CardinalCon: Dungeons, Dragons, and You

Welcome to CardinalCon!


  • ELAGSE9-10RI4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative, connotative, and technical meanings; analyze the cumulative impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone (e.g., how the language of a court opinion differs from that of a newspaper).
  • ELAGSE9-10RL3 Analyze how complex characters (e.g., those with multiple or conflicting motivations) develop over the course of a text, interact with other characters, and advance the plot or develop the theme.
  • ELAGSE9-10W3 Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequences.
  • ELAGSE9-10W8 Gather relevant information from multiple authoritative print and digital sources, using advanced searches effectively; assess the usefulness of each source, answering the research question; integrate information into the text selectively to maintain the flow of ideas, avoid plagiarism and follow a standard format for citation.
  • ELAGSE9-10L4 Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases based on grades 9–10 reading and content, choosing flexibly from a range of strategies.
  • ELAGSE9-10SL1 Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions(one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 9–10 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
  • ELAGSE9-10SL6 Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and tasks, demonstrating command of formal English when indicated or appropriate. (See grades 9–10 Language Standards 1 and 3 for specific expectations.)

Learning Target: I can use the Dungeons and Dragons v3.5 Player’s Handbook to create a complex fantasy character, which I can use to collaboratively write a fantasy story with my peers.

Opening Session: I’d like to read to you a few pages of some published fantasy stories, each of which’s author cites Dungeons and Dragons as inspiration for their work.

  • The Way of Shadows by Brent Weeks
  • The Warded Man by Peter V. Brett
  • The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
  • Dragons of Autumn Twilight by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman

Work Session: So WELCOME to CardinalCon! You’re here because you wanted to learn more about the Dungeons and Dragons fantasy Role Playing Game, so let’s get started! I’m going to cover the following things about D&D, then you will get a chance to create your very own character!

  • Stuff you need to play: books, dice, pencil and paper, and friends
  • How to play: The Core Mechanic
  • D&D 3.5 PHB character races
  • D&D 3.5 PHB character classes

After we discuss each of these, I want you to decide with your table what character class you would all like to create. Everyone at the table needs to do the same class, and no two tables can do the same class (this has nothing to do with the game rules [although a balanced party is nice], it’s just because of the materials I have available to me. Namely, copies of the book!). Then, we will begin character creation!

  1. Decide on a character concept. This is a basic idea of what you want your character to be. Do you want to be an accomplished assassin? A weapons master? A prophet or seer? A mage who blows stuff up? An expert archer?
  2. Roll StatsWe will use the standard rolling method, 4d6 drop the lowest. Your stats will range from 3 to 18, with most of them falling around 8-16.
  3. Assign stats to your abilities and calculate your ability modifiers: Subtract 10, divide by 2, round down.
  4. Choose a race for your character: Human, Dwarf, Elf, Gnome, Half-Elf, Half-Orc, or Halfling. Apply racial modifiers to your abilities if needed.
  5. Grab the packet at your table and your character sheet and begin filling it in. I’ll walk around the room and help tables find the information for all your boxes.
  6. Calculate and assign skill points.
  7. Choose feats.
  8. Roll starting gold, then select and buy gear.
  9. Fill in your attacks and armor.
  10. Choose spells if you are playing a caster.

This will all be customized to YOU and what you want YOUR CHARACTER to be! As I move around the room to help, you might find yourself waiting for someone to answer a question before you can move on. When that happens, use the time to think of your name, age, gender, height, weight, eye color, hair color, and skin tone. All of these things are completely up to you (and the race you chose – you cannot have a six-foot Gnome). You can also start doodling or sketching a picture of your character, if you wish.

Closing Session: After we get our characters finished, let’s take a moment to go around the room and introduce our characters to one another! I’m so excited to hear whom you’ve come up with!

Assessment: Students may take their character sheets back to their home teacher to receive credit for the day.

Differentiation: Process (scaffolding), Interest

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