These days getting started is so much easier than it once was. When I started, we had to make all the build decisions ourselves....okay, there was the random thing, but it may have been worse at building than I was. And...you guessed it...I totally stunk at it!
The first thing you need to decide is what class and race you want to play. One thing to keep in mind is that your first toons are probably going to be rather experimental. You'll probably re-roll them at least once before you find a build you're happy with.
Class is the part of the character that determines style of play: monk, fighter, cleric, ranger, etc. Start by reading through the descriptions and thinking about what you like to do. If you've never played a game like this before, I'd suggest going with a fighter. There's a lot less to worry about when you're running up and hitting things than when you're casting spells.
Race is the base of the character: elf, dwarf, halfling, etc. Each race has its benefits and its drawbacks. You really need to read the descriptions and compare them to the class you want to play. It's best if the two work together. Of course, there are those of us who don't like playing certain races because we find the player side animation annoying (why I don't play halflings). At this point, you'll probably want to choose a race with characteristics that go well with the class you've chosen. Dwarves and humans tend to make good fighters.
If you're new to this kind of thing and don't have someone to help you build your first toon(s), I'd suggest using one of the pre-builds or paths. When the paths first came out, I tried a couple of the monk builds. It worked pretty well and my current monk (who I absolutely love playing) is built on the basis of the kama wielding build.
Roko: That's me! I am quite fun, aren't I. However, I really don't think a new player should play a monk. We're kind of complicated.
Carliee: They probably don't want to start out as a cleric either...
Carlotta (my oldest cleric): You've got that right. I'm glad our player was experienced before I got my start. So much is expected of clerics...keeping toons alive and all.
Truffle Hunter (my oldest living toon): I think our player was smart when she created me. I've heard about the ranger build she started with ... yikes! As a fighter, I was able to help her get her grounding in the game, though I did have to put up with a lot of falling off ramps and such.
Each time you train, you have the option to continue on the path or choose your own way. I've never followed a path all the way through...just for the build process. I think it would have been a good option when I was new and clueless.
Amarakai (who is now a level 16 bard): You sure were! Her original build was me as a ranger. She had no clue what a ranger does in this game. That other game she played had rangers but nothing like our rangers. I love being a bard, so I guess I'm glad that ranger build didn't work out.
If you choose to build your own, definitely read the descriptions for everything! Some of the labels can be misleading. I'd also suggest looking at build advice on websites such as tentonhammer.com (http://tentonhammer.com/ddo/guides). That site was very helpful to me when I started and was pretty much responsible for my first successful build(s).
Trappers: That was me! I was an early build that worked well for her, so a rogue might be a nice starter toon, too. At higher levels, I got rather bored and feel a bit useless so you might consider adding some ranger or bard to me at some point.
Truff: Uh...what about me? I've been around longer than Traps!
Player: Oh, boy....Truff, much as I love you and will never delete you, you are not a great build. You're okay, but still pretty rough.
Once you've done (or let the computer do) the technical part of character creation, you'll need to create your character's look. That's completely up to you and pretty straight forward. Just click the arrows to get to the look you like best for that particular part of the toon. Look at your toon close up and far away and from the back. You might like their hair from the front, but not the back...seriously.
The last choice you need/get to make is the name. I like to think I've done a good job naming my toons and I get complimented on my names from time to time. Mortal Voyage (my permadeath guild) strongly encourages a naming convention. This is actually quite nice. You choose something that connects all your toons. My MV toons all start with Carr except for Carliee (because she was my first and it's simply her name and because I named her for the nickname my friend Duckiee called Carlotta). I chose Carr because someone had a toon named Carel and I didn't want to make things confusing. When someone sees a new Carr* toon in MV, they have a pretty good idea it's me. On Khyber, my names are random, so I always had to tell people it was me when I sent them a tell (and sometimes still need to do that).
Trappers: Are you going to write about naming me?
Player: I was just getting to that...
I created Trapizia Nimblefingers on a free trial account while waiting for my game to arrive from the ebay seller. Knowing she was temporary, I gave her a dorky name...
Player: Calm down...you know it gets better...
...that I never intended to keep. However, while playing her I made friends and actually got compliments on her name. So...when I got my box, I rebuilt her on my original free trial account, keeping her name the same so my friends could find me. The only drawback to her name is that when people would yell "trap!" I tended to think they were addressing me...even on other toons as my friends took to calling me Trap no matter which toon I was on.
Here are the reasons for some of my other names: Truff is named after one of my teddy bears. Sister Carlotta was a college nickname of mine (a roommate gave us all nun names) so Carlotta was a natural for a cleric. Amarakai is a friend's daughter's name with kai at the end and was an adaptation of reversing my real first name and adding kai 'cause is sounded dorky without it. Carrokosan was the Japanese name given to me by my college roommate from Japan.
Once your toon is named, all you have left to do is hit the create character button and log your toon into the world!