D&D for Beginners: What is it, anyway?

D&D for Beginners: What is it, anyway?

By Bree Smith on February 5, 2020 in Beginner's Guide, Dungeons & Dragons

Dungeons and Dragons, once a hobby shunned by the masses as being uncool, is now played by millions around the world. With popular shows like Community, Stranger Things and the Big Band Theory, and actors like Joe Manganiello (Magic Mike) and Deborah Ann Woll (Daredevil), bringing the game into popular culture, it’s almost uncool not to be playing it.

But, what is it exactly?

D&D is one of many tabletop roleplaying games (RPGs). To fully understand what that means, lets break it down a little.

Tabletop games

A tabletop game is exactly that, a game played around a table. You gather a group of friends together and solve objectives by rolling dice (not all tabletop games use dice, but I’m simplifying it) and making decisions, sometimes competitively and sometimes cooperatively. RPGs are 100% cooperative.

Unlike a typical tabletop game, like Monopoly or Settlers of Catan, RPGs don’t have game boards, but instead each person has a character sheet and a set of dice. Players use the character sheet and a random roll to determine success or failure when attempting to do an action in the game.

Also unlike board games, an RPG requires one person to be the Game Master (GM), who creates the objectives and narrative of the game. This person also controls all the enemies and the people who fill up the world. The players must figure out ways to solve puzzles, fight combats and strategize the best ways to meet objective, or, in a lot of cases, get out of trouble.


This is the part of the game that a lot of people get hung up on. There is an idea that in order to play you need to be able to act and do funny voices. Unfortunately, shows like Critical Role, where everyone is a professional voice actor, don’t help the intimidation around roleplaying. I am here to tell you, you DO NOT need to be a professional actor or know how to do a British accent to play D&D.

What you do need is a healthy imagination. Roleplaying is about stepping into the shoes of a character and making decisions through their lens. Your character sheet may outline your character’s stats and skills, but it’s up to you to decide WHO they are.

Your character’s personality comes from how they interact with the world the GM has laid out before them. Will they be reckless and rush into conflict, or cautious and adverse to risk? Are easy to trust, or paranoid? What are their ambitions and fears? You get to decide their history – no accent needed.

D&D is a tabletop roleplaying game

D&D is a game played around a table where you use your imagination to tell a story with your friends. Together you make decisions that further the narrative, for good or bad, and have a lot of fun doing it.

Throughout the story you will encounter physical, mental and emotional conflict that the group will overcome through combat, strategy, and a lot of dumb luck.

Along the way you will learn a lot about your friends, have epic stories to tell, and amass an embarrassing amount of dice.

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