Understanding Your Character Sheet

Look, the sheet may not be easy to read, and the book may not be as helpful as we’d like. So, here’s a rundown of everything… You can follow along with the character sheet breakdown on pg. 30 of the Player’s Handbook, but I tried to lay everything out here to make it a bit easier to follow. To download a character sheet, click here.

Character sheet   1
Character Name – You can name your character whatever you’d like. For help, try the list of pregenerated names.
Level – You’ll be starting at Level 1. As your characters progress, you’ll be given XP (Experience Points), which you will track in the box at the end of this row. I’ll let you know when you have enough XP to Level Up. (For more on gaining levels, see page 27 in the Player’s Handbook.)
Class – This is where you put whether you are a fighter, ranger, rogue, warden, etc. This, along with your race, are what you primarily use to define your character (half-elf rogue, dwarven fighter, etc.). Classes appear in Chapter 4 (page 50), and more appear in Chapter 2 (page 30) of the Player’s Handbook 2.
Paragon Path / Epic Destiny – Leave these blank for now.
Total XP – As noted above, this is where you track all of the XP you will accrue as the adventure goes on.
Race / Size – This is the race of your character (human, elf, tiefling). The size can be found in the notes for that race. Races appear in Chapter 3 (pg. 32) of the Player’s Handbook, and Chapter 1 (pg. 6) of the Player’s Handbook 2.
Age / Gender / Height / Weight – These details can be whatever you want, as you build your character to your liking. The race chapter will give you a guide on how large members of that race tend to be, and how long they tend to live.
Alignment – Alignments can be found in the Player’s Handbook 1, page 18. Please only choose between good, lawful good, and unaligned (the other options are evil and chaotic evil, which we’re not doing in this campaign).
Deity – If you would like to choose one, deities can be found in the Player’s Handbook 1, page 22. (I may make up some others later, but these will do for now.)
Adventuring Company or Other Affiliations – If you guys would like to name your group, you are welcome (and encouraged) to do so, and you will enter it here.

Character sheet 2
Anytime you enter combat, you will roll a d20, and add your initiative score to your roll. Then you give the total to the DM, and he lays out the order each character (including enemies) will act in, from highest to lowest. So, you know, the higher the better. (More info on Initiative in the Player’s Handbook 1, page 267.)
Score – This is the number you add to your roll every time. You get the score by adding up the following:
Dex – Your Dexterity modifier (see Ability Scores, below).
1/2 Level – If your level is an odd number, you round down. If you are level 1, you round down to 0. (That’s the universal D&D rule about rounding, you always round down.)
Misc – Do you have a cloak that gives you +1 to initiative? Does one of your companions have an ability that bolsters your initiative while you’re in line of sight? If there’s anything like that, it goes here.

Character sheet 3
More details on ability scores can be found in the Player’s Handbook 1, page 16. You will assign number values to these, and these will determine how strong / fast / etc. your character is. Note: You will gain bonuses from your race and class. Look at what they are, and consider them as you assign the scores to each ability.
Strength – Bash down a door! Climb up a wall! Wrestle an owlbear! Come down to the store and get yourself some Strength today!
Constitution – Whether you’re resisting poison attacks, holding your breath underwater, or performing Fortitude checks, Constitution will get you there. Constitution – it’s what’s for dinner!
Dexterity – He dodges every arrow ever fired at him. He sneaks through dungeons without setting off traps or alerting guards. He picks locks as easily as he picks pockets – and his slight of hand is renowned for miles. He is the most Dexterous man in the world.
Intelligence – Tired of never knowing what people are talking about? Confused by even the simplest spells? Having trouble finding gold while looting the bodies of your fallen foes? Don’t wait – try Intelligence today! Ask your doctor if Intelligence is right for you!
Wisdom – Sensing motives. Healing your allies. Rolling saving throws. These are just some of the many tasks you can perform with the help of Wisdom. Wisdom – it does a body good.
Charisma – She can bluff her way out of any situation. She can give impassioned speeches and rally armies to her side. She is skilled at both diplomacy and intimidation, and she is a master of disguise. Maybe she’s born with it? Maybe it’s Charisma.
This is a good selection of possible scores, to assign to your abilities as you see fit.
What is an Ability Modifier?
Next to your ability scores is a box marked “Ability Modifier” (or “Abil Mod”).
See the box below to determine how to roll up your ability modifiers. Screen shot   ability modifiers
Mod + 1/2 Level
This is the next box you will find, next to the Ability Modifiers. This is (as suggested), just the Ability Modifier plus half your level. But Mike, you might ask, why are these set aside like that? Why bring it up? I’m glad you asked! This is used for Ability Checks – maybe you’re trying to do something that doesn’t fit into the Skills section (below), like knocking down a door (not really an Athletics check), so you use these ability scores instead. You’ll also need this number when you get down to the Skills section to determine your modifier for those checks. And when we get to the Powers section, you’ll be using this number to determine your Attack Modifier.

