So you want to play Dungeons and Dragons?
First you must generate you ability scores, you do this by rolling 4d6 (four six sided dice) six times and discarding the lowest each time, (For example say I rolled the dice and got a 6, two 4s, and a 2, I would discard the two and add the rest for a final score of 14)
You’re probably wondering ’What are abilities? ’ The SRD says
Each ability partially describes your character and affects some of his or her actions.
But that is not very helpful. Each ability score represents your character’s ability in a certain area (Good examples are Strength and Intelagence) All together there are six abilities, STRENGTH (STR), DEXTERITY (DEX), CONSTITUTION (CON), INTELLIGENCE (INT), and WISDOM (WIS), (listed with their abbreviations in parentheses) they are all fully explained in the SRD under “Basics” in the heading “THE ABILITIES”
Each score you generate needs to be assigned to a specific ability, but that is done later.
Now it is time to pick a race and class, if you looked in the SRD under those headings you will have found them to be very unhelpful. I’ll go over them now in an attempt to expand.
Basically, D&D has 7 races all except gnomes drawn from Tolkien, but each is also slightly different from Tolkien as well.
HUMANS~I don’t believe an explanation is necessary here.
DWARVES~Dwarvers in D&D are basically identical to dwarves in Tolkien. As to the rules, their “Stonecunning” represents a dwarf fimliarity with mining, and working with stone.
“Darkvision” Dwarves can see in the dark, but it is only black and white.
ELVES~D&D’s elves are different from Tolkiens, but not that much, the main difference being that D&D elves are not immortal (they just live very long). Elves in D&D don’t sleep they go into a ‘trance’ for 4 hours at night, And all elves have the ability to wield certain weapons (longsword, rapier, longbow, and shortbread)
GNOMES~I’m going to ignore these for now, they would be too hard to explain.
HALF-ELVES~Are part human and part elf, having ancestors of both races. Half-elves ‘Trance’ like elves, but are otherwise mostly human, eccepting that they have sharper senses.
HALF-ORCS~Are part human and part arc, all in all they’re better than orcs, but are stronger and less intelligent than humans.
HALFLINGS~Are Hobbits with the serial numbers filed off, the only real difference is that D&D’s healings are more like the Tooks that Tolkien’s normal Hobbit.
At this point it would be a good idea to look at ‘races’ in the SRD, and tell me if I missed anything or you need more explanation before we go on to classes and the rest of character creation…
Firstly I have to say I will not be covering all the classes, they are much more complicated then races and there are more of them.
Know the basics, Eash class is divided into twenty levels, you will be starting at first level so we don’t really need to worry about the others for now, you advance in levels as you gain experience points (or XP) Experience points are awarded by the DM for completing goals (common examples include defeating enemies, or avoiding a trap)
Each adventuring party is expected to include at least one of the 4 ‘part roles’ namely Fighter, Rough, Arcane spell caster and Divine spell caster…
You may be wondering what these roles mean. Well,
+ Figter~A fighter is one who fights, this role is exemplified by the fighter class, but another class in this category include Barbarien, Monk, and Paladin.
+ Rogue~This category is hard to explain, it comprises only the rogue class (called in previous editions the ‘Thief’), and is basically someone you focuses on skills as opposed to combat or spellcasting or what ever. Common things a rogue would be called on to do include finding and disarming traps (think Indiana Jones style traps), picking locks, and any application of stealth or trickery that may be required. (think Bilbo Bagens)
+ Arcane Spellcaster~Exemplifed by the Wizard class but also including the Sorcer arcane spellcaster are spell caster who work with what D&D calls ‘Arcane’ magic, very much similar to Gandolf, Arcain spell casters tend to have powerful attack spells (Things like Fireball and Lightning bolt), as well spell of general use (Find secret doors is a good example), Arcane spellcasters are more flexible than divine spellcasters, but lack some important abilities.
+ divine spellcasters, Before going into this it is worth saying that D&D uses a fictional mythology, smaller to Norse or Roman myth. Now with that said a divine spellcaster uses ‘Devine’ magic, the name being drawn from the fact that the main divine spellcaster (the cleric) draws their power from their faith in their deity. However there is also a second divine spellcaster the Druid who draws their power form nature, Devine spellcaster in the game is important because they have the only access to healing spells as well as moderitly powerful spells of other types, they also have more skill in combat than an Arcane spellcaster.
