D&D General Changing Order of Character Creation, from 1e to 2024

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
With the release of a few pages from the 2024 PHB on Amazon, I thought it was interesting to look back at how the order of character creation has changed over the years.

The tldr; is

1e to 3.5:
Abilities then Race then Class

4e and 5e-2010:
Race then Class then Abilities

5e-2024
Class then Origin (Background+Species) then Abilities

The big change between 3.5 and 4e seems to be whether ability scores are limiters on what your character can be, or whether they follow from what you picture your character being. The big change from 2010 to 2024 is that Class is put up front. I guess I'm kind of surprised none of them went Race/Species then Abilities then Class (not saying I like it, but if one were back in the days when ability scores were fixed, then it feels like that would be the causal ordering).

Another change is how the other things are either called out or clumped together. 2024 still leaves alignment out (is it highlighted even more than 2014?) and then shoves equipment into details.


Anyway, here are the details, with abbreviated names of the steps in most cases. I didn't have the patience to do OD&D or the other basics or check 3e.

2024

1718731982441.png



5e - 2014:
  1. Race
  2. Class
  3. Ability Scores
  4. Describe Your Character (alignment, bonds, flaws, background)
  5. Equipment
  6. Come Together (Role within the party)

4e:
  1. Race
  2. Class
  3. Ability Scores
  4. Skills
  5. Feats
  6. Powers
  7. Equipment
  8. Fill in the Numbers (Calculate HP, AC, etc...)
  9. Roleplaying Character Details (personality, appearance, beliefs)

3.5:
  • Check with Your Dungeon Master (house rules or campaign standards, what others are doing)
  • Roll Ability Scores
  • Choose Your Class and Race (Race was Ch. 2, Class was Ch. 3)
  • Assign and Adjust Ability Scores
  • Review the Starting Package
  • Select Skills
  • Select a Feat
  • Review Description Chapter
  • Select Equipment
  • Record Combat Numbers
  • Details, Details, Details (name, gender, alignment, age, appearance, and so on)

2e: No list is given. It says to "proceed in order, through Chapters 1 through 6 (Chapter 5 is optional)."

  • Ch. 1 - Ability Scores
  • Ch. 2 - Race
  • Ch. 3 - Class
  • Ch. 4 - Alignment
  • Ch. 5 - Proficiencies (Optional)
  • Ch. 6 - Money and Equipment


Moldvay Basic has 14 detailed steps and then gives a summary box.

  1. Get a character sheet
  2. Abilities
  3. Class (Recall Race was implied by Class)
  4. Write down special abilities and spells
  5. Ability Adjustments
  6. Bonuses and Penalites
  7. 0 XP
  8. HP
  9. Alignment
  10. Starting Gold
  11. Equipment
  12. AC
  13. Attacks
  14. Name
1718733752294.png



1e: [Some edits to this section thanks to @Snarf Zagyg ]

Page 8 has a list of the steps in a paragraph...

1718831526987.png


and so:
  • Abilities
  • Race
  • Class
  • Alignment
  • Name
  • Languages (based on race, class, and alignment)
  • GP and equipment.
  • Hit points.

The order of the sections that follow with more detail are:
  • Ability Scores (the generation methods are in the DMG)
  • Race
  • Class
  • Alignment
  • Hit Points
  • Establishing the Characters (Background)
  • Languages
  • Money
  • Equipment
  • Armor
  • Weapons
 
Last edited:

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Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
With the release of a few pages from the 2024 PHB on Amazon, I thought it was interesting to look back at how the order of character creation has changed over the years.

The tldr; is

1e to 3.5:
Abilities then Race then Class

4e and 5e-2010:
Race then Class then Abilities

5e-2024
Class then Origin (Background+Species) then Abilities

The big change between 3.5 and 4e seems to be whether ability scores are limiters on what your character can be, or whether they follow from what you picture your character being. The big change from 2010 to 2024 is that Class is put up front. I guess I'm kind of surprised none of them went Race/Species then Abilities then Class (not saying I like it, but if one were back in the days when ability scores were fixed, then it feels like that would be the causal ordering).

Another change is how the other things are either called out or clumped together. 2024 still leaves alignment out (is it highlighted even more than 2014?) and then shoves equipment into details.


Anyway, here are the details, with abbreviated names of the steps in most cases. I didn't have the patience to do OD&D or the other basics or check 3e.

