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Unleash Your Inner Hero: A Beginner's Guide to the Epic World of Dungeons & Dragons

Greetings and salutations, fellow adventurers! Are you ready to embark on a journey into the world of Dungeons and Dragons? Well, saddle up your trusty steed (or broomstick) and let's dive in!

What is Dungeon's & Dragons?

First things first, what exactly is Dungeons and Dragons?

At its core, D&D is a tabletop role-playing game that allows players to create their own characters and embark on epic adventures. Think of it as a choose-your-own-adventure book, but with endless possibilities and dice rolling. Each game is led by a Dungeon Master (the DM, for short), who creates the world, all the other characters in the world (non-player characters, or NPCs), and quests for the players to complete.

It's like getting to be part of the Fellowship of the Ring, but you get to create your own character, choose how you interact with other members of the Fellowship and individuals in Middle-earth, maybe fight off orcs or a Balrog, and explore the world as you see fit.

The Dungeon Master helps guide you through it and is in charge of creating the world and events that occur in it. You get to decide how your character and party respond to those events, and based on your rolls and the abilities of the character you created, you can have different levels of success (or failure!) at the actions you are trying to take.

How is it played?

In a typical game of D&D, players describe the actions they want to take based on the choices available to their character.

For example...maybe you are sent on a quest to find incriminating evidence about one of the nobles in town regarding their illicit activities. You could...

  • ...tell the DM you want to try to sneak into their manor by picking a lock, or forcefully break in in by kicking down the door to see what you can investigate inside.

  • ...find one of their employees and see if you can persuade, charm or intimidate them to reveal what they know about their boss's illegal activities.

  • ...try to forge your own evidence, likely making a performance check at the request of the DM to see how successful you are.

  • ...try to follow the noble as they make a mysterious trek into the woods, having to make survival checks to see how you fair in the dense woodland as you investigate.

...Or any variety of other things you can come up with to complete the quest that fits the skills and personalities of your characters! The DM then determines the outcome of your actions based on the rules of the game and the rolls of the dice.

Speaking of dice, there are a variety of different dice used in the game, each with a different number of sides. The twenty sided dice (AKA a d20) is often the most popular, and it helps to determine how successful (or unsuccessful) an action is.

In game, when you ask the Dungeon Master if you can do something, such as sneak past the guards to get into the noble's manor unseen, they will ask you to make an ability check - in this case, being a stealth check. You roll your d20 and add any benefits your character has to the stealth skill to determine the final number of the roll. The lower the number, the worse you did. The higher the number, the better you did!

For example, if you rolled an 18 on your stealth check, the DM might say you were able to sneak past the security guards patrolling the manor. But if you roll a 3, the DM will likely tell you you've alerted the guards, and now you have even more problem solving to do!

Will you run? Fight? Persuade? Distract with a spell? The options are endless!

A typical game session often lasts a few hours, but ultimately how long the session lasts and how often you play is determined by the group of players and the DM. Some games are played in one sitting (referred to as a "one-shot"). Other groups like to play campaigns, which are games that last over the course of multiple session, and sometimes can last months or years. These longer campaigns allow for greater character development and storytelling experiences!

The Dungeon Master

Now, let's talk about the role of the Dungeon Master. The DM is essentially the game's storyteller, guiding the players through the adventure and the world they are in. They also play the roles of all the NPCs the players interact with, from the friendly innkeeper to the evil arch mage. They run the fights with monsters you may encounter, and also describe the outcome of your dice rolls. It's a big responsibility, but it can also be a lot of fun to create your own world and challenge your players with creative quests.

Stay tuned for a post in a few weeks on how to get started as a Dungeon Master if you are new to D&D but are interested in running the game!

How to Get Started

Sometimes finding a group of people to play with can be hard if you are new to the game. Some of the best ways are to join a local game store's D&D night, or even finding an online group. You can always take up the mantle of Dungeon Master, learn how to run a game, and host one for your friends as well, although this requires the most time commitment!

Once you have your group, it's time to create your character! You can choose from a variety of races, classes, and backgrounds, and each choice will affect how your character plays in the game. You use the Player's Handbook to fill out a character sheet, or you can use D&D Beyond's Character Builder as a great resource for quickly creating a character without having much experience playing.

Our current D&D group playing through the Strixhaven D&D Campaign.

Once you have your character, it's time to start playing! The DM will guide you through the adventure, and it's up to you and your fellow players to make decisions and roll those dice. This could be a pre-made campaign book or an adventure and world made up by the DM (what we call "homebrewing"). There's no right or wrong way to play, and the beauty of the game is that the possibilities are endless.

What You Might Encounter in a D&D Game

You might come across spells, weapons, and magical items, all of which can enhance your character's abilities. You might also encounter creatures like goblins, dragons, or even undead monsters. But don't worry, with the right strategy and a bit of luck with the dice, you can defeat, sneak past or befriend them all!

Your DM will also likely have other characters in the game that they play (NPCs) you can interact with who you can befriend or create rivals with depending on your interactions with them.

Every DM is different, so how they run their game and the type of adventure they put forth a can vary greatly. It's always good to have a conversation with the DM and players before starting a campaign to discuss what everyone is looking to get out of the game.

The Role-Playing Aspect

One of the most unique and exciting aspects of Dungeons & Dragons is the role-playing component. When you sit down to play a game of D&D, you're not just playing a board game or a video game. You're actually stepping into a fantastical world where you can take on the persona of your character and interact with other players as that character. You are not playing you, but a different person with their own passions, flaws, strengths, personality quirks and secrets.

