What is Dungeons & Dragons? A Beginner's Guide | Firelight FablesHero: A Beginner's Guide to the Epic World of Dungeons & Dragons (2023)

Greetings and salutations, fellow adventurers! Are you ready to embark on a journey into the world of Dungeons and Dragons? Well, saddle up your trusty steed (or broomstick) and let's dive in!

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What is Dungeon's & Dragons?

First things first, what exactly is Dungeons and Dragons?

At its core, D&D is a tabletop role-playing game that allows players to create their own characters and embark on epic adventures. Think of it as a choose-your-own-adventure book, but with endless possibilities and dice rolling. Each game is led by a Dungeon Master (the DM, for short), who creates the world, all the other characters in the world (non-player characters, or NPCs), and quests for the players to complete.

It's like getting to be part of the Fellowship of the Ring, but you get to create your own character, choose how you interact with other members of the Fellowship and individuals in Middle-earth, maybe fight off orcs or a Balrog, and explore the world as you see fit.

The Dungeon Master helps guide you through it and is in charge of creating the world and events that occur in it. You get to decide how your character and party respond to those events, and based on your rolls and the abilities of the character you created, you can have different levels of success (or failure!) at the actions you are trying to take.

How is it played?

In a typical game of D&D, players describe the actions they want to take based on the choices available to their character.

For example...maybe you are sent on a quest to find incriminating evidence about one of the nobles in town regarding their illicit activities. You could...

  • ...tell the DM you want to try to sneak into their manor by picking a lock, or forcefully break in in by kicking down the door to see what you can investigate inside.

  • ...find one of their employees and see if you can persuade, charm or intimidate them to reveal what they know about their boss's illegal activities.

  • ...try to forge your own evidence, likely making a performance check at the request of the DM to see how successful you are.

  • ...try to follow the noble as they make a mysterious trek into the woods, having to make survival checks to see how you fair in the dense woodland as you investigate.

...Or any variety of other things you can come up with to complete the quest that fits the skills and personalities of your characters! The DM then determines the outcome of your actions based on the rules of the game and the rolls of the dice.

Speaking of dice, there are a variety of different dice used in the game, each with a different number of sides. The twenty sided dice (AKA a d20) is often the most popular, and it helps to determine how successful (or unsuccessful) an action is.

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In game, when you ask the Dungeon Master if you can do something, such as sneak past the guards to get into the noble's manor unseen, they will ask you to make an ability check - in this case, being a stealth check. You roll your d20 and add any benefits your character has to the stealth skill to determine the final number of the roll. The lower the number, the worse you did. The higher the number, the better you did!

For example, if you rolled an 18 on your stealth check, the DM might say you were able to sneak past the security guards patrolling the manor. But if you roll a 3, the DM will likely tell you you've alerted the guards, and now you have even more problem solving to do!

Will you run? Fight? Persuade? Distract with a spell? The options are endless!

A typical game session often lasts a few hours, but ultimately how long the session lasts and how often you play is determined by the group of players and the DM. Some games are played in one sitting (referred to as a "one-shot"). Other groups like to play campaigns, which are games that last over the course of multiple session, and sometimes can last months or years. These longer campaigns allow for greater character development and storytelling experiences!

The Dungeon Master

Now, let's talk about the role of the Dungeon Master. The DM is essentially the game's storyteller, guiding the players through the adventure and the world they are in. They also play the roles of all the NPCs the players interact with, from the friendly innkeeper to the evil arch mage. They run the fights with monsters you may encounter, and also describe the outcome of your dice rolls. It's a big responsibility, but it can also be a lot of fun to create your own world and challenge your players with creative quests.

Stay tuned for a post in a few weeks on how to get started as a Dungeon Master if you are new to D&D but are interested in running the game!

How to Get Started

Sometimes finding a group of people to play with can be hard if you are new to the game. Some of the best ways are to join a local game store's D&D night, or even finding an online group. You can always take up the mantle of Dungeon Master, learn how to run a game, and host one for your friends as well, although this requires the most time commitment!

Once you have your group, it's time to create your character! You can choose from a variety of races, classes, and backgrounds, and each choice will affect how your character plays in the game. You use the Player's Handbook to fill out a character sheet, or you can use D&D Beyond's Character Builder as a great resource for quickly creating a character without having much experience playing.

