Divinity: Original Sin 2 doesn't include 'classes,' per se. When you make a character, you can choose a customizable class preset that gives you points in a couple combat abilities, and this determines the spells and special attacks you can start the game with. As you level up, you can continue putting points into those starting abilities, or branch out into any area of magic or fighting you like.
Before you've found some skill books, it can be hard to know where you want to put points. What if you discover a great skill that requires a point in Huntsman, but you've put all your ability juice into Necromancer? Not knowing what's ahead can stifle early progress with indecision, so this guide will help you plan for multiclass builds that make for a synergistic party.
Rather than breaking down your decisions by class preset, I've focused on the abilities themselves, as they can be mixed and matched however you want to build your own class. For each, I've given a brief preview of the sorts of skills you'll find, and suggestions for what to pair them with in the same character or others in your party. At the end of this article, I discuss weapon types and summarize the decisions you need to make as you progress.
Effect: Increases all Physical Damage you deal.
Class presets it's included in: Battlemage, Fighter, Inquisitor, Knight
Primary attribute: Strength (Intelligence for staves)
Primary damage type: Physical (Magic with staves)
A point or two in Warfare will help out anyone who deals Physical Damage, which mostly happens through weaponry (see the weapon types section near the bottom of this article if you're using a magic staff). The related skills center around melee combat and shields, though, so while it's useful for archers, high Warfare levels are best for tanky brawlers. You'll get skills such as Battle Stomp, which knocks down opponents, and Phoenix Dive, which lets you leap into battle and create a fire surface beneath you. High level abilities such as Guardian Angel, which reflects 50% of nearby allied damage to you, expect you to be heavily armored.
Pairs well with: Hydrosophist, Necromancer, Polymorph, weapon abilities
If you want to whack things in the head, but also use magic, Warfare pairs fine with any other ability—hence why it's included in four class presets.
For a warrior-healer Paladin type, Hydrosophist is a good pairing. With Warfare and Hydrosophist, you can focus on equipping physical armor, and use water spells to buff your magic armor when needed. You'll also be able to heal vitality, and freeze enemies for crowd control. The abilities Cleanse Wounds and Mass Cleanse Wounds, which restore vitality and remove many negative statuses, require points in both Warfare and Hydrosophist. If you want to avoid splitting your attribute points between Strength and Intelligence, use a water staff.
The Inquisitor preset pairs Warfare with Necromancer. Necromancer abilities deal Physical Damage, making Warfare immediately useful. The morbid arts also include healing abilities and a physical armor buff. Plus, tanky Necromancers can use Shackles of Pain to deal all damage they take to a target, and Last Rites to sacrifice themselves by taking damage to resurrect a target character. Buff Necromancers get the job done.
Another good pairing, Polymorph, includes several abilities that require you to get in close, as well as one that regenerates physical armor, so it works well with strong sword and shield characters. Its skills also deal Physical Damage, which Warfare boosts, and some rely on Strength, so it'll become more powerful at the same time as your Strength-based weapons. And who doesn't want to be a fighter who can turn their hair into snakes?
Effect: Increases the damage bonus when attacking from high ground.
Class presets it's included in: Ranger, Wayfarer
Primary attribute: Finesse
Primary damage type: Depends on class
This is your classic ranger archetype, with skills that center around bow and arrow trick shots and staying the hell away from melee enemies. It includes one close-range healing ability, First Aid, arrow attacks such as Pin Down, a crippling shot, and Reactive Shot, which works like overwatch in XCOM, letting you take shots at moving enemies between turns. Two points in Huntsman is the prerequisite for a skill that's useful for any ranged character, Tactical Retreat, which applies haste and teleports you out of harm's way.
Pairs well with: Geomancer, Pyrokinetic, Aeurotheurge, Summoning, Ranged
If you're dropping points into Huntsman, you must be an archer, so you'll benefit from other ranged abilities. The two existing preset classes make for good combos. Wayfarer pairs Huntsman with Geomancer, giving you abilities such as Fossil Strike, which creates an oil puddle that slows enemies and can be lit with fire arrows. If you have points in both Huntsman and Geomancer, you can also learn Throw Dust, which blinds enemies. The Ranger class preset instead pairs Huntsman with Pyrokinetic for some ranged fire spells, as well as the ability to toss out explosive traps if you've put points into both.
