Dungeons and Dragons

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Player's Handbook for D&D

Dungeons & Dragons (abbreviated as D&D, DnD, or AD&D for the advanced edition) is a fantasy tabletop role-playing game (RPG) published by Wizards of the Coast. The original Dungeons & Dragons, designed by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson, was first published in January 1974 by Gygax's company, Tactical Studies Rules (TSR). Originally derived from tabletop wargames, this publication is generally regarded as the beginning of modern role-playing games and, by extension, the role-playing game industry. The game also achieved minor notoriety, particularly in the 1980s, when some of its imagery was used by many fundamentalists for the purpose of scaring parents of players; they alleged that the game promoted, among other things, devil worship, witchcraft, suicide, and murder.

Not long after its inception, Dungeons and Dragons saw its marketshare challenged by the proliferation of many other gaming companies, including Judges Guild, Tunnels and Trolls, and the multiple Arduin works of author David A. Hargrave. AD&D, however, dominated the RPG genre of that period, enjoying an impenetrable market position.

Players of D&D invent fictitious characters who embark upon imaginary adventures in which they battle many kinds of fictional monsters, gather treasure, and earn experience points as the game progresses. The game departed from traditional wargaming by assigning each player a specific character to play, as opposed to legions and armies. It also developed the concept of a Dungeon Master (DM) or Gamemaster (GM), the storyteller and referee responsible for creating the fictional setting of the game, moderating the actions of the players' characters, and playing the supporting cast of non-player characters.

In 1977, a second edition of the game, Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (abbreviated as AD&D) was introduced. In 2000, the simplified version of the game was discontinued and the 3rd Edition of Dungeons & Dragons was released as a major revision of the AD&D game. The current version of the game, released in July 2003 is Dungeons & Dragons v.3.5 (also known as the Revised 3rd Edition or D&D3.5).

As of 2004, Dungeons & Dragons remains the best-known and best-selling role-playing game. Products branded Dungeons & Dragons made up over fifty percent of the RPG products sold in 2002Template:Citeneeded. Outside of the gaming community, Dungeons & Dragons has become a metonym used to refer to role-playing games in general.

Play overview

A 3.5 Edition character sheet

Dungeons & Dragons is an open-ended "make-believe" game in which players direct the actions of their characters, the results of which are determined by the Dungeon Master, using the game's rules, which govern almost everything from combat to social interaction, and common sense. The rules of the most recent version of the game are described in three core rulebooks: The Player's Handbook, the Dungeon Master's Guide, and the Monster Manual. Additional rulebooks, such as the Complete Warrior, contain optional rules which can also be used. Abbreviated versions of the rules are available to help beginners learn the game.

The only items required to play the game are the rulebooks, a character sheet for each player, and a number of polyhedral dice, though there are many optional items which can be used to supplement or enhance the gaming experience, such as pre-designed adventures and campaign settings. Special gameboards or cloths are sometimes used to visually depict the situations in the game, and miniature figures can be used to provide a three-dimensional representation of the characters. Computer programs are also available for supporting the game.

A set of standard D&D dice: (from left) d4, d6, d8, d12, d20, and two d10s for percentile: ones and tens.

Before the game begins, each player creates his or her character, usually on a character sheet. The player will have to make choices, which determine what type of person the character is, what the character can do, how well he can perform different actions, and how the character will evolve with experience. Because of the ability for characters to grow and change as they gain experience and wealth in the Dungeons & Dragons world, the character is typically used until it dies within the game, or becomes too powerful. Players roll dice or select to determine their character's ability scores (strength, dexterity, constitution, intelligence, wisdom, and charisma). They then choose a race and a character class (although in some early editions of the game non-human races were treated as a class of their own). Basic races include elves, dwarves, humans, and halflings, but there are many others. They will also select an alignment as an indicator to the character's moral and ethical outlook. The basic core classes in the newest version of the game include barbarians, bards, clerics, druids, fighters, monks, paladins, rangers, rogues, sorcerers, and wizards.

