Dungeons & Dragons is a role-playing game in which a group of players take on the role of characters in a fictional world setting. During play, the scenery and environment is described verbally to the players, leaving it to their imagination to visualize the details. The player's characters, or PCs, can behave according to the whims of their controlling players, with the consequences of their actions being determined using a set of rules. These are contained in a set of rulesbooks that are available from the publisher. The players will need to use and reference the Player's Handbook.
Players begin a game by creating their preferred characters. They select their protagonist based on a choice of sex, race, and a class (or profession). Each character is further customized using a generated set of six ability scores, such as Strength, Intelligence, and Charisma. Additional details are then applied, including choosing a set of skills, selecting one or more feats (or special abilities), and picking an ethical alignment to guide their playing style. This information is recorded on a character sheet, which is then used as a convenient reference, as well as a place to track changes to the character.
One person, called the Dungeon Master, or DM, manages the game, creating the imaginary world within which all of the play takes place, and controlling all non-player characters, or NPCs. The setting information, including the scenic descriptions, area maps, statistics of the inhabitants, and any other necessary details, are prepared in advance by the DM. During play, the players, and NPCs, resolve their actions through the use of dice rolls, most often with a 20-sided die, or d20, and comparing the results to values determined by their attributes, skills, and various other factors.
Within the game rules, die rolls are typically abbreviated in the form of XdY, where X is the number of that type of die, and Y is (normally) the number of sides on the polygonal dice. The seven polygonal dice used are 4, 6, 8, 10, 12 and 20. Hence, a 2d6 roll is made by rolling two six-sided dice and adding up the total results. Other numbers typically used for Y are: 2, 3, and %. d2 is rolling the d6 and dividing by 3, d3 is the same except divided by 2; both times you round up. The percentile dice, or d%, is found by rolling two d10 dice. In this case, a special 1d10 is sometimes used that has faces numbered 00, 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, and 90.