Jason Marovich plays several characters in one of the largest guilds on Eberron: Your Part Time Guild on the Wayfinder server.
Choosing the Right DDO Toon
The question in the title of this article is one most of us will eventually ask ourselves if we decide to invest our time in playing Dungeons and Dragons Online. But do we really put much thought into it? We tend to play characters that we think will look cool. For example, we see a necromancer floating around Stormreach Harbor and we decide that's what we want to do, too. Unfortunately, playing certain characters successfully is something achieved only by having certain skills, experience, or other factors. That being said, it is still wise to learn how to play certain class types that will suit your interests.
Your first character, unless you sincerely research builds, will likely be one that you use to learn how to navigate the game and use the various panels and tool bars. When you're ready to keep up with others who have spent a few hours learning how to play DDO, take some time to consider what character best suits you, not the other way around.
Below you'll learn some of the basics of Dungeons and Dragons classes. This is only the beginning of the learning curve one embarks upon in their journey to mastering the art of building a fun and effective DDO "toon".
The Barbarian Class
This type of character is centered around delivering significant amounts of damage per strike (DPS) in combat. Unlike the fighter class, barbarians rely more on agility and damage reduction to avoid damage, rather than heavy armor.
Think of it in modern terms: if you were a big home run hitter in baseball and taking giant swings with a baseball bat, how easy would that be to do while wearing a movement-constricting bulletproof vest?
Barbs (barbarians, for short) do generally take a lot of damage, however. They are good solo players, but they are even better when supported by a cleric focused on healing them.
Rage is a feat that allows this class of character to hit even harder; you drag the Rage square from your feats list to the toolbar and click on it when you need an extra boost of damage. When Rage ends, the barbarian becomes fatigued (this can be alleviated with the clerical spell, lesser restoration, or with the same type potion).
Though we'll limit this guide to free to play characters, consider that certain Epic Destinies abilities, which allow players to advance their characters beyond level 20, can significantly increase a barbarians ability to dodge and limit damage taken.
This is a great class for beginners in that you can learn to navigate the various toolbars without being overwhelmed by a great many of them. Grab a hireling cleric and explore a dungeon and you'll get a great idea how the combat system in DDO works and why it's so beneficial to have various classes mixed within one adventure party. Once you've hacked at skeletons with your great axe until your mouse finger is sore, you'll realize that having a different classes and damage types along for the journey is much more effective.
The Bard Class
Bards aren't as easy to play as melee class characters simply because they possess other abilities. This means solo playing a bard requires some skill in combat casting and melee fighting. Bards rely heavily on the music they produce and, at higher levels, this character can be a very valuable asset to other party members.
A basic understanding of the bard can be explained by dividing them into two types: buffer and crowd controller.
The buffing bard selects spells and abilities that allow them to enhance their own strengths and the strengths of other members in the party. Higher ability and enhancement scores mean more damage output from melee strikes and spells. Higher defensive abilities and saving throws means less damage taken from attacking monsters.
The crowd controlling bard focuses their abilities on slowing or even halting enemies' ability to move, attack, cast spells, or do damage. High level bards can simply walk into a room full of lower level monsters, strum their lutes, and then call in the rest of the adventure party to dispatch the entranced monsters.
The Cleric Class
Players who prefer to help other adventurers defeat foes should consider the ultimate support class: the cleric.
That's not to say clerics are unable to help in destroying enemies. They possess an ability called Turn Undead that is very effective when fighting zombies, ghouls, wraiths, and so on.
Yet they're primary attribute is healing. A good cleric finds a relatively safe place to stand during battle and focuses their efforts on keeping his or her fellow adventurers alive.
If you can't stop yourself from engaging enemies directly in combat, the cleric class is probably not for you. At high levels they can become powerful in combat, but its best to learn to play passively and help the others you're adventuring with.
Clerics are very difficult for beginners to solo play with. On the other hand, its easier to get into groups because most parties of adventurers will welcome a cleric into their midst.
The Fighter Class
To say the fighter class is the easiest to play would be an injustice to high level fighters everywhere. It is, however, the easiest to learn to play in low level dungeons.
Fighters have good hit points and can wear heavy armor and use shields. This makes it less likely you'll die often when learning to adventure solo or with others.
This class performs better when teamed with a rogue and a cleric. Fighters are unlikely to dodge deadly traps and possess zero self-healing skills. The fighter meets enemies head on and in the absence of others to support him or her, will often sustain significant damage from enemies and traps.
When creating any DDO character as a new player, read about and choose the path your toon will follow at character creation. Fighters can be offensive in nature, though most newer players would do well to consider a defensive build. Your value in groups of adventurers rises when you're able to sustain large amounts of damage without requiring constant healing.
One mistake new fighters make is to try to carry a group. This isn't what fighters are meant to do. Though they are excellent soloists, in groups its better to think of yourself as a support character. For example, in a group with you as the fighter, a cleric, a rogue, a wizard, and a ranger, you're more valuable if you can draw attacks from monsters while the ranged attackers fire from afar and the rogue sneak attacks.
The intimidate skill is often overlooked by beginners. This ability allows the fighter to cause monsters to attack him or her. When used when fighting large groups of monsters, intimidate can keep enemies from wandering off after weaker (less armored, less hardy) fellow adventurers.
The Ranger Class
Rangers have limited magical and healing abilities but are primarily designed to inflict ranged projectile damage in combat.
The best way to be successful as a new player playing a ranger is to get into groups, plunder some dungeons and earn some platinum, and then buy an elemental bow (i.e. flaming, frost, acid) off the auction house. Low-level rangers do limited damage so having such a weapon is very beneficial. This will even allow for some solo play, though it is still recommended that newer players find groups to adventure with particularly with this class of character.
The Rogue Class
Every adventurer eventually realizes that some dungeons are trapped. Moreover, some dungeons have so many traps that successfully completing them requires having a player in the group who can disarm them.
There are basically two types of rogue: assassin and trapper (sometimes referred to as mechanic).
Assassins focus their talents on dealing damage through sneak attacks and stealth.
Mechanics deal damage with crossbows or trap-like attacks or traps. This sort of rogue is generally more concerned with finding and disarming traps and will have little difficulty finding adventure groups to quest with.
The Sorceror Class
Sorcerors are simply not for beginners. Most experienced players recommend playing a wizard before taking on the more difficult sorceror class.
These magic-users have limited spells at their disposal and complement their magical repertoire with wands and scrolls. Whereas wizards can inscribe any spell into their spell books, sorcerors cannot.
In addition, wizards generally have a higher constitution score which means they have more hit points. Sorcerors have to choose wisely when to cast one of their powerful spells against enemies who might charge them in a rage.
One advantage sorcerors have over other magic-users is that they have more spell points. More spell points means more casting between stops at rest shrines.
Experienced players have no problems getting into adventure groups as sorcerors. New players will learn sometimes embarrassing lessons if they take on elite difficulty dungeons without knowing how to stay alive as a sorc (short for sorceror).
The Wizard Class
Unlike sorcerors, wizards have to choose carefully the most opportune times to cast their spells. Though most dungeons have ample rest shrines, some do not. On elite level of difficulty, each rest shrine may be used only once. So if there's only two rest shrines in a more involved adventure, wizards will either have to conserve their spell points or enhance their spell casting with wands or scrolls.
Wizards can follow one or more of several paths including necromancy (pale master), wizardry (archmage), or elemental (savant).