D&D departs from traditional wargaming and assigns each player a specific character to play instead of a military formation. These characters embark upon imaginary adventures within a fantasy setting. A Dungeon Master serves as the game's referee and storyteller, while also maintaining the setting in which the adventures occur. The characters form a party that interacts with the setting's inhabitants (and each other). Together they solve dilemmas, engage in battles and gather treasure and knowledge. In the process the characters earn experience points to become increasingly powerful over a series of sessions. Dungeons & Dragons is a structured yet open-ended role-playing game. It is normally played indoors with the participants seated around a table-top. Typically, each player controls only a single character, which represents an individual in a fictional setting. When working together as a group, these player characters (PCs) are often described as a ‘party’ of adventurers, with each member often having his or her own areas of specialty that contributes to the success of the whole During the course of play, each player directs the actions of his or her character and its interactions with the other characters in the game. A game often continues over a series of meetings to complete a single adventure, and longer into a series of related gaming adventures, called a ‘campaign’.
The results of the party's choices and the overall storyline for the game are determined by the Dungeon Master (DM) according to the rules of the game and the DM's interpretation of those rules. The DM selects and describes the various non-player characters (NPCs) the party encounters, the settings in which these interactions occur, and the outcomes of those encounters based on the players' choices and actions. Encounters often take the form of battles with 'monsters' – a generic term used in D&D to describe potentially hostile beings such as animals or mythical creatures. The game's extensive rules – which cover diverse subjects such as social interactions, magic use, combat, and the effect of the environment on PCs– help the DM to make these decisions. The Dungeon Master may choose to deviate from the published rules or make up new ones if he or she feels it is necessary.
The only items required to play the game are the rulebooks, a character sheet for each player and a number of polyhedral dice. The current editions also assume, but do not require, the use of miniature figures or markers on a gridded surface. Earlier editions did not make this assumption. Many optional accessories are available to enhance the game, such as expansion rulebooks, pre-designed adventures and various campaign settings.
Dragons in D&D
In the Dungeons & Dragons fantasy role-playing game, dragons are an iconic creature used as either enemies or allies of player characters. Dragons are often depicted as having many different races, each usually based on a particular color of their scales or an affinity with an element.
The third edition of Dungeons & Dragons classifies dragon as a type of creature, simply defined as "a reptilelike creature, usually winged, with magical or unusual abilities" . The dragon type is broken down into several classifications. True dragons are dragons which increase in power by age categories (wyrmling to great wyrm). Lesser dragons do not improve in age categories and may lack all of the abilities of true dragons. Examples of lesser dragons include dragon turtles and wyverns. Other creatures with the dragon type include drakes, felldrakes, elemental drakes, landwyrms, linnorms and wurms. (An unrelated creature called a dragonne is named for its coincidental resemblance to a brass dragon.)
In the second edition of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, dragons were completely reworked from their first edition counterparts, and were much more powerful. For example, they had magic resistance, could no longer be subdued, and had physical attack forms besides just claws and bites.
In Dungeons & Dragons, there are many color-coded races of dragons, each of which breathes a different element; for example, red and gold dragons breathe fire, white and silver dragons breathe frost, and blue and bronze dragons breathe bolts of lightning. Some dragons (particularly metallic dragons) have two different kinds of breath, usually a lethal one (fire, ice, acid, electricity, etc.) and another that is typically non-lethal (paralysis, repulsion, confusion, etc.).
Dungeons & Dragons 3rd edition divided true dragons further into three main categories: chromatic dragons, such as green and black dragons, which are evil-aligned; metallic dragons, such as gold and silver dragons, which are good; and neutral-aligned gem dragons, rare creatures that possess psionic abilities. However, with 4th edition, the classifications were changed, and chromatic dragons are now not strictly evil, gem dragons were gotten rid of and instead there were added "planar dragons" which are chromatic dragons that were warped by living on a plane of existence other than the Material Plane, as well as "catastrophe dragons" which take on the aspects of natural disasters which are chaotic evil and cause chaos for its own sake.
In addition, there are other sub-species of true dragons that don't fit into the three main categories. For example, mercury and steel dragons would seem to be metallic dragons, but in the Dungeons & Dragons world they are considered to be outside of the main family of metallic dragons because of various biological differences (though the book Dragons of Faerûn does list them as metallic dragons). The "lung dragons" or spirit-dragons of Oriental Adventures are also true dragons. Detailed information about D&D dragonkind may be found in the Draconomicon, a D&D supplement book designed especially for draconic information.
In 4th edition, there are five major dragon families: catastrophic, chromatic, metallic, planar and scourge. Chromatic dragons are presented in the Monster Manual and Draconomicon and planar dragons are presented in Draconomicon. Metallic dragons are presented in the Monster Manual 2 and Draconomicon 2.
- Metallic Dragons
- Chromatic Dragons
- Gem Dragons
- Ferrous Dragons
- Lung Dragons
- Planar Dragons
- Elemental Drakes
- Ambush drakes
- Dragon Turtles
- Faerie dragons
- Spiretop Dragons
Other dragon species that exist outside of the main dragon families include: Pearl, Amber, Cloud, Mist, Shadow, Song, Mirage, Arcan, Epic, Independent and many more.