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New character guide

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OK! Time to start thinking about your new D&D character. The purpose of this form is to let you decide the basic things about your character now so that when we get together to play, all we have to do is role the dice to determine your stats and then let your character go shopping. There are four sections here:

  1. Race
  2. Profession
  3. Alignment
  4. Personal Info
It could take up to an hour for you to complete, depending on how slow a reader you are and how much deep thought you want to put into your decisions.






1. Race

Race determines what species you are. Humans are assumed to be the baseline, or standard, race, and all other races have plusses and minuses relative to them. In addition to the different abilities you will get and lose depending on the race you choose, you also want to consider the storyline aspects of choosing a specific race. For example, if you are an Elf and the story takes you out of your woodland home and into bustling cities or underground caverns, your character is going to feel out of place, which could put him/her at a disadvantage. In some cases you could wind up in situations where, for example, a group of hostile Dwarves with animosity towards Elves refuse to let you enter their town. This is all a part of role-playing, so don't let it discourage you, but it is something to consider.

Human
The civilized parts of the world that you travel in will largely be occupied by humans. They don't have any special strengths or weaknesses, and they get along OK with all the other Races. Pick Human if you don't have any special interest in any of the other Races.
Elf
These are Lord of the Rings Elves, not Keebler Elves. They are reasonably tall (bet 5 and 6 feet), slender, and attractive. They prefer to live in the woods and have the ability to talk to many other woodland creatures. They can be carefree and fun loving, but are also shy and mysterious. They do not get along with Dwarves at all. They are extra sensitive, have great eyesight, and are very alert. They are more likely to notice hidden things (like secret doors) than other races, and they are also less likely to be surprised. They get a bonus when fighting with long swords and long bows. They have infravision, which means that they can "see" heat in the dark. They are slightly more agile than humans, but they are more frail. They live to be many centuries old.
Half-Elf
Humans and elves can interbreed, and their offspring tend to do well among both Elves and Humans. They have all the strengths and weaknesses of Elves, but to a lesser degree. They live a few hundred years.
Dwarf
Dwarves live underground and are gruff and grumpy. They all have beards, even the females. They tend to get rowdy when they are drunk. They dislike Elves and distrust magicians. They are short (about 3 feet tall) and stocky. Since they are used to being underground, they have infravision, are good at detecting sloping corridors, and are quick to find certain types of traps. Because of their size, they get an advantage when attacking very large creatures, like giants and trolls. They also hate goblins and do more damage when fighting them. They are very hardy and are resistant to diseases and poisons, but get a penalty when trying to persuade other people due to their dour personality. They live several hundred years.
Gnome
Gnomes look similar to dwarves but are a little shorter and don't have to have beards. They also are much friendlier and aren't uncomfortable with Elves or with magicians. They aren't as good at fighting and don't get as many fighting bonuses. However, they do like to tinker and build things and get a bonus when trying to create new devices. They live a few hundred years.
Halfling
Halflings are what Hobbits are called in D&D (due to copyright reasons). They are generally peaceful and enjoy the comfortable things in life. They don't like to go on "adventures" so if you choose to be a Halfling we will have to find a reason why your character is in the group. Halflings get along well enough with Humans and they like Elves and Gnomes (Dwarves, they can take or leave). They are very short (shorter than Dwarves and Gnomes) and are not as stocky. They have big hairy feet and don't usually wear shoes (or need to). They can be very stealthy and get a bonus to their agility, but they get a penalty to their strength due to their size. They live about 200 years.
Half-Orc
Orcs are evil pig-faced humanoids. Half-Orcs are generally the consequences of orc raids on human villages, and therefore are generally not welcome among humans. They are strong, a little dumb, and tend towards evil. Choosing to be a Half-Orc means you will have your work cut out for you. People will assume that you are evil and will not trust you or like you. It's a challenge from a role-playing perspective, but not recommended for beginners. They live 40 or 50 years.







