With Dungeons & Dragons: Honour Among Thieves hitting cinemas, RPG fans have one more sign from the powers that be that it’s time to start playing D&D for real.
Imagine an RPG that you’re familiar with, like Skyrim: a hugely popular and successful RPG game that allows for a LOT of player choice. Well, D&D has even MORE player choice, being free from the constraints of programmed events and interactions. What’s more, in D&D you’ll play as a character built by you with all the quirks, flaws, and powers you always imagined a fantasy version of yourself would wield.
D&D might look complex from the outside, but it’s really very simple to put together a character and get into a game. The folks at D&D have actually produced a free online demo called Before the Storm (a prelude to the adventure in the D&D Starter Set) and you can try it out by yourself to get a feel for how the game is played and how to build your character.
So if you’re wondering how you might go about creating your stalwart hero or bane of the land (we’re not judging), there’s plenty of help out there. For instance, right here in this article! These are the basics for getting started in D&D.
What Kind of Character do you Want to be?
Before we get into anything too mechanical, you first need to decide how you want to play the game. The magic of D&D lies in the total customisation of your character and how they can be anything you want them to be. So how do you picture yourself solving problems? Are you a smooth-talking charmer who likes to trick enemies using their wiles – sort of like Forge in the movie – or do you see yourself as more of a ‘swinging a big axe until the bad thing is gone’ sort of character (similar to Holga)?
You can go deeper than this, though, as D&D is so much more than just combat. You can also decide your personality, warts and all! Would you prefer your character to have a down-to-earth, realistic approach to adventuring through the world? Maybe you’re an opportunist who likes to end every conversation trying to pick the pocket of whomever you were talking to. The character you build could potentially be with you for a while, so playing as someone with whom you have an emotional connection and who you wish to see grow through a character arc will make your adventures extra special.
If this sounds a little daunting, trust us, it’s very easy! When you play the free D&D Demo, it will ask you a couple of simple questions to find out what kind of character you see yourself as and how you like to solve problems. It’ll straight-up create a character for you based on your answers that you can use if you want!
Building Your Character
Now you know what kind of adventurer you want to be, you need to build your character. Many players like to start with the species. D&D has many, many, available options from which to create your character. But don’t feel like your character has to be a specific species just because of who they are: gone are the days when you could only be strong if you were an Orc, or only blast Eldritch horrors from your hands if you were a Tiefling. Do you want to be a super tough Gnome? Or an incredibly clumsy Elf? Anything goes – it’s your character, after all!
Next, you need to select a class to play as. This is where understanding your character’s personality and style comes in handy. The class you play as will define how your character learns new skills or spells, how they make moves or attacks, and what special abilities they can use.
So ask yourself: how do you want to get things done? Do you want to stealth past your enemies? Charge through them with a big axe? Burn them to a crisp with demonic magics? There’s a class for whatever you want to do.
- Barbarians are ideal for those who like to solve problems with their fists
- The Rogue is well-suited to those who prefer sneaking and underhanded tactics
- Wizards are learned spellcasters, able to accumulate more spells over time.
There are many more classes to choose from, however! Pick one that feels right for you.
One last thing that can make a character feel unique to you is giving them a quirk. This won’t impact gameplay but can create a subtle difference in how your character interacts with the world. It could be something as simple as ‘My character must read every book they see’ or something really odd like ‘My character doesn’t believe in magic despite it being everywhere’. Have fun with it!
Alternatively, if you’re eager to get into the fray, you can select a few crucial characteristics and D&D Beyond will create a character for you based on your choices.
You have built your character; now you just need to play. If you haven’t already, it’s a great idea to become familiar with how the game is played using the interactive demo produced by D&D. This demo will take you on a fun mini-adventure to demonstrate how the game works.
D&D provides a host of helpful tools to get you started on your adventure; perhaps the most helpful tool is their Dungeons & Dragons Starter Set, which includes ready-made characters, a set of game dice, and the adventure, Dragons of Stormwreck Isle.
It’s time to begin your epic journey!