A New Set of Gestalt Rules
Gestalt variants have been around since Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 rules and are a popular way to make a higher-powered campaign. The trick with any variant rule is balance, remembering that the stronger the characters are, the stronger the enemies need to be. That being said, making a gestalt character can give you options that would not normally be possible in a typical campaign. It also allows you to run an adventure with a smaller party, each member able to fill multiple roles. This ruleset has adapted ideas from multiple sources in order to keep it from being TOO overpowered.
Character creation starts as normal, with the determining of Ability Scores. You can use any method that you choose, but keep in mind the first restriction: gestalt characters must meet the minimum ability score requirements for a multiclass character in both of their chosen classes (See PHB 163).
Next, decide on a Race, two Classes, and a Background. For this, use only officially published materials, which have been playtested and balanced. No homebrews, UAs, or 3rd party releases allowed.
- You gain the armor, weapon, and tool proficiencies from both classes, but keep any restrictions from either class (such as Druids not using metal armor or shields).
- Your starting Hit Die is the better of the two classes, and you start as normal with maximum Hit Points at first level.
- Select two skills from among any of your class skills, plus one additional skill if you are playing a bard, ranger, or rogue (four total skills if playing bard/rogue, ranger/rogue, or rogue/rogue).
- For saving throw proficiencies, select one primary (DEX/CON/WIS) and one secondary (STR/INT/CHA) from among your classes' proficiencies.
- You gain all class features from both classes, following the rules listed for multiclassing (See PHB 164), except Spell Slots. Select the spell slot progression from one of the classes to use. Each class is limited to the level of spells known based on the original class spell slot progression (e.g. Level 9 Fighter (Eldritch Knight)/Wizard (Divination) will have 6 spells at max level 2 for the Fighter but will still have max level 5 spells for the Wizard).
- Your proficiency bonus follows your overall character level, as normal.
- You gain the starting equipment from your background, plus the maximum starting wealth from one of your classes with which to purchase additional equipment (See PHB 143).
- Variant Humans are allowed, and a feat may be selected using the "Feat Level Requirements" sidebar for reference.
Feat Level Requirements
In an attempt to keep characters balanced while still allowing feats in the game, the following feats have gained a level requirement to select.
- Crossbow Expert
- Ritual Caster
- Shield Master
- War Caster
- Elven Accuracy (XGtE)
- Polearm Master
- Great Weapon Master
You have multiple options for determining when to level up characters, based upon DM personal preference.
- Standard Character Advancement Chart as listed (See PHB 15)
- Standard Character Advancement Chart, XP requirement doubled (e.g. 600 XP to reach Level 2)
- Standard Character Advancement Chart, shifted 1 level (e.g. 900 XP to reach Level 2, 2700 XP to reach Level 3)
- Milestone Advancement (i.e. Leveling at certain points in the story)
When characters DO level up, most things will remain the same. Gain an additional Hit Die (from the same class as first level) and either roll for Hit Points or take the standard fixed value. Adjust proficiency bonus, if necessary. Gain any new class features. The only exception is the Ability Score Improvement (ASI), which can be taken only once per applicable level. The character will be identified as a Level X Class1 (Subclass)/Class2 (Subclass).
These options will give an even wider range of playable characters. Each will generally lead to optimization, power gaming, min/maxing, or munchkinism. They can be added separately to a game, or together. For added craziness, you can even multiclass a single class gestalt character. This is one time that you can say "try this at home!"
Single Class Gestalt Characters
Sometimes a player does not want the added confusion of a second class to keep track of. Sometimes they are just new to the game, but still want to participate in the high-octane campaign. Or maybe they just want to mix and match skillsets from two separate subclasses of a single class. To balance a single class character in a gestalt campaign, the following are recommended:
- Select two different subclasses at the appropriate level and gain the features of each.
- Gain a bonus feat at level 1 (using the "Feat Level Requirements" sidebar from Page 1 of this document).
In the sidebar "Class-Specific Notes for Single Class Gestalt Characters," any references to features which "do stack" or "do not stack" refer to stacking with themselves, not with other features on the list.
Multiclassing with Gestalt
Multiclassing with a Gestalt character can be tricky, as you need to keep each half separate. Here are some important rules to remember when using this option:
- When multiclassing both sides of the gestalt, identify which side each new class is associated with.
- The same class cannot appear on both sides of the gestalt, except if the character starts as a single class gestalt.
- For Hit Dice, select the better option at each new level.
- For Ability Score Improvements, use only one side of the gestalt, except for a Fighter 6, Rogue 10, or Fighter 14 ASI on the other side.
- For spell slot progression, apply the multiclass rules (See PHB 164) to each side of the gestalt, and use the better progression.
- A single class gestalt character cannot be multiclassed until after the level at which a subclass is selected.
- When multiclassing a single class gestalt character, only one side may return to the original class at future levels. Follow rule #2 above, ignoring all single class gestalt levels. (e.g. A Level 4 Fighter Champion/Samurai advances to Level 5 Samurai/4 Champion/1 Monk. Ignoring the 4 Fighter levels, you are left with Level 1 Samurai/Monk. Due to rule #2, you cannot return to Champion, as it would place Fighter on both sides of a multiclass gestalt.)
Class-Specific Notes for Single Class Gestalt Characters
Barbarian - Number of Rages, Rage Bonus Damage, Fast Movement, Brutal Critical, and Primal Champion do not stack. A character may select Totem Warrior twice, choosing two different totems at levels 3, 6, and 14.
Bard - Bardic Inspiration, Jack of All Trades, Magical Secrets, and Superior Inspiration do not stack. For Expertise you choose three instead of two skills at levels 3 and 10.
Cleric - Domain Spells do stack. Potent Spellcasting and Divine Strike do not stack. Channel Divinity works as if multiclassing. A character may select one or two deities to worship, while following the domain rules.
Druid - Wild Shape does not stack. A character may select Circle of the Land twice, choosing two different lands (Circle Spells do stack, Bonus Cantrip does not).
Fighter - Fighting Style does stack. Second Wind, Action Surge, and Indomitable do not stack.
Monk - Ki, Unarmored Movement, Slow Fall, and Perfect Self do not stack.
Paladin - Divine Sense, Lay on Hands, Improved Divine Smite, and Cleansing Touch do not stack. Fighting Style and Oath Spells do stack. Channel Divinity works as if multiclassing.
Ranger - Favored Enemy, Natural Explorer, and Fighting Style do stack. Foe Slayer does not stack.
Rogue - For Expertise you choose three instead of two skills at levels 1 and 6. Sneak Attack and Stroke of Luck do not stack.
Sorcerer - Sorcery Points, Metamagic, and Sorcerous Restoration do not stack.
Warlock - You may choose two patrons and two pact boons, each paired one-to-one. You may select either the same patron or boon twice, but not both. Pact Magic, Eldritch Invocations, Mystic Arcanum, and Eldritch Master do not stack.
Wizard - Arcane Recovery, Spell Mastery, and Signature Spells do not stack.
Single class gestalt casters do not receive double spells.
Thank you to The Homebrewery for this amazing template, allowing me to create an easy guide! And thank you to Phiros for the idea to create my own, with some thoughts borrowed from his guide!