4E Official L4W Character Creation Guide

Living 4th Edition Character Creation Guide

L4W characters sheets are created using either the L4W Wiki or Google Spreadsheets. You are free to choose either, depending on your preference.

To create a new character follow the process laid out in this post and the following one. You'll need a 4th Edition Players Handbook (published by Wizards of the Coast) to actually make a character, this guide addresses a few additional rules but is mostly about how to get your character up, how to request approval when its ready and other book keeping details.

Each player is allowed only one character at first, and once your first character reaches 2nd level you are allowed to create a second character. When the combined levels of your characters equal at least 6, you may create a third character. Characters played by the same player may not interact with each other in any meaningful way. They shouldn't ever be in the same place at the same time, and no exchanging items or services with yourself, even through a third party. Only three characters per player are allowed at this time; to make a fourth, one of your first three will have to die or retire.

[sblock=Why these limitations? I want to play more!]So do we all.






The community came to these decisions after much discussion and voting, both during L4W's original conception, revisited after it had been running for more than half a year (during March 2009), and again a year after that (during March 2010). The following is a non-exhaustive list of considerations.
  • Judge capacity: Character approval takes a long time; even with support from the community it can be a lot of work.
  • We would like everyone who would like to join L4W be able to - and have a chance to play.
  • Demand for 4e games is often higher than supply can provide and new games usually fill up very quickly. Once in a while applications might devolve into "beauty contests" where 8-10 people spend a lot of effort making a character only to be rejected.
  • If they are accepted the DM occasionally disappears before the adventure has concluded.
    It is our intention that L4W remain a consistent setting, and with support of the judges who can take over if a DM disappears, we can continue to account for DM-dropout and thus increase the number of people who play and enjoy RPing on Enworld.
  • It takes a lot more time for a DM to get started in a setting than a player. Some have existing games (which we very much hope they will continue to run until completion), unfamiliarity with what sort of story might work well with the setting, etc. So there is a natural lag between when new DMs join the community and when they get up to speed and start to run games in earnest.
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To play in L4W you must have the option to email you turned on. Go to your options page and make sure the Receive Email from Other Members checkbox is ticked. (It's in the Receive Email section near the top).

1. Create a Character Page
Go to the L4W Wiki page. On the left side there's a list of things to click on, look for "Create a new article" it'll have a pop-up asking what to call it "PC:name (username)" and click on the blank page option. Proceed with either option 2A (templates) or 2B (spreadsheet) below.

2A. Prepare your Character Page – Template Format
[sblock=WHY WE USE TEMPLATES]You will notice that L4W makes extensive use of Templates. So instead of just typing up Bilbo Baggins, Halfling Rogue Level 1 you have a set of fields to fill in
|Name=Bilbo Baggins
|Race=Halfling
|Class=Rogue
|Level=1
|etc=
|etc=

There are several reasons for this





1. It produces a common, standard character sheet.
  • DMs do not have to memorize where each character keeps information or make their own reference sheets (or if they do its faster)
  • Judges know where to look to check for key information

2. It does math for us
  • If a judge/dm/another player confirms the input is correct they know the output will also be correct; otherwise (in principle) a judge is supposed to sit down and re-do all the math

3. It helps makes sure your character is complete
  • It's easy to forget smaller details (remaining gold, your basic attacks, your racial bonuses to skills).The template, by encouraging you to fill in fields helps encourage completeness.
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Go to your character page (the easiest way to do this is by clicking on the link you just created). This will take you to a blank page edit screen. There are two ways to produce a character sheet.
The Pure Method
Open up the L4W Character Template in another window, and copy the code from the white section marked "Copy from below this line" and paste it into the edit window of the character sheet page. The Pure Method will probably be more work.

The Lazy Method
Open the sheet of an approved character, a list of which can be found here. Click “edit this page” and copy all relevant code to your own sheet and edit accordingly. Take care not to edit the sheet you’re copying from!
Fill in/Change the Details
Press the edit button again to fill in the details of your new character; or change them if you're copying an existing character.
Some tips:

  • Start with the math section and fill the summary in once you've worked out the correct information
  • Unless you're fairly experienced it is probably easiest to follow the Player’s Handbook as it lays out how to make a character
  • If you're not sure what something means or will look like on the wiki; hit the preview button on the bottom
  • Everything in brackets should either be deleted or filled in with a number (please do not put N/A or something else in)
  • Periodically save your work
  • There may occasionally be errors in the templates, feel free to post about them on the Character Template Assistance, Bugs and Errors thread
  • Templates don't care about the order of information, so you can have power3 before power2 and it will just pull all the data in and fill it out in the proper order
You are expected to use the standard character sheet summary; this lowers workload for DMs by having everything in a common, easy to understand format. If you are having trouble, or just feeling frustrated or lost, please post to the Character Template Bugs and Assistance thread with a link to the sheet and a clear explanation of your problem.
Just do the best you can and then post politely explaining your confusion/problem. People will help you! (But they won't fill out the sheet for you, ultimately it's your character, your sheet and you have to submit it to the judges.)

