Creating a character is arguably one of the most fun, and most stressful parts of the game, as you have to figure out someone totally new and exciting! As mentioned in my previous article Building Character: How to make a good backstory for a D&D game[add backlink]. Building good three-dimensional characters is an adventure in itself, and is unique to every player and character in how each respective character is built.
As the author, I have recently been asked by my DM to create a backup character for my main campaign, just in case the worst happens and I die. (We are in a high-level campaign now, and it’s getting into the endgames.)
With this in mind, I have been analyzing my process for this character creation in order to help inspire you in your characters and perhaps provide a pathway for your creative endeavors.
In my most recent game, my party tried to plane shift to another dimension but instead found themselves transported into a post-apocalyptic wasteland 25 years into the future. Crap has hit the fan in our absences, and now we are headed to a desert country (actually the homeland of my main character) which in previous ages could be best described as Ancient Egypt meets Las Vegas. A massive evil eye has appeared in the sky, keeping watch for anyone using magic. The elves are nearly extinct, with perhaps small pockets of survivors hidden away, and the Dragonborn Wars have expanded into the rest of the continent, which doesn’t make things any better.
So, I began brainstorming with my friends. Given the post-apocalyptic situation we will be in, I would like to have someone who is a survivor. For this character, the aesthetic manifested first for me: perhaps a desert nomad inspired by the Bedouin peoples. Someone who is no stranger to harsh climates and wandering. I also was reminded slightly of the Dark Sun campaign setting which I’ve heard of that has elves typically as nomadic wanderers as well.
Sometimes my characters get their initial inspiration from other places, such as other stories, movies, the Sourcebooks directly, or even memes. (No joke. I once made a clerical clerk for one of my campaigns. It was glorious.)
With the general vibe of this character settled, I began looking at my sourcebooks to see which classes and subclasses would work well for my general playstyle and vibe. My current character is a Rogue, and I could easily try a new subclass for this, the Scout, which, I do admit, would be perfect for this idea.
But perhaps I could try something new…. I was looking through my sourcebooks and found the Swarmkeeper Ranger subclass. I’ve always wanted to play something like that. And instead of your typical swarm of insects, it could be a miniature sandstorm they could have around them! Think of how awesome that would look! I just would have to ask my DM if he’d allow that. (I think he would.)
With a general class idea settled, now to get to the nitty-gritty (pun slightly intended) of who this character is. For her, I would love to see her wield a glaive, since glaives are awesome, and would compliment the whirlwind of the sandstorm, both thematically and mechanically. She probably would be a human, because, why not, and it would fit the vibe I’m going for.
Now it is time for her story. I have to give her a reason as to why she would be exploring. So this leads me to do a bit of research. Both in Bedouin culture, post-apocalypse settings like Mad Max, and other D&D resources. These will help me form her story and give her reasons as to why she might be wandering the desert alone. Also, research helps me flesh out minor details I can use to make her more real to me.
Finally, with all that settled, I’ll build her stats. I have an app called Fifth Edition Character Sheet that helps me in the character sheet building process. (Best app ever, but that’s for another article) You can get it on both Apple and Android phones.
And that is the beginning of my character creation process! Note, it is different for different people, but hopefully, it can help you in your adventures in creation.