2. Profession

Your Race is what you were born as. Your Profession (aka Class) is what you've decided to do with your life. These are broad categories, so while there aren't a lot of them, there can be a lot of variation within each Profession, depending on how you decide to play your character.

Fighter
Description: Fighters... fight. They use weapons and physically hit their opponents with them. Knights, lancers, swordsmasters, archers, spearmen and barbarians are all types of fighters. A Paladin is a special type of fighter that is also very religious and gets special powers from their god. Rangers are fighters that specialize in woodland activity. In fantasty literature and films, fighters are usually the main characters and tend to be the heroes while the other Professions play supporting roles.

Abilities: They can wear any type of armor and use any weapons, and are better with using weapons than any other class. They don't necessarily have special skills, per se; they are just good at fighting, but that tends to be enough.

Power levels: They start off as strong characters and progress linearly.

Subclasses:

  • Ranger - Expert tracking abilities. Bonuses fighting many humanoid monster types. Can cast druid spells at level 8 and magic user spells at level 9. Must be "good" of some kind. Can only keep as much loot as they can personally carry.
  • Paladin - Holy warrior. Protection from evil/detect evil/turn undead (at level 3)/minor healing abilities. Can cast cleric spells at level 9. Must be Lawful Good. Can only keep a limited amount of magical loot.
  • Cavalier - A knight. Major bonuses fighting on horses and with certain "weapons of choice". Immune to fear and highly resistant to charm and similar. Str, Dex, and Con stats go up slowly with every level. Cavaliers follow a strict code of chivalry.
  • Barbarian - tons of tracking, climbing, surprise, movement, and other survival abilities. Detect illusions and magic and bonuses on saves vs. poisons and magic. Can summon a "horde". Hates magic; may not use magic items or even associate with magic users to start.
  • Bard - Bards are a special case. They start as fighters, and then after a few levels change class to become thieves. Then after a few more levels they change class again to truly become bards, gaining the powers of druids but also special magic song and lore abilities.
Examples:
  • Conan the Barbarian
  • Red Sonja
  • Buffy
  • Sir Lancelot
  • Link
  • Aaragorn
  • Gimli
  • Legolas
  • Xena
Magic-User
Description: Magic-users draw on the powers of occult forces to cast spells. They can be called wizards, witches/warlocks, or sorcerers/sorceresses.

Subclasses:

  • Illusionist - specializes in illusions. Gains powerful illusion magic at much lower levels than regular magic-users.
  • You can also specialize in any "school" of magic (Alterations, Conjurations, Divinations, Enchantments, Evocations, Necromancy) or a type of magic (e.g. fire), giving a bonus when using those spells and a penalty when using others.
Abilities: They have a wide variety of spells, and have the best offensive spells. They can not wear armor and can only use a very limited selection of weapons, but they are able to use most types of magical items, such as magic wands.

Power levels: They start off weak, but progress exponentially.

Examples:

  • Gandalf
  • Merlin
  • the Wicked Witch of the West
  • Willow (the halfling from the movie Willow)
  • Willow (Buffy's friend)
  • Dr. Strange
  • the sisters from Charmed
Cleric
Description: Clerics derive their magic powers by praying to pagan gods. They can also be called priests, shamans, or druids.

Abilities: Their spells lean towards healing and protecting in contrast to magic-user spells, but they have some decent attack spells as well, and evil clerics (or good clerics in desperate situations) can reverse their spells, so where a good cleric can Cure Wounds, an evil cleric can Cause wounds, and where a high level cleric can raise the dead, an evil cleric can cast a death spell. Clerics can also use their holy symbols to repel the undead (like Vampires, Ghosts, and Zombies), and evil clerics can actually control the undead. Additionally, clerics are good in combat. They can wear all types of armor and can use any weapon that does not have a blade (examples of blunt weapons include: maces, flails, warhammers, staves, clubs). Because they aren't as good at combat as a fighter, and don't have the flashy spells that magic-users can cast, some players get frustrated with the 'jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none' aspect of clerics, but because of their healing spells, they are essential to the survival of a party, and other party members tend to make sure clerics get an extra percentage of the loot to keep them on their good side.

