Basic Rules


Before we go over the rules, it’s important to know that most people learn just by playing. You need to know about your character, however the Dungeon Master can guide you along the way. For more extensive rules I would suggest picking up the books that we mention in the last section, or visiting this site.

What You Need:

  1. Character Sheets
  2. Dice
  3. Maps
  4. Miniatures
  5. Handbooks

The Characters:

Before the game begins, every player must create their character. This is usually done by filling in the character sheet. The most important part of this process is determining the ability scores. These are categorized according to strength, wisdom, dexterity, intelligence, constitution, and charisma.

A score is given for each category ranging from 3 to 18, being determined by adding up the numbers on the three six-sided dice you roll. The other most important numbers to determine are the armor class and the hit points. All of these scores combined create the stats that a character has. However, much of how a character plays is explained by their class/race. According to the classic rules, the available classes for a character to be include: fighter, cleric, magic-user, thief, dwarf, halfling, and elf. However, in the modern versions players often separate class and race. Where a race is about what they look like (such as a human or elf), and a class explains how they act (such as a thief or fighter). In addition there is also a component to one’s character called alignment. This is part of the classic rules as well, however it is very similar to the ideas of class in the modern games. Both as basic determinants for how a character would act in a given situation. Finally, many players enjoy creating an intricate back story for their characters, often parts (or all) of this is hidden from the other players.

As seen in the Freaks and Geeks video, characters serve different roles in the game. While much of your character is determined by how the dice land, one of the main draws to the game for many people is developing your character further. This involves naming, writing back stories, and simply choosing what your character would do in a given scenario.

The Dice:

As an outsider, a first observation that will likely occur involves the dice. Six polyhedral dice are used, each having a different purpose. These include a four, six, eight, ten, twelve, and twenty-sided dice. Players tend to have their own set, and the Dungeon Master has several. Dice are used in countless scenarios, and the dungeon master will direct the players when to roll.

For shorthand the dice are written as “d#”, with the number corresponding to how many sides that dice has. When needed, the number that is rolled is written before this. So, if a player rolls the four sided dice and gets a two, it would be written as: 2d4. Generally, the higher the roll, the better. A higher roll can mean that they have done more damage, become more powerful, and many other things.

Each die has its own purpose:

d6-used for filling out the character sheets (and determining the damage of specific weapons).

d20-used for rolling for initiative, rolling to hit, and for skill checks.

d4, d6, d8, d10, d12- all used to determine the damage of specific weapons.

The Maps:

The maps are drawn by the Dungeon master ahead of time and then recreated on a board (“battle-grid”) during the game. The Dungeon Master starts by creating a backstory to the map, and then they draw the dungeon. While this may be done in any order, next nearby settlements are usually drawn. Finally, the Dungeon Master adds things for the characters to encounter. This includes things such as Monsters and Treasure. They can also find stories on the internet to encorporate. The pictures are maps that the group we observed.

The Miniatures:

The minis are an important element to the game, providing a visual representation of where a player is on the map. The also help identity where non-player characters are, and where creatures (such as mosters, elves, etc.) are.

Many people choose to buy official miniatures, but the group we observed had a mix of official minis as well as pieces from several other games.

The Handbooks:

Almost everyone who plays Dungeons and Dragons would agree that these are the most important things to have when playing. There are three types: The Players Handbook, The Monster Manual, and The Dungeon Master’s handbook. Together they have everything you need to know to play the game.

In addition the books also come with spell cards,Which are just basic reference cards that help a player determine what a specific spell does.

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