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Character Creation

A character sheet in 5th edition records all of what a single player character can do. Their strengths, weaknesses, abilities, and equipment is all listed here. Every player needs to create a character sheet to play the game. This tutorial will explain how to make a level 1 character, which is the level most characters start at. If your group wants to start at a higher level, you can create a 1st level character and then go through the normal process of leveling up.

As an example, we will be showing the creation of a Ranger.

Right now, this tutorial is missing some features.

  • We do not cover how to create a character backstory, but feel free to make your own without any reference guides. There is no real limit on what your backstory can be except the limits imposed by your game's story.

  • We do not yet cover spellcasting.

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Digital/Printable Sheets

If you want a digital version of the 5e character sheet to fill out, click here: 

https://media.wizards.com/2016/dnd/downloads/5E_CharacterSheet_Fillable.pdf

We only use the first page in this tutorial. Please note that this sheet is the official D&D character sheet. We do not own the rights to this character sheet, and only provide a link where it was originally posted.

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Character Class

The first step in creating a character is to pick your character's class. Your class represents a fantastical archetype like the cunning and sneaky rogue or the powerful wizard. While every wizard can cast spells, all wizards are different, and you will make many choices to determine what your wizard can do.

The Elkan 5e ruleset does not yet cover spellcasting in depth.

Barbarian: wild berserkers, the cursed, and people with serious anger issues. Barbarians fight recklessly, throwing themselves into a mighty rage which allows them to shrug off grievous wounds.

Bard: performers, musicians, and explorers. Bards use magic, martial skill, and inspiring performances to support the other members of the party.

Cleric: scholars, missionaries, and preachers. Clerics use magic learned through deep devotion and study of a faith. They are commonly, but not always, skilled healers.

Druid: hermits, shamans, and wild people. Druids learn magic from nature, spirits, and elemental forces. They are often strongly aligned with nature or animals.

Fighter: professional warriors, guards, or gladiators. Fighters hone their martial skill above all other classes. They use a variety of weapons and can push their bodies further than others.

Monk: wise recluses, honed athletes, or the magically awakened. Monks are able to harness magic in the air around them to perform fantastical attacks, move with lightning speed, and strike with powerful martial arts.

Paladin: holy warriors, local champions, or obsessed avengers. Paladins draw powerful magic by swearing a magical oath. They heal and deal devastating damage with radiant attacks.

Ranger: wanderers, regional wardens, or monster hunters. Rangers easily circumvent obstacles and have magical powers they draw from nature or powerful honed instincts.

Rogue: criminals, spies, or secret agents. Rogues are specialized masters of many skills and strike with precision, dealing devastating blows to single targets.

Sorcerer: firestarters, magical experiments, and magical children. Sorcerers were born with magical abilities they often don't understand. They can shape spells to be more powerful than other spellcasters.

Warlock: devoted servants, desperate heroes, and fools tricked into pacts. Warlocks draw magical power from their connection to supernatural entities. They have a versatile set of gifts from their patrons but have fewer spells than other spellcasters.

Wizard: scholars, court mages, and backwater dabblers. Wizards study magical spells from other wizards, employing a massive variety of spells.

Once you have chosen your character class, you will need to open up the page for that class (linked above and in the site header). Once you have both pages open, you can follow the instructions below to start making your character sheet. We will be creating a ranger as an example. The character class is the most complicated part, so once you get through this, everything else becomes pretty easy.

The first thing on most class pages is a Progression Chart. This lists what abilities you get at each character level. You are a level 1 character, but if your character levels up, you gain extra abilities. After every step of this guide, we will provide an example and pictures showing where to write everything on your character sheet.

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Ability Scores

After we choose our class, the first step is to calculate our Ability Scores. Ability Scores represent our character's raw talent and aptitude. There are six Ability Scores:

Strength: physical strength and athletic ability.

Dexterity: hand-eye coordination and reflexes.

Constitution: physical resilience and endurance.

Intelligence: problem solving ability and knowledge.

Wisdom: social intuition and willpower.

Charisma: personal magnetism and ability to influence others.

At level 1, each of your ability scores will be between 8 and 17 (under most circumstances). If you have 10 in an ability score, you are at the human average for that score. Your character will be significantly above average overall. The easiest way to determine your ability scores is to choose the recommended ability scores for each class. In total, there are four ways to get your ability scores. 

