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D&D: Five Subclasses for Being Brainy

4 Minute Read
Mar 25 2024

Is your character playing five-dimensional hyperchess while everyone else is playing checkers? Then you might want one of these subclasses.

Adventurers in D&D have a reputation for not being all that bright. After all, as Brennan Lee Mulligan explains it, the ideal adventuring party is hot, strong, and dumb. But, just because that’s the default assumption for your average adventuring party, doesn’t mean that there aren’t the odd brainy adventurers.

In other words, some adventurers are as nerdy as their players. And for those adventuring nerds, there are plenty of options to show off those little grey cells, aka your brain brawn. Here’s a look at five of the brainiest subclasses for those adventurers who DON’T want to dump Intelligence.

Inquisitive Rogue

Let’s start off with a Rogue, for once. And while you might think the Mastermind Rogue is a sure bet, because it even has “mind” right there in the name, that subclass is all about deception and subterfuge, which is for hot people. But the Inquisitive Rogue is basically the Robert Downey Jr. Sherlock Holmes subclass.

The Inquisitive Rogue is all about being analytical and noticing the most minute details that can aid your ability to conduct any Investigation check, as well as making you able to read someone in a predictive manner in a fight. With boosts for both Insight and Investigation, the Inquisitive is a great subclass if you want to be the one who figures out the mystery as it unfurls.

Knowledge Domain Cleric

Now we get to one of the subclasses where being a nerd is right there in the name. The Knowledge Domain Cleric is one of the brainiest subclasses out there because it’s all about knowing things. Knowledge Clerics gain expertise on two different knowledge skills, as well as spells that make it easy to learn new things.

With spells like Identity and Augury, Knowledge Domain Clerics can unearth basically any fact. And if that wasn’t enough, their 2nd-level feature is literally called Knowledge of the Ages. If you want to play a know-it-all who has all the answers, Knowledge Cleric is the way to go.


College of Lore Bard

Another one where it’s right in the name, Bards from the College of Lore unearth all sorts of secrets, both arcane and otherwise. Aside from Bards getting Expertise in certain skills as well as having the Jack of all Trades ability to automatically be at least a little good at every skill, College of Lore Bards also gain extra Magical Secrets which can expand their capabilities even further.

And since you’re playing a Bard, you will still be focusing on Charisma, which makes you perfectly suited to the average D&D party anyway.  This is a great subclass to pick if you want to know things and still be sort of the Face of the party.

Alchemist Artificer

Artificers are already pretty nerdy where classes are concerned. They join Wizards in their focus on Intelligence. They’re spellcasters who cast spells by creating little gadgets and gizmos. And Alchemists, in and among Artificers, are especially nerdy, because they’re all about brewing up the perfect little potions and concoctions.


They know recipes for both beneficial potions and disaster. And given their equipment, they’re typically going to be the ones always over a bubbling beaker or flask full of some kind of liquid, which is the nerdiest of options. Pick this subclass if you want to have a tool for every occasion.

Divination Wizard

If you’ve been screaming at your monitor, where are the Wizards, don’t worry. They’re here. And really, you could pick any kind of Wizard and be set, but of the Wizards, Divination Wizards are probably the nerdiest Wizards. They study the movement of the stars and read portents in the flight of birds, whatever their methods, they know what’s coming.

And that’s the ultimate knowledge to show off. If you really want to flex your ability to know things and to lay out the perfect plan because of it, play a Wizard from the School of Divination.

What’s your favorite way to be brainy in D&D?

Author: J.R. Zambrano
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