When characters defeat an enemy, accomplish a difficult task, and/or obtain treasure, they are awarded an appropriate number of experience points, or XP by the DM. Attaining a certain number of XP causes a character to advance a level, gaining more abilities and improving existing ones. (In the current edition of the game, finding treasure does not earn experience points, and this rule was optional in some previous versions.) Template:Seealso.

When a player chooses to have his or her character attempt an action (such as punching an opponent or picking a lock), the outcome will be determined by a character's abilities, the opponent's Armour Class, a random die roll, or by some combination of the three. Different characters will be skilled at accomplishing different things, and the system encourages players to form a well-balanced team of specialised characters.


S3: Expedition to the Barrier Peaks was one of the few adventures released by TSR to include science-fiction elements, such as ray guns and robots.
Main articles: Adventure (Dungeons & Dragons), and [[{{{2}}}]], and [[{{{3}}}]], and [[{{{4}}}]], and [[{{{5}}}]]

A typical Dungeons & Dragons game consists of an "adventure", which is roughly equivalent to a single story. After completing one adventure, players will usually start a new adventure while continuing to play the same characters. These series of adventures are usually called campaigns. In Dungeons & Dragons, a campaign is not only a series of adventures, but the fictional world in which those adventures take place.

Adventures are usually designed by the Dungeon Master, but throughout the history of Dungeons & Dragons, numerous pre-made "adventures" or "modules" have been published. These modules allow DMs to run a game without needing to create their own adventures, and typically include a backstory, maps, and one or more objectives for players' characters to achieve. Some modules include illustrations or hand-outs to supplement the basic gaming experience. These modules can also be used as parts of campaigns (see below) by DMs. A Dungeons & Dragons game may take place in any number of "campaign settings." Pre-made adventures list a suggested number of characters and their character level. Template:Seealso

Miniature figures

The wargames from which Dungeons & Dragons evolved used miniature figures to represent combatants. D&D continued the use of miniatures in a fashion similar to its direct precursor, Chainmail, with each figure representing a specific character or monster. While the original rules of D&D required the use of miniatures to resolve combat situations, the rules quickly evolved to a point where combat could be resolved verbally and miniatures were no longer required for gameplay.

Although no longer essential, miniatures remained popular with players and continued to serve as a useful visual reference. In the early days of D&D, they were often placed on acetate-covered graph paper with walls and other references drawn with grease pencils. As the adventurers moved from one area to another, the grease pencil markings could be wiped off and a new area drawn.

In the 1980s numerous companies began to sell miniature figures specifically for Dungeons & Dragons and similar games. TSR partnered with Grenadier Miniatures, who released their figures under the Dungeons & Dragons brand, while other miniature manufacturers (such as Ral Partha and Citadel Miniatures) simply release generic, fantasy-themed figures.

Professional products were also released to serve as grid-references for miniature play. Some players would build entire floor-and-wall sets from wood or cardboard and would invest in large inventories of trees and other model objects to create more realistic environments for their miniatures. Professionally-built sets were later released, as well.

Periodically, Dungeons & Dragons returned to its wargaming roots with supplementary rules systems for miniatures-based wargaming. Supplements such as Battlesystem (1985 & 1989) and a new edition of Chainmail (2001) provided rule systems to handle battles between armies. The Dungeons & Dragons Miniatures Game (2003) is sold as sets of plastic, randomly assorted, pre-painted miniatures that can be used as either part of a standard Dungeons & Dragons game or as a stand-alone collectible miniatures game.

Game History

The cover to the game Chainmail, a Dungeons & Dragons predecessor.


The fantasy game Dungeons & Dragons, designed by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson, evolved in the early 1970s from the Chainmail system of wargaming rules by Gary Gygax and Jeff Perren. The game was influenced by mythology, pulp fiction, and contemporary fantasy authors of the 1960s and 1970s.

The presence of halflings, elves, dwarves, half-elves, orcs, dragons and the like often draw comparisons to the work of J. R. R. Tolkien, although Gygax claims he was influenced very little by The Lord of the Rings, stating that he included these elements as a marketing move to draw on the then-popularity of the work. Other influences, according to the 1977 edition of the Dungeon Master's Guide, include the works of Robert E. Howard, Edgar Rice Burroughs, A. Merritt, H.P. Lovecraft, Jack Vance, Fritz Leiber, L. Sprague de Camp, Michael Moorcock, and Poul Anderson. The monsters often are adapted from popular mythology, but many are unique creations of the makers of the Dungeons & Dragons game (such as the beholders, which often serve as the mascot of Dungeons & Dragons.)

