Dungeons and Dragons

Fantasy Realm

In the twilight, the moon starts gleaming.
A magickal realm, the world starts seeming.
Where Pixies play, and Silver Wolves lay.
Where Dragons roar, and Pegasi soar.
Oh what a magickal place this be.
What wonderful thoughts a mind can see.

Poetry by Lady Winter Wolf

Dungeons and Dragons

Greetings gamers and gamers to be! I am Kaber Duhn, your DM, and guide through the world of fantasy role playing. For seventeen years now, I have been both a role player and a dungeon master, and yet, the excitement of it all never ceases to amaze me. Follow me while I take you upon a journey, a journey into the imagination. Remember to grab your backpack, pencils, paper and dice for who knows when we will be able to stop for supplies. Come, come, time is awasting.

What is ADnD?

ADnD, or Advanced Dungeons and Dragons, is among one of the most popular Table-Top RPG or Role-Playing Games today. Most of you are familiar with the term RPG but for those who are not, RPG is defined as:

n. Abbreviation for Role-Playing Game, in which a game master creates a progressive storyline and other players control the characters within the story. Dungeons and Dragons is an example of an RPG.

Most RPGs today are found in video game titles played on PC, Playstation or other similar game systems. In these games the GM, or Game Master, is played by the computer and the player becomes the main character or characters in a preprogrammed story line.

Table-Top gaming is quite different, as you are interacting with real people, not computer or video game generated ones. Here the GM or DM, Dungeon Master, creates a story line, a plot that other players interact within. The whole thing is done with paper and pencil, a lot of imagination and the rolling of dice to simulate random events. While there are a variety of different types of Role Playing Games we will focus on one aspect, the fantasy RPG, Advanced Dungeons and Dragons.

A Brief History

Dungeons and Dragons Creator Gary Gygax was born on July 27, 1938 in Chicago, Illinois. The son of German immigrants, he began playing games at the age five, starting with card games and then chess. First taught to play by his mother, his discovery of fantasy and science fiction through the works of pulp author, such as Jack Vance and Robert E. Howard, would ignite in him twin obsessions that have defined his life from that point onward -- fantasy and gaming. Those loves would eventually combine in the creation of Dungeons & Dragons, the father of role-playing games.

Gygax and Don Kaye, later joined by Blume and Arneson, formed their own company in 1973 which they named Tactical Studies Rules, after a local gaming club called the Lake Geneva Tactical Studies Association. This company was formed to market the "fantasy war game to be played with paper and pencil" that they renamed Dungeons & Dragons (after a suggestion by Gygax's wife, Mary).

The game first appeared at the 1973 EasterCon, had a limited availability throughout 1973, and the first print run of 1,000 copies was officially released (in a white box) in January of 1974. It sold out within the year. The game consisted of three booklets: Men and Magic, Monsters and Treasure, and Wilderness & Dungeon Adventures. It was also recommended that owners get a copy of Chainmail as well as the Avalon Hill game, Outdoor Survival.

There were three classes: Fighting Man, Magic-User, and Cleric. The terms were intentionally vague and much research was done to prevent putting anything into the game that actually resembled real-world magic systems. The authors eventually decided to base the game's magic system on the fantasy writings of Jack Vance. There were also four different races: human, dwarf, hobbit, and elf. Objections and legal complaints from the Tolkien estate caused the "hobbit" race to be changed to the "halfling" race later.

When the game started getting somewhat popular after the first year or so, they decided to publish some of the details of their own campaigns along with some expansion rules for the game. This product was the original Greyhawk . It introduced the Thief character class and had notes on magic, monsters, and more. Then they published Blackmoor, which introduced the Monk and Assassin classes and included the very first module: Temple of the Frog. Then came Eldritch Wizardry, which introduced the Druid class and psionics. The last book of this series was Gods, Demigods, and Heroes, which listed several pantheons for use with the game.

In 1975, Arneson and Gygax parted ways, and Don Kaye had a fatal heart attack. Kaye's wife decided, along with Gygax and Blume, to break up the company. Gygax and Blume went on to create TSR Hobbies, Inc. later that year.

