Tell me about Dungeons and Dragons

Lemme put it this way: The only thing I know about the game is that when I was in high school people kept claiming that players ended up INSANE!

What is it? How do you get started? How do you find people to play with?

What does this mean?

:dubious: I used to play D&D, and look how I turned out! :dubious:

I haven’t played in a very long time. My D&D game looks like this (plus the original supplements and three hardcover books).

But here’s the Wiki article anyway…

Finding people to p[lay with - this may be the hardest part. You can look for the postings at local game/comic book stores, or if in a University town see if there is a RPG group.

I’m guessing that is “2nd level”. The “level” of a character is a rough indication of how experienced / powerful that charater is. “3.5” is the revision of the rules (the company just announced teh 4th edition).

PHB is “Player’s Handbook” This gives details about the process of character creatiion and rules for playing charaters.

4d6 means 4 dice (6 sided dice) - The charaters attributes (strength, inteligence, etc) usually go from 3-18. So this is saying roll four 6 sided dice, reroll any 1s. Drop the lowest dice. With this method the lowest score is 6 (and that happens only if you roll 4 twos)


Oh, my. This is going to take a while. D&D is a role-playing game, basically organized storytelling. It’s basically just a bunch of people sitting around talking – no actual props are required, although almost everyone has dice, and most have paper/maps/etc. One player is the “Dungeon Master” or “Game Master,” and controls the setting. Everyone else plays a “character” of the emerging story, almost always fantasy, set in a Lord of the Rings-like world.

To prevent it being a free-for-all, the story itself isn’t set. Characters can take any action they can imagine and describe: the dungeon master is responsible for determining whether or not the action works, sometimes by fiat, more often by comparison with multiple large books of rules sold by the game’s creators. A large part of many of these stories is fighting the monsters in the world, either by physical combat or magic, so a large amount of rule set is devoted to rules for combat and spellcasting. Other rules apply to physical actions like climbing, jumping, searching, picking locks, and mental activities like lying, intimidating, leading groups, etc.

Most rules basically assign odds of success to something, the stereotypical dice are used to determine whether it works or not.

How much is “freeform” and how much is “rules lawyering” depends on the particular set of players.

The characters in the game grow more powerful over time, both by collecting goodies and knowledge from the world, and by a fairly arbitrary system called “levels.” Various actions (solving problems, killing things) are rewarded with experience points, these accumulate to a certain point at which time a character gains a new “level” and is harder to kill and has access to new skills.

To parse your code:
“Characters start at 2ed level. 3.5. rules. (Character Stat Roll - 4d6, drop lowest die, reroll all ones) Characters should be created from PBH I or II .”

This person is claiming that in their game, characters are automatically granted the experience points necessary to give them level 2. There are multiple “versions” of the D&D rule books that have been refined (or at least changed) over time - this dungeon master is using the 3.5 version (the newest except for the just-released 4).

Characters in the story are defined by a series of “vital statistics” (Strength, Intelligence, Dexterity, and the like). Higher is better for these, and they’re on a 3-18 scale. The Stat Roll line means that to determine each statistic, the player should roll four six-sided dice, re-roll all of them that come up “1”, ignore the lowest die of the four, and sum the rest. If I’m not insane, that gives you a range from 6-18, biased significantly to the high end. That means the dungeon master prefers stronger-than-average players. The XdY notation is common, it means roll X number of Y-sided dice (the game comes with 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, and 20-sided dice, using 2 10-siders as digit generators can also give you effectively a “100-sided” die).

The PBH stuff is just specifying particular books of rules that the characters can choose abilities from, in this case probably the “Player’s Handbook” volumes I and II. It’s been many years since I played, but I think there are class-specific books out now that add options; the dungeon master here is presumably trying to omit these.

No. If they end up insane, it was pretty much because they started out insane. Unfortunately, people with no social skills often use DnD and other RPG’s as refuges, and they make things hard for those of us who do have them.

It’s a game. A cooperative one. The players aren’t competing for victory. Instead, each game has its own setting and rules. You create a persona, such as a knight or a wizard, or in toher settings a mad scientist or space pilot. This character has skills and abilities, and goes on adventures with the other player’s characters. One guy has to actually creat an adventure, and that’s a difficult task.

Dungeons and Dragons was the first real RPG, and is still very popular. It evolved out of wargames. Initially, it was a pretty simple idea: instead of artillery and tanks you have wizards and fighters. But many of the initial ideas and rules stayed the same; a Wizard casting the Fireball spell was pretty much like an artillery piece.

Each character in DnD gets more powrful the more things they kill. This just means that they are literally one level above a basic, starting character.

The books have been revised (a LOT) since they were first released. This just means use the 3.5 edition book rules. People still play in different editions.

Tihs just means use the basic attribute system. You’d need to read the books to understand it, but in short its a simple system for defining whether the character is smart or strong or fast.

PHB = Player’s Handbook I and II. These are books which have rules for different kinds of characters and playing the game. They have rules on wizards and fighers and so on.

If you have any familiarity at all with modern online games like EverQuest and World of Warcraft, D&D is essentially what those would be if you wanted to play the game without the convenience of using a computer. Indeed, virtually all such video games, including many video games you wouldn’t think of as sword and sorcery games, owe quite a lot of their design to Gary Gygax’s invention of Dungeons and Dragons.

