Conversion Project Character Creation


DS 5E Character Creation

As noted I will split my chapters in Quick Rules, Detailed Sections and Notes. They are a work in progress and may be updated based on comments (here or in DnD Amino).

Character Creation can be split into six parts:

  • Ability Scores
  • Race: Size
  • Dark Sun setting bonus
  • Race: Special Abilities
  • Subrace (Origin)
  • Background (Profession)

Chapter 1: Quick Rules

Step 1

DM chooses method (average 11):

  • Hardcore: Roll 6+2d4 per individual score
  • Assigning: Roll 6+2d4 six times and assign each to a score
  • Dicepool: Roll 12 d4 and assigning two (whole) dice to each score
  • Assign array: 14 12 12 10 10 8
  • Point buy: distribute 18 points to minimum scores of 8 up to 14

Step 2

  • Choose a race and size (check restrictions per race)
  • Choosing smaller size:
    • gain a size drawback and -2 size per step
    • gain 3 extra points per step
    • minimum scores increase by 1 per step
  • Choosing larger size:
    • gain a size benefit and +2 size per step
    • lower physical scores by one per step
  • Gain 6 points to spend Spend points
    • Increase scores to at least minimum for size and race
    • Buy feats (optional, two points per feat)
    • Increase scores (up to 14)

Step 3: Setting Bonus (Dark Sun and possibly others)

  • Gain 6 points (or as setting or House Rule)
  • Buy feats (optional, two points per feat)
  • Increase physical Base Scores (Str, Dex, Con) up to 16
  • Optionally, the DM may set the effects of this step per race

Step 4: Racial Abilities

  • Gain 6 points worth of Special Abilities (like Darkvision and Longevity)
  • Depending on race, some abilities may be fixed or optional
  • Some races may give points to be spent freely (on feats)
  • Optionally, the DM may allow a more exotic race or half-breed, a bloodline or a mutation, changing one or more of the Racial Abilities.

Step 5: Subrace (Origin)

  • 4 points representing birth, region and early upbringing

Step 6: Background

  • Usually 2 skills, 1 Feat and 2 background skills (tools or languages)
  • Background story with Subrace/Origin as starting point
  • Status (Slave, Freeman or Noble)
    • May be combined with a different Origin status like Freeman (Freed Slave)
  • Profession and ties (based on background skills, see separate chapter)
  • Personality Trait, Ideal, Bond and Flaw (optionally alignment and quirks)

Finishing Touches

  • Choose a name (possibly with rank or title)
  • Depending on starting xp/level(s), choose class(es) and role
    • Classes will be detailed in Chapter 2
  • Determine final scores and modifiers
  • Determine height and weight
  • Optional Character Tree
    • Create up to four characters
    • Possibly one main character and several side characters
    • Possibly any number of contacts, followers and allies (semi-NPC’s)
  • Discuss all characters with DM and other players
    • Optional: Play low levels as a prequel. Focus on playing several important moments skipping years in between up to present time.
  • Review all steps possibly making adjustments
  • Complete character sheet


Details and Notes on Ability Scores and Size

Chapter 1.1: Details Ability Scores

Ability scores are a combination of Base Scores, Enhancement Bonuses and a Size Modifier.

The physical Base Scores (Str, Dex and Con) represent one’s fitness and how bulky and muscled a character is relative to his or her size.

Enhancement Bonuses represent training and for physical scores include balance and reflexes and using one’s body effectively.

A size modifier effects a character’s total mass and body type. By combining steps in height and width, any size and type can be portrayed. Increasing the minimum base scores for smaller size limits the range in which weight and scores vary. Larger size lowers the minimum base scores allowing for a greater range in weight and scores.

This split better defines what the scores represents and helps streamlining the steps in the character creation process, character advancement and how to deal with magic.

  • Base score
    • normal minimum of 8, affected by size
    • maximum of 16
  • Enhancement Bonus
    • Up to +4, increasing the maximum enhanced score from 16 to 20.
  • Size modifier
    • Increasing Str and Con while lowering Dex, or vice versa if negative
    • Also modifies the maximum stats
    • Up to +/- 8 depending character race (+/- 12 with magic)
    • Effects minimum base score: -1 per +2 size

Chapter 1.2: Details Size

For convenience size will be used in Size Steps, combining a size modifier, a benefit or drawback and the adjustment of base ability scores.

Size Steps consist of:

  • A Size Modifier (+/- 2 per step in size):
    • Each step smaller: Str (-2) Dex (+2) Con (-2)
    • Each step larger: Str (+2) Dex (-2) Con (+2)
  • Increases or decreases the minimum physical Base Scores by one per step:
    • Small size can reduce the range, up to 12-16 (+/- 8)
    • Large size can widen the range, up to 4-16 (+/- 8)
  • Each size step gives a benefit or drawback, depending on height (see below).

