This is a little choose-your-own-adventure style guide to making a character for your first //Dungeons & Dragons// game! (link-reveal: "Click on text in blue to choose an option and move to the next choice.")[ (Yep - just like that!)] Don't worry about the rules for now; you'll learn them quicker when you're playing.
Have you ever played anything like //Dungeons & Dragons// before? Maybe another roleplaying game, or a boardgame where you had a specific character of your own with lots of special powers and skills? (link-replace: "If not, click here for some extra advice.")[
First of all, it's awesome you're gonna try something new! But I recommend that for your very first game you don't make your own character at all. Get your Dungeon Master (DM for short) to give you a character, with the understanding this is probably only a temporary one. Learn to play your character, while also paying attention to the other characters at your table. This gives you a chance to figure out what you'd like to play in the game. The rest of this guide doesn't assume you've done this, but it's worth keeping in mind that some classes are more difficult than others to play, or suit different tastes and skills. Don't stress about having to get it right first time, though - your DM will definitely let you change your character if you want!]
When making your first character, a good way to start is to think about the kind of characters you like in fantasy and action films, comics or TV shows, and what defines them. Are they smart, skilled, lucky, brave, funny, tough, kind? Choose options that seem to work with that core character concept, or just whatever seems awesome. Alternatively, you can go through this guide and pick things first, then use those choices to inform the kind of character you want to play.
Another thing that's important is to remember that D&D is a cooperative game - you're all in this together! So be sure to make a character who has a reason to hang out with a group and go on exciting and dangerous adventures with them. For this reason, it's usually best to figure out your character's backstory when your group is all together. This makes it easier to figure out how you all know each other, and why you adventure together.
Speaking of your group, before you get too far into character ideas, on [[the next page->Your table, your game]] let's have a quick chat about the specifics of your game!Most game worlds in *Dungeons & Dragons* are populated not only by humans, but many other kinds of folk. Your choice of race influences your basic capabilities - some people tend to be hardier, stronger or smarter than others - and most non-humans have some special advantages, like being able to see in the dark or having some inherent magic. Have a read and choose a race by clicking on one of the links below.
The "classic" races on this page are the ones most commonly encountered in Dungeons & Dragons, but there are some other options available which might be more or less common in the world of your game; click the link at the bottom of the page if none of these take your fancy, but check in with your Dungeon Master about those choices.
''Dwarves'' are at home underground, but have spread across the world and diversified. Shorter than humans but more resilient, they can see in the dark, are hard to poison, and love to make things. They live for many centuries, and have long cultural memories steeped in tradition. There are usually two kinds of dwarf:
* ''Mountain dwarves'' (aka shield dwarves) are strong and traditionally learn how to wear armour, even if their class wouldn't normally known how.
* ''Hill dwarves'' (aka gold dwarves) are wise and tough.
(link-reveal: "I want to be a mountain dwarf.")[(set: $race to "mountain dwarf")(goto: "Class")]
(link-reveal: "I want to be a hill dwarf.")[(set: $race to "hill dwarf")(goto: "Class")]
''Elves'' are tall, slender, graceful and not of this world - their ancestors came from the Feywild, another realm of magic. Their culture is incredibly ancient, with empires that reached their height long before the rise of humans, but there may be fewer of them now. All elves see in the dark, do not sleep, resist magic that affects their minds and are ageless, living much longer than even dwarves. Several kinds of elves exist:
* ''High elves'' (aka moon elves, sun elves or grey elves) live in magical cities created by mighty spells. They are they are highly intelligent and revere learning. They are often considered aloof or haughty by others.
* ''Wood elves'' live in the forests and commune with nature. They are fast and find it easy to hide amongst trees and other natural terrain. They are usually the friendliest of the elven cultures.
* ''Dark elves'' (aka "drow") were driven underground and shunned for worshipping the evil spider goddess Lolth. They can see even better in the dark and are gifted with dark magical powers, but bright light (like sunlight) hurts their eyes. Their skin is dark black or purple, and they often have white or pale hair. They are rightly feared by most folk, but some individuals overcome the evil of their culture to become a force for good.
(link-reveal: "I want to be a high elf.")[(set: $race to "high elf")(goto: "High Elf")]
(link-reveal: "I want to be a wood elf.")[(set: $race to "wood elf")(goto: "Class")]
(link-reveal: "I want to be a dark elf.")[(set: $race to "dark elf")(goto: "Class")]
''Halfings'' are about half the size of humans (hence the name; basically they're hobbits). They're nimble, brave and lucky. Their great cultural divide concerns whether they feel driven to roam or put down deep roots:
* ''Lightfoot halflings'' are charming and stealthy, with a wanderlust that often sees them travelling far and wide alone or in loosely related "bands".
