Questions relating to Dungeons & Dragons as a whole, or to multiple versions of Dungeons & Dragons.

learn more… | top users | synonyms (2)

66
votes
9answers
13k views

I'm at a loss with “Dungeons and Dragons.” How does one play it, anyway?

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 ...
62
votes
19answers
7k views

I'm creating an original setting for D&D—where do I start?

Creating a new fantasy setting for D&D is daunting but I don't want to use one of the published settings. I have a blank piece of paper in front of me and a whole world to create. My friends want ...
52
votes
15answers
7k views

Why does everyone carry a 10' pole?

Based on this comment over on CRPG Addict: No adventuring party is complete without a ten foot pole. ... Jason, but WHY? In God's name, WHAT IS IT FOR?! What is a 10 foot pole used for ...
52
votes
12answers
2k views

What's a good mechanic for rewarding players for keeping their characters happy?

In a lot of setting and systems, such as D&D, the aim of the game tends to be to explore and kill things. Money is spent on useful items and hirelings. However, a real adventurer would probably ...
47
votes
26answers
3k views

What alternatives are there to replace orcs, kobolds, and hobgoblins in low-level encounters?

In your average "generic D&D" campaign and setting, orcs, kobolds, and hobgoblins are frequently used to stock low level adventures and dungeons. These are usually nice for 1st/2nd level ...
46
votes
16answers
3k views

How should a GM deal with sexuality in an RPG?

I think it's a matter of fact that since the first moment a player realizes that he or she can interact with someone of the opposite sex romantically within the game, things get hairy. I had my fair ...
45
votes
11answers
6k views

3d6 vs a d20: What is the effect of a different probability curve?

What is the effect on game play of replacing d20 rolls with 3d6 rolls in a D&D 4e campaign? I started thinking about this after reading this question where the example was given of playing a d20 ...
42
votes
1answer
2k views

What's the inspiration for the owlbear?

The standard explanation for the owlbear in-universe is "A Wizard Did It." Which is fine, as far as it goes, because the trope of "madman tinkering with bizarre mutations" is part of our speculative ...
41
votes
10answers
7k views

Overview of D&D retro-clones

I'm getting more and more interested in the D&D retro-clones. I keep seeing various names thrown around, like Labyrinth Lords, Swords and Wizardry, Lycanthropes &… something else starting with ...
40
votes
13answers
1k views

How to communicate to the players that an encounter can be solved also through diplomacy?

When you play D&D, you are not supposed to chat with the enemy during encounters. The system is made for fighting. However, in some circumstances, it would be nice to make the players conscious ...
39
votes
8answers
1k views

How can DMs effectively telegraph specific dangers in D&D?

There are some play-styles of D&D in which the spectre of player-character death is considered a feature of the game rather than a bug. For my own reasons (which aren't the point of the question), ...
37
votes
6answers
2k views

At what point did polyhedral dice become part of D&D?

I was reading some articles the other day about Gary Gygax, Dave Arneson and the history of Dungeons and Dragons. I started to wonder: Where did these guys from Wisconsin get the now iconic polyhedral ...
35
votes
10answers
2k views

How can I invoke actual fear in my players?

I'm a DM that focuses heavily on story, description and setting. My goal is to send players home wanting -- no, longing -- to actually be part of the mythos I've created. The ultimate goal for me as ...
35
votes
3answers
19k views

What are the big differences between the D&D editions?

I've been out of the loop for a while, and I used to play AD&D 2nd ed, but today I find there are a lot of different versions that have fairly different gameplay. Can anyone summarize the really ...
34
votes
15answers
2k views

Narrative Combat versus Use of Miniatures

When I first started playing D&D, my DM did not use battlemaps or miniatures to describe combat. Everything was described to us, and questions to the DM were part and parcel of the experience, ...
33
votes
17answers
8k views

Can a D&D Necromancer be of a good alignment?

I've been considering creating a good-aligned necromancer, but I'm not sure if it's realistic from a role-playing perspective. Is there anything inherent in necromancy that would require someone to be ...
33
votes
11answers
3k views

Is it practical to run a weekly lunch-hour game of D&D with my coworkers?

