Dungeons & Dragons

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Dungeons and Dragons (often abbreviated to "D&D") is the oldest and one of the most popular Pen and paper role-playing games.

Game mechanics

Each player creates a character within the game, and tells the referee, or Dungeon Master, what they will do. Each character belongs to a class, of which there are a number to choose from. The original D&D game was released in 1974. The 4th Edition, which involved major changes to the underlying game system, was released in November 2008. The classes in 4th edition are as follows:

Cleric, a priest of sorts, with the ability to summon the power of their deity/power source;
Fighter, a martial, non-magical warrior;
Paladin, a champion of a specific deity;
Ranger, a two-weapon or ranged weapon specialist;
Rogue, equivalent of a thief;
Warlock, a user of dark magic;
Warlord, a commander who leads from the front;
Wizard, a wielder of mystical powers.

The Dungeon Master, who runs the game, has a number of responsibilities. He must create or buy the adventures, play the monsters, keep the game balanced, keep the players in control, and overall, make sure the players are having fun.

The game is played with polyhedral dice containing many different numbers and are referred to by "d + number of sides", i.e. d6 is a six sided die, d20 is a twenty sided die. The dice used are d4s, d6s, d8s, d10s, d12s (rarely used), and d20s. A special d10, which contains multiples of 10 from 0 to 90, is rolled in conjunction with a standard d10 to produce the equivalent of a d100.

D&D falls into the "d20" game system, and just so happens to use that die quite frequently.

Social context

Some groups have considered D&D and related role-playing games to lead to Satanism, an idea sometimes characterized as a moral panic. [1]


  1. David Waldron (Spring 2005), "Role-Playing Games and the Christian Right: Community Formation in Response to a Moral Panic", Journal of Religion and Popular Culture