Edition history

Main articles: Editions of Dungeons & Dragons, and [[{{{2}}}]], and [[{{{3}}}]], and [[{{{4}}}]], and [[{{{5}}}]]

Dungeons & Dragons has gone through several revisions. Parallel versions and inconsistent naming practices can make it difficult to distinguish between the different editions.

The original Dungeons and Dragons was published in 1974 and was supplemented over the next two years with Greyhawk, Blackmoor, Eldritch Wizardry, and Gods, Demi-Gods and Heroes. Official and popular unofficial rule supplements were also published in the magazines The Strategic Review and its successor, The Dragon/Dragon Magazine.

The original Dungeons & Dragons set

In 1977, TSR released two new versions of the game: Advanced Dungeons & Dragons and Dungeons & Dragons.

Dungeons & Dragons saw a major revision in 1981, which also coincided with the release of an Expert Set to accompany the Basic Set. Between 1983 and 1985 a new edition, by Frank Mentzer, was released in a series of five boxed sets, including the Basic Rules, Expert Rules, Companion Rules, Master Rules, and Immortal Rules.

The Dungeons & Dragons game was revised again in 1991. This edition included the Dungeons & Dragons Game (an introductory boxed set) and the Dungeons & Dragons Rules Cyclopedia (a hardback manual which included the material from the Basic, Expert, Companion, and Master sets). In 1994 the introductory boxed set was renamed the Classic Dungeons & Dragons Game. In 1999 the introductory box set was revised and released as the Dungeons & Dragons Adventure Game.

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (or AD&D) was a more complicated version of the game, designed to collect, revise, and expand on the rules from the original version and its supplements. Between 1977 and 1979, three hardcover rulebooks, commonly referred to as the "core rulebooks", were released: The Player's Handbook (PHB), the Dungeon Master's Guide (DMG), and the [[]Monster Manua]l (MM). Four more hardcover AD&D rulebooks were released between 1980 and 1985: Deities and Demigods (DD), the Fiend Folio (FF), the Monster Manual II (MMII), and Unearthed Arcana (UA).

In 1989, AD&D was revised for a 2nd Edition (sometimes referred to as AD&D2 or 2nd Ed). The game was once again published as three core rulebooks, incorporating the expansions and revisions which had been published in various supplements over the previous decade. The Monster Manual was replaced by the Monstrous Compendium, a loose leaf-binder which was later replaced by the hardcover Monstrous Manual in 1993.

The release of AD&D2 also corresponded with a policy change at TSR. An effort was made to remove aspects of the game had attracted negative publicity. Character classes such as the assassin and monk were eliminated, heroic roleplaying and player teamwork were stressed, demons and devils were renamed baatezu and tanar'ri, and the product artwork became less racy. The target age of the game was also lowered, with most 2nd edition products being aimed primarily at teenagers. The Second Edition art and marketing were also modified to appeal more to female players.

In 1995, the core rulebooks were slightly revised and a series of Player's Option manuals were released as "optional core rulebooks". Although still referred to by TSR as the 2nd Edition, this revision is seen by some fans as a distinct edition of the game and is sometimes referred to as AD&D 2.5. This incarnation is considered distinct because this design incorporated a character points system, which does not rely on dice for generation of Player Character abilities or skills.

In 1997, a near-bankrupt TSR was bought by Wizards of the Coast. The new company almost immediately began designing a new version of the game, which would be released in 2000 as Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition (also referred to as D&D3, 3E, or 3rd Ed). 3rd Edition was the largest revision of the D&D rules to date. 3rd edition also served as the basis for a broader role-playing system designed around 20-sided dice, called the d20 system.

