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DnD 5e: Slow Guide

Last Updated Oct 16, 2022

Dungeons and Dragons, otherwise called DnD for short, is a tabletop fantasy role-playing game. Within its niche group, it is very well-loved, but it can be confusing for beginners to understand how the game works.

In Dungeons and Dragons, you work with a team of other players, called your Party, to solve challenges and defeat enemies created by the Dungeon Master. In order to start playing, you need:

  • A character sheet
  • A set of dice
  • A group of players to play with

Keep reading to learn how to create your own character and get started on your own fantasy adventure.

How to Create a Character

Creating a character to play as is the first thing to do before you play DnD, and it can look quite complicated at first. To create your character, you’ll choose a race, class, alignment, background and ability scores. Let’s look at each factor one by one. 

Choosing a Race

In the 5e version of DnD, there are 9 races to choose from. 

Your character’s race may impact their abilities or alignment:

  • Dwarf: Dwarves are short, strong, and stubborn. They have a high Constitution and are usually on the lawful good side of the alignment chart.
  • Elf: Elves live long lives. They have higher Dexterity than normal and have special abilities like Darkvision, which allows them to see in the dark.
  • Halfling: Halflings are small and peaceful, the equivalent to Hobbits from Lord of the Rings. They are typically lawful good and unlikely to be strong fighters.
  • Human: Humans are the most versatile of the races, with no major strengths or weaknesses.
  • Dragonborn: Dragonborn are humanoids descended from dragons. They are strong and usually fall to the extreme ends of the alignment chart.
  • Gnome: Gnomes have higher Intelligence than normal and can be lawful or chaotic, though they are usually good either way.
  • Half-Elf: Half-Elves are also half human, and share traits from both races. This makes them a versatile choice.
  • Half-Orc: Half-Orcs are a hybrid of orc and human. They are angry and tend more towards evil than good.
  • Tiefling: Tieflings look like humans with demon features. They lean toward evil, but they can be good as well. They are usually chaotic and have higher-than-average Charisma and Intelligence.

Now, let’s see what class is in Dungeons and Dragons.

Choosing a Class

Your character’s class refers to their role. There are 12 classes to choose from. It’s good to have a mix of different classes in your party. 

If you’re unsure which one to choose, pick one that balances out the rest of your party:

  • Barbarian: A warrior whose main ability is strength. (Hit Dice: 1d12)
  • Bard: A musician who can cast spells through music. (Hit Dice: 1d8)
  • Cleric: A wise priest who calls on their deity for their magical powers. (Hit Dice: 1d8)
  • Druid: A priest who specializes in nature magic. (Hit Dice: 1d8)
  • Fighter: A warrior with a variety of armor and weapon items. (Hit Dice: 1d10)
  • Monk: A warrior whose main abilities are dexterity and wisdom. (Hit Dice: 1d10)
  • Paladin: A warrior whose motivation is justice and morality. (Hit Dice: 1d10)
  • Ranger: A warrior who uses both martial arts and nature magic. (Hit Dice: 1d10)
  • Rogue: A sneaky figure who gets what they want through trickery. (Hit Dice: 1d8)
  • Sorcerer: A magic user who was born with magic or inherited it naturally. (Hit Dice: 1d6)
  • Warlock: A magic user who bargained with a deity for magic powers. (Hit Dice: 1d8)
  • Wizard: A magic user whose main ability is Intelligence. (Hit Dice: 1d6)

Now, let’s see what the alignment is.

Choosing an Alignment

Alignment refers to your character’s morals. Are they good, neutral, or evil? Do they follow rules or defy them? 

For a brief description of each alignment, see the chart below:

GoodThe model citizenThe do-gooderWell-intentioned
NeutralPlays by the rulesTrue NeutralImpulse-driven
EvilLegally selfishImmorally indifferentFun-loving criminal

Your character’s class affects their alignment. A rogue is unlikely to be Lawful Good, for example. Whichever alignment you choose, keep it in mind while playing and making decisions. For example, a Chaotic Evil character would not help an NPC (a non-player character) for no reward.

Choosing a Background

The background is your character’s personal history. Your character’s class will narrow the many available backgrounds down to a few choices. Your character’s background will give them different equipment and abilities to start the game with.

Backgrounds also determine other aspects that round out your character’s: 

  • Personality traits
  • Ideals
  • Bonds
  • Flaws

You can choose these details, or roll a die and get them randomly. 

There are over a dozen character backgrounds, so for a more in-depth look at the options, refer to your player’s handbook.

Rolling for Abilities

Characters have six basic abilities, and you’ll roll a die to determine which abilities are strengths and which are weaknesses. 

The six abilities are: 

  • Strength
  • Dexterity
  • Constitution
  • Intelligence
  • Wisdom
  • Charisma

These ability scores determine how successful your character is in different situations. If they are low in Constitution, they may be more susceptible to poison. If they are low in Strength, their attacks won’t be powerful.

To determine your character’s Ability Scores, note what Hit Dice they need based on their class. If the Hit Dice says 1d8, that means roll one eight-sided die. Roll the die six times and record the six numbers. Then choose which number should go to each Ability Score.

Other Character Details

For more details on character creation, refer to the player’s handbook. Your character will have certain special abilities and items based on their race, class, and background. Make sure to record these on your character sheet. 

If you want, you can draw a picture of your character, or create one using a character creation site like picrew or HeroForge.

Basics of Gameplay

During each round, the Dungeon Master, or DM, will describe the situation and environment the party is in. You are welcome to ask questions about the environment or ask to examine things around you. 

Here are the basics:

  1. Taking turns, the players narrate what they want their characters to do. 
  2. The DM will describe the effects of these actions. They may ask you to roll a die for a certain outcome. For example, if you try to pick open a locked door, you’ll have to roll a die to see if you were successful.
  3. Eventually, your character will gain experience and level up. Leveling up gives your character increased Ability Scores and new skills. If your character is a magic user, they’ll learn new spells. 

For more information about leveling up and the magic system in DnD, refer to your player’s handbook.

The Dice

If you don’t have your own set of dice, you can find a website online to roll dice for you. Dice notation looks like this: 4d6 + 3. The 4 refers to the number of dice you need. The d6 refers to the number of sides the dice should have. 4d6 + 3 means roll four six-sided dice, and add 3 to the resulting total. 

A full set of DnD dice should include a: 

  • D4
  • D6
  • D8
  • D10
  • D12
  • D20

If you need to roll multiple dice, like the example of 4d6 above, you can roll your d6 four times.


DnD is a role-playing game. Feel free to get into character and have lots of fun with it. If you are still overwhelmed with character creation, you can randomly choose your race, class, and alignment by assigning each one a number and rolling dice. Your DM will help you through the gameplay, so have fun and happy role-playing!

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