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    Default Character Sheets!

    When you're new to the D&D game, the sheer variety of character sheets available, both in print and online, can bring on a headache. Even after you've chosen a character sheet, you face the task of filling it out. The task isn't terribly difficult, but it's hardly intuitive. That's because character sheets are laid out so you can find what you need quickly during play, not so you can create your character quickly. (After all, you'll spend far more time playing your character than you'll spend creating it.) This article takes the character sheet provided here on this site and attempts to unravel its mysteries by creating and recording an example character.
    Getting Started

    To create a character according to the directions provided here, download and print out all four pages of the standard character sheet, or you can download the sheet created for this article's sample character and follow along with the example.
    As you gain experience with the game, you'll probably find a character sheet that suits your tastes better, but this sheet will get the job done. You'll also need a pen or pencil, some scratch paper, four six-sided dice, and a copy of the Player's Handbook. At least one pair of four-sided dice also would prove helpful. If you cannot download and print the character sheet from here on the site (or view it on your computer screen for some reason), a photocopy of the character sheet on the last two pages in the Player's Handbook will do just as well, though the examples provided in this article don't match that sheet exactly.
    Before moving on, you might find it helpful to review the instructions for creating a character on page 6 of the Player's Handbook.
    Step 1: Generate Ability Scores
    You usually can determine your six ability scores by rolling four six-sided dice (once for each score), ignoring the lowest die, and totaling the other three. If two or more of the four dice are tied for the lowest roll, ignore just one of the low dice. Jot down each total on your scratch paper.
    Tip: Rolling dice for your ability scores works fine if you're sitting with your Dungeon Master or a group of other players while creating your character. If you're working on your own, however, dice aren't the best method. You might create a character or three while sitting alone for any number of reasons. Perhaps you're trying to quickly create a character for a game online, or perhaps you're working on a small collection of characters that you can bring into any D&D campaign. In such cases, it's best if you can prove exactly how you came to get the ability scores you're claiming for your character, and there's no reliable way to do that when nobody else is around to watch your dice rolls. Fortunately, there are a couple of easy methods you can use to get a set of ability scores that are beyond reproach. One is to use the elite array of ability scores found on page 169 in the Dungeon Master's Guide: 15, 14, 13, 12, 10, 8.
    If you want a little more control over your character's ability scores, you can use the point system on page 169 in the Dungeon Master's Guide. Most DMs will readily accept 25-point characters. You might want to give yourself a few more (or a few less) points. In any case, keep a record of how you spent your points; doing so allows you to make adjustments to your ability scores if a DM isn't happy with what you have.
    Example: Because I don't have to worry about anyone disputing may ability scores, I'll go ahead and roll some dice for the example character we're creating for this article. My six dice rolls come out pretty close to the elite array: 15, 14, 13, 12, 12, 8. This character has two excellent scores (the 15 and 14), three fairly good scores (the 13 and the 12s), no average scores (no 11s or 10s), and one below average score (the 8). Our example character will be fairly capable, but will have a weakness.
    Step 2: Choose a Class and Race
    As noted in the Player's Handbook, a character class is very much like a profession or vocation. Your choice of class determines what your character can do in the game. A character's race is the character's species. Some races are better suited for some classes than others, so it's best to choose a class and race at the same time.
    Tip: Chapters Two and Three in the Player's Handbook include a variety of races and classes. Other rulebooks offer additional choices. If you're preparing a character for a campaign you haven't yet joined, it's best to stick with the selection in the Player's Handbook, because those classes and races can fit into nearly any campaign.
