Dungeons & Dragons, once left for dead by mainstream culture, is back and bigger than ever. After a starring role in Stranger Things and the success of Critical Role, the iconic fantasy role-playing game has officially moved out of the basement and into living rooms all over the world.
That means there’s never been a better time to pick up a D20 and start rolling the dice! But with such a sprawling game and endless scenarios to play you may be wondering, “How do I get started?” Well, we’re here to help! Below we’ve put together a beginner’s guide to Dungeons & Dragons to get you going on your first adventure.
A Brief History
Dungeons & Dragons was first published in 1974 by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson, when they were seeking to create a game that focused on personalized battles with individual heroes. The 1st edition of the game was mailed in a faux wood colored cardboard box that contained three adventure booklets: Men & Magic, Monsters & Treasure, and Underworld & Wilderness Adventures. 40 years of adventure later, the 5th edition was released and kicked off the roleplaying renaissance that we’re seeing today.
How it Works
The core of D&D is about storytelling. The group of players essentially tell a collective story, guiding heroes through dangerous quests to search for treasure, battle deadly foes, and even carry out daring rescues.
The adventure itself is only limited by the imagination of the players around the table. All that you really need to get started is a group of friends, a few supplies, and a good Dungeon Master.
What’s a Dungeon Master?
The Dungeon Master (DM) is the primary storyteller and creator of the adventure the heroes embark upon and are responsible for developing the setting, the goals each player must accomplish, and the rewards the heroes can earn. It’s the job of the DM to create an adventure that is fun, exciting, and challenging, while the objective of the players is to work together to survive.
Gather The Supplies
Getting started with D&D is easy. To begin a game, we recommend the following:
- The Player’s Handbook (5th Edition)
- One set of dice: a D4, D6, D8, D10, D12 and D20
- Printed character sheets
- An adventure
Choose An Adventure
An adventure is basically a pre-made book that contains a story with fictional characters and monsters. For the very first adventure, we suggest selecting a “one-shot” (an adventure that can be completed in one session) instead of a multi-day campaign. One-shot campaigns generally come with lower commitment and take less work to get off the ground.
A good place to begin is with a D&D Starter Set, a well-curated box that also contains pre-made characters, a rulebook, and dice. It’s a short adventure that provides an easy entry point into the game. If you want to jumpstart your foray into the world of D&D, we recommend finding a qualified Dungeon Master who can craft a customized adventure for your group. With an experienced DM, you’ll not only get the extra help to get started, but a richer, more immersive storytelling experience.
Create Your Hero
Before diving into the adventure, players must create their heroes. First, each player selects a race, or “species”, and a class, which is like the hero’s “job.” To get started, you’ll fill out a character sheet which is used to track the strengths and weaknesses of each hero. It’s important to fill in extra details too, like what the character looks like, what they wear, and the little quirks that make them unique. The hero should have a purpose that calls them to adventure – such as finding treasure, getting revenge, or seeking out a long-lost relative.
Picking a Race
The character race gives players different sets of advantages and special abilities. For instance, a fighter could be a stubborn dwarf monster-slayer, a graceful elf blade master, or a fierce human gladiator. The character race not only affects the abilities and powers but also provides the first cues for building the character’s story. Some of the character races include:
Selecting a Class
A hero’s class is the primary definition of what the character can do in the magical landscape of Dungeons & Dragons. A class is more than a profession; it is a character’s calling. A character’s capabilities, strengths, and weaknesses are largely defined by its class and will determine their available skills and abilities. Some of the character classes include:
The thing to keep in mind when creating a character is that D&D becomes more intriguing and engaging when greater depth is given to each hero. Once the heroes have been established the DM can start to weave those details into the adventure.
Learn the Game Mechanics
The thickness of The Player’s Handbook makes D&D seem complicated, but don’t let it be intimidating. In a nutshell, playing D&D is a three-step process:
- Describe – The DM describes the scenario of the adventure
- Decide – The heroes decide what they want to do
- Roll – The hero rolls the dice to determine if they succeed or fail
From there, the cycle of steps continues, taking the heroes on a legendary adventure. The decision of each player is what makes the game unique and special, ensuring that no two campaigns are ever identical.
Establish Your Group
It might come as a surprise to learn that the best D&D players are not necessarily gamers. Role-playing games are generally accommodating to all types of people, and most games take on the group’s collective personality. To have the most fun, we recommend groups embrace empathy and creativity, and are open to “going with the flow.”
Select A Location
Finding a suitable location to play Dungeons and Dragons can be somewhat of a challenge, but if you thrive on an exciting social atmosphere, we have extra-large RPG booths at Well Played that are perfect for your adventure. Plus, D&D is free to play on Monday – Thursday when your group joins us!
Looking for a DM? Our very own Head Gamemaster, Tanner, is a seasoned vet and can build a custom Dungeons & Dragons adventure based on group size and experience.
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