Dungeons and Dragons has become more popular of late, despite being a tabletop game in a world filled with technology. Maybe it’s because we’ve all been stuck at home during lockdowns learning new games. Or, maybe it’s because it was made even more popular on mainstream TV shows like Netflix’s Stranger Things.
Either way, the game is more popular now than ever, so there are more and more people looking to get involved. It isn’t the easiest thing to play straight out of the box, so it requires some gentle guidance on how to get started. In this article, you will find everything you need to know about D&D gameplay, how to get started with it, and why it is so great.
What Is D&D?
Dungeons and Dragons is a role-playing adventure game based in a world of witches, wizards and sorcery. It requires very little gear, so all you really need is a set of the rules, some dice, and a great imagination. There are plenty of more advanced versions or expansions – you can click here for some great insight on those – but in its most basic form it is relatively easy to get started with. You can take yourself and your friends on magical journeys, quests, and adventures, whilst battling magical beasts along the way. You – and the dice – choose your own story, your own characters, and your own destiny.
When Was D&D Invented?
Dungeons and Dragons was invented by two games designers in the early 1970s. Having taken aspects of other role-playing games they had developed previously and added new character layers and classes, they created the game we know today. It has had many incarnations over the last five decades, but the essence of the game remains the same.
As stated above, the basics of the game are relatively simple. Each player creates their own player character that has a set of skills, beliefs, strengths, weaknesses, powers and more. They will be of a certain species such as a human or elf while having a certain job or skill set such as wizard or warrior. They embark on a mission or adventure alongside the other player characters, whilst discovering things, battling or working together along the way.
Most of the time, the players follow a set objective or adventure. Though it is worth noting that the outcome or success of said adventure isn’t necessarily how to win or lose a game. Instead, it is more important to have a deep and exciting journey. Let’s take a more detailed look at how the gameplay works.
To play the game you can choose one of two starting options. The easiest way to get started is to buy a D&D starter pack. In this pack, you will likely receive some predetermined character cards, an adventure book, a set of rules, and some dice. This will give you everything you need to get started with very little thought. However, if you feel a bit more confident or simply want to start from scratch, you can also start with nothing but a set of dice – more on these later.
Choose Your Adventure
So, you’ve either got an adventure book in a starter pack or you want to choose your own. Luckily, D&D is very crowdsourced, meaning many people share their ideas for adventures online. Some even give away fully created adventures for free. The adventure determines the quest or mission that your characters will embark on throughout your journey.
If you are a total novice, it is recommended to play one of the given starter adventures, as these give you a really good insight into how the game is played, how stories work, and how the themes of magic and wizardry fit into the world. Whether you create your own or buy an adventure book, you don’t just have to follow it like a script. As you play the world can develop based on character actions and the dungeon master’s ideas.
Whatever adventure you choose, you’ll need your own player characters. In the game, characters start with set abilities, personality traits, strengths, powers, and weaknesses. As you progress through the game, your player characters can develop – or sometimes lose – these skills depending on their experiences. Sometimes, a battle against a powerful wizard could take away your XP or damage your abilities. While winning a battle could help move your character up a level, making it stronger or more powerful.
The Dungeon Master
The dungeon master is the host of the game, the narrator, and the antagonist. They are in charge of keeping the game flowing and realistic, whilst making sure the rules and scenarios are flowing appropriately. You could describe them as a referee or official but at the same time a narrator who helps you realize and visualize what is happening to your character.
Rolling The Dice
As you progress through the game, you will find objects, fight enemies, or undertake tasks. These, of course, are all thought up by you or your dungeon master, whilst fitting into the story narrative. The dice help decide the outcome of each action. Simple actions such as reading a found note or opening a door are usually “free” moves. But, more complex actions such as casting a spell on an opponent or battling are assisted by dice. The higher your scores, the more effective your moves will be. This brings an element of chance and excitement to the narrative of D&D.
How To Win
This really depends on the adventure and your objectives. Many quests or adventures have a set goal, which would mean that achieving that is how you’d win the game. However, quite often the game will throw up lots of small battles to fight and victories to enjoy. It is not always about getting to the end of an adventure, but it definitely is always about creating a fun, unique and enjoyable story for everyone to get involved with.
These are the basics of what you actually do when you play D&D. There is so much more to the game than rolling dice and casting spells. With a good adventure and dungeon master you could play for hours, weeks, or even months on a single quest. It truly is a magical game.
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