I'll mix up the order of character creation as presented in the /Players Handbook/. Right now, the concept is a fantasy version of Mike Hammer, a hard-nosed PI. The key elements I want for Michaelus are a ranged weapon that isn't a short bow and survivability at low levels while still being able to perform investigator type activities that aren't necessarily legal. Michaelus also needs the Investigation skill. With these in mind, time to set out!
I'll start with the background. Criminal doesn't quite fit, though it gives Michaelus access to using thieves' tools and criminal contacts, which does fit. The variant, Spy, is closer, at least in description. Guild Artisan is a close fit, too, but would require DM approval for taking thieves' tools. As a DM, I'd allow it, because it fits the theme of the character, but as a player, I'll place the idea on the back burner for now. Sage could be interesting; I have a halfling rogue idea where the character is an archaeologist, using this background. Michaelus, though, doesn't strike me as the academic type. For now, I'll take Criminal/Spy. It's the best fit for Michaelus.
Next up, class. The top three choices are, in alphabetical order, Fighter, Ranger, and Rogue. The original Michaelus was a multi-classed Fighter/Thief in an edition where dwarves couldn't be Rangers. That restriction doesn't exist, and being able to track sounds perfect for an investigator. The Criminal background provides Deception and Stealth, so I don't have to worry about taking those, whichever class I do choose. Rangers and Rogues both get Investigation as a skill choice while Fighters do not. Looking ahead at the archetypes, the best fit for Michaelus as a Rogue is Thief while the best fit as a Ranger is Hunter. The choice is clear - Michaelus is a Ranger, the best fit of Fighter and Thief.
Time to work out the stats. I'll use the point buy from the /PHB/ to make things simple. I can always roll if a DM requires it later. I take the 27 points as per page 13 and spend them as follows:
Strength 12The recommendations for Ranger is for high Dexterity and either Wisdom or Strength. Wisdom is the base for Perception, another good skill for an investigator, so I put 15 into Dexterity, 15 into Wisdom. Michaelus should be able to withstand a beating, so Constitution gets 13, with Strength at 12, leaving 10 for Intelligence and 8 for Charisma. Michaelus isn't a likable fellow, but that works for a bull-in-a-china-shop approach. Being a dwarf does affect the stats, though. Michaelus gets +2 to Constitution, from being a dwarf, and +2 Strength, for being a mountain dwarf.
With the broad strokes out of the way, it's time to fill in details. At first level, Rangers get Favoured Enemy and Natural Explorer, both of which need to be chosen. Favoured Enemy allows for two provided that a humanoid species is taken. Here, I'll take criminals, which should be easy to convince a DM to allow, and goblins. For Natural Explorer, it makes sense for a mountain dwarf to be an expert in mountainous terrain. Michaelus also has three skills to choose; Investigation and Perception are both available, so he takes them, along with Insight. I could have gone with Survival, to follow tracks, but Insight allows Michaelus to read people, again something an investigator should have.
Michaelus now needs his equipment. As a Ranger, he can take leather armour, two short swords, a dungeoneer's pack, and a longbow with 20 arrows. Michaelus, though, works better as a concept with a crossbow. Fortunately, switching the longbow for a heavy crossbow is an even easier argument to make to a DM; the weapons and ammunition both cost the same, with the crossbow and bolts being heavier. It would have been nice to get the hand crossbow, but that costs even more. From the Criminal/Spy background, Michaelus gets a crowbar, a set of dark common clothes, and a belt pouch with 15 gold pieces.
The character sheet for Michaelus:
Michaelus HammersmithPlease let me know how it goes if you play him.
Level 1 Ranger, Lawful Good
Hit Points: 12
Armour: Light and medium armour; shields
Weapons: Simple and martial weapons
Tools: Smith's tools, thieves' tools, playing cards
Languages: Dwarvish, Common
Skills: Deception (+1), Insight (+4), Investigation (+2), Perception (+4), Stealth (+4),
Feature: Criminal Contact
Size Medium, unaffected by heavy armour
Dwarven Resilience - advantage on saving throws against poison, resistance to poison
Dwarven Combat Training
Favoured Enemy - criminals, goblins
Natural Explorer - mountain terrain
Gold Pieces: 15
Short swords (2)
Crossbow w/20 bolts
Set of dark common clothes, including a hood