Last Updated: September 26, 2021
You’re now filled in all of your characters stats, armed them to the teeth, filled their pockets and packs with coin and baubles. Mechanically, you’re done! You have a functional, playable character.
But what does your character look like? How tall are they? There are still plenty of minor character details to define which will finalize your character.
Every character needs a name. You can’t go around introducing yourself to NPCs as “level 2 human fighter”. You’re free to name your character whatever you like, but try to keep it in-line with the tone of your game. If your campaign is intended to be serious and dramatic, naming your character “Chuckles” probably isn’t a great choice, but if your campaign is intended to be light-hearted and goofy Chuckles the 2nd-level human fighter fits right it.
Chapter 2 of the Player’s Handbook provides example names for all of the included races. You can name your character as you see fit, but the examples may be helpful inspiration.
Select your character’s sex/gender as you fit. It has no mechanical effect on your character, but depending on things like your setting and your character’s race, it may affect how your character interacts with other characters in the world around them.
Don’t feel constrained to binary gender expressions. Dungeons and Dragons has a long and rich history of characters who don’t conform to real-world prejudices. Deities like Corellon Larethian are seen as androgynous or even hermaphroditic. Eladrin (see Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes) can change their sex literally overnight. Gay characters appear in official published adventures in several places. The idea of holding a prejudice against someone because of their gender expression or their sexuality seems silly in a world with talking bird people and humanoi dragons.
If you choose to play a non-straight or non-binary character, be concious of how you portray that character. Choosing to play such a character as a joke is offensive and in poor taste. I trust that you wouldn’t play a character of a different ethnicity to mock a real-world ethnic group, so I’m sure you wouldn’t use the game as an excuse to act out other real-world prejudices. D&D is a broad, welcoming community that includes people of all kinds, and while tabletop roleplaying has historically been dominated by white males, the hobby is rapidly diversifying as the community grows, and as players we should welcome that progress and the wonderful new voices that it brings with it.
Height and Weight
Each race’s description provides a range of heights and weight for the race. Or, if you prefer, page 121 of the Player’s Handbook includes a Random Height and Weight table which you can use.
Other Physical Characteristics
Fill in other details about your character’s appearance like their eye and hair color, as well as any distinguishing markings like tattoos or scars.
A typical creature in the worlds of Dungeons and Dragons an alignment, which broadly describes its moral and personal attitudes. Alignment is a combinalion of two factors: one identifies morality good, evil, or neutral), and the other describes attitudes toward society and order (lawful, chaotic, or neutral). Thus, nine distinct alignments define the possible combinations.
These brief summaries of the nine alignments describe the typical behavior of a creature with that alignment. Individuals might vary significantly from that typical behavior, and few people are perfectly and consistently faithful to the precepts of their alignment.
- Lawful good (LG) creatures can be counted on to do the right thing as expected by society.
- Neutral good (NG) folk do the best they can to help others according to their needs.
- Chaotic good (CG) creatures act as their conscience directs, with little regard for what others expect.
- Lawful neutra I (LN) individuais act in accordance with law, tradition, or personal codes.
- Neutral (N) is the alignment of those who prefer to steer stear of moral questions and don’t take sides, doing what seems best at the time.
- Chaotic neutral (CN) creatures follow their whims, holding their personal freedom above ali else.
- Lawful evil (LE) creatures methodically take what they want, within the limits of acode of tradition, loyalty, or order.
- Neutral evil (NE) is the alignment of those who do whatever they can get away with, without compassion or qualms.
- Chaotic evil (CE) creatures act with arbitrary violence, spurred by their greed, hatred, or bloodlust.
Alignment is complicated. It’s not always easy to decide where a character falls on either axis. Remember: alignment is descriptive, rather than prescriptive. If your character mostly fits into one alignment but has a few notable behaviors that routinely go outside their alignment, that’s perfectly fine. A lawful-good character is still allowed to break the rules. A chaotic character is still allowed to have a few rules that they follow. Not every evil character kicks puppies. Morality is complicated. Alignment is just a simple way for you and other people at the table to get a broad, general idea of your character’s philosophical outlook.
Alignment can also change over time. Life events can cause people’s beliefs to change, and your character’s alignment might shift over the course of the character’s life.
Your character will speak 2 or more languages depending on their race, their background, and potentially languages learned from other sources. Your race’s description details what languages you speak. This will nearly always include Common, which the common tongue spoken throughout most game settings.
If you need to select additional languages, see the table of Standard Languages on page 123 of the Player’s Handbook. Generally a character can’t learn languages from the Exotic Languages table at character creation, but your Dungeon Master might make an exception if you have a good reason.
Personal Characteristics provide some basic points about your character’s personality to help you and others at the table understand who your character is and how they act. Much like alignment, these characteristics are descriptive, not prescriptive, and from time to time your character may deviate from these characteristics. But if you find that a character no longer adheres to a characteristic, consider changing it.
Your background provides tables of example characteristics based on your background. These serve as a good source of inspiration and you can use them as-written, but you are free to fill in your characteristics however you choose.
- Personality Trait: Something notable that your character does.
- Ideal: Something notable that your character believes.
- Bond: Something notable that your character feels, or something that they feel attached to.
- Flaw: Something notable that your characyer does wrong.
Consider how your character talks. Do they have a unique voice or accent? Do they use long flowery words? Are they quiet or loud? Do they speak constantly, or are they often silent? Your fellow players will never see your character in real life (short of artistic representations like miniatures or a drawing), but they can hear your voice, and deciding how your character speaks goes a long way to define your character in the minds of the other players.
If you plan to do a special voice for your character, try to avoid something that is physically strenuous to perform. While such voices can be fun in small burts, you may find it hard consistently do the voice.
Your background provides a general idea of your character’s history, but lacks specifics. If you want to provide more detail, consider writing a backstory for your character. This doesn’t need to be long, but it should provide a general idea of where you came from. If you’re having trouble, Xanathar’s Guide to Everything provides a wonderful guide starting on page 61 called “This is Your Life” which provides a guided framework for building your character’s backstory.