Take the 2-minute tour ×
Role-playing Games Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for gamemasters and players of tabletop, paper-and-pencil role-playing games. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I'm no gamer at all, so this could be like a very silly, basic question for you guys. The thing is that I always read about "Dungeons and Dragons" game (not the video game, but the normal game to play with friends that are actually gathered together). And I would like to know how to play it.

I've read that it is a book (or several ones, which is more confusing for me to understand), but I've read somewhere that it can be played as a normal "table" game, with a board, and pieces, and somewhat weird dice (or sets of dice).

Is it like a normal game, where you pull the stuff out of a box and start to play?

I don't know if any of you watch the show "The Big Bang Theory", but I think they have played the game in a recent episode, and it looks just like a regular game.

I've Googled it for more information, but I haven't found anything as basic as I need, because I've never played a role game (except in a video game).

I just want to learn how to play, so I can get my friends into it to play it each time we get together.

share|improve this question
8  
This wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/whatisdnd might help, although it is somewhat specific to the current, in-print edition. –  mattdm Nov 27 '11 at 16:57
9  
I would highly recommend the Pathfinder Beginner Box: paizo.com/beginnerbox. Pathfinder is a popular variation of D&D. The box comes with dungeon maps already made, cardboard counters for your characters, and the rulebook, sheets, and dice you need to play. The rulebook is specially tailored to introduce new players to the game. Check out the video on their site to get a sense of what it is. –  RMorrisey Nov 28 '11 at 13:25
2  
If you try a few game stores around you some are still running "Encounters Groups". These are free and open to all (although they may ask you to let them know if you will be there). It's not optimal, but it might give you and idea of how it can be played (At least 4th edition D&D, which is much more tactical and less RPGish than any of the others) –  Bill K Nov 28 '11 at 20:29
6  
Rosamunda - It is easy to mistake the particular - in this case D&D - for the general - in this case, roleplaying games. Lots of people, for instance, mistake the WWW for the Internet. I would like to point out that there are a wide variety of games available besides D&D and that some things about D&D apply to some or most of them, while some things about D&D apply to few or none of them. In short, the question you've asked may be bigger than you realized at first. But the answers below are a good start. Welcome to the site and just remember that D&D is only one example of an RPG. –  gomad Dec 6 '11 at 22:05
3  
The best way to learn a game like D&D is to join a group that's playing it. The books do not do a good job of giving you the big picture of how things fit together. Learn what you're doing first then you can run a game for your friends. –  Loren Pechtel Feb 10 '12 at 20:57

9 Answers 9

up vote 81 down vote accepted

In my opinion, It's much easier NOT to think of Dungeons and Dragons as a game. There's no winner, no predefined goals, and no rules that the DM can't change. As if that weren't enough, there's no limits on what you can do during your turn (and often no turns at all)! In order to understand the appeal of Dungeons and Dragons, I find it best to throw out all preconceived notions of it as a 'game' and start anew.

Dungeons and Dragons is an experience where you journey to another world to live the life of someone else. One person takes on the role of the Dungeon Master or Game Master and the other people get the much less cool name of players. Simply put, it's the Dungeon Master's job to create a universe with enough detail and believability that the players truly feel they are there. It's the players' job to live in that universe and make decisions that will affect what happens to them.

99.99% of the time the players take on alternate identities called characters. Your character is your identity in the universe where the game takes place. The goal of creating a character is to describe them well enough that they seem to take on a life of their own. For example, if you can imagine how your character would react to situations like being threatened by drunkards in a bar, talking to a dragon sitting on a pile of treasure, or finding an artifact that can resurrect the dead, you've literally 'breathed life into them.' At this point, you are ready to take on their identity to face whatever challenges might arise before them. In other words, you are ready to write their story.