* ''Strongheart halflings'' (aka stout halflings) are tough and hard to poison, a bit like dwarves. They are smaller than lightfoot halflings, and are more like traditional hobbits.
(link-reveal: "I want to be a lightfoot halfling.")[(set: $race to "lightfoot halfling")(goto: "Class")]
(link-reveal: "I want to be a strongheart halfling.")[(set: $race to "strongheart halfling")(goto: "Class")]
''Humans'' are, well, humans. They don't typically have inherent supernatural powers, and are short-lived by the standards of dwarves, elves and other peoples, but this seems to give them a greater drive. They are usually the most diverse and populous race in the world with many kingdoms and nations.
(link-reveal: "I want to be a human.")[(set: $race to "human")(goto: "Class")]
[[I don't like any of these options; what else is there?->Other Races]]Now we know you're a(if: $race is "dragonborn")[(if: $draconicAncestry's 1st is in "aeiou")[n] $draconicAncestry](else:)[(if: $race's 1st is in "aeiou")[n]] $race, it's time to choose your ''class'' - the heroic archetype you embody. While your character's race will flavour their personality and backstory, and give them a few unique advantages, your class is where the majority of their skills, powers and combat abilities will come from, and is the choice with the biggest impact on what your character can do - and how complex the rules are that govern them.
There are twelve classes, each bringing a different set of special abilities to combat and adventuring, but they can be grouped into four broad categories. It's generally considered a good idea to have a mix of classes in the group that cover these different areas, but in the modern game any mix of classes can work. It's also generally the most fun if everyone picks a different class, since then everyone will have different strengths, weaknesses and tricks up their sleeves, making it easy for everyone to get their time in the spotlight! But if two players want to be the same class, it's not the end of the world. Every class has some options for different specialisations, and between that and the differing races, backgrounds and weapon choices, there lots of smaller ways to make your characters distinct.
I've given the classes a brief description and a note on how easy they are to play; this is based on the complexity of the rules for that class, how many options the class has when making a character, whether there are lots of things to remember or choose from during play and so on. Your DM will be able to help you play whatever sounds good to you, even if it's a bit trickier, but it is considered good form to learn and understand the rules for your own class. Have a read through them before you play!
[[I want to be a tough warrior!->Warrior classes]]
[[I want to cast lots of magic spells!->Spellcasting classes]]
[[I want to rely on my wits or skill!->Skillful classes]]
[[I want to channel the power of a god!->Holy classes]]Because you're a $race, and your people revere magic, you start knowing one minor wizard spell you can cast as often as you like - even if you don't decide to be a wizard! Below are three suggestions for spells that are useful for things other than fighting, but you can choose any of the cantrips in the wizard list in the Spells chapter. (Your DM will probably be fine with you changing this spell if you end up not liking it.)
* ''Mage Hand'' lets you create a floating, phantom hand with which you can pick up and manipulate small objects up to 30 feet away from you.
* ''Message'' sends a short whispered message to someone within 120 feet of you, and lets them whisper one back; no-one else can hear the messages.
* ''Prestidigitation'' allows you to do all kind of minor magic tricks, like harmless sparks, lighting candles, or making symbols appear. None of them last long but they can be useful sometimes, and impress non-magical folk!
(link-reveal: "I like Mage Hand!")[(set: $highelfSpell to "Mage Hand")(goto: "Class")]
(link-reveal: "I want to know Message!")[(set: $highelfSpell to "Message")(goto: "Class")]
(link-reveal: "I think Prestidigitation is cool!")[(set: $highelfSpell to "Prestidigitation")(goto: "Class")]
(link-reveal: "I don't know which one I want; choose me one at random!")[(set: $highelfSpell to (either: "Mage Hand", "Message", "Prestidigitation"))(goto: "Class")]The folk on this page are usually rarer in the worlds of Dungeons & Dragons, and might not exist at all; make sure you ask your DM if it's okay to pick one of these. There might also be other options available in your game; I've only included in this guide the races which appear in the //Player's Handbook//.
