The Ultimate Beginners Guide to Dungeons & Dragons
Comics Book, Pop Vinyl, Tabletop Games have all gone from being these hidden gems of geek culture to popular with the masses, but now, suddenly, Dungeons & Dragons has become cool along with them, and people are asking how do we play.
According to the publisher of Dungeons and Dragons, Wizards of the Coast, 2016 – 2018 were Dungeons & Dragons’ most successful years since its inception in 1974.
So I can hear your questions already what’s making this game from the 70’s so popular and how can I start playing?
Well, this guide is designed to give the people what they want. Grab a snack and get yourself ready to dive into the world of D&D
The absolute best way to learn D&D is with a group of your friends who already know the rules to the game and can guide you as you attempt to learn how to play. So if you have some friend already playing do what I did and a lot of other players are doing and join an existing group. If the group of friends you have are also new to the game or you are looking to introduce some friends to this new hobby.
Well, don’t worry. We’re here to help.
Make sure you read all the way to the end as we have also linked to a bunch of free resources to help you on your Dungeons & Dragons Journey.
So you want to Play D&D, and don’t know what’s next here’s what should you expect?
Dungeons & Dragons is a group storytelling game.
Do you remember the choose-your-own-adventure book’s from the ’90s? Think of D&D as a collective version of one of those? One of the players (the DM, we will get to that later) prepares an adventure (or downloads one off the internet).
Then the rest of the players take characters into that story and gather together—preferably around a table given the space requirements for this game—to cooperatively tell the tale (or decide to throw you into a well – Yes Jessie I still haven’t forgotten about that).
Whatever story the players and the dungeon master decide to tell there is not a single way to tell a story, there is also not a “right” way to play D&D, but it does need to be experienced or at least watched to be understood.
Which Brings us to your first step:
The Best Way to Start Playing D&D is to watch a few Games, so you know what to expect; Youtube is fantastic for this as content creators like Geek and Sundry have put together some easy to watch videos that will allow you to sit at a table without needing to be there.
So we recommend you watch Vin Diesel play D&D in this hilariously and brilliantly produced video, named D&Diesel by Geek and Sundry.
We will wait until you are finished…..
Congratulations you have just experienced your first session of D&D After a short introduction from the DM (Dungeon Master), which places the players into the world of the story, the game flows using a simple three-step process, that’s continued over and over again:
Step 1: The narrator of the game or Dungeon Master describes the environment.
Step 2: The players based on this information will describe what they want or what they are attempting to do. This will generally involve throwing around some dice (most likely a D20).
Step 3: The DM informs the players what happens next based on success or failure of what the players attempted, and then will narrate any additional results (or consequences) of the player’s actions.
Although the DM acts as the narrator, the players are choosing what to do and how to progress in the story that can sometimes result in very unexpected stories and choices. Often the players will talk amongst themselves, while the DM looks on all knowingly waiting to see the decision they will make next.
It sounds simple, and that is was is so fantastic about this game; its complexity grows with the players as they grow levels become stronger and develop elaborate backstories, the game evolves with them.
So are you hooked, we knew you would be so this is what you’ll need to get started.
So let’s talk about loot, what do you need to play?
If you don’t have an existing group to play with we recommend you start with something called a D&D Starter Set this brilliant resource will teach you how to be a Dungeon Master as you are playing your first campaign. It also has a rule book and pre-generated characters with backstories for everyone else who wants to play.
But if you have an existing group you are joining you will need a copy of the D&D Handbook, and a pack of polyhedral dice. These packs of dice come with 6 to 7 multi-sided dice to get you started.
The most considerable challenge for a new group of players is finding your DM. A Dungeon Master (DM) is someone who prepares your entire world before anyone will even sit down. Although any good D&D game involves preparation and then going off the book when needed and the players derail your plan, it’s hard for any new players to know exactly what they need to prepare.
That’s what makes the D&D Starter set so valuable for new players that don’t have an experienced DM as it solves this issue and teaches you how to create your own story the next time you decide to play.
Something to keep in mind however the Starter Set only comes with a single set of polyhedral dice, but because players often need to roll dice all at the same time and sharing them can get annoying so you might want to invest in a copy for each player.
