Category Archives: Beginner’s Basics

Beginner’s Basics 2: Ability Scores and Skills

Hey guys, welcome back to Beginner’s Basics! Today, we’re gonna be delving into Ability Scores and Skills, ‘cause you’ll be using those a lot and it’s always handy to know what each of them covers. Somethings will be more self-explanatory than others, but I’ll go through everything the best I can.


Ready? Let’s go!

Your six Ability Scores form the score of your character’s, well, abilities. And they’re as follows (and the skills that fall under those umbrellas) [PHB pgs. 12, 173-179]:

Strength: Self-explanatory; used to contest things like: breaking down doors, busting down walls, lifting various things or people, etc.

  • Important for the following classes: Barbarian, Paladin, Fighter
  • Used for the following skills: Athletics

Constitution: Used to gauge how healthy your character is.

  • Important for the following classes: Everyone! Ya need it to live, y’all!
  • Used for the following skills: Mainly for Saving Throws

Dexterity: This stat is for when you need to use finesse instead of brute force; like picking locks, sneaking through enemy territory, or landing a sweet backflip off of a building.

  • Important for the following classes: Monk, Ranger, and Rogue
  • Used for the following skills: Acrobatics, Sleight of Hand, Stealth

Intelligence: Self-explanatory; how smart and how well your character can recall information.

  • Important for the following classes: Wizards
  • Used for the following skills: Arcana, History, Investigation, Nature, Religion

Wisdom: This is for when you need to be more intuitive and aware of the people around you. If your wisdom score and modifier is high enough, then you’re basically a living bs detector if you roll well on top of that.

  • Important for the following classes: Druids, Clerics
  • Used for the following skills: Animal Handling, Insight, Medicine, Perception, Survival

Charisma: How well and how strongly can you carry yourself in front of people. Though you don’t have to project a confident swagger if you have a high Charisma—your character can be really anxious but they can carry a quiet charisma about them when they need to tap into it.

  • Important for the following classes: Bards, Warlocks, Sorcerers
  • Used for the following skills: Deception, Intimidation, Performance, Persuasion

Another thing to note about ability scores, don’t get hung up on how big or small your ability scores are. Low Ability Scores can be the most fun you can ever have with your character because you can either play into your low scores, or your character can think they’re the best ever despite it being the opposite. Remember, D&D is a fun game just as much as it is a number game, so have fun you guys!

 And that’s all for today’s Beginner’s Basics! I hope you had a fun time reading this and that it helped you a little bit. If you have any comments or other questions, or if you want to tell me how I did, just leave me a comment below; I’d love to hear what you think!

Have a good day, take care of yourselves, and roll high my friends!

Source:  Crawford,
Jeremy, James Wyatt, Robert J. Schwalb, and Bruce R. Cordell. Players Handbook:
Dungeons & Dragons: Everything a Player Needs to Create Heroic Characters
for the Worlds Greatest Roleplaying Game. Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast LLC,
2014.

Kryssie

May 6, 2019

Hey, welcome to Beginner’s Basics! Where I’ll be helping you breakdown bits and pieces of the Player’s Handbook for Fifth Edition Dungeons & Dragons!

So if you’re reading this, congrats!

You got curious about Dungeons & Dragons and decided to give this a read, and for that I thank you. I hope this is the start of a new hobby, gaining some new friends, stretching your creativity to heights and depths you’ve never imagined, and an ever-growing horde of several hundred dice sets. I know you’re a little nervous; maybe you flipped through the PHB (shorthand for Player’s Handbook) and all the text blocks flew over your head. Or maybe you don’t have a lot of time to sit and comb through every word and need a pocket primer of the basic mechanics.

Here’s a small disclaimer though: I’m not a Dungeon Master/Game Master. I’ll be explaining things from a player’s point of view, and if needed I’ll mention the pages in the PHB as a reference.

But for today’s Beginner Basics, we’ll be covering a few things:

  • What You Need to Play
  • Types of Dice
  • What to Expect While During a Session

Okay ready? Let’s start!

~*~

What You Need to Play

The tools of the trade you, the Player, need for a game of D&D are as follows:

  • A Character Sheet
  • Pencils and Erasers—you’ll be doing A LOT of erasing
  • A Set of Dice
  • The Player’s Handbook (recommended but you can always borrow from another player or your DM)
  • A Notebook (write down everything, you’ll never know if that one bit of information will save the party one day)
  • Friends (You gotta go through Dungeons and fight Dragons with someone, right?)
  • Snacks (Highly recommended and everyone will love you)
Seen here: Player’s Handbook, one (1) pencil, notebook

I also suggest bringing extra pencils or a spare dice set or extra blank character sheets, because maybe someone forgot theirs that day—it’s always good to have spares of things anyway. Try using this as a checklist before you leave for your session that day if you’d like; I’ve forgotten my share of things so lists never hurt.

