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How to Play: Dungeons & Dragons

How to Play: Dungeons & Dragons


The Dungeons & Dragons roleplaying game is about storytelling in worlds of swords and sorcery. Like games of make-believe, D&D is driven by imagination. It’s about picturing a crumbling castle in a darkening forest and imagining how a fantasy adventurer might react to the challenges that scene presents.

In this fantasy world, the possibilities are limitless.

How to Make a Character:

Choose a Race:

There are nine different races and twelve different classes to choose from. In terms of species, these range from traditional elves and halflings to more exotic choices like tieflings.  Even though a lot will hinge on what you like the look of, be aware that your choice can have an impact on gameplay too – it’s possible to pick race and class options that are optimized to work together.  However, you’re truly free to create whatever combination you like. Want an Orc Wizard? Go for it.

Some races include: Humans, elves, dwarves, gnomes and Dragonborn. There’s no need to limit yourself to the species above – they’re just the easiest to get hold of by virtue of being free. You can choose from over 40 different races.


Choose a Class:

When it comes to classes, you can pick between combat-heavy martial options, spellcasters, or a mix of the two. The classes are:

  • Fighter: The muscle of the group. They work well with all kinds of weapons and armor.
  • Barbarian: Barbarians can take advantage of ‘Rage’ mechanics that send them into a deadly fury.
  • Warlock: If you want the easiest spellcaster class, try the Warlock. They’re still powerful mages, but have fewer choices to tangle them up.
  • Paladin: Holy warriors that draw power from their gods, Paladins blend martial combat and magic together.
  • Ranger: Excelling at combat from a distance also comes with an animal companion.
  • Monk: Hand-to-hand experts, monks are powered by a mystical force called ‘ki’.
  • Rogue: The classic thieves, sneaks, and assassins of D&D.
  • Cleric: Much like the Paladin, Clerics are holy warriors that are often seen as the ‘healers’ of the party.
  • Sorcerer: Powered by a magical birthright, Sorcerers are an excellent choice if you want to try out in magic.
  • Bard: These singers, actors, and performers boost their party from the sidelines.
  • Druid: Druids have control of the natural world and can even transform themselves into a beast.
  • Wizard: While they’re the most complicated class, Wizards are arguably the most iconic as well.

Deciding Values:

you’ll need to create six core abilities: Strength, Wisdom, Charisma, Dexterity, Intelligence, and Constitution. These Ability scores, or stats, are what determine your character’s strengths and weaknesses.

The most common methods to decide those values are:

  • Roll three D6s six times and use these six totals for your ability scores
  • Roll four D6s six times, subtract the lowest number rolled each time, and use those totals
  • Roll a D20 six times and use these scores (this is a more hardcore method, given the chance of having to use a low number)
  • Standard array, where you’ll put pre-selected scores (15, 14, 13, 12, 10, 8) into Abilities of your choice
  • Point buy, where you have a set amount of points to distribute across your stats as you see fit


Modifiers are what you’ll be adding or subtracting from your D20 rolls to dictate how well you perform a certain action. Basically, modifiers work in 2s; a score of 12 or 13 is +1, a score of 14 or 15 is +2, and so on. Unfortunately, this also means that scores of less than 10, such as a Strength score of 8, will give you a modifier of -1.

This means if the DM asks you to roll a D20 against a certain skill, you can add or subtract these modifiers from your results. The higher the modifier, the more likely you are to succeed in your chosen action.


Hit Points & Armour Class:

Every class has a different ‘Hit Dice’ that varies from a D4 up to a D12. From first level, you’ll take the highest possible score and add the bonus from your constitution modifier. When working out additional hit points per level, you’ll either roll the dice assigned to your class and add the result, plus your Constitution modifier again, to the total, or take the fixed average mentioned in the class description.

Next, you’ll want to work out your Armor Class. The easiest way to do this is to remember that when unarmored, your character’s AC is 10 + their dexterity modifier. This also introduces equipment, as your AC will change if your character can wear armor or carry a shield – remember to check what armor types your character can wear in its class details, and discuss items like shields with your DM.


There’s plenty more to go through, such as equipment and spells that will be specific to your character’s race and class, but if you’ve followed all the above steps, then you’ll have yourself a playable character that’s ready to join a campaign.