If you’ve been invited to play a tabletop RPG online, chances are that you’re playing on Roll20. There are other wonderful options out there, but Roll20 being free, quick to jump into, and widely used make it a top contender. Hopefully your Game Master is taking care of a lot of the setup for you, but you might also find yourself needing to create your own character sheet using Rol20’s software. If that need has brought you here, fear not! We’ll show you what to do.
First off, if you need a general how to Roll20 guide, look here. If it’s just character creation you need, consider the Charactermancer. This is Roll20’s in-house character creator. It comes with a free account and gives you access to several game systems. There are two ways to start using the Charactermancer. Here’s the first.
Use Charactermancer From Your Character Vault
When you’re signed into Roll20, go to the “Tools” tab. Select “Character Vault” from the drop-down menu. As the name implies, the Character Vault is where you can access your saved Roll20 characters. You can also create character sheets that are instantly saved in the vault.
You should see a big pink button labeled “Create New Character” in the Character Vault. Click it to start the process. You’ll be asked to name your character and pick which game the character is being made for. At the time of this writing, only Call of Cthulhu, Marvel Multiverse RPG, and Pathfinder 2E, characters can be created within the Character Vault. All other characters must be created inside of a game room, which we’ll explain later.
Once you’ve confirmed your name and system, the Charactermancer will bring you to a selection screen. You have to choose if you want to do a guided Charactermancer character builder or edit the sheet directly. Editing the sheet directly is nice for those who prefer the pen-and-paper approach. You do the math and pick abilities yourself by filling in the blanks, exactly as if you were given a paper character sheet.
Using the Charactermancer for guided creation varies by system, but the foundational idea is the same. You create your character step-by-step according to the process laid out in the system’s core rulebook. For instance, Cthulhu begins with your basic stats while Marvel has you pick a power rank to set the stage. Either way, you’ll see passages from the core rulebook right alongside the creation tool so that you can read along and understand what you’re doing.
Once you’re finished with the Charactermancer, you’ll have a digital sheet saved inside your vault to use in any campaign that allows it. Note that you can only use the basic rules for character origins/subclasses unless you buy Roll20 versions of certain expansion books.
Use Charactermancer From The Campaign Screen
The traditional way to access the Charactermancer is to use it within the game itself. To do this, you’ll need two things from your Game Master. First, they’ll need to invite you into the game. Then, they’ll need to create a blank character sheet for you. Once that’s all done, you’ll need to log into the game. Look for the Journal tool on the top right, it looks like a little newspaper.
You should see an entry with a purple person icon. It’ll either have a random name like “Wato Taollo” or your GM will be nice enough to label it “So-and-so’s Character.” Click on it to open the character sheet. A pop-up will ask you if you want to use the Charactermancer or edit the sheet directly. Editing the sheet directly essentially hands you a blank sheet, as if you were playing pen-and-paper style. Picking the Charactermancer will open up the guided creation process.
The Charactermancer will take you on a step-by-step journey to building your character. The pop-up will show you the current step of creation on the left and a passage from the rulebook on the right. Using them together, you can select attributes and abilities while reading about how they’ll impact your gameplay. When you finish, your character sheet will be filled in with everything you picked. And that’s it, you have a character!
Pros And Cons Of Roll20 Charactermancer
Roll20’s core focus as a platform is ease of use. The goal is that anyone can log on and quickly get into a game without ever feeling too lost. The Charactermancer is a key part of this as it shepherds new players through making what could be their first character.
The guided process is nice because it breaks down the behemoth of character creation into one step per screen. You’ll see your character take shape slowly, and are given the tools to understand the choices you’re making. The Charactermancer can even be used to level up your character. If you want, you could Charactermancer your way through an entire campaign.
The trade off for such simplicity is customizability. You will have to dig through the rulebook passages to find tricks like variant rules or multiclassing. Which, to be fair, you’re probably not doing if you’re a new player relying on the Charactermancer. Experienced players do have some legitimate issues with the interface of Roll20. The character sheet hides things like spell descriptions in drop-down text that isn’t the most readable as presented. Many players prefer other platforms for character sheets simply because their UI is more intuitive.
All this said, Roll20’s Charactermancer can be a big help to people who like to break things down into smaller pieces to better understand them. It’s also doing great work to expand interest in games besides D&D. If Pathfinder or Call of Cthulhu seem too intimidating to learn, the Charactermancer might that baby step you need to give them a try.