Dungeons & Dragons is a structured yet open-ended role-playing game. It is normally played indoors with the participants seated around a tabletop. D&D departs from traditional wargaming by allowing each player to create their own character to play instead of a military formation. These characters embark upon imaginary adventures within a fantasy setting.
A Dungeon Master serves as the game's referee and storyteller, while maintaining the setting where adventures occur, and playing the role of the inhabitants of the game world. The characters form a party and they interact with each locations inhabitants as well as each other. Together they solve dilemmas, engage in battles, and gather treasure and knowledge. In the process, characters earn experience points in order to increase their level, and become more powerful over a series of separate gaming sessions.
Typically, each player controls a single character. When working together as a group, these characters are often described as a "party" of adventurers, with each member often having their own area of specialty which contributes to the success of the whole. During the course of play, each player directs the actions of their character along with their interactions with other characters in the game. This activity is performed by players acting as their characters through verbal impersonation, while employing a variety of social and other useful cognitive skills, such as logic, basic mathematics and imagination. A game often continues over a series of meetings to complete a single adventure, and longer into a series of related gaming adventures, called a "campaign”.
The results of the party's choices and the overall storyline for the game are determined by the Dungeon Master, the rules of the game and the Dungeon Masters' interpretation of those rules. The Dungeon Master selects and describes the various non-player characters that the party encounters, the locations where these interactions occur, and the outcomes of those encounters based on the players' choices and actions. Encounters often take the form of battles with Monsters, Orgres and even Dragons.
The game's extensive rules – which cover diverse subjects such as social interactions, magic use, combat, and the effect of the environment on PCs – help the Dungeon Master to make these decisions. The Dungeon Master may choose to deviate from the published rules or make up new ones if they feel it is necessary.
The most recent versions of the game's rules are detailed in three core rulebooks:
The only items required to play the game are the rulebooks, a character sheet for each player, and a number of polyhedral dice. All of this can be found in our Dungeons and Dragons: Starter Set.
Many optional accessories are available to enhance the game, such as expansion rulebooks, pre-designed adventures and various campaign settings.
Before the game begins, each player creates their player character and records the details on a character sheet. First, a player determines their character's ability scores, which consist of Strength, Constitution, Dexterity, Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma. The player then chooses a race such as human or elf, a character class such as fighter or wizard, an alignment, and other features to round out the character's abilities and backstory.
During the game, players describe their Playable Characters' intended actions, such as punching an opponent or picking a lock, and converse with the Dungeon Master, who then describes the result or response. Trivial actions, such as picking up a letter or opening an unlocked door, are usually automatically successful. The outcomes of more complex or risky actions are determined by rolling dice.
Different polyhedral dice are used for different actions, such as a twenty-sided die to see whether a hit was made in combat, but an eight-sided die to determine how much damage was dealt. Factors contributing to the outcome include the character's ability scores, skills and the difficulty of the task. In circumstances where a character does not have control of an event, such as when a trap or magical effect is triggered or a spell is cast, a saving throw can be used to determine whether the resulting damage is reduced or avoided. In this case the odds of success are influenced by the character's class, levels and ability scores.
As the game is played, each Playable Character changes over time and generally increases in capability. Characters gain experience, skills and wealth, and may even alter their alignment or gain additional character classes. The key-way characters progress is by earning experience points, which happens when they defeat an enemy or accomplish a difficult task. Acquiring enough Experience Points allows a Playable Character to advance a level, which grants the character improved class features, abilities and skills.
Hit points (HP) are a measure of a character's vitality and health and are determined by the class, level and constitution of each character. They can be temporarily lost when a character sustains wounds in combat or otherwise comes to harm, and loss of HP is the most common way for a character to die in the game. Death can also result from the loss of key ability scores or character levels. When a Playable Character dies, it is often possible for the dead character to be resurrected through magic, although some penalties may be imposed as a result. If resurrection is not possible, the player may instead create a new Playable Character to resume playing the game.
A typical Dungeons & Dragons game consists of an "adventure", which would be the same as a single story. The Dungeon Master can either design an original adventure or follow one of the many pre-made adventures that have been published throughout the history of Dungeons & Dragons.
Published adventures typically include a background story, illustrations, maps and goals for Playable Characters’ to achieve. Some include location descriptions and handouts. A linked series of adventures is commonly referred to as a "campaign”.
We have both The Storm Kings Thunder and Tales from the Yawning Portal currently in stock. Both are a great way to enhance your Dungeons and Dragons experience by introducing brand new adventures to your game.
If you are new to Dungeon’s and Dragons, we have two exiting items to help get you started:
Both of these will give you everything you need to start your first adventure, but which one should you choose? Well that depends on what gaming experience you are looking for.
The Starter Set comes with everything you need to run hours and hours of D&D with your friends. It includes:
- One set of dice,
- A basic rules book
- Several pre-generated character sheets
- And, the excellent early levels adventure book, “The Lost Mines of Phandelver”
The included character sheets make the Starter Set a great jumping off point for those that do not want to be slowed down by complex character creation and customization. The only thing you have to add yourself is a name for your adventurer. The character sheets include levelling guides letting you know what to do when you gain experience and its time to level up.
In playing through Lost Mines of Phandelver, your adventuring party will get a healthy serving of all the different elements that make Dungeons and Dragons special. They’ll get to roleplay and interact socially. They’ll get to slay terrifying foes (monsters and men). They’ll get to explore ruins and forgotten magical caverns. And they’ll grow more and more powerful, coming fully into their characters and the world.
The Essentials Kit is a treasure trove of goodies including:
- Set of 11 dice
- Basic rulebook that includes some character creation information and the Sidekick Rules for one-on-one play
- Several kinds of cards (magical items, adventures)
- The Dragon of Icespire Peak adventure
- A Dungeon Master screen
The greatest advantage of having the Essentials Kit is having access to character creation rules. With this introductory product, you can make your own party of characters from the provided (but incomplete) selection of races and classes. You can take these characters up to level six. Beyond level you will need to pick up the Player’s Handbook. The pack also includes The addition of a serviceable DM screen adds to the classic D&D experience.
The Dragon of Icespire Peak adventure provides the same quality starting town and region as in the Starter Set and adds in a series of bounty-board style areas and location-based adventures however, It will take the new Dungeon Master and players some effort to make some kind of meaningful narrative arc out of the bones of the provided adventure.
If you are looking to pick up something to play D&D that you can implement with minimal effort or planning then the Starter Set is likely the correct option for you. The provided adventure and excellent pre-made characters make the Starter Set an great way to begin playing Dungeons and Dragons quickly.
If you are looking for a more classic experience, where you need to spend some time beforehand planning your adventure, I would suggest picking up the Essentials Kit. While you will have to do more work, this Kit provides the necessary tools for your party to create their own characters and for you all to tell your own stories.
Or, you could pick up both and run the Essentials Kit jobs out of Phandelver while you work through the Lost Mines adventure!
All of our available Dungeon's and Dragon's games can be found here: Dungeon's & Dragon's