    Tip: When choosing a class and race, be aware that adventuring groups that include several different races and character classes have the most success (because they have the widest array of capabilities). Whenever possible, consult with your DM and your fellow players before choosing a class and race, and try to choose a combination that fits well with your companions.
    Example: I'll create a 1st-level gnome druid for this article. This gives me the first bits of information to record on my character sheet: class, level, and race. All of this goes at the top of the first page of my sheet. While I'm at it, I'll jot my name on the sheet. I'll also choose a gender and a name for the character now. It's not necessary to do that this early in the process, but doing it now will make this article easier to understand. I choose a female gnome's name, Roywyn, from page 17 in the Player's Handbook and record that on the character sheet. I'll leave the rest of the sheet alone for the time being (we'll skip around the character sheet quite a bit before we're done).
    Step 3: Assign and Adjust Ability Scores
    To create an effective character, you must place your ability scores where they'll do your character the most good. The race you've chosen for your character also affects your ability scores, because most races include ability adjustments. You need to keep your racial ability adjustments in mind when assigning your ability scores.
    Tip: The description for your class includes information on how ability scores affect members of the class. In general, it's best to assign your highest scores to the abilities you'll use most.
    Example: The choice of gnome for our example character's race gives Roywyn a +2 adjustment to Constitution and a 2 adjustment to Strength. The druid class description notes that Wisdom and Dexterity are important to druids. In addition, I hope to make use of the druid's wild empathy class feature, which is based on Charisma.
    I assign Roywyn's ability scores as follows:
    • Strength: 12 2 (race) = 10
    • Dexterity: 14
    • Constitution: 8 +2 (race) = 10
    • Intelligence: 12
    • Wisdom: 15
    • Charisma: 13
    I record the racially adjusted ability scores on the character sheet. Currently, there's no magic or other effects that change Roywyn's ability scores, so I ignore the blanks to the right of each ability score entry for now. To complete the character sheet, however, I'll need to know the modifier for each of Roywyn's ability scores, so I'll record those now in the boxes to the right of the ability score entries. I can find these modifiers on Table 1-1 in the Player's Handbook. I record the following modifiers:
    • Strength: +0
    • Dexterity: +2
    • Constitution: +0
    • Intelligence: +1
    • Wisdom: +2
    • Charisma: +1
    Tip: You can quickly calculate the modifier for any ability score using this simple formula: for a score with an even number, subtract 10, then divide by 2 to get the modifier. For a score with an odd number, subtract 11 instead. Here are a few examples: 1210 = 2, 2/2 = 1; 1311 = 2, 2/2 = 1; 810 = 2, 2/2 = 1.
    Step 4: Record Racial Traits
    Now that we know Roywyn's ability scores and ability modifiers, we can determine the benefits her race gives her.
    Example: Page 17 in the Player's Handbook shows the following traits for gnomes:
    • +2 Constitution, 2 Strength. We've already applied these effects when recording ability scores.
    • Small: As a Small creature, a gnome gains a +1 size bonus to Armor Class, a +1 size bonus on attack rolls, and a +4 size bonus on Hide checks. She uses smaller weapons than humans use, and her lifting and carrying limits are three-quarters of those of a Medium character.
    I note these traits in various places on the character sheet. The actual size goes at the top of the sheet. I record the size bonus on attack rolls in parentheses on the base attack line in the Attack Options section. The size bonus to Armor Class goes in the Armor Class section. All this leaves us with several unfinished tasks to take care of in later steps.
    The +4 size bonus on Hide checks goes on the line for the Hide skill on the character sheet's fourth page. This, too, we'll finish up in a later step.
    The effects of a gnome's smaller weapons must wait until we choose Roywyn's equipment.
