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New Player's Guide to Character Creation: Ability Scores, Skills, and Saving Throws

Welcome back to the Quests at Hand New Player's Guide to Character Character Creation. In this post we will be covering the next step of creating your character in Dungeons & Dragon's 5E: Picking your ability scores and determining skills and saving throws. Get your character sheets ready and be prepared to fill in some of those empty spaces.


Ability Scores

After you have decided on the Class and

Race of your character, the next step is to

calculate and distribute your ability scores. There are multiple ways to decide ability scores but before we get to that let's summarize what each attribute measures and affects: Strength - Physical power and muscle (most melee combat, feats of strength, etc.) Dexterity - Agility and reflexes (ranged combat, stealth, etc.)

Constitution - Health and resolve (hit points, resisting poisons, etc.) Intelligence - Learning and reasoning (some spell casting, languages, etc.)

Wisdom - Common Sense, awareness, willpower, and intuition (some spell casting, passive perception, etc.) Charisma - Social skills, personality, and appearance (some spells, social interaction, etc.) Now that we have determined what each Ability Score correlates to let's figure out the base scores for your character. The method for picking ability scores is usually up to the dungeon master but most will let their players either roll dice for their scores or pick from a normal stat array. The standard array for 5E is 15, 14, 13, 12, 10, and 8: these scores are distributed as you choose among your character's six Ability Scores. If you are rolling for your scores there a few different options but the most widely accepted method is to roll four 6-sided dice for each ability score and remove the lowest dice result. Here is an example of this:

I roll four 6-sided dice which land as: 4, 5, 2, 3.

I remove the 2 as it is the lowest roll

I add up 4 + 5 + 3 to get 12 total.

This 12 is written down and then I repeat this five times. I end up with 6 scores and distribute them as I wish to each ability score. Once you have a number corresponding to each ability score the next step is to check your race for any bonuses to scores. For example: a High Elf gets a +2 to dexterity and a +1 to intelligence. After you have distributed all your scores and factored in your racial bonuses it is time to calculate your Ability Modifiers. Ability modifiers are very important as they determine multiple other parts of your character sheet like skills, attacks, and spellcasting. Modifiers are important but also fairly simple to calculate. To calculate modifiers you take each ability score, subtract 10 from it, and then divide by 2 and round down to the nearest whole number. Here is an example of a full set of Ability Scores with their modifiers calculated:

Strength - 18 Str Modifier: +4 Dexterity - 14 Dex Modifier: +2 Constitution - 13 Con Modifier: +1 Intelligence - 8 Int Modifier: -1 Wisdom - 10 Wis Modifier: 0 Charisma - 16 Cha Modifier: +3 Here is a quick cheat sheet as well for those who don't want to calculate it themselves: 6-7 (-2)

8-9 (-1) 10-11 (0) 12-13 (+1) 14-15 (+2) 16-17 (+3) 18-19 (+4) 20 (+5)


That about wraps up how to determine and calculate your ability scores. These will be used for a lot of other parts of your character sheet, including the other section of the sheet that will we be going over next in this post: Skills and Saving Throws. Skills and Saving Throws

Skills represent knowledge in a specific facet of life for your D&D character. Saving throws represent your character's resolve when it comes to resisting attacks and harm corresponding to each Ability. Skills and Saving Throws are most affected by a character's Class choice. Each Class provides Skill and Saving Throw Proficiencies. Proficiencies increase the number of a specific skill and are signified on the character sheet by filling in t


he dot next to the skill or saving throw. Proficiency bonus at level 1 is almost always +2 and then will be added on top of the Ability modifier corresponding to that skill. For Example here is the Skill and Saving Throw proficiencies of Barbarian character: Barbarian Proficiencies:

Saving Throws: Strength and Constitution Skills: Choose two from Animal Handling, Athletics, Intimidation, Nature, Perception, and Survival Here is an example of a the Saving Throws and Skills calculated for Barbarian with these Ability Scores: Strength - 18 Str Modifier: +4 Dexterity - 14 Dex Modifier: +2 Constitution - 13 Con Modifier: +1 Intelligence - 8 Int Modifier: -1 Wisdom - 10 Wis Modifier: 0 Charisma - 16 Cha Modifier: +3


Saving Throws

(Proficiencies are bolded) Strength: +6

Dexterity: +2 Constitution: +3

Intelligence: -1 Wisdom: +0 Charisma: +3

Skills Acrobatics(Dex): +2 Animal Handling(Wis): +0 Arcana(Int): -1 Athletics(Str): +6 Deception(Cha): +3 History(Int): -1 Insight(Wis): +0 Intimidation(Cha): +3 Investigation(Int): -1 Medicine(Wis): +0 Nature(Int): -1 Perception(Wis): +0 Performance(Cha): +3 Persuasion(Cha): +3 Religion(Int): -1 Sleight of Hand(Dex): +2 Survival(Wis): +2



Image from dndbeyond.com

Now that we have calculated our characters Ability Scores and figured out both our Skills and Saving Throws, we now have a basis to complete the rest of the character sheet. Ability Scores are the building blocks to any character and now have created a foundation for the character as a whole. This is the second installment of the New Player's Guide to Character Creation and there will be more to come to aid you as you continue building your character to be game-ready. Thanks for reading and feel free leave a comment sharing anything about your new character, any questions about the post you may have, or whatever other cool D&D related stuff you want to share! Source: D&D Player’s Handbook (Dungeons & Dragons Core Rulebook)

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