How to Create Fifth Edition Characters
The first step in diving into the world of Fifth Edition is to create a character. Characters are a combination of statistics, story details, and your imagination. You get to create every detail about your character, from who they are, what they can do, and even what they look like.
Who are you?
Before you start creating your character, ask yourself: who are they? Are they a dashing knight? Or a charming bard? Perhaps they're a powerful wizard. Or maybe a ascetic monk.
What drives your character? What happened in their past that made them get up and decide to adventure?
Character Creation Steps
Once you know what sort of character that you want to create, follow the six simple steps below to make your character playable in the Fifth Edition fantasy ruleset.
1. Choose a Species
Every character in Fifth Edition has a species (sometimes called race or heritage). Your species grants you special boosts to your ability scores, identifies their height, weight, and speed relative to other species, and even gives a few special features. The Fifth Edition SRD identifies all the core species in the game, but additional books and supplement offer even more for you to choose from.
2. Choose a Class
Your class is a broad description of your character's calling. It identifies his or her special talents, particularly those they will likely utilize while exploring a dungeon, fighting enemies, or negotiating with others.
Here is the list of classes available to you:
Usually, a character starts at 1st level and goes up in level by adventuring and earning experience points (XP). A 1st-level character is just starting their journey. However, the Gamemaster might get you to start at a higher level. Whatever your starting level is, record it on your character sheet.
Learn more about what happens when you level up in the full rules set.
Hit Points and Hit Dice
Hit points are a measure of your character's toughness, luck, and ability to survive tough situations. Your character's Hit Dice determines their hit points. You have 1 Hit Die at first level, and the die type is determined by your class. You start with the maximum number of hit points possible on that die plus your Constitution modifier. This is known as your hit point maximum.
Your proficiency bonus is a special modifier that applies to many of the numbers that you'll record on your character sheet including:
- Attack rolls for weapons with which you're proficient
- Attack rolls for spells
- Ability checks using skills and tools in which you're proficient
- Saving throws in which you're proficient
- The saving throw DC for spells you cast
Your class determines your weapon and tool proficiencies, as well as some of your skill and tool proficiencies.
3. Determine Ability Scores
Almost everything that your character does is determined by their ability scores. There are six ability scores in the game: Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma. Each of these abilities has a score and an associated modifier.
To determine your ability scores, roll four six-sided dice and record the total of the three highest dice on a piece of scrap paper. Repeat this process five more times so you have six numbers. Then, assign each of these numbers to one of your six ability scores.
If you prefer not to let chance determine your character's ability scores, instead use these scores instead: 15, 14, 13, 12, 10, 8.
4. Describe Your Character
After you know the basic abilities of your character, flesh them out by determining their ideals, bonds, flaws, background, and alignment.
Ideals are the concepts that motivates your character, representing their personal philosophy.
Bonds are the things that your character holds most dear, such as an old keepsake, or their relationship with a family member or friend. It could also be an enemy they seek for revenge that drives them.
Flaws are personality traits that could unravel your character at any moment, including the middle of a stressful situation.
Alignment is your character's moral compass and it consists of two parts: ethical and moral. Ethical alignments are lawful, neutral, and chaotic. Moral alignments are good, neutral, and evil.
Background describes where your character came from, their original occupation, and their place in the fantasy world. Background also grants your character two additional skills related to their past, as well as bonus languages and tool proficiencies. Additionally, it grants your character extra starting gold.
5. Choose Equipment
Your class and background determines the equipment that your character starts with, including weapons, armor, and adventuring gear. You can forego the starting equipment package and instead take a number of gold pieces (gp) based on your class.
- Barbarians and Druids start with 2d4 x 10 gp.
- Bards, Clerics, Fighters, Monks, Paladins, and Rangers start with 5d4 x 10 gp.
- Rogues, Warlocks, and Wizards start with 4d4 x 10 gp.
- Sorcerers start with 3d4 x 10 gp.
You can get a full list of the equipment here.
Your character's Armor Class (AC) represents how well they avoid being wounded in battle. The type of armor you wear, the shield you carry, and your Dexterity modifier all contribute to your AC.
If you aren't wearing armor or a shield, your AC is 10 + your Dexterity modifier.
Determine the attack bonus for each weapon that you wield as well as the damage dealt.
Your attack roll is calculated as follows:
- Melee Weapons: your attack roll equals your Strength modifier plus your proficiency bonus (assuming that you are proficient with the weapon). Damage rolls are made using the weapon's damage die plus your Strength modifier. A weapon with the finesse property, such as the shortsword, can use your Dexterity modifier instead.
- Ranged Weapons: your attack roll equals your Dexterity modifier plus your proficiency bonus (assuming that you are proficient with the weapon). Damage rolls are made using the weapon's damage die plus your Dexterity modifier. A weapon that has the thrown property, such as a dagger, can use your Strength modifier instead.
6. Come Together
Chances are, you'll be working with a group of adventurers, characters played by other players. Work alongside these folks to determine how your characters know each other. You might have a shared past together. Or it could be the first time you've ever met.