    To determine Roywyn's lifting and carrying capacity, we must turn to page 162 in the Player's Handbook. A Strength score of 10 gives a character the following carrying capacities: light load 33 pounds or less, medium load 34 to 66 pounds, heavy load 67 to 100 pounds. With reductions for her size, Roywyn's carrying capacities are: light 24 lbs. 12 oz. or less; medium 24 lbs. 13 oz. to 49 lbs. 8 oz; heavy 49 lbs. 9 oz. To 75 lbs. (I've rounded these numbers down to the nearest ounce.) Roywyn's lifting capacities are based on her maximum load of 75 pounds (see page 162, Player's Handbook). She can lift 75 pounds overhead and a maximum of 150 pounds off the ground. I jot these numbers in the Carrying Capacity section on the character sheet's second page.
    A character's size also affects her grapple modifier. According to page 156 in the Player's Handbook, a small character has a 4 grapple modifier, which I record in the grapple section on the first page of the character sheet. We'll finish this in Step 10.
    • Gnome base land speed is 20 feet.
    This goes on the first page, right below the section on ability scores.
    Speed affects a character's jumping ability. Thanks to Roywyn's speed of 20, she has a 6 penalty on Jump checks (page 77 in the Player's Handbook). I record this on the line for the Jump skill on the character sheet's fourth page. When we choose Roywyn's equipment, her speed might decrease because of her armor, so we might need to come back and change her speed information.
    • Low-Light Vision: A gnome can see twice as far as a human in starlight, moonlight, torchlight, and similar conditions of poor illumination. She retains the ability to distinguish color and detail under these conditions. A note about this ability goes on the character sheet's fourth page.
    • Weapon Familiarity: Gnomes may treat gnome hooked hammers as martial weapons rather than exotic weapons.
    Druids don't have much use for gnome hooked hammers, so we skip this one.
    • +2 racial bonus on saving throws against illusions.
    This goes in the conditional modifiers box in the saving throw section on the first page.
    • Add +1 to the Difficulty Class for all saving throws against illusion spells cast by gnomes. This adjustment stacks with those from similar effects.
    This goes in the conditional modifiers box in the spells section on the third page. We'll finish this in Step 6.
    • +1 racial bonus on attack rolls against kobolds and goblinoids.
    A note about this ability goes on the character sheet's fourth page. As a reminder, I also jot a note in the attack options section on the first page, which we'll finish in Step 10.
    • +4 dodge bonus to Armor Class against monsters of the giant type. Any time a creature loses its Dexterity bonus (if any) to Armor Class, such as when it's caught flat-footed, it loses its dodge bonus, too.
    A note about this ability goes on the character sheet's fourth page. As a reminder, I also jot a note in the Armor Class section. The blank for miscellaneous modifiers is handy for that. We'll finish that in Step 10.
    • +2 racial bonus on Listen checks.
    • +2 racial bonus on Craft (alchemy) checks.
    These notes go on the appropriate skill lines on the character sheet's fourth page.
    • Automatic Languages: Common and Gnome. Bonus Languages: Draconic, Dwarven, Elven, Giant, Goblin, and Orc.
    The two automatic languages, Common and Gnome, go on the first two lines in the languages section on the fourth page. Roywyn has a starting Intelligence score of 12 and a +1 Intelligence modifier, so she gains one bonus language (page 12 in the Player's Handbook). I choose Giant and record that. Because Roywyn is a druid, she also can choose Sylvan as a bonus language (page 35 in the Player's Handbook). We'll stick with Giant, though.
    • Spell-Like Abilities: 1/day -- speak with animals (burrowing mammal only, duration 1 minute). A gnome with a Charisma score of at least 10 also has the following spell-like abilities: 1/day -- dancing lights, ghost sound, prestidigitation. Caster level 1st; save DC 10 + gnome's Cha modifier + spell level.
    Thanks to Roywyn's Charisma score of 13, she gains all these abilities, which I record on the character sheet's fourth page. The save DC for Roywyn's spell-like abilities is 11.
    • Favored Class: Bard. A multiclass gnome's bard class does not count when determining whether he takes an experience point penalty.
    Roywyn doesn't have any bard levels yet, so we skip this one.
    In our next installment, we'll cover skill selection, class features, feats, combat numbers, and finishing steps.
    " I am the Walker of Shadows, the Stuff of Nightmares, and you have two choices pup, either you submit, or you die. Plain and simple, so decide, or I will for you; fair warning, I usually take the easy way out."

