A Beginner’s Guide to Creating Your First Character (From Someone Who Just Created His First Character):

The alloted time for “character creation” prior to my first Dungeons & Dragons expedition was one hour. One o’clock to two o’clock.

When I arrived early at about 12:50, I was presented immediately with the options for various races. Ten mythical empires were described to me, and I was asked which of those ten empires I would like to spend the next few months pretending to be a member of. My natural response: “What?”

About four hours later, I was still pimping out my beast, accessorizing him with all the necessary accoutrements any responsible werewolf on a heroic quest needs. (“All the best werewolves in the big cities have light armor, dahhling!”) My head was ringing with recently learned definitions for such important terms as “feats,” “will bonus” and “constitution” as we began our adventure into the wilds of our unexplored continent only, oh, three hours behind schedule. Yep, It’s a good thing no one in the uninhabited wilderness of Aetheria was waiting for us to arrive for a rendevous. We’re not a very punctual bunch.

So you’re also creating your first dungeonwalker, friend? Want to show up at a reasonable hour for your first expedition? Looking for help? Yeah, um, there’s a guidebook for that… I am probably the last person you want to ask!

Oh, you’re still here? Well, okay… Let’s see, over the past few days, I’ve seen a bunch of people with baffled expressions try to climb this mountain, so I feel ya! I’m going to try to relate to you, in terms we can both understand, what on Earth (or wherever it is this game takes place) you sh0uld do when someone hands you a character sheet (which looks nothing like your future character; it’s more like a really jumbled scantron for a standardized test) and says, “So… What’s your name going to be?” With my help, you won’t go running out the door screaming. You’ll smile and say confidently, “I do not have the foggiest idea, but you, kind sir, should tell me.” Then smile some more until they answer you… Shall we begin:

  1.   Do not start with 11 people! Under no circumstance should you start with 11 people! We started with eleven people… This is too many people! If you have more than 6 people waiting to create a critter and go adventuring, have everyone roll a D20. The lowest rolls are DOA. They should leave…
  2. If you are one of the six “surviving” members of your party, you will be handed a character sheet. It is a very confusing sheet of paper which efficiently manages to store every ounce of information you need in a small space WITHOUT BEING A COMPUTER! I didn’t know this was still possible.
  3. Considering how efficiently laid out this document is, there is only one thing to do: Stare at it with as perplexed an expression as you can muster. I mean, it deserves it. What on earth does this stuff mean?
  4. Kindly ask your Dungeon Master or an experienced player for any help they can provide in deciphering this document.
  5. Laugh raucously when they hand you a thick handbook and tell you everything you need is “in there.” HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.
  6. Pat your guide on the back as they sit down next to you and begrudgingly begin talking you through the process step-by-step.
  7. Pick a race. Understand that your DM has likely limited the number of races available for this initial adventure to ensure everyone gets a fair playing experience. For my adventure, choices were limited to (these are not technical names, they are what I remember): really mean elves; forest elves; regal elves; ogres; dwarves; humans with horns on their heads; doggy people (woof!); cat people (meow!); lizard people (hiss?); and Shifters, which are like evolved werewolves. I chose Shifters after little hesitation. I mean, they’re werewolves.
  8. Read about your race. Each race has unique characteristics. When reading about mine, for instance, I found that my character would have very low charisma and very high dexterity. That means a Shifter is inherently good at the runny jumpy stuff, but also automatically bad at the whole relating to other people thing. This is because Shifter society encourages a solitary, self-interested nature. A weretouched individual likely only cares about its own individual needs and, to put it in terms my character would use, doesn’t give a damn about you! It helps to know these things…
  9. Begin giddily doodling what you imagine your character might look like as your guide tells you that you are not done creating your character just because you have picked a name. Ignore your guide. (At this juncture, take the liberty to decide whether your character will have glasses, a mohawk, a ponytail, or an earring. Can you believe these accessories are not included on the sheet?)
  10. Roll 4 D6. (Ask which one of the dice is a D6, and then feel profoundly stupid when you realize that a D6 is the die you have been playing with all your life — a six-sided die.) Ask why you are rolling 4 D6. Be told that the math is too complicated for someone who doodles while being told how to create a character.
  11. Pout.
  12. Marvel at the really high numbers you got. Be immensely sad when the DM tells you these numbers matter not at all and makes you subtract 10 from your really high number. Become even sadder when this number is divided by two.  Allot these low numbers to the six different stats that make up a characters abilities. Strategically place them according to which traits your race is inclined towards. For instance, I put my highest number (+4) in dexterity, because Shifter’s are very dexterous naturally. Since I was going to suck at interpersonal relations anyway, I gave the lowest number to charisma. By lowest, I mean -1. Pout more.
  13. Based on the really low numbers you now have, you will be asked to pick a class. This has nothing to do with your economic standing surprisingly enough. It’s more like, umm, profession? Like are you a wizard or knight? Are you a cleric (professional god worshipper) or are you a ranger (professional badass)? Because some races are more naturally inclined to some professions then others, I chose a class that requires little intelligence or charisma: ranger!
  14. Ask if you’re ready to go now. Be laughed at.
  15. Plug the numbers you have into various formulas to get a bunch of numbers you will not understand for at least another year.
  16. Pick your skills and feats. I still do not know what these things are. I can take a guess at what skills might be, though I have no idea how I came by them. (I am, for instance, very bad at forgery but I have great balance!) Feats isn’t even a word. I think my DM made these up as a practical joke.
  17. Buy stuff! If you’re not a wimp, you can wear armor, so get some of that. Also, purchase a weapon. I bought a really awesome crossbow and an axe. I wanted to buy a horse, but was told it was pointless for this journey. There is now a really sad and lonely horse somewhere in Aetheria lacking an owner because my DM was cheap.
  18. You’re ready to go! Settle down and get your game face on (no this does not mean go make up your face like the character you doodled in step 9; if you do this, the other beginners you are playing with will probably ostracize you). It’s time to role-play.

Now you know what to do when creating your first character — according to the proven novice method of Dungeons & Dragons character creation, play dumb, do nothing for yourself and pray that your DM is a kind, kind soul! Glad I could help. See ya later.

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