How to Dungeons and Dragons

Welcome adventurer, I'm glad you got my letter and were able to make it here with such short notice - DM
Cool so is this where we start killing dragons? -Your character
Everyone at the table looks at you...

Introduction (skip if you don’t want to read)

Playing Dungeons and Dragons is a fun social and interactive experience for people of all ages. It can also be a great way to relieve some stress by killing fictional enemies or get those urges to steal everything from your local farmers market out in a healthy contained environment (I didn’t go there you did). So this begs the question how does one play Dungeons and Dragons? Maybe you are like me and you felt like you would always enjoy it, but you never quite seemed to learn the rules or get into a group at the right time. Or maybe you already know people and you just want a quick guide on how to play the game. Well, this is hopefully the guide for you and as you continue reading I will give you some basic information to get playing.

Required Dungeoneering Tools

In this section, I will list some things that will help you to be successful in your journey. This is assuming you are playing Wizards of the Coast’s Dungeon and Dragons Fifth Edition. Although many of these tools can be used for other RPG systems.

  • RPG Player guide
    • If you are playing D&D 5e buy from:
  • A Group to play with
    • Although you could technically play solo, this is meant to be a social interaction either virtual or in real life.
    • If you do not have anyone to play with useful tools like Roll 20 , online blogs, or your local game store to find players
    • Otherwise, you are stuck playing D&D by yourself. This is not the worst thing you could always just narrate and play your own adventures.
  • Pen and Paper for notes
  • Dice of some sort
    • Physical is preferred when in person
    • Roll20 has built-in dice
    • Other apps and websites can be used to your heart’s content.
  • Your character sheet
    • Without this you will just be there, sure you could play without one, but at that point, you probably only need a pen, paper, good memory, and good improvisation skills.

Table Etiquette

The best answer to this one is as follows. Talk with your DM/GM and other players and follow what the crowd is doing.

Sir a wizard is causing all the city inhabitants to go mad and run off a cliff - City Guard
Well, Johnny, the only thing left to do is join them, at least our victory will be we all died together - Mayor

How to Play

Stats used in most games:

  • Strength – How often you go to the gym
  • Dexterity – How often you catch things as they fall down or avoid people attacking you
  • Constitution – How many smacks in the face you can take before you die
  • Intellect – How many books you have read and understood
  • Wisdom – How many times you have done something stupid and finally learned from your mistake.
  • Charisma – The best stat in the game since it is the only one that has some naturalness in it inherently. I guess you could over time become a good negotiator, but for some reason, dashing people always get their way.

Based on these stats they will have some kind of level or gauge for where you are called a modifier. The game has a reference sheet for how these affect a dice roll (which if you did not buy shame on you. May you only roll Natural 1s). Example: I have 20 strength in D&D so I will add +5 to a d20 strength check. If I roll 14 it actually becomes 19.

So now let’s talk dice. There are many dice and they have many symbols (Why do you hate us FFG with your custom symbols for RPG games) However most standard games use d4, d6, d8, d10, d12, d20. These can easily be bought online, your local game shop, or Amazon. So you might be wondering, “Great so I see all this, but what does it all mean”. Let’s use another simple example. So I am a level 1 half-orc barbarian (can half-orcs be anything else) with a strength of 14. Your modifier is +2 for D&D. Your dm says: “Hey you. Roll me your dice if you gonna attack dem goblins” so you roll your d20 since that is the system that D&D uses and you get a 14. You tell the dm, “I got a 16” He will then look at dem goblins AC and let you know whether or not you hit the creature. FYI DMs can say whatever they want. Definition of DM: A crazy being with unlimited power shooting magical rays from their voice at unsuspecting adventurers – webster dictionary. No pun intended.

