character making guide

So you want a new character, and you don’t want to use the Level 1 pre-printed characters I bring to each session? That’s fine, it’s great you are interested in digging deeper!

For all of these, keep in mind that if this is your first Caves of Chaos session, you need to start at level 1. See the new player guide for more about that. If you already are playing in Caves of Chaos, you can start a new character of a level that matches the XP level recorded on your card— basically, as high a level as you have played in your CoC shard, after accounting for any deaths of course…

First thing: do you want to make a character completely from scratch with total flexibility? Or do you want to use a pre-generated character, picking from a long list of classes-race-level combinations?

You want to use a pre-generated character

This is a good way to go for the least fuss. Your choices are limited but as you are getting started, the choices can be overwhelming. Caves of Chaos is all about making it not overwhelming— that is, making it ideally whelming— to get stuck in.

On the WotC character sheets page look for the “pregenerated characters” section. There 16 great class-race combos there, each sheeted up for level 1 through 10. Grab one of those and spend maybe 5 minutes reading it top to bottom, then you’re ready.

It’s fine to swap some things around on that sheet. Change the gender, age, and background to suit you. Rewrite the backstory any way you like. A bit more advanced, you can swap a weapon for a similar one or a spell for a same-level one, but you should get some advice from your DM before your session starts if you do that, to make sure it’s all properly done for maximum fun.

The trick is that you need to refer to a Player’s Handbook to know what all those spells and things are, but each Caves of Chaos session will have one of those nearby for you to borrow. Meanwhile, you can ask around what each spells does and most people, including your DM, will tell you the basic idea.

You want to make your own character from scratch

Okay, great. Next question is, do you want to use free materials that give you good but limited choices? Or do you want to spend a bit of money to get a resource that allows you to do a huge number of things?

You want to use free materials for now

Not a worry. However, be sure to read a strict stance against piracy, at the bottom of this page. This section points you toward totally legit free material blessed by Wizards of the Coast.

Go to the online player’s basic rules or go the the WotC resources page and click “DOWNLOAD THE BASIC RULES”. If you are ready for a beta test of a new character creator, check out D&D Beyond

It’s best to use the “point buy” system, and that you use the fixed amount to advance your hit points each level. If you want to roll your stats or HP, A CoC DM has to see you do it or else it won’t count. One way to make this work is: set up your character first with the point-buy system, then come and roll your stats in front of a CoC DM. You can then choose to use your new rolled stats or your old ones. If you show the DM that you rolled stats worse than what you could have gotten with point buy, and kept them, work with DM to think up something extra about your character, like a wealthy family in a nearby town you can use for favours, status in an organisation, a special item, or the like.

You want to spend a little money to get more choices

Awesome. You are supporting a (literally) fantastic industry. At Wizards of the Coast they tell you all the ways to do so. You can buy a beautiful Player’s Handbook and more at your local brainy games shop, or subscribe to online services.

The advantage of doing this is you get magnitudes more choices than the choices you get from the free stuff described above: dozens of classes and races, hundreds of spells, heaps of feats and special abilities.

Helpful materials

Either way you go, you might find this useful. This is a handy character sheet in PDF form, with fillable fields. Just download it, open it with an Acrobat Reader (free), type in your bits and print it out!

See the note above about using the “point buy” system— don’t roll important things without a DM witnessing it.

A big speech about piracy

If you want to make a character or contribute as a DM to Caves of Chaos, there are two basic rules about the materials you can use to do so: it has to be made by a qualified game designer, and it cannot be pirated.

Materials you use have to be authentically purchased somehow, which is both a quality gate and a way to assure designers make money for their good work. (I the writer, Matthew Ford, am a game designer chiefly, having held many jobs involving that skill, very luckily for me). So you can use anything YOU bought from/published by Wizards of the Coast and actually written by someone directly employed by WotC. This includes beta materials (which are free) and material published through WotC’s paid online subscription services. You can also use materials bought by a Real Friend who you have personally hugged in the real world within the last month.

character making guide

Caves of Chaos - Getting Started MatthewFord