Subclasses:

  • Druid - worships Nature instead of a specific God or Goddess. Get a completely different set of (nature based) spells compared to regular clerics. Cannot turn undead or wear metal armor. Must be True Neutral in alignment.
Power levels: Clerics start off as competent fighters and remain so throughout their career. Their spells start off weak and increase exponentially in power as they advance.

Examples:

  • Friar Tuck
  • The Knights Templar
  • The Celtic Druids
  • Van Helsing (from Dracula)
Thief
Description: Thieves are stealthy and crafty. They avoid direct confrontation when they can, preferring to attack with bow and arrows, or from the rear. You don't have to be evil to be a thief, but they tend to not be hung up on morality. Thieves can also be called rogues. Some thieves focus on the stealthy killing aspect of their Profession and are called Assassions (and they do have to be evil). Others focus on the agility requirements and become Acrobats.

Abilities: Thieves can hide in shadows and move silently. They can pick locks, detect and disarm traps (and later set their own traps), and climb walls. They get a major bonus to their attacks when they backstab. They are not very good in direct combat, and can only wear leather armor and a small assortment of weapons.

Subclasses:

  • Assassin - Kind of boring in 1st edition D&D. Can be hired to perform assassination missions. Must be "evil" in alignment.
  • Acrobat - Focus on leaping, climbing, etc.
Power levels: Thieves start off weak but become deadly as they advance. They are essential to a party due to their unique skills, and tend to be rewarded for it (in addition to whatever they can slip into their pockets on the sly).

Examples:

  • Aladdin
  • Prince of Persia
  • Robin Hood
  • Bilbo Baggins
  • Gambit
Monk
Description: Monks are martial arts experts. They have almost supernatural physical abilities. Kung Fu and Karate experts are monks in D&D terms. They prefer to not use weapons when attacking.

Abilities: Monks are masters of hand-to-hand combat. They can attack multiple times in one combat round, are excellent at jumping and climbing walls, and eventually can learn special fighting techniques that give them special powers, such as the ability to paralyze an opponent. Because they do not use weapons or wear armor, they can find themselves at a disadvantage against a heavily armored foe.

Power levels: Monks start off weak and the road to mastery is long, but experienced monks are very powerful.

Examples: Most characters in Kung Fu movies.








3. Alignment

Alignment describes your moral philosophy. It is a guideline to help you determine how your character should act in various circumstances. You will be awarded points based on how closely you adhere to you alignment when playing. On one axis is good and evil, which is self-explanatory. On the other axis is law and chaos. People who are lawful tend to believe in a system of law, and tend to approach things from an orderly and strategic manner. People who are chaotic tend to be anarchists, and also do not bother themselves with a lot of planning before acting. As a first time player, it is recommended that you stick with one of the "good" alignments, but it is not required. Evil characters will not be trusted by the rest of the party, and will likely be killed or abandoned at the first hint that you are betraying them (of course, it is possible to keep your alignment a secret from other players...).

If you're having trouble deciding, you can take this alignment quiz. Just remember to answer as your character, not as you, the player, would.

