So this is a theorycraft idea that’s been floating around my head for quite a while now: what’s the most self-sufficient character possible in D&D 5e? Assuming we use the game’s rules and lore/fluff of the "default D&D setting" as reference.
What do you mean by self-sufficient?
Let’s use a story as an example: imagine your new DM turned out to be an Evil Demigod who kidnaps you into the world of his D&D campaign. There’s an empty character sheet in front of you, and as soon as you fill it out (according to normal character creation rules), he’s going to reincarnate you as that character and start his evil campaign.
Now, as you mull over what kind of character you should create, you think about the few key pieces of information you found out:
- The only way you can escape this hellish fantasy world is by beating the campaign
- The DM wants you dead, but he can’t just go "Rocks Fall, everyone dies". He must kill you in an at least somewhat fair and legitimate manner.
- The DM’s campaign is, in fact, beatable, and with the perfect strategy, the success rate is above 50% (dicerolls and RNG included).
- The evil DM’s world follows the rules and lore of the game, so you can get away with cheesy exploits such as wish+simulacrum or coffelock. (You’ll see why they don’t matter in a second)
- The DM will take it easy at first, so let’s assume that you’re able to survive the early levels and also find some kind of ridiculous cheese that allows you to reach level 20+ (You gain an Epic Boon for every 30’000 exp past lvl 20).
So if we want to maximize our chances of making it through anything our evil DM throws at us, what problems do we need to solve?
1. Party Members
D&D is (I think) a game where you’re supposed to rely on your companions for solving problems you yourself can’t handle. However, it’s all but guaranteed that the DM will find a way to separate the party, possibly for years on end. So, everyone needs to be self-sufficient anyways.
2. Magic and the Weave
Magic in D&D is very powerful, capable of solving most problems. It also becomes completely useless once we find ourselves in an Dead Magic Zone. As far as i know, all magic in D&D depends on the Weave. This includes things like Ki, Psionics, and perhaps even Divine Magic. Wouldn’t it be a shame if an Eldrich Horror from the Far Realms came along and ate the entirety of the Weave for lunch? This would turn the entire multiverse into an giant Antimagic Field. But we still need a way to kill monsters immune to nonmagical bludgeoning/piercing/slashing damage! The Monk’s Ki-empowered strikes feature, as well as similar features such as the Warlocks Pact Weapon, were confirmed to be supressed in Antimagic Fields, so they’re out of the window. All that’s left are mundane means, Artifacts, or Deities. Speaking of Deities…
3. Divine Intervention
You might be tempted to rely on a God’s power – after all, spells cast by them aren’t suppressed by antimagic. Unfortunately, gods in D&D, especially in epic-level campaigns, tend to be surprisingly killable. Wouldn’t be it a shame if that Lovecraftian Horror slaughtered all the gods after eating the weave? If we want to be self-sufficient, we can’t rely on other people to grant us their power.
So, all that’s left to bypass physical damage immunity in the case of an Apocalyptic event that includes the destruction of the Weave, as well as any and all Gods, are Artifacts. They’re also incredibly rare, and we might never be able to find one. Especially if there’s an evil cult that, inspired by the magic-devouring Aberration from the far realms, seeks out to steal and destroy all Artifacts in existence? We can bet that our evil, evil DM will find a way to steal our Artifact Sword. In fact, he might take a page out of the Tomb of Horrors and teleport us into a danger zone while teleporting all of our equipment faaaar away! So, we can’t rely on any external items, because they WILL get stolen. Unless we have a 100% surefire way to prevent Artifacts from being stolen or destroyed…
5. Food, Water, Air and Aging
Living things tend to need these things to survive. But what if all the Gods are dead, and we’re stuck in a magic-devoid outer space for 10’000 years? Thankfully, this is an easy fix: be a Warforged! No need for food, water, or even air. You also technically don’t age, but take that Immortality Boon just in case you might start to rust.
*6. Sleep *
We don’t want to sleep, ever. It’s like begging our Evil DM to send assassins and/or thieves. Thankfully, Warforged remain fully conscious during their rest, so that problem’s solved.
7. Getting Lost.
Take the wanderer background ability. If magic doesn’t exist anymore, it can’t make you get lost.
Here’s my analysis on potentially useful classes. Remember, we ideally want to be able to kill any monster in the game without having to rely on items, the weave, or the Gods not being dead. This section will also contain the questions I’m most curious about:
Potential to attune to 6 Artifacts at once, or perhaps even craft your own Artifacts. But I don’t think they have a way to prevent their items from being stolen/teleported away?
Ancestral Guardian Barbs can deal non-magic Force Damage, but only when they protect other creatures. We can’t rely on always having another creature handy.
Do Zealot Barbarians lose their Divine Fury ability if their God Dies? Does Divine power still exist if all gods die? Do they even need a God? If they can still do the radiant damage without needing any Gods, then they’re amazing. Rage Beyond Death, paired with stacking the Epic Boon that lets you recover half of your max HP, will allow you to fight for days on end. Or more, depending on how many epic boons you stacked.
I doubt Bards will be very helpful without the Weave.
Without their Gods, they’re useless. Did i miss anything?
Wildshape is suppressed in Antimagic Field. I don’t think Druids can do anything without the Weave.
Eldritch Knights have the Weapon Bond Ability, which seems to be able to work with Artifacts! So, if you can find an Artifact weapon that’s hard to destroy (unlike the Sword of Zar***), this might be great for always having a viable weapon on hand. Provided you can get one in the first place.
Fluff text implies that Ki uses the Weave, so bye-bye Monk.
Now, this depends: If we can have a Paladin that is empowered entirely by their Oath and cause, without needing any God, this might be perfect. The question is: without the Weave or Gods, would a Oath of Redemption Paladin still retain some of their non-magic abilities, such as Aura of Protection, Improved Divine Smite, Protective Spirit and Emissary of Redemption? If yes, this might be a clear winner. If no, too bad.
A Horizon Walker Ranger has the "Planar Warrior" ability, which grants them mobility and a decent chunk of force damage – perfect, as the only monsters immune to force damage aren’t immune to nonmagical damage. It also draws on "the energy on the multiverse", which seems absolutely omnipresent to me. Unless there’s some Far Realms shenanigans involved, maybe.
The Soulknife has A wellspring of psionic energy within you. I’m not sure if this mean they can use their psychic blades without the weave, given that psionics in general seems to be another form of weave-related magic in 5e. Psychic damage also isn’t as reliable as radiant or force.
The Phantom subclass can do extra Necrotic damage via to power of souls, but this isn’t a reliable enough damage type: what if I need to kill a demilich?
Sorcerer, Warlock and Wizard
All of these seem to be absolutely reliant on the weave/ their patrons being alive to do anything relevant. Of course, tell me if i missed something
Whew, this has become quite the wall of text, hasn’t it? Anyways, I wanted to ask you, fellow theorycrafter, to answer my questions under the "Classes" section, as well as help me find any further things i might have missed: anything to find the theoretical perfect character that can reliably make it through any circumstances.