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


Two things-

1. The order is on PHB p. 8.

Each player develops the abilities of his or her character through random number generation (by means of dice rolling) to determine the basic characteristics of the persona, the abilities. The player then decides what race the character is, what the character's class is, the alignment of the character, and what the character's name is to be. The character will speak certain languages determined by race, class, and alignment. He or she will have a certain amount of gold pieces to begin with, and these funds will be used to purchase equipment needed for adventuring. Finally, each character begins with a certain number of hit points, as determined by the roll of the die (or dice) commensurate with the character's class. Class determines the type of die (or dice) rolled. All characters begin at 1st level.

1. Abilities.
2. Race.
3. Class.
4. Alignment.
5. Name.
6. Languages.
7. GP and equipment.
8. Hit points.

Honestly, I think that the first four (which you have correct) are the only four that have to be done in the correct order. Abilities and race will determine what class you can choose. And what class determines your alignment choices. Everything else is whatever.

Next, on the issue of abilities. Yes, the DMG does have methods of rolling. But you have to remember the context. At the time of the PHB, 3d6 in order was the standard method. This is why there the PHB mentions that there are alternate methods in the upcoming DMG. The four methods are listed as "alternatives."

Alternatives to what? To the unstated assumption that people are using 3d6.
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Micah Sweet

Level Up & OSR Enthusiast
I enjoy both, but it very much depends on the system. Games that give some structure to the randomness (I'm thinking about Beyond the Wall, or the Without Number games as examples), or games that are relatively lightweight (like a Mork Borg) are games that I find fun to play with random characters.

Games that actively grant you a complex set of character building tools, and encourage you to imagine using those tools to design a character, are much less fun for me when randomness imposes a lot of undesired constraints on that imagination.

Obviously, restrictions caused by randomness can breed creativity, but it has to be restrictions that are deployed thoughtfully. Rolling 4d6k3 in order, for 5e, doesn't pass that test for me.
It is subjective, yes. I have made most of my charters for 5e using exactly that method and been happy with all of them (at least, if I wasn't happy it wasn't due to how I generated my ability scores).


Where is that Singe?
Ugh. I would absolutely hate that. Random characters are for gatcha games.
Or for people who prefer a bit of challenge in what they play instead of "I want what I want when I want it all the time" attitudes... ;)

This is why I just hand players a pre-made character with pre-written backstory as soon as they sit at the table.
Good for you! That's certainly a way to do it...

Realism is all about depriving players of choice.
For things you don't have a choice about IRL, it is. 🤷‍♂️

Amazing when people discuss how AD&D could be played with characters with average ability scores often ignore how Gary himself said they should have two or more 15s to survive.
Should being the word. His quote included usually along with "essential", so it is his strong advice, certainly but no where near a "must have" situation.

Sadly, even rolling 4d6 drop lowest would only typically result in a single score of 15 or higher, if you got two, you were lucky... Of course, in my current 5E game, a new player rolled scores for his first PC and rolled an 18 on the first roll, and another on the last roll!

I don't think I could ever go through the mindset of "hmmm, I am going to play an elf, and he's going to be a noble... What class should I be? Oh I guess I'll be a barbarian." Class means so much to play style and party composition it makes absolute sense to pick that first.
In all sincerity that is a pity IMO. You are losing out on some interesting race/background/class combos.

A wood elf, for example, would easily be a barbarian if you want to keep a "nature" theme. And a barbarian "noble" could be the child of a tribe leader or elder.

I can't think of any race/background/class combo that doesn't work off-hand... :unsure:

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
I had forgotten that 1e's UA allowed class to be chosen first. (See @Quickleaf 's post a bit back).

Yes, but....

That method (WHICH WAS INSANELY GOOD!) was only available for humans. Often forgotten.

Why? Eh, because Gygax!

(Gygax did prefer humans, and I s'pose demi-humans were able to multiclass which presented difficulties with that method, but c'mon. That was a crazy way to get an insanely good character. IF ... you were going to play a human.)


"Diegetics", by L. Ron Gygax
I can't think of any race/background/class combo that doesn't work off-hand... :unsure:
All of which can be mixed by picking race/background 2nd and 3rd. :)

But really, race and background are ultimately narrative gloss, unless the race or background is really out there. Class is where the bulk of the mechanical experience comes from.

As you like to point out, you don't need mechanics to differentiate your characters. You can play human fighter A completely differently from human fighter B simply by engaging the narrative layer. But you can't have a different mechanical experience without actually varying the mechanics, which means picking different classes.


"Diegetics", by L. Ron Gygax
That's why I occasionally kill player characters at points in the campaign. No saves or anything. IRL, you have no control about whether you have cancer, a heart-attack, or some other medical condition. And sometimes a tree falls on you and you die. Realism.
George, get back to the typewriter and finish Winds of Winter! :)

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