Building a Dungeons & Dragons Character, How and for What? – Part 1

D&D Logo: 5th Edition

This is the first in a series of articles, showing how you can make a D&D character for the two sides of the game, Roleplaying and Combat. I know the title is a little vague so allow me to embellish you a little.

Following on from my previous article “Roleplay Games…..How do you do it

I mentioned that some party’s prefer to have a role play based games where as others prefer a combat orientated game. Here I’m going to show you how I would create the same sort of character for each preference of play.

I realize that the two are not mutually exclusive, and that you can have a character that is good at both, but the point of this and the other articles in the series is to show how to build a character that excels in either extreme and why those choices have been made.

I would suggest that to get the most out of this article, you are familiar and fairly experienced with the game system as this is a more advanced way of building a character which although will fulfill the desired effect, it will leave what at times can be massive holes in the character in terms of usability, that is of course, unless you know how to compensate for it both via role play and game mechanics.

For this article I’m going to use the Rogue as a base purely because it the one I prefer to play myself so it is the one I am most familiar with, but obviously you’ll have your favourite and the process is the same regardless of which class you choose.

We’ll start with a character more geared to a role play type game and build them to 5th level using the wizards of the coast character builder.

Hopefully I’ll be able explain why I choose the things I did as we go.

DMB Games: D&D 3.5 Players Handbook Rogue

Class: Rogue
Build:Trickster Rogue
Rogue Tactics: Cunning Sneak
This is a good compliment to the cunning sneak tactics for a roleplay based character.  To me the thought of sneaking around leads to endless role play opportunities, not only in combat but for sneaking up on other party members to give them a scare, maybe you’re character is a bit of a practical joker?



Race: Halfling 

Now that may be a bit of a surprise, but bear with me. The Halfling gets +2 to DEX and CHA, both of which directly affect your powers.

Halflings get +2 to thievery and Acrobatics checks, always handy to be able to rob stuff as a Rogue.

Halflings get a +2 to AC against opportunity attacks, making moving through the combat zones that little bit easier and if you do get hit, you have the “second chance” racial encounter power to force the attacker to re-roll the attack.


You may not feel what other language your character can speak seems that important, but think about it, not only could it be useful in game terms, it also could help to explain some of you characters traits, in this case maybe how you became so apt at hiding in shadows, perhaps you were taught by and Elven master?

D&D: Forgotten Realms Symbol of Cormyr


Background : Forgotten Realms, Cormyr (Wheloon)

I chose this because it gives you a +2 bonus to save against charm effects, but more importantly it gives you another +2 to thievery checks.

And yes it stacks with you racial bonus as they are different bonus’s, like I said always good to rob stuff, oh and pick locks/detect and disarm traps to I suppose.

Ability Scores:

Ability Score Starting Array Value Modified Value Racial Bonus

Final Score

Strength 10 13 13
Constitution 10 12 +2 12
Dexterity 10 16 18
Intelligence 8 10 10
Wisdom 10 11 11
Charisma 10 14 +2 16

As you can see I started with a standard array, used the points system to up them and added in the racial bonus’s for being a Halfling.

A little explanation as to why I have chosen to set the ability scores this way. DEX is what your attacks are based on, so I’ve made that the highest followed by CHA.

I’ve upped the STR because it will help with some of the more common skill checks which is also why I have made WIS higher than INT. Con got a boost to because it’ll help you to survive.

Trained Skills: Acrobatics, Athletics, Bluff, and Perception .
You get Thievery and Stealth as trained skills for being a Rogue).

So the four listed above is what I chose. Acrobatics because with being a Halfling and having a high DEX the additional 5 points makes it 11!

Athletics is going to help you sneak about.

Bluff will give you a skill to help role play as you’ll be able to tell little lies to NPC’s and your fellow party members, not only that but once per encounter you can make a bluff check to gain combat advantage over your enemy which then means you can use your sneak attack.

Being perceptive is always useful and personally I’d recommend it as a skill to train in regardless of what character you are building.

Feat: Dirty Fighting 

At 1st level you get 1 feat to choose. This feat  gives you a +4 bonus to damage against surprised enemies. Having this feat will remind this character to be sneaky to make use of it and is very much in keeping with a more role play based character.

For example, you’re character can always be trying to hide in the shadows out of site, ready to pounce on an unsuspecting victim.

At-Will Powers: Deft Strike and Preparatory Strike

Deft Strike, It can be used as a ranged or melee attack and allows you to move 2 squares before attacking, meaning you stand a better chance of getting into a position to flank your opponent meaning you get you back stab.

Preparatory Strike, It’s a ranged attack but a hit means that target grants you combat advantage until the end of your next turn meaning you can get that back stab in.

Encounter Power: Shadow Strike

Shadow strike, Another attack that can be used ranged or melee, but as the title suggests, if you are hidden when you attack you can make a stealth check to stay hidden after, always handy when the enemy can’t find you plus again it’s keeping with in the hiding nature of the character for you to role play.

Daily Power : ScatteringShot

Scattering shot, It’s a ranged power but the advantage to this is if you use it whilst hidden and it misses you don’t expend it.

On a daily power that’s pretty cool, but there is more, not only does it hurt the target, but any of his mates stood nearby take a -1 penalty to attack rolls (save ends) and are pushed 1 square away from the target. Handy if they’re Hobgoblins, trust me.

Equipment: Amour: Leather

Leather is the best armor you can wear at first level so buy it,

Weapons: Dagger x 10 Shuriken x 20 Short Sword ,

Daggers, yes 10 because no doubt you’ll throw a few and loose them, as you will with Shuriken. They’re cheaper so buy more. A Short sword for stabbing people… quite simple really.

D&D: Adventurers Kit


Stuff: Adventures Kit, Thieves Tools

An adventures kit contains all the basics you’ll need and thieves tools surprisingly handy when you’re a thief.

OK so that’s your character built to a theme, Now you have to decide how that character will act, are they shy or just out and out sneaky?

Do they rush in or wait for the right moment. A lot of these traits will come to you as you build your character, sometimes, in fact, you’ll have an idea of how you want your character to act so try to pick skills and powers that reflect that.

Don’t rush and take your time to familiarise yourself with the choice’s you have available. The next article will show how to build a Rogue for Combat, and the differences between the RP build and the Combat Build!

Brendan @ DMB Games


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