Gestalt (5e Variant Rule)

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Design Note: This variant rule is based off of the Gestalt Characters variant rule from the revised 3rd edition's Unearthed Arcana.

 

In this high-powered campaign variant, characters essentially take two classes at every level, choosing the best aspects of each. The process is similar to multiclassing, except that characters gain the full benefits of each class at each level. if the two classes you choose have aspects that overlap (such as Hit Dice, skills, and class features common to more than one class), you choose the better aspect. The gestalt character retains all aspects that don’t overlap.

The gestalt character variant is particularly effective if you have three or fewer players in your group, or if your players enjoy multiclassing and want characters with truly prodigious powers. This variant works only if every PC in the campaign uses it, and it results in complicated characters who may overwhelm newer players with an abundance of options.

Building Gestalt Characters

To make a 1st-level gestalt character, choose two standard classes. Build your character according to the following guidelines.

Hit Dice

Choose the larger hit die. For example, a ranger/rogue gestalt would use the Ranger’s d10 hit die instead of the Rogue’s d8 hit die, and as such would have 10+Con hit points at level 1.

Proficiency Bonus

Your proficiency bonus is based on your character’s level as normal.

Skill Proficiencies

Choose your skills from the skill lists of both classes. Whichever class gives the greater number of skills, you choose that number of skills. For example, a fighter/ranger can choose 3 skills, picking from both the Fighter skill list and the Ranger skill list.

Proficiencies

You gain the armor, weapon, tool, and saving throw proficiencies of both classes.

Starting Equipment

Rather than using the starting equipment under the “equipment” section of your class description, instead refer to the starting wealth table on page 143 of the Player’s Handbook. You have the maximum amount of starting wealth of the wealthier of your two classes. For example, a barbarian/rogue would start with 160 gp (the maximum amount of money a Rogue can start with at level 1).

Class Features

You get the class features of both classes. A 1st-level monk/ranger, for example, gets both the Monk’s Unarmored Defense and Martial Arts features, and the Ranger’s Favored Enemy and Natural Explorer features. Class- and ability-based restrictions (like a druid’s inability to wear metal armor) apply normally to a gestalt character, regardless of what the other class is.

Ability Score Improvement

The Ability Score Improvement feature gained at class levels 4, 8, 12, 16, and 19 can increase only one ability score by 1. Gaining a feat requires exchanging two instances of the Ability Score Improvement feature as opposed to one. The Ability Score Improvements gained at fighter levels 6 and 14 and at rogue level 10 are unaffected by this change and function as normal.

Extra Attack

If you gain the Extra Attack feature from more than one of your classes, they don’t add together (except for the Fighter’s Extra Attack adding to itself). Instead, if you gain the Extra Attack feature from both of your classes, you may exchange one instance of Extra Attack for a feat. Additionally, the Warlock’s eldritch invocation Thirsting Blade doesn’t grant an additional attack if you also have Extra Attack.

Spellcasting

Treat both classes of the gestalt separately when it comes time to determining spell slots, spells known, and cantrips known, and add them all together. For example, a 5th-level Ranger/Wizard would have from the Ranger class four 1st-level spell slots and two 2nd-level spell slots, and would know 4 Ranger spells. From the Wizard class, he or she would have four 1st-level spell slots, three 2nd-level spell slots, and two 3rd-level spell slots, knowing four Wizard cantrips and having 14 spells in his or her spellbook from leveling. These spell slots would be added together, and this character would end up with eight 1st-level spell slots, five 2nd-level spell slots, and two 3rd-level spell slots, which can be used to cast any of the 4 ranger spells he or she knows, or any of the 6+their Intelligence modifier wizard spells he or she has prepared.

Multiclassing

Multiclassing functions normally, with each "side" of the gestalt being treated separately. For example, if the aforementioned 5th-level Ranger/Wizard wanted to multiclass to Cleric and Fighter upon reaching 6th level, he or she would have to decide which “side” of the gestalt to apply the new classes to. If this character became a Ranger 5/Fighter 1//Wizard 6, the regular multiclass spell level rules apply, and the Ranger/Fighter half would have four 1st-level spell slots and two 2nd-level spell slots, and the Wizard half would have four 1st-level spell slots, three 2nd-level spell slots, and three 3rd-level spell slots. This has the side effect of restricting characters from later on leveling only one “side” of the gestalt. The Ranger/Fighter//Wizard, upon reaching 7th-level, would be prohibited from leveling both the Fighter and Ranger classes because they are on the same “side” of the gestalt.


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