Dungeons and Dragons, or D&D, has grown from a complicated game played in musty basements to a worldwide phenomenon.
The Big Bang Theory, & the world of D&D has been introduced to more people than ever before-while the rise of podcasts and web series like Critical Role and Acquisition Incorporated, where people play D&D online for everyone to watch, the latest 5th Edition of the game has attracted a wider audience far beyond your typical nerds.
D&D is all about imagination. It’s a system that allows you and your friends to tell a story together, and it can be any story you want it to be, as someone who’s been playing for year.
I often have friends and family ask me to explain what strange fantasy game is all about.
But, every time I try and tell them of the fantastical stories I’ve been a part of defeating an ancient blue dragon with the help of the King of the Giants or travelling to the Feywild to stop the spread of a strange diseases that been plaguing the forest – their eyes glaze over and they nod along politely.
Because these stories and every D&D story happens inside the minds of the people sitting at the table – and, to an outsider, it all just seems a bit strange.
To get the real experience, you need to grab a character- sheet, and some dice, and try out the game first-had.
That’s where we come in: this guide to D&D races, classes and dice will run you through the most important points to keep in mind, with an explanation of how the underlying game mechanics work.
Playing The Game Fastly
Let’s break down the game into something easy to understand for beginners. There are three main aspects to a game of D&D: Cobat, Exploration, and Roleplay. Different game will featute-different balance of these depending on how the people like to play.
Through-out the game, you’ll come up against monsters, bandits, and bad guys, and sometimes talking just won’t fix it. You’ll have to defeat them in combat.
This is when the Fighters will dart forward, sword and shield in hand, the Wizards will throw out magic Spells from a distance, and the Clerics will be on hand to keep you all healed and alive.
Combat in D&D is turn-based, so eveyone will have their chance to make a move, led by the Dungeon Master that runs the session.
Every D&D game is set in a different world. You may be playing a game in one of the ‘official’ D&D worlds, or your game might be set somewhere your DM has invented themselves.
Eithet way, there is plenty for you to go and explore, from sunken ships and haunted castles to deserted village and monster-ridden mountain tops.
In D&D, you play as a fantasy chracters. Roleplay is when your character interacts with others in the world.
There are different way to roleplay, so don’t be put off if this sounds daunting! You can go all in with an accent or different voice, speaking as if you were the character.
Or, You can describe what your charcter does: “Ulfgar goes up to the barmaid and orders drinks for the party”.
D&D Races: Elves, Humans, Halflings, And More
If you’ve ever seen Lord of the Rings then these fantasy race options will seem very familiar to you-especially the hobbits (we mean, uh, halflings).
In the Player’s Handbook there are nine races to choose from, each race comes with its own racial traits and abilities as well as a few subraces which offer even more variety.
For example, Elves can live for up to 750 years. Can see in the dark, and thanks to their magical heritage, they can’t be charmed by magic or put to sleep.
Wood Elves are faster and stealthier, and High Elves are more adept with magic.
Compare them with Dwarves who only live to about 350 years old, also have darkvision, but they are resistant to poisons thanks to their sturdy physique,but because they are smaller in size, they also have less speed.
Already you can see the wealth of options available when creating your first character. Here’s a quick look at all the different races in the Player’s Handbook, (which you can read more about in the free Basic Rules on D&D Beyond):
Of course, these are just the basic races.
In other published 5th edition books, the list of playable races is extended to include monstrous race like Goblins and Orcs, to more exotic races such as the cat-like Tabaxi, or even the elephant-like Loxodon, and even include beings from other worlda lIke the angle- blood Aasimar, and half- horse/half-person Centaurs.
D&D Classes: Sword, Sorcery, or both?
Once you’ve decided what race your characters is, it’s time to choose a class.
In D&D your class determines what kind of things you can do and ultimately what role you’ll play in the group.
If you play any kind of online game, it’s basically how you decide who will be the tank, the support, the healer, or the DPS (high damage dealer). Some classes use magic, some use weapons, and some use a mixture of both.
As a new player, it will be easier to understand the mechanics of material classes and mixed classes (so- called half- casters or third- casters, with limited magical capabilities), but that doesn’t mean you can’t dive headfirst into some magic-based shenanigans.
Paladin (Tank, Support, Healing) A holy warrior who can channel divine energy to strngthen their attacks and their friends.
Ranger (DPS, Support, Healing) knows everything about their favored terrain, and can hone their skills on specific enemies.
D&D Subclasses: How to Specialize
Each class also has a number of subclasses that further customize how your abilities work.
For clerics, this will depend on what God you worship (there are a lot to choose from!) and what that God’s focus is.
You could be a Life Cleric who works hard to heal and inspire those around them, or you could be a Tempest Cleric who calls on the power of the storm to smite their enemies.
For Rogues, you could have trained as an Assassin who is deadly when they get the jump on their enemies, or you could be an Arcane Trickster who has learned to supplement their stealth with magic.
Subclass option come into play at level 3 for most classes (Clerics, Sorcerer, and Warlocks kick off proper at level 1, and Druids level 2) so if you’re starting at level 1, you’ll have a bit of time to play the character and decide what suits you best.
D&D Spells: Playing As A Caster
Magic plays a big part in many DND games, and while it may seem confusing at firts glance, with the latest 5th edition of the game (5E), the mechanics have been simplified to make it more beginner-friendly.
There are two types of spells you can learn: basic ‘cantrips’ and more complex levelled spells. Cantrips are spells that you know so well and are so familiar with that you can cast them whenever you like, as many times as you like. These tend to be less-powerful but can be incredibly useful.
Then you have levelled spells. Each spell caster will have a certain number of spell slots they can use for these spells (lots for Wizards, not so many for Warlock).
When you’ve used them all, you have to take a rest before you can cast these spells again. The higher the spell slot, the more powerful the spell.
These can be a mixture of damage spells like a Fireball thrown into the middle of your enemies, a healing spell to bring someone back to full health, or a control spell that can make your enemy think you’re actually really cool and it doesn’t want to kill you after all.
D&D Dice: Shiny Math Rocks
Now, you may have seen strangely-shaped dice used as part of D&D. Althrough six-sided dice are the most common outside D&D, the game actually makes use of a whole range of polyhedral dice.
You’ll often see people say “roll a d20”, 20-sided dice (or d20s) are the most commonly used dice in the game.
You use these more than anything else to determine if you can hit someone with your sword, if you’re able to sneak past the guard, or if you’re able to resist the magical charm of that beautiful half-elf bard that’s been suspiciously chatting you up.
You’ll also have the chance to roll d12s, d10s, d8s, d6s, and d4s on a regular basis. Of course, with new technology, you don’t actually need to use physical dice.
What You Need??
Dice! Full sets are usually available for purchase in matching colors from your local game shop, or you can order online.
It’s best to have at least one 20-sided die (1d20) and onw or two six-sided dice (1d6 or 2d6), but some classes require other dice for things like hit points and combat. Thus, a full set is useful when you’re just starting out: 1d20, 1d12, 1d10, 1d%, 1d8, 1 or 2d6, 1d4.
Your Character Sheet (see below)
A. Pencil or erasable pen if you are using a physical character sheet.
B. Tablet, laptop, or any phone if you are using a digital character sheet
D. Some imagination
E. Snacks & enjoy your games