Introduction to D&D


Note: This is part of the D&D 101 series designed to help players learn more about how to play the game. To continue reading, click here.

From the popular Zelda games to the Final Fantasy series, World of Warcraft, and even games like Mass Effect, most people have played an RPG game of some sort. But, what most people don’t realize is that most of these games actually came from D&D.

What is D&D?

D&D, which can also be abbreviated to DnD, is a nickname for the tabletop roleplaying game Dungeons and Dragons, which was created in the 1970s. And, although it gained something of a bad reputation in the 1980s, the truth is that D&D has spawned an entire genre of games. However, unlike console RPGs, all of the magic, battles, conversations, and actions are described by people rather than rendered by technology. It’s basically a group of people all using their imaginations to weave a story together.

Generally, there are at four to seven players in a D&D game (usually referred to as a campaign), and there are two basic roles: The players, and the Game Master, or GM (also sometimes called a Dungeon Master, or DM). There is only one GM/DM and everyone else is a player.

What do the players do?

Players create and are in charge of a single character. Throughout the game they make choices as to what their character would do in reaction to things happening in the story. This often includes speaking as the character, tracking equipment, making decisions, and deciding on skills and abilities and when they should be used. As the game progresses, characters increase in skills and power, allowing them to tackle bigger and bigger challenges.

Technically speaking, a D&D campaign can have as many players as the DM can handle, but your average game has five to six players. While it is possible to accommodate as many as ten players, new gamers should stick to groups of four to six people.

What does the DM do?

While the players control a single character, the DM is in control of basically everything else including the world and every character that was not created by a player. This is a very important role that takes a lot of work between sessions, as the DM is in charge of defining the story and the situations which the characters will react to.

Being a DM is a very complicated and rewarding process, but it’s not as hard as it sounds.  As the DM, you have to be able to think on your feet, be willing to learn the ins and outs of the rules system, and have the drive to tell a good story. DMs are master storytellers who craft unique locations, fascinating plots, and challenges for players to encounter and overcome. Basically, the DM is the world and the players are the heroes in that world.

Keep in mind that while the DM is often in opposition to the players, the DM’s real job is to make the game fun. It isn’t meant to be a competition between the players and the DM (that would be grossly unfair!) but more a collaboration to tell the most exciting story.

This blog is geared more towards players, so there are some aspects of DMing that will not be addressed in this blog. However, in order to DM you have to have a solid grasp of all of the aspects of being a player, so that doesn’t mean that dungeon masters and game masters cannot benefit from reading this blog.

How to Start Playing D&D

If you’re interested, then the next step is to figure out which D&D edition you want to play, then find a group, build your characters, and start playing! Continue reading our D&D 101 series to learn more about the ins and outs of D&D, or leave a note below and I’ll do my best to help answer all questions!