D&D is an extremely open-ended game. You could be spying on the enemy while posing as one of their soldiers, leading a revolution against a corrupt king, escaping from a dungeon where you were wrongly imprisoned, or rescuing a farmer's daughter from a vampire's mansion. If you can imagine it, it can happen. It's the Dungeon Master's job to immerse you in the fantasy world and tell you the results of your actions, so there's no limit to what you can attempt to do. The DM might have to think awhile after you tickle a sleeping werewolf, or tell you that you fail to pick the dungeon lock with the dagger you always keep your boot, but that doesn't stop you from doing it.


Here's a quick sample situation:

DM: 'You are alone in a forest, surrounded by trees that appear to be hundreds of years old. Many beams of light shine through the canopy onto moss still covered with tiny droplets from the recent rain. Birds are singing overhead, but you only manage to see them when they fly from one branch to another. The power of nature permeates this peaceful sanctuary, unconcerned with the passage of time.

As you were admiring the scene, a sturdy arrow breaks you out of your reverie as it thuds into a tree a few feet from your head. As you turn around, you see a young but stout-looking elf staring at you with another already set to his bow. "Why do you trespass upon Llanowar Territory? We don't take kindly to strangers, and unless you can tell me your business here you'd better get a head start in your race with my next arrow." he says, with his eyes trained on you like a cat's on a mouse.'

Now, if I've done my job properly, at least a tiny part of you feels like you are actually standing in a forest facing an unyielding elf.

Here comes your part: what do you do? Tell the elf you were lost and plead his forgiveness? Strike him down with a bolt of lightning for his impudence? Say you will leave peacefully if you are permitted to ask a few questions about your brother who went missing 4 days ago? It's all possible, and what happens next is entirely up to you.

What's with all the dice then?

Technically I've been describing a class of games called roleplaying games 1, of which D&D is the most well known. Almost all roleplaying games follow the basic structure I've just described, but they vary greatly in the setting and the rules used to resolve your actions. Games can happen in the Star Wars universe, World War II, the Cthulu mythos, you name it. Each game usually has one book for the rules and several others that cover the setting and material to use in adventures. For this post, I'll just give you a whirlwind tour of the basic D&D rules.

In D&D, nearly everything you do corresponds to a certain skill. Each character will have the various skills recorded on a character sheet, along with numbers that indicate their level of proficiency. Games can have anywhere from 2 (mental and physical) to over 50 different skills, ranging from musical performance, to historical knowledge, to animal handling, to slight-of-hand.

Here's a quick example of how the different levels of strength might break down:

Skill: Strength.

  • +12: Incredibly strong. Lift 300 pounds and bend iron weapons with bare hands. [Barbarian King]
  • +9: very strong. Lift 250 pounds and move small boulders. [Powerful Warrior]
  • +6: strong. Lift 200 pounds and carry a 50 pound pack for an entire day. [Able Adventurer]
  • +3: somewhat strong. Lift 150 pounds and pull a cart with a small load. [Anyone with training]
  • +0: average: Lift 100 pounds and move most furniture without help. [Untrained]
  • -3: weak: Can't lift 100 pounds or carry average loads. [Delicate Royalty]

(Those values are highly debatable and the scale is probably off, but this is just a quick demonstration).

In addition, every task has an assigned difficulty level or difficulty class, abbreviated DC. To determine if a character succeeds at a task, they roll a 20-sided die, or a d20. This is called a check or skill check. They only succeed if the number they rolled plus the bonus they have for the skill is at least equal the task's DC. Hence, an incredibly strong character will be able to achieve a strength-related task of average difficulty 100% of the time because even if they get the lowest possible result of 1, 1+12 is still greater than the DC 10 that corresponds to average difficulty. A weak character on the other hand would have to roll a 13 or greater to succeed at or pass a DC 10 strength check because their strength modifier is -3 instead of +12. Thus, a weak character would succeed at a strength-related task of average difficulty only 40% of the time, while an incredibly strong character would succeed 100% of the time.