This means a size step smaller has a negative value of -3 (-2 +2 - 2 and -1 for the drawback) but gives 3 points. A size step larger has a positive value of +3, but either lowers the ability scores or costs 3 points to compensate this.

Notes Height and Weight

The following method bases weight on base ability scores and size. For this method enhancement bonuses will be ignored as they don’t effect size, representing reflexes, balance and how effective a character uses his/her body.

The average (Medium) human weighs 180 pounds (average base ability scores of 12). Each point of Str and Con adds 5 pounds of mass and Dex reduces it, resulting in 15 pounds per modifier or 30 pounds per size step. For larger sizes it can be realistic to increase the weight.

A range of body types can be created expressing size in increments of Height and Width. These increments determine the benefits and drawbacks, with height adding speed and width determining sturdiness. A base speed of 30 feet per round plus 5 per extra foot makes speed proportional to height.

More or less sturdiness can be expressed in Damage Reduction (DR) of physical damage (Bludgeoning, Slashing and Piercing). A negative DR from smaller size means taking extra damage. This makes damage taken increase or decrease with extra damage caused with higher Str.

Size Benefits and Drawbacks

Using half foot height increments results in these benefits and drawbacks:

Tall(+2) / Short(-2): +/- 5’ speed

Stout(+2) / Thin(-2): +/- 1 DR

One increment of each gives a choice:

Tall(+1) Stout(+1): choose benefit

Short(-1) Thin(-1): choose drawback

Combined this gives the following choice:

Tall(+1) Thin(-1): none or both +5’ speed and -1 DR

Short(-1) Stout(+1): none or both -5’ speed and +1 DR

In a similar way one can make other combinations with a roughly human proportions using an equal number of steps. Below Short(-4) Thin(-4) one can just decrease height down to Short(-8) Thin(-4).

Extreme body types (typical for Elves and Dwarves) can be portrayed by two opposing Size Steps. This results in medium size and give both a benefit and a drawback:

Tall(+2) Thin(-2): both +5’ speed and -1 DR

Short(-2) Stout(+2): both -5’ speed and +1 DR

Thin(-4) should be the minimum, one less with each additional height. Stout doesn’t need to be as restricted. Even an extreme Short(-4) Stout(+4) may be acceptable.

Notes Size and Race

Each race has a few options for size. Most races (Human, Dwarf, Elf and Half-Elf) are medium size but may vary one step up or down. Usually males tend to be bigger (size 0 or +2) and females smaller (-2 to 0), but many exceptions exist.

Muls on average are a bit larger, having a size modifier between 0 and +4.

Halflings, regardless of gender, can be size -8 or -6.

Half-Giant can be size +6 or +8

With DM’s permission a character may be one additional step smaller or larger, create an unusual half-breed or bloodline with size and abilities a mix of its parents. One could have a mutation that could explain any size or ability. As a balance all these exceptions should have trouble fitting in and face prejudice similar to half-elves.

Size and feats can replace most of the differences in ability scores between races without enforcing bonuses that make one race optimal for a role or class. Races do have a preference in scores to assign or increase.

Modeling size this way removes the need for ability score penalties. A Mul usually wants to maximize fitness, leaving little room for developing mental scores. A Half-Giant can spend even more points on physical stats. But either should develop at least one mental score and in theory could maximize one or raise several, creating a rare individual that may be fun to play.

Each race will have its own chapter, including a description, size options, special abilities, options for subrace (origin) and preferred backgrounds and classes. But mostly the focus should be on role-playing aspects that should be the main reason to pick a race.

Notes on size balance

These rules assume size trades off damage for accuracy.

Str affects weapon damage, not Dex. Str also determines how heavy a weapon is for a character. For heavy weapons use the lowest of Str and Dex as modifier to hit. For medium and lighter weapons, the chance to hit is only affected by Dex.

To effectively portray size it is assumed one does not use broken rules that allow using one modifier (Str or Dex) instead of another. These rules are also a reflection of the lack of opportunity to have several high scores and forcing one maxed score to play effectively. This is no longer the case with a Setting bonus, streamlining of races and increasing extra ability scores and feats from levels.

Slow Attacks

Low (or even negative) Dex scores can be compensated by making slow actions and attacks. This cost an extra action and gives a +5 (as if Dex were 10 higher). This action can be a bonus or extra action or one could start in one round and finish the action the next round.