Dungeons & Dragons is a cooperative storytelling game that harnesses your imagination and invites you to explore a fantastic world of adventure, where heroes battle monsters, find treasures, and overcome epic quests. This page contains the essentials you need to start your D&D journey.

Play Your Story

The foundation of the D&D rules are your six abilities, whether you’re exploring, engaging in social interaction, or fighting for your life. Here you’ll learn more about the three main ways to use your abilities: saving throws, ability checks, and attack rolls, all of which can be affected by advantage and disadvantage.

Advantage and Disadvantage

Sometimes a special ability or spell tells you that you have advantage or disadvantage on an ability check, a saving throw, or an attack roll. When that happens, you roll a second d20 when you make the roll. Use the higher of the two rolls if you have advantage, and use the lower roll if you have disadvantage. If multiple situations affect a roll and each one grants advantage or imposes disadvantage on it, you don’t roll more than one additional d20. If circumstances cause a roll to have both advantage and disadvantage, you are considered to have neither of them, and you roll one d20.

A saving throw—also called a save—represents an attempt to resist a threat. You don’t normally decide to make a saving throw; you are forced to make one because your character or monster is at risk of harm. To make a saving throw, roll a d20 and add the appropriate ability modifier.
An ability check tests a character’s or monster’s innate talent and training in an effort to overcome a challenge. For every ability check, the DM decides which of the six abilities is relevant to the task at hand and the difficulty of the task, represented by a Difficulty Class. The more difficult a task, the higher its DC.
To make an attack roll, roll a d20 and add the appropriate modifiers. If the total of the roll plus modifiers equals or exceeds the target’s Armor Class (AC), the attack hits. When a character makes an attack roll, the two most common modifiers to the roll are an ability modifier and the character’s proficiency bonus.

The Wonders of Magic

Few D&D adventures end without something magical happening. Whether helpful or harmful, magic appears frequently in the life of an adventurer. In the worlds of Dungeons & Dragons, practitioners of magic are rare, set apart from the masses of people by their extraordinary talent. Common folk might see evidence of magic on a regular basis, but it’s usually minor—a fantastic monster, a visibly answered prayer, a wizard walking through the streets with an animated shield guardian as a bodyguard. For adventurers, though, magic is key to their survival.

The Three Pillars of Adventure

Adventurers can try to do anything their players can imagine, but it can be helpful to talk about their activities in three broad categories:

Includes both the adventurers’ movement through the world and their interaction with objects and situations that require their attention. Exploration is the give-and-take of the players describing what they want their characters to do, and the Dungeon Master telling the players what happens as a result.
Features the adventurers talking to someone (or something) else. It might mean demanding that a captured scout reveal the secret entrance to the goblin lair, getting information from a rescued prisoner, pleading for mercy from an orc chieftain, or persuading a talkative magic mirror to show a distant location.
Involves characters and other creatures swinging weapons, casting spells, maneuvering for position, and so on—all in an effort to defeat their opponents, whether that means killing every enemy, taking captives, or forcing a rout. Combat is the most structured part of a D&D game.