Here's some example strength-related tasks:

  • DC 0 (Very Easy): Throw a pillow across the room.

  • DC 5 (Easy): Jump over a fallen tree.

  • DC 10 (Average): Kick down a weak wooden door

  • DC 15 (Tough): Climb onto a roof while dangling from the side.

  • DC 20 (Challenging): Roll a small boulder uphill.

Some extremely difficult tasks may have DC's that are over 20. For a task with DC 29, a very strong character (+9 bonus to strength) would still only have a 5% chance of success as they need to roll a 20 to be >= the DC. A character with a +8 bonus or less would have no chance at all of succeeding. An example of a DC 29 check might be leaping across a 30-foot chasm.

As to the pieces, during combat the terrain is divided into a grid of squares, with one character or enemy occupying each. During your turn, you can move around a certain number of squares and perform at least one action, usually an attack, after which the next player or enemy takes their turn and does the same. You'll often see the game played with elaborate miniatures because they enhance the reality of the game.

That's the basic foundation that just about everyone uses. There are many more rules that cover making characters, leveling up from gaining experience, resolving combat, and many other areas, but I'm going to let you in on a little secret: nobody follows all of them. Okay, some people probably do, but since D&D is rarely played competitively, the group is free to bend the rules in order to make the game more fun. As a consequence, there's an old saying that if you ask 10 people how to play D&D, you'll get 10 different answers.

While this answer definitely exhibits my own bias of prioritizing story over rules, hopefully I've been able to convey enough about the nature of roleplaying games to satisfy your immediate curiosity. Feel more than free to ask for clarification in the comments or ask a new question entirely. We'd love to help!

1 often referred to as pen and paper or tabletop roleplaying games to distinguish them video games

share|improve this answer

I've been in this spot before, and it's certainly confusing. There are books, yes, but that's just the basic "rules", per say. There are a lot of ways to play, and its a lot of information to absorb in once. When I was first interested, I picked up a copy of "Dungeons & Dragons for Dummies", honestly, and read that through first before deciding whether or not I was really interested. I was, and bought the core books shortly after. But I recommend reading the "for Dummies" book. It sums up everything well, and gives you example characters and situations, and tells you what to expect. Also hit up the D&D website http://www.wizards.com/dnd/ - there's all sorts of resources for new players. But beware, it is going to be a time investment getting into the game. But totally worth it.

share|improve this answer

For me, playing dungeons and dragons has always been less of a game and more cooperative storytelling. The dungeon master (or game master I guess it's called now) essentially creates a world in which the player's characters live. The characters need to interact with the world and what happens in it based on what the DM tells them. The DM has the role of story writer and referee. He or she decides what happens in the worl and describes it to the players, and also has the job of making sure the world makes sense by using the rules and logically deciding what actions succeed and what events happen next. The players are essentially characters in this story. Unlike in simple storywriting, though, the characters have influence over what happens in the game. The DM has no direct control. They interact with the world as they choose, and the roll of the dice determines what happens as often as what the DM or players decide. The game can be as simple or as intricate as you want.

Many people play it in a simple way, in which NPC’s (non-player characters) give the PC’s (player characters) quests to accomplish, they kill the monster, get the gold, and complete the quest. When it’s that simple, you can usually just take out the box, whip up a few characters, and start playing. It plays much more like a regular board game that way. Others will play it like a game of political intrigue, with in-depth kingdoms on the verge of war, and only good diplomacy and the occasional fight will keep the balance. Others play campaigns where some great force threatens the very existence of the cosmos, and the players must do their best to thwart it. Stories like that usually take epic campaigns and an in-depth storyline as well, so that style of play plays a little bit differently than checkers. Anything is possible, it all depends on what you and the characters want.

The most important part of the game for me is character development. I like to create very in depth, real-feeling characters and NPC’s for the game and to see how they react to the world and change with it. There’s plenty of action and intrigue and stuff, but by far the most essential part of my game is the characters themselves. But again, the beauty of the game is the story can go wherever you want it, with emphasis on what you think is important. It’s a pretty kicka** game.

