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i am a total newb to DnD, all i know is that the models come in booster packs and that the game has multiple rulebooks.

how do i start, and do i make a character and stick with him/her through my gaming days or is it random?
Well, as we're on a cusp of changing Editions, your question has multiple answers.

At its core the Dungeons and Dragons role-playing game is a system of rules to help you create a medieval fantasy-based character and to then role-play that character through a series of adventures with your friends.

To start you'd need, as a minimum, a copy of the Player's Handbook (3.5 is the current version, with 4 coming in June - and the system won't be very compatible, so you may want to wait if you haven't started yet), some friends, pencils, dice, and one person to be the Game Master (GM). This Game Master will need to also have a copy of the Dungeon Master's Guide and the Monster Manual.

From there, how you play is up to you. Your GM can write his own adventures, run published adventures bought off the shelf, or you can join the RPGA and play the modules there for free.

If you want to get a feel for the game, you'd probably want to snag a published module at retail, have the GM read it, have the other players (including yourself) make characters, and see how the game "feels".

If you enjoy it, you can choose to continue playing with those characters (and even having your GM write his own adventures to continue telling "your" story) or can create new characters and play other modules (published or self-written).

Basically, D&D is a set of rules - what you do with those rules (what adventures you go on) is up to you.

The miniatures are part of another game (called D&D Minuature) and is really just the combat portion of the rules for quick fights between two-players with their warbands. These miniatures ARE scaled however for use with the Role Playing Game (RPG).

If you use a battle mat to track where people are in combat you can use miniatures to represent your character, the monsters you're fighting, and more.

The game can be as detailed or as basic as you like. That flexibility is no small part of why the hobby thrives and is so many things to so many people.
WolfStar76 Community Advocate (SVCL) for D&D Organized Play, Avalon Hill, and the DCI/WPN LFR Community Manager DDi Guide

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Hey lord-marcus, it's always cool to see new people interested in the hobby. WolfStar76 is totally right D&D is what you make of it. I was just wondering what your background in gaming is, what got you interested in D&D and the like. I've found it helps to know where someone is coming from so that I know how to help them better understand the hobby.
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