So you’ve taken a hard look at Dungeons and Dragons and decided that it’s time to make your first character for Dungeons & Dragons. First off, welcome to the family. You’ve taken your first steps into a world of shared storytelling and high adventure. We’re going to take a look at the process for building your character and go over the options you have available in the Player’s Handbook (we use the 5th edition, as it’s the most recent, and we think it’s one of the most accessible systems we’ve seen in a long time.). So grab your scratch paper, your pencil, and your character sheet as we explore the magical world of Dungeons and Dragons.
The first step you should really take when building a character is to think about what kind of a character you want to play. Before you make any decisions or write anything down, you need to stop and think what you’re going to enjoy playing. A secondary consideration would be what the party of adventurers you are going to be a member of needs. You may desperately want to break out a brand new half elf warlock, but your party desperately needs a tanky fighter or a healing cleric. You decide what you want to play, and what story you’re going to enjoy telling and playing. Whichever character you decide to make, you’re going to have to make a few decisions. Let’s take a look at the options for the first one of those decisions.
What Race is your character?
Your character’s race defines a lot of the basic physical and mental characteristics. It more than anything else will be the first thing an observer uses to define you. How many times have you read a passage that starts “And we saw the Dwarves standing there in their armor, beards immaculately groomed…” In a fantasy setting Race is a defining trait that gives other people a rough idea of what your character is, and how they can be expected to behave. In Dungeons and Dragons, Race has a couple of other features that we’ll discuss.
The Player’s Handbook offers nine racial choices for a new player to consider for their character. Each one is distinct, and has several subraces to choose from. When you select a Race, the offered selections of a subrace are offshoots of that main racial group. It may change baseline racial features, add new options, or give different physical and mental characteristics. The character creation process starts with choosing your race, so let’s go through the races and see what looks like fun to us.
The first of the hybrid races that feature prominently in the Dungeons and Dragons settings, Half-elves are the product of a human and an elf. Without getting into the details of making baby hybrids, these people tend to embody the grace and civility of their elven kin matched with the drive and ambition of their human parentage. Half-elves are one of the few “races” to be able to claim two distinctive perspectives, and this makes them excellent diplomats and negotiators. Alternatively, when they are spurned by both of their families, many half-elves take to the roads, wandering their way across the world in search of a place to belong.
Mechanically, in game, the Half-Elves have the following benefits
Half-elves are charismatic, and worldly. They get a +2 bonus to their Charisma, and can add +1 to two additional attributes of their choice.
Half-Elves age about the same speed as humans. They are mature at age 20, and can live to a ripe old age of 180.
Give the difficulties of living in two worlds, Half-elves are typical chaotic creatures. The clash between their two backgrounds and the rules that go with both often chafe a young half-elf and they yearn for the freedom to do what they please.
Half-Elves are medium creatures, about the size of humans. They stand between 5 and 6 feet tall.
Half-Elves can move 30 feet per round.
Like their Elven parents, Half-Elves have Dark Vision, and can see in dim light within 60 feet as if it were bright light. They treat total darkness within 60 feet as if it were Dim Light.
Again, like their Elven parents, Half-Elves have advantage on saving throws against charm effects, and can’t be magically put to sleep.
Half-Elves are versatile creatures, gaining proficiency in two skills of their choice.
Half-Elves speak their native tongues, Elvish and Common, and one additional language of their choice.
So what character class combinations go well with these particularly entertaining hybrids?
Bard: With their charisma boost, additional attribute bonuses, and the skill versatility, Half-elves were almost born to play the bardic role. Leveraging their racial abilities with the Bardic versatility can make an extremely competent social interaction machine. They also have the advantage of being able to help out joust about everybody else in the party in some fashion or another.
Warlock: Searching for a place to belong can make a half-elf do some questionable things, and making a pact for greater power would be near the deep end of the questionable things pool. Again, the Half-Elven racial abilities mesh very well with the Warlock class abilities and can combine into a powerful combination of social interaction/put holes in things with Eldritch Blast.
Rogue: This isn’t necessarily the super sneaky rogue (Though it could be, again between roguish versatility and Half-Elven racial options), but more of a social interaction pick pocket/crowd working rogue. A rogue that can talk its way into a secure location is just as dangerous as one who sneaks their way in.
Half-Elves are a race of versatility and creative options. Build your half-elf however you like, and it would be very hard to go wrong with a half-elf build. And that’s our write up of the Half-Elves. We’re coming up on the end of this series, as we only have the Half-orcs, and Tieflings left to review.
Game on, Game Fans