CharOp Chronicles: Build me a Better Support

The fun thing about D&D is that traditional party roles (like Tanks, Heals or DPS) don’t actually matter.

There’s no aggro table (though some players tend to annoy the DM more than others), plenty of ways to recover hit points, and everyone who can swing a weapon can deal some damage.

Still, there’s an unhealthy obsession with that unholy triad. There are a number of players out there who brazenly demand Support and go so far as to assume your role simply because you’re playing a Cleric or a Bard. 

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How dare you assume my role?

I‘ve discovered that this malady often manifests in a certain subset of players who claim they play MMOs or MOBAs (I blame League mostly).

These very same players tend to gravitate toward archers (especially hexbows) or sorcadins (built using the first guide they Google online), and for some reason or other, love standing in fire and whining when they’re not the center of attention.  

Yes, this article was prompted by more than a few grating experiences with such PUGs and idiots in D&D groups on the Internet, but we’re not here to viciously mock them. It’d be terrible to crush their frail egos, and wholly against the spirit of good sportsmanship that AL represents.

No. We’re going to do one better, while keeping it #ALLegal too.

For the purpose of this article, we will be focusing on material from the Player’s Handbook (PHB) and Xanathar’s Guide to Everything (XGE), though we may mention other books on occasion. XGE presents players with the most options, and should be the splat of choice for optimizers. Characters are assumed to be built in compliance with AL character creation rules. 


Table of Contents

  1. It’s a Hard Life
  2. The Healbot Fallacy
  3. The Good Stuff
  4. Quickbuild Guide
  5. Feats for Support
  6. Sample Builds
  7. Other Multiclass Support Builds
  8. Parting Shot

1. It’s a Hard Life

Playing Support might look easy, but playing it well is hard.

I’ve noticed that very often, newer players are locked into playing Support either because they’ve been gaslit by their friends into healing, because they think it’s less stressful, or because other players at the table don’t care enough about the new player experience to tell them otherwise.

Many such players also have a habit of gravitating toward Life Clerics and Lore Bards, but more on that later.

Let’s talk a bit about what defines the role of Support.

Simply put, a Support character in D&D is any character that has spells or class features that can help empower and enhance the capabilities of the party, heightening the party’s chance of success in an adventure. They may be proactive (buffs, debuffs) or reactive (mitigation, heals) during Combat.

In either case, a Support character should also capable of helping out in one other pillar of play, be it Social or Exploration.

As such, Support characters often bring a big toolkit to the table, but it takes some degree of game mastery and rules knowledge to be able to pick the right one for the job.

This becomes even more apparent when the situation involves high stakes, at higher tiers of play where there are multiple things to keep track of and you’re not just looking out for your party’s health bars, but also hazards in the environment, monster abilities, and critical boss mechanics.

I’ve seen players lock up with choice paralysis the minute they are thrown into an unfamiliar situation and their tempo gets disrupted, and whole tables wipe because they put all the pressure on the Support after biting off more than they can chew.

Then there’s also that element of RNG we all love and hate. The game can get very, very swingy with a bad dice streak, and when all the fails pile up, tensions and emotions will run high, people will break, and the game will fall apart.

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And who do you think the PUGs blame?

So yes. Playing Support can be a pretty thankless task, and I can guarantee you that your back is going to hurt from all the carrying, especially if you sit with PUGs. 

But if you think you’ve got the fortitude to handle it (and passed your Wisdom Saving Throw), read on.


2. The Healbot Fallacy

Simply playing a class with access to buffing and healing magic does not make you a healer.

Before we get down to building, let’s also tackle another fundamental problem in D&D (and especially in AL play).

Lots of players seem to assume that healing is a must when it’s actually not.

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Because you know, people die if they are killed, and stuff.

Throwing out heals the minute someone in the party drops is a mistake lots of new players (and even some seasoned ones) make.

The truth of it is, if you’re healing in combat, you’re already on the back foot. Wasting an Action to cast a healing spell is far less valuable than casting a control or mitigation spell, or even pushing damage.

This becomes even more apparent if you’ve got an eye on the Initiative tracker, and the target of your healing goes down again before they can take a turn, simply because there are so many things that can go wrong.

Maybe they’ve got shitty positioning and were already standing in fire, or they just so happen to be the monster-of-the-week’s favorite chew toy and said monster has Legendary Actions. Or hell, maybe an enemy throws some AOE.

