I decided to throw out another character concept to coincide with the recent release of the Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition basic rules, partly to get a feel for how character creation differs to the D&D Next playtest.
The character concept here is a male, human cleric called Anders Brightwood who is lawful good.
In a nutshell, a quintessential good guy who can do no wrong and is purity personified, etc. Not very original, but what do you expect from a cleric of Lathander :)?
Generating The Attributes
Once you’ve decided on a race and a class, it’s time to determine what the character is capable of.
I’ve generated four sets of attributes, each using a different method of generation. As with the D&D Next playtest, rolling 4d6 and dropping the lowest score is the default method of ability generation.
Alternatively, the elite array as seen in D&D 3.5 makes a return. Point buy is a variant rule that can also be used, if desired.
Bear in mind that each of these stats have already been modified by the human racial ability modifier of +1 to each stat.
|Attribute||4d6 Drop Lowest||3d6 in Order||Array||Point Buy|
Notice I’ve included 3d6 in order which is not mentioned in the actual rules PDF, but I know that some D&D groups may prefer it (particularly old schoolers) and it might be interesting to see what kind of play experience this results in in Dungeons and Dragons 5e.
So I’ve roll the stats and… well, that was interesting. You have someone who looks like one of Lathander’s chosen in one column and someone who should never have been allowed through the gates of Lathander’s church in the other!
It probably goes to show that random rolls can really play havoc with any character concept you have in your mind. Needless to say, if you want to play it safe, use the array or point buy.
That said, the randomness can sometimes be fun. With the array and point buy, you can pretty much guess what the stats will likely be based on class choice alone. A fighter will have high strength/dexterity, Wizards will have high intelligence, and so on.
The random stats can result in something a little more unconventional, eccentric even.
For example, the 4d6 column clearly indicates someone who has unshakable faith in his abilities – and with good reason – but if a cleric’s main stat (wisdom) pretty much ends up being the dump stat, why is the character a cleric instead of choosing a career path more suited to his natural talents such as the rogue?
Does he have a point to prove to people who ridiculed him and wrote him off as a cleric?
Maybe it’s simply his upbringing which has shoehorned him into the only thing he has known his whole life – the life of a priest?
Perhaps his low reasoning capabilities have deluded him into thinking that he has the qualities to succeed as a cleric, when it’s clear he doesn’t (not to mention, made it more difficult for him to pursue other paths)?
Or maybe his lack of common sense makes him think that as long as he is devoted to Lathander and offers him regular lip service, he’ll be able to move mountains.
It might even be that Lathander himself thinks his power is glorified in his servant’s weakness?
So many questions to answer and so many things you can go to town with to really create a unique character.
For the sake of this article, I will use the 4d6 column to build my character, since these are the very first set of stats I generated for this character.
Next up is the personality traits of your character, including ideals, flaws and bonds.
These things were lightly touched upon in the most recent D&D Next playtest, but D&D 5e Basic goes into it in a lot more detail and makes it an essential part of character creation.
The idea is that you choose 2 personality traits, 1 ideal, 1 bond and 1 flaw – each of these determined from a list within each background.
Anders is pretty much your stereotypical fairytale hero, a ‘knight’ in shining armour, pure and upright (not to mention good looking).
Strong in both mind and body, he is unusually gifted, with a wisdom far beyond his tender years. Many in Lathander’s clergy took his birth as a sign from Lathander himself.
Many feel that he was born to fulfill a special calling from his god. No one quite knows what that might be, but most people surmise that he will actively participate in events that will influence the destiny of the Realms in general and perhaps even lead the church to a new era.
He is a handsome, youthful man who has curled blond hair parted down the middle and green eyes. He is about 5’6″ tall and has a strong build.
His devotion to Lathander and familiarity with the tenets of his faith has instilled within him a bright and optimistic outlook to life. Setback is almost always met with the catchphrase: “There will always be a new dawn.”.
Having spent his whole life in the sheltered walls of his church, his lack of life experience in the real world can be a hindrance.
Unscrupulous folk might consider him fair game, particularly if they can pull off the ruse that they are one of Lathander’s faithful.
“Just because someone has made his home under the shroud of darkness doesn’t mean he will stay there.”. Anders refuses to ignore the potential for good in any creature, no matter how corrupt. The only exceptions would be the denizens of Hell themselves.
He is a peacemaker first and foremost and while he accepts that at times, there may be no other option than to brandish a mace, bringing the lost an fallen back to the light will always be a far more complete and glorious victory than any one won by force of arms.
He is less forgiving when faced with undead, however, and he is well equipped to deal with them.
Anders champions the cause of the common folk and thus he never turns down an opportunity to help those in need, sacrificing himself if it comes to that.
(For reference, I selected nos. 2 and 8 from the Personality Traits list, no. 2 from Ideals, no. 4 from Bonds and no. 3 from Flaws).
Each class has a list of standard, pre-determined starting equipment and in Anders’ case, he starts with a shield with Lathander’s holy symbol emblazoned upon it, a mace and scale mail armour.
Chainmail also works since he has the Life domain which gives him proficiency with heavy armour, but it is heavier and more expensive. However, it is also worth a bit more for when you need to trade it for something better.
His high dexterity bonus makes him well suited to wearing all types of armour.
Anders will also have a light crossbow with 20 bolts and a priest’s pack.
As I have chosen the Acolyte background for him, he also comes with a holy symbol, prayer book, 5 sticks of incense, vestments, set of common clothes, and 15gp in a belt pouch.
Skills and Proficiencies
The two skills I chose for Anders are:
- History – has read about the previous heroes of his faith and is something of a history nerd in general.
- Persuasion – in line with his beliefs, he is well equipped to handle diplomatic and peacekeeping missions.
Skills provided by his background:
- Insight – has a degree of empathy, being able to sense the emotions of those he interacts with.
- Religion – being a devoted member of his faith means he knows the scriptures like the back of his hand.
As a Life Domain cleric, he is proficient with all armour and weapons, except martial weapons.
I had already created this character when I playtested D&D Next and gave Anders the Light Domain. However, only the Life Domain is included with the D&D Basic rules, so for now he will have the Life Domain.
I may look to update this character with my original domain choice once I get my hands on the Player’s Handbook.
Perhaps you can see what the game developers want to encourage here: clerics focusing exclusively on healing over most other things and wizards dealing direct damage with the Evocation arcane tradition, etc.
Spreading The Gospel…
There you have it.
The biggest thing that is different to the D&D Next playtest is the backgrounds and the personality traits, bonds, etc. that flesh out and define your character.
It appears that this iteration of D&D wants to move away from simple hack and slash and encourage roleplaying.
As I said before, I would be quite interested in seeing how 3d6 works out in pure gaming terms, so if you’re brave enough, have a go using that character and let me know how you get on.
If you have already played D&D 5e using 3d6 in order, tell me all about your experience. What did it play like? Was the game more fun? Was it even playable? Let me know in the comments section below.
Character sheets for this character can be downloaded here. Feel free to use Anders in your adventures as an NPC, character or ally.