As for covering classes in detail we’ll be doing the Fighter, Rogue, Sorcerer, Barbarien, Druid, And Cleric.
Now, before I go on to details I have to explain how classes affect you charector.
Lets use the fighter as an example, Fighter
Under the heading, Fighter we see subheading labeled, “Alignment”, “Hit Die”, “Class Skills”, “Skill Points at 1st Level”, “Skill Points at Each Additional Level”, “Class Features”, “Weapon and Armor Proficiency”, and “Bonus Feats”
+ Alignment; In D&D whether you are good of evil is simplified with the alignment system, Which tracks your ‘alignment’ on two axes, Good-Evile and Chaotic-Lawful Both of which contain a third section ‘neutral’ (because not everyone is a hero or villain)
Law Vs Chaos is best summed up by the passage
LAW VS. CHAOS
Lawful characters tell the truth, keep their word, respect authority, honor tradition, and judge those who fall short of their duties.
Chaotic characters follow their consciences, resent being told what to do, favor new ideas over tradition, and do what they promise if they feel like it.
“Law” implies honor, trustworthiness, obedience to authority, and reliability. On the downside, lawfulness can include close-mindedness, reactionary adherence to tradition, judgmentalness, and a lack of adaptability. Those who consciously promote lawfulness say that only lawful behavior creates a society in which people can depend on each other and make the right decisions in full confidence that others will act as they should.
“Chaos” implies freedom, adaptability, and flexibility. On the downside, chaos can include recklessness, resentment toward legitimate authority, arbitrary actions, and irresponsibility. Those who promote chaotic behavior say that only unfettered personal freedom allows people to express themselves fully and lets society benefit from the potential that its individuals have within them.
Someone who is neutral with respect to law and chaos has a normal respect for authority and feels neither a compulsion to obey nor a compulsion to rebel. She is honest but can be tempted into lying or deceiving others.
Devotion to law or chaos may be a conscious choice, but more often it is a personality trait that is recognized rather than being chosen. Neutrality on the lawful–chaotic axis is usually simply a middle state, a state of not feeling compelled toward one side or the other. Some few such neutrals, however, espouse neutrality as superior to law or chaos, regarding each as an extreme with its own blind spots and drawbacks.
Animals and other creatures incapable of moral action are neutral. Dogs may be obedient and cats free-spirited, but they do not have the moral capacity to be truly lawful or chaotic.
At this point it is good to read ‘Alignments’ in the ‘alignment and Description’ section of the SRD.
Back on point, what ‘Alignment’ means in this context is that depending on the class some alignments are not allowed as members, (For example a Monk must be lawful, while a Barbarian can not be)
+ Hit Die;
Ok, we know the ‘Hit Die’ is ten sided, but what is the Hit Die? Well remember,
When your attack succeeds, you deal damage. The type of weapon used determines the amount of damage you deal. Effects that modify weapon damage apply to unarmed strikes and the natural physical attack forms of creatures.
Damage reduces a target’s current hit points
When your hit point total reaches 0, you’re disabled. When it reaches –1, you’re dying. When it gets to –10, you’re dead
Then it follows that the Hit Die is the die that determines your Hit Points..
How you ask? Well each time you reach a new level you roll the hit die and add you constitution modifier, (Rember modifiers from Abiltes?)
You apply your character’s Constitution modifier to:
• Each roll of a Hit Die (though a penalty can never drop a result below 1—that is, a character always gains at least 1 hit point each time he or she advances in level).
The bigger the hit die the more hit points you are likely to get, So the Fighter has one of the largest (a D10) While the wizard has the smallest (a D4), Because the fighter is a strong front line combatant, while wizards tend to be frail focusing on Spellcraft over all other pursuits(Like exercise)
(Note that at first level you automatically get the maximum roll)
+ Class Skills; If you recall from skills,
If you buy a class skill, your character gets 1 rank (equal to a +1 bonus on checks with that skill) for each skill point. If you buy other classes’ skills (cross-class skills), you get 1/2 rank per skill point
Why you may ask, Well it’s all about familiarity. A barbarian from uncivlised lands will know a lot about surviving in the wilderness so ‘Survival’ (with a description of “You can keep yourself and others safe and fed in the wild.”) while he will not know much about forgery (a rogue skill)
+ Skill Points at 1st Level and Skill Points at Each Additional Level; I’m going to deal with these to gather because they are deeply connected.
