An Introduction to Dungeons & Dragons

Dungeons and Dragons is the most well known – and probably the longest running – Fantasy Role-Playing Game. It has proved a popular choice among gamers and I personally have been playing it for around 10 years. It is a good system for newcomers because many Game Masters are familiar with and have the resources to ensure a good first time experience. The system has also been well tested so we know that it works well, though not perfectly. The genre may not suit all (if you don’t like fantasy you won’t like this), but a well-run game provides a good grounding in the conventions and etiquette of role-play.

Dungeons and Dragons takes place in a typical Sword and Sorcery, quasi-medieval environment. The players assume characters with the role of a Warrior, Cleric, Rogue or Magic-User (alongside combinations and variations of these). Warriors operate by strength and skill in battle. Clerics are holy servants of Gods within the games pantheon; fanatics who receive abilities for their devotion and who often act as healers. Rogues operate by stealth and speed, attempting to evade problems or come at them from behind. Magic-Users are the arcane academics: Mages, Wizards and Sorcerers. They are intelligent and harness magical energy to effect miraculous results.

A character will usually assume a role based on their strongest attribute. These attributes are measured numerically and used as a gauge for how successful a character is in any activity employing it. These are Strength, Dexterity, Intelligence, Wisdom and Charisma. Some of these attributes will affect how the character behaves and will require the player to act appropriately. For example a character with low intelligence wouldn’t deduce the complex solution to a puzzle.

The player also decides upon a morality which will guide how they enact their character. These encompass Law and Chaos, Good, Evil and Neutrality. These are used as the basis for the characters beliefs and motivations.

The content of the game is adventures. Within their world the Player Characters are extraordinary people doing extraordinary things. They are adventurers, heroes (or villains) probably seeking fame, fortune and glory. The content should be challenging, exciting and fun. They will most definitely encounter dungeons, magic, monsters and mystical beings. The length of the game is not finite, it may continue after a specific quest is completed whether it be finding the treasure, rescuing the damsel or saving the world. The Player Character will change over time, becoming more experienced, gaining the benefits and bearing the scars. Stories will evolve differently depending on the players who are given a lot of freedom to do as they wish.

There are different versions of Dungeons and Dragons out there. I personally prefer the 2nd Edition rules and Epic Fail is based on a 2nd Edition D&D campaign played by my friends and I. However when it comes to Dungeons & Dragons, and role-play gaming in general, there’s only one real rule: As long as you are having fun you are doing it right!

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