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Our current D&D group playing through the Strixhaven D&D Campaign.

Once you have your character, it's time to start playing! The DM will guide you through the adventure, and it's up to you and your fellow players to make decisions and roll those dice. This could be a pre-made campaign book or an adventure and world made up by the DM (what we call "homebrewing"). There's no right or wrong way to play, and the beauty of the game is that the possibilities are endless.

What You Might Encounter in a D&D Game

You might come across spells, weapons, and magical items, all of which can enhance your character's abilities. You might also encounter creatures like goblins, dragons, or even undead monsters. But don't worry, with the right strategy and a bit of luck with the dice, you can defeat, sneak past or befriend them all!

Your DM will also likely have other characters in the game that they play (NPCs) you can interact with who you can befriend or create rivals with depending on your interactions with them.

Every DM is different, so how they run their game and the type of adventure they put forth a can vary greatly. It's always good to have a conversation with the DM and players before starting a campaign to discuss what everyone is looking to get out of the game.

The Role-Playing Aspect

One of the most unique and exciting aspects of Dungeons & Dragons is the role-playing component. When you sit down to play a game of D&D, you're not just playing a board game or a video game. You're actually stepping into a fantastical world where you can take on the persona of your character and interact with other players as that character. You are not playing you, but a different person with their own passions, flaws, strengths, personality quirks and secrets.

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Role-playing is a lot like improv acting, but with the added benefit of dice rolls and game mechanics to help guide the story. This may sound intimidating to newbies, but when you create your character, you get to choose their race, class, skills, and backstory, as well as ideas for bonds, flaws, ideals and characteristics they might have. This gives you a framework for how your character would act in certain situations and how they would interact with other characters, making it easier to roleplay out their actions.

As you progress through a campaign, your character will encounter all sorts of challenges and obstacles. You might have to negotiate with a group of bandits to let you pass, or convince a king to lend you his army to fight a dragon.

For example, let's say your character is a rogue who has a high Charisma score and is skilled in deception. You might try to convince the bandits that you're not a threat and that you're just passing through. You might use your quick wit and silver tongue to talk your way out of the situation, rolling dice to see if your persuasion is successful.

Or maybe you're playing a paladin who is sworn to protect the innocent. You might try to reason with the bandits, telling them that their actions are hurting innocent people and that they should give up their life of crime. You might use your Wisdom score and your knowledge of religion and ethics to make a compelling argument, rolling dice to see if the bandits are swayed by your words.

The role-playing aspect of D&D is what sets it apart from other games and makes it such a unique and rewarding experience. It allows you to be creative, to think on your feet, and to immerse yourself in a fantastical world where anything is possible. Whether you're a seasoned player or a complete newbie, the role-playing component of D&D is sure to provide hours of fun and entertainment.

Combat in D&D

Combat often plays a significant role in a D&D game. During a battle, the Dungeon Master will describe the scene and the enemies that the characters are facing. The players will then take turns attacking and defending, rolling dice to determine the outcome of their actions. The DM will also roll dice to determine how the enemies respond and how much damage they deal to the players.

Each character has a set of statistics that determine how well they can fight and how much damage they can deal. Leveling up and items/abilities you collect over the course of a campaign can help better prepare your character for more intense combat and stronger foes.

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Some Dungeon Master's like to have a very physical game, with battle mats on the table, miniatures of every player's character and monster on the board, and spell effect tokens for use (this is me!), while other groups and DM's may prefer "theatre of the mind", simply describing and using your imagination to see combat happening. I (Kasey, the creator of FFCC) love using minis & maps. Take a peek at the video below of one of our recent combats that happened in a magical greenhouse!

Side Hobbies: Crafting and Creativity

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Many people who play D&D enjoy the hobby side of the game. This includes things like miniature painting, terrain crafting, dice making, map making, and homebrewing creatures, quests, items and more. Many players enjoy painting and customizing miniatures to represent their characters and other creatures in the game. This can be a fun and creative way to get more invested in the game and bring your characters to life. Although these hobbies can be fun, partaking in them isn't necessary to play the game.