Even if you’ve got a way to heal with a Bonus Action like Healing Word or the Celestial Warlock’s Healing Light,  it really boils down to whether said Bonus Action will interfere with any other strictly superior option that turn. Locking yourself out of casting a spell that requires an Action because you decided to Healing Word a low value party member is probably not the best.

At the same time, deciding who to pick up and who to leave kissing the floor is an acquired skill.

While everyone at the table’s out to have fun, those who aren’t contributing effectively at the table should never ever be a priority since they have zero board presence alive or dead anyway. This is especially so if the game is time sensitive, and you using your turn in a meaningful way could mean the difference between making the objective, or not.

And well, if anyone bugs you rudely and incessantly about picking them up, you can always tell them to STFU and mind their own character.

And now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s talk about…


3. The Good Stuff

There aren’t any hard and fast rules for building Support. 5E is robust enough that ANY class can fill a Support role. Of course, just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Some classes are better suited for it, and some are just plain garbage. 

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Expertise in Deception helps, I’m sure.

I’ve listed some of the Support abilities of each class below, and I’ve ranked them against each other using the ☆ system like in gacha games.

Obviously a single ☆ is trash tier, and ☆☆☆☆☆ is SSR tier. Of course, that is not to say that ☆ is inferior to ☆☆☆☆☆ in the grand scheme of things. It just means they aren’t as suited for Support, and you’re at a disadvantage if you want to try to make it work.

a) Barbarian (☆)

Barbarians are generally terrible in the Support role because their kit revolves around dealing damage, but they do have some options that don’t make them completely useless.

Ancestral Guardian‘s 6th level mitigation can save lives, and 10th level spells can be helpful for info gathering outside of combat, while the Zealot‘s 10th level is great if you get the jump on enemies.

The Storm Herald (arguably the worst Barbarian path) can offer a minor resistance buff if you don’t have anything better, and even the Totem Warrior has a handful of spells for the exploration pillar.

Of course, Barbarians have advantage on Athletics while Raging, and with a reasonable Strength, can probably Support by shoving enemies prone for the rest of the melee to beat with advantage right?

Break Points: 5th (rage, path, extra attack), 6th (second path power), 10th (utility path power).

b) Bard (☆☆☆☆☆)

Bardic Inspiration, up to 9th level spells that focus primarily on buffs and debuffs, and other abilities in the Bard’s repertoire all make them excellent Support.

It’s also probably why PUGs have expectations when a Bard sits at the table.

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I’m actually a Bardcher, guys! I’m here to outDPS you!

I enjoy Lore bards because Cutting Words is lovely for mitigation and nerfing enemy Initiative (as long as they are not immune to Charm), and Glamour for the Mantle repositioning (which all those Sorcadin types will love you for).

Spell picks from leveling up and Magical Secrets really make or break a good Support bard, and there are some mandatory choices (which were discussed in my Bard lecture).

Break Points: 3rd (Inspiration, College), 5th (Inspiration on Short Rest, 3rd level spells), 6th (Lore only, Additional Magical Secrets), 10th (Magical Secrets, better Inspiration dice), 14th (more Magical Secrets, 7th level spells), 18th (even more Magical Secrets, including Wish).

c) Cleric (☆☆☆☆)

The Cleric’s spell list contributes a healthy number of buffs, debuffs and Rituals that can benefit a party, and each published Domain grants useful powers and additions to the list that may come from other sources (like arcane casters or Paladins).

Many players gravitate towards Life, which is a fairly balanced package. I’m also fond of Arcana (for the Spell Breaker feature and later Wizard spell access), Grave (for Path) and Knowledge (for instant Skill).

Break Points: 2nd (Domain Channel), 6th (Extra Channel, better Spells), 9th (5th level spells), 11th (6th level spells, Divine Intervention at 10th is a bonus), 17th (9th level spells).

d) Druid (☆☆☆☆)

Druids are great. I love the versatility of Wild Shape, and the spells in a Druid’s repertoire aren’t shabby either. Their Circle picks all add something of value as early as 2nd (with more at 6th, 10th, 14th), and it only gets better from there since they can gain up to 9th level spells.