If someone else in your party has Aeurotheurge, they can learn Teleportation (there's also a certain set of gloves that grants this ability) which is useful for getting ranged characters to high ground (unlike Tactical Retreat, it can't be used on yourself which is why it's best to equip a non-archer with it).
Effect: Increases movement speed and boosts your Critical Modifier.
Class presets it's included in: Rogue, Shadowblade, Witch
Primary attribute: Finesse
Primary damage type: Depends on class
These are your roguish skills, and they require a dagger. Backlash leaps over enemies to backstab, Cloak and Dagger teleports you while sneaking, and various knife throwing abilities give you ranged attacks. If you're primarily using Scoundrel, you're using a dagger and sneaking to avoid too much damage from warrior-types.
Pairs well with: Polymorph, Necromancer, Aerotheurge, Dual Wielding
The Rogue class preset pairs Scoundrel with Sneaking and Dual Wielding, forgoing a second combat ability for a weapon ability. It's a fine choice if you want to start out as a classic rogue, though eventually you may want to invest points into a complementary set of abilities.
The other two presets, Shadowblade and Witch, pair the Scoundrel skillset with Polymorph and Necromancer respectively. Both are good choices. Polymorph gives you close-quarters transformation magic that keeps you moving around the battlefield (plus you can turn people into chickens) and Necromancer keeps your health topped off while dealing Physical Damage, which compliments the Physical Damage from your daggers. You don't have to, but focusing on one type of damage helps you get through one type of armor, rather than distributing your damage between Physical and Magic Armor, which will clear the way for you to apply negative status effects like bleeding more quickly.
For a non-default combo, you might try snagging a point or two of Aerotheurge. It includes abilities such as Evasive Aura, which increases your dodging chance and movement speed, and having points in both Scoundrel and Aerotheurge will allow you to learn Smoke Cover to help you hide from ranged attackers.
Effect: Increases all fire damage you deal.
Class presets it's included in: Ranger, Wizard
Primary attribute: Intelligence
Primary damage type: Magic (fire)
Pyrokinetic abilities include Searing Daggers, which fires three flaming daggers (you can choose where each one goes) at range, dealing fire damage and creating fire surfaces. Later on, you'll get stuff like Corpse Explosion, which does what it says it does, Laser Ray, a beam of heat, and some close-quarters attacks such as Supernova, which causes you to explode in a burst of flame.
Pairs well with: Huntsman, Geomancer, Polymorph
The Wayfarer default pairs Pyrokinetic with Huntsman, which works well as mentioned in the Huntsman entry. Wizard pairs it with Geomancer, which is also a good choice, as many Geomancer abilities leave oil surfaces behind, ripe for exploding.
Polymorph is an interesting choice, if not perfectly complementary since it relies on Strength and deals Physical Damage instead of Intelligence and Magic Damage. But with two points in both Pyrokinetic and Polymorph, you'll be able to learn Flaming Skin, which gives you immunity to fire, meaning you can go nuts without worrying about standing in your own flames (the equivalent exists for ice, poison, and electricity, so it's not unique). Other Polymorph abilities such as Summon Oily Blob and Terrain Transmutation could help you create the surfaces you need to burn, however, if you haven't focused on Geomancer.
Effect: Increases all water damage you deal, and any vitality healing or magic armor restoration you cause.
Class presets it's included in: Cleric, Enchanter
Primary attribute: Intelligence
Primary damage type: Magic (water), healing
Water, ice, and healing are the Hydrosophist's tools. Use it to remove status effects, heal vitality, restore magic armor, freeze enemies, and negate fire attacks. Later on, you'll unlock abilities like Global Cooling, which chills all enemies around you while dealing water damage.
Pairs well with: Aerotheurge, Huntsman, Warfare, Necromancer, Summoning
The obvious pairing, which is the default pairing in the Enchanter class, is Aerotheurge, which deals in air and lightning attacks. Focus on both, and your Rain spell can both freeze chilled characters or stun electrified characters. That obvious synergy aside, putting points into Hydrosophist will increase any vitality healing skill, including the Huntsman's First Aid, so consider dropping a point or two in if you're healing a lot (or using healing abilities to target the undead). And if you're going to be blasting enemies with ice from a distance, gaining the high ground damage bonus from Huntsman isn't a bad deal, either.