  2. #2
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    PART 2


    When you're new to the D&D game, the sheer variety of character sheets available, both in print and online, can bring on a headache. Even after you've chosen a character sheet, you face the task of filling it out. The task isn't terribly difficult, but it's hardly intuitive. That's because character sheets are laid out so you can find what you need quickly during play, not so you can create your character quickly. (After all, you'll spend far more time playing your character than you'll spend creating it.) This article takes the character sheet provided here on this site and unravels its mysteries by creating and recording an example character.

    In the first installment, we covered generating ability scores, choosing your class and race, assigning and adjusting ability scores, and recording racial traits. In part 2 (this article), we're covering skill selections, class features, feats, and equipment. In the final installment, we'll deal with recording all of your character's combat data and wrapping up loose details.

    To create a character according to the directions provided here, download and print out all four pages of the standard character sheet, or you can download the sheet created for this article's sample character and follow along with the example.

    Step 5: Choose Skills

    Look to your class description to determine your skill points and class skills.

    Example: Page 34 in the Player's Handbook shows that druids have the following class skills: Concentration, Craft, Diplomacy, Handle Animal, Heal, Knowledge (nature), Listen, Profession, Ride, Spellcraft, Spot, Survival, and Swim. I mark these skills as class skills on the 4th page.

    As a 1st-level druid with an Intelligence score of 12, Roywyn has 20 skill points (4 + 1 for her Intelligence modifier = 5, 5 x 4 = 20). Rather than spend those points on my own, however, I turn to the druid starting package on page 37 and choose five skills from that list (4 + Intelligence modifier). I choose Concentration, Handle Animal, Heal, Spellcraft, and Survival. Roywyn has 4 ranks in each of these skills. I enter the skill ranks and Roywyn's ability modifier for each skill. It's possible that several things, such as equipment, could improve or degrade Roywyn's skill scores, but I'll go ahead and record her scores now. I can change them later if necessary.

    Roywyn has a racial bonus on Craft (alchemy) checks, but only trained characters can use that skill, so I do not record a skill bonus for that skill.

    Tip: If you'd like to choose your skills ala carte rather than choosing them from your class starting package, turn to the text on acquiring skill ranks on page 62 in the Player's Handbook.

    Step 6: Record Class Features

    A druid has many class features, which are listed on pages 34-37 in the Player's Handbook. It's usually easiest to work through a character's class features in the same order they're presented in the book.

    Example: As a 1st-level druid, Roywyn has the following class features:

    * Spells

    Roywyn can cast three 0-level and one 1st-level spell each day. Wisdom governs her spellcasting, giving her a +2 modifier on save DCs against her spells (the save DC for any spell is 10 + spell level + the caster's relevant ability modifier). Her Wisdom score of 15 also gives her one bonus 1st-level spell each day (see page 8 in the Player's Handbook); a relevant ability score of 15 also grants a bonus 2nd-level spell, but Roywyn can't cast any of those yet, so she cannot yet gain the bonus spell.

    I record Roywyn's daily spells and their save DCs in the spells section on the character sheet's 3rd page. As a druid, Roywyn knows all the spells on the druid spell list, so I ignore the boxes for spells known. Roywyn's racial bonus to save DCs for illusion spells was recorded earlier in Step 4.

    * Spontaneously cast summon nature's ally spells.

    A note about this ability goes on the character sheet's 4th page. I also jot a note about this in the spells section.

    * Chaotic, Evil, Good, and Lawful Spells: A druid can't cast spells of an alignment opposed to her own or her deity's (if she has one).

    We haven't chosen Roywyn's deity or alignment yet, so it's best to just note this on scratch paper for now. In Step 8, we'll chose an alignment and record the limits on her spells.

    * Bonus Languages

    A druid speaks Druidic as an extra language. As noted earlier, a druid also can choose Sylvan as a bonus language.

    * Animal Companion

    A 1st-level druid can have an animal as a guard, companion, and servant. Page 35 in the Player's Handbook has a list of animals from which the druid can choose her companion. Page 36 shows the special benefits the animal companion can have.

    I'll choose a wolf for Roywyn's companion. According to page 36, Roywyn's wolf is pretty much like a regular wolf except that it knows a bonus trick (see the Handle Animal skill description on pages 74-75 in the Player's Handbook) and has the link and share spells special abilities.

    I enter a wolf's statistics from the Monster Manual in the Animal Companion section of the character sheet's 2nd page. I choose another gnomish name from the list on page 17 of the Player's Handbook for the wolf, calling it Glim. Because Roywyn has the Handle Animal skill, it's reasonable to assume that Glim has some training. As an animal with an Intelligence score of 2, Glim could learn up to six tricks (plus his bonus trick). After consulting the Handle Animal skill description, I choose the following list of tricks: attack, defend, down, fetch, guard, heel, and seek. I enter these in the spaces provided.

