The Fighter for D&D Beginners
A Step by Step Help for How to Make Your First D&D Character
First of all, let me be one of the first to welcome you to Dungeons and Dragons! First of all, let me be one of the first to welcome you to Dungeons and Dragons! I think I can speak for the entire D&D community when I say we are excited to have you join us!
Yes, it is as much fun as it looks.
Yes, it is a great escape from normal life.
But yes, there is a lot to learn when it comes to D&D for beginners.
And if that makes you nervous, that’s ok. Everyone gets nervous trying something new, especially when that something has a lot of passionate people who follow a lot of rules. It’s natural if you feel a little intimidated… I certainly was when I started.
In just 5 minutes, I will lead you, the new Dungeons and Dragons player, through a simple step by step process to make a 3rd level Fighter, perfect for D&D beginners. I will clearly remove distractions and jargon, presenting only the essential choices you need to make so you can make your first D&D character.
In the end, you will have everything you need before you roll stats, and the necessary foundation to have tons of fun as you learn the game.
Does that sound good? Great, let’s go!
It is highly likely that your friends told you to play a fighter as your first D&D character. But you might be asking: “Why is everyone telling me to be a fighter? Wasn’t this a game full of magic and stuff?”
Indeed, D&D is a game filled with magic and wonder… a place where you can be anyone and do anything that your will and imagination allow. But that doesn’t mean it’s pure chaos!
D&D has rules to provide the necessary structure for storytelling and give choices meaningful consequences. This is what makes it fun for everyone at the table.
And since D&D includes everything from picking a lock to deceiving a demon prince to surviving in shadow realms… there are a LOT of rules.
Fortunately, like learning a language, the best way for a new player to learn DnD is by playing and getting to learn the details as you go along.
In other words: LESS RULES = FASTER LEARNING = IMMEDIATE FUN.
Knowing this, the game designers gifted beginners “the Fighter,” a starter D&D character class that is...
- SIMPLE: You can keep up with D&D veterans by saying “I attack that guy” on your turn.
- GOOD: Fighters reliably deal lots of damage and can take lots of damage before needing help.
- RELATABLE: There are so, so, SO many works of fiction featuring a sword wielding badass… there is bound to be one you know and love to use as your first character!
Spell casting classes, on the other hand, have tons of spells, are easily killed, and are distinct from normal human experience. The complexity of spell casters requires experienced players. But fighters sure don’t! This makes them a perfect choice for D&D beginner characters.
Yet you might ask: “why is ‘relatable’ important when starting out?”
Let’s address that right now, as we begin the FIRST steps of creating your character!
WHO Will You Role-Play?
While D&D is full of combat and discovery, it is first and foremost a role-playing game: you are consciously and collectively imagining a shared reality that you simultaneously partake in.
Sounds fancy, but simply put: together you are pretending to be other people in a pretend world.
It’s different from storytelling in video games or movies. You don’t just play, experience, or witness… you are immersed in the drama. That immersion is what makes D&D special and... dare I say… magical!
Relatability is important for a D&D beginner because if you don’t understand your character you’ll spend more time deliberating every decision. And that means less time immersed in the story, acting and reacting to the action.
Ideally, you want to know your character so well that decisions are instinctual. When that happens, things aren’t happening to your character, but happening to YOU. And it’s SO... MUCH... FUN!
So… with that in mind… look in your favorite work of fiction and find a fighter you like. Off the top of my head I can think of Aragorn, Jaime Lannister, Gamora, Luke Skywalker, Joan of Arc… the list goes on and on and on…
Pick your favorite, or one you think is fascinating, or is just cool.
Boom. You now have a character with a face, personality, tone, clothing, style, etc. Easy as that!
Don’t worry, we won’t copy them exactly; it’s your character, so let’s make them unique to you!
Let’s come up with some motivations by answering some simple questions:
- How do they want to make the world better for themselves/everyone?
- What do they believe they need to do to achieve that goal?
- What is their flaw/need they are unaware of that they can discover on the journey?
These questions are A) designed to make your character interesting, and B) guide them throughout an adventure that will transform them into a hero.
Next, pick a name, age, and fantasy race. In the D&D community, the species a beginner chooses is a bit controversial... but ignore them: you do you! Long-story-short: a human is a blank canvas, but fantasy races offer creative structure that help guide your role-play.
Finally, write a simple short back story (250 words max) that ties together your character’s personality and the answers to all those above questions.
Congrats! You have made your first living, breathing, complex D&D character you can relate to! Now let’s equip them for the dangers ahead!
The Nitty Gritty Details
Ok, now that you have the “soul” of your character set, it’s time to flesh out what they can do!
Turn to page 71 of the Players Handbook, or just go to here.
Now I know what you are thinking: “That’s a chart and some numbers and a whole lotta words that make zero sense and I’m already overwhelmed.” I get it. This part of how to make your first D&D character might make you feel a bit like Lazlo Holmes.
But it’s gonna be ok; I got you. Block out all the noise on the page and read/scroll until you see “Class Features”.
We’ll go through the essentials, step by step.
Hit Points: This is your health, and you know it when you roll a D10 a bunch of times. You will have more health than most. Yay!
- Armor: Any armor you find, buy, or see, you can use
- Weapons: Any weapon you find, buy, or see, you can use.
- Tools: Would require more rules, so you have none. (see how easy this is? You got this!)
- Saving throws: Essentially, you are good at wrestling and picking up things (Strength) and good at not dying (Constitution).
- Skills: Choose what are you good at! It depends on your character’s personality… so ask your DM about it later. If you simply must choose now, choose “Athletics” and “Perception”. For the curious, check out a post that explains each skill here.
- Equipment: All your choices are grouped in (a) or (b) groups. You can mix and match, but in general, (a) group is for strong, hand to hand fighters and (b) group is for flexible, ranged fighters. A list of D&D weapons is here, but you can pretty much pick any medieval weapon you find on google. For your pack, pick “explorers pack”, which has your adventuring basics: a backpack, a bedroll, a mess kit, a tinderbox, 10 torches, 10 days of rations, a waterskin and 50 ft of rope.
- Fighting Style: Base your style off whatever your favorite weapon is or whatever ancient weapon you are destined to recover. Your DM will explain how the bonuses work.
Every class has abilities unique to them. Since you are a fighter, your abilities will help you fight. You’ll know it’s time to use these abilities when bad guys appear and the DM says “Let’s roll initiative”.
When combat starts you can A) run around and B) fight, but you can ALSO C) do two special things:
Ca) Second wind: If you have taken some damage, on your turn just say “Also, as a bonus, I wanna heal a little bit”. Roll a D10, add 3 (your level), and get your health BACK.
Cb) Action surge (2nd Level): After you have your turn, Just say “ I wanna go again, right now, using action surge”. And then double down and go to town baby!
Martial archetype (3rd Level): Pick “Champion” (critical hit on 19 AND 20). It’s really good and everything else has too many rules.
And that’s D&D for beginners! Later on you can make your fighter more nuanced and complicated if you want. But for now? No more major decisions. YOU did it!
You now have a guide on how to make your first D&D character and all the information you need before you roll dice and assign stats. Get together with an experienced player or your DM and let them explain all the math as you roll your D6’s and fill out a character sheet.
You have the solid footing you need to enjoy everything D&D has to offer for beginners. Glad I could help, and we are so excited for your adventures!