The ''Dragonborn'', who resemble humanoid dragons, have a mysterious origin, but its clear they descend from dragons or the dragon gods somehow. In most settings they once had a mightly civilisation which somehow fell, and there are now few of them left. Usually a little bigger than humans, they have strong bodies covered in tough scales, and large personalities to match. They run the same range of scale colours as dragons do, and can magically breathe fire, lightning, cold or other forms of energy, depending on their lineage.
(link-reveal: "I want to be a dragonborn.")[(set: $race to "dragonborn")(goto: "Dragonborn")]
''Gnomes'' are a little bigger than halflings, and like elves are touched by the Feywild, but traditionally live underground. They are clever, can see in the dark and know a thing or two about magic. Most gnomes are ''rock gnomes'', tough tinkerers with a natural understanding of magical and mechanical devices. They are usually found in their own communities within larger human or dwarven cities. ''Forest gnomes'' are more rarely encountered; they are nimble and gifted at magical illusions, which they use to hide in their underground forest homes away from other creatures, except for the small burrowing animals they naturally befriend.
(link-reveal: "I want to be a rock gnome.")[(set: $race to "rock gnome")(goto: "Class")]
(link-reveal: "I want to be a forest gnome.")[(set: $race to "forest gnome")(goto: "Class")]
''Half-Elves'' are part elf, part human. They have some of an elf's magical traits, including seeing in the dark and a resistance to magic that controls their minds, but also some of the versatility of humans. They may have elf and human parents, or be the offspring of other half-elves. They typically have the build of a human but the graceful features and pointed ears of an elf, though the blend of characteristics varies greatly - as does their level of acceptance in elf and human societies.
(link-reveal: "I want to be a half-elf.")[(set: $race to "half-elf")(goto: "Class")]
''Half-Orcs'' are the children of humans and evil, brutish orcs. Half-orcs aren't always evil, but they are big, strong and tough, can see in the dark, and are hard to kill. Like their orc parents they are savage in combat and use their fearsome appearance to intimidate others - all of which only serve to remind humans of their orc ancestry. While they can usually find work, prejudice against half-orcs is often strong in human lands, while most orc tribes see them as weak and unworthy.
(link-reveal: "I want to be a half-orc.")[(set: $race to "half-orc")(goto: "Class")]
''Tieflings'' are descended from humans who did a deal with Asmodeus, Lord of the Nine Hells. They are humanoids with big horns and long tails, skin tones ranging from red through to purple, the ability to see in the dark, some resistance to flame, and a few infernal magical powers. Tieflings have no kingdoms of their own and are generally feared and distrusted, though in truth they are no more inherently evil than any human.
(link-reveal: "I want to be a tiefling.")[(set: $race to "tiefling")(goto: "Class")]
[[I don't like any of these options; I want to choose one of the classic races.->Race]]A dragonborn's heritage determines the colour of their scales and the inherent power they have. The metallic dragons - gold, copper, bronze, brass and silver - are aligned with the forces of good, while chromatic dragons - red, black, green, blue and silver - are evil and selfish creatures. These alignments don't extend to dragonborn, but that doesn't mean others who know the basics of dragonlore won't make certain assumptions based on their appearance...
* ''Gold'' and ''Red'' dragonborn can breathe a cone of fire, and are also resistant to being burned. Gold and red dragons are the mightiest of their kind.
* ''Black'' and ''Copper'' dragonborn can breathe a stream of dangerous acid, and are resistant to damage from acid.
* ''Blue'' and ''Bronze'' dragonborn can breathe bolts of lightning! Lightning and electricity doesn't harm them as much as other folk.
* ''Brass'' dragonborn can breathe fire in a thin streak, and are resistant to bring burned.
* ''Green'' dragonborn are the only ones able to breathe a cloud of poisonous gas. They are resistant to poison.
* ''Silver'' and ''White'' dragonborn can breathe a cone of freezing cold breath, and aren't bothered by cold attacks.