    * Nature Sense

    A druid gains a +2 bonus on Knowledge (nature) and Survival checks. I went back to Step 5 and recorded these bonuses in the skills section (this also changed Roywyn's Survival score).

    * Wild Empathy

    This power allows a druid to influence the attitudes of animals and magical beasts, if they have Intelligence scores of 1 or 2. As a 1st-level druid with a Charisma score of 13, her wild empathy score is +2 (druid level + Charisma modifier). Against a magical beast, Roywyn's wild empathy is –2 (–4 for magical beasts). I record this information on the character sheet's 4th page.

    Step 7: Choose a Feat

    A character always starts with at least one feat.

    Example: Roywyn has one feat as a 1st-level druid. She doesn't gain any bonus feats from her race or class. I choose Track and record that in the feats section on character sheet's 4th page.

    Step 8: Choose an Alignment and Determine Other Details

    Chapter 6 in the Player's Handbook explains alignments and will also help you determine things such as your character's height and weight.

    Example: Because Roywyn is a druid, her alignment must have a neutral component. I choose neutral good. We can go back and complete Step 6 now, deleting spells of alignments opposed to Roywyn's. She cannot prepare or cast evil spells.

    I grab a few dice and determine that Roywyn's starting age as 71 years. She is 3 feet, 3 inches tall, and she weighs 40 pounds.

    Roywyn's alignment and personal statistics are recorded on the character sheet's 1st page.

    Step 9: Select Equipment

    Every character needs some gear.

    Example: Once again, I'll save time by consulting the druid starting package on page 37 of the Player's Handbook. That package is intended for half-elf druids, but it will work for Roywyn with a few modifications for her small size. This gives Roywyn the following gear:

    Hide armor
    Heavy wooden shield
    Scimitar
    Club
    Sling
    Backpack
    Waterskin
    One day's rations
    Bedroll
    Sack
    Pouch with 10 sling bullets
    Holly and mistletoe
    3 Torches
    1d6 gold pieces

    I record the gear in the possessions section on the character sheet's 2nd page. I'll also record Roywyn's armor and weaponry in the next step. Because Roywyn is size small, most of her equipment has only half the normal weight.

    I roll 1d6 for Roywyn's cash and get a 3. I'll record Roywyn's 3 gold pieces in the money section on the 2nd page.

    Tip: If you'd like to choose your equipment ala carte rather than choosing them from your class starting package, turn to page 111 in the Player's Handbook. You'll need 4-sided dice to generate your character's wealth (see Table 7-1) unless you decide to accept the average value for your class. You'll find a variety of equipment and prices in Chapter 7.

    In the closing chapter of this mini-series, we'll cover combat stats and final details.
    " I am the Walker of Shadows, the Stuff of Nightmares, and you have two choices pup, either you submit, or you die. Plain and simple, so decide, or I will for you; fair warning, I usually take the easy way out."

  3. #3
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    PART 3

    n the first installment, we covered generating ability scores, choosing your class and race, assigning and adjusting ability scores, and recording racial traits. In part 2, we covered skill selections, class features, feats, and equipment. In this final installment, we'll deal with recording all of your character's combat data and wrapping up loose details.

    To create a character according to the directions provided here, download and print out all four pages of the standard character sheet, or you can download the now completed sheet created for this article's sample character and follow along with the example.

    Step 10: Record Combat Numbers

    A character's class determines these values, so we must look to the druid class description for this information.

    Example: A look at Table 3-8 and the accompanying text on pages 34-35 in the Player's Handbook shows the following values for a 1st-level druid:

    * d8 hit dice

    Example: Because this is Roywyn's first class level, she gains the maximum value -- 8 points -- for her first hit die. Her Constitution modifier is +0, so she has 8 hit points, which I record in the Hit Points box on the character sheet's first page.

    * Base attack bonus +0

    Example: Roywyn's +0 base attack bonus goes on the Base Attack Bonus line in the Attack Options box on the first page. Now that we know that, we can record attack and damage numbers for all of Roywyn's weapons.