For Dungeons & Dragons 3rd edition, the rules have been virtually rewritten from scratch with the intention of providing a robust set of game mechanics that can 'handle' any and all situations arising in the game without need for the Dungeon Master to resort to impromptu, on-the-spot rulings. A system of feats and skills has also been introduced in an effort to reflect the characters' individual differences in a more mechanical manner. 3rd Edition also introduced the concepts of "Prestige Classes" (high-level classes which characters can only enter upon meeting certain character-design prerequisites or fulfilling certain in-game goals) and expanded the idea of high-level campaigns with the Epic Level Handbook (a supplementary core rulebook).

In 2003, the [[Editions of Dungeons & Dragons#3dr edition|3rd Edition rules were revised as Dungeons & Dragons v.3.5 (also known as Revised 3rd Edition or D&D3.5). This release incorporated numerous minor rule changes and expanded the core rulebooks.


Dungeons & Dragons was the first modern role-playing game, establishing many of the conventions which have dominated the genre. Particularly notable are the use of dice as a resolution mechanic, character record sheets, progressive character development, and game-master-centered group dynamics.

The elements which made up Dungeons & Dragons can be seen in many hobbies of the time, though they had existed previously. Character-based roleplaying, for example, can be seen in historical reenactment and improvisational theatre. Game world simulations had been well-developed in wargaming. Fantasy milieus specifically designed for gaming could be seen in Glorantha's board games and M.A.R. Barker's Tekumel, among others. Ultimately, however, Dungeons & Dragons represented a unique blending of these elements, creating its own niche and leading to the development of a multitude of role-playing games. Science fiction, horror, superheroes, cartoons, westerns, spies and espionage, and many other fictional settings were adapted to role-playing games.

Over the years, many gamers have criticized various aspects of the Dungeons & Dragons rules. In previous editions, clunky and inconsistent mechanics were often seen as inefficient and confusing. The rapid climbing of levels by the characters of the newest version, with its accompanying accumulation of power, is considered artificial and unrealistic by many. Trying to find solutions to these problems led to other game developers to expand on and modify aspects of the game. Within only months of Dungeons & Dragons's release, new role-playing game writers and publishers began releasing their own role-playing games. The first arrivals to achieve lasting influence were RuneQuest, released by Chaosium in 1976, and the science fiction role-playing game Traveller, released by Game Designers Workshop in 1978. Some of the later systems include Chaosium's Call of Cthulhu, Champions by Hero Games, GURPS by Steve Jackson Games and Vampire: The Masquerade by White Wolf Game Studio. These games also fed back into the genre's origin, miniatures wargames, with combat strategy games like Battletech, Warhammer Fantasy Battles and Warhammer 40,000. Collectable card games, like Magic: The Gathering, were also heavily influenced by Dungeons & Dragons and its legacy.

With the launch of Dungeons & Dragons's 3rd Edition, Wizards of the Coast made the d20 System available under the Open Gaming License (OGL) and d20 Trademark License. Under these licenses, authors are free to use the d20 System when writing their own games and game supplements. The OGL and d20 Trademark License are also responsible for making possible new versions of older games, such as Call of Cthulhu, using the new system.

Related products


In 1975, TSR began publishing The Strategic Review. At the time, roleplaying games were still seen as a sub-genre of the wargaming industry, and the magazine was designed not only to support Dungeons & Dragons and TSR's other games, but also to cover wargaming in general. In short order, however, the popularity and growth of Dungeons & Dragons made it clear that the game had not only separated itself from its wargaming origins, but had launched an entirely new industry unto itself. After only seven issues, TSR cancelled The Strategic Review and replaced it with The Dragon (later Dragon Magazine) in 1976.

Although Dragon Magazine was originally designed to support the roleplaying industry in general, it has always been primarily a house organ for TSR's (or more recently Wizards of the Coast's) role-playing games with a particular focus on D&D. Most of the magazine's articles provide supplementary material for the game, including new races, classes, spells, traps, monsters, skills, and rules. Other articles will provide tips and suggestions for players and DMs. The magazine has also published a number of well-known, gamer-oriented comic strips over the years, including Wormy, SnarfQuest, Yamara, Knights of the Dinner Table, Nodwick, and Dork Tower.