The books you heard about are rule books. They contain the rules for the game, like character classes (what each character is “good at,” essentially) combat rules, skills, and other such things. The books and contents vary based on edition. I play 3.5e, but there are a ton of options. The three core books are usually the Player’s Handbook, Monster Manual, and Dungeon Master’s Guide. Names might be different now, I’m kind of stuck in my 3.5e ways. You’ll also probably need some dice (4 sided, 6 sided, 8 sided, 10, 12 and 20 sided, and one percentage die), minatures and boards. You can get everything you need at some game and hobby shops, I usually buy my stuff online. Anyway, good luck with your D&D future!

share|improve this answer

A friend one described RPGs as a radio play without scripts. You are the actors playing a part, and you make the script up as you go along - guided by a referee who will nudge you along to help keep the thing interesting and to ensure the story progresses along the right lines.

share|improve this answer

You can watch the D&D PAX Celebrity Game on youtube, where Chris Perkins of Wizards of the Coast DMs a D&D game for Jerry Holkins, Scott Kurtz, Mike Krahulik, and Wil Wheaton.

Or here's the D&D GenCon Celebrity Game, with Chris Perkins as DM, and Larry Elmore, R.A. Salvatore, and Ed Greenwood as players.

I hope these give you an idea of what D&D is and how it is played.

share|improve this answer

As a player

Playing D&D is simple.

  1. listen to the DM describe the situation, looking at the map if he uses one.
  2. Tell the DM what you want your character to do
  3. Roll the dice the DM tells you to roll.

Note that combat in D&D 3.0, 3.5, 4.0, Essentials, and Pathfinder is, in essence, a miniatures combat game... but one that allows more than just "pick from the available list."

As a DM

Before Game

  1. learn the rules
  2. Create a scenario for the players to encounter - not a story, per se, but a series of encounters
  3. organize the players into a group that will meet together
  4. help players generate characters

At the game

  1. describe the situation as the characters would see/hear/smell/feel/taste/paranormally-sense it
  2. Give them a chance to react.
  3. adjudicate what needs rolls
    1. Usually done by reference to rules
    2. Sometimes done by DM choice to ignore the rules for the good of the story
  4. resolve the player's actions
  5. have the monsters and NPC's react to the player's actions

At End of Session

  1. Award experience points
  2. help players deal with levelling up if they earned it.

General Mode

Everyone sits around, and listens to the DM, decides how to react, and then the DM applies rules, common sense, his dramatic sense, and sometimes dice, to decide the outcome of those reactions, then has the monsters and NPC's react, and adjudicates their actions as well.

Usually, a story emerges from this. To an outside ear, it is a radio-play mixed with a miniatures wargame.

Winning

If you had fun, you won. So says Maj. Dave Wesley, who invented the mode of play. (Dave Arneson then adopted it, and Arneson and E. Gary Gygax then published the first ruleset for it.)

share|improve this answer

Dungeons and Dragons is an example of a "tabletop" roleplaying game, and you are correct that D&D can be played very much like a board game.

Your confusion comes from the fact that it isn't always played like that. (Ask 100 players 'how is it played' and you'll get 150 answers...) So I'll start with the basics.

A simple description of D&D

D&D is a team game in which several players cooperate to complete quests. Each player controls a single character in the game world, acting the part of that character. The game rules decide what happens if the outcome of an action is in doubt.

Example: If my character is speaking, I can just... well... speak. But if he's trying to climb a fence, the rules will say what dice I roll to see if he's good enough at climbing fences to manage it, and how high a number I need.

One player acts as the referee (or Dungeon Master in D&D-speak). The Dungeon Master does not have a character of her own, but instead plays the parts of all the other characters, and makes rules adjudications about the world.