Role-playing is a lot like improv acting, but with the added benefit of dice rolls and game mechanics to help guide the story. This may sound intimidating to newbies, but when you create your character, you get to choose their race, class, skills, and backstory, as well as ideas for bonds, flaws, ideals and characteristics they might have. This gives you a framework for how your character would act in certain situations and how they would interact with other characters, making it easier to roleplay out their actions.

As you progress through a campaign, your character will encounter all sorts of challenges and obstacles. You might have to negotiate with a group of bandits to let you pass, or convince a king to lend you his army to fight a dragon.

For example, let's say your character is a rogue who has a high Charisma score and is skilled in deception. You might try to convince the bandits that you're not a threat and that you're just passing through. You might use your quick wit and silver tongue to talk your way out of the situation, rolling dice to see if your persuasion is successful.

Or maybe you're playing a paladin who is sworn to protect the innocent. You might try to reason with the bandits, telling them that their actions are hurting innocent people and that they should give up their life of crime. You might use your Wisdom score and your knowledge of religion and ethics to make a compelling argument, rolling dice to see if the bandits are swayed by your words.

The role-playing aspect of D&D is what sets it apart from other games and makes it such a unique and rewarding experience. It allows you to be creative, to think on your feet, and to immerse yourself in a fantastical world where anything is possible. Whether you're a seasoned player or a complete newbie, the role-playing component of D&D is sure to provide hours of fun and entertainment.

Combat in D&D

Combat often plays a significant role in a D&D game. During a battle, the Dungeon Master will describe the scene and the enemies that the characters are facing. The players will then take turns attacking and defending, rolling dice to determine the outcome of their actions. The DM will also roll dice to determine how the enemies respond and how much damage they deal to the players.

Each character has a set of statistics that determine how well they can fight and how much damage they can deal. Leveling up and items/abilities you collect over the course of a campaign can help better prepare your character for more intense combat and stronger foes.

Some Dungeon Master's like to have a very physical game, with battle mats on the table, miniatures of every player's character and monster on the board, and spell effect tokens for use (this is me!), while other groups and DM's may prefer "theatre of the mind", simply describing and using your imagination to see combat happening. I (Kasey, the creator of FFCC) love using minis & maps. Take a peek at the video below of one of our recent combats that happened in a magical greenhouse!

Side Hobbies: Crafting and Creativity

Many people who play D&D enjoy the hobby side of the game. This includes things like miniature painting, terrain crafting, dice making, map making, and homebrewing creatures, quests, items and more. Many players enjoy painting and customizing miniatures to represent their characters and other creatures in the game. This can be a fun and creative way to get more invested in the game and bring your characters to life. Although these hobbies can be fun, partaking in them isn't necessary to play the game.

Terrain crafting is another popular hobby among D&D players. Some people enjoy building and painting intricate environments for their characters to explore. This can include everything from castle walls and dungeons to forests and caves. Crafting terrain can add a whole new level of immersion to the game and make it feel even more like a fantastical world.

Why This Game Is So Special...

There's something truly special about Dungeons & Dragons that has captured the hearts and imaginations of players for generations. Whether you're a seasoned veteran or a newbie just starting out, there's something undeniably compelling about stepping into the shoes of a character in a fantasy world full of possibilities, and getting to create a unique, magical story with friends.

Another thing that sets D&D apart is the sheer creativity and imagination that it encourages. With so many options for character creation, worldbuilding, and problem solving, players can let their imaginations run wild and create truly unique and unforgettable characters and stories. Perhaps most importantly, D&D provides an opportunity for social connection and community building, creating a unique story and experience together that no one else has ever shared before.

Me (Kasey), running a session in my immersive game room!

In short, Dungeons & Dragons is much more than just a game. It's a creative outlet, a social experience, and a way to explore new worlds and meet new friends. It's a way to challenge yourself, to learn new skills, and to experience the thrill of triumphing over seemingly insurmountable obstacles. It's a game that has captivated the hearts of millions, and one that will continue to do so for years to come.

Are you ready for Adventure?

So, there you have it, adventurers! A brief overview of Dungeons and Dragons and how to get started playing. Remember, the most important thing is to have fun and let your imagination run wild. Who knows, you might even find yourself creating your own epic tales of adventure to share with others...

We will be sharing a few more posts over the next few weeks about roleplaying and becoming a DM for those of you who are new to the game or are just learning about it for the first time, as well as some posts on what kind of character you might like to play.

So to wrap things up, playing D&D is like being a character in your own fantasy novel or movie. You get to create your own story, explore new worlds, and defeat the forces of evil (or maybe join them if that's your thing).

So grab some friends, light some immersive candles to help set the scene, and let the adventure begin!

And may the dice be ever in your favor. 🎲

2 commentaires

Brian Fohlmeister
24 févr. 2023

Very well written! Not a bad guide, though I (personally) would make one major amendment; do not overestimate the usefulness of the Starter Sets, especially the first version with the Lost Mines of Phandelver. However, your mileage will vary. One thing I can definitely add into this blog is a link to the ever-so useful WASD20's Buyer's Guide video, as it holds wonderful information for the beginners of this wonderful hobby of ours. Here is the link, jut in case for those who want it:

Firelight Fables Candle Co.
Firelight Fables Candle Co.
28 févr. 2023
En réponse à

Thanks so much for the feedback Brian! I’m sure that resource will be helpful for readers! :)

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