Of course, the old “D&D will drive kids insane!” was about as true, and as logical, as saying that playing basketball will drive kids insane.

I’ve played City of Heroes and currently play Dungeon Runners. Similar?

Pretty much, yep.

Any role playing game oriented around:

  1. Fighting enemies, in order to
  2. Get “Experience” and gain “levels” and to
  3. Get loot and cooler equipment

…is a direct descendant of Dungeons and Dragons.

I was looking online at Meetup and there’s a D&D group about an hour away.

That’s where that quote was taken from, in the description of the group.

I did not know that. Neat.

Okay, so I know more about the game than I thought. How does a person start playing? Just find a group that’s willing to tutor a newbie?

Obligatory link to MST3K-style spoof of Jack Chick’s Dark Dungeons tract.

(I still have a closet full of 2nd ed.and a few years of *Dragon *magazine but I don’t have anyone to play with sniff)

So, I’d need to get and read these in order to play?

My son plays D & D with a group, and it’s totally not about the game or the heroes or the adventure–it’s about the group. It’s about whether the Dungeonmaster can come up with a good scenario. It about whether your co-players are able to flesh out the DM’s scenario so as to make it interesting for all.

It’s totally a social event, not a “game” as such.

And since it’s a social event, and you need your “group” to be able to play in the first place, it can be very frustrating when crucial group members, such as an inventive DM or co-players who really know how to make gameplay “pop”, are absent. Currently Bonzo’s group is suffering because my son-in-law, Bonzo’s BIL, who was their best DM, is living in Chicago while his wife pursues her education, and because Bonzo himself, their acknowledged second-best DM, is at the U of I. The group is desperate enough that they will drive to Chambana once a month to get Bonzo and bring him back to Decatur, just so they can play. And a visit by the BIL, down from Chicago for the weekend, is an excuse for non-stop gameplay every possible moment until he actually gets in the car to go home. It always reminds me of chocoholics bingeing until the next shipment of Hershey’s.

My kid brother played D & D back in the 1970s, and it was totally about the group; it was about sitting around the dining room table at my parents’ house, waiting with breathless anticipation for their extremely talented DM (who, 25 years later, turned up as my eldest daughter’s music teacher in high school) to unveil his latest scenario.

It’s probably wise not to attack a Beholder.

That would be overkill I’d say. You just need the Player’s Handbook to start, buy the others (Monster Manual and Dungeon Master’s Guide) down the track if you find you like the game. If you’re not running the campaign then technically you dont ever need the other books but most players end up with them.

Here is the hypertext system reference document, the core elements of the rules, with only some important parts missing (they do want you to buy the books, after all.)

It won’t make a whole lot of sense at first, but it might help you get familiar with the character classes, the ability scores, and some elements of combat and spellcasting.

I’m just glad you didn’t ask about the movie.

4th Edition was just announced, but it won’t be out until next year. No one really knows much about it, but the word is that the new Star Wars Saga Edition RPG is a sort of preview of some of the D&D 4th Ed. rules, and that the basic design philosophy is to make things more streamlined, easier for newbs to learn, but also more flexible.

Your basic D&D classes are the fighter who wears heavy armor and get up in monsters’ faces, the wizard who hangs back and blows shit up, the rogue who sneaks around thieving and backstabbing, and the cleric who patches everyone up in between calling down divine wrath on foes. There are a bunch of other regular classes that have variations on these abilities, and prestige classes that are more specialized at one thing, but the classic four player party has those classes.

When you go to a D&D game, or any other RPG for that matter, the most important thing is to find a good bunch of people. There are a lot of rules. A good Dungeon Master will help you understand stuff, and will throw the book out the window when it gets in the way of having a fun game. A bad DM will get bogged down in minutiae, or make insanely hard fights just to watch you get killed, or make the players stand around uselessly while DM controlled heroes save the day. Bad DMs aren’t that common, but there are some around. Don’t get discouraged if you find one, just quit that game and go find another one. Omi no Kami is starting up an Internet D&D game; I don’t know if there’s space for a new player, but we’ll be posting our crazy antics here afterwards.

To add to what’s been already said, D&D is essentially a structured game of “Let’s Pretend.” It’s actually a very good game for the less physical children who don’t do well at sports to learn about cooperating and playing in a team. It also teaches them to express themselves and helps mental mathematical skills.

But basically, it’s good fun.

Probably the best place to go is EN World’s message board. You’ll find it very much like the SDMB in nature.

There are dozens of books that, among other things, provide additional options for creating characters. Some of these books, such as Heroes of Horror or Tome of Battle: The Book of Nine Swords, can radically alter the game. The above quote indicates that the DM (dungeon master; the person running the game) doesn’t want to get bogged down with using a whole bunch of extra rules, and just use the Player’s Handbook (which contains all of the rules that a player needs to know and the “core” options for creating characters), and Player’s Handbook II (a supplement with additional options, such as the Knight class).

In other words, you won’t be allowed to make a Psion character, but you won’t have to learn about the optional psionics rules. This should make things easier for a newcomer to the game.