RPG Table Top

My First D&D Character

Now, this isn’t actually my first D&D character, I’m still waiting for a chance to roll up one, forever a DM. But I want to talk about some things to think about when creating your first D&D character and how you’re going to want to roll them up. This is going to be pretty general, I’m not going to tell you what gear to pick, what class is the easiest, anything like that. Instead, I want to give you some bigger picture things to think about when you create your first D&D character.

Image Source: D&D Beyond

What Archetype Of Character Do I Want To Be

This is pretty big, but we’re talking about a pretty big generality here, do you want to be a sneaky character, or maybe a helpful one, maybe you want to be able to rush into battle or sling spells from afar. Think about the broad terms that you can play. Bring this general idea to the table for your character creation as it’ll give you something to build off of and help you make more informed choices. Another way to do this is to think about your favorite people, normally in fiction, but could be from the real world, and think about what makes them them. If you love Yoda, what is essential Yoda, we have the age, the wisdom and the force powers, but when he was younger, slightly, also could be a nimble fighter. So look for those characters or people you really love and think about what would make them an interesting D&D character.

This Is a Chance to Play Pretend But Start Similar To Yourself

Now, I just got done saying, pick your archetype and pick whatever sounds like fun, but infuse it with your personality. Playing a role playing game is great because you get to take on other personalities and dive into a life and a world that isn’t you, but for your first character, unless you’ve done a lot of acting, it’s going to generally be you. Even if you don’t want it to be, unless your a seasoned actor or improv performer, you’re going to drop back into playing yourself or making decisions based off of what you’d actually do. So instead of pulling away from that and being frustrated when it does happen or feeling like you aren’t on the level of Critical Role, instead make your first character like you, but with a few twists on it. Give yourself a few fun things that you can interact with that are different than yourself, but keep general personality pretty close to your own, because most of the time it’ll end up there for your early player characters.

Constitution Is Your Friend

I don’t care that you want to be this wispy elf wizard who is gaunt and stares off into the distance while vowing to never eat again, constitution is your friend. It’s easy to think that it mainly matters for fighters or barbarians or anyone on the front line, and that stat is very important to them, but a -1 on constitution for a wizard who has D6 for their hit die, that means you start off with 5 health. There are a lot of monsters that can kill you at that point. At worst have a 0 in constitution, but most classes and characters, I really think having a +1 one is huge, even if your just taking the average of your hit die, that +1 is really important, and if you’re rolling for your hit points each level, that keeps you from ever doing too poorly.

Image Source: D&D Beyond

Backgrounds Can Evolve

With the background you are picking some personality traits, ideals, flaws, and bonds. For your first character I’m telling you to keep a broader picture of who they are going to be, and the background can feel like it’s locking you in. Talk with your DM, and they should know this already, but backgrounds and personality are fairly fluid in the first few sessions. You might have wanted this charismatic Barbarian, but instead they are kind of a dick to everyone. Or maybe you want them to be the face, but instead they use their charisma as a quiet confidence and less of the face. Less the background will be changing, but the personality traits, flaws, bonds, and ideals might change and evolve as you go. Totally expect this to happen, especially if you are going with a bigger departure from your own personality.

Finally, Being Bad at Something Isn’t Bad, It’s Good

When playing an imaginary character there’s a strong desire to be good at everything, because who doesn’t want to be awesome at everything all the time? But that’s not going to be the most fun character. It might be pretty fun for you, but it won’t be fun for the other people at the table if you’re better at the things they’re supposed to be good at. But beyond that, you’re playing a character who is supposed to grow and evolve throughout the game. And, you are also going to be put in more fun and interesting situations if you aren’t good at everything. Maybe you’re the fighter, why should you be good at sneaking around, you’re just ready to bash stuff with a sword, so when you fail to sneak all the time, that’s something you can play into. Your deficiencies on the character sheet are not weaknesses but role playing opportunities for you to create a fun and memorable character.

Now, there’s a whole lot more I could talk about when building your first character, and I’ll probably go more into the details of it in future articles, but these are some big picture items to consider when building your first character that might be overlooked. What general advice have you given new players, if you’ve played a bunch before, for their first character? What piece of advice stands out to you from this article?

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