"You're such a character..."

Author: Andrew /

Character creation! Now THIS is one of my favorite parts of the game. Before we start, there are some basic vocabulary words we're going to use:

PH: Player's Handbook. Every player's best friend. Has everything you need to know about the game (about 35-40 bucks at a Borders, Barnes & Noble or your local game store)
Character Sheet: This is a literal sheet (like a worksheet) that has boxes and spaces for all your character information)
Level / Level Up: A level measures your character's prowess progression. The higher their level more powerful they get, and the more things they become capable of. Leveling up refers to gaining a new level. Levels in D&D range from 1-30.
Race: Your characters racial persuasion. You can be a human, an elf, a dwarf, a gnome, etc. These are examples of race.
Class: A class is your character's job. It's what they do. You can be a Fighter who is accomplished at combat or a Wizard who is a master of casting mysterious spells or a Rogue who is a dastardly theif or cunning assassin. These are classes (and there are MANY more than just those three)
Stats: These are attributes that are on your character sheet showing your characters makeup. There are six of them: Strength, Constitution, Dexterity, Intelligence, Wisdom and Charisma
Power: Each class has certain powers or capabilities they have. These are all detailed in the PH under the class information. These could be anything from a special type of sword swing to a huge fireball.
Feat: A feat is like a little bonus feature you can add to your class at certain points in the game, mainly when you level up.
Skill: A skill is something your character is good at. These fall under categories such as Athletics, Diplomacy, knowledge of Nature, Thievery, etc. There is a full list of them on the official character sheet, which can be found at [ http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/charactersheets ]. (you want the 4th edition one)

SO, after all that, lets talk about characters. Essentially, when you make a character, the most important thing is to come up with a character concept. You want an idea for your character and, in my opinion, you don't want it just based on combat (which a lot of people do). I feel that the best characters are fleshed out ideas, ones like you'd find in a book. Characters exist for more than fighting. They have feelings, view and opinions, odd mannerisms, etc. They have pasts that color those views and make them act certain ways. Personality is most important, because that will let you Role Play.

When you Role Play, you are acting. You are becoming that character for the purpose of the story. I would no longer be Andrew, for the game, I'd be playing the part of Rendimont, the elf rogue who enjoys eating steak and drinking mead and feels that sleeping on the street is more comfortable than sleeping in a bed.

The best part of all this is that it's what you decide would be fun.

Once you have that, you then figure out your stats. These are numbers that represent your characters capabilities. For game balance issues, you're only allowed so many but you pick scores that reflect your character's abilities as much as possible. Those base stats are (referenced from the PH):

Strength: Physical power
Constitution: Health, stamina, etc.
Dexterity: Agility, reflexes, etc.
Intelligence: How well your character learns and reasons.
Wisdom: Common sense, perception, self-discipline, etc.
Charisma: Force of personality, persuasiveness and leadership.

These will all weave into the rest of the character sheet and help you figure out your characters real capabilities within the game (how your character will interact with the rules).

After you pick those scores, you then use them to figure out skills your character is trained in and then you can pick a feat or two which can add a bonus perk to what your character can do.

After all this, you show this to your Dungeon Master and bam, you're ready to go!

Note: There is a little more to creating a character for D&D but that's all right in the Player's Handbook and it's well worth picking up. There is also a great character builder that Wizards of the Coast has created and the demo version is free! (it allows you to make a character all the way up to level 3, so check it out!)

Free Character Builder Demo - http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/insider/freetrial

Next time, we'll talk about some rules stuff! Until then, thanks for reading!



Magus Stragus said...

Character creation is also my favourite part. It's a true shame that some people think that characters are only useful for combat, thus ruining a great part of the D&D experience. But well, each player has its own style, and no one, not even the DM, should mess up with that (unless of course, that style is disruptive for the rest of the players.)

Andrew said...

Yeah, disruptive players can ruin an experience. I think DMs should coach their players in character concept creation though. I mean, it's natural to look at D&D, think "Ok, I wanna be able to win the fights" because on first glance "That's what matters" (even though that's really not the case). New players can't really grasp the idea (usually) of creating a character with a back-story, with interesting traits and whatnot that make them an individual instead of being "Joe Schmoe with a sword". I think characters need identity and a good DM can teach players how to create that. Thanks for your thoughts, look forward to reading more of them!

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