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Level Up (A5E) Character Creation Walkthrough


Well, that was fun
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This step-by-step walkthrough guides you through the process of creating your 1st-level Level Up character. There are six major steps: Ability Scores, Heritage, Culture, Background, Destiny, and Class. As you work through them you will build your character's backstory leading up to the point where they start adventuring.

Urthek. Throughout this process, we will also give an example as we create Urthek, our new character. Look out for indented examples which begin with the name Urthek!

1. Roll or select your ability scores​

You have six ability scores : Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma.

Generate ability scores​

Ability scores are generated randomly by rolling four 6-sided dice and recording the total of the highest three dice on a spare sheet of paper. You continue to do this until you have a total of six numbers.

Choose where you’d like to assign these numbers by recording each next to an ability score.

Variants: There are other ways to generate your ability scores, including a standard ability array (assign 15, 14, 13, 12, 10, and 8 to whichever ability scores you wish) and a point-buy method. Check with your Narrator which you are using.​

These ability scores will be modified by your choice of background, later.

Urthek. We'll give Urthek the standard ability array as follows: Str 12, Dex 14, Con 13, Int 10, Wis 8, Cha 15.

Record ability modifiers​

Your ability scores correspond with 'ability modifiers'. These are numbers you add to or subtract from your dice rolls when making attacks or ability checks.

Record each ability score's corresponding modifier.

Ability Score Modifiers


2. Choose your heritage​

Your heritage determines your biologically inherited characteristics. You can choose from several heritages, such as dragonborn, elf, or human.

Urthek. We have decided that Urthek is a dragonborn.

Heritage Traits​

Record all of your heritage traits, which include things like size, speed, and special abilities like a dragonborn's breath weapon.

Urthek. Our dragonborn character is Medium-sized, with a Speed of 30 feet. They also have a Dragon Breath ability, for which we need to choose a damage type. Urthek is a white dragonborn, so we'll choose cold as our breath weapon type.

Heritage Gift​

Choose one heritage gift. Each heritage contains two or more gifts which help distinguish you from others with the same heritage.

Urthek. A dragonborn character can choose from Draconian Armor, Draconian Fins, or Draconian Wings. We'll choose Draconian Armor.

3. Choose your culture​

Your culture tells you where you grew up, and the skills and customs you learned along way. There are lots of cultures, such as circusfolk, nomads, warhordlings, and wildlings; and there are some cultures which are usually associated with specific heritages, such as wood elves, and tinker gnomes. Any heritage can choose any culture -- your dwarf may have grown up with forest gnomes.

Cultural Traits​

Record all of your culture's traits, which include things like languages, and special skills and abilities learned by those within that culture.

Urthek. Steamforged is a fun culture which represents a character who grew up in an early industrial society. A steamforged character gains the traits Mind Like a Steel Trap, Tech Savvy, War Scholar, and Languages.

4. Choose your background​

You now know who your parents were, and you know what culture you were raised in, but your background tells you what your role was within that culture. Were you a farmer, a guard, a noble? There are over 20 backgrounds to choose from.

Background Traits​

Record all of your background traits. These include two ability score increases, and proficiencies in some skills and tools, along with a special feature.

Urthek. A farmer gains a bonus to Wisdom and one other ability score (we'll choose Charisma), proficiency in Nature and Animal Handling or Survival skills, and proficiency in the use of land vehicles, plus the ability to carry twice the usual number of supplies.

This makes Urthek's ability scores Str 12, Dex 14, Con 13, Int 10, Wis 9, Cha 16.

Background Connections & Mementos​

Roll for or choose one connection and one memento from the lists in your chosen background. These help flesh out your backstory.

Urthek. We rolled, and Urthek's connection is the landowner who foreclosed on their family land, and their memento is half a locket given to them by a missing sweetheart.

5. Choose your destiny​

The final part of your character's origin is their destiny . This tells you what motivates and inspires your character. Destinies include things like Knowledge, Revenge, and Wealth.

Urthek. We are going to choose the Revenge destiny, as this ties in nicely with our farmer background connection -- the landowner who foreclosed on our dragonborn character's family land.

Source of Inspiration​

Record your destiny's source of inspiration. This tells you when you will gain an inspiration die (an extra d20 you can roll when making an attack or ability check).

Urthek. Characters with the Revenge destiny have the Served Cold source of inspiration. They gain an inspiration die when they successfully attack a surprised opponent or lead a foe into a prepared trap, amongst other things.

Inspiration Feature​

Record your inspiration feature. This is a special ability.

Urthek. The inspiration feature of the Revenge destiny is an ability called Cloak and Dagger, which allows the character to avert suspicion when danger closes in.

Fulfillment Feature​

Your destiny will tell you what you must achieve to fulfill it, and what special benefits you gain once you have done so. This is a long-term goal for your character.

Urthek. The Revenge destiny's fulfillment feature is called Retaliatory Reputation. It is achieved when you have killed, imprisoned or dethrones whatever entity wronged you, and gives you an ability to frighten others with a threatening stare.


Finally, roll for or choose one of the six motivations listed for your destiny, or create one of your own. Along with your background connections and mementos, this motivation helps to flesh out your character.

6. Choose your class​

Now that you have a complete origin for your character, it's time to decide what sort of adventurer they are now. Are you a wizard or a rogue? A berserker or a bard? There are 13 core adventuring classes for you to choose from.

Your class gives you a collection of features and statistics which will round off your character.

