1. Roll dice to generate ability scores.
The rules say to "Roll 3d6 in order" for the classic six abilities, but I haven't done that since rolling up my first character in 1980. I'll use Method I from the AD&D Dungeon Master's Guide instead: roll 4d6 in order, dropping the lowest die each time. With a little help from Brock Jones's Online Die Roller, I get this array of scores:
STR 10, INT 12, WIS 12, DEX 14, CON 15, CHA 9
Right away I see that I'm looking at someone quite tough and fast with more than a modicum of cleverness and common sense as well. I am allowed by the MM rules to switch one pair of scores; in this case, I'll swap DEX for CON:
STR 10 (50%), INT 12 (60%), WIS 12 (60%), DEX 15 (75%), CON 14 (70%), CHA 9 (45%)
The parenthetical percentages above aren't officially part of the MM rules; I've just included them as a means of gauging the character's chances when trying to roll under a given score on an ability check.
2. Create a trait.
There are no set classes and races in MM, so I have lots of flexibility in choosing one free trait (race, occupation, background, or faction). For the sake of this character creation exercise, I'll make my life easy and go with the assumption of a standard D&D-esque fantasy world. High DEX and CON point me toward a roguish character of the dwarf/gnome/halfling variety. I like dwarves, so let's go with that for race. As for occupation, I'm going to steal a page from 13th Age and say that this character uses his thievish talents to recover treasures "borrowed" from the dwarves over the years. In other words, my trait is:
In game terms, this trait will give me advantage on ability checks related to "either repossessing" stolen treasures or being a dwarf. I could conceivably cram more information into that trait (e.g., "Repo Dwarf for His Subterranean Majesty" or "Repo Dwarf from the Pox Cities") to gain advantage in additional contexts, but my read of the MM community is that traits preferably consist at most of two elements combined. I'm more than willing to be corrected on this point, though!
3. Record hit die.
A straightforward step: all MM characters begin with 1d6 HD.
4. Choose two character creation options.
Here's where I can make choices that flesh out my character mechanically: enhance a score of 10 or less, write down an additional trait, gain a second hit die, undergo Magic Training to acquire two spells, undergo Combat Training to get a larger hit die and proficiency with bigger weapons and stronger armor, or undergo Specialist Training to get just about any other type of capability.
I'm not interested in boosting my STR or CHA, nor do I want to cast spells. "Repo Dwarf" covers everything I want in a trait right now, so I'll pass over that option as well. A second hit die is certainly in a dwarf's wheelhouse, but I am going to hold off on that now for reasons to be revealed in the next step of the process.
That leaves Combat Training and Specialist Training, and I'm more than happy to take both. One level of Combat Training raises my hit die to d8 and allows me to handle d8 weapons and armor; most rogue concepts could probably get by with d6 weapons and armor, but I envision dwarven rogues as packing more serious kit. As for "Specialist Training," I'm going to take "B&E" so as to be able to get through a locked door without a check once per day.
5. Roll hit points.
I haven't rolled hit points while playing D&D at first level since the 1980s—and I'm not about to start now. So I'll just take 8 HP and go my merry way. (The official MM rules allow characters to burn a permanent point of CON to get a reroll, so no one is stuck with 1 HP.)
6. Roll for languages.
At the start of play, characters check INT, WIS, and CHA to see what languages (if any) they know beyond their native tongue (or the common trade language). I rolled a 2 against my INT of 12, a 9 against my WIS of 12, and a 13 against my CHA of 9. So Dwarven and two other languages: the humans' Tradespeak for the first and Goblin for the second (since those little buggers are often in illicit possession of dwarven artifacts).
7. Roll for equipment.
The final step is probably the most distinctive of MM's character creation steps: equipment isn't purchased with randomly rolled funds (e.g., the traditional 3d6x10 of old school D&D). Instead, you receive a d20, a d12, a d10, a d8, a d6, and a d4 to roll on any combination of equipment tables (equipment and food, wealth and valuables, melee weapons, missile weapons, and armor). The idea here is that beginning adventurers are cobbling together their kit.
I want a shot at thieves' tools, so I'll spend my d20 on the equipment and food table. A natural 20 (!) gives me peppered cheese and cider (dR4), a fine horse, cartographer's tools (dR8), and torches (dR6). Clearly I'm on the trail of something big.
Since I didn't get thieves' tools, I may have to buy them. That requires cash, so I spend my d12 on wealth and valuables. Whew! A result of 8 gives me a leather pouch of silver (dR8). That won't get me high-end lock picks, but dR6 is better than nothing. (If I'm reading the price guidelines correctly, a pouch of silver isn't enough to purchase quality gear worth dR8 in value.)
Treasure thieves don't hand over their ill-gotten goods easily, so I need weapons. A d6 on the melee weapons table produces a hammer (d6), and a d8 on the missile weapons table results in a quiver of dR6 darts (d6). I feel like I need a bit more attack power, so I roll my d4 on the melee table and acquire ... a dR10 bag of polished rocks (d4).
Yipes! I hope my d10 pays off on the armor table. I roll a 7, good enough for a leather harness (dR6) that at least looks sufficiently roguish. That decision to take Combat Training doesn't seem so wise retrospectively, but I suppose that having 8 HP will let me live long enough to loot better-quality weapons and armor—right?
8. Put it all together.
Here's my character in pure game terms:
AUDO (medieval variation on the name of Emilio Estevez's character from Repo Man)
STR 10, INT 12, WIS 12, DEX 15, CON 14, CHA 9
Traits: Repo Dwarf
Abilities: Combat Training (to d8), Specialist Training: B&E
Languages: Dwarven, Goblin, Tradespeak
Gear: bag of dR10 polished rocks (d4), cartographer's tools (dR8), peppered cheese and cider (dR4), fine horse, hammer (d6), leather harness (dR6), leather pouch of silver (dR8), quiver (dR6) of darts (d6), torches (dR6)
I'm happy with these results. Going in order with the abilities made me choose a concept I probably wouldn't have considered (the classic defense of old school ability generation), and I'm fine with that. It's balanced by the character's freeform traits and training. In some ways I would have preferred the "pool of GP" approach to equipment, but I'm willing to bend in the direction of randomly determining gear (and the story behind said gear). Just don't try to make me give up my "4d6, drop lowest" and "maximum HP at first level"!