Character sheet 4
When other characters attack you, they will roll to attack, and challenge one of the following defenses. You don’t roll to counter them – you just stare at this score, and hope their dice don’t beat it. More info on Defenses in the Player’s Handbook 1, page 275.
AC (Armor Class) – When someone swings a sword at you, they’re targeting your armor class. If their roll is less than your AC score, the blade glances off your armor! If their roll is equal to or greater than your AC score, you’re gonna take some damage.
Score – This is the number most physical attacks will target. You get it by adding up the following:
10 + 1/2 Level – All defenses start with 10 + 1/2 of your level.
Armor / Abil – Add the armor bonus of the armor you wear and the shield bonus of the shield you carry. If you’re wearing light armor or no armor, then you will also add either your Dexterity modifier or Intelligence modifier, whichever is higher.
Class – If you get a bonus from your class, it goes here.
Feat – If you have a feat (Player’s Handbook 1, Chapter 6) that adds to your armor class, add that here.
Enh – Enhancements bonuses go here, such as from magic armor. For example, if you wear +4 battleforged armor, this number would be +4.
Misc Squares – Anything else that applies goes into these squares.

FORT (Fortitude) – When you enter a forbidden temple and trigger a booby trap where a series of statues start pounding on massive drums to create a deafening sound to attempt to disorient you, that’s a fortitude attack! And dude, that totally happens.
Score – This is the number. You get it by adding up the following:
10 + 1/2 Level – All defenses start with 10 + 1/2 of your level.
Abil – Ability Scores! For Fortitude, you enter either your Strength Modifier or your Constitution Modifier, whichever is higher.*
Class – If you get a bonus from your class, it goes here.
Feat – If you have a feat (Player’s Handbook 1, Chapter 6) that adds to your armor class, add that here.
Enh – Enhancements bonuses go here.
Misc Squares – Anything else that applies goes into these squares.

REF (Reflex) – When the demon mage fires a blast of fire at you, that would target your reflex defense! If you beat their roll, you are able to dodge the attack. If their roll beats you, then not so much with the dodging.
Score – This is the number. You get it by adding up the following:
10 + 1/2 Level – All defenses start with 10 + 1/2 of your level.
Abil – Ability Scores! For Reflex, you enter either your Dexterity Modifier or your Intelligence Modifier, whichever is higher.
Class – If you get a bonus from your class, it goes here.
Feat – If you have a feat (Player’s Handbook 1, Chapter 6) that adds to your armor class, add that here.
Enh – Enhancements bonuses go here.
Misc Squares – Anything else that applies goes into these squares.

WILL – Have you ever had a psychic swordfight with your evil doppleganger inside your own mindscape? If you did, that would be a target against your will defense!
Score – This is the number. You get it by adding up the following:
10 + 1/2 Level – All defenses start with 10 + 1/2 of your level.
Abil – Ability Scores! For Will Defense, you enter either your Wisdom Modifier or your Charisma Modifier, whichever is higher.
Class – If you get a bonus from your class, it goes here.
Feat – If you have a feat (Player’s Handbook 1, Chapter 6) that adds to your armor class, add that here.
Enh – Enhancements bonuses go here.
Misc Squares – Anything else that applies goes into these squares.

*Make sure you’re applying the ability modifier, not the ability score. It’s an easy mistake to make. The score is the (hopefully) big number, the modifier is the smaller one. See the chart above!