Assuming you don’t go Moon for the enhancements to Wild Shape, Land has some great options at higher levels (Coast, Grassland and Underdark all come to mind). You can’t go wrong with the Shepherd Spirit Totem either, and it’s not necessarily a terrible idea to play a Support oriented Druid without multiclassing.

Break Points: 2nd (Circle power), 8th (flying Wild Shape), 18th (9th level spells, can cast while in Wild Shape).

e) Fighter (☆☆)

The one archetype that stands out for the Fighter is Purple Dragon Knight, which makes for a fairly decent, non-magical battlefield leader. It has abilities that are flavorful and unique enough that they even merit SCAG locking, which is usually not recommended. It does suffer from the usual Fighter problem though, which is the lack of magic.

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Leading an army can be great fun, if you have a competent army.

The more magic-y Eldritch Knight really isn’t suited to Support, much less the Arcane Archer, which does not even cast spells. Only the Grasping Arrow shot on the Arcane Archer has any Support functionality. The other shots are too short-lived to matter all that much and key off your dump stat, so meh. The Battlemaster is excellent if you dip Fighter and use maneuvers as trick shots at range, but again, why be a martial when you can be a caster?

Dipping 2 for Action Surge may not always be a bad thing though, but there are very few situations where you actually need to cast two spells back to back as Support.

Break Points: 2nd (Action Surge), 3rd (archetype), 5th (extra attack)

f) Monk (☆)

The only thing a Monk has going for it is battlefield mobility and Stunning Strike. You’ll be Supporting by beating people senseless so the rest of the party can go ham and wail on them. Way of Shadow also expands your Ki repertoire with a bunch of utility spells, but you can get access to those through other means (i.e. caster classes).

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Monk/Cleric is actually more common than you think.

Monks are sometimes paired with Wisdom based casters. I’ve also seen Monks zipping around using a Healer’s Kit, but it’s incredibly inefficient, gimmicky, and generally not recommended.

Break Points: 1 (for Unarmored Defense on a Wisdom primary class), 3 (for monastic tradition), 5 (extra attack and Stunning Strike)

g) Paladin (☆☆☆)

Paladin is actually quite common for those who enjoy being up close with the enemy.

At its core, Lay on Hands, Oath benefits, some Cleric spell access and the all powerful Aura of Protection make it pretty worthwhile. Oath of Redemption fills the Support niche especially with mitigation, access to Counterspell and Hypnotic Pattern.

Crown has mitigation as well, and the spells to back it up, but any Paladin Oath would suffice really. Multiclassing Paladin is just that good.

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Oath of Devotion works just fine too.

Break Points: 2 (for Smites), 3 (for Oath benefits), 6 (Aura), 7 (additional Aura benefits).

h) Ranger (☆☆☆)

While the Ranger draws flak for being less than stellar DPS, Support is a niche where they can shine. They can still push damage, while offering the party access to their skills and some utility spells that can enhance the Exploration and Stealth aspects of the game.

Because players tend to only ever play Gloomstalkers, they often forget that the Monster Slayer‘s ability to sniff out weaknesses via Hunter’s Sense can be a great boon. Primeval Awareness can also punch holes in a well crafted adventure, if you’re smart and know exactly what to look out for.

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Most underrated Support off-spec ever.

Break Points: 2 (for fighting style), 3 (for archetype), 5 (extra attack), 7 (additional archetype benefit).

i) Rogue (☆☆☆)

Rogues fill a rather unusual niche. Their crazy number of Skill proficiencies and Expertise means that they can be handy to have around outside of combat, and while they’re not the best when it comes to clearing trash mobs, their single target DPS with Sneak Attack is above average.

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Being good with knives qualifies you to be a battlefield surgeon right?

The Arcane Trickster is a discount wizard with limited spell selection (so it’s not the best), the Mastermind is great as a source of Advantage generation, and Thief can really shine after they get access to Use Magic Device and can afford to pay-to-win.

Break Points: 2 (for cunning action), 3 (for archetype), 11 (so you can “take 10” on some skills), 13 (Thief only, UMD).

j) Sorcerer (☆☆☆☆)

This one gets four stars just by being a full-progression caster with decent spell access. While Sorcerers aren’t exactly known to be subtle and Support-y, some Origin abilities are actually great for it. Divine Soul grants access to Cleric magic, allowing you to dip for some fun buffs, while Wild Magic can really change things up with Bend Luck.

