Exploring D&D: A Newbie's Guide ⚔️
Thoughts and notes for learning and playing D&D, concentrating mostly on basic player character development.
I was asked by some of my colleagues if I would be interested in undertaking a D&D campaign. I thought I would give it a try!
This is my first foray into the D&D world. I would guess many people have heard of the game from popular culture references. It turns out that my idea of the game was not a particularly accurate depiction of how the game is actually played. First of all; there is an unbelievable amount of rule book content to refer to. We are playing a fourth edition (4e) campaign, which is complete with errata. I only just found out about errata, which are final balancing rules applied in an attempt to make the game fairer.
Building a Player Character
The first, and most important aspect of the game is your Player Character (PC). Your PC is built based upon the rules laid out in the various rulebooks and expansions. It is "you" in the game world. So the weekend before our first gathering, I began reading through the Quickstart Guide. This guide is a 27-page document which provides you enough information to grasp some of the basics. It also contains a number of pre-built PCs that can give you a jump start in the process.
The Basics of Character Creation
I took the route of developing a bespoke PC. You can't develop a PC from the Quickstart guide alone, so I started reading through the Player's Handbook (Volume I). This document is longer — much longer. I spent six straight hours trying to make sense of all the information I was injesting, and fumbling the basics of a PC together. I then submitted those to our GM for the campaign, who made some helpful suggestions and edits.
Name : Caelynna Gender : Female Alignment: Good Race : Eladrin Class : Rogue
That's the headline, anyway. I have chosen the race first here, then a class suitable for that race that I would like to play. Though you can choose any class you like, the racial traits available may provide benefits when coupled with a recommended class. I chose a class which was suitable for my race; some are just more suitable than others to begin with.
Customising your PC
There are a number of different parts of your character that you will need to choose to interact with the world.
There are six abilities —Strength, Constitution, Dexterity, Intelligence, Wisdom and Charisma— which you apply starting values to, using a variety of different methods of your choosing. You then select skills available to your class and race, which may provide further bonuses to these values.
Each class comes with a set of skills to choose from, which help for specific checks. Checks are made against you for actions you undertake in the game world, such as climbing, jumping, searching and fighting. So it helps to choose wisely.
Your class and sometimes race may specify that you begin trained in a number of specific or chosen skills. Training provides a bonus to the D20 skill check rolled. For example, my choice of Thievery skill improves my chance to discover traps amongst other things.
Feats give you some additional bonuses to your character, such as training or check bonuses. You can usually pick one at level one, but human characters can pick two. They typically have requirements, such as a certain skill value, worship a certain deity, or are of a certain race.
Powers are the actions available to use during encounters. They are available at differing frequencies, for example basic attacks can be used At Will power whilst my character's teleportation ability Fey Step is an Encounter power. Some are only available as a Daily Power. This doesn't necessarily mean that you can use them once per encounter / day, but that is practically the case most of the time.
Our group has met twice since the campaign has started. I wasn't quite prepared for the role playing aspect at first; I had not created any kind of backstory or chosen personality traits for my character. A number of us are new to the game, so we are making slower progress working through the world. Once we get the hang of it and learn the rules a little better I'd expect us to move a lot faster.
I am enjoying playing the game more than I expected. Role playing is definitely not my strength but I hope to improve that as I become more comfortable playing the game. It will also help as I get to know my fellow players a little better 🙂
I have been looking at things that I enjoy lately, and I think I'll add D&D to the list. I'd recommend giving it a try, if you can. I'll try to follow up with further details on my character building journey — hopefully some further notes on the game mechanics as I learn them.