As I mention under Warfare, Hydrosophist can be used in a fighter-healer combo who strikes a balance between Physical and Magic Damage. For a more complicated combo, if your Hydrosophist or another character in your party has one point in both Geomancer and Polymorph, they can learn Turn to Oil, which turns water surfaces into oil. Combined with Rain, you can have all the oil you want for your pyro character to play with.
Alternatively, or at the same time, a point in Hydrosophist and Necromancer will let you learn Raining Blood—roughly the same as rain, but with blood, which Turn to Oil also affects. Blood can be absorbed for vitality with the Necromancer's Blood Sucker ability, too, and can be frozen. So if you want to make the ultimate healer, with Magic and Physical Damage—this is the default Cleric class—consider a bit of a contradiction with Hydrosophist's gentle healing and Necromancer's gory life stealing.
Effect: Increases all air damage you deal.
Class presets it's included in: Battlemage, Enchanter
Primary attribute: Intelligence
Primary damage type: Magic (air)
Aerotheurge is about all things air, including lightning. Your basic Electric Discharge attack fires a bolt of lightning which deals air damage and shocks characters—do it to a wet character and you may stun them. Later on, you'll find skills such as Vacuum Touch, which can suffocate and silence enemies, Nether Swap which causes two characters to switch places, and the RPG classic, Chain Lightning. One of our favorite skills, Teleportation, is also an Aerotheurge skill.
Pairs well with: Hydrosophist, Scoundrel, Necromancer, Huntsman
As previously mentioned, Scoundrel makes for a good pairing because of Aerothurge's evasion, movement speed, teleportation, and hiding abilities. And, of course, it works well with Hydrosophist if you want to be an elemental master, electrifying water puddles, or Necromancer if you want to do the same with blood. Huntsman isn't a bad choice either if you plan to attack from above, and a point in both Aerothurge and Huntsman will let you learn one of Original Sin 2's weirder abilities, Erratic Wisp, which will teleport a target character in a random direction every time they're attacked. In short, it's a pretty good bet that you aren't going wrong by dropping a point in Aerothurge, though it won't help you deal Physical Damage.
Effect: Increases all earth and poison damage you deal, and any physical armor restoration you cause.
Class presets it's included in: Fighter, Wayfarer, Wizard
Primary attribute: Intelligence
Primary damage type: Magic (earth, poison)
Rocks, oil, and poison are the Geomancer's tools. Contamination poisons surrounding enemies (while healing undead allies) and turns water, blood, and clouds toxic. Fossil Strike drops a big rock on your enemies and leaves an oil puddle. More advanced skills like Worm Tremor and Earthquake deal area damage.
Pairs well with: Warfare, Pyrokinetic, Scoundrel, Huntsman, Necromancer
Geomancers are the healers of the undead world, so if you've got Fane in your party or are undead yourself, it's good to have someone around who can poison you at will. There's not much Geomancer doesn't work well with. Since it's good for forming oil puddles, Pyrokinetic abilities are useful for lighting them. Huntsman-using archers will also appreciate the slowing effect of the oil, Scoundrel pairs thematically with poison attacks, and because it doesn't include any healing (except for undead), Necromancer abilities can fill that gap.
Effect: Heals you whenever you deal damage directly to vitality.
Class presets it's included in: Cleric, Inquisitor, Witch
Primary attribute: Intelligence
Primary damage type: Physical
A favorite among Original Sin 2 players, Necromancers are powerful healers, summoners, and Physical Damage dealers. Early on, Mosquito Swarm deals damage while healing you, Blood Sucker heals anyone its cast on so long as there's blood nearby for them to soak up, and Raise Bloated Corpse turns a body into a gruesome ally. A couple of the advanced abilities are great for combos: Shackles of Pain causes a target to receive all the damage you receive, and Living on the Edge prevents a target's vitality from dropping below 1 for two turns. You can see the potential (opens in new tab).
Pairs well with: Polymorph, Warfare, Aerothurge, Geomancer, Scoundrel, Hydrosophist, Summoning
The dead just go with everything, don't they? Because Necromancer provides some healing abilities as well as reliable Physical Damage, it's not unwise to grab a point. The focus on causing bleeding means it can pair nicely with any ability that deals with elements: Aerothurge can electrify blood, Hydrosophist can freeze it, and Geomancer (combined with Polymorph) can turn it into oil. The Cleric preset combines Necromancer and Hydrosophist, which makes for a good dedicated healer who can do serious damage to the undead.
