After the introduction to RPG and the basic mechanics, we set out to expand on our characters by fully fleshing out the stats on the D&D character sheet.
This took two whole sessions because, well, everyone was new to the game and needed time to absorb the plethora of character race and class information provided by the Player’s Handbook.
My advice to old school DM’s – know the 5e subject matter ahead of time and bookmark the Players Handbook. Know the new answers to the old questions ahead of time – there are lots of them!
Be able to explain the character stats meaning to the player as it relates to the character and the game-play.
Strength is a physical attribute that determines your ability to lift, strike, push, grapple and pull. It also correlates to the characters build and appearance – think musculature. The person envisioning the character should correlate an 8 strength with a thin frame and an 18 strength with a brawny thick frame. In certain cases, a high strength can have potentially negative effects on a delicate task – picking up a humming bird’s egg for example.
Dexterity is a finesse attribute that determines your ability to do many coordination tasks such as balancing, juggling, lock-picking and rock climbing. Dexterity should provide feedback to the person on how to play the characters subtleties. A low dexterity could mean a clumsy character that is prone to tripping, having his/her drink run down their chin or sheathing a sword in their belt instead of where it belongs. One of the DM options I like about 5e is a “near-roll” and dexterity is a good example. Say a character is balancing on a rope strung between two buildings and rolls a 14 where he/she needed a 15. As DM, you could have the character lose their balance but not fall to the ground – they would be left hanging by both hands having let go their weapon which is now on the ground.
Constitution is co-contributor to your personality (along with Charisma). This is the inner trait that drives you to survive and influences the character’s overall well being, health and stamina. A low constitution could cause a lazy character that just hangs back and doesn’t do much unless they have to. On the flip side, sure, you can get the crowd going at the tavern with your jokes or songs but can you chug a mug of ale without stopping?
Intelligence is basically how smart your character is. Yes, this is book smart, the ability to remember details or read or write or analyze complex problems. Intelligence level also contributes to the overall personality of the character. A dumb character will not be as outgoing for fear of looking dumb (or maybe they are too dumb to realize they are looking dumb) whereas a higher intelligence character could be arrogant and showy or alternatively humble depending on their childhood.
Wisdom is often confused with intelligence but is more street-smarts such as the ability to perceive something that may be obscure or the ability to intuitively know where the armor shop is based on the layout of the city or knowing the beggar is really an assassin who has been watching the party for two days.
Charisma is the more recognized trait of a characters personality. This is the “popularity” side of the role-play which can determine if a character can control a rowdy crowd or persuade a judge to lower the bail or lead an army into an orc battle.
These two groups – physical traits and personality traits – combine to round out the character into the persona of the player, as they see themselves in their own minds, projected into this world of magic and fantasy called Dungeons and Dragons.
Once the players have created their characters core traits, they turn to the details of appearance and equipment which has minor game mechanics relative to the above but is nonetheless important in fully harmonizing the player to the character.