Alright, so now that you managed to make it this far you are sitting there wondering why you even read the Introduction section and why that wasn’t the first sign that you should run away quickly. Now that I have your attention let’s talk about the first session and what you need to know to play a session like a true king of the table, virtual table, or place of play. (I only play on trashcans made from recycled goblin iron that was smelted in recycled dragons breath, because it is good for the environment)

Key Words:

  • Natural 1
    • This is where the definition of DM sees its full potential (You fail, in fact, you fail so hard that you lose all your friends in the process, your wife leaves your for the halfling down the street, and the orc isn’t even willing to kill your character because you aren’t worth his time)
  • Natural 20
    • This is where the player sees their full potential (essential you do cool things and succeed)
  • Severity
    • When you hear this just cry because most of the time it means that bad things are coming.
    • This is usually used in relation to a natural one, and yes you can go below rock bottom
  • Proficiency
    • These are things you are good at so depending on your level you get a free addition to your modifier. IE you are entitled to be better at this game, aren’t you special
  • Skill check
    • What cool things you know how to do like persuading your friends to give you money to join your party.
    • You can also do skill checks for things you are bad at like: A giant bear is attacking your level 1 party so you decide to go up and pet it like a dog while it is raging. Unless you get a natural 20, you will be creating a new character and silently watching your friends die next.
  • Ability Score
    • Remember Strength, Dex, etc. That is what these be
  • AC (Armor Class)
    • This is how much blade your body can endure before blood starts coming out
    • Higher = better
    • If you roll 14 and the AC is 15 you miss or it just hits the armor and does nothing
    • if you roll 15 and the AC is 15 you roll damage (this is based on your equipment, weapon, or spell)
    • If you roll natural 20 they just got hit like they were in their birthday suit (usually a critical is rolled on top of damage)
  • Speed
    • This is how far you can move on the board (useless if the DM doesn’t use maps)
    • How long it takes you to walk from point a to point b based on calculations that no one really cares to figure out. Your character will always just be saying, “Are we there yet”
  • Spell Slot
    • This is how many spells you can use in a day before resting #balance
    • If you are a class that doesn’t use spells then you don’t need this, in fact, you hate this because the other people in your party keep holding it over your head like you are a lesser being, but it’s okay because dead people can’t make fun of you.
  • Equipment
    • Your armor which helps with your AC (usually uses dexterity)
    • Weapons (this is usually how you deal damage unless you are a silly spell caster)
      • Usually it will look like this: Longsword 1d6. Roll your d20 to hit add strength modifier + proficiency (since you use strength for this weapon. It usually will tell you in that handbook you bought). Then if you hit you roll one d6 and deal that much damage to the creature
  • Cantrips
    • These basic spells that spell casters figured out how to not run out of so they cast them endlessly throughout your campaign trying to do things.

Ignore every other piece of this game in the first session. If the DM tries to use a keyword outside of this list, pick up your player sheet and tell them, “I only play with sophisticated D&D players” and walk out and find a new group. Okay in all seriousness these are the basics and will get your through most of your session, just read the player’s handbook and learn the other stuff. Or watch what your friends do and learn all the rules wrong and then try playing with other people and they will hate you because you don’t know how to play and somehow you have a +7 modifier at level one and one hit everything.

The Grand Finale

Wow you guys actually listened to my whole song – the bard
… – the party
They’re all dead – The orc cooking your friends. Guess what you’re next.

Wow you made it and somehow you didn’t close the tab read a better article from a more sophisticated person. Well now that you are here I have some final tips for you that those other quitters don’t get to know and you can tout in their face because you’re better than them.

Final Tips:

  • Like this article’s humor have fun and laugh when you play
  • Rules are meant to be broken like my heart on that natural 1 (darn you conniving halfling)
  • Voice acting is not required but helps you to engage
  • For the love of God if you are a bard please sing a song instead of saying you’ll do it. I don’t care if it is terrible at least it’ll be funny on the natural 20 you get for performance.
  • Ohh yeah, disregard half this article because I still barely know how to play the game and I’m too lazy to read the rulebooks so I definitely throw rules out the door…

PS. I always will exchange Intellect for Charisma, so if you read this article and think I am stupid, you are correct. I literally have a 6 in Intelligence, but as I said, “Dashing people get what they want” So hit that link to get more stupid articles from my dashing self, and thank me yesterday.

Me