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Introduction to Dungeons and Dragons

Updated on January 14, 2015
A rulebook from the latest edition of Dungeons & Dragons: 4.0 [also called 4e]
A rulebook from the latest edition of Dungeons & Dragons: 4.0 [also called 4e]

Dungeons & Dragons.

People often ask me if they can join a game, watch, or just take part in the magic. I oblige, but my hopes that they'll continue to play are low.

Dungeons and Dragons, to most of it's true fans and players, is a way of thinking. To take part in a campaign- to save a king from an evil Lich- is invigorating.

People in this day and age are far too self-conscious. Imagination and intuitive thinking are drowned out by monotony and attempts to 'fit in'. Sophisticated games like Dungeons & Dragons are reduced to fairy dust and unicorns. People scoff at it's mention, without even the slightest clue to it's maturity and complexity.

You see, Dungeons & Dragons intimidates people. Kids, Teens especially, play their video games almost religiously. Their minds become molded to the world of these video games. Hanging on the latest innovation, praying for more intuitive controls, rioting for more immersible worlds. But they laugh in the face of Dungeons & Dragons. The truth is: There is no game more innovative, more intuitive, or more immersible than Dungeons & Dragons. From creating your character to rolling your dice, D&D is entirely based around your interaction as a player.

Dungeons & Dragons begins like anything typically does; A leader. The leader of a D&D group is called the Dungeon Master. Dungeon Masters have the most stressful role of the entire group. Their role deeply depends on their ability to bring the world of Dungeons & Dragons to life. You see, D&D isn't a gameboard. It's not a mat, tile or a book, though there are books you can purchase that have officially released worlds specifically designed to compliment the unique aspects of Dungeons & Dragons. Dungeon Masters bring to life the ancient- and practically extinct- art of story telling. The following is an example of a simple, beginner's level Dungeons & Dragons setting, as described by a Dungeon Master;

"Your party walks up the winding path to the Wizard Karthato's castle. It begins to storm, you can see the white blaze of lightning off in the distance. The smell of the thick, rotten double doors permeate your nostrils. The doors seem unperturbed. No one has ventured to this castle in decades. Today you will find out why."

As you can see, Dungeon Masters are artists in of themselves. To create and weave a tangible world from words alone is a fine art in which few can find success. They need to be quick on their feet, able to adapt to any situation, and here's why: The Dungeon Master may seem like the Maestro in this Concerto of Horror, but in truth, the Players are the ones in full control.

Players of Dungeon & Dragons are everyone that isn't the Dungeon Master, typically 4-6 people. These are the members of the group who have taken the time to create, mold, shape, and bring to life their own, personal Characters. Characters that, 90% of the time, reflect their true, inner-self. Players use a special system of mechanics called the D20 system [more on that later] to create their characters within the rules of Dungeons and Dragons. Think of it as if you're trying to build a car for a big race; The car has certain requirements and restrictions, right? Well the D20 system is exactly that, a system to regulate characters and their abilities, but on a much, much simpler scale than cars.

[Sidenote: Dungeons & Dragons provides people with a means to embody their wild desires. From personal experience, I once played with a fantastic group that consisted of the following, very unlikely people: A morbidly obese man who played a small, agile Thief. A Quiet, introverted teen who played the party's charismatic leader. A Brilliant scientist who had created himself a wild, diehard Barbarian, and myself, a very scientific, factual person who was raised to life in the D&D world as a Holy Paladin, defending his god and slaying evil. It lets people truly experience other sides of who they are, and often brings out their best characteristics.]

Yes, Players are in control. Unlike Video Games, which are based around a specific storyline or script [There is NO exception to this statement], Dungeons & Dragons isn't bolted to any particular, predesignated sequence of events. What makes D&D so hard to grasp for Video game aficionados is it's sheer, entirely limitless freedom of choices. I mentioned a castle and a set of double doors earlier in the discussion. At this point, the Party is free to do whatever they like, [suffice to say that their character must be skilled enough to perform the task proposed] such as: Kregor the Lawful Good Fighter may want to just knock on the door, to see if anyone is home. Whereas, Yuric, the Chaotic Good Barbarian, may want to smash down the door, and raid the house in search of the Wizard Karthato. Even further, still, Laurenae, the respectful Paladin, may just want to turn around and retreat to the village at the base of the hill. It is up to the players to come to an agreeable consensus about what to do.

Millions upon millions of decisions lie in the players' hands. But it is up to them to decide their fates. Dare you open the door to the left with the monstrous growl behind it? Or will you open the door to the right, which may be the true lair of the Dragon?

The choice is yours, just open your eyes and give it try. What's the worst that could happen?


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    • andrebreynolds profile image

      andrebreynolds 5 years ago

      Great information.

    • aWOLtrooper profile image

      aWOLtrooper 6 years ago from Wesley Chapel!

      Personally, I started with 3.5, and then became familiar with 4E, and yes, I'd completely agree that they're overpowered- But- you also have to take into account that they're appealing to different crowds; 3.5 was heavy on the roleplaying, with rules and concepts that appeal to those who really wanted to get into their characters and stories. Whereas 4e really focused on the combat and the strategy behind it. It's almost impossible to just run in and hack-and-slash your way through a group of enemies without really knowing your party's strengths and weaknesses, as well as those of your adversaries.

      Evolution is a natural process, and nothing is immune- #.5 and 4E are perfect examples of that!

    • Porshadoxus profile image

      Porshadoxus 6 years ago from the straight and narrow way

      Voted up.

      Which version of DnD do you prefer. I learned DnD with 2E, and I find 3, 3.5, and 4 to be overpowered. What are your thoughts?

    • profile image

      chery 6 years ago

      do u know of any places where there are D&D groups 4 teenagers?

      to rep plz do so on

    • Shadesbreath profile image

      Shadesbreath 6 years ago from California

      Nice intro. I agree that the players drive the story. The DM keeps it together, but it comes from them. I have to say, I kind of think they tried to turn 4.0 into World of Warcraft. I'm really not inlove with the "magic" that warriors and stuff have. I'm seriously considering going to Pathfinder (bascially back to D&D 3.0/3.5). But you're right, it's not a lame kiddie game. People who think that have either only played it with kids or haven't played it. You do the game great service here.

    • profile image

      Kale S. 6 years ago

      Thanks for the intro man. I've played Warhammer 40k for years but the hobby is getting too expensive and my armies are too big to transport. I think this would be a good alternative, I've been wanting to play a character based game (Fantasy) for a while now and although D&D seemed rediculously complex at first, i think i might give it a try. Thanks again

    • aWOLtrooper profile image

      aWOLtrooper 7 years ago from Wesley Chapel!

      Hi everyone, I really do appreciate all your comments, they truly mean a lot, and have inspired me to write more about the fascinating topic of D&D!

    • Jeff Berndt profile image

      Jeff Berndt 7 years ago from Southeast Michigan

      Voted up. I'll drop you a note soon as well.

    • deltamonk profile image

      deltamonk 7 years ago from UK

      Couldn't agree more - it's nice that you can get people to take an interest in the first place!

      Good luck!

    • satomko profile image

      Seth Tomko 7 years ago from Macon, GA

      Good intro. Keep it up.

    • profile image

      Tweek 7 years ago

      You win.

    • KCC Big Country profile image

      KCC Big Country 7 years ago from Central Texas

      What an awesome hub! Thank you so much for answering my hub request! It was everything I was hoping for and more! You're off to a great start here!