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Dungeons and Dragons Overview
The grand daddy of all roleplaying games, Dungeons & Dragons is still the most popular rpg out on the market today. It is intended to be played with a group of friends who each have a character to share the adventures with. One person acts as the referee, or Dungeon Master (DM), who controls the monsters, encounters, and acts as the game’s storyteller. By using dice and, in some cases, miniatures, you can explore dark dungeons, deadly swamps, or haunted forests. At the time of this writing, Dungeons & Dragons is in its 4th edition. There are numerous rulebooks (although you really only need three), adventures modules, miniatures, and supplements available to make the game more enjoyable and give it more depth. An adventure can last for a couple of hours or can be open-ended and last for several nights worth of gaming.
The following information is an overview of the game, not a review to discuss pros and cons or to criticize game mechanics. This is just basic information to let you know what the game is all about.
A Little History
Dungeons and Dragons first appeared in 1974 and resembled something closer to rules for tabletop miniature wargames. It was created by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson and was published by Tactical Studies Rules, Inc (or TSR). The rules of the game evolved and became the first incarnation of an actual roleplaying game. Almost overnight, Dungeons & Dragons became a huge success and literally created the roleplaying industry, spawning hundreds of similar games. TSR was eventually bought out by Wizards of the Coast, the makers of Magic: the Gathering card game and a subsidiary of Hasbro, who now own the rights to Dungeons & Dragons. Under their guidance, D&D has undergone a game mechanic overhaul from its original rules and developed into the game that it is today.
The game is set within a n expansive fantasy world full of magic and mythical creatures. The world is fully detailed but gives plenty of room for interpretation and additional world-building. There are civilized areas with full-fledged cities and ports as well as wild, uncharted areas that are inhabited by monsters.
Characters for the world of Dungeons & Dragons can belong to any of a number of races. The most common is the Human race. But players can also choose to play Elves, Dwarves, Dragonborn, Eladrin, Tieflings, Halflings, and a few others. There are also rules in some of the other books, such as the Monster Manual, for playing different races.
Classes are like a profession that your character belongs to. Each class comes with different powers, abilities, and requirements. There are eight basic character classes for players to choose from.
Feats And Skills
Each class has certain Feats that they can choose from. These are special abilities that are class specific. Some of these feats can be performed once a day, once an encounter, or something similar. These feats are going to be geared towards the type of class you choose. For example, Fighters might have a feat that allows them to do more damage in combat, Rangers have a feat that allows them to use two weapons at once, and so on.
There are also Skills that you can choose for your character. These skills include such things as climbing, swimming, acrobatics, thieving, and such. Most skills are also limited to certain classes. This does not mean that you can’t try to do something if you don’t have the skill. It just means that your chances of success are much better.
The Dungeons & Dragons world is all about magic. The game is full of magical items, enchantments, and creatures. Many classes have magical abilities and spells that they can use when needed. Wizards, Warlocks, and Clerics all have the ability to memorize and cast spells. Most of these may only be used once a day but there are also scrolls that can be utilized to help save your battery of memorized spells. These spells start out weak when the character is lower in level but as they gain experience and levels, they gain access to more powerful spells.
Dungeons & Dragons is all about the monsters. The game setting is full of a wide variety of creatures for players to encounter. You have the classic mythical creatures such as goblins, orcs, trolls, and dragons to the more unusual such as slime monsters and umber hulks. Monsters can be evil, character-munching nasties or they can be symbols of good who can aid characters in their adventures. The type of monsters you encounter really depends on the type of adventure you are on. If you are dungeon delving, don’t expect to run across a dryad or nixie. The best thing about monster is that is usually where you find most of the treasure.
Combat is fast and easy. It can take anywhere from a few minutes to quite a bit longer depending on the number of opponents involved. Basically, combat is completed by rolling dice. You roll a 20-sided dice to try to hit an opponent. Everyone has what is called an Armor Class (or AC) which is the number needed to be able to hit them. When you roll the dice, you add any bonuses to that roll to come up with a final number. If it equals your opponent’s AC, then you succeed. Damage is rolled using another dice determined by weapon type. Any bonuses from Strength, Feats, or Skills are added to the roll and that final number is deducted form your opponent’s Hit Points (HP). Once the HP reaches zero, your opponent (or you for that matter ) are dead. Combat can also include all sorts of spells, healing, and actions.
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