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I've just started playing D&D 4e using the starter kit. Our group has gotten to the point where we level up for the first time, and I'm confused about how to alter the numbers on my character sheet.

Consider first how the sheet should look before I level up — say I start with 18 wisdom. My modifier is then +4. What goes in the "check" box?

Consider the skills listed below (eg. bluff) — at this point, should I have +4 in "check" for them? Or leave them blank? (And what is "misc"?)

The DM's book in the starter kit says that when I level up, I should fill in the "check" box for each attribute by adding +1 to... the modifier. So which is it? Do I write +1 in check, or change the +2 to +3 in the modifier box? What about the skills beneath, do I change those numbers too, incrementing them by one?

Do I recalculate my attack bonus?

Finally, do the base numbers (ie. the 18 for wisdom) actually change for attacks that use it? For example, Storm Hammer uses wisdom vs. fortitude for the attack — does this stay at 18 even when I'm at level 2, or does it increase to 19? The hit value is 1d8 + (wisdom modifier) — at level 2, is this +4 or +5?

(I have read the answers to How do I fill the DnD 4E Essentials Character Sheets? - clarifications, but it's a subset of what I'm asking here.)

More generally, I realise the starter kit book is the way it is for a reason, but it's not a great tool for looking up things like this. Is there a better resource for this?

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If you have excel+printer, I can warmly recommend Wildfire's free character sheets: When you change the level, they automatically update all relevant numbers. – Ravn Dec 27 '12 at 9:40
up vote 8 down vote accepted

It sounds like you're asking which rolls gain the ubiquitous +1/2 level bonus. The easy answer is:

Most every d20 roll that gains an ability stat modifier as a bonus also gains 1/2 your level as a bonus to the roll.

  • Attack rolls, initiative, skill checks, ability checks

Rolls that don't use a d20 don't get the level bonus.

  • Damage rolls

d20 rolls that don't get an ability modifier as a bonus don't get the level bonus either.

  • Saves

All defenses also gain +1/2 level, so as to scale with attacks.

There are, of course, always edge cases, but the above is a good rule of thumb for 1/2 level bonuses.

Now, your other questions...

The "Check" box is for ability modifier + 1/2 level.

I personally find this produces more math than it's worth because then you have to subtract the level bonus when recalculating damage and the like, so I put just the ability mod in it.

"Misc." is for "Miscellaneous"

Extra bonus from feats, items, and so forth, go here.

"Add +1 to the modifier" means increase a +2 to a +3, and your attack increases by +1.

The +1 in their instruction is the +1/2 level bonus at level 2. If that counts as recalculation then yes, recalculate your attack.

Storm Hammer example

Attack: Wisdom vs. Fortitude

This means that you roll 1d20 + your Wisdom modifier + 1/2 your level + weapon proficiency (because Storm Hammer has the weapon keyword) + any additional bonuses from weapon enhancement or feats or the like.

(When Wizards mentions an ability as part of a power or feature, like "Wisdom" in the attack line here, they mean the ability modifier. If they meant the whole stat, they'd have said "Wisdom score.")

If the result you get from the attack roll meets or breaks the target's Fortitude defense, you hit! So move to the hit line.

Hit: 1[W] + Wisdom modifier lightning and thunder damage.

  Level 21: 2[W] + Wisdom modifier lightning and thunder damage.

That's 1[W] (the damage die your weapon deals, in your case 1d8) + your Wisdom modifier + any additional bonuses from weapon enhancement or feats or the like. The total of that roll is the damage you deal to the target of the attack.

The modifier you add to a roll only increases when one of those subcategories increases: If your Wisdom score increases, the modifier might also; or you could take a feat that gives you a bonus, or get a better weapon, and so forth. This means that your attack rolls will increase by at least 1 every other level (the +1/2 level bonus increases) even if you don't do anything else to bump them up. Your damage will probably increase more slowly, from feat and item drops, and as it says on the card at level 21 you get to roll two weapon dice instead of one.

Better Resources

All I can really point to is the Player's Handbook 1 or Heroes of the Fallen Lands. They'll walk you through this process and explain these mechanics much better than I can, in a scope far beyond what a question like this can cover. The Rules Compendium is also invaluable, but doesn't walk you through this process.

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What about attacks/powers that use an attribute instead of a d20 roll? They stay the same? – detly Dec 27 '12 at 8:48
@detly Can you give an example, please? I'm not sure what you mean by 'attribute.' – BESW Dec 27 '12 at 8:49
Well, take Storm Hammer - the card says that the value of the attack is (my wisdom) vs. (target's fortitude). When I'm at level 1, that's 18. Is it still 18 at level 2? It also says the hit value is 1d4 + (my wisdom modifier). At level 1, that's 1d4 + 4. Is it still the same at level 2? – detly Dec 27 '12 at 8:56
Also, what about defences? You don't roll for defences, but they get the +1/2 level bonus don't they? – detly Dec 27 '12 at 9:13
But there's another attack (Blessing of Wrath) that's wisdom vs. AC. If it were really 4 vs. AC, it'd never land. How does that work? – detly Dec 27 '12 at 9:16

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