These questions were asked by a young lady who had never played before and played in my game for several months before moving.
The D&D Player's Handbook states:
The D&D game is a fantasy game of your imagination. It's part acting, part storytelling, part social interaction, part war game, and part dice rolling. You and your friends create characters that develop and grow with each adventure they complete. One player is the Dungeon Master (DM). The DM controls the monsters and enemies, narrates the action, referees the game, and sets up the adventures. Together, the Dungeon Master and the players make the game come alive. (PH pg 4)
D&D has many parts, as mentioned in the Player's Handbook. And different groups of players enjoy different aspects of the game. Some like to roleplay the actions of their characters in the game. A trip to the market, meeting and interacting with other people, makes the game most enjoyable. Others want the challenge of constant strife and combat: sometimes making heavy use of the miniatures and battlegrid to mark exact locations and movements. Others want to delve into hidden dungeons, dark caverns, and other difficult places to use a multitude of skills to master the situation.
It is the job of the Dungeon Master to tailor the game he or she is running to the players at hand.
The sense of adventure, to do things in a fantasy roleplaying game they will never get to do in real life. To experience things and situations dealing in fantastic and mythical situations and settings. Want to be a holy warrior fighting against evil, be a thief trying to survive on the streets of a large city, or learn the laws of magic and be able to bend the powers of reality to your whim? These things are all possible in a D&D game. The sense of adventure, newness, to do things they wouldn't do in real life, and sometimes because they are bored and have nothing better to do.
I would have more concerns about the mental well being of my family members, friends, clergy, police, or just people I run into on the street on a daily basis. D&D players are just like everyone else; they have their faults and personality quirks. There have been sensational stories in the news over the years about D&D players. Yet there is no proof D&D was anything other than a game for those that have broken the law, killed, raped, or killed themselves. In most cases there were also other indicators of trouble; violent behaivor, drugs, drinking, relationship problems. Rock music, Satanism, these too have been blamed for people doing terrible things. I have been playing since 1977 and have seen a fair share of troubled people. Most of them brought their troubles with them. Most of that original group I gamed with are successful in their careers and relationships. That is true of the overwhelming majority of the people I have gamed with. There are always the oddball or troublemaker though they usually fade out of the group before long. Playing a game does not make a good person bad, or a bad person good. A well run D&D game is both a social event and an interesting mental exercise.
That sort of depends on how you find your first D&D game. If you get involved through mutual friends or relatives you will see some familiar faces in a new setting. If you find the game through other means then you will be in, depending on your personality, an uncomfortable position of getting acquainted with a new game, new people, and a new situation all at once.
But whoever they are the players should try to make you feel comfortable, pardon your mistakes as you learn, and share with you their knowledge of the rules of the game and the nuances of that particular game. The first step will almost always be to create a new Player Character.
Word of mouth: you know someone who already plays.
Location: You find a game or a message on a bulletin board in a gaming, hobby, or bookstore.
Online: You search Internet sites where people look for games or people, messages left on industry sites such as Wizards of the Coast, specialized groups such as Meetup, or advertisements on Craig's List.
Accidental: A chance encounter or stumbling into a game.
I've experienced all of these methods. Before I moved to Yuma I funded a Meetup group here and had some success with it. Back in my hometown it was mostly word of mouth and friends of friends, and once in Korea some folks overheard me talking about the game at a street vendor and invited me to their game down a few doors.
This depends on the game you may have joined, the level of expertise of the other players, the expectations of the DM and the other players, and what the main storyline of the game is at the moment. At the most basic you can relate to the DM what you want your character to do in plain English and that is translated into the rules by the DM. As time goes on you may want to learn more of the rules and even take advantage of knowing some of the more obscure points to combat and other situations. Some things, in my opinion, just don't translate into reality that well. For example the five foot step in combat. There is nothing I can think of to equate the difference in real terms. So if a character runs away from something in combat that something gets a free swing. But if the character says they take a five foot step and then run the enemy does not get a free swing. Only way to know things like that is to know the rules.
I have been using the DNd 3.5 rule set now since 2008 and will not claim to know most or even half of the various rules in the game. We're all learning the nuances of gameplay and the rules together.
Depends if there is someone there willing to lend you some dice, or if you are using a computer or some other electronic device to do the random rolls for you. Most people who have played for a while want their own set of dice. Some people buy just what they need while others buy lots of dice.
The main die used in a DND 3.5 game is a 20 sider (D20). The rules system this version of the game follows is known as the D20 rules. Other games like D20 Modern and things use very simliar.
Six sided dice (D6) are used to create the attribute scores for the player character, and for damage.
Next would be percentile dice: two D10s used to generate a number from 1 to 100. (one die is the 10s and the other is the single digits.)
Most of the others needed are for damage from weapons mostly and are: D4, D8, and D12.