Break Points: 3 (for Metamagic options), 6 (Wild Magic only, Bend Luck), 14 (7th level spells, utility Origin benefit), 18 (9th level spells, Origin capstone).

k) Warlock (☆☆)

Locks aren’t actually great for Support since they are damage dealers at their core. There’s a bit of utility on the side, but it tends to be mostly flavor and little substance. Hexblade is an excellent dip for Charisma based Support that needs a way to push damage, while Celestial can give you access to Bonus Action spot heals.

Going Tome Pact at 3rd can open up some Ritual Caster benefits, while the Chain Pact imp makes for an excellent pair of eyes.

Break Points: 1 (Hexblade only, because tons of good stuff), 2 (Invocations, typically Devil’s Sight and Agonizing Blast or Repelling Blast), 3 (Pact), 5 (Thirsting Blade, Eldritch Smite if you go weapon based DPS), 17.

l) Wizard (☆☆☆☆☆)

I’ve got a serious wizard bias, which is why it’s top tier in my eyes. It’s also not unexpected, because a competent wizard with the right spells, some money and a few rounds of prep time can do anyone’s job and do it well.

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The best Support is always a Caster.

Needless to say, Divination comes up tops, followed by Abjuration and Transmutation for Support options, but every Arcane Tradition has value if you play it right, even War Magic (which is arguably the most pointless of the lot).

What the wizard has going is spells, and lots of them. They’re the only class in game with over 40 spells unique to their list (which can be stolen by Bards via Magical Secrets, so that’s great). I’ve covered a fair bit about Wizarding in my lecture, so check that out for gameplay tips.

Break Points: 2 (Arcane Tradition), 10 (for some hybrid builds), 17, 18.


4. Quickbuild Guide

For those of you who really hate reading, here’s the tl;dr version presented in table form.

I’ve omitted the classes that are less relevant to building Support, namely those without some form of spell access (i.e. Barbarians, Monks, etc)

Levels Notable Class Options
Bard (☆☆☆☆☆) 3, 5, 6, 14, 18 Inspiration, Spells, all round utility.

Glamour – Mantle is excellent repositioning.

Lore – Cutting Words, Extra Skills, Magical Secrets.

Cleric (☆☆☆☆) 1, 2, 6, 9, 11, 17 Spells, party based utility.

Arcana – Cleanses debuffs and spell effects.

Grave – Path to the Grave for vulnerability.

Knowledge – Extra Skills, Skill proficiency on the fly.

Life – Saves lives, literally.

Druid (☆☆☆☆) 2, 8, 18 Wildshape, Spells, all round utility.

Dreams – Bonus Action spot heal.

Land – Extra Spells.

Moon – Utility in Wildshape options.

Shepherd – Spirit Totem grants multiple buffs.

Fighter (☆☆) 2, 3, 5 Action Surge, Extra Attack.

Battlemaster – Maneuvers.

Purple Dragon Knight – lots of fun, non-magical Support stuff.

Paladin (☆☆☆) 2, 3, 6, 7 Lay on Hands, Smite, Aura.

Ancients – Resistance to spell damage.

Crown – Mitigation, Taunt.

Devotion – Charm protection.

Redemption – gets Counterspell and Hypnotic Pattern, some mitigation, reflects damage.

Ranger (☆☆☆) 2, 3, 5, 7 Skills, Spells, Ranger-y stuff is great for tackling the Exploration pillar.

Monster Slayer – Reveals weaknesses (so you don’t have to metagame).

Rogue (☆☆☆) 2, 3, 11, 13 Great for Skills based games. Some Spells if Arcane Trickster, lots of pay-to-win if Thief.

Arcane Trickster – Wizard-lite. I’d discount this.

Mastermind – Help as a ranged Cunning Action.

Thief – Use Healer’s Kit efficiently, Use Magic Device at 13.

Sorcerer (☆☆☆☆) 3, 6, 14 Metamagic, Spells, Origin utility, better as proactive Support.

Divine Soul – Cleric Spell List access is beneficial.

Wild Magic – Bend Luck can really screw with your enemies.

Warlock (☆☆) 2, 3, 5, 17 Invocations, Pact Boon, Spells.

Celestial – Bonus Action spot heal.

Hexblade – Dip for some extra DPS as Support.

