For my first post, I covered a lot of the history and basic rules of D&D. I didn’t go too in-depth on actual game play mechanics as I had a lot of material to cover…but now, I figured I’d elaborate more on how a D&D session actually runs. Get ready for a How-to on fighting a round in D&D…with lots of cool graphics!
D&D can be broken up into two kinds of game play: character interaction and battle. Character interaction involves the PCs interacting with the world around them and any NPCs they may come across such as villagers or shopkeepers. This part of the game always takes much more time and is far less structured as, generally, the PCs can do anything they wish. Because of this…
In my experience, a session should last at least 2 hours at barest minimum, otherwise there is just not enough time to truly get into character and get a real juicy story going.
Battle, on the other hand, is more structured. In it, PCs fight against a hostile force of some sort, taking turns to dish out damage or support each other with magic while trying their best to not take damage themselves. While battles don’t (hopefully) pop up as much as character interaction and are more streamlined, they can still go on long if the foe is particularly tough or crafty.
So, let’s break down how a common battle might go. The PCs are first informed that a skirmish is on the way with the DM’s infamous words of…
“Roll Initiative” is a classic phrase in D&D which simply means everyone must roll a d2o die in order to determine which order they will be acting in during the battle. Obviously, a higher number is best as it means a PC can move earlier, perhaps crippling a foe before it can attack. The DM then rolls initiative for the enemies before proceeding to call out each fighter in order to allow them to act.
During their turn, a PC has an Action, Bonus Action, and Move. Move is self-explanatory; it’s the PC’s chance to move about the battlefield, the distance dependent on the character’s speed, either towards or away from a foe…depending on the situation.
Action is where a PC can choose to attack a target with a weapon or spell. They roll a d20, add any special modifiers their fighter may have, and tell the DM the final number. If the roll is greater or equal to the target’s AC or Armor Class, then it hits and the DM tells them to roll for damage. If the roll is lower, then the attack misses or does no damage…which can be frustrating when you REALLY needed that hit.
Assuming the PC hits, they can roll any number of dice according to what weapon or spell they are using to determine damage dealt…plus any special modifiers such as cover shielding the target, added damage from a support spell, bonuses from the PC’s abilities scores, class and/or racial skills that apply to that particular form of attacking, and so on. It can get pretty complicated.
Bonus Action is any extra action that is less complex than an a standard Action such as drinking a healing potion or casting some buff spells, though some classes can use it to take an extra attack.
Once these all are done, the PC ends their turn and the next fighter goes. When it comes to an enemy’s turn, like PCs, they can take the same Action, Bonus Action, and Move…sometimes even more if the DM wishes.
Simple, right? Now, let’s add in something called Ability Saves and Checks. In order to do certain actions which require skill like picking a lock or vaulting over a wall, the PC rolls a d2o and based on the number, the DM determines if the action succeeded or failed. In the same way, a PC may have to try to resist the effects of a spell or react fast to land on their feet after falling so they roll to beat the number of the Save DC. If they make it, they can take less damage or even come out completely unscathed! However, there are two numbers which can literally make or break a PC: a 20 or a 1.
A natural roll of 2o on a d20 or Nat 20 is an instant success on whatever the PC was trying to do, no matter how crazy or impossible it may have seemed. A Nat 20 is the saving grace to any hopeless situation. Say you are have to make an Acrobatics check to avoid an obstacle and roll a Nat 20…
A natural roll of 1 on a d20 or Nat 1, however, is the exact opposite. Referred to as a Crit Fail, this means no matter how simple the task, it went completely and utterly wrong for the PC. Sometimes, the PC might even suffer damage or an additional penalty for such a complete screw up. A Crit Fail is the bane of even the most experienced PC. So, if you had made that same Acrobatics save and got a Crit Fail…?
And, so once every fighter had taken their turn, that round finishes and a new one starts from the top. Rinse, lather, repeat until either all enemies are taken out…or there’s a TPK or Total Party Killed. All that’s left is for the DM to hand out EXP or experience points to the party which the PCs can use to level up and gain new abilities or improve their stats.
That, loyal readers, is how a battle runs in D&D. Hope you enjoyed all pics and gifs! I had too much fun with this one…