A good set of dice would include:
(at least one of everything)
D4, three or even four D6, D8, two D10, D12, and at least two D20.
In my opinion that would be a fighter. Why? A fighter doesn't take much thinking or interaction with the DM other than to see an enemy and attack. Or conversly defend the party against attackers. The basic reason for the class is accomplished and roleplaying and learning more of the combat rules can be added on as the game continues.
The other classes require more interaction during the game and some more knowledge of the rules and campaign setting. A rogue would be the second to easiest class: they sneak around, find traps, open locks and hidden doors, and steal as desired. But all of these actions use quite a few skill checks.
The hardest character classes to start with are the spellcasters. They need time to prepare their spells, need to know what spells they have and what they do. They can have the wrong spells prepared for the situation at hand and stand pretty much useless during a fight while they depend on the fighter classes to defend them even if they have the correct spells and those spells are used and the combat encounter continues. Plus, the more intelligent adversaries can discern the spell casters and attempt to neutralize them first.
The DM running the game should be the first choice for help on building a character. Other players can also give their insight and experience into building a character. Some of the people in the group have been playing for a long time; and using the 3.5 rules since they were printed. They know more about the character creation and rules affecting a character build than I do to be honest. They may have already played a character like the one you are planning on running. The DM is and should be the first stop nevertheless.
That is really a person preference. Some folks like playing the different races, the wilder and more exotic the better, while others are most comfortable with humans. The game is human centric and that is reflected mostly by an extra feat and middle of the road stat creation. That is compared to most races who have modifiers on their attributes.
Some races can see in low-light, while others can see in complete darkness. Others can discern secret doors and traps easier than a human. Some live longer, fly, breathe underwater, or any other number of differences between their race and human. It is good to experiment playing different races and experiencing the differences in the abilities.
That too is a matter of personal preference. It can be summarized by simple statements like:
Do you want to fight things with swords and other physical weapons? Then a fighter is best.
Want to find traps, open locks, and maybe steal for a living? Then a roque is for you.
Does the idea of commanding the powers of magic to bend reality to your will? Perhaps a magician or a sorcerer.
Care to pray to the gods for power to do their will? A priest or perhaps a druid.
Every class has an angle that can be explored. Then there are the prestige classes that can be used in conjunction with the base classes. It boils down to a personal preference.
Once your character has been created he/she needs to be introduced into the campaign setting. A background needs to be agreed upon. No one just arrives (well. not most people) with no family or friends, or hometown. What culture does the character come from? What do they like? A Player Character should be more than a group of numbers and stats. A Player Character should be a living and breathing personality with their own likes and dislikes that is represented by those numbers.
On average the DM and players will help those with questions. Sometimes they may not be as detailed as other times and as a group gets to know each other better people have been known to show frustration when they wait for others. That is something that just needs to be dealt with.
DMs on the other hand sometimes don't have the time or literally forget the question is still hanging during a game. Remember that you as a player are one person waiting on the DM while the DM is splitting their attention between all of the players and the events and such in the game. So if you feel you are being ignored or forgotten by the DM: best to ask again to ensure you are not left hanging no understanding something.
I ran my 1st edition game from 1977 to 2007; that is when I began working towards swapping over to DND 3.5 and spent quite a bit of money on the new books and other things. At this time I have no desire to migrate to another set of rules or bear that expense. I believe I will be using the 3.5 (D20) ruleset till I stop participating in DND.
Now since Pathfinder is a 3.5 compatible system (I've seen it referred to as 3.75 in places) I could decide to use parts of that ruleset that I like better than the core 3.5 rules in the future. I do own most of the Pathfinder books as well as the 3.5 core books and piles of other D20 source books. If I do it will be mentioned on my House Rules page.
I figure I'll throw some other questions that people may have here. If you have a question:let me know.
Currently there are no banned books. Things that do not exist in the campaign presently have a habit of being bolted on and retreaded to accomodate what players want to do.
Sometimes that is easy to do: other times not so much.
There are some things that the general populace will react negatively to. For example, drow. I will let you play a drow character... but it may be a short run indeed.
I need to see it first and make a decision on how it may or may not unbalance the game or just throw a monkey wrench into everything. But this is a big multiverse and it might be a unique item or power which is not native to this campaign world. I usually let things in, like player classes, flaws, and such. But I have stopped a few things which seemed way too overpowered, unbalanced, or just would not fit in my opinion.
I ran 1st edition for three decades before swapping to 3.5 so the "flavor" of 1st edition permeates the campaign world as that is where it came from and has been retread. Some things just don't match my perception of what DND should be compared to the "watering down" that started in 2nd edition and accelerated in 3.0 to 4th edition and Pathfinder.
Against the current traditions in gaming I do try for a more realistic world and my world is darker and more based on our reality than the generic cookie cutter DND world. Also, a lot of the stupid tricks people pull from stretching dumb rules won't work here.