This collection of dice are used to measure the attempts and efforts of the players by the DM. As an example, you might use the 6-sided die to calculate the damage dealt by your Spell. Or a 20-sided die (known as a D20) to see if you have the strength to climb over that giant wall, but we’ll get to these kinds of rules a bit later.
If you love roleplaying, and decide you want to invest more into the hobby the Player’s Handbook (make sure you get the 5th Edition) , The Monster Manual, and the Dungeon Master’s Guide, maybe a few different things you might want to consider once you are ready to move past beginner:
Wait Can I do that? What about the rules and how do they work.
Now that we have given you a basic understanding of the elements that make up a D&D campaign, now it’s time to learn the mechanics (The Rules) of the game.
D&D has taken on many forms and had many editions since its 1970s creation. With each different version came new rules, new creatures, new monsters, and game mechanics. Today the modern rule-set that is used by most players is called 5th Edition, released in 2014. However, there are still some groups around that decide to play the older additions, but this is defiantly not the standard practice.
A large amount of rules that make up Dungeons & Dragons is one of the biggest reasons new players might not take up this game, unlike a board game. However, you don’t need to know every single rule before you start playing, and rules can be missed or overlooked without breaking the experience. You can jump in and play with only a rough idea of how the game works.
A general idea of the rules should do the trick, but we do recommend you read enough to know how to progress when you and your friends run into a situation where you don’t know the rules.
REMEMBER IN A GAME LIKE THIS THE RULES SERVE YOU, NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND.
The one of D&D Lead Creators Jeremy Crawford has been known to say that the D&D Rules transition it from just making believe to a real game.
An example is: Say you’re the DM, and your players are trying to move across a something like a frozen surface. What things do the players need to do or be aware of to make sure they get through this successfully?
D&D has ruled out a bunch of rules for this situation in the Player’s Handbook, page 190, under “Difficult Terrain. But if you don’t know what they are off the top of your head, it could take you ages to remember where they are let alone identify how to apply them.
When you are playing D&D the first few times, these relatively obscure, situational based rules can trip up or paralyse new players quite a bit so not identifying these types of rules should not be a game killer but instead forget them for now and focus on your core elements until you all feel comfortable playing.
It is very easy to get overwhelmed by the rule book if you are a new DM, but remember the rules are there to help you so if you need to your for campaign make up some of these rules for some of these more obscure situations.
“Just make sure you’re having fun,”
The DM may say that all the players have to roll some dice to see if they manage to get over the lake without slipping. Of course, once the gaming session finishes, check the rules in the handbook for next time but don’t let an obscure situation hold up your game and kill the experience when you first start playing. Instead, focus on the world and the characters you are creating.
Almost all of the aspects of the game can be mitigated by coming up with solutions that work for and your group.
Once you have been playing for a while and you and your group have finished your first few sessions or even wait until you have finished an entire campaign, then it’s worth learning most of the written rules because rules are like a language.
They are a way to govern what the characters in the game can do and how to determine whether actions succeed. The games rules help make D&D a game, rather than merely make-believe.
The 20-Sided Die that will decide your fate ok maybe not but it is very important.
You can understand a Large number of D&D’s rules right now—by just learning how the ability scores and skill checks work out of all of the rules in the book. These are the essential rules in D&D because skills and ability scores impact almost everything your characters will attempt to do, whether you’re a sword wielder or a spell caster.
In a D&D campaign, each character and creature has six different characteristics: strength, intelligence, dexterity, wisdom, constitution, and charisma.
How good a character is at these characteristics are determined by a number that’s between 1 and 20, with one being horrendously terrible and 20 being almost Godlike. We call these numbers ability scores.
Here are some examples of how these characteristics can affect players:
A player with 15 strength can probably lift something without a lot of effort.
A player with six wisdom probably won’t realise when they have been deceived.
Before you start playing Dungeons & Dragons and are developing your character, one of the first things you do is generate these six ability scores for your character Or, if you are playing using the Starter Set, these are already on the sheets that outline each character’s stats.