In 1986, TSR launched a new magazine to complement Dragon. Dungeon Adventures, published bimonthly, published nothing but adventure modules for Dungeons Masters. While Dungeon now publishes other kinds of material as well, Dungeons & Dragons adventures remain its main focus. Although many other magazines have partially or fully devoted themselves to supporting Dungeons & Dragons, Dragon and Dungeon remain the only two official publications for the game.

Films and TV

A popular Dungeons & Dragons animated series was produced in 1983.

A Dungeons & Dragons movie was released in 2000. Dungeons & Dragons 2: Wrath of the Dragon God, a made-for-TV sequel, was first aired on the Sci-Fi Channel on October 8th, 2005. (This sequel is also known by the alternate title Dungeons & Dragons 2: The Elemental Might.)

In 2003, a computer animated motion picture entitled Scourge of Worlds was produced for DVD, featuring iconic characters created for the 3rd Edition. This is an interactive movie that asks viewers to decide what actions the heroes should take at crucial points in the story, allowing hundreds of different story-telling combinations.

Computer and video games

Fifty-three computer games and sixteen video games (ten for consoles, four for handheld devices, and two arcade games) had been released and sold under the D&D license as of October 2004. Almost half of these games were developed by Strategic Simulations, Inc. (SSI). Most, but not all, are computer role-playing games that use rules derived from some version of the D&D rules. Notable titles include

For a full list of licensed D&D computer and video games, see List of Dungeons & Dragons computer and video games. Many other CRPGs, such as the numerous Roguelike games, are directly or indirectly based on the D&D game.


Several hundred novels have been published based upon Dungeons & Dragons.


During the 1980s and 1990s, DC Comics published several licensed D&D comics, including: Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, Forgotten Realms, and Spelljammer.

After the release of the 3rd Edition, KenzerCo, better known for the popular Knights of the Dinner Table, secured the licensing rights to produce official D&D comics. Using the license, they produced a number of different mini-series. One notable mini-series for this comic line entitled Tempest's Gate was authored by Sean Smith. It featured memorable iconic characters of D&D such as Zed Kraken, a powerful and influential magus.[1]

In 2005, the license passed to Devil's Due Productions. Starting in June of that year, Devil's Due began releasing official adaptations of D&D tie-in novels, starting with Salvatore's Dark Elf Trilogy.

Board games

Several board games have been sold either under the Dungeons & Dragons trademark or in association with it:

  • Dungeons & Dragons Computer Labyrinth Game (1980) This was the first computer/board game hybrid and the first D&D licensed game that contained digital electronics.
  • DragonStrike (1993) used a simplified form of D&D and included an instructional video tape in which costumed actors, combined with computer-generated imagery, played the characters and monsters from the board game.
  • Dungeon (1975), a board game published by TSR, featured similar gameplay and genre tropes to D&D and was frequently advertised in D&D products.
  • Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Battlesystem (1985) Create fantasy armies with counters or miniatures and fight battles on epic proportions. Can be played on its own or with first edition AD&D RPG game.
  • Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Battlesystem Skirmishes (1991) A Different Version of the above game released at a later date.
  • Dungeons & Dragons Fantasy Adventure Boardgame (2004) A simplified version of the Dungeons and Dragons roleplaying game, designed as an introduction to roleplaying, but is - in essence - a boardgame not unlike HeroQuest.
  • Dungeons & Dragons - Fantasy Adventure Boardgame Expansion: Eternal Winter (2004) This is the 1st expansion for Dungeons & Dragons Board Game by Hasbro.
  • Dungeons & Dragons - Fantasy Adventure Boardgame Expansion: Forbidden Forest (2005) This is the 2nd expansion for Dungeons & Dragons Board Game by Hasbro.
  • Dungeons and Dragons Clue (2001) Standard Clue with a D&D fantasy theme.
  • Dungeons & Dragons Board Game (2002) Cooperative dungeon crawl game in which a party of four heroes strives to complete adventures that the Dungeon Master puts before them. Quite similar to HeroQuest.
  • Dungeons & Dragons Adventure Game (2000) Based upon the roleplaying system D&D here we have an typical dungeon crawl game.
  • Introduction to Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (1995) An introductory board version of the AD&D system via basic scenarios played with miniatures (plastic, included), and a campy/nifty CD for both ambiance and automated DM instructions.
  • The New Easy to Master Dungeons & Dragons (1991) This game is in a way an introduction to RPG but is played as a board game. Three expansions were released for it: Dragon's Den, Haunted Tower, Goblin's Lair.

