Well met, Adventurer!
Welcome adventurer, to the first blog post from WC Junior, Danielle Hibbs, and an anonymous Wilmington High School sophomore who often is a Dungeon Master (they requested anonymity).
We are here to illuminate the world of Dungeons & Dragons. These blog posts will cover everything from the basics of D&D (or D&D-used interchangeably) gameplay, to the types of monsters, races, and classes there are, and what D&D means to its players. We will even discuss our upcoming play this Spring at WC Theater called ‘She Kills Monsters’ and we might have some fun guest speakers for our posted recordings.
Dungeons & Dragons was created in 1974 by David Arneson and Ernest Gary Gygax. Gygax owned the company Tactical Studies Rules (TSR), and this is the platform for which D&D was initially published. D&D is a roleplaying game in which you create characters based on races and classes and play out adventures using your imagination. D&D has gone through many editions over its lifespan and is currently on its 5th edition (5E). These adventures are often called quests or campaigns. Some can be considered ‘one-shots’ where the quest will last for one gameplay session. Some longer quests or campaigns can last over numerous sessions, with the Dungeon Masters and players keeping sessions going for years. All of these groups are also often called parties. To have a quest be successful with a party, you have to have a well-rounded group of characters like a fighter, a healer, a magic wielder, etc.
The basics of D&D consist of a Dungeon Master (this is like a manager of gameplay) and at least 1 or more role players (since the DM can also have a character they play if they so choose). As a physical option, you have a set of polyhedral dice that range from a d4, d6, d10, d122, and a d20. The d4, d6, and d20 will be your main dice when playing D&D. You can also utilize a 3D virtual dice in lieu of physical dice from websites like Roll20. This is also a great website where you can play virtually with friends in real time while also chatting via a video meeting room. Something that was vital during the pandemic.
Role players must create a character sheet and base that character on a race and class within the D&D realm. You must also have an array of points added to your character sheet to make them (hopefully) a well-rounded player. Below is an example from one of my personal characters from DnDBeyond:
As you can see, the options are strength, dexterity, constitution, intelligence, wisdom and charisma. The bonus points (like +4, +1) are considered modifier bonuses to your dice rolls. There are a few different ways to adhere these main points to these areas. The main two are the point system and the rolling system. The rolling system has you roll a d6 (dice with six sides) four times, discarding the lowest number, and having that as one of the numbers you can set for one of your ability scores. Do that about six times, then choose which you want them to be. The second popular way to choose these is the point system or point buy. For that method, all of the scores will start at 8, and you are given 27 points to disperse and can choose areas to add those additional points to create higher scores. The bonuses (or negatives) that will be added to your role are on a scale, 8-9 are -1 to a roll, 10-11 are +0 (just what you roll), 12-13 are +1, 14-15 are +2, 16-17 is +3, 18-19 is +4, and a 20 (highest you can get) is +5. Most Dungeon Masters will give you a few extra points on a low one, like the negative bonus or below 10, just to make it a bit easier for a beginner (depending on the DM). Something else that can affect this is your race. As an example race: the Tabaxi (aka: cat people). To explain, the Tabaxi have an added bonus of two points to their dexterity modifier for dice rolls. So, if a Tabaxi wanted to walk on a tightrope in a circus, they’d be naturally better at it than a human, since a human does not naturally have added dexterity points to them based on race alone.
Skills are another portion of the character sheet. As shown below, this includes the areas listed above like strength, dexterity, constitution, etc. You can have a few things you’re proficient in from these skills. Either natural ones from the race of your character (like the ability scores) or ones you choose yourself. These allow your character, in certain situations, to have a higher chance of performing better. To explain how the race of your character can add more, it's like how the Tabaxi have naturally added points (a proficiency) to their perception and stealth. Much like you would imagine a normal cat would.
You can be anything from a terrifying red Dragonborn barbarian who has a bloodlust Hannibal Lecter would envy, a dodgy Elf with a knack for being a stealthy thief who enjoys playing the lute in his off time, or the recently added (5E) Aasimar race who is a paladin (a holy knight) with a mysterious past they don’t like to talk about. The possibilities are vast! I recall arguing with a DM about wanting to be a purple Dragonborn (purple is my favorite color-Danielle) and they said there was no such thing. I fought that my parents were a red and blue Dragonborn and so, they created a purple Dragonborn. I won this fight in the end, and it was highly entertaining.
Below are some examples of these types of characters I listed above directly from the DnDBeyond website:
Both the anonymous WHS student and I hope you enjoyed the first D&D blog post. Thanks for reading and we hope you check back for more posts! Our next blog post will go over races and classes more in-depth. If there is ever anything you would love for us to go over, you are welcome to leave a comment or contact the site. If you are a player and you would love to talk about D&D on a recorded interview piece we will post here, then we would love to have you. Photos included in this post are owned by Danielle Hibbs, unless otherwise noted within the post.