Summoning allows you to use Soul Mate, which heals a target character for half of what you receive, which makes it a good pair for any healing skill (within the party, but not necessarily in the same character).
Scoundrel and Warfare both benefit from the healing magic, and because Necromancer is one of the rare magics that deal Physical Damage instead of Magic Damage, you can pair Necromancer with a Strength or Finesse-based weapon to focus in on depleting Physical Armor. Get it out of the way, and Necromancers can start applying negative status effects sooner.
Effect: Increases vitality, damage, physical and magic armor of your summons and totems.
Class presets it's included in: Conjurer
Primary attribute: Ability points in Summoning increase the power of summons
Primary damage type: Depends on summon abilities
You'll start by summoning elementals and totems to fight for you, and you'll want to put lots of points into Summoning to make them stronger. Later on, many Summoning abilities deal with giving these familiars skills from other disciplines, so that they can attack with water, fire, and other spells, heal and use invisibility. A well-kitted Summoner has an answer for everything, then.
Pairs well with: Aerothurge, Necromancer, Hydrosophist, Huntsman
If you're investing a lot of points in Summoning to buff your elementals, you probably aren't focusing too much on a weapon ability, though it's certainly possible to be a summoner and a fighter. Most Summoning skills rely on your Summoning level, not Intelligence, so you're free to focus on Strength and Constitution to make yourself hearty. That said, points you invest in increasing your Physical Damage won't affect your summons, which have their own stats, so the disciplines aren't quite complimentary.
If you're a slightly weaker summoner who likes to stay in the back while your creatures do all the work, you'll want a party member who has Aerothurge, as they can teleport you out of danger, or two points in Huntsman so you can use the Tactical Retreat ability.
As for Necromancer and Hydrosophist, they both include healing abilities which pair with summoners' Soul Mate ability, which gives half the healing you receive to another character. Though, again, the summoner doesn't necessarily need to focus on these abilities, as they'll eventually be able to summon creatures with the abilities the moment calls for.
Effect: Provides one free attribute point per point invested.
Class presets it's included in: Metamorph, Shadowblade
Primary attribute: Strength
Primary damage type: Physical
This is the weirdest skillset, and my personal favorite. Starting abilities include a mid-range tentacle attack, the ability to grow bull horns and charge at enemies, and the power to turn your foes into chickens. Later, you can learn to fly, grow snakes out of your head, turn invisible, and gain immunities to elements. At high levels, you'll get momentum shifting powers like Forced Exchange, which swaps vitality percentages with a target character.
Pairs well with: Warfare, Scoundrel, Necromancer
Most Polymorph abilities require getting in close, and attacks like Tentacle Lash deal Physical Damage and get bonuses from Strength, so Warfare is a strong complimentary choice. Scoundrel also helps you get face to face (or face to back) with enemies so that you can turn them into chickens, though its reliance on Finesse means it's not as synergistic. Necromancer also deals Physical Damage, and offers some healing skills to help make for a well-rounded character who can eat through physical armor and then apply status effects.
The importance of weapon types
Keep an eye out for Runes. If your armor or weapons have open slots, you can pop a rune in to get resistance and damage bonuses, and it doesn't require any special crafting equipment. Don't let them go to waste in your inventory!
Spells always deal the type of damage associated with the school of magic they're in, and always receive a bonus from Intelligence. For example, Aerothurge spells will always deal Air Damage and Necromancer spells will always deal Physical Damage, and both get bonuses from Intelligence. Skills from the Warfare, Scoundrel, and Huntsman abilities, however, vary in damage type and attribute bonuses depending on your equipped weapon.
For instance, if you've equipped a regular old sword, the Warfare skill Crippling Blow will deal Physical Damage and get a bonus from Strength. If, however, you've equipped an air staff, it will deal Air Damage and get a bonus from Intelligence. In general, you'll find the following damage types and attribute bonuses:
Swords, maces, clubs, and axes deal Physical Damage (with possible extra Magic Damage) and get a bonus from Strength.
Wands and magic staves deal Magic Damage (type varies) and get a bonus from Intelligence. Staves count as melee weapons, but wands do not.
Daggers, bows, and spears deal Physical Damage (with possible extra Magic Damage) and get a bonus from Finesse. Daggers can backstab.