 

Note: Using any of Elkan's Ability Score systems, your character's Ancestry has no impact on Ability Scores, unlike in baseline 5e rules.

 

A) Recommended Ability Scores: 

You can take the recommended ability scores for your class, linked here: Barbarian, Bard, Cleric, Druid, Fighter, Monk, Paladin, Ranger, Rogue, Sorcerer, Warlock, Wizard

B) Standard Array: 

You can assign a standard set of numbers to ability scores of your choice. Assign one of the following sets of numbers:

  • 16, 14, 14, 12, 12, 8

  • 16, 16, 14, 10, 10, 8

 

C) Rolling: 

If you want to randomly determine your ability score values, you can roll for them.

  • Roll 4d6, dropping the lowest value. For example, if you roll, 5,4,4, 3, your total is 13. Repeat this six times, writing down the values you roll.

  • Assign each value to ability scores of your choice.

  • Add three points either to one ability score or split them up between different ability scores, up to a maximum of 17. If you rolled a 17 or 18, you can keep them, but not increase them this way.

D) Point Buy

You can spend points on your ability scores, dividing them however you want, between a minimum of 8 and a maximum of 17 for each score. You have 33 points.

Example

I am making Nevil, a 1st level ranger. I take the recommended Ability Scores

Strength: 10   Dexterity:16   Constitution: 14   Intelligence: 12   Wisdom: 14   Charisma: 8 

I decide I want Nevil to be a bit more charismatic, so I switch Intelligence and Charisma, making Intelligence 8 and Charisma 12. You can switch as well, if you feel comfortable that you know what the ability scores do.

Strength: 10   Dexterity:16   Constitution: 14   Intelligence: 8   Wisdom: 14   Charisma: 12

1. Stats.png

Ability Score Modifiers

Once you have your Ability Scores, you can write them in the big boxes on the left side of your character sheet. Each has a small oval at the bottom. This is where you will write your Ability Score Modifiers.

Most of the time, Ability Scores do not directly affect your abilities. Instead, you will use your Ability Score Modifier, which is a smaller number that you add directly to an ability.

A modifier is calculated by subtracting 10 from your Ability Score, dividing by 2, and then rounding down. For example, a 14 in Strength gives you a Strength Modifier of 2. This means that when you get to add your 'Strength Modifier' or 'Strength' to a dice roll, you add +2.

Your Ability Score Modifiers will be very important.

Modifiers:

  8-9   (score) = -1 (modifier) 

10-11 (score) =  0  (modifier) 

12-13 (score) = +1 (modifier) 

14-15 (score) = +2 (modifier) 

16-17 (score) = +3 (modifier) 

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Hit Points

Hit Points are an abstraction of how much punishment your character can take before being knocked unconscious or killed. When you are hit by an attack or an ability that deals damage, your character loses Hit Points equal to the damage dealt by the attack. When your hit points reach 0, you are dying (or in some cases, you are dead). 

Your Hit Dice vary by class. A ranger has a d10 (ten-sided die) as their Hit Dice and a rogue has a d8 (eight-sided die). At first level, your character has a number of Hit Points equal to the highest number on their Hit Die plus your Constitution Modifier.

You will record your total hit points under 'hit point maximum' at the top of the hit point box and your character's current hit points under that. If you take damage, you will adjust your 'current hit points' but not your 'hit point maximum'. If you are healed, you can recover lost hit points but can't go above your maximum.

You will also record your Hit Dice in a similar way. You write your total number of Hit

Dice with the dice value under 'total' Hit Dice, and your current number of Hit Dice

under that. Hit Dice can be spent during short rests to regain hit points.

Example

Nevil has a d10 for his Hit Dice, and a Constitution Modifier of +2.

This means his Hit Point maximum is 12, and he has a total of 1d10 Hit Dice. I write '1' under current Hit Dice so I can keep track of them if I expend any to heal during a rest.

2. HP.png
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Proficiencies

A fundamental part of 5e characters is the 'Proficiency Bonus'. This bonus increases when we reach certain levels, which is shown in every class's Progression Chart near the top of their respective pages.

