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What to Know Before Playing "Dungeons and Dragons Online"

Jason Marovich has been playing "Dungeons and Dragons Online" since 2009. His favorite dwarf, dungeonraider, was born in 2011.

Screenshot from "DDO."

Screenshot from "DDO."

What Players Should Know Before Starting DDO

There are many Massively Multi-Player Online (MMO) games available to play. Many of them are free—or free to a certain point. If you are reading this, you're probably new to DDO or perhaps deciding if you want to play it or not. There are similarities between this game and other MMOs, but there are some notable differences that make this game stand out.

This Is an Old-School MMO

Now over ten years old, Dungeons and Dragons Online still maintains a large gaming community, and it's based on a game that has been scrutinized and revised for over thirty years. It's an established gaming culture icon and has one of the most loyal followings of any game ever developed.

Players must be willing to invest some time to download the game, learn the basic keyboard functions, and understand at least how to say hello to someone.

Anyone interested in growing a fledgling character into a respected hero, be warned: You aren't going to do that playing casually.

It takes time and effort to turn your character into a respected hero.

It takes time and effort to turn your character into a respected hero.

What Is Dungeons and Dragons?

Dungeons and Dragons first appeared in 1974 as a sort of board game. Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson took the medieval pen and paper war games concept that was popular at the time and added a fantasy twist. Instead of traditional soldiers and armies battling it out, fantasy settings and creatures were inserted. The result was a game that appealed widely to both young people and adults.

There are other games that use fantasy as their theme. Yet this game's roots, which were developed meticulously by Gygax and Arneson, are steeped in mythology and literature. These two men brought many imaginary creatures and characters 'to life' for those who had only previously read about them. For instance, it's fun to read about ogres and trolls, but it's something quite different to see them in the game and to notice that each species of monster has traits and habits—information helpful for knowing what to expect from the creatures next.

Magic in the DDO World

There is a huge variety of activities for people who are more interested in playing magic-using characters. Wizards, warlocks, sorcerers, favored souls, artificers, and others all have at least some ability to cast magic spells. Yet again, because of the precedent set down years before in the pen and paper version of Dungeons and Dragons, the ability to cast spells, use wands and scrolls, and create powerful magic items are all here and carefully explained and detailed.

For instance, a wizard must memorize a few of the many spells in his or her spell book before setting out on a quest. Choosing which spells to memorize could affect the party's chances of success. That being said, a wizard (who are supposed to be intelligent characters) should take some time to investigate the dungeon conditions and monsters before expecting to boast of any victory at the local tavern. This rule has been carried over for forty years and still exists in the game today. There are many other rules that have been bettered over the years, but many are in essence still the same today.

A satyr in the game. The character models aren't cutting edge, but they're above adequate.

A satyr in the game. The character models aren't cutting edge, but they're above adequate.

A Few Things to Know Before You Invest Time in the Game

Taking the time to learn about any game you are intending to play is an easy way to make your gaming experience more enjoyable. Playing DDO without reading some of the guides and tutorials available is just going to add more learning time to your Dungeons and Dragons Online experience. Here is some helpful information dungeonraider has learned about this game over the past couple years.

  • It's free. Sort of. Though it is possible to reach level twenty solely playing free-to-play content, players are limiting themselves if they do so. Epic content (adventures over level 20) will require either a financial investment in the game or that players earn enough in-game favor points to unlock high level content.
  • It's fun. There is no more important requirement for a game to fulfill than this one. We've all played games that weren't fun and games that were. This game has so many different things to do and so many different player character types that there are usually plenty of options for players to choose from as to what they would most like to be doing at any given time. Crafting, party adventuring, player vs player arenas, and role-playing are all possibilities.
  • It's social. You can solo play in DDO and still have great fun. But adventuring with others can add excitement, despair, hilarity or grim seriousness to any quest. Finding other players that are similar to you in game activity and ability is a sure way to make this experience much more enjoyable.
  • It's been around a long time. There are people that have been creeping through these dungeons for over ten years. They know how to advance the fastest and get the most loot. Many of these people are willing to help new players out. This is the opposite of what most MMO players expect which is to be decapitated/disintegrated soon after leaving a safe area.

There are older parts of the game that aren't as aesthetically pleasing as newer areas but the graphics overall are pretty incredible. There is a reserved tone to the artwork, with earthy hues and a focus on natural features. The character models are above adequate. There is definitely room for improvement in this area of the game, and if you are looking for cutting edge computer pop art, you might not care for the graphics in Dungeons and Dragons Online.

Landscape in "DDO."

Landscape in "DDO."

5 Reasons Why People Play DDO

  1. They have been playing Dungeons and Dragons for years, even before the computer version of the game was released.
  2. They prefer games where players are forced to work together to solve problems or win battles.
  3. They were searching for free role-playing games, stumbled upon DDO, and ended up liking it.
  4. They found a game where they were naturals at advancing and becoming powerful.
  5. Their friends play it so they joined, too.
A harpy in "DDO."

