This guide is designed to help you make a Level 1 character using the Character Builder. This guide is not about going through the character creation process in general and will not be about choosing what class or race or tell you what Feats are. This guide will assume you have read the Basic Rules on character creation and just want help using the builder. The guide will detail what you will see, what options mean what, and what things do. This will hopefully help you make a Level 1 character using the builder.
Step 1: Enter the Character Builder
To begin making a character you can go to the Character Builder page. This can be accessed in multiple ways. You can go to My Content menu at the top-left of any page of this site then Characters and then click on the Create A Character button on the top-right. Alternatively you can choose the Characters menu and then Character Builder. Either way you will be taken to the Character Builder which you can use to make your character.
If you are to join a Campaign you will be given a Join link by the Dungeon Master (DM). Use this link to be taken to a page where you can either: add a character you have made previously, take control of an unassigned pre-made character or make a new character. If you choose to make a new character and Content Sharing is enabled for that campaign you will have access to any non-free content purchased by any other player in that campaign. It is therefore recommended to make a new character for a campaign using the campaign join link to ensure you are using everything available to you.
Step 2: Character Creation Method
When you enter the Character Builder for a new character you will be presented with three options as follows:
Randomize will let you choose a couple of options and the builder will do everything else and make a random character. This can be useful for starting a high level character quickly but because everything is random it will not be optimal or make much sense. It can be good to get a random base character and then edit it - it may be faster than starting from scratch. However, please note not all races, classes and such options are available for random generation.
Quick Build will let you create a 1st-level character using the recommended starting options offered in the Player's Handbook (PHB). Very limited as it will not take into account other races and classes outside the PHB but this can be a very easy way to make a character quckly.
Standard will be the full character creation process which is a step-by-step way to create your character the way you want. The rest of the guide will focus on this choice. Underneath this is a checkbox for "Help Text". If you check this and choose Standard there will be helpful text displayed throughout the character making process. This is very useful if this is your first time making a character for 5th Edition Dungeons and Dragons (D&D). The images presented in this guide will not include this but it is highly recommended you check this box if you are new.
Click Standard to begin making your new character.
Step 3a : The Navigation Bar
On the next page you will see this at the top:
This is the Navgation Bar and you can click on the different page names to go to that page. I will explain what each section does:
This will show that this is the Character Builder and underneath it will have the name of your character. Your character will initially be called "Username's Character" where Username is your D&D Beyond username. You can change your character's name in two places during the character creation process which we will get to soon.
Clicking this question mark brings up the Help text. If you are progressing through this wth the Help box checked mentioned in Step 2 this will be on by default. This lets you turn on and off the Help text. When off the icon shows dark and when on it shows blue.
These are the pages or stages of the character builder. You can click these to go to that page at any time. The page you are currently on will be underlined as "Home" is shown to be as you will start on this page. I will cover each page later in this guide as you progress through the character maker. You can also progress through pages by clicking the arrows underneath this: takes you back a page and takes you to the next page. They will be greyed out if there is no "previous" or "next" page to go to.
This is the character sheet icon and will start greyed out and unclickable. When you have chosen a Race, Class and your Ability Scores - the bare minimum required for a character - this will change to this and you can click this to be taken out of the Character Builder and to the character sheet.
The Navigation Bar will be displayed every step of the way. Let's proceed to make the character.
Step 3b: The Home Page
You begin on the Home page. There are many options to decide here. Let's go through them.
The square can be clicked for you to choose a Character Portrait, the name is where you enter your Character's name and you can click Randomize to generate a random name. However, I recommend leaving this as it is for now. You will be given the option to select all of these again later and it would be more advantageous to do so then as the portraits and random name generation will be based on your chosen race, where possible.
This is the Homebrew toggle and it is on by default. While on this will allow homebrew content you have created or have added to your collection to be shown and selectable. If you made your character within a campaign and content sharing is enabled then you will also have access to any homebrew in the collections of any other players in the campaign. Discuss with your DM if Homebrew is going to be permitted. If homebrew is not allowed then you can turn this off here.
This toggle will allow you to use content created for Critical Role. If you are unaware Critical Role is a web show that streams games of D&D 5th Edition played by a bunch of nerdy-ass voice actors: Travis Willingham, Marisha Ray, Liam O'Brien, Sam Riegel, Laura Bailey, Taliesin Jaffe, Orion Ocaba (1st campaign only) and Ashley Johnson with the DM being Matthew Mercer. The show has been based around two campaigns set in a homebrew world created by Matthew Mercer and in this he has created a bunch of classes, feats, backgrounds and more. This site features his Gunslinger archetype for the Fighter class and the Blood Hunter class. If you turn this toggle to on you may select these for your character. Because these are technically homebrew and not licensed by Wizards of the Coast you should speak with your DM to see if these are permitted.
