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How to: D&D 4th Edition PC Guide

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Well, have fun with this wall of text. Welcome to:

 

Basically the basicest basic DnD4E basic PC guide.

 

Hello. In order to fully understand what I am talking about it would be best if you had the Player’s Handbook so you can read along the pages I mention. You’ll either have to buy a copy or download it from here. This’ll be taken down in a while, so if you’re late to the party (or unable to access it) just send a PM and I’ll send you a copy.

 

I’ll mostly cover the essentials you’ll need to know in order to participate in a DnD4E campaign as a PC. DMing is slightly more complicated, so I’ll leave that for a different day.

Keep in mind that everything underlined and green is a link.

 

 

Player Characters

 

The very first step as a Player is to create a Player Character. This will be your avatar through which you’ll experience the campaign.
Character creation can be a bitch if you have no clue what you’re doing, so I’ll try and guide you through it. If you’re still having trouble despite this guide just send a message and if I like you enough I might help you.

This guide is based on the first Player’s Handbook, all the extra rules, races and classes added in PHB2 and PHB3 will be ignored.

 

First things first, I recommend you visit this site here, register and open a new sheet of the ‘D&D 4e’ type. You’ll get an empty sheet like this one. Creating your character is just a matter of filling everything in. Take a look at the character I created while writing this guide here.

Let’s get started.


Step 1: Race

 

First you have to pick a race. Your choices in DnD4e are: Dragonborn, Dwarf, Eladrin, Elf, Half-Elf, Halfling, Human and Tiefling.

Depending on what race you picked, you get extra points in certain Abilities, Skills, speak certain languages and possess certain race-specific features.

Now, for this example I am going to pick an Elf. If you go to page 40 you’ll see that Elves gain +2 on both their Dexterity and their Wisdom Ability scores, +2 on their Nature and Perception Skills, speak Common and Elven and possess the racial features Elven Weapon Proficiency, Fey Origin, Group Awareness, Wild Step and Elven Accuracy.

The details on what all of these abilities do can be found in the PHB, so instead of jotting everything down I’ll just write down the names of the Race Features in the appropriate section followed by the page where I can find a description of the feature in the PHB. Of course you are free to do this however you’d prefer.


My Race Features.

 

Step 2: Class

 

Classes are divided into four roles: defender, striker, controller and leader. Defenders tasked with protecting their allies, strikers do high amounts of single target damage, controllers do the most AoE damage and leaders are healing or support characters.

The classes (and their roles) you can choose from are: Cleric (Leader), Fighter (Defender), Paladin (Defender), Ranger (Striker), Rogue (Striker), Warlock (Striker), Warlord (Leader) and Wizard (Controller).

I’ll go ahead and make my dumbass Elf a Ranger. Page 103 shows you a list of Class Traits, which is pretty vital information for my character. In the following page I’ll see 2 different build options. These build options tell you what abilities to prioritize and what feat, skills and powers to pick in order to create a certain type of character (even within a class there can be major differences between two PCs).

All of this will be important soon, but for now you can move on to the next step.

 

Step 3: Ability Scores

 

The most important step! This step will determine whether your character is the destroyer of the universe or some piece of shit you’ll have to reroll after 2 encounters of being dead weight. We are going to generate Ability Scores!

This can be done with several methods.

Method 1, Standard (a.k.a. fucking boring): you are given 6 standard numbers; 16, 14, 13, 12, 11 and 10, and can assign them to whatever ability you like.

Method 2, Customized: again you are given 6 numbers; 8, 10, 10, 10, 10 and 10, and 22 extra points you are free to divide among the stats. Depending on how your stats are, the points per score ratio could increase. For example: Raising a stat from 10 to 13 costs 3 points (1 point per score), but raising it an extra level to 14 costs 2 extra points. A table with the costs will be added to the bottom.

Method 3, Rolls (a.k.a. Balls Deep): Method three is exactly what it says; you roll for your ability scores. If you’re lucky, you’ll be pretty OP. If you aren’t… you might as well create a new character. This method is done by rolling 4D6 (meaning 4 6-sided dice). After that you will ignore the lowest score of these three and add the remaining three. So if I rolled 4, 5, 2 and 5, I would ignore the 2 and end up with 14 as my score. Repeat this process 6 times.

 

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For this example I’ll use the standard array. A peak at the class traits I mentioned before will reveal that Strength, Dexterity and Wisdom are the three most important stats to a Ranger. Page 104 tells me that the Two-Bladed Ranger that I want to play prefers the three stats in that exact order. Keeping this in mind I put 16 points into Strength, 14 points into Dexterity and 13 points into Wisdom. However, in case you forgot! As an Elf I gain +2 on both Dexterity and Wisdom, so my final scores for those two would be 16 and 15.

