2. Choose a Class

Every adventurer is a member of a class. Class broadly describes a character’s vocation, what special talents he or she possesses, and the tactics he or she is m ost likely to em ploy when exploring a dungeon, fighting monsters, or engaging in a tense negotiation. The character classes are described in chapter 3.

Your character receives a number of benefits from your choice of class. Many of these benefits are class features—capabilities (including spellcasting) that set your character apart from members of other classes. You also gain a number of proficiencies: armor, weapons, skills, saving throws, and sometimes tools. Your proficiencies define many of the things your character can do particularly well, from using certain weapons to telling a convincing lie.

On your character sheet, record all the features that your class gives you at 1st level.


Typically, a character starts at 1st level and advances in level by adventuring and gaining experience points (XP). A 1st-level character is inexperienced in the adventuring world, although he or she might have been a soldier or a pirate and done dangerous things before.

Starting off at 1st level marks your character’s entry into the adventuring life. If you ’re already familiar with the game, or if you are joining an existing D&D campaign, your DM might decide to have you begin at a higher level, on the assumption that your character has already survived a few harrowing adventures.

Record your level on your character sheet. If you ’re starting at a higher level, record the additional elements your class gives you for your levels past 1st. Also record your experience points. A 1st-level character has 0XP. A higher-level character typically begins with the minimum amount of XP required to reach that level (see “Beyond 1st Level” later in this chapter).

Hit Points and Hit Dice

Your character’s hit points define how tough your character is in combat and other dangerous situations. Your hit points are determined by your Hit Dice (short for Hit Point Dice).

At 1st level, your character has 1 Hit Die, and the die type is determined by your class. You start with hit points equal to the highest roll of that die, as indicated in your class description. (You also add your Constitution modifier, w h ich you’ll determine in step 3.) This is also your hit point maximum.

Record your character’s hit points on your character sheet. Also record the type of Hit Die your character uses and the number of Hit Dice you have. After you rest, you can spend Hit Dice to regain hit points (see “Resting ” in chapter 8).

Proficiency Bonus

The table that appears in your class description shows your proficiency bonus, which is +2 for a 1st-level character. Your proficiency bonus applies to many o f the numbers you’ll be recording on your character sheet:

  • Attack rolls using weapons you’re proficient with
  • Attack rolls with spells you cast
  • Ability checks using skills you’re proficient in
  • Ability checks using tools you’re proficient with
  • Saving throws you’re proficient in
  • Saving throw DCs for spells you cast (explained in each spellcasting class)

Your class determines your weapon proficiencies, your saving th row proficiencies, and some of your skill and tool proficiencies. (Skills are described in chapter 7, tools in chapter 5.) Your background gives you additional skill and tool proficiencies, and some races give you more proficiencies. Be sure to note all of these proficiencies, as well as your proficiency bonus, on your character sheet.

Your proficiency bonus can ’t be added to a single die roll or other number more than once. Occasionally, your proficiency bonus might be modified (doubled or halved, for example) before you apply it. If a circumstance suggests that your proficiency bonus applies more than once to the same roll or that it should be multiplied more than once, you nevertheless add it only once, multiply it only once, and halve it only once.

Building Bruenor, Step 2

Bob imagines Bruenor charging into battle with an axe, one horn on his helmet broken off. He makes Bruenor a fighter and notes the fighter’s proficiencies and 1st-level class features on his character sheet.

As a 1st-level fighter, Bruenor has 1 Hit Die—a d10—and starts with hit points equal to 10 + his Constitution modifier. Bob notes this, and will record the final number after he determines Bruenor’s Constitution score (see step 3). Bob also notes the proficiency bonus for a 1st-level character, which is +2.