Monday, April 26, 2021

How does Dungeons and Dragons Work?

 A cool follower of mine on Twitter, named Guardian Eatos, asked me if I could explain how Dungeons and Dragons works.  I can do that!  

Ok, so . . . a little bit of background to D&D. As I said on my blog back in 2009 when Dave Arneson died

"So Dave Arneson and Gary Gygax are the fellas who came up with the Dungeons and Dragons game back in the 1970's, and I'd have to say, really, all RPGs in general owe something to D&D for their origins. All of you young wizards out there, thrusting yourselves into dungeons and using such things as 'hit points' or 'health,' have no idea that Wizard101 and all RPGs owe a lot to the roots laid down by these two fellas. You want high health on your character? Well, Gygax and Arneson invented the concept of health on your character!"

Since the 1970's there have been several different versions of the game released. The latest release is D&D Fifth Edition.  Fifth edition has been pretty great ever since it came out in 2014. The real question here is when will the 6th edition be released?  There haven't been any recent announcements that I know of, so you should be fine investing in 5th edition materials. It's going to happen sometime, and when it does, you can be sure we'll all be buying new stuff. Typically old versions don't mix well.

Don't be like me and buy the old edition the week before they publish the new edition.

So, the first thing I'd recommend doing for any new player is to head over to D&D Beyond. This website is great! The New Player guide they have is great. Here you can make an account and even roll up your first characters from the comfort of your own computer.

The second recommendation is that you decide how you want to play this game . . . do you want to play virtually or in-person?  In-person has been a little rough lately because of quarantine, but may I just say that in-person D&D games are about 1,000 times better than virtual games.

Option A -- So, if you're playing in person, I'd head to a local game store that sells D&D supplies and purchase a standard set of dice.  They come in a little box or bag usually and have a 20-sided dice, a 12-sided dice, a 10-sided dice, an 8-sided dice, a 6-sided dice, and a 4-sided dice.  You'll want to have all these for your first game.  

Be sure to get a set that's easy to read!

The next part involves asking around. If it's a good game shop where you bought your dice, I'd ask the guy at the counter if they ever host games for new players.  If yes, the guy at the counter will give you a time and a date to show up and maybe even a flyer if you're lucky.

If not, that's when you'll need to recruit some friends to play and one of you is going to have to be the dungeon master . . . and that's when you start laying down money for books.  As a player, you really only need the Player's Handbook.  As a Dungeon Master (DM), you'll need the DM guide, a Monster Manual, and a Player's Handbook. So, we're talking a good amount of money for all those books just so you know. (You can also find free pirated versions of the books online, but you risk getting a virus and out of date information.)

Option B -- If you're playing virtually, I'd go make an account on Be sure to read through the Getting Started page there so you know what you're getting into. 

Again, I'd probably try to convince a friend of mine to go into a game with me so I have a buddy. It always feels better to have a buddy with you when you do something for the first time like this.

Next, find the perfect game for you by using the search function to see what's out there. Be sure to click on the Advanced options and select that you want to play "D&D 5E" and fill out all the options you'd like to find in your game, and hit search!

Tons of options to narrow down the game you're looking for

Hopefully the game will be a lot of fun and be a good introduction to D&D! 

There are a lot of strange controls on Roll20. Hopefully the DM will talk you through them all or you've read all the introduction materials to familiarize yourself with them.  People are generally chill.


As for how the game works . . . Basically a DM runs the game and sets the frame for a story where you and the other players are the heroes of the story.  If it's a good game, it'll last several days over several weeks, you'll make great friends and have fantastic stories of clutch moments where you saved the day.  It doesn't always work that way, but that's when you know it went well. :)

My wife recorded a little bit of the last adventure I ever DM'd before quarantine hit, and I got some really fun emotions out of my players when their favorite NPC fell overboard in the middle of a storm on a ship.  Good times.

If you give D&D a try, let me know how it goes! I miss playing on the regular.

Happy Dueling

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