D&D Basic Rules: Creating A Character

Cracked open the D&D Basic Rules PDF. I don’t feel like a full review is appropriate for something which is freely available and still in flux. So I fear you’ll get the slightly abbreviated experience of the bullet points that come up as I read.

  • Lots of copy that’s also in the Starter Set. Not going to dwell on that.
  • The three pillars are Exploration, Social Interaction, andCombat , in that order. Fair enough.
  • Magic is…rare but common? Not 100% clear what they’re saying.
  • Oh, god, they kept sub-races. Valley Elf, he’s a Valley Elf
  • First Level – “You totally suck, but you can totally have a backstory about not sucking!”
  • Order of operations for chargen is race, class, stats. Is that changed? Seem to recall stats being first.
  • Curious little line: “Occasionally your proficiency bonus might be modified (doubled or halved, for example) before you apply it”. That’s a fascinating little mechanical hook that I could absolutely see using for character differentiation.
  • 4d6 is the first stat generation method mentioned, followed by the fixed array. There’s a point buy option which is most-optional, but also gets the most inches.
  • 4 tiers of play (at 1, 5, 11 and 17, which are the same levels the cantrip damage tiers suggested). It sounds like the theory is that multiple attacks are the primary offset for the raw damage dealing of spellcasting, but I guess we’ll have to see.
  • Hee hee hee. The races have little “What they think of other races” boxes. One one hand, this is actually a fun role playing thing, but on the other hand it’s always been such a signature White Wolf thing that it’s jarring to see.
  • Hill Dwarf gets +1 wisdom and +1HP per level. Mountain Dwarf gets +2 Strength and proficiency in light and medium armor. Interesting balance. And I now kind of expect to see a lot of people trying out Mountain Dwarf Wizards (since armor doesn’t impede spellcasting, so long as you’re proficient)
  • Drizzt gets his own callout box. I wince a little.
  • High Elves and Wood Elves. No Eladrin Need Apply.
  • There is clearly a strong sense that there must be subraces, because they even have two halfling subraces. But at least one of them is the Stout, so that’s something.
  • Lightfoot Halflings are apparently characters in Assassin’s creed, as they can use human sized creatures to hide.
  • No subraces or special abilities for humans (though there are apparently some optional feats), instead, just +1 to all stats.
  • Oh, man, these class summaries look like third edition.
  • Cleric
    • Your cleric has the option of not being proficient in Religion. That’s…kind of lame. I mean, I can see the edge case where a cleric might choose not to do it, but by not giving it to the cleric for free, it forces the player to sacrifice a different skill for something he should already have.
    • Clerics get bonuses to Charisma saves. That shores up my “Charisma is now willpower” theory, but no one has actually explained that yet.
    • No martial weapons for you, mister Cleric! Hope you’re playing a dwarf!
    • Ok, I kind of dig how domain spells work. They are always considered to be prepared, but don’t count against your total. That’s elegant.
    • Back to the idea of getting Deivine Channellign which can be used (by default) to turn undead, but can do other things based on your deity.
    • When you get potent enough to destroy undead, the efficacy is based on the CR of the creatures. This is interesting, but makes sense, because it doesn’t really seem like monster hit dice are a thing any more.
    • Little comment in the Channel Divinity power for clerics of life (“5 times your cleric level”) suggests to me that we’re going to see multi-classing, probably in the style of 3e.
    • Ok, holy crap, if the Life Domain is any indication, Clerical Domains are going to be badass
  • Fighter
    • You get a strength save! Whatever that means!
    • The fighter who does not take athletics puzzles me.
    • Ok, the Fighting styles are actually decent. I wish the heavy weapons one was “roll 2 dice and keep the higher one ”rather than “reroll 1s and 2s” just because rerolls are awkward, but they largely feel cool enough, if only barely. That’s actually impressive because things like this often feel liek token nods rather than real character signatures.
    • ACTION SURGE! It’s a great name! Get one extra action over and above the usual action threshold rules. Very cool, but worrisome, since it’s suggests that neat limiter that the “Only one bonus action, only one reaction” rule put in place is more of a gate than a door.
    • Interesting. The Fighter’s ability score improvements seem to come more frequently than the Cleric’s.
    • Yep, extra attacks. Yep, gate.
    • Based on the Champion, the Martial Archetypes look a lot less interesting than the Clerical Domains.
  • Rogue
    • Intelligence Save! Perhaps every class gets a save whose utility is a mystery to me!
    • Again, the lack of any freebie proficiencies hurts a little. Again, I guess you might choose to not take Stealth, but that feels like self-injury