These ability values help determine whether your character succeeds or fails at something they are trying to do. These attempts are things like trying to break down a door (only to find out it was unlocked the whole time), trying to avoid a trap detected or detecting a trap in the first place, or convincing the bar owner to let you stay for one more drink after you stabbed him by accident, are called skill checks.
Skill checks are simple.
First, you will need to announce to your DM and the rest of the players, what your character is trying to do.
The second thing you will need to do is look at the character’s ability checking the score that would govern the act you’re trying to complete.
This looks a bit complicated, but it’s simple at heart. These modifiers are just a way of translating your ability scores to the amount of help/hindrance you get when you attempt one of these skill checks. If your ability score is a 10, your modifier is 0 because you’re neither particularly skilled nor unskilled with that ability.
The last the player does is take a D20, roll it, and then you add or subtract the modifier to whatever you the result of your roll is adding any additional enhancements you might have. You then tell the Dungeon Master what your final number is, and the DM then decides what happens, based on your skill check.
This is a complex system, but there’s also a lot of room for the DM to use discretion and context in deciding how difficult different tasks should be to complete.
For Example: Breaking Down a Locked Door is a Lot harder than an open one and will require less strength.
After this skill check has been completed, the game continues, and an event will happen depending on the success of your rolls & checks.
For Example: If you have a strength of 4 and your roll an 18 to knock down a door by some fluke your character who is quite weak, finds a way to knock it down. However, if you rolled a two you
probably trip over and land on your face without even touching the door taking one damage.
These skill checks are a core element of Dungeons & Dragons, and you would have noticed a ton of them when you watched D&Diesel earlier in this guide. You also, however, do not have to do them for every single action your character takes. Sometimes a player can say can I do (Insert random trivial task here) and if it’s not significant, the DM will respond directly—no check needed. (and in most of our scenarios let us know our idea is stupid)
Although the example we used was a strength check example, versions of these skill checks rule everything from combat, spellcasting, inspecting ruins or wisdom as you are trying to work out if the house full of werewolf want to kill you.
You are now ready for your first Dungeons & Dragons session. Now gather your friends together, order get some take out, and get those dice rolling.
Resource List – Things you might need to buy
Dungeons & Dragons Starter Set
Dungeons & Dragons Kits
Basic Rules – Free PDFhttps://dnd.wizards.com/articles/features/basicrules
D&D PLAYERS: 5 TIPS MAKE YOUR NEW DUNGEON MASTER’S LIFE EASIER
Learn By Playing – Wizards of the Coast
Free D&D Campaigns
Here is a full list of some D&D Campaigns we found that are free for personal use — length varies, but most do not extend beyond 3-4 sessions.
Note: All Wizards of the Coast documents go directly to WotC’s own servers – not hosted by me or any other third party. The material they provide is for personal use only and should be not be resold or redistributed.
|Princes of the Apocalypse||Wizards of the Coast|
|Death House||Wizards of the Coast|
|Tyranny in Phlan||Wizards of the Coast|
|Harried in Hillsfar||Wizards of the Coast|
|Wild Sheep Chase||/r/UnearthedArcana.|
|Wolves of Welton||u/TheRainyDaze|
|Madness of the Rat King||/r/UnearthedArcana.|
|Army of the Damned||/u/SpiketailDrake|
|The Town of Ortuk||/r/UnearthedArcana.|
|The Mists of Eldaria||u/GelatinousDude|
|The Master’s Vault||James Introcaso|
|The Barber of Silverymoon||Wizards of the Coast|
|Elfhunt||Wizards of the Coast|
|The Hangover||Wizards of the Coast|
|Return to the Caves of Chaos||Wizards of the Coast|
|Grammy’s Country Apple Pie||Wizards of the Coast|
|Six Faces of Death||Wizards of the Coast|
|The Crypts of Kelemvor||Wizards of the Coast|
|The Gribbits Detective Agency||Wizards of the Coast|
|Nicholas the Gift-Giver’s Northern Palace||Wizards of the Coast|
Did you like this list please get the word out and share it with your friends. Are there any campaigns we missed add them to the comments section and we will add them to this list.