Introduction: Creating Your Dungeonslayer: Making a D&D Character
Maybe you're a big fan of Critical Role, or really enjoying the hype for Baldur's Gate 3. Perhaps your friend has finally convinced you to give it a whirl, or you want to have a character ready to go for when you finally find a group that works with your weird work schedule!
Whatever the reason that's brought you here, you want to create a character for the famous Dungeon and Dragons pen and paper roleplaying game by Wizards of the Coast, so lets hop to it!\
- D&D Character sheet
- There are many variations of D&D, but as of 2020, 5E is the latest and greatest.
- Grab a sheet from (Print, or edit PDF)
Step 1: Carving Your Character
First up is picking your class, race, and background. The order is up to you; its your character!
I prefer to select a class first, as that govern much of what you'll be able to do in a D&D session. Some races and classes go hand in hand; like a Tiefling Warlock or a Halfling rogue. Don't let that stop you! Odd combinations can lead to fun adventures too; be a tiny Gnome priest with a penchant for stealing and hellfire! Others prefer to pick a race, carve out their own backstory, then select a class to fit them; the choice is yours!
Each has different starting stats, languages, and proficiencies. If you're building your character for a group that already has a Dungeon Master, you can consult them for any variations to your character. Maybe your Dwarf doesn't know any Dwarvish, but is very fluent in Gnomish!
Check your handbook for the available races; while every D&D group has different rules, the classically available races are:
After selecting your race, find the "Racial Traits" for it in the handbook. We'll be using this more in the future.
Your class is your defining role for the game; a wizard cannot easily smash down a wall and a barbarian cannot so cleverly outwit a dragon. This is a particularly important choice! Read through each class on the website or in your handbook before selecting one. If you can't decide, there's always Bard!
Classically available classes:
A background is perhaps the least impactful choice of this step, but can help guide you down the path of your character. Each background has some minor proficiencies, languages, and skills. Consult the handbook for specifics, or your Dungeon Master (DM) for variations:
- Folk Hero
- Guild Artisan
At the top of your Character Sheet, fill out your race, class, and background. Keep your finger on those Racial Traits!
Step 2: The Math-rocks Go Clicky Clack
Now it's time to roll the dice and find out just how much the Gods blessed your character's existence.
NOTE - If you don't want to roll the dice on your stats, you may assign points by this pre-existing standard: 8, 10, 12, 13, 14, 15
We are going to be rolling the dice 4 times per each major stat (Strength, Intelligence ect). Afterwards, you can assign the results to each stat as you please; that way, luck doesn't curse your Wizard with low intelligence and high Dexterity.
The major stats are on the left side of your character sheet. Your handbook explains each in detail; the Basic Rules PDF breaks it down into digestible spoonfuls too.
- Strength - How well you smash, lift, and athleticies. Necessary for warrior types.
- Dexterity - How well you stab, shoot, and dodge. Necessary for rogue and archer types.
- Constitution - Health, breath, stamina. All-around good for everyone, especially warrior types.
- Intelligence - Magic, knowledge, and insight. Must-have for casters like Wizard and Warlock.
- Wisdom - Common sense and street smarts. Medicine, perception, insight, and more. Good for clerics.
- Charisma - Smoothtalking and bartering. It's how you seduce that dragon or soothe the suspicious guard. A non-combat stat that never hurts, and can help you avoid combat.
Rolling for stats
- Roll one d6 dice 4 times, or 4d6
- Drop the lowest number
- Add the remaining three numbers and write it down.
- Do this a total of 6 times; once per each major stat.
Got all 6 numbers down? Awesome! Now, take a look at your "Racial Traists" from the last step; your race will affect these stats. Apply the racial modifiers then assign them as you wish to your stats.
The ability modifier is what changes the actual numbers on your dice roll. These simplify the math to -1 or +3 for dice rolls.
The points you just assigned for your stats will tells us what your ability modifier is. For example, if your Dexterity is 11, the Ability Modifier would be +1. Look at the list below and fill out your sheet appropriately (It's the column left of your stats)
2-3 = -4
4-5 = -3
6-7 = -2
8-9 = -1
10-11 = +0
12-13 = +1
14-15 = +2
16-17 = +3
18-19 = +4
20-21 = +5
Put +2 in this for now. Essentially, this is another boost to your roll depending on how good you are with a weapon. By default, everyone has +2 proficiency at level 1.
Eventually, an archer may have - say - +5 proficiency with crossbows.
Ignore this for now; inspiration is a modifier you gain through playing the game and isn't a part of creating a character.
For this, reference both your class and your race modifiers in the handbook. Combine this with your Ability Modifier for the listed stat for your skill score.
