How to Create Your First Dungeons & Dragons Character

Dungeons & Dragons used to be a weird little hobby that was considered hopelessly boring, childish, and even satanic. It’s now a bigger cultural deal than Monopoly, even chess. He is featured on Stranger Things andThe Adventure Zone podcast. In the real world, it is fashionable among artsy parents and their children . And I hear all the time, “I really want to start playing D&D.”

But the beginning can seem intimidating, with all the books, diagrams and maps of the game. Even if you found the dungeon master and other players , now you need to create a character. You might be tempted to get really weird – I was. But if you plan on staying with this character for a while, you don’t want to burden yourself with someone you end up hating to play. Here’s how to make the D&D hero that best introduces you to the game.

Choose your race and class wisely

Each character has a race and class. The options can be dizzying. In my first game, I was a tiefling warlock. It was an incomprehensible and difficult character, and I was glad to abandon him after just one session. My next character was a gnome fighter – much more resilient.

Each race has different characteristics and abilities. For example, dwarves can see in complete darkness, but they cannot walk as fast as humans or elves. There are over two dozen playable character races in the latest version of D&D, but according to FiveThirtyEight’s analysis of some of the official D&D statistics , humans are the most popular race by far, and most of the characters are either humans, half-elves, or elves.

If you’re just starting out, you should probably try a race that you already know from fiction and mythology: human, elf, gnome, gnome, or halfling (public domain hobbit). If you opt for something exotic, like the Aarakocra bird, you will spend half your time figuring out what your deal is about. And so are your playmates. It might be fun for a later game, but it’s a headache when you also figure out how to attack a monster or talk to a salesperson.

Your class is even more important. It is your specialty that will largely determine how you achieve your adventure goals. In theory, you can start with any class, but if you go for a less obvious one, such as a druid or warlock, your dungeon master may need additional research to figure out how to use your skills. This can be frustrating if they are already busy teaching you the basics of the game.

The Fighter is the most popular and ideal class for beginners. You will deal with direct physical conflict while avoiding complex magic and will be more difficult to kill. As gamer Joshua Utterback said, the fighters are fun, diverse, simple, tenacious and important to the group . In a combat session, you will make the most contribution, with the least digging through the rulebook.

Also consider the rogue, a stealthy, agile class that is useful in and out of combat, or the barbarian, a more reckless warrior class. If you really want to cast spells right away, try a priest instead of a wizard. You will start with the ability to heal other players, which will make you popular with other players and build teamwork, which is critical in the D&D campaign.

“Match your class to your race,” says Joseph Capehart, RPG coordinator at the Brooklyn Strategist play store. “A lot of people come up to the table and think, ‘How can I fit into this story? “Human fighters and elven wizards are easier to comprehend and” write “into history.” As the FiveThirtyEight chart shows, large, violent races such as half-orcs and goliaths tend to be barbarians; elves choose classes related to magic or nature. Even my tiefling warlock makes sense, says Capehart, “Tieflings are creatures of demonic or devilish origin, so it’s easy to imagine selling their soul to the devil or demon.”

In the future, you will of course be able to try more complex combinations. “It’s really exciting for newbies to see their halfling barbarian or tiefling druid play at the table,” says Capehart.

You can even use a pre-created character. Take the official pre-generation character sheet and you can focus on building your character’s story. If you’re building your own, check out the Geek & Sundry guides to get started with each class .

Follow history, not numbers

Capehart applies a philosophy of prioritizing storytelling to all parts of character creation:

The advice I give everyone, starting from the beginning, is to follow history, not numbers. If they have time, I suggest that they read about the world itself before creating a character. The Official Universe of D&D The Forgotten Realms contains a wealth of knowledge and information from which players can create ideas. This creates a bond between the player and the character. As the backstory of their characters unfolds, they get closer to their character’s personality, goals, story, and even sound. They become more than just a piece of paper and dice.

According to him, if you like the story you tell, you will enjoy the game, regardless of whether the dice are thrown in your favor. The big advantage of board role-playing games is that they can tell complex stories in free form; lean on that instead of dwelling on which armor will give you the best defensive stats.

If you plan on using your character for more than one or two sessions, give it some depth. “I fell into the trap of creating 2D characters early on,” says Capehart. He found that he “says the same thing, makes the same decisions, and builds flat relationships. I was so bored that I found myself looking for ways to make my characters die so I could switch to something else! “

Don’t let your character’s characteristics determine your story. Just because you have low IQ or high charisma does not mean that you have to constantly act out these attributes. These statistics have more to do with the skills you test when you roll the dice. (Of course, if you want to play back your stats, you can!)

Try another game

While D&D is the oldest and still the most popular RPG, it is not the easiest one, especially during combat. And it’s story-driven with a focus on dungeon crawling and brawling. Plus, the action takes place in a medieval fantasy realm, while you might want to play in our day or the future of cyberpunk.

There are hundreds of RPGs in a wide variety of genres. Go to your local game store and ask a member of staff to help you find a game that you enjoy. But some games like Shadowrun or Mage are harder to learn as your very first RPG.

Capehart recommends Blades in the Dark , a steampunk city fantasy game. “While BitD is quite genre-specific,” he says, “it offers some great tools for players to get immersed in the game, building most of the framework for you.” He also loves how the game rewards players for their narrative choices.

He also recommends FATE Core , a system that adapts to any genre. “It really emphasizes that the rules shouldn’t get in the way of the storytelling, and encourages the Game Master to tell the story with the players despite the temptation to play against them.” You will need to spend more time figuring out your surroundings and characters, but you will spend less time on arithmetic.

There are also many tributes to D&D to appeal to different strengths. If all the RPGs and grand quests scare you, try Dungeon Crawl Classics , which focuses on finding dungeons and killing monsters. If you prefer to interact deeply with other characters, try Dungeon World , which takes a more collective theater approach.

Whichever game you choose, you will have a better experience with someone in the group being an experienced board player. If everyone in your group is new to play, try playing at your local play store or search for dungeon masters on Craigslist or Nextdoor. They will help you get a feel for the game and make it more comfortable. Then, once you master it, you can start going crazy.

This story was originally published in 2017 and has been updated on 11/27/19 to provide more complete and up-to-date information.


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