Dungeons and Dragons

Dungeons and Dragons

Nathaniel Simon, Staff Writer

Dungeons and Dragons, or D&D/dnd for short, is the ancestor of every RPG or Role playing Game. D&D was created by Ernest Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson in 1974 and was very successful in its first run, selling over 3,000 copies. Considering the cost of each set, that was a decent amount and that does not include the sale of supplements, which are pre-made adventures. The game was then made into several editions over the years, including OD&D in 1974 and D&D Fifth Edition in the present day.

It isn’t only video games that have been affected by Dungeons and Dragons. It has influenced pop culture since its inception. For example, in Stranger Things the characters play the game at the beginning of the first season and the monsters and plot elements of the session foreshadow the events of the season. It is also seen in The Simpsons, the Big Bang Theory, and Futurama. It isn’t just the characters in movies that play the game. Many actors do as well, including some especially famous ones like Robin Williams, Stephen Colbert, Mike Myers, and  Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.

D&D is usually played with 4 or more players, not including the Dungeon Master aka DM. The players each have a character sheet representing their race (Elf, Dwarf, Human, etc.), class (Wizard, Bard, Fighter etc.), background, and their stats (which are determined with rolls of the dice.) This game is notoriously complex and hard to set up, since the DM needs to fabricate a story to tell to the players and to let them to play through. If you do not know what that means, it includes map making, story writing, and character development. Essentially D&D is the first  game to have a complex plot. It is a good start for those who wish to write stories while having fun at the same time. Easily, setting up a D&D campaign, which is what people call a single game of D&D, can take several days to a few weeks if you are pacing yourself. Playing the game, especially if the DM is new, can take longer. To put things in perspective, it took me, working together with my friends, about 3-4 hours to create their characters and their backstories. And it took about 5 hours for my friend Justin, as he decided to write an essay for his backstory.

Since I’m explaining the game, I thought I would create a character with you now. First you pick the race of your character. There are many races in the worlds of D&D. Some of these are homemade and some are taken from the official hand books. They cost about $30 at Barnes and Noble, but you can download a PDF version for free off of several D&D websites. So, for the sake of simplicity, I’m going to stick with the official races from the handbooks. The races are as follows: Dwarf, Elf, Human, Halfling, Dragonborn, Gnome, Half-Orc, Half-Elf, and Tiefling.  Let’s assume your character is a Human. They give you a +1 in every stat. So, if you’re trying to make a jack of all trades type character, the human is a good choice.

Next is the class. Your class dictates your skillset. This can include a front line Fighter class, which is an extremely potent combatant, or the Cleric aka the healer of the group. There are more, including the Cleric, Fighter, Wizard, Rogue, Barbarian, Bard, Druid, Monk, Paladin, Ranger, Sorcerer, and Warlock. Let’s assume that you want to be a Fighter. Fighters are usually found as mercenaries, sellswords, and soldiers on the frontlines of battle. They also can be potent as archers. That translates into his abilities. Fighters are usually the tough guys of the group and are generally are melee characters. Fighters can fight enemies efficiently from either long or short range. Since for this hypothetical character, we are starting at level one, the Fighter is nothing but a squire with a small health pool, which is also determined by a roll of the dice plus your constitution modifier. We will learn more about that later. The amount of sides of the dice is determined by your class. So, depending on your class, you might have more or less health excluding first level because you just get the max amount you can get from a roll plus your constitution modifier. So therefore, due to the Fighters hit die being a d10, he would get a minimum of 10 health.

Next is the part that determines how well your character performs in the game. Rolling for ability scores determines this. All you need to do is roll 4 six sided dice and choose the 3 highest out of those and then you have your ability score. You need to do this for each of the 6 scores, those include strength, dexterity, constitution, intelligence, and charisma. Strength is your physical strength. Dexterity is how easily you can move and how coordinated you are. For example, you would make a dex check for sneaking around or catching an arrow mid flight. Constitution is your resistance to disease and other negative effects. Intelligence is how smart you are. Wisdom is how you apply your knowledge and Charisma which is how well you talk and how easily people believe you. So let’s say that you roll two 12’s, a 15, a 10, a 9 and an 18. Each of these numbers give a value that adds a bonus to a roll that involves that stat. For example you would get a plus 4 bonus from 18 so because you are a Fighter, a melee class. You would put it in strength so you can be more efficient with your damage and hit rolls. You also add 1 to each stat due to your character being Human.

Now that you rolled your stats, you have to distribute them amongst the six stats. Since you are a fighter I would recommend that you put 19 in Strength, 13 in Dexterity, 16 in Constitution, 13 in Intelligence, 11 in Wisdom, and 10 in Charisma. But you can totally customize this to your preferences. Now for your health, since we know your constitution modifier, your health would be a total of 12 which is a lot for your level. Next comes your Background, which determines what skills you have and what other knowledge you might have. It includes what you did before you became an adventurer. The book recommends, since your a Fighter, to make your background Soldier. In other words you were in the military or were a mercenary of some sort. But remember, you can choose what ever background you wish when creating a character. When doing so, you should always consult with your DM for advice and suggestions on how to make your character both interesting and make him/her a part of the world that the DM is writing.

I’m not going to go any further, as I have probably given you readers a headache from reading all of this lengthy yet helpful information. But these are the first few steps for creating a character in Dungeons & Dragons. And remember that you can create your own race, class or background if the DM allows you to. Thank you all for taking this little journey with me and I implore you good readers to try D&D out with a group of your friends.