Terrain crafting is another popular hobby among D&D players. Some people enjoy building and painting intricate environments for their characters to explore. This can include everything from castle walls and dungeons to forests and caves. Crafting terrain can add a whole new level of immersion to the game and make it feel even more like a fantastical world.

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Why This Game Is So Special...

There's something truly special about Dungeons & Dragons that has captured the hearts and imaginations of players for generations. Whether you're a seasoned veteran or a newbie just starting out, there's something undeniably compelling about stepping into the shoes of a character in a fantasy world full of possibilities, and getting to create a unique, magical story with friends.

Another thing that sets D&D apart is the sheer creativity and imagination that it encourages. With so many options for character creation, worldbuilding, and problem solving, players can let their imaginations run wild and create truly unique and unforgettable characters and stories. Perhaps most importantly, D&D provides an opportunity for social connection and community building, creating a unique story and experience together that no one else has ever shared before.

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Me (Kasey), running a session in my immersive game room!

In short, Dungeons & Dragons is much more than just a game. It's a creative outlet, a social experience, and a way to explore new worlds and meet new friends. It's a way to challenge yourself, to learn new skills, and to experience the thrill of triumphing over seemingly insurmountable obstacles. It's a game that has captivated the hearts of millions, and one that will continue to do so for years to come.

Are you ready for Adventure?

So, there you have it, adventurers! A brief overview of Dungeons and Dragons and how to get started playing. Remember, the most important thing is to have fun and let your imagination run wild. Who knows, you might even find yourself creating your own epic tales of adventure to share with others...

We will be sharing a few more posts over the next few weeks about roleplaying and becoming a DM for those of you who are new to the game or are just learning about it for the first time, as well as some posts on what kind of character you might like to play.

So to wrap things up, playing D&D is like being a character in your own fantasy novel or movie. You get to create your own story, explore new worlds, and defeat the forces of evil (or maybe join them if that's your thing).

So grab some friends, light some immersive candles to help set the scene, and let the adventure begin!

And may the dice be ever in your favor. 🎲


What is Dungeons and Dragons for beginners? ›

Start Playing

Our D&D Starter Set: Dragons of Stormwreck Isle is your place to start! This set contains the essential rules of the game plus everything you need to play heroic characters on perilous adventures in worlds of fantasy.

What is the overview of Dungeons and Dragons? ›

Dungeons & Dragons is a structured yet open-ended role-playing game. It is normally played indoors with the participants seated around a tabletop. Typically, one player takes on the role of Dungeon Master (DM) while the others each control a single character, representing an individual in a fictional setting.

Should I read Player's Handbook or Dungeon Master's Guide first? ›

As a player, most of what you need to know is in the Player's Handbook; additional material can be found in the Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide. Other than that, you should probably talk with your DM to figure out what kind of game they're running and what other materials they might recommend you review.

What DnD book should I get first? ›

The Players Handbook

It contains everything from details about how to build your characters, to spells, to the general rules of the game. It also has a great section to help those brand new to role-playing games. A treasure trove of information, if you're new to the game this should 100% be your first stop.

Is Dungeons and Dragons a hard game to learn? ›

Dungeons and Dragons is somewhere in the middle of the spectrum — the rules are simple enough to follow as a beginner, but there's a very clear structure to work within. Players have room to get creative without feeling paralyzed by infinite choices or bogged down by complicated rules.

Can you play D&D alone? ›

Yes, you can absolutely play D&D by yourself. A solo D&D game can allow for great exploration and be personally rewarding. It can also make you a better player and a Dungeon Master if and when you join a full D&D game.

What can Dungeons and Dragons teach you? ›

Dungeons and Dragons and other Tabletop Role Playing Games (TTRPGs) are a great way to sneakily build skills that children will need not only in school, but later in life. Some of those skills are: Vocabulary Building, Problem Solving, Team Work, Communication, Listening, Storytelling and Imagination growth.

How do I learn to play Dungeons and Dragons? ›

While the easiest way to learn how to play Dungeons & Dragons is to learn from more experienced players, which you can do at a friendly local gaming store (FLGS) that usually have weekly organized play games such as Adventurer League, but if that's not be an option or you may want to begin by sharing the game with a ...