The fluff and math sections may be in whatever format you like. However you must have them. If you deviate from the pattern presented, it will be harder for the judges to examine your character, and it may take longer for them to get around to it. Possibly much longer.

2B. Prepare your Character Page – Spreadsheet Format
Follow the instructions in the spreadsheet and provide a link to it on your character’s wiki page. You are also encouraged to provide backstory/fluff information directly on your wiki page. You must also create a summary on the wiki page as in the method above.

3. Save Character Page
While you're working and after you've finished, please save the new character sheet.

4. Character Creation
[sblock=Character Backgrounds]
Characters in L4W, as in all living settings, share space with many other PCs (as well as other setting elements that allow for fun and engaging games).

In principle the judges and the community would like you to play the character you most want to play, in the manner you desire. However we also have a responsibility to the greater community.

Almost no character will be rejected out of hand so long as it appears that the submitter is acting in good faith however there are some things that the judges must consider when approving a character concept.

These include
1) does a concept grant some sort of extra mechanical advantage?
2) does it infringe upon other characters options or background?
3) does it significantly change the setting?
If your character falls under 1 (or some variation thereof) you will have great difficulty receiving approval; we believe that DnD is most fun when characters of a certain level are roughly at parity with each other.
If your character falls under 2 or 3 (or some variation thereof) you should expect judges to communicate with you prior to approval and discuss the impact on the setting.

Please note: We encourage characters who are tightly involved in the world and many characters are approved who have strong or weak connections to significant NPCs or related to other background elements.

In most cases we just want to talk to you to make sure that everyone will have fun with your PC and/or to set some sort of OOC limits*.

[sblock=* Amnesia]We have several characters who, for a variety of reasons, do not know who they are or have unclear or unknown backgrounds.

This is a valid sort of character to play (and we cannot fail to note a popular one). However, it can raise issues for a judge and for the campaign. A character that is approved and suddenly, for instance, announces that "I just remembered I'm Satan" could potentially be very problematic.

(We note a crazy character, who thinks they're a devil or possessed is almost certainly fine, but a player who insists Out of Character that they are actually something improbable, which would not be approved had that fact been part of the character's backstory during the initial process is a problem). Therefore judges will generally seek to come to some sort of OOC agreement regarding what your "forgotten backstory" might be.

If you are confused or unsure please feel free to contact the judges, on the boards or through email.[/sblock]
[/sblock]
[sblock=Setting and Rules Specific Character Creation Information]

4.1 Character Options
New L4W characters are created at level 1, using the sources approved and listed in the L4W Charter. The currently approved sources can be found here.

Characters may be created, leveled up, and retrained using these approved sources. Note that potentially problematic items can be proposed for exclusion.

For the avoidance of doubt refer to the Charter regarding what material is available. If you wish to propose an additional source to be approved for L4W, please follow the guidelines in the Charter.

4.2 Ability scores
Ability scores are created using the point buy rules from pages 17-18 of the PHB, except that we use 25 points instead of 22. Here are some sample ability arrays that are possible with this method:
Code:
18    16    10    10    10    8
  18    14    13    11    10    8
  18    13    13    13    10    8
  18    12    12    12    12    9
  16    16    15    10    10    8
  16    15    15    12    10    8
  16    14    14    14    11    8
  16    14    14    12    12    10
  16    14    13    12    12    12
  16    13    13    13    13    12
You can of course create your own starting array. There is a basic 4e point buy calculator online here, which may help.

4.3 Races
Each race has a place in the setting, and most have several places. (Please refer to the character creation: races section for specific details). Most races fit into an overarching framework: each has a) a flavorful, possibly odd place in some part of the setting b) a more traditional slot.

[sblock=Example using Dwarves]





Dwarf on the wiki
  • The flavorful, slightly weird origin for dwarves is in The Valley of Bone, where they are the dominant culture they value gold and honor and their clan and ancestors (keeping the traditional spirit of dwarves) but with a pseudo-Mayan mythological-Africa slant (and their ancestors actually physically manifest from time to time).
  • Want to play a traditional miner, you can be from the community of Mykonos' Sanctuary. (Please note that Mykonos' Sanctuary is not "just a dwarven mining town" efforts have been made to make it an interesting location both in terms of backstory and current political happenings; so you should at least skim the material about those areas).
[/sblock]

You are welcome to play a dwarf who is from some other place, with their own culture, or to just be vague about where the character is from. When introducing new regions bear in mind the concept of modularity.




