When players want to enter the rich, exciting world of Dungeons and Dragons, they will do so through the use of a specially constructed character, which fits into that world. The universe of Dungeons and Dragons is a different one than the Earth on which we reside and, therefore, common people who populate the world today would not fit appropriately into this rich fantasy environment. Therefore, any player who wants to enter the world of Dungeons and Dragons will have to invent a character that they can participate in that world as. Using the Player's Handbook, any participant in the game can quickly and easily make a player who they like and feel comfortable using to move about the world created in the game.
The first thing that a player needs to do when constructing a character is to figure out what type of character they want to play. This comes down to the dissection and examination of the different character classes located in Dungeons and Dragons. Many different options are available to new players, especially once one takes into consideration the edition of Dungeons and Dragons, which is being played. Each edition revises the one before it, adding certain character classes and dropping others as the designers of the game see fit.
The most current Fourth Edition of Dungeons and Dragons presents eight different character classes that players can choose to make their character, although each of these eight classes fits into one of four different roles, whom each draw their power from one of three different sources. Players can either play as a Cleric, Fighter, Paladin, Ranger, Rogue, Warlock, Warlord, or as a Wizard. Many of these classes seem to be similar at first glance, but when one takes into consideration the role that these classes play, the game suddenly opens up into a much more expansive tone.
Each of these eight character classes will either work as a Controller, Leader, Defender, or a Striker. Controllers are players who will focus on multiple targets at one, either in an attacking or supporting format. Currently, only Wizards fill this role, making them one of the more valuable members of a team. Leaders will more traditionally be used to support allies, making them stronger or healing them, although they will attack under the right circumstances.
Clerics and Warlords both serve as Leaders. Defenders work to not only block enemy attacks, but work to make those enemies focus on the Defenders themselves. Fighters and Paladins fill this role within the game. Finally, Strikers are the sort who have advanced mobility, moving quickly around the fighting space, delivering blows and trying to avoid being attacked themselves. Rangers, Rogues, and Warlocks all work as Strikers.
Finally, though, each of these characters will draw their power from a different source. If a character has a divine source of power, they will draw their power from the gods. If a player has an arcane source, though, the power will instead be drawn from the magical energy of the cosmos. Players with martial sources instead find their power from their own training and willpower. Each of these combinations works to make all of these characters incredibly unique within the confines of the game.