A harpy in "DDO."

Some Good Habits for DDO Players

A new player is going to eventually develop a style, or habit, of play. In other words, players are naturally forced to try new things to get the best results. It takes careful exploration and different sets of skills to discover secret places or hidden treasure. There are, indeed, places that most players will never find, they are so well hidden.

If you wish to play the game as a tool for exploration, you will need to research what skills you will need to do so. If you wish to play the game as a feared warrior that shows no mercy to opponents, you will need to investigate what skills and equipment will best serve your goals.

Recognize That Everyone Plays the Game Differently

The point that is trying to come across here is that everybody is going to play Dungeons and Dragons differently. Variety is one of its best components. It is so important to keep this in mind when adventuring with other players. There is a certain level of patience required of players that choose to party adventure. There are also expectations to be met if you want to become a popular guest in someone else's questing group.

Find People You Like Playing With

Finding other players that you are comfortable questing with may take some time. It is suggested you join a guild after you know something about it first. Being in a guild is pointless if you don't have anybody there that is willing to explore with you.


Communication is important and even more so at higher character levels. You don't have to be a social wizard to use the in-game player-to-player chat system. These are called 'tells', and one player can send another a message just by using the following command in the general chat box: /tell <player name> <your message>.

You can play "DDO" solo, but you'd miss out on a lot.

You can play "DDO" solo, but you'd miss out on a lot.

Learning to communicate with others in Dungeons and Dragons is crucial. You can complete most quests as a solo player, but you will be missing out on the excitement, hilarity, and friendships that develop from party adventuring. The original D&D game was built around player relationships, and DDO hasn't changed that philosophy in the online version of the game. Perhaps that is how they have grown such a strong following of MMO enthusiasts.

Make an Effort to Join the Community

Older gamers will rejoice when discovering Dungeons and Dragons Online. Younger gamers may not simply because they would rather play a good shooter. This game has a demanding community that polices the player chat and the game developers all at the same time. It can take awhile for beginners to feel like they belong to this well-established gaming community and that can be frustrating, but those who put in an effort to join with other groups of players in guilds or other social activities will find a giant world with an unlimited number of paths to follow in search of fame and glory.


Jason Marovich (author) from United States on November 22, 2020:

Hello Heather. I'm sorry to see that your in-game issue wasn't addressed in a timely manner. That is a very unusual issue and I'd guess the support person needed a more detailed description of what had occurred in that being stuck in the game usually refers to being stuck on a rock, in a crevice, etc. I hope the issue was eventually resolved for you. Thank you for leaving your comment.

Heather Ceana on December 27, 2018:

I had been enjoying DDO. This is a great game, because it allows you to play alone or with others. They've done a great job re-creating the D&D feel.

However, be aware of what their customer service is like, even for a paid account. I have opted for a VIP account. I had had cause in the past to notice that the customer service is not good - areas for sale that weren't in the store, and such. I hit a glitch in the game this week with a new character. It kept me from being able to leave Korthos. I have over a dozen characters, and had never encountered this. I placed a "stuck-in-game" ticket. I waited around for an hour for a GM to show up. It was already 10 pm Germany time by then. This was on Dec 26th. I finally turned off the game. Next morning, I found that the GM showed-up 4 1/2 hours after I had filed my ticket and simply closed my ticket, because I hadn't been sitting around for 4 1/2 hours, waiting for them to show-up. That meant I would have to file a new ticket. Rather than allowing me to respond next time I'm online, or responding to a ticket that indicates that I can no longer play the game (what shall I do for 4 1/2 hours on an account that's stuck?) and dealing with my ticket next time I was online, they simply closed out the ticket. They expect you to stay staring at your monitor and periodically wiggling your mouse to keep from being thrown out of the game for inactivity until they deign to show-up.

This is the kind of customer service that you can expect, even if you sink money into this game.

Jason Marovich (author) from United States on November 06, 2011:

@penelopae Thank you. The one advantage this game world has over others of its kind is its size. I'm nowhere near seeing all of it. Thank you for your comment.

Becky Muth from Harpers Ferry, WV on November 06, 2011:

I'm more of a text-gamer myself, but if I were going to try a game with graphics I'd try this one, after reading your article. Sounds like it could be fun!

Jason Marovich (author) from United States on November 05, 2011:

No doubt the biggest complaint from people that play DDO. I imagine with Warner Bros. picking it up, we can expect to see an engine upgrade from Turbine.

I'm not seeing any replacement for the social gatherings that take place in the pen and paper version on the horizon quite yet. That may just be impossible to mimic in a computer game, of course. Enjoy your time playing and thanks for stopping by.

Daniella Lopez on November 05, 2011:

Interesting hub. I play D&D 3.5 and 4.0 with friends, but haven't attempted the MMO yet. The graphics kind of turned me off when it came out, so I never picked it up. I might have to try it someday and get over my "graphics make the game" mindset, lol.