Nightcrawler D&D character build featured image is from Princes of the Apocalypse, a D&D 5e module. This article contains affiliate links to put gold in our coffers.
Kurt Wagner is my favorite superhero on my favorite superhero team. I love everything about Nightcrawler. I had to do a D&D 5e character build for him!
I created this Nightcrawler build as part of the Squad Goals project. I joined Wally DM, Dungeoneer’s Pack, and Fil Kearney to build the X-Men as a D&D 5e adventuring team. The goal was to portray how a group of players can collaborate to make a better adventuring party that isn’t a mere amalgamation of mismatched solo characters. You can check out that video here:
Nightcrawler Character Build
I listed my goals for what I want Nightcrawler to achieve. Then I planned out how I could accomplish those goals and complete the character narrative as quickly as possible. I ended up with a build that could meet all my goals by level ten while having fun along the way:
Regarding the obvious teleportation goal, I wanted to have unlimited teleportation, meaning I didn’t want a resource limitation. I also wanted to eventually be able to teleport with someone else as a passenger, and Dimension Door is what I decided to aim for. This meant I’d need at least seven levels of a full spellcasting class.
This Nightcrawler character heavily relies on re-flavoring. Flavoring and re-flavoring refer to the narrative behind a given mechanic and tailoring it to a character. For example, the Magic Missile spell could be re-flavored as Gambit throwing energized cards at enemies. It does the same thing mechanically, but it’s described to fit the narrative that the player wants for their character. This is re-flavoring.
I want Nightcrawler to function as a mid-liner who supports the front and back lines. He thrives when he can harass enemies while maintaining his preferred positioning and mobility. Allies in trouble can count on Kurt to get them to safety.
Nightcrawler’s D&D Lineage
I was tempted to pick Shadar-Kai for its teleportation option, but I realized I could do better aesthetically while focusing on wallcrawling. We’re going to rely on some re-flavoring.
Tiefling (aesthetics) + Dhampir (mechanics)
Nightcrawler absolutely resembles a blue Tiefling without horns. The Tiefling’s mechanics, however, are not what I’m here for. I’m going to use the Tiefling appearance but overwrite its mechanics with the “layered” lineage of the Dhampir from Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft.
Dhampirs gain one of the best wallcrawling abilities in the game. They don’t need to concentrate or cast spells to get it. Nightcrawler will be able to freely walk upside down on ceilings while keeping his hands free. This is critical for the playstyle we’re going for and to accurately play as Nightcrawler right away.
I don’t recommend paying attention to the vampiric nature of the Dhampir. We’ll treat it as its own lineage unique to Kurt.
Nightcrawler D&D Class and Subclass Levels
Kurt is a tricky character to build because his skills are varied and lack limits. I want to avoid resource strain while meeting my aforementioned goals of the build. I’m going with Echo Knight and Trickery Cleric to get a fully functional Nightcrawler character by level ten.
Echo Knight Fighter – 3 Levels
This is the fastest way to get unlimited teleportation. It requires Nightcrawler to swap places with the summoned echo, but that can be flavored as him teleporting quickly between two points. It’s like he’s in two places at once. This is a re-flavor that treats the echo as a simultaneous possibility of position based on teleportation. Fighter levels are useful, too. I’d probably use Fighter for my first 3 levels, at least.
Again, I’d want to play Kurt as a mid-liner who functions in a supporting role. I’m fine with delaying Extra Attack or skipping it, depending on what I want the character to look like beyond level ten.
Trickery Domain Cleric – 7 Levels
Religion is a substantial part of Kurt’s worldview and life. A Cleric is a natural part of that, but it’s the Trickery Cleric that gives us mechanical consistency over other domains. The Trickery Domain’s spell list is critical. Dimension Door is the primary goal here since it enables Kurt to teleport an ally to safety.
The Mirror Image spell and Channel Divinity: Invoke Duplicity feature are illusory effects. You can re-flavor illusions as Kurt rapidly teleports to confuse enemies. The Pass without Trace spell can be described as Nightcrawler teleporting the party through an area to avoid detection. Blessing of the Trickster helps with Stealth, too. Kurt’s power to passively bend light around him to shroud himself in darkness can be paid off by these spells and abilities. Channel Divinity: Cloak of Shadows is similarly fantastic.
Casting Blink is obviously a way for him to stay out of trouble by teleporting.
Disguise Self is consistent with some stories where Kurt uses holographic technology to hide his devilish appearance.
Plenty of Cleric spells that are not on the Trickery list can be similarly re-flavored. Bless can be described as Kurt teleporting around to assist allies defensively and offensively. Spiritual Weapon can be treated similar to the Echo Knight’s echos in that it’s a point that Kurt is frequenting for attacks.
Kurt spent time in the circus, where he developed much of his natural agility. I was tempted to give him a background tied to religion, but I believe the Cleric class levels cover that.
The entertainer background (tumbler) gives Kurt proficiency with Acrobatics, which is essential.
How Would You Create Nightcrawler in D&D 5e?
That’s how I’d play Nightcrawler! I completely fulfilled my wishlist by level ten, and I begin to feel like Kurt as soon as level three.
How would you create and play Nightcrawler in D&D 5e? Cast Message in the comments below to tell me your thoughts.