an all-round character: you're good (not great) at everything, but you don't excell at anything.

You have lots of utility that can be used in Roleplaying, but in combat you can only pick a limited amount of actions per turn.

Proficiencies gained can be redundant since you already have it from a different class.

Since the levels are spent on new classes, no ability score enhancement of feats can be taken. Futhermore, you only get the 1st level skills and bonus of each class: this does not scale very well at higher levels.

No access to higher levels spells due to low class levels.

No access to extra attack.

No access for the sub-class of most classes (mostly requires 3 levels in the class)

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  • \$\begingroup\$ @InfernoIV - this statement, "Races are mostly used to give your character an edge on a stat", doesn't really add anything to your answer, and does not really seem justifiable, you might want to consider removing it. Likewise, your final section, "Story Wise" doesn't add much to the answer and strays from the subject. Whether classes are meta are not doesn't have anything to do with the question. \$\endgroup\$ – Jack Jul 17 '18 at 9:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Jack it is true that my statement and my final section doesn't really add anything to my answer, I'll remove them. Thanks for the advice. \$\endgroup\$ – Inferno IV Jul 17 '18 at 9:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Theik - That is indeed correct, I've updated the post and differentiated between skill and "weapon and armor" proficiencies. Thank you for the information. \$\endgroup\$ – Inferno IV Jul 17 '18 at 10:44
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    \$\begingroup\$ D&D heavily rewards specialization, and heavily punishes generalizing. Your claim that you would be “good at everything” or “have lots of utility and flexibility” is simply inaccurate. You’d be poor-to-mediocre at everything, and have lots of low-level features irrelevant to a high-level adventure. This reads strongly as a theoretical, on-paper read of what the advantages “should be,” as opposed to actually trying it in practice. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Jul 17 '18 at 13:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ @InfernoIV Is that a tested claim you have played, or is that just your assumption based on your belief that the game is sufficiently balanced that there is no such thing as a “bad choice” that just simply leaves you worse-off than you would have been not making it? Because my contention is that this is very much that, a character with a dozen 1st-level classes is strictly inferior to a character with more focus. This is backed up with some experience but only some—but if the comparison is your wishful thinking, I’d stick with the minimal experience I have over that. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Jul 17 '18 at 14:03
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You can do it, but the character would be nearly useless

You miss out on all high-level features, all ASIs, and as Derek Strucki’s answer points out, to meet all the other ability score requirements you are forced to have a near-suicidally-low Constitution score. Your other ability scores are all too low to reliably use your myriad class features, since the game’s math expects higher numbers than 13 in your most important ability scores.

So if the question is a theoretical exercise for amuse, then yes, absolutely, you can do this. But please don’t think it’s a good idea for a real game—you have a high chance of finding the experience frustrating and so do your fellow players, who may feel like they are dragging around dead weight when it comes to this character. The problems are severe enough that I don’t just recommend you keep your eyes open with respect to the problems, but also strongly recommend that you discuss the problems with your DM and fellow players and make sure they’re on board with what is effectively a joke character in the campaign. In many games, this character would be problematic simply because it becomes hard to justify, in-character, the character’s continued presence in the party.

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This is theoretically not possible for any race that gives a net total of less than -1 to abilities other than constitution. No such race exists to date, so it is always possible.

The only requirement for multiclassing (if allowed) is a 13 in the appropriate ability scores. No class currently requires a 13 in constitution.

As ability score increases are a class feature, such a character would not have any. Thus, they must begin at level 1 with a 13 in all abilities except constitution. This is possible with a point buy array of 13, 13, 8, 13, 13, 13 with 2 points left over to make up for a -1 penalty (which is more than we currently need).

No other restrictions exist, assuming that the DM of the game allows multiclassing at all.

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    \$\begingroup\$ While technically correct, I feel like this answer gives the wrong impression by starting with "no" instead of "yes". \$\endgroup\$ – Icyfire Jul 17 '18 at 5:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ The question was why can't this be done. My answer is why this can't be done. \$\endgroup\$ – Derek Stucki Jul 17 '18 at 5:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ @miniman, that would cost 30 points. Only 27 are allowed. 3 13s and 3 12s is 27 points. It's given as an example in the section on point buy ability scores. \$\endgroup\$ – Derek Stucki Jul 17 '18 at 5:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ Great point. I hadn't thought of that. I'll edit. \$\endgroup\$ – Derek Stucki Jul 17 '18 at 5:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ The logic here is confusing. It's not possible for a race with a certain property, but there is no such race, so it's always possible for every race? And then if there were such a race, it's also possible? \$\endgroup\$ – aschepler Jul 17 '18 at 10:10

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