[sblock=modularity in a nutshell]The bigger or more important the culture/region you want to introduce the further it should be from the start area (i.e. Daunton) and the easier it should be to adjust how much impact it has on the starting area.
  • If you want to be from a family of bankers they can be located in Daunton.
  • If you want to be from a clan of dwarves who are so rich they live in a mountain made entirely of gold and they all have floating thrones they ride around? probably should be on a near land
  • If you want to come from an Empire of Dwarven Necromancers who rule entire slave kingdoms, turn themselves into liches on their 150th birthday and are trying to invade the home of the gods? It's a far land.
We very much want to encourage you to be creative and to make characters that you want to play; but this is also a living setting and we have to maintain the central play space for everyone else to express their creativity too.[/sblock]

[sblock=The Prominence of 'weird' races]Unusual racial choices and, to a lesser degree, class choices often appear in roleplaying games. (Gamers in the 1980s almost certainly experienced the "flood of drow" when the Drizz’t books first appeared). Please note the following

  • L4W currently has no limits on what you can play. We want you to play the character you are most excited about; any attempt to limit weird choices would be, necessarily arbitrary (and thus both inherently unfair and almost impossible to have an intelligent conversation about).
  • If you are playing an unusual race we encourage you to read through the race section of the character wiki and look at the other approved characters (list) for ideas about how you can integrate yourself into the setting
  • Beware of false consensus effects! Just because three of the 15 PCs at launch are githyanki doesn't mean that Daunton is 20% githyanki. It means that in cosmopolitan Daunton (one of the largest and most tolerate cities in the Shifting Seas) there are three githyanki floating around.
  • This extends to other parts of the setting as well, it's not particularly unusual that strange and unusual characters congregate in one bar... it's a bar that caters to usual clientele (who are also adventurers seeking work). There are probably dozens of bars in Daunton that cater to bankers, bakers, bureaucrats and so forth; we just don't feature them in a thread because this is a game of action and adventure....
If additional material is approved (ex: FRPG) the community expects and acknowledges there will be a lot of certain sorts of character from the new material (ex: genasi swordmage). We don't have any intent to restrict character choice, for the same reasons as listed above, but judges will try to work together with people to encourage some sort of "reasonable in game explanation". In the case of the aforementioned 'flood of genasi swordmages' the judges might suggest (or ask community members to suggest possibilities like the following)
Maybe the 4 genasi are all representatives of competing clans from the Kingdom of Jade, who have come to the Transitive Isles on some sort of quest of honor.
The characters have a shared background and history that makes a degree of sense in story terms, helping amorilate the sense of weirdness.
[/sblock]

4.4 Feats
Generally all feats from the PHB are available as normal (i.e. its a legal choice for your character per the rules).

If you choose to take a channel divinity feat you may select any one without concern about the PHB gods (we can't use them they're wizards IP). You can only have one channel divinity feat at a time. For suggestions as to which feat would be a good match for your deity see the Gods wiki

4.5 Gods and Religion
One set of 12 gods is worshiped throughout the setting. They, and the demigods who serve them, are the source of divine power. However they are perceived differently by different cultures. Generally speaking the gods are fickle and powerful beings who are passionate and strongly anthropomorphic.

The Gods of the Imperium (a big kingdom far far away from the starting area), have been defined to give you an idea about what the gods are like in broad strokes; they are based, in turn, upon Greek and Roman legend (though modified in various ways)

The Gods of Allaria, who are the pantheon worshiped in Daunton and by extension the gods of the majority of the PCs, are not defined at the start of play (i.e now). This is to allow players to make their own mark on the world.

As the Gods wiki says
The patriarchal Imperium believe that Erath is Deiòs' wife, passionate but ultimately subordinate to his whims; unable to oppose her husband directly she is forced to engage in petty vendettas against his agents to sooth her anger (not that the mortals it effects aren't deeply affected by them).
Perhaps the Dauntonians see the Joven and Juna differently, as twin brother and sister, equal rulers of the gods and fierce competitors. Juna's actions to impede her brother’s agents are part of a reasoned and rational process to limit the greatest excesses of his passions.
4.6 Wealth and Equipment
L4W only tracks money for the purposes of buying magic items, adventuring equipment, ritual components and so forth. It does not require you to keep track of how your character eats, who's paying for your ale, where you live. And so forth. Character backgrounds may include wealth, a character may own a house, etc without paying for or recording it.
Bear in mind that in no case should a character receive a mechanical advantage or a player connive to receive a mechanical advantage from something they've written into their backstory without paying for.