(link-reveal: "My dragonborn has black dragon heritage.")[(set: $draconicAncestry to "black")(goto: "Class")]
(link-reveal: "My dragonborn has blue dragon heritage.")[(set: $draconicAncestry to "blue")(goto: "Class")]
(link-reveal: "My dragonborn has brass dragon heritage.")[(set: $draconicAncestry to "brass")(goto: "Class")]
(link-reveal: "My dragonborn has bronze dragon heritage.")[(set: $draconicAncestry to "bronze")(goto: "Class")]
(link-reveal: "My dragonborn has copper dragon heritage.")[(set: $draconicAncestry to "copper")(goto: "Class")]
(link-reveal: "My dragonborn has gold dragon heritage.")[(set: $draconicAncestry to "gold")(goto: "Class")]
(link-reveal: "My dragonborn has green dragon heritage.")[(set: $draconicAncestry to "green")(goto: "Class")]
(link-reveal: "My dragonborn has red dragon heritage.")[(set: $draconicAncestry to "red")(goto: "Class")]
(link-reveal: "My dragonborn has silver dragon heritage.")[(set: $draconicAncestry to "silver")(goto: "Class")]
(link-reveal: "My dragonborn has white dragon heritage.")[(set: $draconicAncestry to "white")(goto: "Class")]
(link-reveal: "I don't know which one I want; choose me one at random!")[(set: $draconicAncestry to (either: "black", "blue", "brass", "bronze", "copper", "gold", "green", "red", "silver", "white"))(goto: "Class")]These four classes are all about fighting, but each goes about it in a very different way. Generally these classes are pretty simple, since they focus on hitting things with swords, arrows or other weapons, but some have complications.
''Barbarians'' are big and tough and learned to fight in harsh wild places. They use big weapons, don't wear much armour, and can go into a battle rage that makes them stronger and tougher.
//Complexity:// low. Barbarians have a lot of "always-on" powers, which are easy since you don't have to remember to use them; and once you learn how rage works, you just have to decide when to use it. A great class if you want to play someone who's more heart than brain. You'll choose a specialist path a little down the track, focussing on your rage, getting in touch with spirits of nature or your ancestors, or devoting yourself to a god of battle or embodying the rage of the storms.
(link-reveal: "This sounds great! I want to be a barbarian.")[(set: $class to "barbarian")(goto: "Your character")]
''Fighters'' are the archetypal warriors. They have trained long and hard to learn how to fight with any weapon and wear any armour, though they choose from a number of fighting styles which gives them an edge with a favoured kind of fighting.
//Complexity:// low to moderate. Fighters' abilities nearly all revolve around combat, and you can choose between a set of straightforward always-on powers that improve the things you do all the time, or more complicated, tactical tricks, so you can customise the class to be as complex as you like.
(link-reveal: "Fighters sound badass! I want to be a fighter.")[(set: $class to "fighter")(goto: "Your character")]
''Monks'' are martial artists, who fight either with very simple weapons or no weapons at all. They also learn to channel //ki//, an internal energy that gives them superhuman abilities.
//Complexity:// moderate to high. Monks have a lot of special abilities, many of which can't be used together, so you will end up with a lot of choice during battle: do you get in an extra kick, run faster, or jump higher? You fuel many of these powers with "ki points", a limited resource you need to manage, and the number of powers you get and how complicated they are depends on the Monastic Tradition you eventually get to choose. Those have strong flavour, though, and include Hollywood movie-style kung fu, Chinese movie-style kung fu, or becoming a freakin' ninja.
(link-reveal: "Oh yeah, martial arts is my jam. I want to be a monk.")[(set: $class to "monk")(goto: "Your character")]
''Rangers'' are hunters and scouts. They learn to specialise in particular kinds of monsters and learn their home terrain like the back of their hands. They usually fight with a bow or two lighter weapons, like axes or swords. Later on they can learn specialised hunting techniques, or gain an animal companion who fights by their side.
//Complexity:// moderate. Rangers are relatively simple, with fewer different options than fighters, but they get a small number of combat and nature focused spells which you'll want to learn to combine with your sword or bow attacks. They also specialise in particular enemies and types of terrain, so make sure you let your Dungeon Master know what you're picking so they can be sure to include those things in the story sometimes. Their specialisations can give them a loyal animal companion or extra tricks to use when fighting specific types of enemies.
(link-reveal: "Wait...like Aragorn? Cool! I want to be a ranger.")[(set: $class to "ranger")(goto: "Your character")]
[[Fighting sounds cool, but I think I want more magic.->Spellcasting classes]]
[[Being tough is fine I guess, but I want to use my wits and skills!->Skillful classes]]
[[I think I want to call down the wrath of the gods?->Holy classes]]These three classes wield arcane magic, allowing them to cast mighty spells. They each get their power from a different source. All of them need to learn the general rules for magic, and they have many spells to choose from - a lot of which absolutely blow the shit out of things.
''Wizards'' are the archetypal spellcasters. They learn magic through hard work and study, and can learn an unlimited amount of spells by deciphering magical books and scrolls they find on their journeys. They are very weak, however.
