Session Zero Part 4: Classes & Physical Description

I will take a moment to explain something.  When I have players craft characters for a game, I don’t want them to follow the “as written” creation order: Races, Classes, Ability Scores, Backgrounds & Equipment.  I want them to use a more chronological order: Races, Ability Scores, Backgrounds, then Classes.  After all, characters are born, develop their bodies, get a job (or not), then eventually turn toward the adventuring life.

Gerrit Dou - The Extraction of Tooth (1635)Now last time we picked our race, developed our abilities, gathered a couple important trinkets, defined our background with some starting equipment, then ended by finding a religion (or not).  This time we will find our class, and further describe our current physical body.

Section 6: Classes

In this world, not all classes are available for play.  For example, Warlocks do not exist. Sorcerers cannot be played for larger campaign story reasons (beyond the Lost Mine of Phandelver featured in the 5th Edition Starter Set).  Even without those two available, players can choose from ten others.  Again, the point of the questionnaire is to record decision points, not static details.  I provide players new character sheets to record all information as they go along.

Once they have selected a class, which they probably know ahead of time, I have them take another look at their Ability Modifiers from Section 2 and make any needed changes. Once they are comfortable, I have them calculate their current Hit Points.  In this case, they always choose to roll for their HP, and we are starting with third level characters.

Players then determine their different proficiencies, equipment, and for spell casting classes, their spells and attack/save stats.  The remainder of section 6 is specific for individual classes.

6 - Classes

DM Tip: For your players creating druids, hand them a sheet that shows the eligible beasts they can shift into.  Here is my example:

 

Wild Shapes 1 Wild Shapes 2

Section 7: Physical Description

Now, your players are adventurers.  They did, or in some cases continue, their Background professions.  They may be new fresh-faced rookies, seasoned veterans, or older grizzled experts.  Regardless, character’s physical bodies are defined for today.

I have each player define their characters age, birthdate, height, weight, as well as, some interesting characteristics unique to only themselves.

For determining character age, I set racial adulthood age and their expected life expectancy [ie: Dwarves (50/350) reach adulthood at 50 and average 350 years].  Then players can decide whether they are younger, middle-aged, or getting on in years.  From there, they calculate their height and weight (tweaked for slightly larger characters).

Unfortunately, I have no idea where the racial size comparison chart came from originally. I modified it slightly.

7 - Physical Description Part 1

The following questions help develop what characters look like.  I have found giving players examples or roll charts best, which they can simply ignore if they have ideas.  I also ask a few Gold Roll questions (1d10 gold).

  • For “Gold Roll” questions, players may choose to answer the question themselves (for zero gold), or open it up for everyone to pitch answers.  If the player chooses an pitched answer, they can roll for gold.  This is tallied up at the end as the character’s starting gold.

I also have players roll their character’s physical appearance (1d100).  The higher the more physically attractive and beautiful a character is.  This is a variation of the 1st Edition Comeliness idea.  In certain situations, it may grant Advantage or Disadvantage for social situations.

7 - Physical Description Part 2

Next time we’ll discuss character’s family, habits and fears, and other personal bits.

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