All level 1 characters have a Proficiency Bonus of +2. If you are unsure what your Proficiency Bonus is, you can check the Progression Chart near the top of your class page.

While your character has bonuses from their natural aptitudes, as represented by Ability Score Modifiers, your character has also trained to be better at certain things. Your character can be trained in skills, weapons, and all sorts of other things.

Every time you roll to try to do something you are 'proficient' in, you add your proficiency bonus. You also add one of your Ability Score Modifiers, depending on what you're rolling.

For example, if Nevil is proficient in Persuasion as a skill, and he has a charisma modifier of +1, then his total bonus to Persuasion is +3. This is because Persuasion is a charisma skill and Nevil's proficiency bonus is +2

Our class is one of the primary ways we determine what our characters are proficient with. This step is pretty simple.

Your class will list:

Armor:

  • Armor is worn by some characters to make them harder to hit with attacks.

  • Copy the proficiencies your class gives you and write them in 'other proficiencies in the bottom left. You never roll or add your proficiency bonus to use armor. Proficiency just allows you to move effectively while wearing certain types of armor.

Weapons: 

  • Weapons are used by your character to attack enemies in combat.

  • Copy the proficiencies your class gives you and write them in 'other proficiencies in the bottom left. When we later write down our attacks, we will reference this.

Tools: (for some classes)

  • Tools are used to perform specialized, non-combat actions that no one else can do (like pick a lock with Thieves' Tools).

  • Click on the Tools link either on this page or your class page to see a description of all Tools.

  • Write your Tools proficiencies in 'other proficiencies in the bottom left.

Saving Throws:

  • Saving throws are a specific type of roll you do to avoid an effect. For example, you might roll a Dexterity Saving Throw to try to avoid flying shrapnel. Your class tells you what Saving Throws you are proficient with.

  • For every Saving Throw you are proficient with, bubble in the corresponding circle in the list near the top left.

Skills:

  • Skill checks are a special kind of roll you make to make your character try something outside of combat. For example, your character might roll a Persuasion check to try to convince someone to trust them.

  • Click on the Skills link either on this page or your class page to see a description of all Skills.

  • Choose skills from your class list and bubble them in like you did with Saving Throws.

Languages: (for some classes)

  • Your character only knows some in-game languages, and can only speak, read, and write in those languages. All characters learn Common, so if you get to pick a language as part of your Class, pick a language other than Common.

  • Click on the Languages link either on this page or your class page to see a description of all Languages.

  • Write your Languages proficiencies in 'other proficiencies in the bottom left.

Example

I copy down Nevil's armor and weapon proficiencies from the ranger page down at the bottom left of my character sheet.

As a ranger, Nevil learns a tool from the ranger tool list. I pick Woodworkers' Tools because I might want to craft longbows.

I bubble in Strength and Dexterity Saving Throws as proficiencies.

For skills, I'm given Survival and a choice of three others. I choose animal handling, perception, and stealth, bubbling them in as well. This section is not yet done- we will revisit it when doing Nevil's Ancestry and Background.

I pick Goblin as a language because Nevil has a lot of experience fighting goblins. I will pick Nevil's native languages from his background later.

I write 'Ranger 1' at the top of the character sheet while I'm at it, to designate him as a level 1 ranger, and I add my proficiency bonus of +2 near the top left.

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Items

Under the previous section, your class will list the items you get as a level 1 character. Most classes have several choices, but the first option is usually the best choice, and if you're following previous suggestions for making your character, then you probably want to choose the first option in every case.

You will write down every item under 'equipment' in the bottom middle of your character sheet. The 'packs' you get from your class include miscellaneous supplies, but for the purpose of this tutorial you can just write the name of the pack. 

Once you've added all the items, we'll add your Weapon Attacks and calculate your Armor Class.

Weapons:

When a character attacks a creature in combat, they must first roll to see if their attack deals damage to the target.​

The attacking character rolls a d20 die, then adds any relevant bonuses. For most weapons, the character will add their strength modifier to the attack roll. For weapons with the 'ranged' property, the character must add their dexterity modifier to the attack roll instead. If a weapon has the 'finesse' property, the character uses strength or dexterity, whichever is higher. If the character is proficient with the weapon they are using, they add their proficiency bonus to the roll.

