Guide to Building a Demon Hunter: Dungeons and Dragons 5e

To play a demon hunter in Dungeons and Dragons 5e, consider this build:

For this DnD 5e character build, I wanted to blend the ranger and paladin classes for a multiclass character.  Really, I want to take the monster slayer archetype and expand it.  I want to make the character the paladins call when they’re scared—the specialist, a hitman.

This is the John Wick of slaying evil—except with swords.  In a way, it’s a sister character to my Vampire Slayer Swordsman.

Before we begin slaying demons, check out my original pirate adventure, Dead Man’s Tale.  Click here or below for more information.

Deadman's Tale an Island Pirate Adventure DnD 5e friendly 3rd party campaign

Choose drow race

Elves just make better rangers, and the drow have extra benefits hidden up their sleeves.  Sure, I’ll have to deal with sunlight weakness.  However, this guy is a delver of darkness—he’s a demon slayer.

The drow receive a +2 bonus to Dexterity, as all elves do.  Plus, they have proficiency in wielding rapiers, a Finesse weapon that deals 1d8, and hand crossbows.  In a way, this character will carry a Wolfenstein vibe.  Or, something like a Professor Van Helsing aesthetic.  Either way, I plan on building a Dexterity-based swordsman.

Another bonus the drow receive is to Charisma.  When my paladin features come into play, this will be a nice benefit.  As far as my inherent drow magic, I can use dancing lights and faerie fire for the sake of my party.  This character is going to be going to some dark places to hunt his prey.

Take duelist fighting style

As a ranger, this character will choose a fighting style.  I do this all the time, but choosing the Duelist fighting style is the way to go.

With the Duelist fighting style, I get to add +2 to my damage rolls.  I’m killing the baddest of the bad, I need some kill power.  My plan is to maneuver and strike when the moment is right, relying on my high Dexterity score for my armor class.

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Choose demon slaying ranger spells

Now that I have my battle strategy figured out, I want ranger spells that complement the goal.

Hunter’s mark is a must, as it allows me to add extra damage.  I can choose an enemy to place the mark on and add an extra 1d6 to my damage roll.  As this character grows, I’ll add more spells and abilities to overcharge his damage output.

Another early spell pick for me is ensnaring strike.  On a successful weapon attack, the target must make a Strength saving throw.  On a fail, the target is restrained by giant thorny vines.  At the beginning of their next turn, they take 1d6 piercing damage.  The extra damage is cool, but the main use for this spell is to hinder my opponent’s movement.

Other useful 1st level spells for this class are cure wounds, hail of thorns and detect magic.  Being a melee combatant without a shield means I may take damage.  Obviously, the healing magics will be good for me.  Detect magic seems relevant according to my prey, who often have innate magic.

Level 2 spells could include cordon of arrows and spike growth for crowd control.  Cordon of arrows will allow me to place 4 arrows into the ground.  Whenever an enemy find themselves within its boundaries, an arrow shoots that enemy for 1d6 damageSpike growth spreads large, thorny vines in a 20 foot radius, dealing 2d4 piercing to enemies who land or start their turn there.

Choose monster slayer archetype at level 3

As I mentioned, I want to open this archetype open to its fullest extent.  But first, I want to go over what we get off the bat.

First of all, monster slayers get special spells at 3rd, 5th, 9th, 13th and 17th levels.  At level 3, we kick off with protection from evil and good.  So, we’re already operating on this cosmic scale.  At 5th level, zone of truth helps to dispel deceptive magic.

On top of these spells, monster slayers receive Hunter’s Sense and Slayer’s Prey.

Hunter’s Sense allows me to study an enemy and find out how to hurt it.  Information I can gather includes weaknesses, invulnerabilities and how I stack up against the enemy.  This ability plays off the trope of classic vampire, witch or werewolf hunters—knowing that silver bullets or garlic or salt can harm the monster.

Slayer’s Prey is essentially another hunter’s mark.  Place the marker on a creature within 60 feet and the first attack you make deals an extra 1d6.

Multi class with paladin

At level 4 and 5, I’m going to grab two paladin levels.

The first level of paladin grants me Divine Sense and Lay on Hands.  Divine Sense allows me to sense creatures of celestial, fiend, and undead origin.  In other words, I’ll be able to sense evil.  Lay on Hands offers me another healing factor, pulling from a reservoir of HP that equals 5 X my paladin level.

The second level of paladin, however, is where the real action begins.  I receive 2 first level paladin spells, using my Charisma modifier, and learn DIVINE SMITE.  As far as the spells go, I’ll probably grab another elemental smite type spell or two. But Divine Smite offers an extra 3d8 damage against undead and fiends and 2d8 against others.  This damage grows as I level up.

Now, my swashbuckling, rapier-wielding ranger can potentially attack a fiendish monster for an absurd amount of damage.  This damage output looks like 1d8 (sword) + 3 (Dex mod) +2 (Dueling) +3d8 (Divine Smite).  Or i could play more reserved with my spell slots and cast a constant hunter’s mark on the field.

To sum it up

All combined, I’ve taken a ranger approach at slaying fiends from the underworld.  I think the drow fencer ranger is a unique approach to a paladin character.  This character has a diversity of talents, both in battle and in game.

Between Hunter’s Sense, Divine Sense and my basic ranger abilities, no monster will escape.  My demon hunter takes the work of a paladin to a new level, with a little splash of edge-lord dark elf.

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