D&D for Young Players and New Dungeon Masters: 3 — Complete Characters

Reading Time: 3 minutes
Image: Rory Bristol
Image: Rory Bristol

Welcome back to Dungeons and Dragons for Young Players and DMs. Last time, we covered using storytelling to bring a character to life. To be able to play, though, players need to understand the in-game details of their character. After an unexpected break due to conflicting school schedules, we’ve resumed our games. What familiarity the kids had with the system has faded, so we picked back up there.

To simplify things, we started with the Player’s Handbook, setting the character sheets aside. The numbers a player needs are scattered throughout the book, so using the character sheet as your guide is a good way to get lost. We just went through the book, and extracted the information we needed from each chapter in order to play the characters.

Below is a chapter-by-chapter synopsis of the information a player needs to know. I start my players in Chapter 3, then return to Chapter 1, but they are listed in numeric order below for simplicity. Be forewarned: It’s thorough!

Breakdown By Chapters

Now that you’ve identified the relevant information for your player, translate it to the character sheet. To set up their character sheets, players use their now-gathered details. Ignore any areas marked out when filling out the character sheet.

Character sheet original by Wizards of the Coast, marked for educational purposes
Character sheet original by Wizards of the Coast, marked for educational purposes
  1. Players can put in details here without calculations.
  2. Ability Scores – See Chapter 1, and the notes above from Chapters 2 and 3. The small circles are where you record the modifiers, see page 173 for more details.
  3. Proficiency Bonus, Saving Throws, and Skills all come from Chapter 3. To calculate saving throw and Skill modifiers, put in the ability modifier, and add your Proficiency Bonus if you’re proficient in that skill. Note, this may sometimes be a negative number! This number is what is added to a roll when that sill or ability is used.
  4. Passive Perception – Add 10 and your total Perception modifier.
  5. Armor Class – See the chart on 145 to calculate armor class. This is 10+DEX modifier if unarmored.
  6. Initiative – This is your DEX modifier + any bonuses you might get from spells, abilities, etc.
  7. Speed – Determined by Race.
  8. Unless you’ve taken damage, your Current Hit Points is the same as your Hit Point Maximum. Hit Dice are determined by class. For example, a Level 1 Barbarian as 1D12 Hit Dice.
  9. For weapon attacks, see page 194. For spells, see your class description.
  10. Players can fill these areas in using details from the chapters identified above.

Now that your player has their character sheet filled out, they can start playing the game. In the next article, I’ll cover the mechanics of play, and making those mechanics easy for kids and new players. If all you’ve done in this play session is get your players set up with character sheets, that’s fine. I often set aside a game night just to get everyone set up the first time. If you want to play through a couple of short scenarios, crack open the Starter Set and use some of the early encounters to whet your players’ appetites.

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