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.
Humans are the youngest child in the family of races in most fantasy games. New to the world itself, they couple innate curiosity with the drive that a human life span requires to accomplish great deeds. They are empire builders, for good or for ill, and are often seen as the glue that binds the other races together. Humans can accomplish great wonders, and they can be farmers. Humans run the gamut of potential options in a fantasy setting, and they are the easiest race for most players to identify with, because we’re (hopefully) all humans.
Mechanically, in game, the humans have the following benefits
Halflings are versatile. They gain a +1 bonus to all of their ability scores
Humans age quickly. They are often adventuring by age twenty, and most will not live to see a century.
Humans are not prone to a specific alignment, the full range of good and evil, law and chaos can be found among its population.
Humans vary in size, ranging from just over five feet tall, all the way to nearly seven feet in height. They are Medium sized creatures
Humans can move 30 feet per round
Humans can speak Common, and one additional language of their choice.
These are the base Human traits, but there is a variant Human race that works a little differently from the base.
Variant Humans have the following changes
Variant Humans gain +1 to two different ability scores.
Variant Humans gain proficiency in one skill of their choice
Variant Humans gain 1 Feat. (Feats are character options that other characters can pick up instead of an ability score increase. They have some powerful options that can change the way your character works)
Humans are capable of taking the ball and running with any of the base classes. Let’s take a look at some of the interesting character concepts you can play with as a Human.
- Warlock: The Human drive for power means that they are perfectly capable of making a pact with a greater creature for temporal power. Either version of the Human works for this, but the variant gives you a little bit more customization with the additional skill and the feat. The Base Human has better overall stats.
- Sorcerer: Humans are sort of a genetic melting pot when it comes to other races, and there are a wide range of other creatures in the D & D universe that mingle with Humans. The descendants of these minglings can draw power from the inherent magic in the blood of their non-human ancestors. Sorcerers fit extremely well into the Human race.
- Paladin: For several editions of this game, Paladins were exclusively Human. For 5th Edition, the zeal and drive that motivates a paladin to do his great works are very similar to the drive of the human race. Pushing the boundaries out, and bringing the light with them is both a very paladin, and a very human thing to do.
Humans have a lot of potential for building interesting characters in Dungeons and Dragons. We hope that this helps give you an idea of what you can do, but remember, with a racial profile as versatile as the human, you can be anything.
That’s our look at the Human race for Dungeons and Dragons, 5th edition, and next week we’ll be back to take a look at a new take on an old race, The Dragonborn.
Game on, Game Fans