Character sheet 5
Usually, your movement is fixed, and can be found in your race. However, if you have an item that gives you a bonus, add that under Item. If your armor bogs you down and slows you (it’ll say so in the description), you put a negative number under Armor.

A lot of the time, if you want to look around a room and look for traps / loot / enemies hiding in the dark with crossbows pointed at your heads, you would roll a Perception Check (check the skills area, further down). However, if you don’t roll (“I’m just gonna walk into the room!”), you are assumed to have a base perception of 10. If there IS an enemy hiding, they just need to beat your 10, or you notice them right away (usually when the DM tells you what you see when you walk into the room).
Passive Insight / Perception – For each of these, you get an average of 10, plus whatever other bonuses you might have.
If you have any other Special Senses, like the racial trait low-light vision, put that under your senses box.

Character sheet 6
You know how you have all these cool fancy elaborate powers you can choose in Chapter 4 when you choose your Class? These are not those powers. These are the most basic of attacks – you swing your battle-axe or try to hit your target with the staff you use to conjure spells. Now, you might ask yourself why you would ever need to hit someone with such a simple attack? Answer: There are some powers that use a basic attack, and to attack someone while charging you have to use a basic attack, but mostly these will be for Opportunity Attacks, which are triggered when an enemy runs past you, or flees a square adjacent to you. More details in other places. To figure out more about these basic attacks, go to the Player’s Handbook page 287.
Attack Bonus – This is what you add to the roll, and you get it by adding:
1/2 Level – If your level is an odd number, you round down. If you are level 1, you round down to 0.
Ability – Double-check pg. 287 for specifics, but usually this will be your Strength Modifier for melee basic attacks, and your Dexterity Modifier for ranged basic attacks.
Class – If your class gives you a bonus to a basic attack, that goes here.
Prof – Proficiency! Are you proficient with a longsword? If so, you may get a bonus if you’re using a longsword – and that type of stuff goes here.
Feat – Any feats you take that give you a bonus to a basic attack go here.
Enh – Any enhancements that add to your basic attack go here.
Misc – Anything additional comes here.

Go ahead and put the damage stats for the powers above. If you succeed in hitting the bad guys, you’ll use these stats to figure out damage. Should be pretty easy to work out at this point.

If you have a few different weapons you can use (longsword, shortsword, longbow, crossbow), go ahead and enter a few different basic attacks here. This is a quick cheat-sheet for basic attacks.

Character sheet 7
This shows how many points of damage you can take.
Max HP – Your max number of hit points come from your Class and your current level.
Bloodied – When you get down to half of your hit points, you are “bloodied.” This can mean a few different things – you might have abilities that gain potency if you are bloodied, or your enemies might have abilities that do extra damage if you are bloodied.
If your characters take a 5 minute rest, they can patch themselves up and earn back lost hit points by taking Healing Surges.
You can only use healing surges in battle under a few circumstances – if your healer heals you, he will allow you to take a healing surge in battle. If you take your Second Wind (you get one per encounter), you can take one healing surge during battle.
Surge Value – Your healing surge is 1/4 of your max hit point value. You can take as many healing surges as you want until you hit your max, but obviously can’t go above it.
Surges / Day – Your Character Class determines the number of healing surges you get. Once your character takes an Extended Rest (6+ hours of sleep), you get back all your Healing Surges.
Current Hit Points – Keep track of how screwed you are by tracking how few hit points you have left!
Use this bar to track whether you’ve used your Second Wind during this encounter.
Temporary Hit Points Sometimes powers or conditions will give you temporary hit points – mark them here. The next time you take damage, you’ll take it from this stack of extra hit points, and once you lose them you move on to the regular hit points. Once the encounter ends, these probably go away.
Question: What happens when you get down to 0 hit points?
Answer: You slip into unconsciousness, and have to start making saves to keep from dying.
If you roll 20 or higher: Congrats! You live again! You automatically take a healing surge (and it doesn’t count as your Second Wind), and you are back in the game.
If you role 10 – 19: No change. You are still dying, but not too badly.
If you role Lower than 10: You slip one step closer to death. This counts as a “strike” – and three strikes = dead.
If people keep hitting you and making you take damage while you are below 0 hit points, you keep taking negative damage until you reach your negative bloodied value (half your hit points). Once that happens, you are dead forever. (Or at least, as dead forever as anyone is in a world where your party can cast spells to raise you from the dead if they have the powers.)