I'm looking to get some of my coworkers together and start a lunch time, casual, D&D game. Has anyone done this - is there a practical way to do this? Our lunch breaks run for about 1 hour, but I ...
29
votes
9answers
976 views

How can I more effectively use darkness in a dungeon?

In more than one of my D&D campaigns, I've found myself feeling disappointed at my inability to make the darkness of the dungeon matter. Everyone has enough torches, and I'm not likely to be able ...
29
votes
5answers
2k views

What's the deal with alignment languages?

In early D&D, there was the concept of an "alignment language." The original "little brown book" D&D says only: Law, Chaos and Neutrality also have common languages spoken by each ...
29
votes
4answers
38k views

What are the differences between D&D 3.5 and D&D 4th edition?

I have a small group of players who don't play often and we've been playing D&D 3.5. I wanted to know if there are any significant differences between D&D 3.5 and D&D 4e? Do they use a ...
28
votes
6answers
1k views

What were the driving factors in the falling out between Dave Arneson and Gary Gygax?

Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson created the hobby together when they wrote D&D. But later on they had a falling out - what caused that? (We don't need minutiae, just the biggest factors)
28
votes
2answers
624 views

What is the etymology of the term 'Gish'?

I understand that it roughly means a fighter/mage, as per this question: How to optimize a Gishy [Fighter/Mage] Character? But I just wanted to know more about how the term came about. It's so hard ...
27
votes
7answers
4k views

How do I run a successful and engaging campaign without combat?

I'm thinking of starting my own campaign with a few of my friends with me as DM, primarily because I wasn't extremely impressed with the campaign my friend was DMing. When I started thinking about the ...
27
votes
8answers
2k views

How can a GM justify changing a player's alignment?

Lately, in one of my campaigns, I've been having problems with a character who everyone agrees is acting out of alignment. Everyone, that is, but him. The problem, of course, is that he's playing a ...
27
votes
5answers
6k views

What are the differences between Holmes, Moldvay, and Mentzer D&D?

What are the differences between Holmes, Moldvay, and Mentzer D&D? Also, which one came first?
27
votes
4answers
1k views

What is the history and significance of the “dire” prefix to creatures?

Some animals in Pathfinder bestiaries are prefixed with "dire". Does this come from the wolf species Canis dirus, an early edition monster/template or something else? Where does this come from and ...
26
votes
6answers
2k views

In an even fight, how many rounds does a typical monster need to drop a PC?

Inspired by the closed question: DnD Next Hitpoint Inflation, There have been claims of HP inflation in dnd-next, and there certainly were increased in the absolute value of HP in 4e. In order to ...
26
votes
3answers
965 views

What inspired the D&D version of the Rakshasa?

Rakshasa have been part of D&D for more than 35 years, appearing in every edition. These evil magic cat-people are clearly inspired by the rakshas from Hindu and Buddhist mythologies, but they ...
23
votes
4answers
800 views

How much to bend “the rules” about populating a world?

All right, I have a question about creating a world and populating it with appropriate monsters, etc. I created a world a little while back, loosely based off of the world found in Michael ...
23
votes
10answers
2k views

Traps specifically for Smart characters

Does anyone have examples or suggestions on creating traps that are harder for Smart (High INT/WIS) characters? Example: My NPC necromancer has set up his lair. In his arrogance he believes that ...
23
votes
3answers
1k views

If undead exist, why do cemeteries exist & cremation not a standard?

I have less fingers than the nr of cemeteries I cleared in campaigns of various scenarios and game mechanics. I find time and time again cemeteries crawling with undead. Either graves or crypts. I ...
23
votes
4answers
3k views

Why can't clerics use sharp weapons?

In many versions of D&D, clerics can't use bladed/edged/pointy weapons, and are instead restricted to things like staves, clubs, maces, etc. Why is this? Is there some historical reason? Is ...
23
votes
4answers
647 views

Why do characters with a high prime requisite gain bonus XP?

In earlier versions of Dungeons & Dragons, a character with a high ability score in their class' prime requisite receives a bonus to all experience he earns. For example, the 1983 Frank Mentzer ...
22
votes
7answers
2k views

How does D&D Vancian magic make sense in-game?