References in popular culture

Main articles: List of Dungeons & Dragons pop culture references, and [[{{{2}}}]], and [[{{{3}}}]], and [[{{{4}}}]], and [[{{{5}}}]]

As the popularity of D&D grew throughout the late-'70s and '80s, references to the game often began to appear in popular culture. For example, in the movie E.T., several of the young characters are shown playing the game.

More typically, D&D players are seen as the epitome of geekdom, and references to the game are used as a shorthand to establish characterization (as in the movie Airheads) or provide the punchline of a joke (for example, on Saturday Night Live). Many players, miffed with this stereotype, embrace the fact that film stars Vin Diesel and Robin Williams have confessed to playing D&D.

The TV Series Futurama also contained numerous references to Dungeons & Dragons, including an animated appearance by Gary Gygax himself.

It should also be noted that D&D is frequently parodied, with parodies of the game existing in nearly all media, including film, television, and cartoons, among others. Much of the potential for parody in Dungeons & Dragons may exist because, with its heroic millieu and imagination-based gameplay, it exaggerates the gap between the actuality of the players' self-image and the grandiose personas they adopt in gameplay [2] (PDF).

Controversy and notoriety

In Dark Dungeons by Jack Chick a girl gets involved in witchcraft through playing D&D. Later she converts to Christianity and rejects the game. In these frames D&D materials are burnt at a Christian gathering.

The game's commercial success led to lawsuits between Arneson and Gygax starting in 1979, over issues of royalties, particularly for AD&D for which Arneson was not given credit by TSR. Those suits were settled out of court by 1981.

The game also achieved notoriety, particularly in the 1980s, due to its alleged promotion of devil worship, witchcraft, suicide, and murder. Some Evangelical Christians have criticized Dungeons & Dragons for encouraging interest in sorcery and demonic creatures. Many of these criticisms, though mentioning "Dungeons & Dragons" specifically, were actually aimed at RPG's or the fantasy genre in general and are covered in the History of role-playing games article.

The controversy involving occult influences led TSR to remove lengthy references to demons, devils, and other supernatural monsters commonly associated with "sorcery" in the 2nd Edition of AD&D. Many of these aspects were returned to the game with the release of the 3rd Edition. A few products have gone into even further detail on the activities of demons and demon worshippers than those of previous editions; the more extreme, like the Book of Vile Darkness, bear a "For Mature Audiences Only" label.

Ironically, Judges Guild actually had a license to create AD&D-compatible items. When said license was then pulled by TSR, Judges Guild was ruined. In contrast, Grimoire Games, which published David A. Hargrave's multi-volume Arduin series, had no such license, and when legally challenged by TSR to cease and desist, relied on white-out and typing correction tape to mask its use of AD&D references in subsequent printings of the Arduin series.

See also


External links

  • Wizards of the Coast – owner and publisher of Dungeons & Dragons which is owned by Hasbro.
  • TSR Archive – a catalogue of (almost) everything produced for D&D (all editions, including d20). Started as a catalog of TSR titles, but has grown to include just about every publisher of D&D works. Presents cover pictures, back cover blurb and publishing info.
  • The Hypertext d20 SRD – Dungeons & Dragons rules available online
  • Studies about fantasy role-playing games - a list of academic articles about RPGs
  • The Pulling Report by Michael A. Stackpole - one of the first online articles totally debunking the claims of Pulling and BADD
  • Christian Gamers Guild (formily the Christian Role-Playing Gamers Association)- RPGing from a Christian perspective that does not brand all RPGs as 'evil'
  • Open Gaming World – online forums dedicated to playing Dungeons & Dragons.

Original Wiki source: Wikipedia