4. Describe Your Character

Once you know the basic game aspects of your character, it’s time to flesh him or her out as a person. Your character needs a name. Spend a few minutes thinking about what he or she looks like and how he or she behaves in general terms.

Using the information in chapter 4, you can flesh out your character’s physical appearance and personality traits. Choose your character’s alignment (the moral compass that guides his or her decisions) and ideals. Chapter 4 also helps you identify the things your character holds most dear, called bonds, and the flaws that could one day undermine him or her.

Your character’s background describes where he or she came from, his or her original occupation , and the character’s place in the D&D world. Your DM might offer additional backgrounds beyond the ones included in chapter 4, and might be willing to work with you to craft a background that’s a more precise fit for your character concept.

A background gives your character a background feature (a general benefit) and proficiency in two skills, and it might also give you additional languages or proficiency with certain kinds of tools. Record this information, along with the personality information you develop, on your character sheet.

Your Character’s Abilities

Take your character’s ability scores and race into account as you flesh out his or her appearance and personality. A very strong character with low Intelligence might think and behave very differently from a very smart character with low Strength.

For example, high Strength usually corresponds with a burly or athletic body, while a character with low Strength might be scrawny or plump.

A character with high Dexterity is probably lithe and slim, while a character with low Dexterity might be either gangly and awkward or heavy and thick-fingered.

A character with high Constitution usually look s healthy, with bright eyes and abundant energy. A character with low Constitution might b e sickly or frail.

A character with high Intelligence might be highly inquisitive and studious, while a character with low Intelligence might speak simply or easily forget details.

A character with high Wisdom has good judgment, empathy, and a general awareness of w hat’s going on.

A character with low Wisdom might be absent-minded, foolhardy, or oblivious.

A character with high Charisma exudes confidence, which is usually mixed with a graceful or intimidating presence. A character with a low Charisma might come a cross as abrasive, inarticulate, or timid.

Building Bruenor, Step 4

Bob fills in some of Bruenor’s basic details: his name, his sex (male), his height and weight, and his alignment (lawful good). His high Strength and Constitution suggest a healthy, athletic body, and his low Intelligence suggests a degree of forgetfulness.

Bob decides that Bruenor comes from a noble line, but his clan was expelled from its homeland when Bruenor was very young. He grew up working as a smith in the remote villages of Icewind Dale. But Bruenor has a heroic destiny—to reclaim his homeland—so Bob chooses the folk hero background for his dwarf. He notes the proficiencies and special feature this background gives him.

Bob has a pretty clear picture of Bruenor’s personality in mind, so he skips the personality traits suggested in the folk hero background, noting instead that Bruenor is a caring, sensitive dwarf who genuinely loves his friends and allies, but he hides this soft heart behind a gruff, snarling demeanor. He chooses the ideal of fairness from the list in his background, noting that Bruenor believes that no one is above the law.

Given his history, Bruenor’s bond is obvious: he aspires to someday reclaim Mithral Hall, his homeland, from the shadow dragon that drove the dwarves out. His flaw is tied to his caring, sensitive nature—he has a soft spot for orphans and wayward souls, leading him to show mercy even when it might not be warranted.