What is so special about Dungeons and Dragons? ›

D&D provides an opportunity for players to develop social-emotional skills, build confidence, and learn to express themselves. As kids learn and grow, they need safe spaces to try new things. They need to know it's okay that you won't always succeed the first time—or even at all.

Is it worth getting the Dungeon Master's Guide? ›

Even though not every player needs to have it, it is a must-have for the DM; it is impossible to run the game without it. For those who are only now entering the roleplaying hobby, D&D is not only the most successful roleplaying game currently on the globe.

Is it necessary to get Dungeon Master's Guide? ›

Although you don't have to follow the Dungeon Master's Guide perfectly, it can be a useful resource for a first time dungeon master. It goes over the basic rules and mechanics of running the game, and also inspires a lot of interesting ideas for your campaign or adventure.

Can The Dungeon Master do anything? ›

In effect, the Dungeon Master controls all aspects of the game, except for the actions of the player characters (PCs), and describes to the players what their characters experience.

What is the easiest class to play in D&D? ›

Bard is quite possibly the best class for a beginner to play. It's a magic-heavy class that doesn't require the spell slot management of other magic classes, like Wizard or Warlock, and is also incredibly versatile. Bards can be healers, tanks, and everything in between depending on how they are built by the player.

What is a good age to start DND? ›

I usually see 12 being recommended as the ideal age to start playing D&D. The rules can be a little complicated, and kids need to be able to think abstractly in order to enjoy playing the game. In my own D&D group, I work with middle school aged kids from ages 11-14.

How many classes should you have in DND? ›

Dungeons & Dragons Basic Set

The Basic Set presented four human classes: Cleric, Fighter, Magic User and Thief, and three demi-human classes: Dwarf, Elf, and Halfling. The Companion Set introduced four optional classes for high-level characters: the Avenger, Paladin, and Knight for Fighters, and the Druid for Clerics.

Does D&D need math? ›

Dungeons and Dragons has a lot of math in it. There are formulas and statistics in everything from experience point totals for each new level to hit points and attack rolls to damage from small and large weapons.

Is playing D&D good for you? ›

Studies have shown that the highly social and collaborative nature of the popular fantasy role-playing game cultivates a range of social-emotional skills, which can lay the foundation for improved learning.

How long does it take to prepare for Dungeons and Dragons? ›

If I'm running a single-session game from scratch, it could take one to two hours to get everything ready.

How long does it take to play a game of Dungeons and Dragons? ›

A single session of Dungeons & Dragons can last anywhere between three hours to an entire day, as it's almost implausible to get a reasonable amount of roleplaying done in less than a few hours. If you're playing a one-shot, then you can expect things to be wrapped up in a single session.

Do you need books to play D&D? ›

If you've never played Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) before, it might surprise you to note that books play an essential role (unless you read this article). While those polyhedral dice (especially your D20) are necessary, it's awfully hard to play without knowing the rules, getting some guidance, or using a module.

Can you play D&D without anything? ›

Dungeons & Dragons is more popular than ever, and each year we see more and more people join the hobby. But the expensive range of hardcover books available might give you pause—especially if you are on a budget. So, can you play D&D without buying anything? The answer is an emphatic Yes!

What is the most important skill in DND? ›

1 Perception (Wisdom)

For parties to complete their quests, it's often necessary to pick up on little details present in one's environment. DM's know this all too well, and often hide essential information that players might not notice outright.

Is there any skill in Dungeons and Dragons? ›

Skills are an important part of Dungeons and Dragons. In D&D every character has a set of core stats, and those core stats help determine how well they perform under certain aspects of the game. They help with combat and magic, as well as movement and general conversation.

What should you not do in D&D? ›

D&D: 10 Things No Player Should Ever Do
  1. 1 Take Out Their Frustration On The Dungeon Master.
  2. 2 Mess With Other Player's Characters Without Their Consent. ...
  3. 3 Rely On The Dungeon Master To Know The Character's Abilities. ...
  4. 4 Come Completely Unprepared To The Session. ...
  5. 5 Try To Take All Of The Spotlight. ...
  6. 6 Be Greedy With The Loot. ...
Jan 14, 2022

What level should I start doing Dungeons? ›

Note that while you can walk into a dungeon at any level, we recommend you reach level 10 before starting dungeon content.