    Roywyn has a Strength modifier of +0 and a size modifier of +1, giving her an attack bonus of +1 with her scimitar. Table 7-5 in the Player's Handbook shows that the damage for Roywyn's small scimitar is 1d4 points of damage, +0 for her Strength modifier. The critical rating for any scimitar is 18-20/x2.

    Roywyn also has a +1 attack modifier for melee attacks with her small club. She deals 1d4 points of damage with the club, and its critical rating is x2.

    Roywyn also can throw her club. Her attack bonus when throwing is +3 (thanks to her Dexterity and size modifiers), and her range increment (from Table 7-5) is 10 feet. Damage and critical rating is the same as for melee attacks.

    Roywyn has a +3 attack bonus with her sling. Her range increment is 50 feet. Her damage is 1d3, and her critical rating is x2.

    We've already recorded Roywyn's -4 grapple modifier for her size in Step 4. To complete the grapple section on the character sheet, I add Roywyn's base attack bonus of +0 and her Strength bonus of +0. This gives Roywyn a total grapple modifier of -4.

    We've also already noted Roywyn's racial attack bonus against kobolds and goblinoids in Step 4.

    * Base Fortitude save +2, base Reflex save +0, base Will save +2

    I record the base save bonuses in the Saving Throw section on the first page. I also add in Roywyn's ability modifiers. Roywyn has no magic or other effects that improve her saves, so her final save modifiers are Fortitude +2 (base +2 +0 for Constitution), Reflex +2 (base +0 +2 for Dexterity), and Will +4 (base +2 +2 for Wisdom). I've already noted Roywyn's racial bonus against illusion effects in Step 4.

    * Armor Class and Speed

    To calculate Roywyn's Armor Class and speed, we must turn to Table 7-6 in the Player's Handbook. Roywyn receives a +3 armor bonus for her hide armor. Hide armor allows a maximum Dexterity bonus of +4, so that's not a problem for Roywyn. Hide armor imposes a -3 armor check penalty. Hide armor also has an arcane spell failure chance of 20%, which we can ignore because Roywyn is not an arcane spellcaster. Hide armor reduces Roywyn's speed to 15 feet.

    Roywyn receives a +2 shield bonus to Armor Class from her heavy shield. The shield gives Roywyn an additional –2 check penalty. A shield doesn't affect Roywyn's speed, and we're once again ignoring the arcane spell failure chance.

    We recorded Roywyn's size modifier to Armor Class in Step 4.

    All this gives Roywyn an Armor Class of 18 (10 +1 size, +3 armor, +2 shield, +2 Dexterity), which I record on the sheet's first page. Roywyn also has an extra dodge bonus to Armor Class when fighting giants, which we recorded in Step 4.

    Roywyn's touch Armor Class is 13 (10 +1 size, +2 Dexterity).

    Roywyn's flat-footed Armor Class is 16 (10 +1 size, +3 armor, +2 shield).

    * Initiative modifier

    Roywyn as a +2 Initiative modifier thanks to her Dexterity of 14.

    Step 11: Finishing Up

    I need to go back to the skills section to apply the -5 armor penalty to her Jump and Hide skill scores. In the case of Jump, Roywyn already had a -6 penalty because her base speed is 20 (-6 per each 10 feet less than 30). Hide armor reduces her speed to 15, but that still counts as only 10 less than 30. Unfortunately, the -5 armor check penalty does combine with the speed penalty, giving her a total Jump penalty of -11. She won't be doing much jumping.

    This finally completes Step 5.

    Many portions of the character sheet were left blank because they don't apply to Roywyn.

    That wraps up the process. You can follow these same steps to complete any other character sheet -- only the book titles and page numbers will be different.
    " I am the Walker of Shadows, the Stuff of Nightmares, and you have two choices pup, either you submit, or you die. Plain and simple, so decide, or I will for you; fair warning, I usually take the easy way out."

  4. #4
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    I don't think making a normal character is that hard. Now when you're making a monster character with a template or two and an ECL a dozen levels more then normal using 10ish rulebooks... then it becomes complicated.

    But if it's normal D20 using the OGL, you can always use PCGen.
    Ehhh, I dunno if I'll stick around. We'll see.

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    Last Post: 11-04-2004, 11:35 PM

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