Dungeons and Dragons

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Original Dungeons and Dragons (ODnD) is a Pen and Paper Roleplaying game and is considered to be one of the first, if not 'the' first, Roleplaying game ever published. The orginal '[Rogue]' is considered to be essentially a dungeon crawl game of the style that was (and still is) commonplace in RPGs.

DnD-style Classes

All charaters in DnD are required to take levels in classes, each class defines numerous intrinsics of a characters, such as attacks, Hitpoint gain, spellcasting ability (or lack of), et cetera.

DnD Itself sorts Classes into two groups: 'Base' Classes and 'Prestige' Classes (PrC).
The following catorgories are intended more for the sake of study then having anything to do with how DnD choses to refer to them.

Core Classes

All of DnDs Base classes can be considered to represent one of these four in some sense. The classes in this catagory are also the basis of the DnD 'Standard party', four members, representing each of the four architypes.

Soldiers, fighters, and back-ally brawlers. They do one thing and do it well.
Specifically intened to represent Thieves, and more generally survivalists, and jack-of-all-trades'.
Divine Spellcaster.
Clerics have the ability to cast a respectable selection of spells, with notably more Defencive effects. They can Turn Undead and are one of the few classes to have access to healing magics possesing 'Spontanious Healing', the abilty to turn any prepared spell into a healing spell of the same level.

(Some argue that since the Cleric has one of the best Hitdie, quite respectible weapon Profiecies and the abilty to use heavy armor, that they don't really count as a pure caster. and thus, by indirection, that DnD doesn't really have a pure divine Caster.)
Arcane Spellcaster.
Mages are the achitypical spellcasters we have all come to know and love: Intelligent, Knowlegable, Sometimes wisened scoalors, sometimes crazed lunatics. Always powerful.
In addition to the obvious ability to cast spells, Mages also have one of the widest selections of skills (mostly knowledge skills), and are commonly multilingual. The also gain a 'Familiar', An animal-like creature that agrees to help and protect the mage.

Variant Classes

Classes that can be considered to be variations of the above four types.

Variant Cleric
Essentailly a Cleric, The druid loses 'Spontanious Healing' (Though healing spells remain part of thier spellbook) and the ability to Turn Undead, but gain Animal Empathy (The ability to speak with, and befreind animals), An animal companian, as well as a number of nature-oriented bonuses. Some of the more Divine themed spells are replaced with more nature and elemental spells.
Variant Mage
The sorceror has the ability to spontanious cast spells (i.e. freed of the requirement of preparing spells, though they still 'use' slots to cast spells), and has more spell slots than than a mage, but pay for this in a vastly reduced spell book. Having both a shorter list of spells they could possibly learn, and being resticted to knowing only a few spells of each level.
Variant Fighter
Based on the notion of Marial artists and asian 'Warrior monks', the Monk is a skilled fighter with spiritual overtones, generally fighing unarmed and unarmored.
Variant Figher
Fighter, as if plucked from some wandering tribe. The babarian is the only class with a better hitdie than fighters (d12 vs. d10), but are restricted medium armor or less. They also gain the ability to 'Rage', Temporarily increasing their combat ability.

Hybrid Classes

Fighter/Druid, with a dash of Rogue
Rangers are not as skilled in combat as striaght Fighters, nor as good at spellcasting as druids, but they two have respectable synergies, and no fighter can say 'no' to the ability to cast healing and nature magics. Rangers are no slouches at Stealth either.
Combining the fighters hitpoints and attack with the ability to Turn Undead, innate healing ability, and reduced cleric-like spellcasting. They have fewer combat feats than straight fighters though.
While the bard looses many of the skills that make the rogue great, and combines it with a watered down form of sorcery, they also gain access some healing magic, and can 'Sing' to boost not only their own abilties, but the abilities of all allies in the immiediate area, With skill the bard can also demoralise the enemy (reducing thier abilties)

Magic in DnD

Where as most games systems opt to use simpler mana-based spellcasting systems; where one selects spells as-needed, paying for the spellcasting with points of 'mana', DnD instead uses a slot-based system.

Essentially, the character is granted a number of 'slots', each slot can be used to cast a spell of only a specific level. As a character gains experience they are granted additinal slots but also access to higher level slots (and thus, high level spells). In addition, most classes must prepare spells into thsee slots before they can be cast, obstencibly just after waking up.

Thus a begining spellcaster might have a single, 1st level slot, where as a slightly more experienced mage might have 3 1st level slots, 2 2nd level slots, and one 3rd level slot.

Arcane and Divine magic

Magic in DnD is devided into two groups: Arcane, and Divine. Arcane magic is what one generally thinks of when thinking of wizards, Magic that is the result of the caster's skill and knowledge. Arcanists enjoy the freedom to use their magic as they see fit, but can only cast spells they have scribed into their spellbook. They also tend to be hampered by armor, since it restricts their movement.

Divine magic is essentailly DnD prayer system, and generally covers magic channeled from another force (Generally, but not always, deities). Divine 'spells' are considered to be divinely inspired during meditation or prayer (as appropriate). Divinists enjoy the ability to prepare any spell in thier god's sphere, and the abilty to use armor without impediment, But must abide by the tenents of thier belief or be striped of some or all of thier power.


Dungeons and Dragons entry on Wikipedia

'The Hypertext d20 v3.5 System Reference Document'