Glossary of Terms
Class - A particular array of abilities, a profession. The main classes are the Rogue, the Cleric, the Wizard, and the Fighter.
Class Level - This is a measure of how powerful a character is in a particular class. A higher level is more powerful. You may advance in up to two classes independently.
Character Level - This is a measure of how powerful a character is in total. The sum of all of that character’s individual class levels.
Background - A brief description of a character’s history prior to becoming an adventurer
Experience Points (XP) - You receive these when you overcome challenges. Earn enough XP and you will increase your character level.
Race - The humanoid species and/or ethnic group the character identifies as.
Alignment - The character’s basic moral and ethical outlook, measured across two axes. The first is the character’s approach to the norms of their society. Lawful characters not only follow but respect the rules of their culture. Chaotic characters are iconoclasts. Neutral characters are somewhere in the middle. The second axis describes the character’s approach to the well being of others. Good characters are willing to make sacrifices for the greater good. Evil characters care nothing for others. Neutral characters are again somewhere in the middle.
Success - When a character attempts anything, roll d20 and add any applicable bonuses or penalties. If the number is equal to or greater than a target number the attempt succeeds.
This target number may on occasion be purposefully kept secret by the DM and it may not be obvious to players whether the roll was a success or failure. This is typically the case when revealing whether the roll was a success or failure results in the players gaining the information that would have accompanied a success (for example, if the players are searching for traps and the DM announces that they failed their roll and that there aren’t any traps, the players know for a fact that there are traps, just as if they’d succeeded on the roll they failed)
Abilities - The character’s physical and mental attributes: Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma. Each ability has a corresponding bonus associated with it, ranging from -5 to 5. Every possible action is associated with a particular ability. When attempting an action add the appropriate ability bonus to the d20 roll to determine success.
Advantage - A character is more likely than usual to succeed when they have advantage. Instead of rolling 1d20 to determine success, roll 2d20 and take the higher result. Advantage is awarded by particular game rules or by the DM as a reward for intelligent play. Advantage and disadvantage cancel each other out, even if there are more conditions granting advantage than disadvantage.
Disadvantage - A character is more likely than usual to fail when they have disadvantage. Instead of rolling 1d20 to determine success, roll 2d20 and take the lower result. Disadvantage is awarded by particular game rules or by the DM as a penalty for particularly boneheaded play. Advantage and disadvantage cancel each other out, even if there are more conditions granting disadvantage than advantage.
Inspiration - This is a quality that the DM may give at their discretion to a player to reward them for creative role-playing. A player with inspiration may use it to gain advantage on any die roll, at which point they are no longer inspired.
Proficiencies - The things the character is able to do or use well
Proficiency Bonus - For any action the character is proficient in, add the proficiency bonus to the d20 roll to determine if they are successful.
Saving Throws - When something bad is about to happen to a character, they are often allowed to roll d20 to see if they can avoid or mitigate the event. Characters can apply their proficiency bonus to certain types of saving throws
Skills - These are additional (typically non-combat) actions characters can attempt. Any character can attempt any action, but they receive their proficiency bonus only on certain types of actions.
Armor Class (AC) - A number that represents how difficult it is to injure the character in combat. A higher number provides more protection.
Initiative - A number that represents the order in which combatants take their turn. A higher number means acting earlier. Roll 1d20 + dexterity bonus to determine your initiative at the start of combat
Hit Points (HP) - A number that represents how much damage a character can take before being taken out of the fight. Every point of damage a character takes is subtracted from their current HP total.
Zone (alternate distance rule not found in the core rules) - A method of describing where things are relative to each other. The DM will describe which things are in which zone. To roughly convert from distance: 20 feet or less is 1 zone, 20-60 is 2 zones, 60-100 is 3 zones, 100-200 feet is 4 zones, and 200-500 feet is 5 zones.
Range - How far a ranged weapon can reach. The first number indicates the normal range of the weapon in zones (1 represents 1 zone away from the attacker’s zone, etc). The second number indicates the maximum range. Attacks made from beyond normal range suffer disadvantage on the attack roll.