Perhaps you’ve seen Dungeons and Dragons on Stranger Things and want to know more. Maybe you’ve seen the hit Critical Role web series and want to get in on the action yourself. Or maybe you’ve always been interested in the game but just aren’t sure where to start.
If any of those sounds familiar, then this is the guide for you!
In this article, we’ll go over what Dungeons and Dragons is, what you need to start playing, and everything else a beginning adventurer might need to know. Let’s get started!
Dungeons and Dragons (often abbreviated as both DND or D&D) is a fantasy tabletop roleplaying game first published in 1974, and it has gone through a number of new editions and evolutions since then. However, at its core, D&D is still the same as it was nearly 50 years ago: heroic characters adventuring through a highly detailed fantasy setting.
The game was born out of miniature wargames, a tradition that even chess draws its roots back to. However, instead of controlling a military formation or unit, D&D players create, control and roleplay as a single character, each with their own motivations and abilities. These characters join up with others (typically in a group of 4 to 5 ) and trek through a number of fantasy adventures, fighting monsters, killing dragons and exploring dungeons.
How do they know where to go? Well that’s where the Dungeon Master (DM) or Game Master (GM) comes in. Part referee, part improviser, part master of ceremonies, the Dungeon Master sets the scene for the adventurers, lays out the story, and acts as any non-playable characters (NPC) that come along, like monsters, townsfolk or allies.
There are lots of rules beyond this that help facilitate and randomize the game, but this interaction between DM and player is the core. The DM presents a situation – an obstacle, a puzzle, a fight or a social interaction – and the players use their special abilities to overcome it. There’s no right or wrong answer, there’s no antagonism on the DM’s part; there's just what the players try, whether it succeeds, and the story that forms when it does or doesn’t.
This freedom of choice, of not being held to the rails like one might be in a video game, is what draws so many people to DND. Adventures in a D&D campaign usually carry over from gaming session to gaming session, with each game picking up right where the other left off, which means that as you continue to play with the same group of people, your character will grow stronger and stronger, and the story you all tell together will grow more complex and interesting.
People play Dungeons and Dragons for a number of different reasons, and it's important to keep this in mind when you’re first starting off. Some people love the storytelling, others love the battles, and some people just love the chance to kick back and relax with their friends.
As you begin your own Dungeons and Dragons adventure then, we encourage you to take the time to find a Dungeon Master and player group that are on the same page. Almost all of the problems within a tabletop group come from a lack of communication or mismanaged expectations, and finding the right group for you might make or break your experience with the game.
Perhaps Dungeons and Dragons isn’t even the right game system for you! We encourage you to check out our other options for roleplaying games to see if something there could even be a better fit.
If you’re definitely interested in playing Dungeons and Dragons yourself, there’s a few things you’ll need to get started.
The three major rulebooks for Dungeons and Dragons: The Player’s Handbook, The Dungeon Master’s Guide, and The Monster Manual. The Player’s Handbook walks you through every step of the character creation process and is a great place to start for new players. If you’re interested in eventually trying your hand at being the DM, then the Dungeon Master’s Guide is a must have as well.
Your character’s abilities, weapons and their ability to succeed or fail at different tasks may sometimes come down to the role of the dice. Different dice are used for different things in Dungeons and Dragons, but a standard set (which features four, six, eight, ten, twelve and twenty sided dice) is the best place to start.
This is a piece of paper with all of your character’s relevant information on it: their weapons, their items, their strengths and weaknesses and so much more. There are sample character sheets inside the Player’s Handbook, and a number of templates online.
The most important thing you’ll need to start playing Dungeons and Dragons is a group of friends to play it with! You can either join an existing group, start a new one with your friends, or look for groups to join online or at your friendly local game store.
There’s plenty of other materials out there that your DM might use like miniatures, battle maps, dice towers and more, but the list above are the very basic items a beginner needs to start playing today.
Now that you know what Dungeons and Dragons is and what you need to start playing, you’re just about ready to head out on adventures of your own!
Of course, this article contains just the basics, so if you’re looking for more information on D&D including how to build a character, whether or not to buy the Starter Set, and so much more, stay tuned right here to IRLGAMESHOP.COM.