At this point, the game was comprised of many rules spread throughout numerous books, supplements, and magazines. In addition, Gygax had amassed a pile of campaign notes and new rules that he wished to add to the game. It was decided that a new edition of the game should be released, but instead of calling it a second edition and discontinuing the first, TSR launched Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. This expanded and updated version commenced with the release of the Monster Manual in 1977. It was followed in 1978 by the Player's Handbook and in 1979 by the Dungeon Master's Guide. In 1997, Wizards of the Coast, Inc., publishers of the wildly popular Magic: The Gathering? trading card game, acquired TSR. In 2000, Wizards of the Coast published the third edition of Dungeons & Dragons, the wholly reworked successor to 2nd edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons and Basic Dungeons and Dragons.

As you can see, ADnD has quite a history. You can find a complete Time Line in the history of ADnD at DnD Archives

How to Play

Now you know a little about ADnD. But what is it really like? How do you play? The answer is right here. While this is not by far, a step by step process it should give you an idea. The game uses a system of Dice of various numbers. A 20 sided dice, or d20, a 12 sided dice, d12, a d10, d8, d6, and a d4. The original DnD only had 6 dice. These dice sets can be picked up at your local game store either individually or together and they vary in prices depending on the type and material of the die. It can be just as much fun collecting the various die as playing the game.

Oh, ok so you have paper, you have a pen or pencil and you went out and got some dice......now what? Well, there are several methods to writing up a character, but they all have the same things in common: a character name, a class and a race. The class represents a characters profession, so to speak. Be they fighters, wizards, thieves, clerics, bards or specialty classes such as Ranger, which is a subclass of the fighter.

While there are several races to choose from the game is biased. Humans are the center of the universe or at least, they have the ability to reach farther than most other races. Still, each race has their oun advantages. Elves are immune to some spells and can see in the dark. Halflings are harder to hit and can be very quiet. Dwarves are tougher and stronger than most races. Half breeds combine some of the abilities of one race with another, though the abilities are diluted. Usually dice are rolled to figure out Ability Scores. These are the numbers that show how strong, or fast, or smart your character is. They often appear in an abbreviated form such as STR for Strength, or DEX for Dexterity. There are six abilities. Strength. Dexterity. Constitution. Intelligence. Wisdom and Charisma. All these things thus far, combined, shape a characters personality and abilities. It is now up to the player, and the DM, to breathe life into the character through role play.

View Character Description Examples

The Dungeon Master

Being a Dungeon Master or DM can be very rewarding, but it also comes with a certain amount of responsibility. You, the DM, must not only keep track of the story you tell (the places and events that happen, the Non-Player Characters, or NPC?s, and how they effect the story) but you must also keep track of how your players play. You must keep in balance a story that is exciting, humorous and challenging while making sure your players do not get too powerful or are kept too weak. Also, while this is a game, and only a game, some people become so enraptured by the fantasy world that they take it with them when they leave the table. You must be certain that you do not encourage activities that are game related to be taken outside of the the game. And still, to be a good DM you must study the real world to learn how things should interact in the game world.

Magic is a prevalent factor in ADnD, but it in no way reflects how magic works in the real world. And it shouldn?t. As in ADnD, there are people with different world views. Some believe in a god or multiple gods or no god at all, but if you or someone you know worships a deity in the real world, even if it is represented in the ADnD books, you should know that beyond the name, the similarities should end. ADnD IS A FANTASY GAME, NOT REALITY. While it may portray things that happen in the real world, you, as the DM, must be certain that the players understand it is only fantasy. Only a game. With that in mind, it should be noted that there are many different styles of play. 'Hack and Slash' or Role playing are the two main styles. If you find a good combination of both then you will do well, but many still prefer to dungeon crawl and 'hack and slash' then Role Playing or RPing. Practice makes perfect and soon you will know what your players prefer. There are many pre-published adventures available for various levels. As all characters should start at level 1 you will have plenty of time to learn as they grow.

I present to you here, two examples of the games I DM. Simply follow the links to HACK AND SLASH or my CORE GROUP. If you would like more information on ADnD, how to play or where to get supplies, visit Wizards of the Coast Here you can also find information about MAGIC: The Gathering which I also happen to enjoy, but that is for another day and another page.

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