Tell me about what it's really like playing D&D

Let me talk and ask about something that I’m never going to do, but that I’m suddenly curious about :stuck_out_tongue:

Dungeons and Dragons, or D&D

I’ve always not understood D&D because I only found out about it when writers in Facebook would talk about their D&D characters or how they’re writing a story around their D&D characters. I knew that D&D is Dungeons and Dragons, but I thought it was a video game. Even when people said it was a tabletop RPG, there are online games that are “tabletop” so card games online or offline. Yes, I thought it was some sort of card game as well.

So, I thought it was a video game (based on the digital layouts of terrains I was seeing) and also a card game version online or offline was available (based on “tabletop”).

Today, I finally watched videos of people explaining how to play D&D for the first time and realized…it was literally tabletop. Like monopoly. But no board. No cards. Just a rule book, a pad of paper, and your imagination.

I had no idea. So, I watched some of a live D&D and…there was a ton of roleplay. I heard that you don’t have to do it, but it seems like many fall into their character’s roles, especially with dialogue.

How does it actually work? How much is preplanned and how much is improvised, and is all the lore preplanned or is some improvised? What if the players come up with things about their characters and that affects the lore? How do people keep track of so much information? They can’t all be writing things down all the time, right?

It also seems that the DM (yes, I learned some of the acronyms! :smiley: Pat myself on the back) improvise a LOT of dialogue (at least the one I watched) and a lot of the scenarios depending on the points and stuff the characters got.

The DM of the one I watched, btw, I could really imagine this Mad Max type of character he had created by his voice acting. When I wasn’t looking at his face, I was totally immersed :open_mouth: And…when I looked at his face, I cringed XD Sorry, roleplay watching isn’t my thing :sweat_smile: Even though I like watching voice actors behind the scenes. It’s different to me.

Anyway, tell me what it’s really like, how you got into it, how long you have been doing it, and who you do it with, and if you have multiple groups that you are in or is it just one group? ALSO, have you been a DM and what’s that like? I can’t imagine the amount of preparation it takes for DMs to put together a game. That’s all really just fantasy worldbuilding, isn’t it?

If you are overwhelmed by my questions, tell me everything about your experience with D&D.


@W.L.Ink - this is right up your alley!


i don’t play it but i love watching/listening to one D&D show. it’s called KolloK it’s not fantasy but sci-fi horror it’s loads of fun. I’ve definitely listened to it as podcast before


If you can find a good group, not a bunch of memelords who just want to meme, it can be a very good experience.

I have a barbarian tiefling that needs to be used more.


The best thing about TTRPGs is the free-form nature of them, there’s entire websites dedicated to keeping track of everything. There is a lot of information to track as a player, but that is nothing compared to the DM. Imagine a paper and pencil video game.


Don’t you play too? @48lexR

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(thanks for the @ T, lol)
Yes I’m overwhelmed by questions, thanks for the easy out.

I love DnD. I love roleplaying as characters period, but DnD is a great way to do that in person, or over the phone/discord etc…

The math isn’t for everyone, so there’s online stuff for that, but I’ve created some species and classes before, and I’m a math person so it all checks out.

Just be sure to have a good DM lol, and be sure you’re playing with good friends. Stuff can get weird (content wise) but also, it’s just a game. If you need to take a breather, be sure to let your DM know has a lot of good DnD resources so be sure to check that out.


So I DM a campaign with my friends and my fiancé every week, and I’m so happy to see D&D being talked about on Wacky :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:

D&D is normally played in person, but there are ways to play online! And there are lots of free resources that help DMs make things for their campaigns that players can mess with during online sessions. Pretty dynamic ways to play!

Okay! So, most DMs are different in terms of lore. I’ve seen DMs give players preplanned backstories with story significance so they can’t change a whole lot and must plan their characters around the backstory. But personally, I’ve found that complete freedom over character creation for players is soooo much more fun and personalized. For players, that’s all they have to prepare: their characters and their lore/backstories. I plan around their lore and apply it to the plot so the characters feel real and the players feel more immersed in the story.

As the DM, I prepare the rest: the story, the quests, the NPCs, the puzzles, the worldbuilding, the setbacks. That’s all me. And I try to plan it generally, but my players are… fun (I say it with love, of course), and they like to go their own ways about my world. And that’s okay. But in those cases, I improvise quite a bit. Like, for example, the other night my players did a side quest and found a big hammer monster behind a creepy cottage (home to a witch god). I thought they were just going to fight everything, but instead they were totally intimidated and decided to barter their soul to the god instead 🥲 I had to play the role of the god and figure out what to do from there. It didn’t have huge repercussions or whatever (it’s only a side quest), but it was definitely an example of my plans getting thrown out the door by my players lol.