//Complexity:// moderate to high. Wizards are all about spells, and lots of them. You will know loads of spells, and choose a subset of those that you will have ready to use, which you can change at the start of each day. While lots of wizard spells blow things up, they can also do just about anything from teleporting you and your friends to another plane of existence to creating a magical hut or stopping your friends from being hurt when they fall off a cliff. Knowing what spells you are likely to need each day takes a bit of practice and guesswork, and the wizard spell list is the longest of all, presenting a lot of options. Early in your career you'll choose a wizard tradition, most of which focus on a particular school of magic (as described at the start of the Magic chapter in the book); it's a good idea to think about what kind of spells you think you'll have the most fun casting, then pick a tradition that matches.
(link-reveal: "I want to cast all the spells! I'd like to be a wizard.")[(set: $class to "wizard")(goto: "Your character")]
''Sorcerers'' have inherent magical power either as a birthright, from exposure to weird magical energies, or some kind of mystical accident. They learn a small number of different spells but gain other gifts from the power inside them, which varies in its origin (you'll get to choose it).
//Complexity:// moderate. Sorcerer spellcasting is mostly pretty simple; they learn a relatively small number of spells and generally don't change or swap them, which makes the choice of the spells more important. They do get "sorcery points", though, which is a separate resource that can be spent to break the normal rules of spellcasting in various ways, requiring a good understanding of those rules. The special powers they get vary in complexity, but strongly alter the feel of your character; the basic choices are to have the blood of dragons in you, or to have been affected by chaotic magical energies. You'll choose one you like on the next page.
(link-reveal: "Sounds like a superhero. I want to be a sorcerer!")[(set: $class to "sorcerer")(goto: "Sorcerer")]
''Warlocks'' make a deal with a mighty being, like a Demon Prince, in exchange for their power. They can't cast as many spells as sorcerers or wizards, but their patrons give them other abilities to make up for that. They're also tougher than most spellcasters.
//Complexity:// moderate to high. Warlocks get a very small number of spells and can cast only a small number in between rests, making their spellcasting abilities relatively simple, but they also get a large number of unique special abilities. You choose straight up (on the next page) what kind of creature has given you your power: a Fiend (a demon), Archfey (a powerful fairy king or queen) or Great Old One (a mysterious Cthulhu-esque being). They present some great story opportunities by having made a bargain for power, though this does mean you need to think about how that bargain was made and what your patron might want. After a few levels you choose the kind of pact you have made with your patron, and individual "eldritch invocations" - magical secrets bestowed by them.
(link-reveal: "Oooh...a deal with dangerous magical powers! I'm in, make me a warlock.")[(set: $class to "warlock")(goto: "Warlock")]
[[Magic is cool, but I want to be tougher! Show me the fighting classes.->Warrior classes]]
[[Spells are all very well, but I'd rather rely on my wit and skill!->Skillful classes]]
[[I want to use magic - but the magic of the gods!->Holy classes]]These classes are all about skill and knowledge.
''Rogues'' are thieves, assassins and spies. They learn a large number of skills, and specialise in finding an opening and striking in just the right spot to do extra damage.
//Complexity:// low to moderate. Rogues have many always-on powers that just make them better at the things everyone can do, which makes them relatively simple. To be effective in a fight you do need to learn (or ask) how to get an advantage against an opponent, as that's required to trigger your extra sneak attack damage. The archetype you choose at third level varies the level of complexity a lot, but most are manageable.
(link-reveal: "Oh yeah - I want to be sneaky and stab bad guys in the back! I want to be a rogue.")[(set: $class to "rogue")(goto: "Your character")]
''Bards'' are storytellers and swashbucklers. They learn a little of everything, including magic which they channel through their music to aid their friends.
//Complexity:// moderate to high. Bards are good all-rounders: decent fighters, decent spellcasters, and decent everything elsers. They have a shorter spell list than the full-on magical classes, but a mix of attack and supporting spells, so choosing the right ones might be a little harder. Their magical ability to inspire others involves giving a dice to other players they can use to improve their rolls, which is fun, but also means you should learn exactly how it works so you can help them use it to their best advantage. After a bit of adventuring you'll join a bard college which helps you specialise a little, but you'll always be a jack of all trades.
