Do not be bewildered if you are new to this game, there are plenty of aids out there to help. Having tried a few, we tend to favour Aurora builder. It is a personal preference but this is an easy to use but also comprehensive app that can walk you through your characters and includes a lot of extra content classes and races that other builders charge for.
Hopefully you have read my post on character alignment so have chosen a direction for your character.
There is a really rich world of races and classes for you to explore… I would recommend trying them all at some point – not that I follow this advise. Again, I am flawed… I love the pretty things. My characters are not only the heroes but they have to be beautiful.. this does not mean they have to be a specific race but I always roll female characters and although they may have tattoos or a small sexy scar , they are never beasty type characters and pretty much always have some elf lineage as, personally, they are my favorite in appearance.. I do have a female Dragonborne, which was supposed to be a throw away character but, dam it, I fell in love with her and although she has a pretty epic curse, I am hoping to travel with her into a new campaign where she will find a cure.
This brings me to an important point….. CHARACTERS DIE!. Unlike Wow, there are no spirit healers nearby to revive you if you fall… it is down to the roll of a dice (or 3) and the actions of your enemy, possibly the actions of your team if they have available spell slots or potions. You have to try not to be too attached to your characters. It is a fact that D&D characters die, especially at lower levels…. I do not live by this rule – I love my characters and am attached before I even play a session.. Both my DM’s are concerned to my reaction when one of them dies…. My husband saw my reaction to the fall of Mollmauk in Critical Role’s second Campaign ‘The Mighty Nein’.. sobbing , literally. .. and fears I will not make it if one of my longer term characters leave the plain…..
Anyway, enough of my struggles! It is really important to try races that appeal to you , appeal to your gut, same with classes. For example you may prefer to be a hulking battle hardened Orc or you may like to be a more delicate flower that does not fight on the front line… we all have a type. But I would recommend that you read through the races in the handbooks… each race comes with a specific set of natural abilities or traits…. such as elves with their dark vision and the ability to not need to sleep and instead can just meditate deeply. They have Keen senses and have a +2 to dexterity even before class modifiers and such. Every race has some attributes so take some time to look over them all. thinking about your alignment and how they may affect things, think about your class (which I will get to in a moment) as some traits will enhance some classes to make you almost unstoppable. If you know any details of your upcoming campaign, that can also influence your decisions here. For example, if you know you are doing a one shot that is set in caverns in a mountain range, then perhaps you consider Darkvision a must.
As you learn more about the races you will see their are options within the races, for example In the Elf race you could choose to be a High Elf, an Eladrin, a Drow or a Wood Elf.. each adding further traits.
Have a few options of race marked and then look at classes….
Again, all classes have a special set of abilities and proficiencies. They all have strengths and weaknesses so again, if you know any specifics of your campaign you may let that influence you.
If you are embarking with a group of friends, you may feel that having a well rounded group is the priority so if you are lacking a healer maybe you choose a Cleric, Paladin or Druid. If you are lacking spell power then maybe a Wizard, Sorcerer or Warlock is the choice. Maybe you are lacking someone to deal high melee damage so Barbarians or Monks are needed. Maybe you are more concerned that traps are going to be an issue so a rogue that can pick locks is a must. Also take into consideration that even without multi-classing (something I will tackle in future blogs) some classes can be good at more than one thing… for example clerics and paladins can tank and take alot of damage, whilst having high strength and can deal alot of damage in melee combat but also can draw on spells to enhance and heal.
Think about how you want to act within combat. Do you want to be up in the thick of it or would you rather stay further back and concentrate on super powerful spells. Or do you want to be the support for your team, boosting their stats. Note that what you think you want to do is not necessarily what you are best at but that is the fun of it. I am actually best suited to Paladins, both in D&D and in other games like WoW. I want to run in and do loads of damage but also be able to withstand a lot. I also love to be the healer that saves the party. Paladins make good Tank/Healers, however, especially if wearing full plate armour, they are really not stealthy.. (learnt this the hard way with the clink clank, one armed band noise as my Dragonborne tries to stealth in a network of caves). No race and class combo is infallible – every class and every race has strengths and flaws and thus every combination has strengths and flaws, but there are races that help you get the most out of a class and vice a versa.
However, I personally have a love of the arcane so my first long term character for D&D was a High Elf Wizard…. now if only I could roll well, she would be epic! I do unfortunately, have a habit of not staying back as much as I should with both her and my new level one druid (read ‘The Unconscious Druid’ – session one of our Waterdeep Campaign where Xenya spends most of the first fight unconscious as she ran in to hit with her quarterstaff (and missed) and was quickly sent down with one hit!).
Once you have narrowed down a list of a couple of races and a couple of classes that appeal to you, look at how each race would behave in each class.. look at the boosts and the flaws that the combinations will give you and that should better help you decide what is right for you.
Again, there are plenty of forums for discussion and it is something to talk through with your DM but if you want further incite or want to bounce ideas around come and have a chat with us on our Facebook chat page and ask the community for suggestions, experiences or help.