After that I put my next highest score into Constitution, since that governs my HP, which would be 12, and I put the final 11 and 10 into Charisma and Intelligence.

The easy thing about using the Myth Weavers sheet is that you only have to fill in the ‘Score’ list and it will automatically fill in the ‘Mod’ and ‘Mod + ½ Lv.’ for you. I will explain what these two mean later in the guide, but here is a table explaining how Modifiers are determined (can also be found in PHB page 17)


My Ability list.
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Step 4: Skills

 

First a quick explanation of what Skills are. Skills are various scores that determine your chance of succeeding at any given action that requires any type of ‘skill’. When performing these actions you have to roll a D20 and add (or subtract) your skill modifier to it. If the resulting roll is high enough, the action will succeed. If it is too low, the action fails.
 

Your skill modifiers are determined by two things: whether you are trained in that skill and what the corresponding Ability modifier is. Let’s take my Elf’s Sneak skill. Sneak is a Dexterity skill, which means that you’d add the Dex Mod, which in my case is +3 (thanks to a score of 16), but I have also trained in Sneak giving me another +5 (training a skill always gives +5) making my Sneak skill +8. This is quite a high score in the early levels, when most thresholds are 15 or 20.

If you go to your Class Traits list again, you see a section called Trained Skills. My class traits list tells me that I am trained in either Dungeoneering or Nature. Since my Elf is a treehugger I’ll pick Nature. After that I am allowed to pick 4 skills to train in out of the following list:
Acrobatics (Dex), Athletics (Str), Dungeoneering (Wis), Endurance (Con), Heal (Wis), Nature (Wis), Perception (Wis), Stealth (Dex).

You probably noticed that Dungeoneering and Nature are both mentioned there, meaning that if I wanted to I could end up having both. But fuck that. I’m training in Acrobatics, Athletics, Perception and Stealth. All of these skills gain +5. I also gain +2 on Nature and Perception due to my Race!


My Skills list.
 

Step 5: Feats

 

As a Ranger I am given the class features: Fighting Style (I picked Two-Blade Fighting Style), Hunter’s Quarry and Prime Shot. All three are on page 104.

Other than the Race and Class features given to me I am allowed to pick 1 more feat. The Two-Bladed build option recommended that I pick the Lethal Hunter feat, so I’ll go ahead and pick that one up.


My Feats.

 

Step 6: Powers

 

Now comes the interesting part if all you care about is fighting: Powers. There are three types of powers: At-Will (W), Encounter (E) and Daily (D). These names basically indicate how often the powers can be used. W can be used whenever you want to, E can only be used once per encounter and D can only be used once per day and needs and extended rest to recover.

At level 1 you are allowed 2 At-Wills, 1 Encounter and 1 Daily, so for the sake of this guide I’ll just pick all the powers recommended by the build. Of course you should read through all the abilities and see if there is anything you prefer.

A quick something about damage notations, whenever you see [W] that means weapons damage. So 2[W]+Str. Mod. for me would end up being 2 * Weapon Damage + 3. Once I get equipment I can explain how weapon damage works.

If you scroll down on your character sheet you’ll see two lists of boxes under the ‘Powers’ tab. We’ll fill all our Powers in here so we can quickly find what Powers we possess when needed. You’ll see that I also added the ‘Elven Accuracy’ Racial Feature here, because it is a Power, instead of a passive ability like the other Features.

I simply wrote down everything I needed to know about the various Powers I possess. This would mean what type of power, what type of attack, against what defense I should roll, damage calculation, added effect, requirements and the target.

 

My Powers.

 

Step 7: Equipment

 

You can’t adventuring naked! Well… I guess you could, but not only would that be unpleasant for your party members (unless you’re Olivia Munn, then I wouldn’t mind, but I am sure none of you are Olivia Munn), but you’d also be vulnerable and unable to fight back!

Level 1 characters are given 100GP to spend on armor, weapons and equipment. Page 214 shows armor, 218/219 show weapons and 222 shows adventuring gear.

A quick glimpse back at the Class Traits on page 103 tells me that my armor proficiencies are clother, leather and hide. My weapon proficiencies are simple melee, military melee, simple ranged and military ranged.

 

It is very important to only use armor you are proficient with. Failing to do so will result in a -2 penalty to your attack rolls and your reflex defense. To avoid this penalty I will use Leather armor, which costs 25GP and gives me +2 armor. Because I gained +2 from armor I will add 2 to 'Armor Bonus' in the Quick Look Up menu at the top left, below the Abilities. If you got a Shield or a Check or Speed Penalty, add those values into this list. Don't forget to check the box if you're wearing Heavy Armor (anything below Leather counts as Heavy armor)!

