Welcome to another segment of our Beginner’s Guide to Dungeons and Dragons, or D&D 101! In this post, I will guide you through the process of filling out your first player character sheet.
When I first started D&D I was dramatically confused about how to do this and, honestly, reading about it on the internet didn’t help at all. I knew that one day once I had a better grasp of things that I wanted to put together a helpful post like this for other newbies!
What You’ll Need
To build your first character you will need:
- One D6 (a six-sided die) OR four D6s (if you want to throw the dice once per stat and count up the numbers from there) OR the virtual dice roller.
- The Player’s Handbook or you can use D&D Beyond to access stat specifications for your character. They have a free PDF of basic rules for beginners, however, it’s limited compared to the full book.
- A blank character sheet
Choosing a Race
There are expansion books with new races and lots of home-brew races available to explore online. We’re going to focus on core PHB races for this post!
Pick from the following races:
Dwarf – found on page 18 of the Player’s Handbook or page 12 of the free PDF
Elf – found on page 21 of the Player’s Handbook or page 13 of the free PDF
Halfling – found on page 26 of the Player’s Handbook or page 16 of the free PDF
Human – found on page 29 of the Player’s Handbook or page 17 of the free PDF
Dragonborn – found on page 32 of the Player’s Handbook
Gnome – found on page 35 of the Player’s Handbook
Half-Elf – found on page 38 of the Player’s Handbook
Half-Orc – found on page 40 of the Player’s Handbook
Tiefling – found on page 42 of the Player’s Handbook
Choosing a Class
There are special proficiencies unlocked to your character based on their class. Think of it as their profession — what do they do? Read up about their class and reference their class table in the PHB to find out what needs to be added to your character sheet.
Pick from the following classes:
Barbarian – found on page 46 of the Player’s Handbook
Bard – found on page 51 of the Player’s Handbook
Cleric – found on page 56 of the Player’s Handbook or page 20 of the free PDF
Druid – found on page 64 of the Player’s Handbook
Fighter – found on page 70 of the Player’s Handbook or page 24 of the free PDF
Monk – found on page 76 of the Player’s Handbook
Paladin – found on page 82 of the Player’s Handbook
Ranger – found on page 89 of the Player’s Handbook
Rogue – found on page 94 of the Player’s Handbook or page 26 of the free PDF
Sorcerer – found on page 99 of the Player’s Handbook
Warlock – found on page 105 of the Player’s Handbook
Wizard – found on page 112 of the Player’s Handbook or page 29 of the free PDF
Choosing a Background
The background of your character is their history, where they’re from, and their place in society, in a sense.
Your character’s background is simply your characters history. Where do they come from and what were they doing prior to the game you are about to play. They provide additional proficiencies, languages, and skills. You can read the first few paragraphs of each background’s section to get an idea of what each of them are.
Pick from the following backgrounds:
- Acolyte – Page 127 (PDF 37)
- Charlatan – Page 128 (Not in PDF)
- Criminal – Page 129 (PDF 38)
- Entertainer – Page 130 (Not in PDF)
- Folk Hero – Page 131 (PDF 39)
- Guild Artisan – Page 132 (Not in PDF)
- Hermit – Page 134 (Not in PDF)
- Noble – Page 135 (PDF 40)
- Outlander – Page 136 (Not in PDF)
- Sage – Page 137 (PDF 41)
- Sailor – Page 139 (Not in PDF)
- Soldier – Page 140 (PDF 42)
- Urchin – Page 141 (Not in PDF)
This should be obvious but I absolutely put my own name in this spot the first time. This is for your character’s name. Okay. Cool. Moving on.
Class, Class Level, and Race
Barbarians, bards, clerics, druids, fighters, monks, paladins, and rangers are just a small handful of class options. Race examples include drow, dwarf, elves, half-elves, half-orcs, humans, and more. You can read up on core 5E races and classes in The Player’s Manual. There are other supplemental D&D books that offer other options. You can even home-brew your own variations.
Write your LEVEL in pencil because that’ll increase over time!
Find background info in the player’s handbook as well!
What is your player’s alignment? This handy chart may help you!
HERE is where your name goes!
Write these in pencil because they’ll change over time.
This would be a good spot to use a pencil or even take a little square of packing tape to place over the square. Then you can use a dry- or wet-erase marker to track inspiration given during a game.
Your proficiency bonus is what you add to whatever skills or weapons you’re proficient in!
This is determined by the type of armor you are or are not wearing during the game.
Initiative is your dexterity. You just pull your dexterity number and pop it into the Initiative box.
This is determined by your race. If you’re an elf, you’ll be swift. If you’re a dwarf, maybe not as much. Speed can also be hindered by your armor type.
Hit Point Maximum
Current Hit Points
Temporary Hit Points
Strength: This is pretty much what it sounds like. How strong are you physically? Like, with your muscles.
Dexterity: How swift and agile are you?
Constitution: This is a different kind of strength. My partner has a better constitution than me IRL (in real life) because we can both eat back-of-the-fridge spaghetti sauce and I’m the one that ends up with food poisoning.
Intelligence: Also what it sounds like.
Charisma: Most commonly attributed to Bards.
If you look at the parentheses next to the words, for example the (Dex) next to Acrobatics, you’ll know which number to put on these lines! You simply pull from your character skills, unless you have a proficiency in one of the skills. Then you add your character skill number plus your proficiency bonus.
If my Charisma is 11, then Intimidation, Performance, and Persuasion, would all also be 11.
Let’s pretend, though, that I’ve built a character that gives me a proficiency bonus in Persuasion. I’d add my +2 proficiency bonus to Persuasion for a total of 13 in that area! That’ll be nice on Persuasion Rolls!
Attacks and Spellcasting
So in this section you will list your weapons, spells, and cantrips. I put cantrips towards the bottom since they are a little more simple to organize.
Personality Traits, Ideals, Bonds, and Flaws
These are all ideas that you can pull from your Background section of The Player’s Manual. You’re also always welcome to add your own ideas as well.