About to start my first D&D game (yay!)

I’ve been in my college’s RPG club for a year now, and I’m joining a friend’s Forgotten Realms campaign. I’ve never played traditional RPGs before, so everything is a bit new to me, but apparently imagination is the most important thing, and I have plenty of that. I have a general idea of what goes on in a game, and I’m sure I can figure out the confusing stuff.

I think my character will be a female dwarf monk, though I don’t know what to name her. Naming her is the hardest part for me, I can easily conjure appearance, personality, etc. But I’ll eventually come up with something.

Any advice on starting out? Or names?

I assume this will be 3rd edition, given the character you’re considering. You’ve got the makings of a formidable character if you can get her through the first few levels. Depending on the the personality you want to play, and the general atmosphere of the campaign, you may not even want her to give her name at first. “Steelfist of the Dwarves”, with a distinct wanna-make-something-of-it attitude may not be inappropriate. You can reveal later that she’s Stella, daughter of Dagin, of the Iron Mountain clan…once the other characters prove worthy of her trust.

Or you could break from the dwarvish mold and make her cheerful, outgoing, and cute. That’s the beauty of RPGs.

As to gameplay, I’ve got a few general tips:

  1. Think first, then act. This will put you far ahead of most gamers in terms of character survivability.

  2. When choosing new abilities (Feats, Skills, etc), try to balance immediate usefulness versus long-term benefits. As a monk, you’ll get a lot of Feats automatically as you level up, so you can be picky about your elective ones. Cleave, Weapon Finesse (unarmed), Weapon Focus (unarmed), and Weapon Specialization (unarmed) are good things for a monk to consider. Don’t put too much into weapon skills, as you’ll be better off unarmed at higher levels. Also, you can’t go wrong with the Heal skill, as monks tend to have the high Wisdom to do well with it.

  3. Don’t split the party. It never helps.

  4. When the DM says, “Everybody dies”, it’s usually a joke. When the DM says, “I need more dice”, its usually very, very serious. :eek:

  5. Provide the DM with booze/homemade cookies/cuddles…whatever his or her weakness is. This can only benefit the PCs. :wink:

  6. Most important of all: Kick back, have fun, and play the character. Don’t worry about the consequences too much. I’ve lost plenty of characters by playing them true to their roles, and it was always worth it.

Spend a little time reading through the Players’ Handbook; it never hurts to know the rules. But don’t be obsessed with them. If you want to do something, and don’t know how to do it, just tell the DM what you want to do.

Take notes; names of people you meet, things you killed, moves you did, whatever strikes you as interesting. It may benefit the campaign a lot, and it makes for fun reading later.

Listen; to the DM especially, but to the other players as well. It’ll tell you a lot about how the party works.

Bring chips, and caffeinated soda, and dice, and something to write on, and a pencil. If possible, a cool pencil. And a cool notebook. And buy a new set of dice for your character, based on your character’s personality. Oddly, it seems to help.

And most of all, have fun.

Make sure you come up with a lucky way to roll the dice, and then on the really important rolls, use that method. If you use that method all the time,the luck will go away.

A dwarven MONK! Boy, what are you on? That can’t be…
Wait, it’s allowed now???

Kidding, I haven’t played the third edition rules, and mostly I only played the original rules (first edition AD&D), so it’s strange. I have taken a look at the new Players Handbook and it seems very interesting, since it gives a lot more freedom in tems of what can and can’t be done with the characters. I can only reiterate what others have said, just try to have fun, and most of all, apply the same rule as we have here. Don’t be a jerk.

Tell us how it went…

Balance is about as right as it is possible to be. If the DM needs more dice, it’s probably time to start packing.

Now, I can’t really relate to you young folk, being an old and decrepit 1st Edition player myself, but here’s some stuff that worked for me back in the day.

  1. The big buggers in the metal suits serve a very useful purpose. They can provide you with cover. Hide behind them at every opportunity. They’re designed to be hit by stuff, you’re not.

  2. It’s probably a trap. Send the rogue. That’s what they’re for.

  3. Anyone who is not scared by the appearance of a low level adventuring party is probably fully justified in not being scared. Should some of your more enthusiastic colleagues decide that pushing the little old man in the robe around is good fun, seek a discrete exit.

  4. Pay attention. If your buddies decide that the best way to get through the door is to use a Cone of Cold spell followed immediately by a Fireball spell, you don’t want your last declared action to be “I go to the door and kneel down and listen for signs of movement”. This is one of those times when the DM will need more dice.