Urthek. Our steamforged dragonborn farmer will become a bard.


You start the game at 1st level unless your Narrator tells you otherwise.

Hit Dice​

Record your hit dice type. This will be d6, d8, d10, or (rarely) d12. This is how tough you are, and tells you how may hit points you start the game with, how many hit points you gain when you go up a level, and many hit points you can recover when you take a short rest.

Hit Points​

Record your starting hit points. This noted in your class description, but it is equal to a maximum roll of your hit die.

Urthek. A bard which has a d8 hit dice type starts with 8 hit points. To this number, add your Constitution modifier. A bard with a Constitution of 12 would start the game with 9 (8+1) hit points.


Your class will give you some armor, weapon, tool, saving throw, and skill proficiencies. Note all of these. You will already have some proficiencies from your culture and your background.

Urthek. Our bard gains proficiencies in light armor, two musical instruments, Dexterity and Charisma saving throws, any three skills, and several weapons.

Proficiency Bonus​

Note your proficiency bonus. This is +2, as you are a 1st-level character. It will increase when you reach 5th-level. This is an important number which is added to all attacks, skill, saving throws, or tool checks in which you are proficient.

Class Features​

The class table for your chosen class tells you what class features you get at each level. As you're a 1st-level character, you only need to worry about the first row. Record the class features you get.

Urthek. A 1st-level bard gets Art Speciality, Bardic Inspiration, Battle Hymn, and Spellcasting.

Spells, Knacks, and other Tricks​

Most classes also gain some other features, which are selected from lists.

Characters with spell casting ability will be able to choose one or more first level spells, and a number of cantrips. The class entry tells you how many spells to choose. Only the bard, cleric, sorcerer, warlock, wizard, druid, and herald gain spells at 1st level.​
Knacks (sometimes called tricks, lessons, and other names) are acquired in a similar way to spells. These generally work in the exploration pillar of the game. Only the rogue, berserker, druid, fighter, and ranger gain knacks at 1st level.​
Combat Maneuvers
Several classes gain combat maneuvers, which are non-magical martial abilities you can use in battle. If you have access to combat maneuvers, your class entry will tell you at which levels you will gain those. Record the two traditions you are proficient in (selected from the list in your class entry). You should also record your exertion points which are equal to twice your proficiency bonus. Only the fighter gains combat maneuvers at 1st level, and can choose any two traditions.​

Urthek. Our bard has no tricks (the bard's name for knacks) at first level, and doesn't get combat maneuvers. However, we do know 3 bard cantrips and 4 1st-level bard spells. We'll choose those from the bard spell list.


Your class offers you two or more choices of starting equipment packages, or you can spend your starting gold in the Equipment chapter.

Urthek. We decide to choose the Agitator Set, one of the bard's starting equipment package choices. This costs 128 of our starting 135 gold, and gives us a dagger, hand crossbow with 20 crossbow bolts, padded cloth armor, musical instrument, and entertainer’s pack.

7. Final Statistics​

There are a few final housekeeping statistics to record.


Your armor class (AC) represents your ability to avoid damage in combat. Normally, your character's AC is 10 + their Dexterity modifier.

If you have purchased armor, the armor entry in the equipment list will tell you what your AC now is. If you have a shield, this gives you a bonus to your AC.

Check whether any of your class features affects your AC.

Urthek. Our dragonborn bard has padded cloth armor, and their 14 Dexterity gives them a +2 Dexterity modifier. According to the Equipment chapter, padded cloth armor gives you an AC of 11 + Dexterity modifier, so our AC is 13.

However, when we chose our Dragonborn Gift earlier, we selected Draconian Armor, which gives us scales with an AC of 13 + Dexterity modifier when not wearing armor. This is better than the padded cloth armor, so we'll discard that and accept our natural AC of 15 instead.

Save Difficulty Classes​

Some of your attacks and spells may force your target to make a saving throw to resist it. You have two saving throw difficulty classes (DCs), one used for combat maneuvers, and the other for spellcasting.

Combat maneuver save DC = 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Strength or Dexterity modifier.​
Spell save DC = 8 + your proficiency bonus + your spellcasting ability modifier.​


For each weapon you own, you should record its attack statistics on your character sheet.

Attack bonus = Strength modifier (melee) or Dexterity modifier (ranged) plus your proficiency bonus if you are proficient.​

Damage is listed in the equipment entry. Melee weapons add your Strength modifier to damage, while ranged weapons add rour Dexterity modifier to damage. Some weapons with the thrown property allow you to use your character’s Strength modifier. All attacks also indicate the type of damage they deal. A sickle deals slashing damage while a heavy maul deals bludgeoning damage.

Urthek. When we picked our heritage, we chose Draconian Armor as our Dragonborn Gift. Along with the scales we mentioned above, this also gives us sharp claws which do damage equal to 1d4 + our Strength modifier.

Urthek's Strength is 12 so our Strength modifier is +1, which means the claws do 1d4+1damage. Their attack bonus is +3 (our Strength modifier plus our proficiency bonus). Of course, we also have a dagger and a hand crossbow, so we'd work out the stats for those, too.
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How fun! I love how the character creation really helps create an origin story for Urthek.
Agreed. When I made a bunch of playtest characters, I found that their backgrounds unfolded themselves from the mechanical choices I made a lot more readily than when I made oD&D characters. And I'm pretty sure that if I had a background already in mind, it would be very easy to match the mechanics to the background.

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