Character sheet 8
Every time you need to leap a gorge, call upon your knowledge of history, or haggle with a merchant, you’ll be rolling Skill checks. You add your bonus to your d20. More details in the Player’s Handbook, Chapter 5 (pg. 176).
Abil Mod + 1/2 Level – To get your bonus, you start with your relevant ability modifier + 1/2 your level (remember those boxes up by the Ability Scores? That’s what this is for!).
Trained – When you select a skill to be trained in, you gain a permanent +5 bonus to that skill. You can’t gain training in a skill more than once.
The entry for your class in Chapter 4 tells you how many skills you’re trained in and what skills you can choose at 1st level. For example, if you’re a 1st-level warlock, you can pick four skills from a list of eight. You can take the Skill Training feat to gain training
in a skill even if it’s not on your class skill list. Some multiclass feats also give skill training.
Armor Penalty – Anything you have that takes points away would go here.
Misc – Any extra bonus (or negative) you may get.
Note: Some checks can be achieved more than one way. For example, some skill challenges require moving from one side of a room to the other without getting hit by the traps – you can roll for Athletics to run across the room as fast as possible, or Acrobatics to move across the room while dodging the falling rocks. If you’re trying to gain information from someone, you can try either Diplomacy or Intimidate.
Acrobatics – This is what you would use for tumbling, balancing, cartwheels, etc.
Arcana – You know all about magic, so you can study magic items you find, call upon knowledge about other realms (such as the Feywild, where Eladrin and Fairies come from), identify Arcana-themed monsters, and identify rituals you witness or overhear.
Athletics – This is what you use for running, leaping, climbing.
Bluff – Lie like your life depends on it – because sometimes it does. Please note there is a rule change to Bluff available in the Player’s Handbook 2, pg. 222.
Diplomacy – You can broker international peace deals, sweet-talk heads of state, or bargain for your life, as long as you’ve got the diplomacy roll to back it up.
Dungeoneering – You are really good at dungeons. You’ve either studied them academically, or you’ve been around the block a few times and have first-hand knowledge. Disarming traps, recognizing hazards, navigating labyrinths, these all come easily to you.
Endurance – You can use this to resist cold as you and your party hike through the snowy mountains, or to stop a poison from laying you low.
Heal – Your buddy failed his endurance check, and that poison laid him low. But all is not lost! Use heal to help them out. Even if you’re not the “healer” of the party (Cleric, Bard, Shaman, etc.), it’s still not a bad skill to have (especially if your Healer goes down in battle).
History – Maybe you’re a student of history, or it’s just a pastime – but you know stuff about history, which can definitely come in handy.
Insight – You can use this to sense motive – should you trust the Captain of the Guard who hires you to clear out a village full of insurgents? Maybe roll an insight check…
Intimidate – This one’s pretty obvious. If you need to know how to use this skill, watch this.
Nature – You use this for foraging for food, handling animals, and identify monsters (as long as they’re natural, and not Arcana- or Religion-themed).
Perception – Look for clues, hidden doors, traps, tracks, dangers and more. You can also do this to listen around corners and stuff like that.
Religion – You know all about religion, so you can identify holy symbols, identify religious-themed monsters, stuff like that.
Stealth – This is for sneaking, of course. Please note there is a rule change to Stealth available in the Player’s Handbook 2, pg. 222.
Streetwise – You can use this to ask the locals about what’s going on in the town, where to find what you need, what areas to avoid, etc.
Thievery – You can use this to disable traps, pick locks, and pick pockets.

Character sheet 9
What are action points? Well, before we get to that, let’s talk about combat.
During combat, on your turn you have a few options: You can take a standard action (attack a foe), a move action (move up to your max speed), and a minor action (draw a weapon or drink a potion). You can do any combination of those three, or substitute things (take another move action instead of a standard, take another minor action instead of move action, etc). There are also free actions (drop things, yell for help) – and one of those is an action point.
When your character starts, he has 1 action point. You can use this once during an encounter to gain another action on your turn. You decide if the action is a standard action, a move action, or a minor action. For example, you can run up to an enemy (move action), kill it (attack), and then spend an action point to attack again. You can only use the action point once during an encounter.
You get a new action point after every 2 encounters. If you don’t spend it, you can use it during your next encounter (they stack throughout the day). Once your character takes an extended rest (goes to sleep), you go back to having one point at the beginning of the day (and lose any the points you may have saved up during the day).
Milestones / Action Points – When you complete 2 encounters without your character taking an extended rest (sleeping), it’s called a milestone. With every milestone, you gain an action point. This means, after your 2nd encounter, you get another point, then another after your 4th, etc.