When an attack hits a creature, it deals damage. For most weapons, the damage equals the weapon's damage die plus the ability modifier the attacker used for the attack roll.

  • On your class page, if you get weapons as part of your starting equipment, click the link on the item to go to the section on the Weapons page that describes that kind of weapon.

  • Where your weapons are listed, they will have a 'damage' and 'damage type' listed. 

  • In the center of your character sheet, under Attacks and Spellcasting, add a line for each weapon attack.

  • Your 'attack bonus' is equal to:

proficiency bonus + ability modifier (strength or dexterity)

  • Your damage/type is equal to

weapon's listed damage die + ability modifier (strength or dexterity), followed by the damage type listed

  • If you want a further explanation of how weapons and attacks work in combat, read the first few paragraphs of the Weapons page.

Armor Class (AC):

​Armor class is an abstract concept that represents how difficult it is for a creature to damage you with an attack. It is usually abbreviated as AC. When a creature makes an attack, their attack roll must be equal to or higher than the AC of their target in order to hit. On a hit, the creature deals damage. A miss usually does nothing.​

  • On your class page, if you get armor as part of your starting equipment, click the link on the item to go to the section on the Armor page that describes that kind of armor.

  • Where your armor is listed, it will have an 'Armor Class' listed. I'll offer a few examples at the bottom here if you're having trouble translating this information into an AC value. If you are also using a shield, your AC increases by 2.

  • If you have no armor, your AC equals 10 + your Dexterity Modifier

  • If you are a monk, you have a Class Feature that gives you an AC of 10 + your Dexterity Modifier + your Wisdom Modifier

  • Write your AC in the box next to Hit Points

  • If you want a further explanation of how armor works in combat, read the first few paragraphs of the Armor page.

Example

As Nevil, I'm going to choose the first option for each item choice, since I am not doing anything unusual with the character.

My scale mail gives me an AC of 14+dex (max 16). I have a dexterity modifier of +3, so I add

14 (scale armor base) + 3(dex) =17.

However, because scale mail has a maximum AC of 16, my AC is 16.

I also have two shortswords and a longbow as weapons. At any time, I can wield one shortsword in each hand or wield my longbow.

I look on the martial melee weapons chart and see that shortswords deal 

1d6 + str/dex (piercing damage)

This means I can choose whether I want to use strength or dexterity to wield these weapons. My dexterity is higher, so I opt for that. I calculate my attack bonus and my damage:

Attack: 2 (proficiency) + 3 (dexterity) = +5

Damage: 1d6 (weapon base) + 3 (dexterity) = 1d6+3 (piercing)

Sometimes the damage type of a weapon matters, so I note that as well.

My longbow is very similar. It is a ranged weapon, so I must use dexterity.

Attack: 2 (proficiency) + 3 (dexterity) = +5

Damage: 1d8 (weapon base) + 3 (dexterity) = 1d8+3 (piercing)

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Class Features

The majority of your class page is dedicated to Class Features. These are abilities and powers that your character develops as they gain levels and become more powerful. Luckily for you, you are a level 1 character, and only have a small portion of these abilities right now. Your character gains new abilities all the way up to level 20, but for now, we're only concerned with the abilities below the '1st level' icon and above the '2nd level' icon.

Many of these abilities will reference more complex mechanics that we won't explain here. As this website expands, the abilities will have links within their descriptions to explain key terms. For now, I'll list a couple important things.

  • When you 'have advantage' on a check or roll, that means you can roll twice and take the higher of the two.​

  • Some abilities refer to Conditions, which are effects that linger on a character, usually for a short time.

  • In combat, your characters take turns. On your turn, you can move, use an 'action', and sometimes use a 'bonus action'. You can also use your 'reaction' on the turns of other characters to react to something happening, and once you use a reaction you have to wait until your turn to use another reaction. If an ability specificies that is uses one of these three types of 'actions', it is important to write that down.

  • Some abilities can only be used a certain number of times before your character has to rest. Some require only a 'short rest' to replenish and some require a 'long rest'. This is also important to write down.

  • It's okay to summarize abilities, but if you don't fully understand, write it down exactly and ask an experienced player or your Game Master to explain it.

