Before you can begin your journey into the uncharted wilds, you'll need a character. D&D 5e characters are heroes, capable of great feats even at 1st-level—but we don't always get to choose who or what we are in life. Sometimes, we just have to cross our fingers, roll the dice, and see what happens.
This chapter introduces support for randomized characters and a variety of optional creation dials to help customize your game.
With randomized characters, your core details are determined randomly by a d100. This can result in some unusual characters, but that's ok—flaws are fun!
To create a new and randomly-generated 1st-level character, take a d100 and follow these six simple steps.
Step 1. Race
First, determine your character's race by rolling a d100 and checking the Character Races table below.
Races are not weighted equally to reflect their respective rarity, so some—such as human—will be more common than others. The exact breakdown of this, however, may depend on your campaign setting.
Some races may have additional choices to make—ancestry, proficiencies, languages, etc. Pick these at random using the tables listed in Appendix A.
If your race also requires you to choose a subrace, roll on the Character Subraces table to determine the result.
Step 2. Background
Next, roll to see what your character used to do in the past. This was a career, occupation, or experience which left a profound mark on your character and helped shape them into the person they are today.
You gain proficiencies and languages from your background, but you don't gain any equipment or—importantly—any special background features.
If your background has additional choices to make (such as tool proficiencies, specialties, languages, businesses, etc.) then pick these at random.
Once you know your background, randomly select your trait/ideal/bond/flaw from the characteristics tables.
Step 3. Class
Now you know what your character used to be, it's time to see what they have become. Roll on the Character Class table below to determine your initial class.
You gain the features, skills and proficiencies of your class, but you don't gain any equipment from it.
Some classes require additional choices to be made—skills, tools, languages—so generate these randomly, rerolling any duplicates. If you are a spellcaster, don't roll for your spells—you may choose your starting cantrips and spells manually as per usual for your class.
If your class requires you to choose a specialization at 1st-level, roll on the Class Specializations table below.
|Fighter Fighting Styles||01-16||Archery||65-80||Protection|
|Sorcerer Origins||01-19||Divine Soul||58-76||Storm Sorcery|
|20-38||Draconic Blood||77-95||Wild Magic|
|Warlock Patrons||01-19||Archfey||58-76||Great Old One|
Step 4. Ability Scores
Now you've defined who your character is, it's time to see how capable they are. Follow the five steps below and randomly generate your ability scores:
- Roll: Roll 3d6 six times, once for each of your attributes in order: Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom, and finally Charisma.
- Reroll: Reroll one ability score of your choice and keep the best result.
- Swap: After your reroll, you may then make one swap of any two attribute scores.
- Racials: Apply your racial bonuses as per normal.
- Modifiers: Finally, calculate your Ability Modifiers.
Your character may have an unusual ability array, but that's ok. Learn how to make the best use of your strengths while protecting your weak spots.
Viridian, a tiefling bard, generates his ability scores:
- He rolls 3d6 six times to generate a basic array: [STR 14, DEX 13, CON 9, INT 8, WIS 10, CHA 5].
- CHA 5 isn't good, especially for a bard, so he makes one reroll: CHA 15—much better.
- Viridian then has a difficult choice to make: he doesn't want high STR, but does he swap it with CON or INT? Does he risk being frail or stupid? He chooses INT (a bard needs a decent vocabulary), swapping it with STR to make [STR 8, INT 14].
- Viridian then adds his racial modifiers: +1 INT and +2 CHA to make [INT 15, CHA 17].
- Finally, he calculates his total Ability Modifiers.
|8 (-1)||13 (+1)||9 (-1)||15 (+2)||10 (0)||17 (+3)|
Viridian is a quick-witted and skilled charmer with a sly, lyrical flair. He hates any sort of manual labor and, while he loves a good drink, gets drunk very quickly.
Step 5. Character Details
Now that you've established the outline of who your character is, you can start to define their more personal details—what do they look like, what drives them, and what do they want in life?
Appearance & Family
Use the tables below to establish some basic features and backstory. You may then define the particulars yourself, or discover them organically during gameplay.
Roll on this table to generate a significant memory. For each memory, name a unique NPC, faction, or place—create your own to add something new into the world, or use existing lore to anchor your character to the setting.
|01-20||Achievement||A goal you helped complete|
|21-40||Conflict||Someone opposed you|
|41-60||Friendship||A close bond forged or tested|
|61-80||Loss||Something precious was taken|
|81-00||Love||A love gained or lost|
The older you are, the more significant memories you have—young adult (1), early middle-age (2), late middle-age (3), old (4), and very old (5).
Roll to see what your character's primary motivation in life is. This may explain why they became an adventurer, how they react to situations, or what their general goal is. You can choose exactly how this motivation manifests in your actions.
|01-06||Achievement||To become the best|
|07-12||Acquisition||To obtain possessions or wealth|
|13-18||Balance||To bring all things into harmony|
|19-24||Beneficence||To protect, heal, and mend|
|25-30||Creation||To build or make new|
|31-36||Discovery||To explore, uncover, and pioneer|
|37-42||Education||To inform, teach, or train|
|43-48||Hedonism||To enjoy all things sensuous|
|49-54||Liberation||To free the self and/or others|
|55-60||Nobility||To be virtuous, honest, and brave|
|61-66||Order||To organize and reduce chaos|
|67-73||Play||To have fun, to enjoy life|
|74-79||Power||To control and lead others|
|80-85||Recognition||To gain approval, status, or fame|
|86-91||Service||To follow a person or group|
|92-97||Understanding||To seek knowledge or wisdom|
Everyone has a notable habit of some kind—speaking too loud, constant fidgeting, collecting knickknacks, etc.