Character sheet 10
Race Features
Any skills, bonuses, or advantages you get from your race go here. Go ahead and mark them, even if they are recorded elsewhere. (“Low-light vision” would be listed under senses, but if it is a racial trait you could also mark it here.) This just helps you keep track of what bonuses you get from what sources. (“Wait a minute, why do I have bonus to my fortitude? Was it my armor? Oh, no, that’s right, it’s a racial trait. Okay, cool, I’m buying that new armor after all, and I won’t lose that bonus.”)
Class / Path / Destiny Features
For now, any bonuses you get from your class go here. You won’t have to worry about Path or Destiny features until later.
Languages Known
Any languages you know go here. You usually start with 2 or 3 (based on your race), but can learn more (through feats or other benefits, such as your background).

Character sheet 11
FEATS (PH, pg. 190; PH2, pg. 184)
Feats are additional bonuses that help shape your character. Some require prerequisites, so make sure you meet them before adding them. Again, make sure to mark them here – list the name, and probably the effect (and it’s a good idea to mark the page number it appears on as well, for easy reference).

PAGE TWO (or the back, if you print it front-back)

Character sheet 12
This is where you put all of the powers you choose (powers are found in the Player’s Handbook, Chapter 4).
At-Will Powers
You can use your at-will powers as often as you want. They represent easy weapon swings or simple magical effects that don’t put any unusual strain on you or tax your resources in any way.
Character sheet 13
Encounter Powers
An encounter power can be used once per encounter. You need to take a short rest (page 263) before you can use one again. Encounter powers produce more powerful,
more dramatic effects than at-will powers. If you’re a martial character, they are exploits you’ve practiced extensively but can pull off only once in a while. If you’re an arcane or divine character, these are spells or prayers of such power that they take time to re-form in your mind after you unleash their magic energy.
Character sheet 14
Daily Powers
A daily power can be used once per day. Daily powers are the most powerful effects you can produce, and using one takes a significant toll on your physical and mental resources. If you’re a martial character, you’re reaching into your deepest reserves of energy to pull off an amazing exploit. If you’re an arcane magic-user, you’re reciting a spell of such complexity that your mind can only hold it in place for so long, and once it’s recited, it’s wiped from your memory. If you’re a divine character, the divine might that you channel to invoke these powers is so strong that you can harness it only once a day. Daily powers usually include an effect that takes place regardless of whether the power is used successfully. As a result, these limited resources are at least slightly beneficial every time you use them. Once you use a daily power, you need to take an extended rest (page 263) before you can use it again.
Character sheet 15
Utility Powers
Every class gives you access to attack powers you can use to harm or hinder your enemies and utility powers that help you and your allies.
NOTE: Power Cards – When you select your powers, you need someplace to keep track of them. I would recommend making cards of each power, including all at-wills, encounters, dailies, and utilities. This will allow you to take encounters and dailies out of rotation as you use them. I would also make a card for your action point and include that as an encounter (maybe print the rules for action points onto the card). If you have magic items, make cards for those as well. Not all of these items have powers associated with them, but enough do that you should make a card for each.
I would color-code each card, either with colored index cards, or by highlighting / marking the card. The powers are already color-coded in the book, with green for at-will, red for encounter, black for daily, and yellow/gold for magic items.
Larg card powers
Here are examples of how the cards look when created through the character builder on wizards.com (which you need a paid account to use).
Screen shot powers cards
This blog is a good source for seeing what I’m talking about. I would also add notes to the bottom of each page, listing where in the book you got them from.
Additionally, I would suggest making a cheat sheet card, with a few basic stats on it, for easy use during combat.
Mike player data card
A play data card (a.k.a. cheat sheet) from one of my previous characters.
Action point card
A sample Action Point card.

