How To Get Started With Dungeons & Dragons
Previously, the idea of sitting around a table with some friends rolling bits of plastic to see how the resulting number influences your actions was only for geeks, nerds and those who clearly must dabble in the dark arts.
Since the "Satanic Panic" of the 1980's, the table top role playing game Dungeons & Dragons had been played in secret with an impressive stigma applied to it.
In recent years though, the game - originally developed from table top wargames by Gary Gygax and first "released" in 1974 - has seen an amazing resurgence. The game has found itself almost a household name with fans stepping out of the shadows, no small thanks to shows like Critical Role and High Rollers that are broadcast online.
You might have heard about this game, and and eager to get started playing, but what do you realistically need to get going and start tearing through dungeons and befriending mythical creatures?
Other than a character, dice are the most important things for a player to own to get going with a game of Dungeons & Dragons (or most other RPG systems). They provide the outcome for many of the decisions made in-game, as well as help you create your character in the first instance.
They come in many different sizes, materials and colours - from coloured plastics, wood, metal, gemstones, and even meteorite if you're truly extravagant - but shapes will always be consistent. Dice with 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 20 sizes are most common and the basis for combat and choices within the game. 20-sided dice (or d20 to their commonly referred to as) are usually what you will be rolling most of the time as they are used for ability checks and saves, as well to to find out if your mighty swing with that longsword, or shot from a bow stikes true. The other dice are usually for working out how much damage your hit as made.
This is the piece of paper that will become the lifeblood of your character, where you keep track of their increasing level, hit points and all their growing abilities and spells that they can cast. You can also write a short backstory for your character on here for quick reference should you need it. Your character sheet will also contain their name, as well as a description of your character's appearance.
There are several ways to have this, from good old pen-and-paper to digitally held character information from many different apps, or services such as D&D Beyond.
A basic grasp of the rules
You've got your dice, you've got a group assembled, but how can you start off playing? There are a few different avenues you can go down for this. Thankfully Wizards Of The Coast have made this pretty easy for you to get hold of the rules.
As a player, you can head down to your friendly local game store and pick up a copy of the official Player's Handbook. This will tell you everything that you need to create a character from race and class to ability and when to use which dice. I would recommend this as the best starting point as a player. As a DM, there are a couple of other books you could use - but we'll get to that shortly.
As a group, you could pick up one of the two boxed starter packs, the Starter Set and the Essentials Kit. These both contain the essential rules handbook, and an introductory adventure. The Starter Set contains some pre-made characters for you to play with where as the Essentials Kit offers a mode custom experience.
Wizards have also provided the basic rules as a free PDF download to reduce the barrier to playing. They contain all the rules that you would need to know as a player and as a DM, but they will not have as many customisations in terms of class skills and abilities as the hardback PHB.
If you're going to be a fledging (possible forever) DM, you might want to consider picking up the Dungeon Master's Guide and Monster Manual - but these aren't immediately required if you're using a pre-built adventure like those included in the sets mentioned above.
You're ready to play. But how can you take it further?
Later on, we'll be taking a look at other things you can get that can help you stay a little more organised at the table - and some things that your DM might want to get to help elevate the game for their players...