    • Whoah, Expertise! Double proficiency bonus for 2 skills (or thieves tools). That’s awesome!
    • Similar whoah for cunning action! Get an extra action every round that you can use to Dash, Disengage or Hide. KINGS OF MOBILITY!
    • Definitely seeing a list of the greatest hits of the 3e Rogue here. And I’m good with that. 3e Rogues were pretty great.
    • The Roguish Archetype (as presented) is less badass than the cleric, but more badass than the Fighter.
  • Wizard
    • Wizard abilities seem a bit thin. A little bit of spell recovery then BAM at level 18, you’re a machine gun, merry Christmas.
    • The Arcane tradition offsets this a bit, but it’s about as cool as the Rogue.
    • The theory is, I suppose that the spells themselves provide enough awesomeness. And I’m actually OK with that, since the basic spellcasting does actually seem kind of awesome.
  • Still pretty happy with the Sex paragraphs.
  • Alignment section refers to paladins and druids, which I take as an indicator that they will be full fledged classes.
  • I am struck by the definition of lawful in lawful good (expectations of society) vs Lawful neutral (law, tradition and personal codes) vs Lawful Evil (code of tradition, Loyalty or order). I would just like to say, that particular definition of Lawful Good can kind of kiss my ass. It sounds like Paladins are champions of peer pressure, not justice.
  • Oh, man. I LIKE the backgrounds. I want a bazillion of them.
  • Though, MAN, they screw your out of starting cash. Which is awesome.
    • Because broke adventurers are the best adventurers
    • And because I’m a terrible human being
  • Specifically, it seems like you’re better off taking the starting gear for your class than the starting cash, leaving you with the small amount you get from your background.
    • Which is generally enough to keep a roof over your head for a week or two. A little more if you live cheap. Thus, IMPETUS!
  • Definitely a more robust armor list than the starter set. Plate costs and arm and a leg, but with a base 18 AC, that seems decently worth it. I do not think it’s a coincidence that Plate Mail and Shield provide a nice, round AC 20.
  • Weapon list is longer, with some additions. Blowgun, fist, a few polearms. Two “special” weapons, the lance and the net. Lance is what you’d expect – disadvantage use’d close up. requires 2 hands off horseback. The Net is sort of it’s own mini-grappling rules, leaning on the “restrained” condition.
  • In the gear section, the various tools, kits and packs are a handy addition. Packs are basically pre-buyable bundles of goods that speed up the process of equipping your characters, while kits and tools basically correspond to proficiencies (which is why, I imagine, the healer’s kit is not with the other kits)
  • The inclusion of a “trade goods” table is actually a really nice touch. I can use that as a baseline in all sorts of situations.
  • And, oh, excellent, they explicitly lay out lifestyle expenses (and modest lined up with my guess of about 1gp per day).
  • I am a little sad that mead is not on the food and drink list. I learned about mead from Keep on the Borderlands, so I always look.
  • The starting trinket table? Fun. And as soon as there’s a license, expect one with 1000 entries. Probably more than one.
  • Ah, ok, 3e style multiclassing. And backdoor feats? Forgo a stat bump to take a feat instead? That’s intriguing! It keeps them nice and genuinely optional. It also demands that feats be a little it cooler than we’ve been used to in past editions to merit the investment, and I’m totally on board with that. The worst thing about feats was that they felt like too-small pieces of a bigger idea. Hopefully this changes it.

That’s the end of section one, creating characters. Let’s look at the wordcount and…DAMMIT, I’m over 1500 words!

Ok, apparently there is more of this to come.

4 thoughts on “D&D Basic Rules: Creating A Character

  1. Pingback: 5e Initial Review | The Walking Mind

  2. Staffan

    I actually don’t have a problem with LG characters being “Champions of peer pressure.” That’s why they are LAWFUL good – they believe that the way for people to have a good life is to conform to what society expects of them.

    The only problem comes when you combine that notion with the old, erroneous, concept that Lawful Good is somehow MORE good than Neutral Good or Chaotic Good. It’s not.

    1. Rob Donoghue Post author

      There are a fair number of other interpretations of lawfulness that have little to do with conformity and more to do with, say, protection under law, strict codes of conduct and belief, rules of engagement and many more – any one of them would be a valid interpretation, even before you get to the question of whether or not the lawful character applies these rules universally, or in accordance with some rules (which perhaps seems appropriate).

      LG is possessed of as much nuance as every other alignment. We have gamer traditions that demand that is be a caricature, but they’re not great traditions.


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