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D & Duh: The Basics of Dungeons & Dragons

Hello everyone and welcome to the beginning of a new blog series on this site all about the mystical tabletop roleplaying game Dungeons & Dragons. Now, I’d heard of this cultural phenomenon not, as you would expect, from the Netflix series Stranger Things but from playing the video game Solasta with my mates as well as other pop-culture depictions of a pen, paper, and a multitude of crazy dice.

From experience, I can say that anyone coming into D&D is going to have a tough time much like your digestive system after a night of tequila and dodgy seafood. There’s a cornucopia of rules, systems, and statistics to wrap your head around not to mention all the technical jargon that goes along with it, it’s truly astounding.

That is what this series is going to be about. Helping you get some basic knowledge under your belt, so you don’t walk into a session blind as I did.

What is D&D?

So, let’s start with the basics; what is Dungeons & Dragons? Well, it’s a tabletop role-playing game. Now let’s break that down.

Table: a piece of furniture with a flat top and one or more legs, providing a level surface for eating, writing, or similar activities.

Top: the highest or uppermost point, part, or surface of something.

Roleplaying: the acting out of the part of a particular person, or character, for example as a technique in training or psychotherapy (what an actor does).

Game: an activity that one engages in for amusement or fun.

So basically, if you’re playing D&D, you’re engaging in amateur psychotherapy using enough dice to choke every snake on a snakes and ladders board just for your own amusement.

What do I need to play D&D?

There are a few crucial elements that every successful Dungeons & Dragons session needs.

1. A table. (for definition of table, see above).

2. A playing board. This is the focal point of the D&D session with all encounters, events and rolls all taking place on the board.

3. Dice. Specifically, dice made for D&D. You should have the following.

D20: The signature dice of D&D. Used for pretty much any action apart from the damage dealt by your attack. It’s designated the decider of D&D with each value on the dice having a 5% chance of being rolled.

D10: These are the second most often dice used besides the almighty D20. These dice are used for percentile rolls when needed. Unlike standardized testing, it’s actually possible to get 100% with these dice.

D8 & D12: Often used to figure out the damage dealt by large weapons commonly carried by the barbarian class.

D6: The source of much scorn and jubilation when creating characters and assigning them attribute points. Not required for anything really after that point.

D4: the enemy of bare feet across time and space, this dice is normally used to decide the damage on small weapons.

4. Character Sheets. The canvas on which your next great character is carved into the etches of D&D history. This is quite complicated and is set for its own separate blog post.

5. A Dungeon Master. This is the great celestial guide that will transport you from a table in your house into thrilling and immersive lands and tales. Really what makes or breaks a D&D session.

6. Players. Self-explanatory.

How do I play D&D?

This is probably the hardest question to answer for you all as there’s no one right answer. Well, I tell a lie, you do have to use the dice to play through the RPG (and don’t forget that table) but other than that the world is your oyster.

Do you want your character to go through the whole RPG spouting riddles so that they defeat every threat through sheer confusion? Go for it.

Want your character to try and seduce every enemy, tree, rock, and pile of damp moss they can? That’s a bit weird dude but whatever you’re into.

How about having your character try and assassinate every other member of the party throughout the game, not only ruining the dungeon master's meticulously planned and paced story turning them against you but also turning your own party against you as well? Shine on you crazy chaotic bastard!

What I’m saying is the only limit to your game is your imagination and the tolerance of the Dungeon Master for horseplay/tomfoolery/debauchery (circle the most appropriate).

In all seriousness, it pretty much goes like this more or less; you rock up to the place you’re playing with a character already created and ready to go, the dungeon master will outline the world they’ve created and spent ages crafting to a Tolkien level of detail, likely through an introduction, and then you’ll begin playing.

Any time there’s a character interaction or enemy encounter you can pipe up and attempt to take an action to which the dungeon master will ask you to roll one of your many dice scattered around the table. You’ll then roll and leave your fate to the vengeful and benevolent dice gods.

With the dice rolls, you’ll need a specific number or higher to succeed in each check (i.e. if you want to leap over a fence, you would need a roll higher than 5). After that, the DM describes the results of that dice roll, be it success or failure. From there you continue until you reach the endpoint of the story, or the entire party becomes disillusioned with the game and disbands.

Why should I play D&D?

Again, the answer for many of you will vary. Do you want to create fun characters and have fun times with your mates? You can do that. Do you want to improve your improvisation skills for later down the track? You can do that as well.

Do you have too many friends and want to alienate them slowly in a way that doesn’t directly single you out as the reason for their eventual alienation but handball it off to the game itself? You can do that but if you’re doing that maybe just get better friends?

Which D&D Class Do You Play?

  • Barbarian

  • Ranger

  • Rogue

  • Wizard

Have you played D&D? Are you curious to give it a shot now? What other aspects of D&D puzzle you? Let me know down below.


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