By Artists, Gamers, Programmers United (AGPU)
Dungeons & Dragons (or D&D) is a tabletop roleplaying game that has been around since the 1970s. Recently, it has been gaining in popularity through several popular shows such as Stranger Things and Critical Role. The latest ruleset to be released is known as the 5th Edition, having been released in mid to late 2014. Dungeons & Dragons can be rather overwhelming to new players who are not experienced in tabletop roleplay, so this article should help you gain a rough understanding of what the game is and how it is played.
A typical game of D&D consists of a group of friends getting together around a table (COVID permitting) and delving into a world of magic and wonder. There are two roles to be filled, a player who creates a character to be thrown into this new world and the Dungeon Master (or DM) who creates the world and the story for the player’s characters to adventure in.
“A typical game of D&D consists of a group of friends getting together around a table (COVID permitting) and delving into a world of magic and wonder…”
The DM is the one in charge of the game, dictating how the other player’s characters (or pc’s) actions influence the world. The DM has the task of coming up with encounters for the players to navigate their way through. These encounters typically fall under 3 types: social, combat, and exploration. Social allows for character interaction with the rest of the party and with non-player characters. Exploration covers the trek across the world and its townships, dungeons and cities. Combat is, as it sounds, where your party goes toe-to-toe with creatures and warriors.
As a player, your journey begins with the creation of your character concept; it can be anything, from swashbuckling pirate to a nobleman from a foreign land. Talk it through with your DM and they will help guide you. Your idea can help to determine some of the mechanical decisions in-game such as your class, race or background.
Let us begin with class. We have provided you with a generalised summary of each of the 12 base classes:
- Barbarian: The adventurer who smashes a table because they stubbed their toe on said table. Able to shrug off large amounts of damage due to the pure rage coursing through them, Barbarians are some of the hardest hitting and hardest to kill adventurers in D&D.
- Fighter: One of the most versatile of the classes, sporting the wildest array of proficiencies in weapon types and armour. Fighter is the class to pick if you enjoy dealing damage at range or in the middle of the fray.
- Monk: Masters of hand to face combat, Monks are one of the quickest adventurers you will find in a party. Utilising the flow of the Ki in their bodies, they can attack harder and faster than any other class.
- Rogue: Charming swashbuckler, sneak thief and assassin all fall under the Rogue class. Using their stealthing capabilities, these adventurers exploit their enemies’ weaknesses and blind spots to deal vast amounts of damage.
- Ranger: Experts of ranged combat, Rangers specialize in a favoured terrain and enemy type. This gains the adventurer large bonuses when fighting within these conditions.
- Cleric: Clerics boast a surprising versatility when it comes to their power, from being solid tanks to quick on their feet healers. A Cleric can round out any adventuring party.
- Paladin: Following their sacred oath, a Paladin strikes with great power. Being one of the few close ranged spell casters, these adventurers sport some of the highest damage capabilities of the party.
- Wizard: Through their continual study of magic, Wizards gain control over the very fabric of reality. Specialising in one of the eight schools of magic, wizards use their knowledge as a deadly weapon, being able to draw upon vast amounts of magical power.
- Sorcerer: Sorcerers are people born with magic coursing through their being. Their magic comes from their ancestors either getting gifted power or by having demonic, celestial or even draconic lineage. Sorcerers are explosive charisma casters that sport a variety of ‘Metamagic’ that allows you to tailor your magic experience.
- Warlock: If studying is not your strong suit, and magic does not course through your blood, perhaps your adventurer would be interested in making a pact. Warlocks gain their power from a pact that they have made with a higher being, whether that be a god, a unicorn or even Cthulhu itself. One of the most customisable classes in D&D, Warlocks are great and somewhat beefy spellcasters.
- Bard: Bards are charismatic storytellers, musicians and are stereotypically known as the flirts of the D&D world. Experts at controlling the flow of battle through a wide array of buffs and charms, these adventurers are perfect for turning the tide of a war.
- Druid: Devout protectors of nature, Druids are known for their large range of spells and their ability to shift their form to that of a beast.
Aside from class, your character also needs to have a race. The playable races of D&D are as varied as they come – some even having scales or fur! You can also choose to be a human, a long-lived elf, a stout dwarf, a burly half-orc or even a demon-esque Tiefling.
Once you have your class and race, you are ready to fill out a character sheet!
On this character sheet there are 6 main attributes, including strength, dexterity, constitution, wisdom, intelligence and charisma. As the character grows, you will also increase your “proficiency bonus”, which is a bonus to the skills that your character specialises in. These skills are governed by one of the main attributes, which adds a bonus to what you roll. Your background, race and class also add to the list of specialties. Each character starts with a set of equipment which covers everything from your weapons and armour, to little knick knacks you find on the street. Equipment is usually dictated by your background and class.
Once the game starts, the DM may ask you for a certain kind of “check” or “roll”. In combat, this will typically be an attack roll. Outside of combat, it will likely be a skill check. To determine how well you perform your action, you roll a die.
In D&D, the most common type to roll is a twenty-sided die (D20). To get your final score, you roll the die, add your proficiency bonus if applicable, and lastly add the main attribute associated with the weapon, spell or skill.
Ultimately, the best advice we can give you to start playing this amazing game is to pick up and read the official rules from the Player’s Handbook and the Dungeon Master’s Guide. There are many other great resources available throughout the internet. A Crap Guide to D&D on YouTube and the website D&D Beyond are a few we love.
Anyway, that about wraps it up! So, from us to you we bid you adieu.
Happy hunting, role players!
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