There are not any significant changes from the Player’s Handbook on the process of creating a character. We will be using D&D Beyond to maintain and manage all the player characters. Any Homebrew content that is required will be created within that application.
Determining Ability Scores
Much of what your character does in the game depends on his or her six abilities: Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma. Each ability has a score, which is a number you record on your character sheet.
The six abilities and their use in the game are described in chapter 7 in the Player’s Handbook. The Ability Score Summary table provides a quick reference for what qualities are measured by each ability, what races increases which abilities, and what classes consider each ability particularly important.
You generate your character’s six ability scores randomly. Roll four 6-sided dice and record the total of the highest three dice on a piece of scratch paper. This is repeated seven times, so that you have seven numbers in total. Choosing the best of the six rolls will make up your base attribute pool for you to select where to place them into your attributes.
Now take your six numbers and write each number beside one of your character’s six abilities to assign scores to Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma. Afterward, make any changes to your ability scores because of your race choice.
After assigning your ability scores, determine your ability modifiers using the Ability Scores and Modifiers table. To determine an ability modifier without consulting the table, subtract 10 from the ability score and then divide the result by 2 (round down). Write the modifier next to each of your scores.
Describe Your Character
Once you know the basic game aspects of your character, it’s time to flesh him or her out as a person. Your character needs a name. Spend a few minutes thinking about what he or she looks like and how he or she behaves in general terms.
Using the information in chapter 4 from the Player’s Handbook, you can flesh out your character’s physical appearance and personality traits. Choose your character’s alignment (the moral compass that guides his or her decisions) and ideals. Chapter 4 in the Player’s Handbook also helps you identify the things your character holds most dear, called bonds, and the flaws that could one day undermine him or her.
Your character’s background describes where he or she carne from, his or her original occupation, and the character’s place in the D&D world. Your DM might offer additional backgrounds beyond the ones included in chapter 4 of the Player’s Handbook and might be willing to work with you to craft a background that’s a more precise fit for your character concept.
A background gives your character a background feature (a general benefit) and proficiency in two skills, and it might also give you additional languages or proficiency with certain kinds of tools. Record this information, along with the personality information you develop, on your character sheet.
Your Character’s Abilities
Take your character’s ability scores and race into account as you flesh out his or her appearance and personality. A very strong character with low Intelligence might think and behave very differently from a very smart character with low Strength.
High Strength usually corresponds with a burly or athletic body, while a character with low Strength might be scrawny or plump.
A character with high Dexterity is probably lithe and slim, while a character with low Dexterity might be either gangly and awkward or heavy and thick fingered.
A character with high Constitution usually looks healthy, with bright eyes and abundant energy. A character with low Constitution might be sickly or Frail.
A character with high Intelligence might be highly inquisitive and studious, while a character with low Intelligence might speak simply or easily forget details.
A character with high Wisdom has good judgment, empathy, and a general awareness of what’s going on. A character with low Wisdom might be absent-minded, foolhardy, or oblivious.
A character with high Charisma exudes confidence, which is usually mixed with a graceful or intimidating presence. A character with a low Charisma might come across as abrasive, inarticulate, or timid.
Your class and background determine your character’s starting equipment, including weapons, armor, and other adventuring gear. Record this equipment on your character sheet. All such items are detailed in chapter 5 in the Player’s Handbook.
Your Strength score limits the amount of gear you can carry. Try not to purchase equipment with a total weight (in pounds) exceeding your Strength score times 15. The Player’s Handbook Chapter 7 has more information on carrying capacity.
Beyond 1st Level
As your character goes on adventures and overcomes challenges, he or she gains experience, represented by experience points. A character who reaches a specified experience point total advances in capability. This advancement is called gaining a level.
When your character gains a level, his or her class often grants additional features, as derailed in the class description. Some of these features allow you to increase your ability scores, either increasing two scores by 1 each or increasing one score by 2. You can’t increase an ability score above 20. In addition, every character’s proficiency bonus increases at certain levels.
Each time you gain a level, you gain 1 additional Hit Die. Roll that Hit Die, add your Constitution modifier to the roll, and add the total to your hit point maximum.
When your Constitution modifier increases by 1, your hit point maximum increases by 1 for each level you have attained.
When Bruenor reaches 8th level as a fighter, he increases his Constitution score from 17 to 18, thus increasing his Constitution modifier from +3 to +4. His hit point maximum then increases by 8, one per level he has achieved.
The Character Advancement table summarizes the XP you need to advance in levels from level 1 through level 20, and the proficiency bonus for a character of that level. Consult the information in your character’s class description to see what other improvements you gain at each level.
While there are two normal methods of advancement; Milestone and Experience Points, we will be using Experience Points for this Campaign. I prefer the more gradual incremental increases of the advancement to show the growth and to give the players a more gradual feeling of accomplishments.
Tiers of Play
The shading in the Character Advancement Table shows the four tiers of play. The tiers don’t have any rules associated with them; they are a general description of how the play experience changes as characters gain levels.
In the first tier (levels 1-4), characters are effectively apprentice adventurers. They are learning the features that define them as members of classes, including the major choices that flavor their class features as they advance (such as a wizard’s Arcane Tradition or a fighter’s Martial Archetype). The threats they face are relatively minor, usually posing a danger lo local farmsteads or villages.
In the second tier (levels 5-10), characters come into their own. Many spellcasters gain access to 3rd-Ievel spells at the start of this tier, crossing a new threshold of magical power with spells such as fireball and lightning bolt. At this tier, many weapon-using classes gain the ability to make multiple attacks in one round. These characters have become important, facing dangers that threaten cities and kingdoms.
In the third tierer (levels 11-16), characters have reached a level of power that sets them high above the ordinary populace and makes them special even among adventurers. At 11th level, many spellcasters gain access lo 6th-leveI spells, some of which create effects previously impossible for player characters to achieve. Other characters gain features that allow them to make more attacks or do more impressive things with those attacks. These mighty adventurers often confront threats to whole regions and continents.
At the fourth tier (levels 17-20), characters achieve the pinnacle of their class features, becoming heroic (or villainous) archetypes. The fate of the world or even the fundamental order of the multiverse might hang in the balance during their adventures.
Character Advancement Table
|Level||Proficiency Bonus||Experience Points|