Gather round the table and prepare for the roleplaying experience of a lifetime!

Dungeons and Dragons has become bigger and better than ever in the last few years. More people have become exposed to the game due to how it’s now blended into the mainstream, like its inclusion in Stranger Things or through Matt Mercer’s Critical Role.

This resurgence is bringing people together of all shapes and sizes, but if you’re new you are probably thinking:

“What is D&D?” and “How do I start playing it?”

I started out playing D&D back in 2018 and have been playing consistently since. Hopefully my advice can help you so you can just right into the game already prepared for what’s ahead!

We’ll discuss the rules of the game more in depth later on, for now let’s just focus on the basics whilst I provide a little background.

What is D&D?

Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) is a tabletop roleplaying (TTRPG) game where you assume the role and create a character different from yourself.

Image Courtesy of Wizards of the Coast

A TTRPG usually describes a roleplaying game played around a table with pencil, paper, dice and of course a couple of friends.

At it’s core, D&D is a collaborative storytelling game. You and your friends decide the story.

D&D is usually takes place in a medieval fantasy setting with elven archers, stubborn dwarves and mystical races. You can make your D&D however you want.

There is no single best way to tell a story and no “right” way to play this game.

So, your first step is to gather your friends together, or jump into a group and just dip your toes into the vast pool that is the game.

Dungeon Masters, Players and the Rules

Typically, in a game of make-believe, you can do whatever you want whenever you want.

In this game there are some rules. The rules create a groundwork, so things don’t spiral out of control. The mechanics of the game are there to compliment the roleplaying aspect.

All the rules are contained within the books published by Wizards of the Coast (WoTC).  

In essence, D&D is split into two modes of play:

  1. The Dungeon Master or Game Master (DM or GM) who “runs” the game by acting as narrator, referee and keeper of the rules.
  2. The players who create their characters, describe what they want to do, progress the story through their dice rolls.

Now I have just boiled down the roles to their barest components. There is always one DM and multiple players in a game. Amongst your friends you need to decide who is going to take up what role.

But don’t you need things to play…like dice, paper, and the books I’ve briefly mentioned?

Things You’ll Need

Before buying every single book, just buy the basics. I’m going to split these into player and DM items, but I highly recommend pooling money together to purchase everything.

The Essentials

1. Pencils (Everyone)

You are going to want to use pencils over pens. Trust me, you’ll have to erase and edit things all the time! You’ll thank me later.

2. Character Sheets (Players)

When you design your character as a player, you will need a place to put everything. Luckily, there is already a handy little character sheet pre-made for D&D. You can buy or print them, or they come with the beginners sets that WoTC provides.

3. Player’s Handbook (Players)

This is the main book you will need at your table. It contains all the basic rules for character creation, spells, abilities and so on. This is a must have for any group.

4. Dice (Everyone)

Buy some dice, they are the heart of the game. Without them you wouldn’t be able to play D&D at all!

Every player has their own set of polyhedral dice. They are guaranteed to be in local gaming stores or can be purchased online. Plus, they come with lovely colours and make a nice clik clak noise.

For just a basic set of dice, I’d recommend just getting these, unless you want something super personalised or fancy. Then, I’d recommend browsing Etsy.

5. Monster Manual and Dungeon Master’s Guide (DMs Only)

The Monster Manual (MM) is a book that has hundreds of pre-made monsters to throw at your players! The Dungeon Master’s Guide (DMG) is a reference book for how to create worlds, encounters, and includes things like random loot tables.

6. Essentials Kit & Starter Kit (1 Per Group)

Both of these kits come with dice, pre-generated characters with backstories, and a basic rulebook. They also come with pre-written adventures that you can start playing as a group. You don’t need to buy multiple for a group, one will do!

I highly recommend starting off with some pre-generated content before running your own world so you can all feel comfortable the game.

7. An Adventure

When you start to run the game, you’ll need an adventure for your players to run through. You can come up with your own, or do the modules I mentioned previously, D&D 5e is filled with tonnes of pre-made modules that span a variety of genres and themes.

Take a gander and see what piques your interest. If they don’t, you can always use them as a guide to create your own custom game!

Levelling Up Your D&D

So those are the basics!

All you have to do is immerse yourself into understanding and reading the rules. Knowing what you need beforehand will reduce the initial difficulty of getting into the game.

There are lots of ways to push yourself to understand more about D&D, such as listening to a few podcasts before starting so you can get a feel for the game but it’s not entirely necessary once you’ve read the rules.

I intend to provide more inspiration, resources and tips on a weekly basis so subscribe for more upcoming content.

And may your rolls be ever in your favour!