D&D 5.0 Character Creation, Part 2: The Meaty Nitty-Gritty

PHB2

This part will be devoted to the bulk that surrounds your character’s framework from Part 1.

If you own the 5.0 PHB, I have included page numbers for reference. If you are without a PHB, Wizards has the basic rules for 5th edition here. (Unfortunately, these do not cover all sections talked about in this guide, and the PHB may be needed for best results.)


 

This section is about Personality Traits, Ideals, Bonds, and Flaws.

A character should receive two Personality Traits. These are small, simple ways to help you set your character apart from others. They should be something interesting or fun about your character, self-descriptions that help them stand out. (Ex: ‘I’m like politics’ – lots of characters can be involved with politics. ‘I’ve read every book in the city library politics section and attend every rally’ is better, and tells you what is important to the character.) They may describe the things your character likes/dislikes/fears, their past accomplishments, or their attitude & mannerisms.

  • An Ideal is what drives your character. They should have only one ideal – something they believe in the strongly; the moral/ethical principle that compels them to act. It encompasses everything, from life goals to belief. Choosing one from their alignment is a good start, but other things like important events can also create a character’s ideal. (Ex: Rose lied about something that caused her sister to run away. This event has made her realise she should not lie to help herself. Her ideal is ‘honesty’.)
  • A Bond is a character’s connection to people, places or events in the world. A character should have one Bond. These are things from the character’s background that may inspire the character to acts of heroism – or even lead them to act against their own best interests if their Bond is threatened. (Ex: Rose’s sister owned a violin that she cherished. After her sister’s disappearance, Rose picked up the violin, learned how to use it, and started to travel with it to find her sister. Even though her ideal is ‘honesty’, if her sister’s life or the violin is threatened, she can and will lie to get her way.)
  • A Flaw is a vice, compulsion, fear or weakness. Something that can be used to bring your character to ruin, or cause them to act against their own best interests. These are more significant than negative personality traits. They should be things that enrage your character, or be the one person, concept or event that they’re terrified – even a preferred vice can be exploited. (Ex: Rose believes that she causes trouble wherever she goes because she caused her sister’s disappearance. She refuses to return home until she finds her. A villain could exploit this Flaw by giving false information about her sister. Rose could betray her own ideal, lying to get information on her sister’s whereabouts.)

Personality Traits, Ideals, Bonds, and Flaws can be found in the Personality and Background section of the PHB (Pgs. 121-141).


 

Inspiration, Proficiency Bonuses and Saving Throws

Inspiration is used by the GM to reward you for playing your character true to their personality, ideals, bonds and flaws. This is basically roleplaying experience. You either have an ‘inspiration’, or you don’t. There isn’t a ‘stockpiling’ of inspirations. Inspirations can be used on making an attack roll, saving roll or ability check. Using the inspiration in this way gives you an ‘advantage’ on the roll. (Advantage reflects the positive circumstances surrounding a d20 roll, while disadvantage reflects the opposite. If you have advantage or disadvantage on a roll, a second d20 is rolled by you. If you have advantage, you use the higher roll. If you have disadvantage, you use the lower roll.) If another player does something you enjoy or find particularly clever, or if they add something very interesting to the plot, you can give away your inspiration to them.

A Proficiency Bonus is determined by the character’s level (Pg. 15 of the PHB). At level 1, my Halfling has a Proficiency Bonus of 2. Proficiency Bonuses, when acquired, are used on ability checks, saving throws and attack rolls. Because my Rogue has proficiencies in both the Dexterity and Intelligence Saving Throws, I will be able to add my Proficiency Bonus to those rolls. (Ex: Rose triggers a trap. She must make a Dexterity Saving Throw in order to take half damage from acid. Her Dexterity Saving Throw is 4 + her 2 Proficiency Bonus. She adds 6 to her d20 roll.) Certain rules will allow you to change your Proficiency Bonus. (Ex: The Rogue’s Expertise ability allows her to double her proficiency bonus for certain Ability Checks. For Rose, I have chosen her checks to be for Perceptions and Thieves’ Tools.)

Saving Throws are rolls that a character has to meet or exceed in order to avoid damage/negative effects. (Ex: Rose is stabbed by a poisoned dagger. She must make a Constitution saving throw in order to see if the poison takes effect. The poison has a DC of 15, and her Constitution modifier is 1. She is does not have a Constitution proficiency, so she cannot double its modifier. She rolls 1d20 and adds 1, giving her 13. She does not meet or exceed the set DC and she is poisoned.)


 

This section is about Skills.

A Skill represents a specific aspect of an ability score. A character’s proficiency in a skill demonstrates the character’s focus or training in that skill. A character’s class and background will determine what starting skills they have available for proficiencies. [Ex: As an Entertainer (Pg. 130 in the PHB), Rose receives Proficiencies in both the Acrobatics and Performance Skills. As a Rogue, she picked four Skills from the available class Skills: Deception, Perception, Sleight of Hand, and Stealth. Expertise allows her to double her Proficiency with Perception.]

[Ex: Rose has to make three checks, one in each of Acrobatics, Persuasion, and Perception. She is proficient with Acrobatics, which has a base of 4 from her Dexterity modifier and allows her to make a roll of 1d20 + 4 (Acrobatics) + 2 (Proficiency). She is not proficient in Persuasion, so her roll is 1d20 + 3 (Persuasion). She has Proficiency and Expertise in Perception, which allows her to double her Perception Proficiency and makes a roll of 1d20 + 4 (Doubled Perception) + 2 (Perception).]

Skills are described in the Using Ability Scores section of the PHB (Pgs. 174-175).

 


Glossary

  • DC: Difficulty Class, a number that the DM (or pre-made campaign) sets. You must score this number as a result on your skill check in order to succeed.

 

See more on Character Creation in the last installment, Part 3!