  5. It is never a good time to fight a dragon.

  6. There is no such thing as one drow.

  7. The DM is only human. When you are totally desperate, it’s worth coming up with a plan that will engage his or her sense of romantic adventure. In real life, nobody ever jumped off the balcony and swung on the chandelier over to the display of ancestral weapons to grab a sword. This isn’t real life. It might be cool enough that they’ll let it work just to see what happens.

  8. Your character is probably as smart as you are. If I had a healing potion and I was going to be jumping around and falling alot, I’d probably take the time to transfer it from the thin glass bottle into a good stout stainless steel hip flask so it would still be useful once I landed. Your character should do no less.

  9. It’s not running away, it’s a tactical retreat.

  10. The bits about the dragon and the drow are really kind of important and should be read again.

Have fun.

Oh, and to go along with what 2trew said,
One goblin is never a problem
One thousand goblin IS a problem

If you meet a small band of kobolds, don’t worry; kobolds are cake.

Unless you’ve happened to notice that the DM owns a copy of Che Guevara’s handbook on guerilla warfare. In that case, when you see a small band of kobolds, drop everything, scream, and run.

I was a mean DM.

Along with what everyone else said…

There is no shame in using the phrase “I flee in terror.”

Crown Royal bags are good for carrying dice.

Wear comfortable clothes… you’re going to be sitting for a while.

Since you’re playing a dwarf, be sure to make fun of elves every chance you get.

And last, but certainly not least:

Beware the Dread Gazebo!!

A few additions to the worthy advice offered so far:
If it’s locked, it’s probably trapped.
If it’s trapped, it’s probably fatal.

Bashing open a wooden trasure chest with a warhammer/battleaxe is a perfectly acceptable alternative to dicking around with locks and traps.
When doing the above, be prepared to live with shattered potion bottles, and, consequently, ruined spell scrolls.
[sub]Whaddaya mean it used to be a Wish spell?[/sub]

A spear, whether you can use it in combat or not, makes for a good multi-purpose walking stick.

Munchkins = cannon fodder.

Invisibilty != unsmellability.

Notes being passed between the rogue and the DM should prompt you to begin checking your pockets.

If the party finds some magic missile-type weapons (arrows, crossbow bolts, sling stones, etc.) save ‘em for a hostile magic-user. That friggin’ “Protection From Normal Missiles” thing can be a pain, otherwise.

Fun is, indeed, the whole point of the game.

[sub]You don’t need to be able to outrun the monster, just the slowest guy in the party.[/sub]

Oh, and go here and generate a bunch of martial arts moves for your monk. Copy and print them and bring them to the game. It’ll make him/her seem more mysterious when you say, “I’m going to attack with the yeti steals when two hundred springs fall” instead of just, “I punch him.” Sure, you’re just using an unarmed attack, but it sounds cooler. I’m playing a monk, and my comrades freak out when I decide to whip out the brown dart among ruby chickens.

  1. Those clerics that command undead instead of destroying are rather useful if they’re on your side. After all, isn’t it better to have a zombie open the door that spews green acid rather than your party’s rogue?

  2. Your character is yours. Don’t let anyone else tell you how he/she should act.

  3. Try not to slow everyone down in combat when your turn comes around. It’s one thing to ask a few questions, especially if you’re not sure how to do something, and especially if you’re new, but if you’ve been playing for weeks or months and you still don’t know how to use a magic missile, you need to read the PHB a bit between sessions.

That’s nothing. You should see a halfling barbarian… those sucker’s will rip yer legs off…


Balance, Weapon Specialization is a Fighters-only Feat attainable at 4th level.

Gawd I miss playing D&D. I sit around all the time making new adventures, characters and writing stories about them, but I never get to play.

Anyway, as mentioned above, the Monk gets plenty of special abilities as (s)he levels, so you can use your skills and Feats to think about attaining a Prestige Class to your liking. It should be noted, however, that Monks cannot multiclass and return to the Monk class unless it says so specifically. I.E., you cannot take two levels of Monk, a level of Rogue and then another of Monk.

Watch carefully and/or discuss with the DM about what sort of game this will be and where it will head to help you make decisions on what you want your character to be able to do and what equipment she will need.

Stay in-character and see how the relationships go in the party.
In the first game we ever played, AD&D back in about '95 or so, we had some real nitwits with us, but the best relationship was between the Rogue (thief) and one of the Fighters (mine). Even though it was our first game and we were a party doing the good stuff, I chose to have an evil character who was working with them for vengeance. She (yes, she) was manipulative and self-serving, but better than the other fighter. She had a hoot getting the thief (good-aligned) to help her rob a town blind and they had a wonderful love/hate thing going. It was so much fun.

