What is D&D

The first modern Role-playing Game (RPG), Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) was published in 1974, by Tactical Studies Rules, Inc. (TSR). Designed by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson as a fantasy tabletop game, it was a variation of the popular war-games of the era. It allows a team of players, each with their own character, to participate in an imaginary adventure, following the story as told by the Game Master or Dungeon Master.
 
During the years, D&D saw many versions, but the most popular was AD&D 2nd Edition in the 80s followed by D&D 3rd Edition and its revision of 3.5 at the end of the 90s. Since the 3rd Edition, DND has been published by Wizards of the Coast. The latest version, D&D 5th Edition was published in 2014 and it led to a renaissance of all RPGs, making them part of the mainstream culture. Each of these Editions was following the same basic concepts, but with slightly different rule sets.
 
The basic concept in D&D, whatever version you play is that you have a character, which has , levels” in a defined, class”: you could be a young knight (low-level paladin), a veteran mercenary (mid-level fighter), a great archmage (high-level wizard) etc. By finishing quests, either officially published ones or those created by the Game Master or DM, your character accumulates wealth in the form of mundane and magical treasures, and most importantly, it gets Experience points, also called Xp. By collecting enough of these, the character levels up, becoming stronger and able to go to adventures that are even more difficult.
 
The rules have evolved a lot during the years: while in the very first editions, being an elf or a dwarf in itself was a class, then later you could multiclass with great restrictions. In each edition, you got more and more freedom to form a character based on your own imagination, with near-infinite possibilities and combinations of background, race, class, subclass.
 
Nevertheless, in each edition, one thing was also common: the use of the polyhedral dice, most importantly the D20, a 20-sided dice used as a backbone in the various situational rolls, be it an attack to hit the troll or a performance test to impress somebody with your voice. All the other dice have their own roles, mostly for hit points, weapon and spell damage or percentage rolls. A number of shops like blue wizard gaming now cater for the DND player looking for unique and cool dnd dice sets.
 
D&D is far from being only RPG available: during the years, a large number of other titles were published, and some of these have had nearly as much fame and editions printed as Dungeon and Dragons. Some of these RPG games are for more specific worlds, like the alternate fantasy samurais of the Legend of The Five Rings, the post-apocalyptic fantasy of Earthdawn or the thrilling cyberpunk-magic mixture of Shadowrun. Others are generic rule systems, like the D20 (which is near identical with D&D 3rd) or GURPS. In addition, nearly every important pop-cultural icon has its RPG, from Star Wars to Star Trek, from Lord of the Rings to Pendragon. Whatever you would like to play, there is a good chance that somebody already had the same desire and made the rules, whether in an official capacity or as a homebrew. Of course, with the right imagination, you can always re-write the rules and lead your players through your own vision as Game Master!