Example: if the game objective this week is to protect a merchant caravan from bandits, the Dungeon Master would control the merchants and the bandits.

The "board" is typically a map of the scene, with counters or playing pieces showing the positions of the players, bystanders, and opposition. (This is how it's always done on TV, because it's easier to film that way, especially if the actors don't actually know how to play.)


So, D&D is like a typical board game. The rules say when it is your turn to act. There is a list of standard actions your character can take, with clear rules covering what each one does. Your character will have a list of skills (and maybe magical powers), with rules covering what each one does.

Example: If you try to shoot a bandit with an arrow, the rules will say what dice to roll to see if you hit, and whether he dies if you do.

But D&D is also not like a typical board game, because you're able to make creative moves that aren't explicitly in the rules. The Dungeon Master can then use the existing rules as guidelines to handle the situation.

Example: You try setting a grass fire to block the bandits' movement. There isn't actually a rule for grass fires, but it's a thing your character could plausibly do. The Dungeon Master's job is to decide whether works and how much damage the fire does to bandits who get caught in it.

Places to start

A good starting place if you just want to 'dip your toe in the water' is the "Red box" starter set. This is a 'learn to play' set, designed to get a small group going. It has some simplified rules to create characters, information on how to begin being a Dungeon Master, and some beginner's scenarios to play through.

If you want to dive straight in - or you've tried the red box and want more - the next step is probably the "D&D essentials" line of books. The basic rules for playing characters are in the "Heroes" line of books - it's not really necessary for every player to have one, as long as the group as a whole has one copy.

The Dungeon Master should look at the Dungeon Master's Kit for rules, and the Monster Vault which has hordes of opposition monsters for the players to fight.

Recently Wizards have published some D&D board games as well. These are board games in the usual sense, not role-playing games. But they keep a lot of the ideas from the main D&D role-playing game, so if your group likes these you may find they give you a bit of a feel for the full thing. Also, the playing pieces for these are very pretty!

(At the other end of the scale, some groups prefer not to use a board at all; the game rules still work using your imagination to envision where everything is. Generally groups that like acting their characters, but don't like board game tactical manoeuvring, prefer to do it this way.)

More information

D&D is not the only game of this kind; there are thousands. Take a look at the "What is roleplaying" question for more about how these games work; just about everything said there is true of D&D specifically.

share|improve this answer
2  
Terrific! THANK YOU VERY MUCH! Your explanation was very clear indeed! –  Rosamunda Nov 27 '11 at 19:05

What kind of game is a roleplaying game?

No matter how many times this is asked, it's always a tough one to answer. A roleplaying game is a fascinating mix between a bunch of other games and mediums you're already familiar with.

At its core, roleplaying is probably most strongly linked to children's games of make-believe. Think of playing Cops and Robbers, or playing out new stories with your favorite heroes, as portrayed a collection of action figures. In games like those, asking "how do you play this" feels almost incongruous - you just kind of know what is you're making believe, and the fun is in playing it out, in whatever way is handy, exciting, and fun.

The other huge influence is group storytelling. Imagine a game that goes like this: you sit down with three or four friends. One of you starts telling a story, and goes on for a couple of minutes. Then the next person picks up where the first left off. And around the circle you go, each one of you adding your own bits and twisting the story in the direction that interests you most.

There are other influences, but let's stick with those two for the moment. The traditional roleplaying game goes something like this: a bunch of friends get together, and they all want to play a make-believe game together. They're going to pretend they're heroes or wizards or pirates or policemen or anything else. And the way that the game works, when you boil it down to the basics, is very simple - each player has his own character, the person they're playing. And each player always lets everybody know what his character is doing - that's the game, they sit around the table, and create some story scenario, and then they just play through it, start to finish, with each player filling in the details for his own character.

One player won't have his own character; they're the game master, and they're job is to give the heroes a story to play in. Most crucially, he's typically in charge of the bad guys in the game, the people the players need to deal with. I won't get into the game master job at all; I just want you to understand that there's one person whose job it is to keep the story going, and to fill in all the detail besides the character stuff all the players are doing.