Playtest Content refers mostly to options released through Unearthed Arcana (UA). UA is a series of PDFs made available for free by Wizards of the Coast for players to playtest in their games. Wizards of the Coast will collect feedback to determine if a version of these playtest options will be released in a future official publication. D&D Beyond started to add UA playtest content from the beginning of this year and these can be used for your character if you choose to switch this toggle to on. They are not official content so it is recommended you discuss with your DM to see if playtest material can be used.
Eberron content refers to content offered from The Wayfarer's Guide to Eberron available in the marketplace. This is part of an upcoming initiative for D&D Beyond to start allowing players to select if specific sourcebooks can be used so you can expect future releases to offer more toggles. It is official content so it is On by default but please do check with your DM to ensure Eberron content is permitted.
In 5th Edition D&D your character will progress (or "advance") in one of two ways, decided by the DM: Experience Points (XP) or Milestone. XP advancement means as you defeat monsters, solve puzzles, and succeed in challenges your DM will reward you with XP at the end of the session. When you have accumulated enough XP you will advance a level. With Milestone advancement is where you do not collect XP and the DM decides when you all level up together as a group as befitting the story. Both types have pros and cons and the DM will choose which they will use for their campaign. If the DM has not yet told you which to use please ask them.
Encumberance is how much your player can carry. When the character has reached a certain amount of weight from their items they become encumbered. There are different rules about encumberance and you DM should advise you which to use. The standard rules given in the PHB are the default ("Use Encumberance"), but some DMs may use the "variant" rules offered in the book ("Variant Encumberance") or they may decide to do away with encumberance rules altogether ("No Encumberance"). Unless the DM says otherwise it is best to assume the standard rules will be used.
Coins do have weight but many DMs will often choose to ignore coin weight for the sake of simplicity. This option, on by default, will have any coins entered on your character sheet not affect your weight total. As always, however, it is best to discuss this with your DM.
When you advance in levels your character's maximum hit points will grow. When you gain a level you must choose to either roll for your extra hit points using hit dice or simply take average. The details of what is rolled and what the average is will be detailed in your Class information. If you intend to always take the average then you can set this option to "Fixed" and when you level it will automatically increase your hit points by the average for you. If you choose manual you will need to enter the hit points manually each time you level up. It is easier to start with "fixed" option because it will automatically factor your starting hit points for you as determined by your class. You can always change it to manual later when you level up.
On your character sheet your Ability Scores and Modifiers will be displayed in a section that will feature two boxes for each score: a bigger box on top and a smaller box below. If this option is set to "Modifiers Top" the bigger boxes will have the Ability Modifiers in them with the Scores in the smaller boxes. Setting to "Scores Top" will switch these around. Since it will be necessary to refer to the modifiers more than the scores the default option of Modifiers Top is recommended but ultimately this is up to your personal preference.
You can share your character sheet with anyone by providing them with a link to it. This lets people see your sheet but not make any changes. If you are part of a campaign your sheet can be viewed by any player in that campaign by clicking on it in the campaign page. This is the default option of "public". If you prefer others to not see your sheet even if you give them a link or if it is clicked on by other campaign players you can set this to Private. Please note if you are in a campaign the DM can still access the sheet as can any moderator or site staff.
Select the options that will be suitable for your character. When you are ready you can progress to the next page by clickiing "Race" in the Naviation Bar or by clicking the right arrow:
Step 4: Race
The Race page will let you select your Race. The page shows a sources drop-down, a search bar, and then the list of all races available for you to select. Races that have sub-races and/or variants can be clicked to reveal those. The sources drop-down will let you limit the list of races to the specific source. Source can be those offered for free or those you have purchased. The search bar lets you type the name of a race to limit the list further, you could type "Elf" to limit the list only to the Elf and Half-Elf races and sub-races, for example. Click a race and you will be presented with a window showing information about that race and can then either choose that race or cancel to view a different one.
When you have chosen your race will see a page detailing that race and if you need to make choices for a race these will be shown - just click the options and choose what you want from the drop-downs. You can click "change race" in the top-right to change your race to something else otherwise you can just click the right arrow to move on to the next stage or click Class in the Navigation Bar.
Step 5: Class
The class page shows you a search bar and the list of classes available to you. You can use the search bar to limit the list to what you type, if necessary. When you click on a class it provides details about it letting you either add it or cancel to choose another.
Select your class and you will be taken to a class page where you review class features available for your level. If there are options you must choose these will be highlighted and you can click them and select options from the drop-down menus.
This guide is based on the creation of a Level 1 character starting with Fixed HP. You will need to come back to this page when you advance in level and there may be more things to go over but we can save that for a levelling up guide. For now simply choose the class and select any options prompted like proficiencies. When you are done use the right arrow to proceed or click Abilities in the Navigation Bar.
Step 6: Ability Scores
This page is where you enter your Ability Scores. You are presented with a drop down for selecting your generation method and six large boxes filled with information that provide a breakdown of each ability score. The breakdown will include what bonuses you are getting, such as from Race, and what modifier your score will provide.