Your class determines the amount of skill points you get ranging from 2 + Inelengence modifier for the fighter focusing on combat, to 8 + intelligence modifier for the rogue.
At first level you get 4 times the normal amount.
+ Class Features; This is a catch all categories for everything ranging from a wizards spell to a barbarians bazerker rage, I’ll deal with specifics as they come up but no generalities can be reached for this category.
+ Weapon and Armor Proficiency; Basicly what weapons and armor you are train to use, using weapons and armor off the list will result in penalties, and for some classes lose of class features (For example Arcain spell are very difficult (but not impossible) to cast in armor of any kind)
+ Bonus Feats; This is a fighters main class feature, but is also very common among other classes, What it means is that you can select an extra feat (normally they are only granted every three levels starting at first (Then 3rd, then 6th, then 9th, and so on)
But of course that does not answer the question of ’What is a feat? ’ Neither does the SRD, so it falls to me to explain it.
A feat is a one time option that when chosen conveys a benefit on the character.
What does that mean? Well lets look at an example and see,
Benefit: You get a +2 bonus on all Jump checks and Tumble checks.
So when you chose acrobatic you get a bonus on certain skills, (Note that most feats can be only chosen once) And if we look at another example
POWER ATTACK [GENERAL]
Prerequisite: Str 13.
Benefit: On your action, before making attack rolls for a round, you may choose to subtract a number from all melee attack rolls and add the same number to all melee damage rolls. This number may not exceed your base attack bonus. The penalty on attacks and bonus on damage apply until your next turn..
Special: If you attack with a two-handed weapon, or with a one-handed weapon wielded in two hands, instead add twice the number subtracted from your attack rolls. You can’t add the bonus from Power Attack to the damage dealt with a light weapon (except with unarmed strikes or natural weapon attacks), even though the penalty on attack rolls still applies. (Normally, you treat a double weapon as a one-handed weapon and a light weapon. If you choose to use a double weapon like a two-handed weapon, attacking with only one end of it in a round, you treat it as a two-handed weapon.)
A fighter may select Power Attack as one of his fighter bonus feats.
We see three things, Firstly this feat instead of giving a bonus gives you a new option for combat,
Second there is a prerequisite which you must have before you take this
Third this is a may be selected as a fighter bonus feat, What does that mean? Well fighters may only select certain combat oriented feats as bonus feats.
And that is all the subheadings, next up the chart…
The chart has headings of ‘Level’, ‘Base Attack bonus, ’Fort Save’, ‘Ref Save’, ‘Will
Save’, and ‘Special’. Level is fairly obvious so I’ll skip that, but as to the others
+ Base Attack Bonus; This is the number (along with the relevant ability modifier, bonus from magic and any other modifiers) added when you roll the D20 to attack, to swing your sword, or ax, fire a bow, through a stone or dagger, ect.
+ Fort Save; Firstly ‘Fort’ is an abbreviation, it stands for ‘Fortitude’ But before I can go into what that means I have to say what a saving through (or save) is. To quote the SRD
Generally, when you are subject to an unusual or magical attack, you get a saving throw to avoid or reduce the effect. Like an attack roll, a saving throw is a d20 roll plus a bonus based on your class, level, and an ability score. Your saving throw modifier is:
Base save bonus + ability modifier
So this is the ‘bonus based on your class, [and] level’ And a fortitude save is
These saves measure your ability to stand up to physical punishment or attacks against your vitality and health. Apply your Constitution modifier to your Fortitude saving throws.
+ Ref Save; this is a reflex save
These saves test your ability to dodge area attacks. Apply your Dexterity modifier to your Reflex saving throws.
+ Will Save; Not an abbreviation,
These saves reflect your resistance to mental influence as well as many magical effects. Apply your Wisdom modifier to your Will saving throws.
