Your character is a very important piece of the game for each player. It’s you! It’s the person that you’ve chosen to play this game as, and the point of view you’ve chosen.
Sometimes, you build your character to be like another character in fiction, like Tulok the Barbarian (link to his Witcher build). Sometimes, your character is a self-insert, the truest version of yourself that you can create (I’m a Half Elf Fighter/Bard). Either way, sometimes the basic, vanilla rules in the Players Handbook don’t quite feel right.
There are a myriad of reasons to play with some alternate rules when making your character, here are a few that I’ve found that I enjoy.
Disclaimer: Your Dungeon Master MUST approve of these rules before you can use them. Always ask permission first.
Class Based Stat Mods
A creator on itch.io named Gabe James Games, created a pay-what-you-like module for D&D 5e, where instead of your race determining certain stat bonuses, this instead bases it on your class.
As you can see, it goes based on not only what flavor of the class you are trying to play, but also, why you chose that class in the first place. This is much more narrative driven, as your skills come from who you are as an individual, as opposed to a member of your race.
Another reason to use this, is because there is an argument that racial bonuses in the world of D&D reflect stereotypical racial “advantages” in the real world, which some people want to get away from when playing games. This might not be something you’ve thought of before, but there is information online if you’re interested.
Progressive Ability Scores
Your ability scores for your character are fairly static. If you play with a standard array, then you start the game better than most people at somethings, and below average at others. Or if you point buy, you can really make it more even, or more unbalanced. If you roll for your stats, you are Chaotic Neutral and I don’t understand you.
Either way, you only get to upgrade your stats a handful of times in the 20 levels of play, and if you’re like me, those Feats look way cooler than a potential +1 modifier.
The idea is based on the point buy system of stats, in that you start with 6 in every stat, and you have 25 “buying points” with which to increase your stats. The higher you want each stat, the more each level is, progressively. By the time you’re done with a Level 1 character, you’re going to be noticeably weaker than Vanilla Level 1 characters. However, the interesting thing, is that every other level, you get more and more points to continue to increase the stats of your character. By the time you reach Level 20, you are far more powerful than Vanilla Level 20 characters would be. This emphasizes a characters growth through the game as they go from common villager to a godlike being.
Random Character Creation
Perhaps you are tired of coming up with characters. You’ve created every self-insert, Batman ripoff, and Gimli you can imagine. You want to play something completely random, just to see if you can.
First, you are going to roll for your stats, you chaotic monster. However, you are rolling them IN ORDER. The first time you roll, it’s for Strength, then Constitution, and so on.
Next, you are going to go to page 62 of Xanathar’s Guide to Everything, and you are going to roll for EVERY SINGLE ASPECT of your character. Race, class, background, motivation, age, backstory, everything. Then, you have to make it make sense, and play it.
This should only be played by someone who is familiar enough with the rules and how the game works, that figuring out this weird character doesn’t slow you down as you’re also trying to figure out how Spell Slots work.
What’s fun is that each of these three don’t cancel each other out. If you’d like, you can do all/some/one of these in reverse order as you’re creating your character, for a fun an interesting new way to start the game.
How do you like to build your characters? Let us know in the comments below!