(link-reveal: "A singing magical swashbuckler?! Sign me up! I'm a bard.")[(set: $class to "bard")(goto: "Your character")]
[[Hmmmm...stealth is good, but I prefer a more direct fighty approach.->Warrior classes]]
[[Maybe bards can do some magic, but I want that to be my main thing!->Spellcasting classes]]
[[Surely skill can't compare to having the gods on your side!->Holy classes]]Characters with these classes serve some kind of higher power - usually one of the many, many gods of Faerûn. All of them learn spells, which requires an understanding of the magic rules, and choosing from the long list of available spells.
''Clerics'' are battle priests who pray to their gods for spells. While they're no slouch in a fight, their spells mostly deal with protection and healing, though they can also summon their god's wrath.
//Complexity:// clerics have good basic fighting abilities, but also a number of special features based on their "domain", the particular area of influence over which their god has power. (You choose this up front, and it gives a strong focus to your spells and powers.) They have full spellcasting capability, so you need to learn the magic system, but their spell list is shorter and lots of the spells have clear and obvious names. You also don't have to lock in specific spells; clerics can ask for the spells they want each day, so you can change them around frequently or just stick with the same ones all the time.
(link-reveal: "Hitting monsters //and// summoning divine wrath? I want to be a cleric!")[(set: $class to "cleric")(goto: "Cleric")]
''Druids'' do not belong to a church as clerics do, but live in the wilderness and revere nature gods - or perhaps follow the Old Way, the direct worship of the spirits of nature. Their devotion grants them not only the power to cast spells, but to change shape, becoming animals.
//Complexity:// moderate to high. Druids are similar to clerics, but their spells have a strong nature focus and they are not naturally as tough in combat - which is one of the reasons shapechanging is so awesome. You will need to be across your spells, and also choose your animal forms and learn what they can do. Early on in your career you join a "druid circle", which gives you further specialisation - the basic choices are to get better at casting spells, or improve your shapechanging abilities.
(link-reveal: "Oh yeah, I wanna turn into a bear or something! Make me a druid.")[(set: $class to "druid")(goto: "Your character")]
''Paladins'' are beacons of light in an evil world. These knights in shining armour swear an oath, binding themselves to a church, an ideal or directly to their god, which grants them divine power to seek out and destroy evil. They are usually required to follow a strict code of conduct, which varies depending on the nature of their oath.
//Complexity:// moderate. Paladins are like fighters with extra healing and magical smiting powers. They get a small number of spells, but can also sacrifice the power needed to cast a spell to instead strike a foe with holy wrath. Like rangers, you'll want to learn how to combine your spells with weapon attacks. Note that you don't choose your oath until a little way into your career; a paladin is considered to be proving themselves worthy for the first part of their adventuring life.
(link-reveal: "A knight backed up by a god? Definitely make me a paladin.")[(set: $class to "paladin")(goto: "Your character")]
[[I don't need holy powers to slay monsters. Show me the warriors!->Warrior classes]]
[[I want to wield magic on my own terms! Show me the spellcasters.->Spellcasting classes]]
[[I prefer to rely on myself, not the gods. Show me classes like that.->Skillful classes]]Okay - that's it! You've decided to play ''a(if: $race is "dragonborn")[(if: $draconicAncestry's 1st is in "aeiouAEIOU")[n] $draconicAncestry dragonborn](else:)[(if: $race's 1st is in "aeiou")[n] $race] (if: $class is "cleric")[cleric of the $divineDomain domain](else-if: $class is "sorcerer")[$sorcerousOrigin sorcerer](else-if: $class is "warlock")[warlock, whose pact is with a(if: $otherworldlyPatron's 1st is in "aeiouAEIOU")[n] $otherworldlyPatron](else:)[$class].''(if: $race is "high elf")[ You know the spell //$highelfSpell//.]
Hopefully this has helped you; now begins all the fun rules stuff, like choosing or rolling Ability Scores, choosing skill proficiences, picking starting gear and special abilities and spells, and all of that. The rulebook will take you through that step by step.
If you want, you can [[go back to the start of the character choices->Race]] and make another character. But if you're done making your character, there's one other important thing I'd like you to read before you play: a quick word about [[player safety->Player safety]].
Whatever you play, I hope you have a great time; if you've enjoyed this guide, or have any feedback, please get in touch! You can email me at <a href="mailto:email@example.com"/>firstname.lastname@example.org</a>, or find me online on <a href="https://twitter.com/McKenzie_Ben">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://facebook.com/BenMcKenzieComedian">Facebook</a> or at <a href="https://benmckenzie.com.au">benmckenzie.com.au</a>.
There are lots of choices when making a character, but the two biggest ones are ''class'' and ''race'' (unfortunate terms rusted on from the game's early days).