One thing that bugs me about Vancian Magic in D&D as I understand it is the following: How is "fire and forget" remotely believable when I can slot and ready more than one "copy" of a spell? Say ...
21
votes
5answers
4k views

Is it possible to actually kill a Tarrasque?

I've seen a good bit of conflicting information on this creature. Is it possible to actually kill it? Permanently? Is the answer to this something that varies from edition to edition of D&D?
21
votes
4answers
2k views

Why do D&D Paladins Have to Be Lawful Good?

In just about every edition of D&D (save for 4e), Paladins are required to be Lawful Good. If they stray from that, they are completely stripped of their powers. This means that evil deities can't ...
21
votes
3answers
2k views

Where do dual-wielding rangers come from?

The classes in D&D are clearly selected as classic archetypes, either from an iconic character or frequently reccurring within Fantasy fiction. The idea of bow-wielding rangers is a good example ...
21
votes
3answers
308 views

Athas: A terrifying vision of the future?

Athas, the desolated world of deserts, obsidian and ecological ruin that is the focus of the Dark Sun campaign setting, is generally portrayed as a prime world nearing the end of its life expectancy. ...
20
votes
10answers
1k views

Should I call for an INT check for clever ideas?

Let's say someone is playing a character that has really low intelligence, but then the player comes up with a clever idea for a way for his dumb character to overcome some obstacle. Should I make him ...
20
votes
16answers
1k views

Why aren't magocracies and theocracies dominant in D&D settings?

Anyone has (or has links to) well thought-out, logical explanations for why magocracies and theocracies are not the dominant forms of government of D&D worlds? I'd also be really interested in ...
20
votes
16answers
812 views

Do any newer D&D versions grant experience for exceptional role-playing?

Do any of the newer D&D editions' books (most likely the DM Guide) have guidelines for granting experience for exceptional role-playing? I once played with a professional DM (there's a job I ...
20
votes
4answers
908 views

Are old versions of D&D compatible with new ones?

Some 30 years ago I used to play Dungeons and Dragons: red 'Basic', blue 'Expert', black 'Master' edition box sets, etc. I still have them and was recently playing with my son, who loved them. I want ...
20
votes
5answers
978 views

As a GM, how do I keep Dungeons & Dragons more interesting for young players?

Currently, my group of players is my children, ages 7+ through 14+ (and several in between). They all are really excited about playing, but I am having great difficulty keeping them all interested ...
20
votes
5answers
710 views

How does Charm Person affect a PC?

It's quite clear how the DM should play any NPCs that get Charmed by a PC -- the NPC should behave as the caster's best friend, and do things that he'd do for his best friend. But how do you play ...
20
votes
3answers
326 views

Do dead creatures take up space?

If a large creature dies, does its corpse still occupy a 10x10 area? How does this affect movement and combat, specifically charging?
19
votes
10answers
899 views

What are the core tropes or assumptions of D&D?

After an interesting discussion with my local GM, I was left wondering What are the core tropes and assumptions that players bring to a game of D&D? Specifically the ones that are different from ...
19
votes
6answers
2k views

Is Coup de Grace on sleeping and bound opponents an evil act?

So I was recently participating in a Pathfinder Society game. Our ship was attacked and boarded by pirates. First thing that happened was one of our party cast sleep, and succeeded in putting four of ...
19
votes
10answers
1k views

What defines the “old school renaissance”?

I'm aware that the old school renaissance (OSR) is all about hearkening back to old versions of D&D and the play styles of the 70's and 80's, but what characteristics really define this movement? ...
19
votes
1answer
593 views

How has D&D changed over time in its guidance to DMs as to when to extrapolate from written rules and when to improvise?

This answer (to a question about a levitating character trying to catch an object that exceeds the spell's weight limit in D&D 2e) states that: The spell levitate has a maximum weight limit, ...
19
votes
4answers
1k views

What about character death should be included in a social contract?

For a D&D (4e, primarily) game what about player-character death should be included in a group's social contract? What are some options for best reaching consensus about the possibility of death ...