  • Some abilities will give you extra bonuses to things you've already written down. Fighters get a Fighting Style at level 1 that might add an extra bonus to their weapon attacks or damage. Rogues get Expertise, which allows them to double their proficiency bonus when rolling certain skills. I usually note Expertise on the sheet with a double checkmark in the skill bubble. Rogues may want to wait until they get skills from their Ancestry and Background before choosing which skills to have Expertise in. Monks get Martial Arts attacks, which aren't listed under equipment. Some classes, like Barbarian and Rogue, have abilities that add extra damage to their attacks sometimes, which you might want to list beneath your attacks.

Example

As Nevil, I only gain one feature at level 1: Natural Tracker

I list it under Features and Traits at the bottom right, and summarize some of its effects. I leave out the wilderness survival rules because most groups don't use them, but leave a note reminding myself I have those abilities in case it comes up. These notes are for me, so I don't need to write every word.

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Ancestry and Background

We are now done with everything from our class at level 1. However, another important part of a 5th edition character is their Ancestry. Unlike baseline 5e rules, we have separated race into Ancestry and Background.  You will now have to choose an Ancestry for your character.

Navigate to the Ancestry and Background page. From this page, you'll choose both an Ancestry (listed first) and a Background (listed second).

These choices will give you new skills, other proficiencies, and abilities. 

  • Size: this normally goes on the second character sheet, which we aren't using.

  • Senses: this will be defined in a future update, but Darkvision allows you to see in the dark up to a certain range. It is listed under features

  • Walking Speed: this goes in the 'speed' box above Hit Points. If you have a second speed, you can list it in Features or squish it in the same box.

  • Skills: These get bubbled in the same way as before. If you're a Rogue, feel free to apply your Expertise to these skills rather than your class skills.

  • Features: These go in the same place as your class features

  • Cantrips or Spells: This is quite a complicated system that we don't currently have documentation for. If you don't know how this works, list your cantrips and spells under 'attacks and spellcasting' below your weapons. If you took Arcanist, we recommend 'Mage Hand' and 'Prestidigitation'.

  • Languages, Tools, Weapons, and Armor: List these proficiencies at the bottom

left with your 'other proficiencies'.

  • Natural Weapon: This means you have a body part you can use as a

weapon. List it like you did other weapons.

Example

As Nevil, I picked Mixed Heritage as my Ancestry.

I am a Mixed Heritage character of human and elven heritage. This allows me to pick one new skills, and I pick Insight. I also get the Fey Ancestry feature and darkvision. My speed is 30 ft.

I pick Fey-Touched as my Background. I choose the medicine and athletics skills. I pick Elvish and Sylvan as my bonus languages, add my spells under 'Attacks and Spellcasting, and choose three musical instruments- the pan flute, the horn, and the violin- because I am already proficient with all weapons, and prefer a third instrument to other Artisan's Tools.

I list my 'race' as 'Half-Elf' at the top of the sheet, and my 'Background' as 'Fey-Touched'.

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Finishing Up

We have just a couple finishing touches to add to the character sheet:

  • Our 'Initiative', which helps us react faster when combat begins, is equal to our Dexterity Modifier. This is located above Hit Points.

  • Our skills need to be added up. Every skill has an associated Ability Score, which is listed with three little letters next to the skill. If we are proficient, we add our proficiency bonus. If we are not proficient, we do not add anything. If we have Expertise in a skill, we add double our proficiency bonus. For instance, your bonus in Acrobatics (Dex) will equal your dexterity modifier, plus your proficiency bonus if you are proficient in the skill.

  • We do the same thing for saving throws, located above skills.

  • Our 'passive perception', which measures how difficult it is for someone to sneak up on us, equals 10 + our perception skill total. This is located below the skill panel. If you are an elf, your Keen Sight and Hearing increases this number by 5.

  • Optionally, we can add some personality traits, ideals, bonds, and flaws.

Example

Nevil's initiative bonus is +3. I add up his skill and saving throw bonuses. 

I also add some personality traits, ideals, bonds, and flaws in the style that we will use in future tutorials. Feel free to go in a different direction; the whole point is to inspire your character to do things.

We don't use alignment with Elkan 5e, but you can add your alignment if you like.

To see Nevil's finished sheet, click next.

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PDF of Finished Sheet

It's a bit difficult to read the final image, so here's a pdf version:

Yours should looks something like this.

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