With the growing popularity of Dungeons and Dragons in popular culture, more and more people are finding themselves trying out the hobby for the first time. It can be intimidating at first with all the rules and papers, but I’m here to help you through those first baby steps towards enjoying the “world’s greatest role-playing game”! So strap in, grab your d20s, and let’s get nerdy.
1. The Player’s Handbook (Dungeons and Dragons Fifth Edition)
Alright, this is probably an obvious one. However, of the three core rulebooks for Dungeons and Dragons Fifth Edition (DnD 5e), this is really the only one a player needs to get started. Great news if you’ve been sweating the price of that starter set! This book contains everything you need to know to create your first player character and run them in the game. If you are really on a budget, you really only need one copy for the table to play (it acts more as a reference book during the actual game), and if you’re lucky someone else may already have the whole set! Just bring snacks for them to make up for borrowing their stuff.
As long time followers of the hobby will tell you, you can never have too many dice. Perhaps they speak to that human need to collect pretty objects, it’s hard to say.
To start, though, you only need one set. Included in a typical set of dice for DnD you’ll find: 1d20, 1d12, 2d10, 1d8, 1d6, and 1d4. Any typical games store carries many varieties of these sets – pick one that speaks to you or your character! The d20 gets the most attention in DnD 5e, and will be the die you use to roll most of your checks. The two d10s may require some explanation; it rarely comes up in DnD 5e, but these can be rolled together to represent a percentage or “d100”, as the two numbers together will give you a number between 00 and 99.
3. Pencil and Paper
In Dungeons and Dragons, you track all kinds of information on a character sheet – which also holds all the statistics for your character. Equipment, current hit point total, you name it. Thus, one of the most essential items to can remember to bring is a pencil! Take my advice, buy one of those grab bags from an office supply store and just put it with your DnD materials. They tend to disappear at gaming tables.
You would also do well to bring a notebook to jot down details of the story as you go. Though not required, this will help you have a richer experience, and your Dungeon Master (the person who runs the game, playing all the enemies and background characters) will love you for it!
Dungeons and Dragons is above all a social game – you can’t play by yourself! This is probably the most difficult obstacle to surmount, and it can be hard for even veterans to find a consistent group that will meet to play on a regular schedule. I recommend looking for bulletin boards at your local game store. Local stores often have a place for people to post information looking for players – and it’s good to support those kinds of businesses! If that option fails, there are a variety of online services out there such as Discord that provide good ways to hold games with people from all over the world. I currently play in one discord game and run a second, the first being a text-based play by post and the second being a more traditional DnD session on a bi-weekly schedule.
So, if you have ever considered trying out DnD, now is a great time! Hit up your local game store or search online looking-for-group boards on sites like reddit to find some like minded people. It isn’t as hard to get into as you think!