So your character may have a nice house with a room full of antique weaponry. The antique weaponry, if the character chooses to use it (let’s say assassins break in and try to kill them), functions like an improvised weaponry (the same as if the character lived in a flop house and was using a chair from the common room as a weapon).

4.7 Choose Region (optional)
You may optionally choose a region for your character from the regions list. Each region provides small benefits to characters originating there.
You will be able to change region or take on a region if your character didn't start with one.
Generally speaking when you level up you may change your region provided you spent a significant amount of time in the region (half of your xp was gained there).

[sblock=Stating the Obvious -- regions are not just mechanical benefits]For the avoidance of doubt: your character should be from a region, and accept the "philosophy" of the region, and you should be interested in playing a character from that region. Judges will almost certainly not approve a character who is just taking a regional benefit for its mechanical advantages.

You don't have to play a stereotype, your character can be rebelling, escaping from, grappling with against some/many/all facets of that culture or society; but your character should probably have been from that place or lived there for many years.

(It’s possible to imagine, of course, someone who's grown obsessed with a place they haven't ever been, read all the books about it, learned the language, seeks out people from the region, fervently believes in the religions there, etc).
Judges will try to be even handed in balancing those sorts of requests; but understand that people will expect you to roleplay this near obsessive interest in game.[/sblock]

4.8 Languages
All player characters should speak Allarian. When selecting languages please bear in mind that certain languages are equivalent to each other (you will be able to communicate with anyone who speaks an equivalent language by speaking any language in that group). Judges will usually ask people who select equivalent languages (Ex: Elven and Imperia) to pick another non-equivalent language.

4.9 Choose Kickers, Hooks, and (optional)
You may also optionally choose hooks and a kicker. While there was discussion about rewarding DMs for including people's kickers in play there is currently no system (and may never be a system). But a kicker and/or hooks -do- give DMs an easy way of thinking about how to incorporate your character in a story and an idea about what sort of game you'd like to play, so consider including them.[/sblock]
 
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5. Place your character in the queue
It is no longer required, or even necessarily helpful to email the judges with your character submission. Instead, when you feel that your character sheet is ready for submission, insert a link to your wiki page on the Approval Requests page, under the appropriate list (typically "Needs two reviews").

Also please add the following to the bottom of your character sheet:
Code:
[[Category:L4W:Requesting Approval]]
6. Review Process
To avoid errors two people (called character checkers), at least one of them a Senior Reviewer, will look at your sheet.

The character checkers will review your character sheet as soon as they can, but feel free to ask for a review on the forums.
REMEMBER: If you've deviated from the patterns provided, or you haven't used the character summary you may find that it takes the judges a long time to get around to trying to decipher your sheet. Do consider that this is a shared world; and that you are playing with a lot of other busy people (especially DMs).

7. Notice of Approval Process
The character checkers will edit a section at the bottom of your character sheet, either with details of any changes that are needed, or with a comment indicating approval. When your character gains an approval, they will be moved to the appropriate list.

Once you have two approvals your character is officially approved (provided all concerns, requests and where necessary changes, have been made). A link to your character page will be placed on the Approved Characters page by a Senior Reviewer, and ideally they'll inform you that you've been approved.

Editing after approval
You can continue to edit your character sheet after it has been approved, it's your character sheet after all.
So you can make notes on details of your current status, or about your adventures, or add to your backstory but the changes will have no official effect until you level up and submit your character for approval again.
Playing before Approval
You can join adventures before you are fully approved, provided you have received the permission of the DM running the game, but you cannot earn experience without having two approvals.

Character Status Page
Once you've been approved, please head over to the Character Status page and add your PC to the list in order to help out prospective DM's and other Players know who's out there.

Leveling up
When you gain enough experience to level up, edit your character sheet, email the character judges again and add the following code to your character sheet.
Code:
[[Category:L4W:Requesting Approval]]
The approval process is the same as for the initial character submission (i.e. #7-9 ) above.

Every time your character gains a level, you can retrain one feat, power, and skill. If new character options have been approved for play in L4W since your character’s last approval of submission or level-up, you may additionally retrain one new feat, power, and class feature (when selectable) from the new source(s).

Once in your character’s career, you may do an overhaul of your character. This is a single opportunity in that character’s career to recreate all mechanical aspects of the character except for class, race, and basic character concept. The overhaul must be approved as per the normal rules for character approval, and requires DM permission if the character is involved in an adventure.

Reporting Errors
If you encounter problems setting up your sheet, you can try consulting the discussion thread for wiki templates or spreadsheets, depending on your sheet format.
 
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