I’ll be breaking down the Character Sheet itself at a later date, but for now let’s go over the items that will be dictating your fate as you play: the DICE!

~*~

Dice Sets

From left-to-right: d20, d12, d10, d10 (percentile), d6, d8, d4

Don’t dive into the displays of multicolored little boxes of dice… yet. These little bits of plastic or metal will be responsible for may unexpected moments during your game. You’re literally taking your fate in your hands with every roll—some will be better than others, so set aside a small container as a “dice jail” for the particularly bad dice. Maybe I’ll talk about dice superstitions later, but now, lets breakdown the dice you’ll be dealing with.

The d20:                     

  • This is the die you’ll be used the most, and the one who’ll be tossed into the dice jail after a couple low rolls. You’ll be using this die for your Ability Checks, Attack Rolls, Spell Attacks, Saving Throws, etc. This die dictates mainly whether you pass or fail an attempted action, so be sure to treat it well, okay?

The d12, d10, d8:

  • These dice are often used for damage rolls when you’ve rolled a successful melee attack, spell attack or ranged attack. Once you get to higher levels, more often than not multiples of these dice can and will be used to roll so ask your party members to borrow theirs if you don’t have extras.
  • They’re also Hit Dice for the following classes [PHB pg. 45]:
    • D12 Hit Die: Barbarian
    • D10 Hit Die: Fighter, Paladin, Ranger
    • D8 Hit Die: Bard, Cleric, Druid, Rogue, Warlock

The d10/percentile dice:

d10/d10 [percentile]
  • The percentile dice are usually used to roll for things that have a percent chance attached to them, usually it’s a table involving loot or spell effects.

The d6:

d6
  • While the d6 is also used as a Hit Die for a few Classes—Sorcerer and Wizard [PHB PG. 45]—they are also used to roll your stats at first level. The widely used method for this is to roll 4d6, four six-sided dice, and take away the lowest number [PHB pgs. 12-13]. As an example: I rolled a five, a six, a three and another 6. I discard the three and I use the total [17] as any of my six Ability Scores.

The d4:

d4
  • Used for spell effects, and weapon damage for a few weapons. They also make deceptively good caltrops so be careful if you spill them on the floor and you have bare feet; they will hurt.

Now for the last bit: What to Expect During a D&D Session

~*~

What to Expect During a D&D Session

               Notice how I didn’t specify your first session. It’s because—at least in my case—sessions usually start the same: you usually get introduced to other players if there’s a new player joining, there’s idle chit-chat and everyone’s setting themselves up or helping peoples set up, and then when the DM starts recapping or doing the first exposition of the campaign it’s usually when the adventure starts.

What you should expect is some or all of the following:

  • Lots of dice rolling
  • Potential excitement or groans depending on the dice roll
  • Scribbling on paper when you think the DM says something important,
  • Memes, lots of memes and dumb jokes
  • Food being passed around or offered if it’s leftovers
  • Pages being flipped or books being passed
  • Fun, plain old fun.

Whether if it’s two hours or five hours, the main expectation you should have is to have fun. If it’s your first time playing, then go in with an open mind. The key is focusing on having fun, and pretending to be someone else for a couple hours. You’ll be telling a collective story with the people sitting at your table for several hours a month, ideally, I hope you start to see those people as friends—maybe not right away, but eventually.

~*~

Alright, I’ve droned on long enough, so I’ll leave you with this as a final takeaway.

All of this info is good to know, but the most important thing you need to bring with you to the table is this: You.

It even says so in the PHB, right in the Preface:

“Above all else, D&D is yours. The friendships you make around the table will be unique to you. The adventures you embark on, the characters you create, the memories you make—these will be yours. D&D is your personal corner of the universe, a place where you have free reign to do as you wish.”


Mike Merls, “Preface”, Player’s Handbook pg. 4

You’re bringing your thoughts, your feelings, your story. You’re going to be adding something new to a world where literally anything can happen. All I ask is that you be present in it, and have fun.

~*~

And that’s all for today’s Beginner’s Basics! I hope you had a fun time reading this and that it helped you a little bit. If you have any comments or other questions, or if you want to tell me how I did, just leave me a comment below; I’d love to hear what you think!

Have  good day, take care of yourselves, and roll high my friends!

Source:  Crawford, Jeremy, James Wyatt, Robert J. Schwalb, and Bruce R. Cordell. Players Handbook: Dungeons & Dragons: Everything a Player Needs to Create Heroic Characters for the Worlds Greatest Roleplaying Game. Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast LLC, 2014.