Here are a few of my favorite things: Nintendo, Penny Arcade, The Legend of Zelda, Mario, Pokemon, Harvest Moon, Fallout, Dungeons and Dragons, books, dice, Professor Layton, Shadow of the Colossus, Minecraft, and so much more. I'm going to talk a lot about video games, I sincerely hope you don't mind.

Monday, April 14, 2014

So You Want to Get Into Dungeons and Dragons...

Welcome, brave adventurer! You've heard the tales, listened to other adventurers, and now your curiosity is piqued. You want to know: what is Dungeons and Dragons? Well rest your fevered brain, my friend. For I am the Good-Geek Tom, and I shall be your guide on this descent into madness and wonder. I will tell you all you need to know to get yourself started and even bestow upon you knowledge not found in any book, but from the fires of trial and error so that you may have the best time possible when rolling the die.

Dungeons and Dragons, in the most basic sense, is a fantasy role-playing game played through narrative storytelling and by tabletop pieces for representation. Players create characters by race and class who then proceed along a story of challenges and opponents set up by the impartial game runner, called a dungeon master. As the story continues, players level up, get better gear and do just about everything else you'd expect in an RPG. However, how the game is played is different from other RPGs. The game utilizes different sided die to measure success and failure. They're used for just about everything: determining how well you do a skill, how hard you hit an enemy, everything. But the almighty die in D&D is the twenty-sided die, called the “d20.” It measures outcomes from 1 to 20, 1 being a critical failure and 20 being a critical success. With these mechanics, the game functions and players and DMs have a way to play.

But let's assume you're somewhat familiar with this. You've heard about how it's played but now want to get into the meat of the matter. The next thing you're going to need are the supplies. We're talking the books, character sheets, miniatures, set pieces, the works. Don't be daunted by how much there is to acquire because a lot of it can be found easily, cheaply or can just be improvised.

The two books essential to the game are “The Player's Handbook” and “The Monster Manual,” with an honorable mention to “The Dungeon Master's Guide.” There are a lot of places you can purchase the books or sites you can find to download them online. Currently, D&D is on its 4th edition but there wouldn't be much harm if you played 3.5, 3 or even 2nd edition, depending on your prerogative.

Once you have them, you'll learn all about the rules of the game and the exact details of how to play. The rest of your D&D acquisitions can then move on to finding miniatures for your players and enemies, creating or buying tiles for them to move onto and buying whatever other D&D paraphernalia you want.

And thus you have everything you need to play! You have all the components and knowledge, now you're set to gather some friends and set off on some adventures.

But before you depart, allow me to offer some words of advice to help shape your game into a more fun, positive experience. I don't claim to be a seasoned D&D veteran, but even I can pick on some things that will help you and your friends out on your new journey.

1. Play with like-minded people.

When determining who to play with, it's best to pick people who share your values and enthusiasm for the game. Often times this will mean picking your friends, but sometimes even your friends can derail a game, either by being too antagonistic, too aloof, or what have you. It's also about a level of comfortability. If you don't like your snide coworker, don't invite him to play. Even if he has every book and miniature. Play with people you enjoy spending time with because ultimately, that's what you'll be doing with these people.

2. Don't try to memorize everything.

Let's get this straight: there are a lot of rules in D&D. I mean A LOT. There are a hundred different technicalities for every different situation, stats for leveling and damage scores, special feats your class has, so on and so on. At first glance, it's going to be intimidating. But don't let it deter you because the rules shouldn't be memorized all at once. Instead, learn the basic concepts of the game and the details of your specific class and character. Nichify your focus and let the rest of the rules come to you with time and practice. Once you play through a couple runs, the rules will seem less scary and invite you to understanding them more.

3. Don't take your role-playing too seriously.

Creating your character is a great thing. Thinking up a back story for them, even better. But what's not good is when you take your character portrayal so seriously that it bleeds into real life. Demanding your fellow players to refer to you by character name only, chastising someone for not properly playing the right moral alignment, it's all bad. It spoils the wonder of the game and leaves a sour taste everyone's mouths. You can be your character without being a dick.

4. Rules are good, guidelines are better.

Like I said before, there are a lot of rules in Dungeons and Dragons. So much, and this is personal experience here, that it's acceptable to forgo some of the rules if they hinder the smoothness of the game. If your game is getting hung up because of a technical rule on weight limits, then change it up if you so please. The rules aren't written in stone, so feel free to alter the way your party plays the game. So long as you keep the core concepts and the spirit of the game, everything should be fine.

5. And remember: it's all about fun.

At the end of the day, the whole game and all the effort gone into it serves one purpose: to have fun. This is the mentality you should carry throughout the game and let it be your foundation amidst petty squabbles, cheap calls or total party kills. As long as you're having fun, nothing else should matter. Because if you're not having fun slicing off the head of a troll with a flaming sword, what's the point?

That's all for now, adventurers! If you've got some input on this article or just want to share some of your D&D stories, let us know! Comment down below or find us on Facebook at


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Thanks for explaining what has been a total mystery to me for years. :D

I'm so glad! Now you can start up your own campaign! ;D

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