So I would say I preplan 15%, and improvise 85% of the rest :grimacing:

Proud of you! :smiling_face_with_three_hearts: But yes! I constantly have to ask myself “Dang, I know what I gotta say, but how do I say it?” Players improvise 100% of the time with dialogue, unless they have some witty comeback or they want to play a magic caster a certain way and say a phrase as they cast their magic. My friend who DMs improvises everything, only having a list of places he wants to go for the session and that’s it 🥲 I can’t do that. Some DMs improvise all the way, some improvise a little, and I’ve known DMs to improvise none.

Lmao, this is actually a reason why I like playing on Discord. The roleplay can get awkward, so staring at a dark screen and roleplaying as your character without people watching gets the nerves off haha. But in certain cases, I do wish I was in person so I could better emote the NPCs. A lot of them gesture and emote physically, which is difficult to get across a voice chat on Discord.

But yes, it can get a bit cringe :joy: it’s why I also look away from faces if I’m a player haha.

Okaaaaay, so I’ve been playing for about four years now, on and off. Really only got serious about it this year, when I met my friends in a game design course where we played D&D for our curriculum and loved the vibe together. I love being a DM, so I mainly DM but I also play another campaign with one of my friends from that same group who also likes to DM. So I’m in two groups, one where I DM and one where I’m just a player.

Love being a DM, though. I feel like I can create a world that people can mess with, and it’s great to see how my friends react to certain situations I throw at them. It takes a few days a week to prepare a session that can last for 3-4 hours, if you want to be meticulous.

Honestly, one of the best things I ever did was make my biggest WIP novel idea into a D&D campaign. It truly showed me the limitations of my story, and how I can improve upon it. Definitely recommend trying that! So far, my players have thrown the main plot of my novel out the window and are going about their adventure in a much more concise and effective way, and it’s really cool to see.

Sorry about the long reply! I love D&D :sweat_smile:


Depends on the game. I’ve mostly been bored because the prep time is annoying. I’m s character type that is likely to blow up the game, anyway.


I’ll keep the questions simple and do one by one. I realized last night was just trying to find out everything at once :stuck_out_tongue:

How did you get into it?


Thanks for the long reply, I read everything :stuck_out_tongue: It was the kind of response I was hoping people would do.

A few questions:

  • What is an NPC? (also what is DC as I’ve also heard of that one) I’m still not familiar with all the acronyms.

  • With all this improvisation, have you been in theater or acting or anything like that? Just curious if there’s a link there. Or, if not you, anyone you know.

  • Are there characters that come out of those unplanned side quests that you have to improvise what they do or how they act?

  • I also noticed that there seems to be (from the two live plays I watched part way) at least one character described as dumb. When being a DM, do you have to make sure there’s character variety? Like, not all the characters are magical healing fairies who are also really smart, but there are some muscle-only orcs who are a little dumb or something like that?


Awesome! I’m glad I can help :blush: I can talk night and day about D&D.

There’s lots of acronyms because there’s almost too much stuff to keep track of :joy:

NPC = Non-player Character. So these are the characters aside from the main cast, sort of like in books where you have main characters and side characters. They can serve maaaany purposes, like being a shopkeeper that players buy goods from, a deity that they must quell the anger of to stave off a rapture, or even a love interest that’s not within the main cast (or, like I call them, the party).

DC = Difficulty Class. This is a bit tricky to explain, so I’ll do my best! This is, essentially, how difficult it is to do something, like if someone can sneak around a person who is asleep in their bed or if someone can persuade an NPC to give up potentially valuable information.

Going further with the sneaking example, say you have a player who is a Rogue. They want to break into, say, the Mayor’s office to get some documents that implicate government interference in some shady business. The Rogue breaks in, but sees that the Mayor is actually asleep at the desk, right in front of the shelf that the Rogue was going to sift through. The Rogue would roll something called a Stealth Check, which goes off of their character’s Dexterity stat, and would need to get a number that either met or exceeded the DC. Depending on what the number was that was rolled and compared to the DC, the DM determines what happens from there.

For the Stealth Check, the Rogue rolls a 14. If the Rogue has proficiency in Stealth (which means that they sort of have a “knack” or “specialty” in it), this number could go higher. Let’s say with the proficiency bonus, this 14 is modified to 18.

The DM can pick whatever they want for the DC, but has to weigh in some things when choosing the Difficulty Class. Because the Rogue has to go through the shelf behind the sleeping Mayor, it is pretty difficult to go without being noticed. So, the DM could set it to somewhere between 16-18, and in this case had set the DC to 16.

Stealth Check + Proficiency Bonus = 18
DC = 16

The player would successfully get the papers, since they succeeded on the Check. Essentially, DC is how hard it is to do something. I really hope that made sense! I can clarify if not :blue_heart:

Not at all lol. The most experience I have with theater was when I used to play in the pit orchestra for musicals. I like watching musicals and playing video games outside of that, though, so that may have influenced my improv skills. Not sure about anyone else, though I do know someone who DMs and he did theater and choir. He’s vastly better at improv and characterization on the spot, so I’m sure those skills help him greatly.