+ Special; This is just a shorthand for the class features gained at each level.
Now we can actually discuss the details, and I promise that will be mostly painless.
Now as to the classis,
+ Fighter, The only thing our examples for the fighter haven’t covered is the fact that a fighter has the top base attack in the game (the only classes with an equal are the barbarian, and pladin (who we aren’t covering so can be safely ignored)) and that while they have a good fortitude save their other saves are week, (also remember that they get a pitiful two + intelligence modifier skill points per level, and that their Hit die is a D10) Importend abilities for the fighter are strength, and constitution, with dexterity less important but not unimportant
+ Barbrien- The D&D barbarian is best described as a cross between Conan the Barbarian and a norse bezerker. The barbarian like the fighter is a front line combatant. A barbarian has a D12 hit die making him better in that respect that the fighter. The barbarian also has 4 + intelligence modifier skill points per level, and the same base attack as the fighter, however the barbarians does not get a fighter bonus feats, instead they have (at first level) three special abilities Fast Movement, Illiteracy, and Rage, which I will now endever to explain.
~Fast Movement Fairly simple
Fast Movement (Ex)
A barbarian’s land speed is faster than the norm for his race by +10 feet. This benefit applies only when he is wearing no armor, light armor, or medium armor and not carrying a heavy load. Apply this bonus before modifying the barbarian’s speed because of any load carried or armor worn.
~Illiteracy Again simple,
Barbarians are the only characters who do not automatically know how to read and write. A barbarian may spend 2 skill points to gain the ability to read and write all languages he is able to speak.
A barbarian who gains a level in any other class automatically gains literacy. Any other character who gains a barbarian level does not lose the literacy he or she already had.
~Rage, this is the barbarian single most important class feature, and represents a barbarian ability to fly into a bezerker rage, granting them better combat abilities for a short time while also making them reckless and, after it ends, fatigued
A barbarian can fly into a rage a certain number of times per day. In a rage, a barbarian temporarily gains a +4 bonus to Strength, a +4 bonus to the Constitution, and a +2 morale bonus on Will saves, but he takes a -2 penalty to Armor Class. The increase in Constitution increases the barbarian’s hit points by 2 points per level, but these hit points go away at the end of the rage when his Constitution score drops back to normal. (These extra hit points are not lost first the way temporary hit points are.) While raging, a barbarian cannot use any Charisma, Dexterity, or Intelligence-based skills (except for Balance, Escape Artist, Intimidate, and Ride), the Concentration skill, or any abilities that require patience or concentration, nor can he cast spells or activate magic items that require a command word, a spell trigger (such as a wand), or spell completion (such as a scroll) to function. He can use any feat he has except Combat Expertise, item creation feats, and metamagic feats. A fit of rage lasts for a number of rounds equal to 3 + the character’s (newly improved) Constitution modifier. A barbarian may prematurely end his rage. At the end of the rage, the barbarian loses the rage modifiers and restrictions and becomes fatigued (-2 penalty to Strength, -2 penalty to Dexterity, can’t charge or run) for the duration of the current encounter (unless he is a 17th-level barbarian, at which point this limitation no longer applies).
Notes on the barbarian; A barbarian must be chaotic, (but can be either good or evil) and the only race to commonly produce barbarians is Half-Orc
Important abilities for the barbarian are the same as for the fighter
+ Rogue The Rogue is fairly simple, their main ability is the 8+intelgence modifier skill points they get each level, closely followed by their trapfinding ability (which I’ll get to in a bit) Other than that they have a D6 hit die, a good reflex save, a base attack not as good as the fighters (but not bad either), and one more special ability,
~ Sneak attack +1d6, sneak attack represent a rogues tendency to fight dirty and stab people in the back
If a rogue can catch an opponent when he is unable to defend himself effectively from her attack, she can strike a vital spot for extra damage.
The rogue’s attack deals extra damage any time her target would be denied a Dexterity bonus to AC (whether the target actually has a Dexterity bonus or not), or when the rogue flanks her target. This extra damage is 1d6 at 1st level, and it increases by 1d6 every two rogue levels thereafter. Should the rogue score a critical hit with a sneak attack, this extra damage is not multiplied.
Ranged attacks can count as sneak attacks only if the target is within 30 feet.
