Orientation: Abilities 101

2007 October 11
by Stupid Ranger

One of my goals at the inception of Stupidranger.com was to provide some guidance for new players who may have only dabbled their toes in the sometimes chaotic ocean of D&D. So, I’m starting at the beginning with tutorials for those who are still waiting to take that plunge.

Welcome, New Players!

One of the greatest things about D&D is that it’s time you can spend with your friends. And most D&D friends are very supportive of sharing their addiction with newcomers. So, don’t worry. They’ll loan you dice, then help you figure out which ones to roll when needed. While they are pretty great about answering questions, it’s still nice to know a bit ahead of time so you know what’s going on.

Before all the adventuring starts, you’ll have to create your character. This character will start off as a series of numbers on a piece of paper, but I think you’ll find that after awhile, your character will be like a best friend without whom life is less interesting.

A Series of Numbers?

Yes, a series of numbers. Each of the following abilities will have a number (or statistic) assigned to it. The higher the number, the “more” of the trait. So, here’s your overview:

Strength (STR) – your physical.. well, strength. A high STR will give you an advantage in melee fighting and allows you to carry more stuff.

Dexterity (DEX) – your agility. Your DEX represents your coordination, your ability to dodge out of the way of danger, and your precision when using a ranged weapon, such as a bow.

Constitution (CON) – your stamina, your health, your ability to withstand tests of endurance. A high CON score equates to more hit points, meaning you can live through more of your enemy’s attacks.

Intelligence (INT) – your education or “book learning.” Your INT represents how much you’ve learned, and how much you are capable of learning.

Wisdom (WIS) – your common sense and intuition. A high WIS means you’re more aware of your surroundings, and you’re more likely to resist temptations.

Charisma (CHA) – your charming personality and dazzling good looks… if you have a high CHA. Your CHA helps determine how well you get along with others.

(You can read more about these abilities in Chapter 1 of the PHB.)

To create your character, you will roll six-sided dice (d6’s) to determine the numbers for each of these abilities. You’ll then assign those numbers to your abilities, a process generally known as “placing your stats.” But before you go randomly assigning numbers, you need to consider what character you want to play. So, next time, we’ll start exploring the race and class options available, and how best to place your stats.

4 Responses leave one →
  1. Myers permalink
    October 13, 2007

    This is a wonderful idea. I’m trying to get a few new people to give D&D a try and this is a great way to help me get things going. Thanks!

  2. Stupid Ranger permalink
    October 15, 2007

    I hope it’s helpful to them… I know when I got started, there was so much to take in that it was a little overwhelming, so I’m trying to break this down into smaller bit-sized chunks to make it less crazy.

    Check back soon, I’ll be posting another Orientation later this week.

  3. Jenette permalink
    October 22, 2007

    First off I love your idea of making it simple to intro new players to D&D (and possibly RPing in general)

    However of the main obstacles I ran into with getting people to try D&D is how often WOTC milks the cash cow of the “new version.” 3.0, then 3.5 now we’re looking at 4.0?

    They’re constant rerelasing of the books forces GM’s (and players) to rebuy the core books and any canpaign supplements or fuss with continual conversions; a repeated pain in the arse.

    Because of this a lot of gamers I speak with say they’d use other rules mechanics like palladium 2nd edition simply becuse they won’t have to reinvest $100+ every year or so just to buy the new version of the exact same darned books when they could be spending that $$ on new supplements or other things to enhance their gaming (like minatures, and so forth)

    I also think having to relearn the rules (and there’s loads of them in D&D) every couple years is a real put off to prospective players. (Especially if the GM uses a lot of house rules and needs to revise them to be hopefully balanced in the new system and reinterpet all the new rules which may make previous house rules obsolete)

    I guess what I’m trying to say is it might be ideal to hold off on introducing some of your prospective new gamers to the wonderful magic of D&D (I dearly love their campaign settings even if I abhor their rule system) until version 4.0 comes out; since it will be much easier for new players to learn one system and stick with it for a long while, rather than just get into learning the basics of 3.5 only to get beat over the head with 4.0 a short while later and perhaps leave the table in confusion over the sudden rule changes.

    However, since waiting sometimes just isn’t a good idea or you really want to get your signifigant other into your favorite hobby, consider picking up a copy of D&D for dummies for them; it makes the game about as user friendly and easy to play as you can possibily get.

    I cannot stress enough how perfect that book is to get a new player into the game and having fun without feeling overwhelmed.

  4. Stupid Ranger permalink
    October 22, 2007

    I love the D&D For Dummies book… I think it does a great job of making things easy to understand. My only complaint is that it doesn’t include all the classes. Confessions of a Part Time Sorceress also does a great job at outlining the basics, but I want to include a few more options.

    I considered holding off until after v4.0 is released, but I also considered that not everyone will be ready to jump into the new version. And I think a lot of these basics will remain the same. I mean, you’re still going to have stats and races and classes and whatnot, so a good solid foundation, even if founded in 3.5, shouldn’t be too far off the mark.

    I hope you’ll share some of your insights during the transition, though, and help identify those pitfall our new players are likely to encounter. 🙂

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