2024

View attachment 367808


5e - 2014:
  1. Race
  2. Class
  3. Ability Scores
  4. Describe Your Character (alignment, bonds, flaws, background)
  5. Equipment
  6. Come Together (Role within the party)

4e:
  1. Race
  2. Class
  3. Ability Scores
  4. Skills
  5. Feats
  6. Powers
  7. Equipment
  8. Fill in the Numbers (Calculate HP, AC, etc...)
  9. Roleplaying Character Details (personality, appearance, beliefs)

3.5:
  • Check with Your Dungeon Master (house rules or campaign standards, what others are doing)
  • Roll Ability Scores
  • Choose Your Class and Race (Race was Ch. 2, Class was Ch. 3)
  • Assign and Adjust Ability Scores
  • Review the Starting Package
  • Select Skills
  • Select a Feat
  • Review Description Chapter
  • Select Equipment
  • Record Combat Numbers
  • Details, Details, Details (name, gender, alignment, age, appearance, and so on)

2e: No list is given. It says to "proceed in order, through Chapters 1 through 6 (Chapter 5 is optional)."

  • Ch. 1 - Ability Scores
  • Ch. 2 - Race
  • Ch. 3 - Class
  • Ch. 4 - Alignment
  • Ch. 5 - Proficiencies (Optional)
  • Ch. 6 - Money and Equipment


Moldvay Basic has 14 detailed steps and then gives a summary box.

  1. Get a character sheet
  2. Abilities
  3. Class (Recall Race was implied by Class)
  4. Write down special abilities and spells
  5. Ability Adjustments
  6. Bonuses and Penalites
  7. 0 XP
  8. HP
  9. Alignment
  10. Starting Gold
  11. Equipment
  12. AC
  13. Attacks
  14. Name
View attachment 367810


1e: It doesn't seem to particularly give a list (at least that I saw) and doesn't even say how to generate the ability scores. The order the things are discussed in are:
  • Character Abilities (Ability Scores)
  • Race
  • Class
  • Alignment
  • Hit Points
  • Languages
  • Money
  • Equipment
  • Weapons
5e tells you to check with the DM regarding changes to rules as well, just in the section before character generation.

My group hasn't changed the order of things since 1e. We still roll stats first, then pick race and class, though the players often have an idea of what they want to play before hand.
 

Stormonu

Legend
I guess it's a good thing I've never looked at that since I first learned D&D. I always do abilities first, then pick class or race, depending on which of the two I want to do first.

Though, lately I have been wondering if moving the Ability Score +2 might be better served moving to class and the Ability Score +1 to race/species/whatever they call it today.

P.S.: 1E/2E rules for generating characters is in the DMG, not the PHB, as the DM decides the ability roll method (I think Method IV is the one that's carried over - roll 4d6, keep highest 3.)
 


billd91

Not your screen monkey (he/him) 🇺🇦🇵🇸🏳️‍⚧️
Race/Species -> Background -> Class always made the most sense to me because it’s chronological. Start with how you were born, then how you grew up, then what you are now.

And yet, every time I create a character, I choose my Class first 🤷🏻‍♂️
Honestly, I don't think that's much of a surprise. Class determines a lot of how you do what you do. It will affect most aspects of the game moving forward. So, yeah, you pick that first if you have a strong opinion about it.

As for me, I usually don't have a particularly strong opinion about how I want to go about the adventuring life - though I may have a few options I generally prefer to investigate this time. So I'm usually OK with waiting until the other players have made decisions before I jump in and that gives me more freedom to think of other characteristics first like race and background.
 

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
P.S.: 1E/2E rules for generating characters is in the DMG, not the PHB, as the DM decides the ability roll method (I think Method IV is the one that's carried over - roll 4d6, keep highest 3.)

I had that noted about 1e (that it is all in the DMG about generating them).

The 2e PHB has the ability generating methods, and gives a default and then others the DM might allow.

1718736852700.png
 

TwoSix

"Diegetics", by L. Ron Gygax
5e tells you to check with the DM regarding changes to rules as well, just in the section before character generation.

My group hasn't changed the order of things since 1e. We still roll stats first, then pick race and class, though the players often have an idea of what they want to play before hand.
Realistically, if you're rolling stats, you really need to do that first, since the stats you get are going to inform what class and race you pick. (Even if you can assign rolls to stats, some classes really want multiple high stats, and others are fine with mostly low stats.)
 

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