Lawful Good (LG) These are the "Dudley Dooright" characters. They believe in the law and are extremely moral. If they believe a law is unjust they will work within the system to change it. Because of their confidence and their strategic brilliance, LG characters tend to be group leaders. You must be LG to be a Paladin. Captain America is the best example of a LG character. Neutral Good (NG) NG characters are your typical heroes. They are not "less good" than LG characters; they simply do not have the same faith in the legal system that LG characters do (or don't have an opinion). NG characters would break a law to help another person if they felt the law was unjust. This is the easiest alignment for a beginner to play. Spider-Man is NG. Chaotic Good (CG) CG characters don't have much use for the law, but they still have a strong moral code. They could be anarchists who believe that government is inherently corrupt, or they could just find the law to be a nuisance for them. They tend to rush into battle without a plan, causing a headache for their LG group leader. Popular anti-hero characters, like Wolverine, are CG.
Lawful Neutral (LN) For these characters, the law is more important than morality. LN characters want to preserve law and order, regardless of whether or not the laws are just. They tend to make good soliders ("just following orders"), and are good at creating and/or following out battle plans. Judge Dredd is LN. True Neutral (N) A true Neutral characters values balance over anything. They believe in the Ying-Yang philosophy that balances black and white and says there is good in every evil and evil in every good, and without one the other is meaningless. N characters can be difficult to play, because they avoid taking sides unless they are trying to restore balance to the world. When Clerics are True Neutral, they have the option of being a Druid which gives you powers granted from Nature instead of a pagan god. On the other hand, someone who is just completely apathetic (or too dumb) may also be N for different reasons. Ancient Kung Fu teachers may be N characters (because of their philosophy) and wild animals are also N (because they don't have the intellectual capacity to care). Chaotic Neutral (CN) CN characters are true anarchists. They could be unstable, or they could be dedicated to bringing down institutions that impose laws on others. Or they could just be out for themselves. They are not inclined to help other people out of the kindness of their hearts (they prefer rewards). They are wild in battle. Han Solo was CN in the first Star Wars movie (although he became gradually more good over the course of the next two).
Lawful Evil (LE) These are your evil dictators. They rule with an iron fist. They are usually calm and reserved, although the occasional outburst is not unheard of. Like their LG counterparts, they are master strategists and good leaders. A beginning character who is LE and not yet in a position of power will follow orders and behave themselves while scheming to replace their superiors. Darth Vader ("Join me, and we will end this destructive conflict and bring order to the galaxy!"), Dr. Doom, and Dick Cheney are all Lawful Evil. Neutral Evil (NE) NE characters are evil without any real concern for the law. They are your typical bad guys. Doctor Octopus is NE. Chaotic Evil (CE) CE characters are the truly psychotic villains. They are totally unpredictable. The Joker is probably the best example of a CE character.







4. Personal Info

Ok, you're done with the easy part. Now you have to make some stuff up on your own. You don't have to fill in anything from this section, but it will help you define your character better and help me work you into the plot.

Background:
Was your character born in a big city or a small farm? How did they learn the skills they needed for their Profession? Who are/were their parents? Are they still alive? Take your race into account. Write as much or as little as you want and i will help fill in the details (and make sure that your story can fit in my plot, and make sure that you don't "inherit" tons of super-magical equipment). Some examples:

#1 My character was born in an elven village in the woods but was orphaned due to an orc raid at an early age, and adopted by a human farmer who found me abandoned at the river side. While they raised me well, i never felt that i fit in with them so i left as a young adult to find an elven community. However, i found that spending my formative years among humans made me seem foreign to the elves as well, so after a few years i left there as well and moved to a large human city, where i lived on the streets, making a living by stealing and hustling, and eventually becoming a Thief. Because of the way my parents died, i have an irrational fear of orcs.

#2 I was born the son of a Duke of a large town. He received his appointment due to a heroic feat in a war, and constantly worried that the pampered life of royalty would spoil me, so he always tried to get me to learn combat skills, hoping i could one day become a general. I resented his constant badgering and much preferred reading anything i could get my hands on. One day i was caught by the court magician rummaging through his spellbooks. Instead of telling my father, he began teaching me the ways of sorcery, which it turned out i had an aptitude for. Unfortunately after several years my father discovered our sessions and turned out the magician. I left a few months afterwards to attempt to find somewhere to continue my education.

Background:

Additional Notes:
Anything else you want to tell me about your character? Physical description? Personality? Motivation? Were you interested in one of the sub-classes of the Profession you choose (Paladin, Ranger, Druid, Assassin, or Acrobat)? Do you want any aspects of your character to be kept a secret from other players?

Your Character's Name:

Your Name (You, the player):

E-mail address:



The form submission is currently disabled. If you want to join our campaign, let me know