Wizard (☆☆☆☆☆) 2, 10, 17, 18 Book based Ritual Casting, Spells, great all round utility.

Abjuration – Giving Arcane Ward to someone else and Counterspelling better is always a boon.

Divination – Portents are godly.

Transmutation – Yes, you can give your Stones to a friend.

Some classes above will naturally synergize better than others. How you want to prioritize and minimize wasted levels/overlaps is up to you.

Remember, the table is a reference. If you can find a combination that works for you and fits your concept, go ahead.


5. Feats for Support

Feats add another layer and provide additional Support options to your character. It’s never a bad choice to have more tools in your kit, especially if you’ve got the ASIs to spare after maxing out your primary stat.

Some of the ones that stand out are:

Feat Source Notes
Alert PHB If you go faster in the Initiative queue, you can Support harder. Toss up buffs, debuff the enemy, whatever.
Bountiful Luck XGE Race locked. Use Halfling Luck on a friend.
Dragon Fear XGE Race locked. Use Dragonborn Breath Weapon as AOE Fear effect.
Healer PHB I think it’s a waste, but it’s inexpensive, low level healing outside of combat (and sometimes in, if you are specced for it).
Inspiring Leader PHB The default Support feat. Best on Charisma based classes. Temporary HP that scales is nothing to scoff at.
Lucky PHB Rerolling your Initiative, a much needed Skill check, and generally staying alive is a good way to continue doing your job (as opposed to lying in a ditch somewhere).
Ritual Caster PHB You can’t go wrong with this. Most Rituals are of a Support oriented nature.

I typically pick Cleric and/or Wizard as my choices.

Sentinel PHB If you have no Reaction spells, stopping people from approaching your friends is a form of Support, right?

6. Sample Builds

When I build Support, I do it on the assumption that I’ll have to cover two or more roles at the table.

AL is a mixed bag of players, which means that you can have incredibly optimized and efficient ones one session, and some terribad, horrigiblah ones the next.

To make your own experience more enjoyable, a build should always have some ability to deal damage, some spot movement or mobility, and at least one panic button for when things go awry.

Many problems in the game can be taken care of by spells (because Casters are always superior to Martials), and sometimes items (like Cape of the Mountebank) can help you in a pinch, but optimization always assumes that you don’t have the luxury of playing with toys.

Bear in mind that the following builds aren’t cookie cutter specs. They’re builds that are fun and work for me (and also reference FGO a lot), so your mileage may vary.


The Strategist

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Zhuge Liang – Lore Bard 14/Diviner 2/Hexblade 4

A cunning tactician will plan for every success, and have an elegant answer to every problem the DM throws at you. Your magic is capable of reshaping the battlefield and turning the tide in your favor, elevating even the weakest, most incompetent PUG into a hero that others look upon with envy.

Dispensing gifts to PUGs who heed your decrees and denying those who reject it is part and parcel of playing this build. After all, PUGs shouldn’t get too comfy with having a Bard around, and are merely chess pieces (and soft cover) to be moved at your whim, right? 

  • Lore 14 covers multiple Support bases. A d10 Cutting Words, six Magical Secrets in total, healthy Skill coverage and Expertise mean you can do plenty in all three pillars of play.
  • Diviner 2 lets you seize the moment with Portent and some Wizard spell options.
  • Hexblade 4 gives you a much needed DPS boost, especially with Agonizing Blast, and Tome Pact grants additional utility Cantrips (especially Guidance).
  • I maxed out Charisma on this one, and took both Ritual Caster (Wizard) and Ritual Caster (Cleric) for the divination rituals and various quality of life spells. There’s also a certain sadistic pleasure to be derived from freely casting Forbiddance in higher level games and screwing the DM’s best laid plans, but that’s a story for another time.
  • Drop one of the Ritual Casters for Inspiring Leader if you prefer making those meat bag PUGs more meaty, though personally, I’d reserve those temporary hit points for pets I’ve used Planar Binding on.
  • To keep it on theme, I picked magical secrets like Banishment, Heroes’ Feast, Scatter and Simulacrum. Needless to say, you can always swap these around to fit your concept.
  • If you really need to push damage and upstage some shitty DPS, Hexblade’s Curse paired with Magic Missile does (1d4+1 + prof mod) x number of missiles. You may not be able to crank out as much as an Evoker, but you still have enough spell slots to volley enemies till they’re dead.

