The Best Class to Use in 5e One-Shot Adventures

One-shot adventures in Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition offer players the chance to play new classes and try unique builds outside of their main campaigns. They also allow new players to get a feel for how the game plays and its ruleset in an enclosed environment where the story does not have to affect future sessions. 

Due to these changes in the loose meta of how D&D plays, class creation must take a slightly different approach to account for the less frequent rest points and the need to balance between going all out or playing conservatively with your resources. In this article, we will break down two of the best classes to use in any one-shot adventure, including a build example and strategies for each. 

Class 1: Rogue

The Rogue class is a master of finesse, skill, and stealth, making it a compelling choice for one-shot adventures. They have expertise in a wide variety of skills allowing them to play however they like in any setting. Their stealth capabilities also allow them to navigate through challenges, unravel plot mysteries, and deliver deadly strikes when the time is right. Continue reading to find out how to build an effective Rogue in any one-shot adventure.

Top Class to Use in 5e One-Shot Adventures

Race – Wood Elf

For your Race pick, take the Wood Elf for the inherent increase to Dexterity and Wisdom. These will complement your Rogue’s need for an increased Armor Class and more volatile attack rolls. Additionally, the Wood Elf’s proficiency in Perception and the ability to move swiftly in natural environments, such as forests, can be valuable in exploration-heavy one-shots, such as in the non-linear Wolves of Welton.

Ability Scores

Your Ability Scores determine how effective your character will be in almost every interaction both in combat and in roleplay. There’s traditionally no leveling up in one-shots so what you pick to start with will largely be permanent. With this in mind, investing solely into Dexterity is totally fine considering it is your highest priority Ability Score in main adventures as well. Your attack bonus, Armor Class, and most of your class abilities rely on Dexterity. 

Once your Dexterity is as high as you like, Charisma becomes your next useful Ability Score. Boosting skills such as Deception and Persuasion can be valuable for playing the nature of Rogues in one-shot adventures. Lastly, Intelligence and Wisdom can be important for a one-shot adventure as it can help find hints and solve puzzles in the adventure through dice rolls. Both of which gain a unique boost to their usefulness in the shorter sessions of one-shots than main campaigns.

Background- Charlatan

Backgrounds can either be useless or incredibly helpful in one-shot adventures. In the case of the latter, it is helpful to pick a background that supports your class. For Rogues, the Charlatan background will give you proficiency in Deception and Sleight of Hand, which can be handy in tricking enemies and manipulating situations to your advantage.

Additionally, you can a useful set of tools of your choice between a forgery kit or a disguise kit. Both of these can be handy based on the setting and any inherent resources for your kit are welcome bonuses since you will likely end the adventure with the same gear you started with.

Subclass- Arcane Trickster

Most one-shots will allow you to play at a high enough level to pick up a subclass and have resources from your chosen class available. For the Rogue, taking the Arcane Trickster for your Roguish Archetype will add a touch of magic to your character, granting access to the same spells Wizards get access to. 

This opens a wide array of utility and versatility, allowing you to cast spells like Mage Hand, Invisibility, and Disguise Sefl. These spells elevate the way the Rogue plays and supports navigating through tricky situations and solving problems with creative uses. 


In social encounters, use your high Charisma and proficiency in Deception to assume various disguises or play roles, allowing you to gather information or infiltrate hostile locations unnoticed. Take advantage of your Rogue’s Sneak Attack feature, dealing extra damage when an ally is engaged with the target or when you have an advantage on the attack. 

Coordinate with your party members to ensure you get Sneak Attacks whenever possible. Use Cunning Action to take the Dash, Disengage, or Hide action as a bonus action, providing you with unparalleled mobility and evasiveness during combat. Utilize your Arcane Trickster spells wisely, focusing on utility and crowd control to tip the odds in your favor. Spells like Silent Image and Color Spray can be game-changers in certain situations

Best Class 5e One-Shot Adventures

Class 2: Barbarian

Barbarians are primal warriors, tapping into their inner rage to become fierce and relentless combatants. Whereas the Rogue works from behind the scenes, the Barbarian works at the frontline and often does not mind taking an aggressive approach to situations as needed.

Their exceptional durability and ability to dish out massive damage make Barbarians formidable choices for one-shot adventures. If this style of play fits you better than the Rogue’s, then follow the guidelines below to build an effective Barbarian. 

Race- Half-Orc

The Half-Orc is an excellent choice for a Barbarian build. The inherent increase to Strength and Constitution is crucial to playing a Barbarian properly due to the reliance on damage output and survivability. Half-Orcs’ Relentless Endurance ability also allows them to stay in a fight for longer, which can be crucial in adventures where every action matters.  The Goliath is another great pick to consider.

Ability Scores

Strength should be your highest Ability Score, as it determines your attack bonus and damage dealt with melee weapons. Barbarian abilities that utilize checks will likely use Strength as well. It is ok to become a Single Ability Score dependent class if you have a high enough Strength to back the decision up. 

Once Strength is at a comfortable spot, invest in Constitution. This is arguably equally important as Strength since it affects your Hit Points and having high health means more chances to take hits and enter rage while also neglecting the need to constantly rest and heal up. Lastly, if needed, you can invest in Dexterity as your final Ability Score to boost your Armor Class if choosing to wear light or medium armor.

Background – Outlander

Similar to the Rogue’s background, it is better to pick an optimal background than not even if it does not end up being important in your session. The Outlander provides proficiency in Survival- great for navigating the wilderness or tracking enemies as they go into hiding. Wanderer from Outlander allows you to find food and fresh water for yourself and five others, acting as a reliable technique in survival-based adventures that require resource gathering. 

Subclass – Path of the Zealot

Your Barbarian Subclass, called Paths, will grant additional resources and abilities to make use of throughout the adventure. Path of the Zealot gives divine power to your rage, granting more benefits to push beyond the damage needed to activate. 

Zealous Presence lets you imbue your allies with a fighting spirit similar to your own, granting them advantage on attack rolls and saving throws for a full minute. This feature allows you to support from the frontlines, turning the tide of risky or adverse scenarios.


Rage is your most potent feature, granting you bonus damage, resistance to certain types of damage, and advantage on Strength checks and saving throws. Use it strategically, but be mindful of its limited uses per day. 

Reckless Attack allows you to gain advantage on your melee weapon attacks at the cost of granting advantage to enemies attacking you. Use this ability wisely, especially when allies can take advantage of your enemy’s distraction with you. As a Zealot Barbarian, your Zealous Presence ability can turn the tide of battle in your favor. Time its usage carefully, focusing on crucial moments when you need to boost your allies’ performance or overcome challenging adversaries.

Conclusion on Best Class to Use for One-Shot Adventures in dnd 5e

Both the Rogue and Barbarian builds offer unique strengths and abilities that help rank them among the best classes to use in one-shot adventures for Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition. Rogues will excel at skill-based challenges, matters of stealth, and precise strikes. Barbarians will excel at melee combat, strength-based problems, and high damage output. 

Depending on the type of one-shot you are playing, you may find more success in one class than the other or see equal success from both. In the end, pick the one you resonate with first and foremost, then decide on the optimal choice once you have more information on the setting. With these effective builds in your hands, you are well-prepared to tackle any challenge sent your way in D&D. 

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