5 Steps to Creating an Extraordinary Character… or Not

By Raelle Clark & Michelle Michel

A magical, fire-breathing beast flying high above an unsuspecting village. Foul smelling orcs preparing their ambush. A werewolf, eyes aglow, under the full moon as he stalks his human prey. Dragons, orcs, and werewolves, oh my! What is a person to do? Play Dungeons and Dragons, of course!

From the relative safety of your garage, inform the dungeon master of your intention to draw your +3 mace of disruption. You, your companions, and your dragon friend are going to defend the poor, unsuspecting village from the orc ambush. You do have a character, right?

If you do, kindly ignore this paper. If not, kindly continue reading, keeping all comments to yourself for the time being. Thank you.

To begin, you will need your Player's Handbook (that you bought some time ago), a character sheet (located at the back of the Player's Handbook), a pencil (not pen, or marker, or permanent utensils of any sort), and a set of dice. These dice should include a 20 sided, a 12 sided, two 10 sided, an 8 sided, five 6 sided, and a 4 sided die. If you do not have said materials, go to your local gaming store and purchase them now. Good. Having found the necessary items, you can now proceed to the next paragraph.

Welcome to the next paragraph. Before all else, you must choose a character class for your character, such as rogue, barbarian, fighter, ranger, etc., your alignment, which may be restricted by your class, and a race, such as Elf, Human, Half-Elf, Halfling, etc. as these affect some of your stats. Then, using the previously purchased set of dice, you now need to roll your character stats. What are character stats, you say? Good question. Character stats are characteristics such as strength, dexterity, constitution, intelligence, wisdom, and charisma. These stats produce the backbone of the character. To generate these stats, you must roll the five 6 sided dice simultaneously. Re-rolling ones, you add the numbers shown together to get your total. Do this seven times, once for each stat. As you may have noticed there are only six stats listed above (if you haven't noticed, smile and nod) yet you have rolled the dice seven times (if you haven't noticed that, then you don't deserve to play). This is because the lowest number shall be crossed off your list and not used. You may repeat these steps as many times as you like until you have found a combination you find suitable for your character. After you have chosen said combination, arrange the numbers however you like in the appropriate boxes for the stats (i.e. the box next to strength, dexterity, etc.) and then use the table located on page 8 of the Player's Handbook to fill in the ability modifier boxes. Once you have accomplished this step (yes, step) you may proceed to the next paragraph.

Greetings from the next paragraph. To complete the next step, find your character class in chapter 3 of the Player's Handbook. There you will find base attack bonus, fortitude, reflex, and will saves, as well as any special abilities for a first (and any other level) character. For fortitude, reflex, and will saves put the numbers listed under "base" boxes on the character sheet, plus the ability modifier listed under the saving throw name, plus any other modifiers to figure your total. List your base attack bonus in its proper place. Your hit die indicates the die you roll, and adding your constitution modifier to the die roll, you calculate your hit points. To figure your initiative modifier, you simply figure your dexterity modifier and add any miscellaneous modifiers together to get your total. Congratulations, you can now continue on to the next paragraph.

Hello, this is the third step's paragraph. How are you doing so far? Good, I hope. Good. Now you must choose your character's skills. After all, he can't be completely useless, right? I thought not. At first level, you can have up to four "ranks" in any one skill. This increases by one each additional level. On page 63 of the Player's Handbook is a chart to show how many skill points must be spent per skill per class. A capital "C" stands for a class skill, and only requires one skill point to gain a skill point for the skill, while "cc" stands for cross-class skill, and requires two skill points for every one gained. Simple, yes? It best be, because "dun-dun-duh-dun!" you have finished step 3! On to step 4, young gamer!

Salutations, my good friend! How do you fare? Well I hope, for we have yet to begin and we have come to my favorite part: shopping! First you must acquire money. Please refer to the last line of your respective character description (in the Player's Handbook, of course) for the required number of dice, and type of dice, to roll for your starting amount. Next, refer to chapter 7 of (take a wild guess) the Player's Handbook! Select the equipment you find most useful, and purchase them (without going over your budget - it's forbidden!) for later use. Now that you have armor (hopefully) and possibly a shield you can fill in the "armor class" portion of your character sheet. Yay for you. Now move on to step 5 (almost there, I promise).

Good day! I do not believe we have met. Oh well, who cares. Let's move on, as you are likely tired of this already (but you know better than to comment). Remember those special abilities listed under your character in chapter 3 of the Player's Handbook? Put them under the special abilities list on the back of your character sheet. Also, you can now choose your feats from chapter 5 of the Dungeon Master's Guide. Just kidding! You didn't really believe that, did you? It's chapter 5 of the Player's Handbook! Picking up on it yet? Now, choose the feats relative to your character and list them under the section labeled, you've guessed it, feats! Note: if your character is a spell caster, you may now pick your spells, located in chapter 11 of. the Player's Handbook (you're shocked, I'm sure). To finally complete your character (comments to yourself I said!) you must now decide which languages your character speaks. Common is a given, as well as any racial languages. The intelligence modifier will show you how many other languages you can choose, all of which are located on page 82 of the Player's Handbook.

My compliments on your extraordinary character (or lack thereof - not my fault)! You are now ready to join the rest of your party, who have all been ready with their characters for weeks now, in saving the unsuspecting village with your party's friend dragon (I have no idea how you acquired such a magnificent beast as an ally - I'm jealous). Seeing as how we are at the end of our character-making session, you may now scream and wail as much as you like. Fare thee well!