Don’t be a fraid to make the relationships like real relationships and not just a faceless adventuring party.

ALso, as a side note, the Realms are a big place and a great campaign setting.

Have fun!!!

Well, it helps the DM kill off the party quicker. But it never helps the PARTY.

She’s a DWARF. She IS the slowest guy in the party, at least for now. I don’t know the rules on dwarf monk movement offhand, and I don’t have my handbook handy, so I don’t know the movement rate of dwarven monks. The last time I played a monk, we were using the REAL first edition D&D…with the little booklets called Greyhawk, Men and Magic, things like that.

It’s helpful to ask what everyone else is carrying so that you don’t buy duplicates. If everyone has a 10’ pole, but nobody has any rope, you’re bound to come across a situation that calls for rope.

You can never have too many dice. But don’t get the “crystal dice” offered by Crystal Caste. They LOOK cool, but the d10, d12, and d20 are just about worthless. I find it almost impossible to tell which number has been rolled on those dice. On the other hand, the “dwarven stones” style by the same company are very nice, if you don’t mind spending the money. My daughter has a set of lapis dwarven stones, which look lovely…and set her back $60. That’s too rich for my blood.

If everyone else has a metal miniature, try to buy one for your character. Take your time choosing your mini, though, and take even longer to paint it, if you so desire.

You can never have too many pencils or too much paper at a game. I like to use file pockets to put my character sheets in, along with the notes I’ve made.

Above all, though, relax and have fun. When you get a good group together, you form an incredible bond.

For help on names, see Rinkworks’ Fantasy Name Generator.

RPGs are all about imagination. You have to pretend to be someone else, visualize a world that’s somewhere else (usually located in a twisted, demented mind… a.k.a. the GM), and work with different rules of nature.

Random commentary: I keep my RPG dice in a fancy bag inside the Crown Royal bag, so the dice don’t slip out the top of the bag. I’ve got a good set of dice, and the cheap plastic dice from the basic D&D box sets.

And I was in one game a few years back, where the party woke up to find the town was being invaded by the Kobold army. The GM had been commenting for a few weeks about players in other campaigns wishing for experience… and how he would rather send such a player up against 200,000 5-xp kobolds than one 1,000,000 Elder Nasty Creature. Then the dude actually did it to us. (Cool thing was, with my strength and magic weapon bonii, my minimum damage was equal to a kobold’s max h.p., so I didn’t bother to roll damage. I just skewered 4-8 kobolds each round.)

Yay D&D! I’m a faithful player. Here’s some advice:

First off, for the best D&D resource on the Web, go check out EnWorld. There are some wonderful D&D related messageboards there, heavily moderated to avoid the flamewars that all too often develop amongst socially maladjusted gamers. :wink:

Second, for naming resources, I usually decide on a culture and work from there. Dwarven monks – do you want them to be a nomadic underground society analogous to Polynesians? a feudal, traditional society similar to 17th-Century Japan? an animistic society similar to ancient Ireland? or something different? Figure out a good cultural hook for your group. And then go online and find an appropriate name. This Website, while not necessarily totally accurate, has about half a million names indexed by culture, and is a fantastic resource.

Thurd: depending on the type of game you play (ask the DM), build in some character hooks. Your twin sister left your village twenty years ago with a mysterious stranger, and hasn’t been heard from since. You have a birthmark that looks frightneingly like a horned skull. You’ve been having nightmares recently about the woman who trained you in martial arts, a woman who died five years ago. The kama you use in battle is one you bought from a tiny shop in a city – but when you next went past that street corner, the shop was gone.

The more hooks you build into your character, the easier a job your DM has building adventures – and the likelier you’ll be to get time in the “spotlight.” Of course, if your DM doesn’t do character-based adventures (i.e., adventures built around the characters, rather than adventures built around mysterious ruins and the like), don’t bother with this.