The Jinx

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Tamamo no Mae – Diviner 14/Wild Magic Sorcerer 6

Luck is a fickle mistress, and sometimes, it’s fun to shit on the DM’s dice rolls and give them the bad stuff.

It’s also often the superior option, because denying enemy successes is a form of mitigation, and clearly superior to helping those shitty Arcane Tricksters who love standing in fire or the Paladins who love bossing people around get their jollies.

  • With Portents, access to Simulacrum for twice the Portents, and multiple instances of Bend Luck, you’re almost always guaranteed to make it hard for the DM to succeed.
  • Gimmicks aside, you’re still a decent caster with access to high level spells and a 9th level slot if you’re stacking full progression classes.
  • If you were a marginally nicer person than I am, and want to show some solidarity, maybe you’d give Portents to PUGs if they grovel and RP appropriately.
  • You’d also be in a good place to give them buffs, but why would you when you can focus on controlling the enemy, right?
  • You don’t actually need that much Charisma in this build (though starting as Sorcerer gives you the much needed proficiency in Constitution Saving Throws). Maxing out Intelligence is recommended, and the Lucky feat can be helpful and on theme.

The Field Marshal

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Jeanne – Redemption Paladin 9/Glamour Bard 10/Hexblade 1

Sometimes, it’s not enough to just cast a few spells from the back line or dispense some pearls of wisdom for the swine. You might need to step up and actually fill the role of the Tank or melee DPS too, and this build gives you the functionality to do exactly that.

  • With Redemption Paladin and Glamour Bard at its core, you get to don decent armor, cast a healthy mix of spells, and wield a decent weapon that you can Smite with.
  • What’s more, the Hexblade dip lets you hit with your face, because Ilmater knows you’ll only ever have 13 Strength for that pesky multiclassing requirement. If you prefer to invest more in Strength, consider Celestial Warlock for a Bonus Action spot heal or Divine Soul Sorcerer for the extra panic button and Guiding Bolt access.
  • You’ll have all the usual Paladin perks, including the Extra Attack, Aura and 3rd level Paladin Spells (and yes, surprise Counterspell can be hilarious).
  • The Glamour Bard’s Mantle is excellent spot mitigation at lower levels, and the repositioning is insanely good if the PUGs you’re shepherding are all melee mooks (because Sorcadins, melee Hexblades and Booming Blade Rogues are the flavor of the century). Just make sure you tell them what the ability does, because we all know PUGs are pretty much headless chickens, with the intelligence of such.
  • I’d max out Charisma and grab Inspiring Leader, and pick thematically appropriate Magical Secrets on this one.
  • Find Greater Steed and Circle of Power come to mind and are generally good utility, but it’s really up to you.

The Kingmaker

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Merlin – Grave Cleric 2/Shepherd Druid 18

Cleric and Druid synergize well together. They both key off Wisdom, and with the right domain pick, you can cover for some of the Druid’s early game weaknesses.

Some guides out there love extolling the virtues of the Life Cleric/Druid multiclass, because they’re fascinated by the trivial amount of hit points healed by an enhanced Goodberry or Healing Spirit.

But we all know that healing is a trap whether in or out of combat, and that most of the time, people who aren’t self-sufficient aren’t worth your spell slot. That’s why this build is focused on helping to create opportunities for those PUGs (even if they don’t always deserve it) and enhancing damage dealing capabilities instead. 

  • Path to the Grave requires an Action, but doesn’t really impact a Druid all that much since a good number of Druid spells have Bonus Action fillers (such as Heat Metal and Wrath of Nature), and pets you summon can be easily commanded Verbally (no action required). You can even ready to proc it on a big hit, using your Reaction with little to no impact on your overall action economy.
  • The Shepherd Druid’s Spirit Totem is great as a Bonus Action filler, and the benefits it can confer cannot be underestimated. The Hawk version also gives you a Reaction filler, which Druids don’t actually have lots of.
  • You’re capable of casting 9th level spells, and later of using them while in Wildshape.
  • There are plenty of thematically appropriate creatures you can summon with Conjure Fey (that you will later use Planar Binding on, obviously). and unlike Conjure Animals or Conjure Woodland Beings, you get to pick. I recommend enough hags to make a coven for further abuse, naturally. They might even *gasp* be more useful than some of the PUGs!

