A Newbie’s Guide to DDO: Part 1 - The Basics

Updated Tue, Apr 12, 2011 by jeffprime

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Welcome, travelers. I see that you are new to the world of Eberron, the setting for Dungeons and Dragons Online. Fear not! I can help guide you as you begin your adventures in this magical land. Who am I, you ask? Well, pardon my rudeness as that I should have introduced myself earlier. My name is Prelixin, a loremaster and sage of some repute in these lands. Though my eyes may be dimmed by the passage of years, I can assure you that my mind retains the clarity of the purest spring. Come! Take a seat, let the serving wench fill your mug with a hearty ale, and let me tell you of knowledge that will, fates be willing, lead you to riches and glory.

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The Die Roll

The first crumb of knowledge that will serve you is the basic mechanic by which the gods decide everything and how actions are resolved – the roll of a twenty-sided die. Whenever you attempt an action, be it an attack or use of a skill, a die is rolled. These rolls happen in a blink of the eye during gameplay and show up on the right side of your screen. The obvious result is a number ranging from one to twenty, the higher the better. These rolls can be modified by several things, such as your stats, the number of ranks you have in a skill, a magic item or special gear, and so on. The thing to remember is that you want the highest number possible. Let us take cooking a goose as an example (cooking is not an action that you do in the game, but serves as a useful scenario). Rolling a natural 1 or 20 on the die is bad (1) or good (20). Let’s say you roll a 20 on your cooking attempt. That means you automatically succeed; your goose tastes delicious, your friends devour the meal and express their admiration for you cooking skills, and the girl you were trying to impress wants you to come back home with her and “check under her bed for monsters!” Now, let’s say you roll a natural 1 on that cooking check. Not only have you failed, but your goose catches on fire, the kitchen needs 300 gold to be repaired, your friends mock you, and that special girl decides to go home with that half-orc nitwit that you hate. But, Prexilin, you cry…what about rolls between one and twenty? That leads us to….

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The mighty D20 die...revere it...treasure it...

The Difficulty Class

Basically, the Difficulty Class (or known as DC) represents how hard it is to perform an action. An action can be anything from hitting a monster in combat, making a save against a trap’s poison, or trying to disarm a deadly trap. The more difficult the chance to successfully attempt the action, the higher the number needed to do that action. Going back to our cooking scenario, let us assume that cooking a goose is easy. So, let us say that the DC needed is a ten. We attempt the action, meaning the 20-sided die is rolled, we add any appropriate modifiers, and then check the results. Let us say that the gods are smiling and the 20-sided die rolls a 14. To that we add modifiers such as our cooking skill (there isn’t one, but let us assume that we have 4 ranks in it), stat modifiers (let us say Dexterity helps cooking and we luckily have a +3 Dexterity modifier), and any special gear (we also happen to have Glove Mitts of Cooking +2, oh happy day!). Our grand total is: 14 (die roll) + 4 (cooking skill) + 3 (Dexterity) +2 (Glove Mitts) = 23! Man, we cooked some good goose. Now, if we were trying to cook some fancy cordon-bleu goose with all kinds of fancy trimmings, the DC might be 20 or even higher.

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