You might be asking, “What is DUNGEONS & DRAGONS?” The DUNGEONS & DRAGONS game is a roleplaying game. In fact, D&D invented the roleplaying game and started an industry. A roleplaying game is a storytelling game that has elements of the games of make-believe that many of us played as children. However, a roleplaying game such as D&D provides form and structure, with robust gameplay and endless possibilities.
D&D is a fantasy-adventure game. You create a character, team up with other characters (your friends), explore a world, and battle monsters. While the D&D game uses dice and miniatures, the action takes place in your imagination. There, you have the freedom to create anything you can imagine, with an unlimited special effects budget and the technology to make anything happen.
What makes the D&D game unique is the Dungeon Master. The DM is a person who takes on the role of lead storyteller and game referee. The DM creates adventures for the characters and narrates the action for the players. The DM makes D&D infinitely flexible—he or she can react to any situation, any twist or turn suggested by the players, to make a D&D adventure vibrant, exciting, and unexpected.
The adventure is the heart of the D&D game. It’s like a fantasy movie or novel, except the characters that you and your friends create are the stars of the story. The DM sets the scene, but no one knows what’s going to happen until the characters do something—and then anything can happen! You might explore a dark dungeon, a ruined city, a lost temple deep in a jungle, or a lava-filled cavern beneath a mysterious mountain. You solve puzzles, talk with other characters, battle all kinds of fantastic monsters, and discover fabulous magic items and treasure.
D&D is a cooperative game in which you and your friends work together to complete each adventure and have fun. It’s a storytelling game where the only limit is your imagination. It’s a fantasy-adventure game, building on the traditions of the greatest fantasy stories of all time. In an adventure, you can attempt anything you can think of. Want to talk to the dragon instead of fighting it? Want to disguise yourself as an orc and sneak into the foul lair? Go ahead and give it a try. Your actions might work or they might fail spectacularly, but either way you’ve contributed to the unfolding story of the adventure and probably had fun along the way.
You “win” the DUNGEONS & DRAGONS game by participating in an exciting story of bold adventurers confronting deadly perils. The game has no real end; when you finish one story or quest, you can start another one. Many people who play the D&D game keep their games going for months or years, meeting with their friends every week to pick up the story where they left off.
Your character grows as the game continues. ach monster defeated, each adventure completed, and each treasure recovered not only adds to your continuing story, but also earns your character new abilities. This increase in power is reflected by your character’s level; as you continue to play, your character gains more experience, rising in level and mastering new and more powerful abilities.
From time to time, your character might come to a grisly end, torn apart by ferocious monsters or done in by a nefarious villain. But even when your char-acter is defeated, you don’t “lose.” Your companions can employ powerful magic to revive your character, or you might choose to create a new character to carry on from where the previous character fell. You might fail to complete the adventure, but if you had a good time and you created a story that everyone remembers for a long time, the whole group wins.
The world of the DUNGEONS & DRAGONS game is a place of magic and monsters, of brave warriors and spectacular adventures. It begins with a basis of medieval fantasy and then adds the creatures, places, and powers that make the D&D world unique.
The world of the D&D game is ancient, built upon and beneath the ruins of past empires, leaving the landscape dotted with places of adventure and mystery. Legends and artifacts of past empires still survive—as do terrible menaces.
The current age has no all-encompassing empire. The world is shrouded in a dark age, between the collapse of the last great empire and the rise of the next, which might be centuries away. Minor kingdoms prosper, to be sure: baronies, holdings, city-states. But each settlement appears as a point of light in the widespread darkness, a haven, an island of civilization in the wilderness that covers the world. Adventurers can rest and recuperate in settlements between adventures. No settlement is entirely safe, however, and adventures break out within (and under) such places as often as not.
During your adventures, you might visit a number of fantastic locations: wide cavern passages cut by rivers of lava; towers held aloft in the sky by ancient magic; forests of strange, twisted trees, with shim-mering fog in the air—anything you can imagine, your character might experience as the game unfolds.
Monsters and supernatural creatures are a part of this world. They prowl in the dark places between the points of light. Some are threats, others are willing to aid you, and many fall into both camps and might react differently depending on how you approach them.
Magic is everywhere. People believe in and accept the power that magic provides. However, true masters of magic are rare. Many people have access to a little magic, and such minor magic helps those living within the points of light to maintain their communities. But those who have the power to shape spells the way a blacksmith shapes metal are as rare as adventurers and appear as friends or foes to you and your companions.
At some point, all adventurers rely on magic in one form or another. Wizards and warlocks draw magic from the fabric of the universe, shape it with their will, and hurl it at their foes in explosive blasts. Clerics and paladins call down the wrath of their gods to sear their foes with divine radiance, or they invoke their gods’ mercy to heal their allies’ wounds. Fighters, rangers, rogues, and warlords don’t use obviously magical powers, but their expertise with their magic weapons makes them masters of the battlefield. At the highest levels of play, even nonmagical adventurers perform deeds no mere mortal could dream of doing without magic—swinging great axes in wide swaths that shake the earth around them or cloaking themselves in shadow to become invisible.