dungeons and dragons

Ever Wanted to Play Dungeons and Dragons? Here’s How!

When creating a character, six numbers are generated randomly (usually by rolling three six-sided dice, or 3d6, for each attribute and then adding them together) and then assigned (by you) to the attributes you want your character to be strong in.

Each attribute has a range of secondary skills attached to it; spell-casting is an Intelligence skill, for example, while horse-riding is derived from Dexterity. There are many, many skills. You get a bonus to each of the skills attached to an attribute the higher it is, and a penalty the lower. Clearly, to mould a character in the direction you want, sacrifices have to be made.

So, you want to be an enigmatic and moody Ranger? (basically a medieval goth) then you’d put your best numbers on Dexterity and Wisdom (giving you big bonuses in the skills a Ranger needs), but after putting your next best on Constitution (who wants to be all sickly and prone to colds?) you’re left with two mediocre numbers and one really bad one.

So you’ll end up being of average strength and intelligence, and very ugly (Charisma is used for personal appearance, among other things).

There is a lot more to generating a character in Dungeons and Dragons, (like choosing a Race, background, profession-based Feats (special skills), equipment and weapons) but you get the general idea.
So what do all these numbers mean? How does this game actually work? What the hell am I going on about? Well, I’ll tell you: The whole thing boils down to a simple sequence of actions and outcomes.

Again, imagine that it’s you in the game world. The Dungeon Master outlines the scene that you are confronted with, saying something like;
‘The door is unlocked and opens easily into a large room with a high ceiling. A balcony juts into the room about twenty feet up, opening into another room. There are no visible exits and no other furniture in the room. What do you do?’

Assuming going back wasn’t an option, (well, you had to burn the bridge to stop the goblins from ambushing you, didn’t you?) what would you do? Try and climb up the pitted old stone wall to the balcony? Use magic? All stand on each others shoulders?

Any of these choices would require you to roll a d20 (Dungeon and Dragons famous twenty-sided die). This represents the basic chance of successfully performing the action, modified by the D.M according to how hard the action is and how skilled your character is at what he or she is trying to do. All right, so let’s say you did your Duke of Edinburgh Bronze award when you were younger and your rock climbing was pretty good;

You decide to free climb up to the balcony like a boss, and roll the d20 (representing chance). The D.M has estimated that it is a fairly easy climb and the target number for that is twelve, and you have +3 in climbing, so you would need under fifteen to succeed. You roll a fourteen.
Because it’s so close, The Dungeon Master says:

‘You climb confidently almost all the way to the top, slipping right at the last moment and falling the full twenty feet. You land awkwardly, twisting your ankle for 1d6 damage. Better luck next time.’

Each character has a set number of ‘hit points’, which is how much of a battering your character can take before being knocked unconscious.

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