Proficiency with weapons is slightly less important, but can still make a difference. A look at the weapons table of page 218 shows the bonus you get for being proficient, weapon damage, the weapon’s range, cost, weight, group and special properties. You should take a minute and read what all these special properties are, but for now we’re ignoring them.

Since I am a Two-Bladed Ranger I’ll have to pick 2 one-handed weapons. I have decided to take two Longswords, because I value the +3 bonus over the added damage of a Battleaxe/Flail/Warhammer. Also swords are the best.

Anyway, going back to the earlier 2[W]+Str mod damage calculation. With my longswords it would be: 2D8+3.

Page 222 has a list of Adventuring Gear. It is important to pick out whatever you think is important, because there will be situations wherein you’ll need some kind of item and if you don’t have it you’ll have to do it the hard way.

Once you’ve picked everything you want write them down in the ‘Other Items’ and ‘Magic Items and Equipment’ lists.

My
Other Items list and Magic Items and Equipment list.

 

Step 8: Fill in the Numbers and details

 

Final stretch! Hope you’re still awake. Let’s just go ahead and fill everything in.

You can start by filling in all
the blanks at the top of the page. I’ll give my dumbass elf a dumbass name and call him Faeron. Yadda yadda. Remember to put in your level, this is very important. You also have the option of giving your character a portrait.

Ability should have auto filled, as long as you put in your level and all the scores.

To the right of Abilities you’ll find
Armor Class, Fortitude, Reflex and Will. These are your four defenses. When someone tries to attack you they have to roll with one of these defenses (depending on what attack they use) as the threshold. Read page 275 for details about how defenses are determined. For my character I’d get 5 Armor (+2 Leather Armor and +3 Dexterity due to wearing leather armor), 3 Fortitude (+3 from Strength, since my STR is higher than my CON), 3 Reflex (+3 from Dexterity, since my DEX is higher than my INT) and 2 Will (+2 Wisdom, because my WIS is higher than my CHA).
I also gain +1 bonus to Fortitude and Reflex thanks to my class. This can be found in my Class Traits on page 103. My final scores end up being 15, 14, 14, 12.

Next we move on to
Hit Points. My Class Traits list reveals that my level 1 HP is equal to 12 + Constitution Score (not Modifier). Which in my case is 12+12=24 HP. The Bloodied and Healing Surge values should be calculated automatically. Bloodied simply shows the amount of health you have left once you enter a bloodied state (which is always 50% of your HP, rounded down) and Healing Surge shows how much health you recover when you use a Healing Surge (which is always 25% of your HP, rounded down).


Next up is the Surges/Day value. Your Class Traits list will tell you what to fill in. In my case it is 6 + constitution modifier, which would add up to 7. This (obviously) means that I am only allowed to use 7 healing surges per day. The effects of healing surges will be explained later.

Next up are the
Attack and Damage Workspaces. I only added my basic melee attacks into these Workspaces, but let’s get through this step by step. Melee attacks benefit from STR (Ranged attacks benefit from DEX and spells benefit from whatever stat they tell you in the description) so I added the +3 modifier into the Ability tab. According to my class traits I am proficient with military melee weapons, so I gain the Longsword’s +3 proficieny bonus in the Prof tab. All in all this means I gain +6 on all my attack roles that used the Longsword.


Whereas Attack rolls are used to determine whether an attack hits or misses, Damage rolls determine how much damage these attacks do when they connect. The same rules apply though. STR for melee, DEX for ranged and whatever is in the description for Spells.

Race features should already be done. I simply filled in the race features followed by the page where I can find the description. Ignore Statistic Block.

Next up is the
Quick Look Up. Here I jotted down the powers I plan on using most, the height of the attack modifiers (+6, as seen in the Attack Workspace) and what damage calculation should be done (1[W]+3 = 1D8+3).

Initiative (INIT) decides in what order characters act during an encounter. The initiative modifier is simply determined by your DEX modifier + half of your level. In my case it would be 3.

Speed is determined by your race and what armor you wear.


Passive perception and insight should already have been added. These decided how much you notice/realize without trying (=having to roll for it).
 

Now scroll all the way down and you can add some dumbass background shit.

Yay! Now we’re done creating our characters!

 

 

 

Actions

 

In this section I’ll talk about actions taken out-of-encounters over the course of a game.