Important abilities for the rogue are dexterity, intelligence and wisdom, with charisma in 2^ed place (of importance)
Rogues (and only rogues) can use the Search skill to locate traps when the task has a Difficulty Class higher than 20.
Finding a nonmagical trap has a DC of at least 20, or higher if it is well hidden. Finding a magic trap has a DC of 25 + the level of the spell used to create it.
Rogues (and only rogues) can use the Disable Device skill to disarm magic traps. A magic trap generally has a DC of 25 + the level of the spell used to create it.
A rogue who beats a trap’s DC by 10 or more with a Disable Device check can study a trap, figure out how it works, and bypass it (with her party) without disarming it.bq).
+ Sorcerer the sorcerer is a user of arcane magic who draws their power from innate talent, as opposed to the wizard who must learn his magic. As to their game statistics they have a horrible base attack, a D4 hit die, and their only a good save is will, if the sorcer is in combat it generally means every one else is dead, and she soon will be. However they have access to powerful Arcana magic, before we go into that read the ‘Magic overview’ in the SRD up to ‘SPELL DESCRIPTIONS’. Now look at ‘spells’ under sorcerer, that should cover most of it. If anything is still unclear ask me, and I’ll explain it.
Important abilities for the sorcerer, Chrisma. As their spells are drawn from this ability it is far and away the most important for a sorcerer. In a much lesser since wisdom, intelligence, and dexterity is also important.
The + Druid, the druid in D&D is a divine spellcaster who draws his power from nature. The Druid has a D8 hit die, not as good as the fighter but very respectable, 4+ intelligence modifier skill points, not great but not as bad as the fighter, a middle of the rode base attack bonus, good fortitude and will saves. As far as spell and special abilities go they have subtly less spells then the cleric, but many more special abilities, the most important of which is ‘Wild Shape’ gained at 5^th level (which is the ability to magically transform into an animal, or beast of some kind). It is also worth noting that Druids can’t use their powers when wearing armor made of metal. They start play with,
Animal Companion (Ex)
A druid may begin play with an animal companion selected from the following list: badger, camel, dire rat, dog, riding dog, eagle, hawk, horse (light or heavy), owl, pony, snake (Small or Medium viper), or wolf. If the campaign takes place wholly or partly in an aquatic environment, the following creatures are also available: porpoise, Medium shark, and squid. This animal is a loyal companion that accompanies the druid on her adventures as appropriate for its kind.
A 1st-level druid’s companion is completely typical for its kind except as noted below. As a druid advances in level, the animal’s power increases as shown on the table. If a druid releases her companion from service, she may gain a new one by performing a ceremony requiring 24 uninterrupted hours of prayer. This ceremony can also replace an animal companion that has perished.
A druid of 4th level or higher may select from alternative lists of animals. Should she select an animal companion from one of these alternative lists, the creature gains abilities as if the character’s druid level were lower than it actually is. Subtract the value indicated in the appropriate list header from the character’s druid level and compare the result with the druid level entry on the table to determine the animal companion’s powers. (If this adjustment would reduce the druid’s effective level to 0 or lower, she can’t have that animal as a companion.)
Nature Sense (Ex)
A druid gains a +2 bonus on Knowledge (nature) and Survival checks.
Wild Empathy (Ex)
A druid can improve the attitude of an animal. This ability functions just like a Diplomacy check made to improve the attitude of a person. The druid rolls 1d20 and adds her druid level and her Charisma modifier to determine the wild empathy check result.
The typical domestic animal has a starting attitude of indifferent, while wild animals are usually unfriendly.
To use wild empathy, the druid and the animal must be able to study each other, which means that they must be within 30 feet of one another under normal conditions. Generally, influencing an animal in this way takes 1 minute but, as with influencing people, it might take more or less time.
A druid can also use this ability to influence a magical beast with an Intelligence score of 1 or 2, but she takes a -4 penalty on the check.
Which seem straightforward enough. Important abilities for the Druid are wisdom and in 2^ed place strength.
Oh, Almost forgot, Druids must have an an alignment with ‘neutral’ in it (I.E. Neutral good, lawful neutral, neutral, chaotic neutral, or neutral evil.)