The Field “Martial”

I’m obviously not fond of this because it is somewhat lacking in the spell department, but it works for a less magical Support Tank.

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Leonidas – Purple Dragon Knight 11/Crown Paladin 9

  • It’s still a fighter with 3 attacks, which means it can still beat face, and is great with Polearm Master/Sentinel.
  • Crown helps you hold aggro (one of the few ways you actually can in 5E) and mitigate damage on an ally with a Reaction.
  • Clearly a Strength build, and having decent Constitution doesn’t really hurt either. Grab Tough and Inspiring Leader if you want to be even more beefy.
  • Aura of Vitality is great for spot healing with your Bonus Action, and Spirit Guardians makes you incredibly sticky. Also, Warding Bond doesn’t require Concentration.

Classic Support Bard

The Bard multiclass as it’s meant to be played i.e. ditching the capstone because it’s crap and dipping for a superior option.

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Mozart – Lore Bard 18/Diviner 2

  • Great for those moments when you can tell the DM “I saw that coming”, and sub him a 1 on Initiative or an Attack Roll that you then cut down to 0.
  • You get some Portents, have a d12 Inspiration dice, and can pick Wish as a Magical Secret once you hit 18. Simulacrum is a common pick for the extra spells and action economy.
  • The Wizard levels mean you can Shield and Find Familiar without investing too much.
  • Alert, Lucky and Inspiring Leader are all great options once you max out Charisma.
  • Don’t be afraid to experiment with other Bard Colleges, Wizard Schools, or to even drop the Wizard levels for Hexblade levels. They all work.

7. Other Multiclass Support Builds

I’m going to keep these other builds brief, since it’s pretty easy to figure out how they work together.

  • Divine Soul Sorcerer 18/Celestial Warlock 2 – If things just aren’t working out for the party and you’re tired of giving them spot heals and Cleric-y buffs, you can always default to Agonizing Blast + Quickened Agonizing Blast spam. You’d still be cranking out more DPS than most PUGs. Also, you get Wish.
  • Arcana Cleric 18/Land or Moon Druid 2 – You’re pretty much stuck with the PHB options for Druid because you’re SCAG locked. The advantage of Arcana Cleric though is eventually getting Wish. Your ability to get rid of magical effects is excellent (with upcasted Goodberry, for example), and is one of the only ways you can get rid of the Psychic Scream permastun that destroys stupid Martials.
  • Grave Cleric 17/Divine Soul 3 – The only reason you’re dipping 3 in Sorcerer is clearly for Metamagic. Quickened Guiding Bolt or Chromatic Orb after using Path is never a mistake, especially if you know that the PUGs suck and can’t actually lay the smackdown. Path is great if you’ve decided to Rent-A-Solar with Planar Ally and have set it up to hit someone with its greatsword. You can also go Divine Soul 18/Grave Cleric 2 for this, if a superior spell list is your priority rather than more frequent Paths.
  • Any Paladin 6/Any Sorcerer 14 – *gasp* The default Sorcadin chassis is actually perfectly capable of Support! Sometimes, it’s not a bad idea to play one at a table just to show up other less competent Sorcadins. Obviously some combinations are better than others, and I personally prefer to go Vengeance 6/Hexblade 5/Divine Soul 9 with lots of toggles, but that’s just me.
  • Ancestral Guardian 6/Battlemaster 11/Mastermind 3 – Bonus Action Advantage generation, Reaction based mitigation, the closest thing you have to Taunt in this edition, and three attacks, with Action Surge for more if you really need it. This is as non-magical as it gets (and I personally wouldn’t touch this with a 10-ft pole). but it’s still Support. Also, it might be funny to actually tell PUGs at the table what your grandma thinks of their shitty plays.

8. Parting Shot

As always, builds are pilot dependent and much more effective in the hands of skilled players.

Hopefully, this article has helped dispel some common misconceptions about Support as a role, and has given you the conviction you need to stop playing like some PUG’s dedicated healbot or buff bitch. Support is the linchpin of the party, so make sure you stand up for yourself and be the best you can be!

If you liked this article, do help us share it, and if you decide to build a Support character using what you gleaned from this article, let us know!

We’d love to hear all about your adventures.

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