What is Dungeons and Dragons?

What is Dungeons and Dragons? Commonly abbreviated as D&D or DnD, Dungeons and Dragons is a fantasy tabletop role-playing game (RPG) designed by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson in the 1970’s. It is a wargame of sorts but it departs from traditional wargaming by allowing each player to create his or her own fantasy character who plays rather than using military formation. Emphasis is on creative thinking, human interaction and on group cooperation. It is a bit like improv theatre. It is both highly sociable yet escapist at the same time.

Dungeons and Dragons Original Publication

Publishing History  

D&D was first published by a company called TSR from 1974 to 1977. TSR was failing in 1977 and was bought by Wizards of the Coast LLC (often referred to as “WotC'' or simply “Wizards” (not to be confused with Wizards Entertainment). WotC was originally a role-playing game publisher. It originated and popularized the collectible card game genre with “Magic: The Gathering'' in the mid 1990’s. It acquired D&D in 1977 and the Pokémon Card Trading game a bit later. Wizards of the Coast became a subsidiary of Hasbro in 1999. All Wizards of the Coast stores were closed in 2004.

What exactly does the term Dungeon Dragon mean?

A Dungeon Dragon, as defined by the Urban Dictionary, is “someone who has been secluded from others for a very long time. Once released, this person is in rare and much-improved form. A Dungeon Dragon can be bred by using any two dragons, The Dark Dragon, the Fire Dragon and/or the Hybrid Dragon. Some examples are the Canvas Dragon, the Masque Dragon, the Embossed Dragon, the Terracotta Dragon, etc.

What is the basic structure of the Dungeons and Dragons game?

As previously stated, Dungeons and Dragons is a fantasy role-playing game. Most players role-play adventuring characters such as an elf, a warlock, a wizard, a dwarf or a Paladin. One player is designated the Dungeon Master. The Dungeon Master (DM) facilitates the game, controls the monsters and non-playing characters and narrates the story. Dungeons and Dragons is a game that never ends, in which anything is possible and in which no one wins. Dungeons and Dragons is a cooperative, role-playing game. It is cooperative in that the characters all work together to go on adventures in a fantasy D&D World of their own making. It is role-playing because a person takes on the role of the character he/she is playing. Different characters have different strengths and weaknesses so they reinforce and assist the group as a whole. As a team, the characters decide how they are going to approach an encounter so as to make the most of each character’s strengths and weaknesses.

How is Dungeons and Dragons played?

In order to play DnD you need to get a group of people together. The ideal number  of players for a game is 4 or 5 plus the Dragon Master, however It is still possible to play with a smaller or larger number of players. With a group of 5 or 6, the DM can keep track of all the players, everyone can fit around the dining table and that size of group also allows for a good amount of player interaction and strategy.

  1. Choose the Dragon Master. The Dragon Master prepares the story and monster encounters long before the first D&D session.
  2. Create the Characters. Each player creates a character by filling in the Character Sheet in accordance with the Player Handbook. The Character Sheet contains all the basic player statistics such as health defense and skills. The sheet also lists the character’s name, abilities, equipment, level, experience points and so forth. The Character Sheet is usually completed in pencil so it can be erased and modified as the character progresses through the adventures. The key decisions for most players is what race and class they will be. Each race and class has its own traits and these form the starting point for the character’s creation.
  3. Races include Human, Elf, Half-Elf, Dwarf, Halfling, Half Orc, Tiefling, Dragon- Born and Gnome.
  4. Classes include Barbarian, Bard, Cleric, Druid, Fighter, Monk, Palladian, Ranger, Rogue, Sorcerer, Warlock and Wizard.
  5. Another important decision is the character alignment, which will influence the decisions a character makes during the game. There are nine alignments, ranging from Lawful and Good to Chaotic and Evil.
  6. Select the adventure. The Dragon Master can create it or you can buy a pre-prepared one.
  7. Set the game up. You can use a board or not. Some groups use a partitioned-off whiteboard to draw the environment. Some groups use maps and miniatures.
  8. Do things. Dice keep the action orderly. There are seven types of dice needed to play DnD:  a) 4-sided dice b) 6-sided dice c) 8-sided dice d) 10-sided dice e) 12-sided dice f) 20-sided dice g) percentile dice ( dice with 10 sides but have percentages on each side rather than numbers). THE 20-SIDED DICE IS USUALLY THE ONE USED WHEN THE PLAYER WANTS TO DO SOMETHING. This 20-sided dice is called D20. When a player wants to do something, that player rolls a D20 dice to see if he/she has succeeded or failed. This is called roll check. The higher the number rolled, the greater the chance is for success. The main types of roll checks are described in these examples:  a) Causing damage (like trying to hit an Owlbear with an arrow. b) Using a skill (like trying to convince the Gate Guard to let you into the palace of a nobleman). c) Using an ability that has no associated skill (like trying to move a boulder onto a trap pressure plate...this would need a Strength roll.).
  9. The dice results added to the stats on the Character Sheet to give a final result. That total is compared to the Target Number ( which has been created earlier by either the DM or from the rules. If the result from the dice is higher than the Target Number, the player succeeds!
  10. Critical Fumbles and Critical Hits. A Critical Fumble occurs when a player rolls a one on the dice...and they don’t just fail the roll check, but something bad happens, too ( for example, you tried to backflip over a Bugbear but ended up backflipping straight into the Bugbear instead and are now laid out flat in front of him and are vulnerable.). If a player rolls a 20 on the other hand, that player has rolled a Critical Hit. That player doesn't just succeed at the dice roll, but also something awesome happens to him/her in the adventure.

There is no “winning” Dungeons and Dragons in the traditional sense of winning. D&D is instead a group adventure where you explore and collaborate with others in a group adventure. You support and help one another. Your character can improve stats and abilities. You can do good deeds, find cool things and succeed as a team. At the end of a session, everyone has had fun so everyone wins. The typical game can last several hours or several sessions.

What is Dungeons and Dragons?

It is a cooperative role-playing game where everyone works together to create a fun story and goes on interesting adventures. It is an imaginative and creative way to get away from the stresses of the real world, to try new things and outlooks on life and it is a great excuse to see your friends on a regular basis.

What video games are similar to Dungeons and Dragons?

  1. Divinity: Original Sin I
  2. Divinity: Original Sin II
  3. Planscape: Torment
  4. Baldaur’s Gate Series
  5. Neverwinter
  6. Neverwinter Nights
  7. Pillars of Eternity
  8. And many others  

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