When there is no encounter in progress RP posts would be only marginally different when compared to normal RP posts. Differences would be mostly made up of Skill checks whenever they are applicable, but not every action taken by a PC requires a Skill check, so even then there would be plenty of familiarity. An example:

Valentine’s lover Kyo has locked himself inside of a room and refuses to come out, but Valentine is sick of this shit and decides to kick the door open. In a normal RP you’d simply write that Valentine kicks open the door. But in a RPG you’ll have to roll a die in the OOC thread, add your Strength Modifier and hope that your roll was high enough to kick open a door.

When determining what actions will require a roll or not is you should ask yourself is doing something requires a certain skill and if you have a certain restriction on the amount of attempts. Let’s use a race for this example. DayDreamer wants a key held by TriOctium, the most obnoxious child in town, but in order to get that he has to be Tri in a race. Running would mean that DD has to perform an Athletics Skill check; he has to roll a D20+Athletics Modifier and hope that the roll is high enough. However, if DD is allowed to challenge Tri to a race as often as he wants, you could just roll what is called ‘a natural 20’, which means that you basically assume that you will perform said action as often as is necessary until it is successful, effectively skipping the multiple rolls that would normally be necessary.

There are a lot of Actions that do require a certain Skill but aren’t listed in the traditional skill list. The door kicking example used earlier is one of those. When you happen upon such a situation, simply use common sense to decide what Ability Mod (not Skill Mod) has to be used. In Valentine’s case it would be the Strength Modifier (duh).

 

 

Out-of-Encounter

 

The main purpose of out-of-encounter RPGing is to progress the story, whether it be through investigations, questions, travelling with no sense of purpose or looking for monsters to kill; you should always be looking for threads to unweave a new part of the story.

Talking to NPCs is one of the biggest sources of new storylines or quests. Proper usage of Skills (Knowledge, Bluff, Threaten, etc.) will make it easier to get information that is normally harder to get your hands on or even get information that is normally unavailable.

Out-of-Encounter RPGing also takes place in dungeons or roads after finishing an encounter. This time can be used to see if you can find any loot, hidden treasure, traps, hidden rooms or whatever you can think of.

 

 

Combat

 

At the start of combat you determine initiative. Initiative is basically a Dexterity check + any modifiers you may get from Feats.

Some encounters then begin with a surprise round. If the PCs are ambushed or didn’t notice the enemies approaching they’ll be surprised and unable to act during the surprise round, but if the PCs successfully complete a Perception or Insight they won’t be surprised and able to act during the surprise round. During the Surprise Round you are only able to perform one Standard, Movement or Minor action. I’ll explain what these actions are soon.

Typically you are allowed to perform one Standard, one Movement, one Minor and as many Free Actions as you like during a round of combat.

Examples of Standard actions are attacks, most Powers, charging or using your second wind.
Examples of Movement actions are running, walking, crawling, escaping or standing up.
Examples of Minor actions are drawing/sheathing a weapon, drinking a potion or reloading.
Free actions are action that require very little time or effort like talking or dropping something.

Page 286 has a list of all the actions you can take as any of these 4 types.

As long as you remember these actions, most of combat is common sense. In order to properly visualize combat I’ll be providing maps of areas where these encounters take place. This way positioning can still be properly visualized without us needing a physical board (or a third party site) to play on.

Frankly I’d recommend you read through the chapter on combat and combat actions, but if you don’t want to the things to remember are:
You can’t attack enemies outside of line of sight/effect.
Using an Area of Effect attack can hit friendly targets.
Attacking someone in cover gives you a penalty on your attack roll.

Attacking someone who’s prone or flanked gives you a bonus on your attack roll.

When your HP is knocked down to 0 or negative values, you are dying. How dying works can be read on page 295.

 

 

That’s it?

 

No. DnD is a complex game with virtually limitless options. Sadly I can’t write a basic guide about all of it, so you’ll have to learn how it works for yourself. What I can do is guide you.

I plan on creating a RPG soon and use the first adventure as a sort of tutorial. So if you want to join but are feeling intimidated by this, don’t be! Just sign up and I’ll guide you through more stuff than I have written about in this guide. I’ll also post a link here to the first chapter so anyone who comes after you can read how you did and how you learned to adapt.


I am sure I made some mistakes here and there, so if you have any questions/comments, feel free to PM me or post them here.

 

Either way, I hope you’ll enjoy RPGing!

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I found it a pretty good summary. I have read up on character creation before though, so that helped.

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I'm gonna need to study this a little and probably have a few attempts at character creation before I get anything solid. Pretty stoked for this though!

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If you get stuck on anything or if anything is unclear, just give me a shout!

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