Your ''race'' is really your species. Are you a //human//, or another kind of person, like an //elf//, a //dwarf//, a //halfling// or something else?
Your ''class'' describes the kind of adventurer you are - the heroic fantasy archetype you fulfil. Choices include strong and well-trained //fighters//, clever spell-casting //wizards//, cunning, nimble //rogues//, wise and devout //clerics// and many more.
You'll also choose a ''background'', which represents what your character did before they became an adventurer. That has some important implications for your character, but it's best chosen when discussing your characters' backstories and common history together as a group.
Some races and classes will present you with additional choices; for example, you need to decide the source of a sorcerer or warlock's magical power. As with everything else, choose what sounds cool, and don't worry - nothing here is set in stone!
[[Okay, cool! Let's pick my character's race.->Race]]Most classes have a big choice to make that differentiates their powers and abilities from other characters of the same class, and while this usually happens at third level (or, rarely, second), for clerics it's chosen up front: your ''divine domain''. This is the area of influence you wield on behalf of your god, and it affects the powers you receive throughout your adventuring career. I recommend picking a domain first and then finding a god to match, discussing with your DM what gods are available. (There are some suggestions in the back of the book, but the world you're playing in might determine which are appropriate.)
Here's the list of domains with a brief description; click on the domain name to choose it.
* (link-reveal: "Knowledge")[(set: $divineDomain to "Knowledge")(goto: "Your character")] - your god values learning and understanding, and grants you supernatural ability in both.
* (link-reveal: "Life")[(set: $divineDomain to "Life")(goto: "Your character")] - your god, and your powers, channel the positive energy that fuels all living beings, making you especially good at healing.
* (link-reveal: "Light")[(set: $divineDomain to "Light")(goto: "Your character")] - whether a god of the sun or the forces of good, your god abhors evil and the undead and gives you the power to destroy both.
* (link-reveal: "Nature")[(set: $divineDomain to "Nature")(goto: "Your character")] - your god reveres and tends to the natural world, giving you influence over animals, plants and the elements.
* (link-reveal: "Tempest")[(set: $divineDomain to "Tempest")(goto: "Your character")] - gods of the sea, storms and thunder grant their clerics martial prowess and great destructive power.
* (link-reveal: "Trickery")[(set: $divineDomain to "Trickery")(goto: "Your character")] - trickster gods give their clerics some of the powers of illusion and deception they are famous for using themselves.
* (link-reveal: "War")[(set: $divineDomain to "War")(goto: "Your character")] - gods of war make their clerics into fierce warriors, who can strike with great wrath when the moment demands it.
[[I changed my mind - I don't want to be a cleric.->Class]]Whether you were born with them, or were somehow imbued with them later, your sorcerous powers have to come from somewhere. The story behind that is up to you - though it can also be a mystery to your character if you like - but the ultimate source of that power will be one of the options below.
* (link-reveal: "Draconic Bloodline")[(set: $sorcerousOrigin to "draconic bloodline")(goto: "Your character")] - the power of dragons flows through you, making you hardier and giving you an affinity for these ancient, powerful creatures.
* (link-reveal: "Wild Magic")[(set: $sorcerousOrigin to "wild magic")(goto: "Your character")] - you contain the vast power of chaotic, raw magic - but only just. You can twist fate, but sometimes the magic escapes your control, manifesting in unpredictable ways.
[[I changed my mind - I don't want to be a sorcerer.->Class]]You bargained with a mighty being for your power, and are now beholden to them in some way. Think about how and why your character did this, as well as choosing the nature of the being you bargained with below. (You and your DM should work out who - or what - you specifically bargained with, assuming your character even knows.) One thing to remember: your patron most definitely has the upper hand in this deal, but there aren't any rules requiring you to be controlled by them. That'll all be handled as part of the story.
* (link-reveal: "The Archfey")[(set: $otherworldlyPatron to "Archfey")(goto: "Your character")] - a powerful fae creature from the feywild, the original home of the elves. You can appear alluring or terrifying using fey glamour, and later learn to vanish and turn the charms of other creatures against them.
* (link-reveal: "The Fiend")[(set: $otherworldlyPatron to "fiend")(goto: "Your character")] - a fiend, mostly likely a powerful devil of the Nine Hells. They are unquestionably evil, though that doesn't mean you have to be. They grant you the ability to steal life from those you kill, and later to bend fate in your favour and resist certain kinds of damage.