First determine the generation method from the drop down.
When you choose the method the Ability Scores will appear and include boxes or drop-down menus for each depending on what method was chosen.
Standard Array will provide drop-downs containing the set values. As you select a value for one score that value is removed from the drop-down lists of the other scores.
If you chose Point Buy you will be given drop-downs containing possible values and how many points those cost. There will also appear a field above showing how many points you have remaining.
The Manual choice just provides empty boxes where you can type in the values - used if you rolled for your stats or used different methods of generation.
You should check with your DM about what ability score generation method to use.
Once you have set your scores you can proceed by clicking the right arrow or clicking Description in the Navigation Bar.
Step 7: Description
At the top of this page you will see the same as on the top of the Home page.
The square with a + in it is for the character portrait. Click this and you will see a box like follows:
If your chosen race has specific portraits these will be singled out for you at the top. In my example I chose Tabaxi because yay kitties. This makes it easier to choose racially relevant portraits. In case you want to choose a different portait all the other portraits available to you are also shown. You can click the portrait and then "apply". However, if you find none of the portraits are suitable and you have an image you would like to use then you can click the upload button. You will be presented with a dialog box to select a file from your computer. Choose one and it will be uploaded highlighted in green with a link "set portrait" next to it. Click this "set portrait" link to use the uploaded portrait image.
After you have chosen your portrait, if you wanted to, then it is time to choose a name. In the name box you may type anything you want for your Character's name. If you are stuck for ideas you can use the Randomize link to generate a name randomly. This will generate a name relevant for your race if able. The orange link "Fantasy Name Generator" can take you to a website dedicated to generating the names of various fantasy races, characters, lands etc. It is very useful and can be used to come up names of NPCs your character might known as part of their backstory.
After this it is time to select a background.
If you open the drop-down menu you will see any backgrounds you have available for you to choose. Simply select the background or choose custom and select the relevant options as prompted if necessary.
Below this are more sections in a "collapsed" state meaning you must click them to "expand" them and show the options to select.
For Character Details and Physical Characteristics just expand the section by clicking the plus, select or type in the options for each bit. This all largely self explanitory.
For Personal Characteristics you will be able to choose the Personality Traits, Ideals, Bonds and Flaws. You were already prompted for these in the Background section and if you chose them there then you can skip this. If you wanted to change them or type in manual ones you can do this here.
The Notes section will provide textboxes for detailing Organisations your character is part of, the allies they have, enemies they have made, your character's backstory and an "other" box for any other notes you want to make. It is worth noting (>.>) that this whole section is private and even if you set your character to Public nobody can view what is in these fields, not even your DM. You will be able to access these directly through the character sheet and they should be used to make notes as you progress through the campaign.
When you are ready click the right arrow or click Equipment in the Navigation Bar.
Step 8: Equipment
Along the top of the Equipment page are two links at the top-left "Manage" and "Currency" and a link called "More" at the top-right. Manage is where you manage your equipment and is the page you start on, Currency will let you manage currency and More is a menu to list Encumberance rules or add starting equipment or gold which is not necessary at this point. Underneath the Manage and Currency links will show your total weight of your equipment.
These three boxes can be used to detail items you are attuned to. You would click the box and any attune-able items you had active or equipped would be displayed for you to choose. When making a new character it is unlikely you would use this as items you attune to will rarely be among your starting equipment.
When you make a new character you choose between Starting Equipment for your class and background or the gold determined by the Starting Wealth for your Class. If you choose Starting Equipment you will be presented with the options available to you. If choose Gold you wll be able to select the gold or click a link to randomise it (or "roll" for it).
If you opted for gold or if you are swapping out items or need to add items go to the bottom section Add Items and you see the below:
Here you can add items. The green buttons can filter by category and type, the checkboxes to limit to magical items, common basic items and the proficient checkbox will limit weapons and armour only to what your character is proficient in. You can type in the item name if you want, as well. When the item you want is displayed click the green Add item to add it or the green + icon to view more information about that item.
The section Personal Possessions will let you add any items not available as proper items - it's just a text box where you can add items that have no mechanical benefit and are just "roleplay fluff".
The section Active Items will list items you have activated or equipped.
The Inventory section will show all proper items you had added to your character and it is from here that you can equip your swords, armours, shields, etc.
Once you have added and equipped the items you want for your character click the right arrow to proceed or click "What's Next" in the Navigation Bar.
Step 9: What's Next?
This page is just to give you links and say "you're done!". Here you can use the links to view your character sheet, export your character sheet as a PDF, view your other characters or create a campaign.
Click either "view your character sheet" box or the Character Sheet icon in the Navigation Bar to finish and view your completed Character Sheet.
You're done! You now have a character sheet and adventure awaits!
I hope you have found this guide to be useful and if there was anything unclear please let me know!