There are exceptions and magic weapons come in all varieties. Some deal magic and physical damage, though in that case your skills typically still get a bonus from Strength or Finesse, not Intelligence. In the character creation screen, the Inquisitor is wielding a two-handed mace that deals Physical Damage but receives a bonus from Intelligence.
Staves are a somewhat special case, in that they can be used like melee weapons with Warfare skills, but deal only Magic Damage and get their bonus from Intelligence. If you're a magic user who's dumped a ton of points into Intelligence, using a staff means you can throw out melee attacks like Battle Stomp and Battering Ram without having to buff your Strength. However, note that adding points to the Warfare skill buffs Physical Damage, not Magic Damage, so after you've learned the skills you want, you're better off adding points to the school of magic your spells and staff belong to.
It's also worth mentioning that Warfare, Scoundrel, and Huntsman skills require specific weapons. For Warfare skills, you'll need a melee weapon, Huntsman skills require a bow, and Scoundrel requires one or more daggers. This is just to use these abilities' skills. You'll still get Warfare's bonus to Physical Damage, Huntsman's high ground bonus, and Scoundrel's critical chance and movement speed bonuses even if you aren't specifically using their skills.
Wherever possible, try to equip weapons that work in tandem with your favored abilities. For example, if you've dumped a bunch of points into Geomancer, which increases poison damage, you'll want a poison staff or wand. If you're a conjurer who specializes in Aerothurge but also has a few Warfare skills, you'll want an air staff. Fighters who are focused on Strength should of course avoid staves and wands altogether, as should Finesse-based characters who are better off with bows, daggers, and spears. In short, the thing to remember is that melee skills don't determine the damage type and attribute bonus, the weapon does.
And, of course, if you're focused on dealing damage with a weapon, you'll want to drop some points into Single-Handed, Two-Handed, Ranged, or Dual-Wielding depending on your preference. The Defense abilities are also strong, but for the purposes of this guide, I've only broken down the abilities that are going to allow you to learn new skills, as that's going to play the biggest role in your decision making.
Summary and reference
There's a lot here to process, but it can all be reduced to some short pieces of advice. For instance, decide if you want your character to deal one type of damage to take down one kind of armor, or if you'd prefer a balanced fighter who can handle fighters and mages alike.
Physical Damage: Warfare (except with staves), Necromancer, Huntsman, Scoundrel, Polymorph, and physical weapons (swords, maces, bows, etc)
Magic Damage: Warfare (with staves), Geomancer, Aerothurge, Hydrosophist, Pyrokinetic, and magical weapons (staves and wands)
Of course there's some crossover—a Huntsman using a magic bow may be dealing Magic Damage, too. You also want to consider what attributes these abilities rely on. If you focus on abilities that are boosted by the same stat, you can improve both at the expense of losing balance between Physical and Magic Damage.
Intelligence: Warfare (staff), Geomancer, Aerothurge, Hydrosophist, Pyrokinetic, staves, wands
Strength: Warfare (non-magic melee weapon), Polymorph, swords, axes, maces, etc
Finesse: Warfare (dagger or spear), Huntsman (bow), Scoundrel (daggers)
And then there's the odd one out: Summoning. Because Summoning mostly relies on your Summoning ability level, you can focus your attribute points wherever you like, so long as you keep plugging ability points into Summoning. Though as Xenzoku pointed out in the comments, you don't have to go all in on any one ability, Summoning included. There are plenty of utility skills it's worth having even if they lie outside of your focus.
Finally, you want to consider how your abilities interact with elements. Geomancers deal with oil and poison, which Pyrokinetic abilities can ignite. Water and blood can be frozen or electrified by Hydrosophists and Aerotheurges. Also, don't forget that healing abilities harm the undead: your cleric build isn't just a healer, but can cause serious damage to bony enemies.
It takes some experimentation to get builds you like, and if you're playing alone, you have four characters to worry about—so don't feel bad if you spend some ability points you regret (especially because you can completely respec).
After restarting a couple times because I'm indecisive, my main character is a Warfare, Necromancer, Polymorph hybrid who fights with an axe and shield, and I have few complaints. All three disciplines deal Physical Damage, which my Warfare level buffs. My weapon and some Polymorph skills rely on Strength, and secondarily I'm focusing on Intelligence to improve my Necromancer skills.
The synergies pointed out here aren't the only interesting combos, of course, so let us know in the comments how you're dividing up your attribute and ability points.