Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) is a wonderful game of fun, story, and situations. It is the blank canvas of tabletop gaming, where rich and beautiful adventures are made from nothing but made together. In D&D you will have entire worlds to conquer but where do you start? This new blog entry for the 10 people who actually read these blogs, especially the 2 who don’t work at Gameology and read these anyway (I appreciate you), is part 1 of 3 on What is D&D? How do you play as a Dungeon Master? and How do you play as a Player?
D&D is a role-playing game where a single player will be a Dungeon Master (DM) who will run the game, and the rest of the group will be players who create characters in the game. The DM, runs the game by narrating the adventure, playing the roles of characters that players will meet, and managing what happens in the game’s world in response to the player’s decisions and actions. The DM is not included in the game, DM’s work behind-the-scenes directing the players will story hooks and scenarios to progress the players through the adventure. Players in the game create characters in the story. The characters will be fictional avatars that the players will role-play, as if they themselves were in the story. These characters can be as complex as you like, by providing a backstory, personal goals and traits, or even giving them flaws and unique personal opinions. Whatever character you create, they will be deeply involved in the adventure the DM creates.
I know this seems to be a bit over-the-top, especially when you consider that the majority of this game takes place in your collective imagination. But truthfully, anything that isn't strictly: The DM tells a story and guides players’ characters on an adventure is an optional rule. D&D provides unbridled freedom. The freedom to play however you want is an amazing aspect of the game. There are not many rulebooks for games that basically say “if you don’t know what to do, just make it up.” The rules in Dungeons and Dragons are more like guidelines. Very loose guidelines. Which (for me) makes up for everything that could possibly be wrong with D&D. Unless you have an issue with the fundamental aspects, any other problem can be changed to suit your group’s preferences. If you don’t like combat rules and mechanics, just throw it out. If you don't like levelling up in a certain way just change levelling up to growing a few inches. Eventually you'll end up with a whole new adventure about how your players can’t stop growing and turning into giants.
In D&D you can traverse incredible landscapes and delve deeply into intricate stories that can be experienced with Wizards of Coasts’ official campaigns or unofficially in community made homebrewed adventures. The content is never ending as campaigns can last actual years and there is always another story to dig into. Or maybe the idea of a long campaign exhausts you and you’d rather play something shorter and contained. Then you can always play the multitude of one-shot adventures that are concise enough to reach that satisfying conclusion in a single session. D&D is not some power nerd hobby, although I say that as a nerd working in a hobby store. This is a game for anybody, there is always something to like. If you like hitting someone with Thor’s Hammer with over exaggerated awesomeness, there's a scenario for that. If you like wacky social interactions, like trying to charm the dragon from eating you with your incredible charisma, there's a story for that. Or even if you just like role-playing a strange character like an acrobat master thief who's only fear is the dark, you can do that too. The options, quests, and scenarios in D&D are only limited by your imagination.
If the idea of absurd social situations, and imaginative adventures with your friends sounds fun or even fun-ish. I strongly recommend looking more into the game. To be honest, at first it is easy to feel lost and overwhelmed, you may think there are too many options. As a DM, you will wonder where to start, what worlds to bring your players into, or what worlds to build. As a player, you will be overwhelmed by options of characters to play. Within each character you must pick a race and a class from a great variety just to begin and as you play you will be constantly bombarded with choosing a weapon, a skill, a trait, a path, there will always be options and choices to make. So I understand if D&D starts to throw you off here as there are a lot of things to consider. You have all these options that tell you, be whatever you want, do anything, but simultaneously, you have rules that tell you, you can’t do this, you can’t do that, the rules seem to cruelly limit you. But I implore you to just start playing, make your mistakes with your friends, make godly creatures purely by accident, miscalculate damage amounts or bonuses that cause enemies to implode at the sight of you, or say dumb things to non-playable characters just to see what will happen because I promise you, it will be memorable.
If you are now looking to jump right into D&D the best starting place is the Dungeons & Dragons Essentials Kit which you can check out right here: https://www.gameology.com.au/products/d-d-dungeons-dragons-essentials-kit