Following the outline from the Step-by-Step in the player's handbook, here are the basics
Choose a Race
Your character needs a race. You can be any race in the PHB, Elemental Evil supplement, or Volo's Guide Player Races -- as long as the DM doesn't take them off the table. There are more player options in some cross over material that WotC released for Magic: The Gathering; but those aren't typically considered cannon for most games.
Choose a Class
Again, any class in the PHB that appeals to you should be allowed, unless your DM has a reason to restrict your options.
Determine Ability Scores
There are three methods for getting stats, which method you will use depends on the DM. The methods in the Player's Handbook (p.13) are:
- Roll stats. You roll 4d6 for each stat, and drop the lowest one, and assign them to the different stats as you see fit based on the character's concept. A lot of people who like this method enjoy the process of rolling, and the different strengths weaknesses that can happen.
- Standard Array. You assign the numbers 15, 14, 13, 12, 10, 8 to the stats in order they are important to your character's concept. A lot of the people who like this method like that the party is more balanced.
Point Buy. This is a variant, but a common one you'll see at some tables. All of your stats start at 8, to get higher stats you can spend 27 points as follows,
- 9 costs 1
- 10 costs 2
- 11 cpsts 3
- 12 costs 4
- 13 costs 5
- 14 costs 7
- 15 costs 9
What number and above is a success for a death save? What number and below is a fail?
- Rolling bellow a 10 is a failed roll. Rolling 10 or higher is a success on death saving throws. Rolling a 1 counts as two failures for death saving throws, and rolling a 20 stabilizes you and you gain back 1 hit point (you become conscious again).
Death savings throws are covered on page 197 of the Player's Handbook.
What are the lines next to the skills for?
Each skill has a score, that goes on the line. It's the associated stat's modifier, if you have proficiency you add the proficiency bonus to it (or if you have double prof. from some race/class feature).
This is from the Step by Step chapter of the Player Handbook on page 13.
What do I put in personality traits? Is that just for fleshing out your character, or is it important to how you play the game?
That depends on the table. I find that at the beginning they are more important that later game. It is about fleshing out your character, but might also dictate how they should respond in certian curcumstances. Now, the characters should be given room to grow beyond those simple one line statements you rolled for or chose.
This is covered in Chapter 4 Personality and Background, page 121.
What do I put in bonds? Is that important or just fleshing out? What do I put in flaws? Important or fleshing out? What do I put in ideals? Important or fleshing out?
You should fill them out from the charts for the background you selected. They are about fleshing out the character, and they also are hooks the DM might include later in game play. How important they are to the game will vary from table to table.
What do I put in "other proficiencies and languages"
Race, Class and background could all provide different proficiencies and languages. If you are profiecient with a weapon, you get to add your profiency bonus to the attack roll. If you are profiencient with armor you can cast while wearing it, etc. If you profiencent with a tool set (Theives tools, Artisan Tools, etc.) you can add your profiecency bonus while making the attempt at using them...
For High Elf get: longsword, shortsword, shortbow, and longbow. These are listed with the Elf race section.
For Rogue you get: Light armor, Simple weapons, hand crossbows, longswords, rapiers, shortswords, Thieves' tools. These are listed in the Rogue class section.
The skills and saves should be marked in the skill list and stat block respectively, so you don't have to list them again here.
Likewise, you will know a language from your race, and may get more from the class and/or background you choose.
A High Elf will start you with Common, Elvish and one language of your choice.
A Rogue also knows Thieves Cant
What do I put in equipment and character notes?
You either get the starting equipment for your class and background, or at the DM's discresion a certain amount of money to "shop" for your starter equipment. Eitherway, you need to write down what your character is taking with them.
Starting equipment for a Rogue is:
(a) a rapier or (b) a shortsword
(a) a shortbow and quiver of 20 arrows or (b) a
(a) a burglar's pack, (b) a dungeoneer's pack, or (c) an
Leather armor, two daggers, and thieves' tools
From the Rogue session of the Player handbook.
You'll get some more stuff from your background.
What do I put in features and traits?
Race, Class, and Background features. For your High Elf
How do I fill out my attacks and spell casting sheet?
Your Shortsword or Dager or Rapier should be:
[Dex Modifer] + [Proficency Bonus] to hit.
[Die for the weapon] + [Dex Modifer] [weapon damage type] damage.
The Die for the weapon comes out of the weapons section of the Equipment chapter.