What's Dungeons and Dragons (and what are the books for)?

I've explained the basic format of a "roleplaying game," now I'm going to tell you that there are dozens and hundreds of roleplaying game systems. A "system" is a set of rules by which a game is played. Dungeons and Dragons (abbreviated D&D or DnD) is the best known roleplaying system, so I'll use it as an example of what a system is for, and what kind of rules you need for a make-believe game.

  • A system usually establishes setting and/or genre. D&D provides a game of high fantasy, heroism and magic. The system explains how to play dwarves and half-elves and sorcerers and holy clerics. It's not built to deal with gunfights or academic rivalry or a million other subjects; it doesn't tell you how to play those within the system.
  • A system establishes rules for conflict resolution. Stories are always all about conflict; tension comes from not knowing whether our heroes will succeed or fail at the next thing they're trying to do. So the rules decide whether or not you can cast a particular spell, or how hard it is to kill the enemy archer, or which of two characters win in a fistfight, and which one of them manages to woo their mutual beloved afterwards. Whenever you get to a point where you say, "I want to do X," and you know you won't necessarily succeed - the system provides rules to figure out what happens.
  • A system provides initial material to work with. You can't play in a vacuum; everybody needs to have some sense of what the game setting is like, and what options they have as players. So D&D goes into great length about different types of characters you can play, different abilities you can have, what monsters and spells and magic items are in the world, and where they fit in with the game rules. For example, you've got entire books that are compendiums of different monsters; the game master uses this to have enemies to throw at players without needing to make it all up themselves (and not needing to hopelessly guess how many pirate zombies it would take to give your particular group a fair fight).

So that's where the books and the other apparatus come in - every game needs rules. Some games use dice (which puts randomness into the "can my character do X" question), some use boards (to keep track of a complex battle scene), D&D frequently uses both. And all but the simplest games have some kind of rulebook - and often, additional books chock-full of optional additions. So if you're playing a game based on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, you might have an extra book full of vampire monsters to kill, and maybe another one explaining the minutia of the Watchers, since your players want to get really involved with them. Or, you might not need those extras.

For the moment, you don't need to worry about extra books. Start with one at most - after that, we'll see.

What do I need to start playing D&D?

First and foremost, you'll want the basic rulebook. AFAIK these are the two popular choices nowadays:

You'll also need some dice, which you can buy at game stores for a few bucks. Then you'll need at least one person to get pretty familiar with the core book, and for all the players to get a general sense of the rules. And one of you will be the game master, and that person will need to either come up with an adventure of their own, or get a ready-made adventure scenario to play out.

I won't lie - that's a lot of effort. It's particularly hard when none of you is familiar with the game - even one person who knows the game, or is very enthusiastic about learning it, can make the whole process much easier for the rest of the group.

What other options do I have?

The easiest way into roleplaying is probably to find somebody who's already in. If there's a hobby/game/collecting store anywhere near you, they might have events specially aimed at new players, or just know people in the area glad to teach you (where I live, there's a large roleplaying community, with frequent game conventions where new players are welcome to try out games). The game companies have their own programs, like Pathfinder Society and D&D Encounters, to encourage new players - you might be able to find one in your area.

You might want to try the D&D Starter Set - it's not the complete game, but it's a really great introduction, giving you the general feel of what D&D is, and guiding you through a lot of the initial confusing by fun, choose-your-own-adventure-style demonstrations. (Downsides are that (a) it's kind of expensive, and (b) if you do like it, you'd need to buy the core rulebook in addition. But it's probably one of the best introductions to D&D you can find in printed form.)

If you've got a friend who's into roleplaying, you could ask them to run a game session or two for you - just enough to give you the feel for it, and figure out if it's fun for you. Your friend might prefer some other system rather than D&D, but that's really not a problem - other systems are fine too, and having someone to ease you in is a huge help.

