Objectives of the Dungeons & Dragons Game
D&D is a cooperative game, not a competitive one. In other words, you don't compete against the other players and you don't win by beating them. Instead, there are a lot of different ways to "win" the game. The common denominator in every victory condition is "fun." If you and the other players have fun, everyone wins a game of D&D.
One way to "win" a D&D game is to help the group tell a fun and exciting story. Whether you successfully complete your adventure or fail miserably, if everyone has a good time and you contribute to creating a story that everyone is going to remember, the group wins.
Every adventure contains its own set of victory conditions. Sometimes it's as simple as surviving the dungeon and escaping, or defeating the boss villain at the heart of the fortress of evil. Other times, you might have a specific goal to accomplish (take the evil ring and toss it in the volcano) or a specific monster to beat (stop the werewolf before it rampages through the town again). If you achieve the objective of the adventure, the group wins.
When you begin playing D&D, your character starts out at 1st level — the lowest experience level. Your character wins each time he or she defeats monsters and gains experience points and treasure. With each new level your character gains, he or she increases in power and reputation. Each increase in wealth, power, and equipment is a win for your character.
One game rule to rule them all
The Dungeons & Dragons game is built around a core mechanic. This core mechanic is used to resolve all actions in the game, keeping play fast and intuitive.
The Core Game Mechanic: Whenever your character attempts an action that has a chance of failure associated with it, roll a twenty-sided die (d20). The higher the roll, the better the character's chances of succeeding in that action.
Character actions boil down to three basic types:
- Attack rolls: A roll to determine if your character succeeds at attacking a monster or other opponent. Using a longsword against a monster, for example, requires an attack roll.
- Skill checks: A roll to determine if your character uses a skill successfully. Using the Climb skill to scale a wall, for example, requires a skill check.
- Ability checks: A roll to determine if your character succeeds at attempting to do something to which no specific skill really applies. Attempting to bash open a dungeon door, for example, requires a Strength ability check.
To determine if any of these actions are successful, follow these steps:
1. Roll a d20.
2. Add any relevant modifiers.
3. Compare the result to a target number.
If the result equals or exceeds the target number, the action succeeds. A result less than the target number indicates that the action fails. Target numbers, also called the Difficulty Class (or DC) for a particular task or action, come from a variety of places. Some are set by the action itself and are defined in the rules, while other times, the target numbers are determined by the Dungeon Master.