DnD is a game of collaborative storytelling. The storytelling part is what makes DnD compelling for millions of newcomers to the game. Game mechanics keep the players hooked and experimenting once they start playing DnD. Both the storytelling part and game mechanics part start with character creation. If you don’t know how to make a DnD character, don’t worry. In this guide, I will tell you everything you need to know to get started with your dnd campaign.
DnD 5e character creation basics
If you just learned how to play Dungeons and Dragons, you might feel overwhelmed by the number of options available to you during character creation. This is a common feeling among the new players. After all, you have to choose your character's race, background, class, alignment and starting equipment. You have to distribute ability scores and skills. To top it up, you have to come up with a backstory that will fit your mechanical choices.
A good starting point is to read DnD articles and books or watch DnD Youtube channels for inspiration. You should also talk to your DM and fellow players about the story you are about to start playing. This will help you generate a bunch of ideas and ensure that you are all on the same page.
How to choose a class in DnD 5e
The most important element of your character is the class. You can think of a character's class as if it were their profession. It will define what your character will be able to do as they progress through levels. You will want to decide on your class first, as it will determine other choices you make for your character.
There are three main elements you should consider when choosing your character class. The first and most important one is what kind of play style you enjoy. Barbarians are good at hitting things, rogues are all about sneaking and catching their foes unaware, and Artificers love to imbue objects with magical powers. Each class excels at certain skills and abilities. You should consider what you want to do with your character and choose the class accordingly.
The second important factor in choosing your class is group synergy. You should talk with other players and DM to make a party that works well together. Experience players might enjoy playing a gang of 4 rogues who bootleg casks of rum for profit, but if your group is inexperienced you will need a balanced party. You will need someone to deal damage, someone to tank damage, and someone to keep your party alive.
The third consideration you should make is the complexity of a class. Some classes are far more complex to play than others. Since there is no single best DnD class, you might as well pick one that is most suitable to your experience in DnD. Out of 14 DnD classes, Barbarian and Fighter are the most beginner-friendly classes. On the other hand, if you enjoy a complex playstyle where you have to keep track of many different elements, check out Artificer, a new class added in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything.
How to choose a race in DnD 5e
There are numerous fantastical races in DnD 5e. Player’s Handbook includes 9 core races but other books expand on that and add many more. For example, Mordenkainenen Presents: Monsters of the Multiverse adds 30 new playable races.
Races determine the innate abilities and appearance of your character. Some of them come with supernatural powers. Every race has its strengths and weaknesses. Although you can play any class/race combination, some DnD races fit some classes better than others.
Experienced players can find playing the mismatched class and race combinations can be fun to play, but as a beginner, you should choose a race that complements your class. For example, half-orcs have increased constitution and strength which makes them a perfect choice for Barbarians and Fighters.
There are many interesting race/class combinations in DnD 5e. We talked about the most interesting DnD 5e class and race combinations in another article, so you can check it out if you are looking for inspiration.
DnD 5e background guide
Background is your character’s history. Depending on the background you choose, your character will get additional skills, proficiencies, and languages. You should choose a background that is both flavorful and comes with a skill set that complements your build.
There is a bunch of backgrounds to choose from, but not each will suit every character. For example, if you start your wizard with a harborfolk background, you won’t get useful skills for the class as working on the docks doesn’t develop a skillset good for wizarding. On the other hand, charlatan is a suitable background for a rogue. It fits rogue flavour-wise and gives your character deception and sleight of hand skills which are both highly useful on a rogue.
Determining ability scores for your character
Ok, you have chosen your DnD character’s class, race, and background. The next important step in creating a character is determining their ability scores. There are six of those: Constitution, Strength, Dexterity, Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma.
Constitution determines increases your character's health points, resistance to poisons, and other factors that have to do with durability. As the name implies, strength determines the physical strength of your character. Dexterity is all about the stealth and precision of a character. Charisma is useful for social interactions and necessary for the spellcasting capabilities of certain classes. Wisdom represents the mental fortitude of a character, and intelligence represents the intellectual capabilities of a character.
Each class has more and less desirable attributes. Wizards want high intelligence and they don’t really care about strength. On the other hand, bards will want high charisma and dexterity. You will distribute attributes depending on what your class needs, but how do you determine them?
There are three ways to determine ability scores. My favourite one is by rolling stats. You roll 3d6 six times, which gives you six numbers between 3 and 18. You distribute each number to one of the ability scores, modify the numbers with your race’s modifiers and you are ready to go. Many house rules help you get more favourable results. For example, in my group, we roll three sets of seven stats and choose the best of the three sets.
The second option is called point-buy. When using the point-buy system, each ability score starts at 8. You get 27 points to increase your ability scores to a maximum score of 15. Cost increases for each level of ability score you increase. Here is a simple table that shows you the costs.
The simplest way of determining ability scores is by the array. This method gives you a static number to assign to your ability scores. The numbers are; 8, 10, 12, 13, 14, and 15. You assign each number to one ability score, apply the modifiers, and you are ready to go.
DnD 5e skill guide
Skills in DnD represent a specific knowledge character has. There are 18 skills in DnD 5e, and each is tied to a certain attribute. For example, athletics is tied to strength. This means that characters with higher strength will be better at jumping, swimming, and other actions tied to athletics. Another way to increase your success with certain skills is through skill proficiency. Your character will be proficient in certain skills, depending on their race, class, and background.
Some skills are useful for every character, and skills that are useful only for specific characters. Every character will benefit from perception as it determines what they notice in their surroundings. Other two skills that are useful for almost every character are stealth and athletics. Animal handling, on the other hand, is a skill that some characters might use daily, but others may never need to use it. Choose your skill proficiencies based on what hardships you expect your character will commonly face.
How to choose starting equipment in DnD 5e
After choosing your character’s class, race, and background, determining ability scores and skill proficiencies, the only thing left to do is to choose the starting equipment. There are two methods of choosing the equipment.
The simple method is to take the items listed in your character’s class description and add any items provided by your background. For example, Ranger’s default starting equipment is scale mail or leather armour, two shortswords or two simple melee weapons, a dungeoneer’s pack or an explorer’s pack, and a longbow and a quiver of 20 arrows.
The other method is to start with an amount of gold based on your class and purchase items. If you choose this method, you have to be aware that it is luck based, as you will roll your starting gold. Ranger, for example, will start with 5d4 x 10gp. This averages at 125gp. Another thing to remember when purchasing your starting equipment is to buy weapons and armour you are proficient with. Also don’t forget to buy any items your class might depend on.
Join us in our Adventurer’s Guild!
Adventurer’s Guild is a DnD 5e seasonal campaign organized by Magic Omens. Each season consists of somewhere around 15 sessions and is played every month in our store. Each player in the campaign is a member of the Adventurer’s Guild, an organization for adventurers seeking income, challenge, and excitement. The Guild is a central place where each session starts. There is a bounty board in the guild with various quests and bounties for adventurers. Based on the actions of each group, the whole in-game world changes and adapts. Begin your adventure and join us at Magic Omens!
Author – Ante Radoš