What are D&D Classes and Where to Find Them
Character generation in Dungeons and Dragons involves many things, not the least of which is selection of the character's class. This variable dictates the character's abilities and his role in the group.
What is a Character's Class
Any group of adventures is going to have characters who fill several different roles. These roles are specific to that particular character's class. A character's class is much more than a set of skills and feats, this is his profession. It determines what that character is capable of in matters of problem solving, battle and his basic every day life.
When generating a character a player may already have some idea what role that character will be will play within the group. Some classes are designed specifically to avoid taking damage while dealing high amounts, where as others are designed for taking lots of damage, so that the others in the group don't have to.
In Dungeons and Dragons, there are several core classes for which rules are provided in the core rule book, The Players Handbook. These classes are generally pretty basic and straight forward. Other classes can be found within the pages of supplemental source books. Those classes are more specialize and specific.
For example, the Players Handbook will have the rules for a basic fighter, whereas the supplemental source book will have the rules for a different sort of fighter, whose style is a little more defined or specialized, such as a fighter who only uses ranged weapons, or only does non-lethal damage.
For those of you prefer to see lots fo information all one once rather than flipping through the pages of one more books, Wizards of the coast has provided a comprehensive list of all the classes that have been published within any of their publications.
This Character Class Index gives you the name of a class, the source book it can be found in, what page of that book it's on, and a brief description of what that class is.
This can be extremely handy when you aren't quite sure what you'd like to play. You can go here and browse through everything that's available from Wizards of the Coast, and then find out what book you'll need to get to find it.
All of these character classes are available for your use within the Dungeons and Dragons Insider's Character Builder. With this character creator, you can generate your character from scratch, selecting everything right on your screen, starting with his attributes, race and class, and ending with the color of his eyes and hair. All Wizards of the Coast character classes are available within this program, and with it, a description of each one to help prevent you from choosing the wrong class.
There are many other sources out there for great character classes that will work in your D&D campaign, including other settings like Pathfinder, so don't think these sources mentioned above are your only resources! Keep your eyes open for that class that fits the idea you have of your perfect character, and always review it with the Dungeon Master to make sure it fits in the campaign setting.
If you have a favorite class that's not mentioned in those sources listed above, or if you have a favorite third-party source that you could share, please do so by posting a link to it in the comments section below!