Songs by the Hearth
This page is meant to guide you through the creation of your character, and introduce you to the world of Illia. You will find rules and guidelines for selecting your race and class, creating a background, and setting up your character to start the game.
The campaign will take place primarily in the Underdark. Your character needs a reason to be down there, which you will write about in your character’s backstory (described below).
Characters in this campaign are restricted to being Good-aligned, or possibly Lawful Neutral at worst. No evil characters.
Step 1 – Race and Class
Perhaps the most important choice for your character is the class and race. For a run down of the different races as they fit into this world, check out this page that contains the most common races. The following breakdown is a list of most races by commonness:
Common (found all over the land): Human, Dragonborn, Dwarf, Halfling, Shifter, Tiefling, Half-Elf
Uncommon (found in only 1 or 2 nations): Eladrin, Gnome, Half-Orc
Rare (never seen by 90% of Illia’s population): Warforged, Genasi, Goliath
Not Playable (Not a player choice): Elf
All races homebrewed for this setting can be found on here.
If you plan on using a race from an Unearthed Arcana article or that is homebrewed, talk with your DM first.
Languages are also slightly different. The most important change is that “Elven” as a language doesn’t really exist, as elves are not playable. Instead, there is a “Fey” language that is used by eladrin and other fey creatures with varying dialects.
In general, there are more languages one can learn. Most races have their own language. For example, “Draconic” allows one to speak the language of dragonborn. Kobolds and lizardfolk speak similar languages, but they are not the same. For a list of all specific languages, check out this page.
There are also other languages that are not available to starting characters, but might be picked up with a feat or feature: Draconian, Nerathan, Turathi, Sylvan, Sign language, Abyssal, and Deep Speech.
All classes and subclasses that have been released for 5th edition are available to use, though I request you talk to your DM if you want to use something from an Unearthed Arcana article or some homebrew class/subclass.
Step 2 – Background
As of D&D 5th Edition backgrounds got a little bit more crunchy. They represent what your character was before they became adventurers. The backgrounds in the PHB are a good start and cover a wide array of options for you to work with if you want to keep it simple. If there’s something unique you’re thinking about, talk with your DM to work out the crunch.
Every background has a handful of Characteristics to choose from, divided into Personality Traits, Bonds, Ideals, and Flaws. These are going to be important for your character, and you will need to start the game with 5 Characteristics: 2 Traits, 1 Bond, 1 Ideal, and 1 Flaw. These can be drawn from the backgrounds in the PHB or you can make them up yourself.
Personality Traits are simple descriptors that make your character unique.
Ideals are strongly held personal beliefs and motivations.
Bonds are connections to people, places, and things in the setting.
Flaws are represent weaknesses, foibles, compulsions, fears, and other negative aspects of personality.
Specifically for this campaign your Bond will need to be a connection to some organization that has an interest in the Underdark. You can make up the organization, or you can let your DM do that.
Instead of writing a short fanfiction about your character’s backstory you will need to write a paragraph for each Characteristic describing a significant memory for your character that shows why your character has that Characteristic. This means that you will have 5 paragraphs of background that are tightly focused on 5 distinct Characteristics. You can also work this backwards; write out 5 significant memories first and then pull Characteristics out of them.
These paragraphs are a way to show why your character is the way they are, or how their beliefs and personality lends to their behavior. Rather than describing your character’s personality in a few pages of text, you should focus these five bits of text on an event that exemplifies your characteristics.
It is important that you have your 5 Characteristics integrated into your character, as it will be important with how Inspiration is used.
I’ll leave you with this:
You are not a peasant. You should have power
But balance is more interesting.
Background is good, but plot hooks are better.
Dramatic roleplaying isn’t the same as emo bullcrap.
Characters are people, and they should grow.
But they still make mistakes.
Focus on what your character can offer the group.
Remember that you are part of a team.
Lastly, take a look at the house rules page to see what rules have been changed or added.