Lastly, you might look for roleplaying games based on your favorite movie, TV show, or genre. Those might be easier for you to get around in, since you've got enthusiasm for the setting and the style. (They also might be less confusing than D&D, just because they don't have so very, very many books to navigate around. There are lots of smaller games than D&D, this is just a pretty good way to pick a particular one.)

I hope this helps. :) If roleplaying sounds like fun to you, definitely do what you can to give it a whirl. If you can get it going, you're in for a treat.

share|improve this answer

Role Playing

At their most basic, role playing games are essentially like the games of make-believe you may have played as a child. You get a group of friends together (five or six people is a common number, although these games can be played with many more or far fewer).

A common format is for each player to control a single character, with one player taking the role of the "dungeon master." The dungeon master's job is to control all of the rest of characters in the story: The enemies, the supporting cast, fate, physics, and so on.

This group of people then gets together and tells a story... The dungeon master presents a scenario, and the players explain how their characters react to it.

Game

The "game" part of things is to address the age old problem of who shot first. Most role playing games are published in book form. The book addresses the basic rules of the game (what kind of dice you need to roll to attack a target, what happens you level up), as well as specific statistics for enemies (how much damage a skeleton does when it attacks you), or for player characters (how many hit points a fighter has; how many spells a wizard can cast).

Role playing games don't typically use a board in the traditional sense. "Tactical" games (games where the position of individual characters is very important to game play) like Dungeons and Dragons are typically played with a square grid over which the map of the area can be drawn. Pre-printed maps also exist.

One key difference between D&D and other games is that it's not (typically) played to win. The dungeon master isn't necessarily trying to defeat the players (in fact, doing so can be quite inconvenient!), rather the goal is to present and insteresting story with a bit of challenge to it.

The fun comes from overcoming the challenge together with a group of friends, and watching your characters grow.

Many Books

Because role playing games are distributed as books, printing more is the main way that the authors can make money. New books are often released as expansion content, detailing either new areas in the setting, new monsters to fight, or new character classes to play. Think of them like expansion packs.

In addition to this, Dungeons and Dragons traditionally splits its core rules into three volumes: The Players Handbook (rules for players), The Dungeon Master's Guide (rules specific to the dungeon master), and the Monster Manual (a collection of statistics for monsters and other antagonists).

Finally, the more successful role playing games tend to release a new edition every few years. This is typically accompanied by an overhaul of the rules sufficient to make it incompatible with previous editions. Dungeons and Dragons, for example, is currently on its fourth edition. Fourth Edition D&D is effectively a different set of rules for the same setting when compared to Third Edition D&D.

We have a couple of (somewhat older) questions that go over the books needed to get started with 4e D&D:

4th ed. D&D - 'Core books' or 'Essentials' - what (set of books and financial outlay) makes a complete game?

What is the minimum set of books a group should have to play 4e?

RPGs on TV

Take portrayals of RPGs on television with a grain of salt. Just like video games, they usually end up being protrayed in an exagerated, theatrical manner. They sometimes get the basic idea right, but it usually doesn't end up looking quite like it does on TV.

Getting Started

The best way to get started with RPGs is to find an existing game, and sit in on it. Local card/comic shops in your area are a good place to find existing games. D&D's "Encounters" program is a notable example, although it focuses more on the game side of things than the role playing.

We have a couple of questions about that topic here as well:

Where can I find other RPG players?

Looking for Group in RPG-deprived cities

If you can't find a public game to join in, pick a game, buy some books (we can help with that, if you're uncertain), shanghai some friends, and have fun.

share|improve this answer
2  
Thanks!!!! It´s very difficult to set an accepted answer, as both answers provide complementary information. Now I have a better understanding of how this actually works. You´ve been very kind! THANKS!!! –  Rosamunda Nov 27 '11 at 20:15

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.