The Absolute Minimum You Need to Know about Tabletop RPGs to Join a Group
Updated: Aug 7, 2018
You’ve been toying with the idea of joining your friends for a game of D&D, or joining the local pathfinder group, but one thing keeps you from doing it – a fear that you will “suck at it” since you don’t know the rules.
Well, first off, begone with that naysaying – you won’t suck at it, because you are awesome, and your party will help you.
There is no “right” way to play an RPG, and groups gather and play in a variety of different manners, some enjoy keep deep and focused track of every statistic, but the majority just enjoy a good story with some good challenges. As a newcomer, find a player who is willing to teach you, and just follow along.
But I digress, you still want to know some things – so here are some fictional questions I am imagining you, dear reader asking:
What does a game of D&D actually consist of?
Typically, a “game” of D&D is not a thing, as it is an ongoing campaign. Imagine playing any RPG, but doing so with the game maker changing and adjusting things as you play.
You create a character one night, and then, with that character, you and the group describe your actions, make decisions and interact with NPCs (Non-Player Characters) controlled by the DM (Dungeon Master).
Throughout the night you roleplay – which means you do your best to do what you think your character would do in each situation and attempt to accomplish objectives set out by the group.
Wow, those were a lot of vocab words – what are they again?
Fair enough, here are the main terms you need to know to know:
DM – Dungeon Master, this person is the god of your world. He controls everything and in many cases, designed the world you roleplayed in.
NPCs – Non-Player Characters, these are everyone except you and the other players. The DM controls all of these, and keeps statistics for them.
Roleplay – This is the action of pretending to be a character. You can get as extensive as you want with developing your character typically.
Dungeon – A place underground where monsters and treasure lay.
D4, D6, D8, D12, D20 – The many different types of dice. The D means dice, and the number represents how many sides it has.
AC – Armor Class. This is typically your “Defense score.”
HP – Hit Points. These are how many “health” you have.
So, what should my character be like?
It’s literally up to you. You will typically select a race and a class and follow the directions to create your character. Sometimes it’s best to start with an idea in mind, and it is totally reasonable to base your character generally off some cool creature or person you’ve seen in fiction.
What should my character’s personality be like?
We have a quick guide to designing your characters personality so it remains consistent, you can check it out here.
Enough about RP – how do I fight things?
One of the great things about RPGs is typically you can more or less attempt to do whatever you want – and since the DM is a real live person you aren’t restricted by the restraints of a video game, in which you can only improvise so much.
Combat essentially works like this:
Everyone makes a roll for “Initiative” (who goes first).
Each character moves and makes an action in their turn. This can be an attack or something different(spell, throwing dust to cover ones tracks, etc).
And than the order starts over.
Ok – so how do attacks work?
Attacks work based on a lot of numbers – but basis is this:
Dice Roll vs the opposing characters AC (or Defense).
If the dice roll is greater than the opposing characters AC, you roll the dice to deal damage. This is based typically on your weapon.
If you take out all the characters Hit Points, typically it dies.
What do I get if I kill things?
You typically get to take their stuff! And experience. The game has a variety of rules about this, and they differ between game, but typically XP brings you closer to raising your level and getting better stats that let you do more stuff.
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Originally published by Ed