-Monks are one of the weaker classes in the game, although they can be great fun to play. You want to have a high dex, a high con, a high strength, and a high wisdom – which order you put these stats in is up to you, of course, but given that these four pretty much have to be good, you’ll probably end up with a low intelligence and a low charisma. (the fact that you’re a dwarf means you can afford to, and kinda gotta, have a low charisma).
-Do you have a wizard or sorcerer in the party? MAKE them cast mage armor on you. If they want you to protect them in battle, they gotta protect you.
-Do you have a druid in the party? Same thing: MAKE them cast barkskin on you. Later, they’ll get greater magic fang, which is a fantastic spell to cast on a monk.
-Do you have a cleric in the party? Almost the same thing: give them a choice of casting bull’s strength or endurance on you. You’re a frontline fighter, and you need to be buffed up.
-Don’t forget to use stunning blow! There’s no point in hoarding this ability, so you may as well use it the first time you smack somebody. I actually encourage my players to have this as a default strategy: unless they tell me otherwise, I count their first blow in a fight as a stunning blow. This keeps them from forgetting to use the power.
-If there’s a rogue in the party, work with her. When her opponents are stunned, she can do extra damage against them. When you’re on the opposite side of an opponent from her, she can do extra damage against them. Help her do that extra damage.
-People say that doing Flurry of Blows isn’t usually worth it, when you calculate damage. This may be true. Whatever – it’s still fun to roll all those dice. (and if you ever pick up a couple levels of rogue, then it becomes much more effective – but that’s another discussion).

Go ahead and study up on grappling, tripping, and disarming things. You’re likely to be the party expert at these special maneuvers, and when it comes time to do them, you want to be able to do them fast. Plus, they’re lots of fun to do.

When you want to try something out of the ordinary in combat, try to find the rules for it while other people are resolving their actions. When it comes time for your turn, you want to have the Player’s Handbook open to the right spot so you can say, “Okay, I’m going to tumble in under the ogre’s club and knock the staff out of his wizard friend’s hands. I rolled a 17 on my tumble check, good enough to get past the ogre’s squares. The wizard doesn’t get an attack of opportunity on me, since I have improved disarm. I rolled a … 15 on my touch attack to hit the wizard’s staff; is that good enough to hit the wizard’s touch armor class? Yes? Great: then the wizard needs to make an opposed strength check against me. It says that since he’s using a staff, and I’m also using a staff, neither of us gets an adjustment on the roll. I rolled a 12; what did he roll?”

As a small time-saver, roll all your dice together. Are you doing a flurry-of-blows? Roll two twenty-sided dice (different colors) and two six-sided dice (different colors), knowing which 20 and which 6 correspond to one another. Tell the DM what AC you hit with each attack; if you connected with either one, tell him what damage you did.

Ideally, you want your combat to be both smooth and cinematic. Knowing the rules you’re going to use, and doing as much work as possible to prepare for your action in combat, is key to pulling this off.

Have a blast!

Oh, and don’t pre-roll (roll dice on someone else’s turn) unless the DM okay’s it. A lot of players cheat this way, so you don’t want any suspicion to fall on you. Our DM had to tell one of our players to quit pre-rolling (after making the announcement first game session, too), because he would pre-roll, and if the number was good, he’d keep it. If it wasn’t, he’d just roll again when his turn came up. I was sitting right next to him, and I was about to blow a gasket.

Make your character have some character, don’t be a max/min drone. Don’t take skill X just because it makes you the best fighter. If the character in your mind would rather play the harmonica, then do it.

My biggest pet peeve is that almost nobody roleplays intelligence. If your character has the brain of forest gump, then he isn’t going to be the one comming up The Cunning Plan[sup] TM[/sup] all the time, even if you do. Do stupid (but in character) things once in a while, a linear, ‘this is what we’re supposed to do here now’ campaign is boring.

And finally, if you have a smartass DM like mine, never send a summoned creature off on a mission. Unless you make a 16 page contract, professionally reviewed, about what exactly they can and cannot do, the DM will find a loophole in which the being will screw things up. :slight_smile:

Depends on your DM of course, but In my campaigns I tell the players:
I don’t care what wonderful feats and skills and prestige classes your character has. I don’t need to know right away what they can do. Tell me who they ARE. What are their hopes, their dreams, their past, their plans for the future. Something I can work with.

In my current campaign, one player is a Expert(gunsmith)/fighter. He was apprenticed to a Clockmaker who was secretly a gun smuggler before he was killed. (This is Ravenloft, by the way.) That was great!! Now I’ve got a built in mystery: who killed him and why. And that’s blossomed into a cyptic journal and some mysterious enemies, and a paper trail across the continent to follow.

Another player found some spellbooks and holy symbols in the attic when his mother died. Great!! Mysterious past to discover for his mother!

Another’s mother was a medium who died while channeling a ghost. Great!! You think that ghost might return for more?? :wink:

Also, remember that what’s best for the game isn’t always what’s best for your character.

As a player, I’ve got a character who’s a Transmuter at a school for Wizards. His goal is to work his way through the ranks to be Supreme Master of Magic. The DM has told me that will never happen, since only a non-specialist can lead the whole school, but that won’t stop my character from trying and failing…