How to Start Your First Game of D&D

Last time we discussed what DnD is and now you’re wishing to give it a try. But getting into a new hobby can be scary, especially one with as many books, resources and reference materials as DnD. What do you buy? How much am I gonna have to spend if I wanna try this hobby? Don’t worry, it’s not as intimidating as it may seem, just follow along and you’ll be ready in no time!

First things first, you need to pick a system. I recommend you start with Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition (5e), and you’ll find this to be a highly agreed upon opinion. It has the easiest to understand ruleset for DnD, as much of the complexity of past editions has been streamlined into a logical and easy to understand ruleset. When first starting out, figuring out how to roleplay your character and making a backstory for them can be really tough and intimidating. Luckily 5e has tools in its character creation to help facilitate roleplay by generating Traits, Flaws, Bonds and Ideals as you create your character, and has you pick a background like Street Urchin, Entertainer or Hermit to help you know where your character came from. 

 To actually play 5e, you’ll need the Players Handbook (PHB), which you can get for 30 bucks. It includes the main set of classes, a step by step character creation guide, all the rules you need to know and spells for you to reference and choose from. Dungeons and Dragons uses dice to determine outcomes of your characters options, and is mandatory to play. You’ll need a basic set of dice, which include a d4, d6, d8, d12 and a d20. You can get 3 sets of dice for 15-20 bucks, and that should cover both players and the DM on dice (though you can never have too many dice). 

If you plan on running the game, there are a couple other things to consider. Firstly, you’ll want to decide whether you need a Dungeon Master’s Guide (DMG). It’s a book designed to help you understand how to tackle the task of running a game, and has tools to help you create your own world . Perhaps most importantly however, it contains a plethora of creatures to help you flesh out your game with foes. It costs 30 dollars, but if you fully understand the rules and feel confident that you can supply homebrewed creatures, it’s not mandatory (just extremely useful). 

If you’d like to give running a game a spin but don’t want the pressure of making your own story or scenarios, Lost Mines of Phandelver is perfect for learning the ropes, and doesn’t require you to have the DMG. It’s a shorter adventure that’ll take the players through levels 1-5, includes 5 pre-built characters for those who are unsure of how to build their character, and provides a nicely served proportion to give Dungeons and Dragons a taste. Best of all? It’s only 15 bucks. 

So adding that up, it’d cost you $45 to play your first game of DnD, or ‘$60-$90 ‘ if you were planning to run it. Not too bad right? But I have a secret. What if I told you you could start playing for free, and that you could play even if none of your friends are interested? All you need is a computer with internet access, and you can play with people from all across the globe. If you find yourself wishing to play with friends but scheduling an in person meet-up weekly is an issue, you should greatly consider trying things online.

There are numerous online platforms that let you play tabletop games with others. Roll20, Foundry Virtual Tabletop, Fantasy Grounds, Tabletop Simulator and D&D Beyond are all different apps that let you create characters, maps and adventures that others can join and play, and includes in app dice rolling that everyone can see and use. Though Foundry and Fantasy Grounds require the game owner to have a subscription for others to play free, they’re all great ways to start playing with your friends at minimal cost. Short on friends to play with? These apps also  include forums you can post on to search for other players, and reddit is also a great place to look too! 

You can also use websites like 5etool and dnd5ewikidot, which help organize the numerous resources and options available to players and DMs across all the different books and expansions, but make sure you’re keeping in accordance with your local laws and try to use it just for ease of reference with things you already own! 

And… that’s a wrap! Everything you need to be able to start your own game (except the people). In person and online DnD each have a different feel to them, so try both if you can and see which you prefer! Join me next time where I discuss proper DnD etiquette, tips for helping new players roleplay, and a better look at the 3 main pillars of Dungeons and Dragons! Thank you for reading, I hope you enjoyed it, and until next time, stay healthy!

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