Roll on the Character Habits table below to see what habit your character has picked up during their life, or pick a notable habit of your own making.
|19-21||Talking in sleep|
|46-48||Collects odd things|
There is something your character is seeking to accomplish in the short term, either through their own desires or because someone has compelled them to. Your quest may be tied to your motivation or one of your character's significant memories.
Roll on the Character Quest table to see what theme your initial quest takes. You can decide the exact details of your task with your GM.
|01-10||Acquire||To take possession of a particular item|
|11-20||Craft||To create an item or art piece|
|21-30||Deliver||To bring something somewhere|
|31-40||Destroy||To destroy a precious object|
|41-50||Discover||To find a person, place, or thing|
|51-60||Explore||To map out a location|
|61-70||Justice||To apprehend someone|
|71-80||Learn||To gain specific knowledge|
|81-90||Meet||To find someone|
|91-00||Vengeance||To take revenge on someone|
Step 6. Feature Tweaks
Some character features—such as languages, initiative, and darkvision—are modified with this supplement to better support a low-powered, darker tone.
Check the Feature Changes section to see if you need to update anything for your new character.
Step 7. Buy Equipment
Now it's time to equip your character. You don't start with any notable gear from your background or class—instead, you have an amount of gold determined by your 1st-level class.
Check the table below and make a roll to see how much gold you have. You can then spend this gold to buy any starting equipment and supplies.
|Barbarian||2d4 x 10||20||50||80|
|Bard||5d4 x 10||50||120||200|
|Cleric||5d4 x 10||50||120||200|
|Druid||2d4 x 10||20||50||80|
|Fighter||5d4 x 10||50||120||200|
|Paladin||5d4 x 10||50||120||200|
|Ranger||5d4 x 10||50||120||200|
|Rogue||4d4 x 10||40||100||160|
|Sorcerer||3d4 x 10||30||70||120|
|Warlock||4d4 x 10||40||100||160|
|Wizard||4d4 x 10||40||100||160|
Your character may incur living costs during their downtime, so you may want to keep some gold spare.
Random vs. Static
The GM may nominate whether to use random rolls or static values for starting wealth. With static wealth, players gain the average gold for their class—unless it is a particularly low or high-wealth game.
Step 8. Take a Fate Point
Fate points allow your character to defy fate and cheat death, acting as a second life should you be caught unawares by a suddenly fatal action.
A new character starts with one fate point—a boon for reaching the heights of 1st-level. It's hard to get new fate points, so keep it safe and use it wisely.
Step 9. Venture Forth
Your character is now ready to begin their adventure. Join the rest of your party, prepare a journey into the untamed wilds, and face the Darker Dungeons below.
If you don't want to use fully randomized characters in your game—or you want to change character creation in some small ways—try using some of these optional dials.
Race, Background, & Class
These options allow you to customize how players pick their race, background, and class. Use these to give your players varying control over the core of their character.
Just One Roll
You must randomly generate one element of your choosing: your race, background, or class. You may pick the remaining two elements manually as normal.
One Free Reroll
After randomly generating your race, background, and class, you may reroll one element of your choosing and keep the preferred result.
One Free Selection
After randomly generating your race, background, and class, you may replace one element of your choosing with a manual selection.
You may pick their race, background, and class manually. But if you decide to randomly generate an element, you gain a reward—the more elements that you choose to randomize, the bigger the final reward.
|One element||10 gp|
|Two elements||10 gp, 1 skill point|
|All three elements||10 gp, 1 skill point, 1 ability point|
This skill point may be added to any skill of your choosing. The ability point may be added to any of your six abilities—though you cannot raise an ability score above 15 before applying racial modifiers.
Roll Twice, Pick Once
When you roll for your race, background, and class, you may roll twice and pick the preferred result.
This option randomizes the magic selection for spellcasters—good if you really want to mix things up in your game with some unusual combinations.
If you are a spellcaster—or have gained optional spells through your race or background—roll randomly to generate your starting cantrips and spell lists. After randomizing your spell collection, you may swap one of your cantrips for a different cantrip of your choosing.
These options allow you to customize how players generate their ability arrays—useful if you want to change the base power level of 1st-level characters.
Instead of rolling 3d6 for your ability score, you may roll 4d6 and drop the lowest die value.
Roll in any Order
Instead of rolling your ability scores in order, you may assign your scores in whichever order you wish.
Shared Party Array
At the start of the game, everyone helps to generate a shared ability array for the whole party.
Starting from the left of the GM and moving clockwise, each player rolls one 3d6 in turn until six numbers are generated—this becomes the starting ability array used by all 1st-level characters for the game.
Instead of rolling for your ability scores, you take an array of values and assigns them manually to your abilities. The DM chooses the starting power level for the game: low (recommended) or standard.
- Low power: [15, 12, 11, 10, 9, 7] (18 points)
- Standard power: [15, 14, 13, 12, 10, 8] (27 points)
As an optional mechanic, feats are not active by default—and are not recommended for low-power games. But if you do want to include feats in your game, these options may help you to control their scope and influence.
If you want to include feats in your game but exclude some of the more troublesome ones, apply a blacklist.
Players may not take any of the following feats.
- Crossbow Expert
- Great Weapon Master
- Polearm Master
- Spell Sniper
No Duplicate Feats
A feat can only be taken once across the entire party—once a feat is taken, it's locked until that character leaves the party, dies, or loses the feat by some other means.
Racial Feats Only
You may only take racial feats. If no appropriate feats are available, you may (with the DM's agreement) reskin an existing feat or create one to highlight a racial feature.