How to play Dungeons and Dragons

If you are a fan of computer role-playing games, it could be hard to realize where this genre originally stems from. The first association people get when somebody mentions Dungeons and Dragons is a group of antisocial nerds sitting around a table in costumes going about their geeky stuff nobody understands. What these people don’t comprehend is that DnD is an immensely complex and intricate storytelling game that can be interesting to almost anyone.

Guide me, master

DnD is a cooperative storytelling where the players take on the guise of a fantasy character they create and then contribute to the development of the plot with all the other players. A player takes on the role of a Dungeon Master is the one guiding the story and determining the consequences of the decisions of the players. He/she doesn’t participate in the story, but is of key importance because his/her judgment and creativity can make or break a game of DnD.

Get the gear ready

If you are completely or moderately new to the world of DnD, the first thing you should get and read are the handbooks—the player’s handbook is a must, the Monster Manual I might come in handy, and aspiring dungeon masters should probably read the Dungeon Master’s Guide (but it won’t hurt for other players to know how it’s done, too).

Race, class and alignment

What you must understand is that this is a fantasy world teeming with different creatures. Therefore, the characters have races—you can choose whether you’ll be a plain ol’ human, or maybe a glittering elf, a hardworking dwarf or a muscular orc, among many others. When you know that there are also mixed races, imagine the possibilities!

Next, you can choose your class, i.e., what the focus of your skills is. Classes include barbarians, paladins, rogues, fighters, sorcerers, necromancers etc. This might be the most important choice, because it can determine what you can do as the story progresses. Another determinant is your moral alignment. Don’t be dull and be a plain do-gooder and experiment—choose what you never will be able to be in real life. That’s the whole point!

You can also add some visual intricacies to your character and you’re good to go. Have in mind that your character, whose decisions you can influence, is called a player character. Every player has one, but there are also non-player characters in the world your adventure is taking place in and they are controlled by the dungeon master.

The dice, everybody loves the dice

The dice used for DnD is usually polyhedral (a 20-sided die is standard) and no, they are not used in some occult rituals! The dice are used in every situation in which the player or the dungeon master needs to take an action. In order to stop the DM from making arbitrary decisions on what action works and what doesn’t, the player rolls an appropriate die, determined by the difficulty of something happening. If the number is large enough, the action will happen, its consequences and outcomes determined by the DM.

So what are you waiting for? Let’s play some DnD!

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