Skip to main content

5e: Quick Characters

I'm going to run some 5e games at the local library. I don't want to use pre-gens, but there isn't time for a full chargen session. So I'm going to try this very quick piece of life-path generation.

A few assumptions: The PCs are all from the same village, are about the same age, and grew up together. Character creation options have been limited to make the process more fleet and new-player ready.

First, we all agree on the name of the village. Then, as a group, we go through the following steps, one at a time.

1. Background
Who raised you? What did trade they teach you? Did you like or hate this trade?
Roll 1d30

Mason (Guild Artisan)
Brewer (Guild Artisan)
Painter (Guild Artisan)
Calligrapher (Guild Artisan)
Potter (Guild Artisan)
Carpenter (Guild Artisan)
Smith (Guild Artisan)
Exile (Outlander)
Cartographer (Guild Artisan)
Weaver (Guild Artisan)
Forester (Outlander)
Cobbler (Guild Artisan)
Woodcarver (Guild Artisan)
Hunter (Outlander)
Cook (Guild Artisan)
Trapper (Outlander)
Glassblower (Guild Artisan)
Jeweler (Guild Artisan)
Leatherworker (Guild Artisan)
Folk Hero
2. Class
What kind of adventurer did you dream of being?
Bard, Cleric, Fighter, Ranger, Rogue, Wizard

Cleric: Which gods speak to you?
Knowledge, Life, Light, Nature, Tempest, Trickery

Fighter: Do you rely on strength or finesse? (STR-based or DEX-based)

3. Race (Optional)
Most people in the village are human, but you can either choose to be one of the races listed below...
Dwarf (Mountain), Elf (Wood), Halfling (Lightfoot)

...or roll 1d6 for something stranger.

  1. Bugbear
  2. Genasi (1. Air, 2. Water, 3. Earth, 4. Fire)
  3. Goblin
  4. Goliath
  5. Kenku
  6. Lizardfolk

Why did you leave your people? How did you come to live among these humans?

4. Alignment
Law/Chaos: Which is more important, duty or instinct?
Good/Neutral: Do you actively help others, or live and let live?

5. Name
Make up a name, or pick from this handy list.

6. Sheet
Enter the relevant data into Fast Character or a similar generator and print out the sheet.

I feel like the simple process of thinking through these few steps of your character should create a lot more investment than just handing out a pre-gen. Fast Character generates stats and equipment lists, and so on. All things you'd want to fine-tune for a real bespoke character, but it in a quick pick-up situation, this is ideal.

This owes a lot to Beyond the Wall by Flatland Games. Such a good game, with so many great ideas.

There are some hiccups. Namely, the background table lists specific artisan backgrounds, and the generator will assign you one randomly. But I felt the flavor of imagining being raised by, say, cobblers, was so much richer than "a guild artisan," that I figured it was worth spending a moment crossing out a a few details on the resultant sheet.

And the generator necessitates sticking with official materials. I have a similar process I've used at the home table, where I have some homebrew backgrounds (simple, rustic ones, like "farmer" and "shepherd"), races, and so on.


  1. This is great! I might use it for my own kids' D&D library group. Out of curiosity, what adventure are you planning on running?

    1. The library gave me a PWYW adventure from DM's Guild called "A Most Potent Brew." It's a standard rats-in-the-basement adventure. I've made a number of adaptations to it, which I'll post after I've run it.

  2. That right there ↑ is spam :)
    You'll have to give an after-play report, particularly how the quick chargen went!

  3. I this awesome. I love visiting dndwiki every time to find overviews and details about any class or spells or races.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Knaves, fancypants

I've prepared a new layout document of Ben Milton's Knaves . Knaves is a great, light rules set that has an extremely elegant core mechanic while retaining total compatibility with OSR material. It's pretty much the rpg of my dreams. This document contains the complete rules, plus a bunch of useful hacks from the community, plus a few of my invention, plus some useful resources from Ben Milton's previous effort, Maze Rats . EDIT: I've updated the layout to fix errata and make a few tweaks. Further, I've made 3 variations: KNAVES TABLET LAYOUT The Tablet Layout is meant for scrolling on screens, and contains hyperlinks. KNAVES SPREAD LAYOUT The Spread Layout is set up to print on Letter-sized paper. KNAVES A4 LAYOUT The A4 Layout is set up to print on A4 paper, and is probably the most elegant of the three versions. This is presented with generous permission from Ben Milton, and should in no way be an excuse for not purchasing a copy of Knav

Maze Rats by Post

In my previous post , I reviewed a bunch of my favorite rulesets for optimization for Play-by-Post. It occurred to me almost immediately that I hadn't really thought about Maze Rats enough. In fact, I'd mis-remembered and mischaracterized it. Upon reflection, one of the mechanics I took issue with is actually a big strength. Re-reading the rules, it seems like just a few very simple hacks could make it a highly-optimized PbP game. As follows: Danger Rolls are rolled by the GM. Danger rolls usually fail, so it is in the player’s interest to describe their actions plausibly and mitigate as many risks as they can, in the hopes that they don’t trigger a danger roll. 2d6 + ability bonus ≥ 10 If you have taken enough precautions to have a distinct advantage in an action, but not enough to have eliminated the distinct possibility of danger, the GM will give you a roll with advantage. 3d6 keep 2 + ability bonus ≥ 10 Because each character only has 3 ability scores (S

Reviewing Rules for Play-by-Post Optimization

I’ve played a lot of PbP games: all your favorite flavors of OD&D, AD&D, and their retroclones, Call of Cthulhu, Marvel Superheroes, Traveller, Dungeon World, etc. ad nauseam. In almost every instance, I forgot what ruleset we were using at some point. Which is a good thing. Once chargen is over, you spend a lot more time describing your characters actions and poring over the GM’s descriptions than you spend interacting with rules. When you do roll, it’s usually a combat to-hit roll, which you’ve probably programmed into the online dice-roller as a macro. Pretty much any game will work for PbP. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t points of possible optimization. Point 1: Resolution. Anything that can keep the action moving is a boon to PbP. A game that requires a back-and-forth exchange of information to resolve an action is going to progress very slowly. A good rule of thumb is that it’ll take 2 or 3 days to get a response from any given player. At that pace, an exch