Ex., if your race and class gave you 3 Acrobatics, and your Dexterity modifier was +3, you'd have a skill of 6 Acrobatics.
This is very much like a skill; your level always starts at 10 and is modified by your Perception skill. Ex, if Perception is +5, your Passive Perception would be 15.
Step 3: The Blade Itself
Grab your sword and fight the Horde! Let's pluck out equipment.
There are two main ways to pick your starting gear. You may refer to your class in the Handbook for a list of starting equipment and just use that.
Or... Each class (and some backgrounds) have a different amount of gold they start with (refer to "Starting Wealth by Class" and your background).
The handbook has a list of Equipment (under Equipment) you may purchase, or you may talk to your DM (or find a list online) of items. Remember that a Fighter probably wants some armor!
Once you've selected your starting equipment, write your remaining gold down in the GP tab.
Step 4: Pursed and Cutpurse
Nothing says D&D like a Dwarf screaming insults in his own language at an Elf or a thief cutting purses while the party hangs in a tavern, so let's figure out your Other Proficiencies and Languages.
This step is quick and easy. For languages, by default you have one for your race and your background. You may also pluck one more; check the handbook for a list of languages.
As for proficiencies, this varies by group. Perhaps after several sessions, you've successfully managed to specifically get nobles to spill the beans about some juicy gossip. A DM may assign a proficiency to you where you have a bonus Persuasion roll with nobles.
Other groups will let you pick one self-made proficiency when creating a character, or ignore it entirely.
Step 5: Hearth and Hellfire
Health, Initiative, and Cloth Armor
Depends on the armor from your starting equipment or if you have none, 10 + your Dexterity modifier.
In combat, determines the order of attacking entities. Determined by your Dexterity modifier.
Your level + your class's hit dice modifier.
Dependent on your Racial Traits
Hit Point Maximum
Hit Die + Constitution Modifier
Current Hit Point, Temporary Hit Points, and Death Saves are not relevant to character creation.
Step 6: Spells and Attacks
Add your weapons from your starting equipment and their modifiers as listed in the item's stats to the slots at the top of this section.
In general, ranged weapons used a Dexterity modifier (plus or minus), melee wapons use strength, and Finesse weapons use either stat you prefer.
Spells are dependent on your starting class.
Step 7: Traits, Ideals, Bonds and Flaws
These can be determined by your background, if you so desire. Else, you may make up your own. Ex., your rogue just really doesn't like Gnome and gets a -2 Charisma role against them.
A roleplaying box. Add what you wish; use it to help guide your character in roleplaying.
Roleplaying box; your character may be bonded to their parents, or perhaps an innkeep in a specific town.
A roleplay box for negative character flaws, such as a fear of the dark.
Step 8: Roleplay for Your Roleplay
Finally, let's fill out the details that make your character more than just a bunch of numbers.
At the top of your sheet, note the unfilled options: Character name, Player Name, Alignment, Faction, and DCI Number.
DCI Number can be ignored; Faction is not necessary either if you so wish. Alignment refers to your characters moral alignment; ex, Lawful Good or Chaotic Evil.
The second page of your character sheet has slots for all the details you could want to share. Age, heigh, weight, eyes, skin, hair, faction and faction rank (if you so desire).
If you wish, you made add an image to Character Appearance to help visualize your character for other players. Or you may wish to leave it blank, that others may fill your character in with imagination.
Though these slots are not filled with the gameplay-changing modifiers and numbers, they can make the difference between a disposable slate of a character, and a memorable adventurer.
Step 9: Example Sheets
Now that you've put the pieces together for the character you like, it may be wise to look at other finished character sheets and see if there's details you may have forgotten or ideas you'd like to adopt.
The official DnD resources page has many, many premade characters to help spark your imagination.
All across the internet are publicly available sheets of characters, even on pintrest. A quick Google search and a few minutes glancing around may give you that icing on top of the character to make them perfect.
There are also character generators that will assemble a rough outline for you at the click of a button. If you don't like the final result of your character, you could autogenerate a template and change it to suit your tastes.
Step 10: Self-Review and Doublechecking
Now that you've pieced your creation together, review it! Character creation, especially your first few times, can be a confusing a messy process.
Double check that each relevant box is filled, ensure your skills are appropriately leveled with the right stat modifiers, and double-triple check that everything adds up. 'Cheating' a character sheet, intentionally or not, can be a quick way to end your D&D adventure before it even begins; as can putting so few points in Constitution that a Goblin's sneeze kills you.
Last, ask for feedback! D&D dominates internet culture and there are thousands of websites, groups, discords, subreddits and more full of enthusiasts more than willing to help, critique, and offer encouragement for new players.