Why do people like D&D so much? ›

"The game allows us to be ourselves and someone else at the same time," Perkins said in an email. "D&D is also a great creative outlet, allowing us to craft our own fictional characters, worlds, and adventures, and that's very appealing when the real world is quickly burning to a cinder."

Do people still play Dungeons? ›

Yes, D&D is back. But it's cool now (sort of). And legions are into it, including an unprecedented number of adult and female players, attracted by a popular recent revamp and new online playing options. It's the ultimate sign that nerd culture is now mainstream.

What are Dungeons used for? ›

A dungeon is a room or cell in which prisoners are held, especially underground. Dungeons are generally associated with medieval castles, though their association with torture probably belongs more to the Renaissance period.

Can you get a job as a Dungeon Master? ›

As long as people love playing role-playing games, professional dungeons and dragons game masters will be needed to guide players through epic adventures. If you have the skill to be a professional DM, begin the application process today and let others benefit from your storytelling skills and experience.

Can you make money as a Dungeon Master? ›

Some voice actors and playwrights are turning to D&D as a source of income. High-end DMs charge up to $500 per session, according to Mary Pilon, who wrote about professional dungeon masters for Bloomberg Businessweek.

How much does a Dungeon Master cost? ›

$375 / per event. Crazy about Stranger Things, Community, Critical Role, and want to try out D&D with your friends? Play from the comfort of home with accessible online tools (Roll20, Discord) and a pro storyteller! One flat rate for parties of 3-6 players.

Can I put Dungeon Master on my resume? ›

If you don't want to watch the post I'll summarize: under volunteering on your resume you can put “Dungeon Master” aka “Community Organizer.” Being a “Dungeon Master or Game Master” (DM/GM) for a tabletop role playing game can be a lot of fun and rewarding.

What is the difference between players handbook and dungeon masters guide? ›

The Dungeon Master's Guide is a companion book to the Player's Handbook, which contains all of the basic rules of gameplay, and the Monster Manual, which is a reference book of statistics for various animals and monsters.

Can you play D&D without Dungeon Master? ›

While DnD was designed to be played with a dungeon master to guide the party, it can be played without one, but doing so will change the entire structure of the game.

Can you play D&D with 2 players? ›

The good news is that the game can in fact be played with only two players, but it requires a lot of adjustments to the base rules and a little more effort in both roles. However, a 2-player game can provide a uniquely fun experience with a friend, significant other, or family member.

Can a Dungeon Master also play a character? ›

Dungeon masters can't have a character in Dungeons and Dragons because it sets up a conflict of interest for the dungeon master. Since the dungeon master has prior knowledge of what will occur in a campaign, any character the dungeon master runs has meta-knowledge that puts them at an advantage.

What Dungeon Master should not do? ›

Join us as we explore some things you should never do as a Dungeon Master.
  1. 1 Ignore Player Feedback.
  2. 2 Kill All The Players. ...
  3. 3 Let Players Create Any Character They Want. ...
  4. 4 Stick To The Rules, All The Time. ...
  5. 5 Play To Stereotypes. ...
  6. 6 Punish Players For Out-Of-The-Box Thinking. ...
  7. 7 Assume The Players Know What You Are Thinking. ...
Mar 28, 2022

What skills does Dungeons and Dragons teach? ›

Dungeons and Dragons and other Tabletop Role Playing Games (TTRPGs) are a great way to sneakily build skills that children will need not only in school, but later in life. Some of those skills are: Vocabulary Building, Problem Solving, Team Work, Communication, Listening, Storytelling and Imagination growth.

What skills do you learn from Dungeons and Dragons? ›

The skills that D&D players develop are many and varied, including communication skills, problem solving skills, team work, money handling and maths skills. “I've seen customers' social skills and their adding and subtracting improve,” Jarrod said.

What can you learn from Dungeons and Dragons? ›

In play, kids play learn focus, cooperation, problem-solving, leadership, risk-assessment, and pretty much everything good except how to bake brownies. In Dungeons and Dragons they get all of that plus some math and science skills, too.

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