All. The. Time. 🥲

For the main quest, the party had to go through a small village and recuperate before moving on to the city. They could only stay at the Orphanage (more beds, and free since they helped an orphan versus paying at the tavern), and decided on the day that they were leaving that they were adopting not one, not two, but three NPC children to take along on their journey. I now have to come up with three backstories and lore for a 14 year old and a set of 9 year old twins.

It’s fun, but it can throw you a bit. I try to plan as much as I can and think of all outcomes, but they really do surprise me :joy:

So, it depends on the DM if they want to stick to fantasy stereotypes like that. For me personally, I try not to since it really sets campaigns apart by how diverse the NPC cast is in terms of characterization and such. Like the fairies in my campaign are a variation of elves, and aren’t willing to play tricks on others or speak in riddles or anything.

And, for the orc thing, it’s really funny because one of my players is an Orc Barbarian who has a fluffy cat and swings a big legendary sword that he got from slaying a big boss. His character has max Strength, but also Intelligence and Charisma :joy:

Keep the questions coming if you got them, I love answering these haha


@PaperThinSkin14 might be able to tell you some stories and answer some questions


My friends got me into it lol. We all like role playing.

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D&D is actually pretty simple in its playing—it’s all the setup that’s insanely complicated. I started playing in seventh grade. I’m in grade 11 now and I still love it. I’ve been in a few campaigns at once (there’s no rule limiting you to one!!) and they’ve all been amazing in different ways, because each one is so different.

If you’re a DM, your setup consists of worldbuilding, making some NPCs to guide the campaign, making a story, figuring out how the characters fit in, and usually setting up an objective for your players. There are also pre-written campaigns for DMs to use; they just have to guide things along and fill in some blanks. If you’re a player, you make your character using a character sheet, which has an insane amount of information on it, ranging from powers to backstory to attacks to stats. Some of this is determined by rolling and some of it you choose. Even within the game there’s an insane amount of variety in the characters you can create, and there are “homebrew” (basically player- made) species and classes you can play as too. You can also communicate with the DM to tie their backstory directly into the campaign.

In terms of actual gameplay, because the DM has to respond to the players and the dice rolls, I’d say a lot of it is improvised. Characters can die unexpectedly. Dice rolls can mess up what you had planned. Your players can choose all the wrong directions. Players can write things down, and the DM likely has heaps of notes, but honestly? I’ve never had trouble keeping track of the lore. It’s sort of like remembering stuff from books or TV, which is pretty easy for me.

There are a few types of gameplay. (None of this is officially terminology, btw, it’s just how I’ve classed it in my mind.) There’s exploring, where the DM’s set up a whole area and you’re going around, exploring, asking questions, and potentially talking to NPCs. This can be anything from settling into a village or wandering around a seemingly abandoned dungeon. There’s combat, which is where you use rolls and stats and moves to simulate a fight/battle. And there’s straight-up dialogue, which is where characters/NPCs are talking. This could be players talking to each other, a player trying to seduce an NPC for information, or players and NPCs haggling at a market. Basically any scene where conversation is the main focus.

DMs can split up players over the course of a campaign and carry out multiple storylines/subplots at once. Once, my rogue was infiltrating the heart of a cult while my friends were carrying out a chicken revolution (no, I can’t explain.) Both were happening simultaneously. Most campaigns have an ending, usually when a task has been completed, but sometimes the campaign is open-ended, or the DM will make a “sequel” campaign. I was a DM once, for a few sessions, but it died out because I like exploring and dialogue and 2/3 of my players literally only liked the fighting. The whole thing is insanely open-ended. Really, your imagination is the limit.


Fun. There’s an online version of tabletop I used to play with some friends. You get the right kind of people, and it’ll be a blast. Having said this, a campaign can go on for actual years, so if you’re going to participate yoh have to commit, or face pissing off the DM.

As for information, I tend to brainstorm with the DM about my main story (without spoiling much), create a character background, and play. The DM, on the otherhand, has to create, plan, and at times improvise in creating the story to adjust to player choice.

It can also be absolutely miserable and boring if you don’t have the right people.


Have you ever seen the YouTube series Journey Quest? That’s a good example of what a D&D campaign can devolve into.

In one of my last D&D games I played a human fighter / capitalist mercenary, and one of our party members was a communist wizard gnome who rode on a wheelchair made from the Communist Manifesto…Another character I think was a daemon paladin…Our characters actually worked well together. And, yes, ten minutes into our first game we all said ‘Sod the Quest’ and created our own mission.

Good times.


Gonna bump this up because I’ll come back to this.

Mean while, tell me TWO of you favorite characters you created for a campaign :blush:


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