Character sheet 16
This is where you can keep a list of all your magic items. Use the check-marks on the side to indicate whether you’ve used the power that comes with that item. Magic Items are found in Chapter 7.

Character sheet 17
What else do you have? Do you have an adventurer’s kit? A bedroll? Torches? 10-foot rope? All equipment (including armor, weapons, and magic items) can be found in Chapter 7, pg. 210.
Rituals can be found in the Player’s Handbook, Chapter 10 (page 296), and in the Player’s Handbook 2, page 211. The in-game difference between rituals and other spells / magical affects are that rituals are too complex to be memorized, and must be read from a book or a scroll. Once you perform the ritual, you cannot perform it again without re-acquiring another scroll (the in-game explanation is that the magic contained in the scroll is expended, and the scroll turns to dust).
This is where you keep track of cash and whatever other loot you find.
Note about starting gear, and about your money: When you first begin the adventure, you have 100 gold pieces to spend on armor, weapons, and other gear. You’ll want to track money – however, I doubt I’ll be in the habit of charging you for each drink you buy in each tavern, or each night you stay in a tavern. For the same reason, I won’t be keeping track of each item in your inventory, and whether or not you could actually lift your pack or not – go ahead and keep track of that yourself. If you fudge the rules a bit, I’m probably not gonna call you on it (unless it gets silly).

Character sheet 18
If you like, you can paste / draw some piece of art in this box to represent your character. If you ask really nice, maybe I’ll draw your character for you…

Character sheet 19
Personality Traits
You may sit down the first night with an idea of what you’d like to do with your character (“He’s cocky and self-assured!”), and if you have anything like that, feel free to write it down. However, don’t feel like you have to be locked in to whatever you write – this is your character, and if you feel like taking them in a different direction, go with it! If you’re playing him and realize you want him to be a bit more sarcastic than you originally thought, that’s fine! If you decide they should be hapless and self-effacing, don’t fight it! This is your character, and you get the final say.
Mannerisms and Appearance
Anything you’d like to add here about your character, you can.
Character Background
At first glance, this is just another chance for roleplay (see above)… however, if you check the Player’s Handbook 2, page 179, you’ll find several background options which give you a skill bonus! I know, right?! It’s awesome. And all you have to do is come up with an awesome backstory.
Note: Let me know what you are thinking in terms of your character / backstory. I may be able to suggest some options, or take some of the elements in your background and use them for some part of the story.

Character sheet 20
This is where you can keep some further information about the Party (the group of adventurers you play alongside) and the campaign (the series of sessions [nightly adventures] you embark on.
Companions and Allies – Go ahead and list your party members here, as well as any other NPCs (non-player characters) you think are noteworthy.
Session and Campaign Notes – Sessions are when we all gather together and play. The campaign is all of the sessions together, as we build an ongoing story of these characters. And occasionally (or possibly quite frequently), things will happen that you will want to make a note of. You can do that here!*

A Note about Notes – I would definitely suggest at least one player keep notes during each session, about everyone you interact with, everything you do, and any big important developments. Someone should also track all the XP and rewards you get at the end of each encounter, though this doesn’t need to be the same person. And if more than one person wants to take notes, so much the better!
In fact, there’s a feature on this very wiki – the Adventure Log – where we can track everything that happens in blog posts – and if any of you feel like writing those, that works great for me! I think other players can go in and edit, so if we have anything to add, or corrections to make, we should be able to pretty easily.

A Note about Rerolling – Usually you can only reroll your character (make changes to their stats) when you level up – but after the first night, regardless of whether you guys have earned enough XP to level, I’ll let you reroll the guy if you want. It’s the first night, there’s gonna be some trial and error (“That power wasn’t nearly as useful as I thought…”; “My wisdom doesn’t need to be as high as it is, but by constitution needs to be much higher!”), and I’m not gonna saddle you with stats you’re not happy with.

And that’s all there is to it! Now that your character is complete, you’re ready for adventure – go plunder some dungeons and slay some dragons!

Update: Also, here’s a link to a passage from How to Play Dungeons and Dragons for Dummies that may be useful as well (just simpler than all the crap above).

Understanding Your Character Sheet

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