* (link-reveal: "The Great Old One")[(set: $otherworldlyPatron to "Great Old One")(goto: "Your character")] - an ineffable entity from the Far Realm, a mysterious plane of madness that lies beyond the stars. It grants you strange psychic powers.
[[I changed my mind - I don't want to be a warlock.->Class]]It might be helpful to think of D&D like a games console. It's not perfect for doing everything a computer might do, but it's great for playing a pretty wide variety of games, even if the buttons you press to do things are pretty much the same. This means every group's game is different!
A really important aspect of this is **tone**. If everyone has names like "Fiona the Fighter" and "Don the Druid", that's great! We all know no-one's taking it very seriously. But if "Twinkletoes Fairybottom" and "Alaric ir'Cerfas" are in the same game, those players are probably expecting very different kinds of stories, with a diffeent level of buy-in to the fantasy. An easy way to talk about the tone you want with your group is to compare it to a TV show: a serious, gritty game where actions have consequences might feel like a fantasy version of //Deadwood//. A super light-hearted game with lots of jokes and silly names might be like //Adventure Time//. Most games end up somewhere in the middle, with real stakes and consequences, but room for some laughs as well - maybe like //Buffy: the Vampire Slayer//. Whatever your tone, the important thing is that everyone is on the same page and getting what they want out of the game.
It's also good to find out what **world** you'll be playing in. The default setting for the fifth edition is "the Forgotten Realms", a "high fantasy" world full of ancient magic, bizarre monsters and quarrelling gods. But there are lots of others, and your Dungeon Master might also be creating their own! It also helps to know where in the world the game will happen; you don't need to know specific place names, but knowing (for example) if the game is based in a city or in the wilderness can give you ideas for how your character fits into the world.
Don't stress about the world too much in advance; most D&D worlds have a lot in common. You can probably safely assume a generally medieval atmosphere, especially when it comes to politics and technology. Magic is real, though practiced only by a gifted or devoted few. Magical artefacts exist, but the secrets of making the most powerful ones are long lost. The gods are real and affect the lives of their worshippers, if distantly. And, most importantly, the world is dangerous and full of monsters outside the confines of civilisation - giving rise to the need for adventurers!
Okay - now you know all that, let's talk about [[the two main choices->The two main choices]] you're going to make for your character!It might seem weird to talk about safety and D&D - we all know it's not real! But that doesn't mean it can't go to places that make people feel uncomfortable. Nothing's scripted in advance, so only boundaries are the ones the players agree to. And D&D has a long history of people pushing boundaries because they know it's only make-believe; supposedly heroic characters kill innocent people, torture captives for information, and sometimes even treat other player's characters' terribly badly. And all of this can have an impact.
In most games of D&D this isn't a problem, but if you want to make sure, have an open conversation with everyone about what kinds of acts, topics and themes are and aren't okay in your game. If you don't want to list things in advance - or you don't know what to list - then make sure everyone knows it's okay to say if anything is not okay while you're playing.
This is something lots of people have been thinking about in recent years, and there are some great tools to use. Here are two:
**Lines and Veils:** this is a really simple idea. Each player can "draw a line" over anything they don't want in the game at all (e.g. harm coming to children). They can also "draw a veil" over things they they don't mind happening in the game, but which they don't want described in detail (e.g. sex). Those things are skipped over and happen "off-screen" or "behind a veil", so they're not described in any detail. You can <a href="http://rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/30906/what-do-the-terms-lines-and-veils-mean">read more about lines and veils at this external link</a>.
**The X-Card:** Things can also happen in roleplaying games that nobody expects or anticipates. The X-Card is simply a bit of paper or card with an "X" written on it, placed on the table; if something happens in the game and someone is uncomfortable with it for any reason, they can tap the card and the GM and other players all agree in advance they'll change or skip that thing, without the tapping player needing to explain. You can <a href="https://docs.google.com/document/d/1SB0jsx34bWHZWbnNIVVuMjhDkrdFGo1_hSC2BWPlI3A/edit">read more about the X-Card at this external link</a>.
The convention <a href="https://www.bigbadcon.com/safety-mechanisms/">Big Bad Con has a great page summarising these tools and more</a>, as well as a downloadable PDF version.
Thanks for reading this. You can [[go back to your character summary->Your character]], or [[start over->Race]] and make another character! Whatever you play, I hope you have great fun.
**<a href="https://benmckenzie.com.au/games/">benmckenzie.com.au</a>** - //D&D character picker//