What do you need to start playing Dungeons and Dragons?
Dungeons & Dragons is one of the largest games to have ever been created, spanning dozens of years, hundreds of books, and thousands of play hours. It is a game that helps you develop quick math, team building, and critical thinking skills; as well as assist in widening your vocabulary.
As I discussed in our last Dungeons & Dragons article, it is a game where one player – the Dungeon Master creates and runs a world in which players interact with. Through the use of dice and other materials, a story is told, and a world is built. There is a mountain of material out there across all the editions of D&D. But what do you really need to get started in the 5th Edition of Dungeons and Dragons?
While previous editions of Dungeons and Dragons have gone on for years, we are still in the early years of 5th Edition. Thanks to this we are on the ground floor and there are few books that you truly need.
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The first book would the the Player’s Handbook also known as the PHB. This has the majority of the information that a player would need to play the game. From how turns work, to character creation options, the book has everything that you need to be knowledgeable as a player for the game. It is always a good idea to have at least one of these on hand at the table during a session as they will be referenced frequently.
For newer players, or people on a budget, they do offer a cut down version of the Player’s Handbook for free on the Wizards of the Coast Website. This free version cuts the book from just under 300 pages down to 114. While this will get you through if you have a PHB at the table, it does leave out much of the material that is in the full book.
The next two books sort of go hand in hand. The next book you need to purchase would be the Dungeon Master’s Guide also known as the DMG. As the title may suggest, and if you know a small amount about the game, this is the book that you should purchase if you will be running the game itself. This book has everything that a player will need to create a world of his/her own. From magic items, to speaking of the different realms in the game, it has everything that you need to make your own campaign.
Similar to the PHB, Wizards of the Coast offers a free version of the Dungeon Master’s Guide on their website. However, it is even more cut down than the PHB, I would highly recommend picking up the book itself, and not attempting to use this beyond a quick reference.
The third book I would HIGHLY advise purchasing if you are going to be running a game. This is the Monsters Manual. This book is filled with, you guessed it, the monsters and creatures of the D&D world. Everything from cats to dragons is in this book, with suggestions on how to control and react like the creatures themselves.
Each monster in the book is given a “Challenge Rating” or CR. This number represents how hard of a fight it will be, based on abilities, powers, health and general toughness. The DMG will teach you how to balance the general level of the party, with the creatures you will face.
You are also going to need at least 1 set of dice, preferably one per person at the table, if not more. There are easy ways to get around this as most phone operating systems have at least 1 decent dice rolling application. However, you do lose the fantastic feeling that you get when you throw the little piece of plastic, and you hear it bounce around on the table.
You are going to need a “RPG Dice” and are a set of seven dice. A four sided dice (D4), a six sided (D6), an eight sided (D8) a ten sided (D10), a twelve side (D12) a twenty sided (D20) and a percentile dice which is a ten sided counted in multiples of 10.
These dice are going to used for everything from interacting with the world, to determining how hard you hit something.
In one of my last articles I took a look at some of the best RPG dice to buy.
The next, and quite possibly last required thing would be what are called the “Character Sheets.” These are the pieces of paper that will house your character, his/her abilities, store your loot, and much more. The character sheets can be found here. It may look overwhelming at first but do not worry, it will make sense once you learn it.
Through that link you will find three different options, the “Fifth Edition Character Sheets,” “Starter Set Character Sheets” and “Adventure League Character Sheets.” Each of these sheets have their own uses, the Fifth Edition sheets are the most basic, and possibly the most used of them. The Starter Set Character Sheets are pre-created characters that are available in a product that I will mention later in the article. While the Adventures League sheets are used in organized play called, Adventurers League, and are a cut down version of the full three page character sheets.
If you are going to be running the game, your players will need a place to explore and interact with. There are two main ways to create a world for your players, you can either create it yourself or you can purchase what is called a module. Modules are pre-designed, pre-planned campaigns that are released digitally or in hardback. These have everything you need to run a campaign for your players, without much of the design work that goes into creating your own.
If you are new to the game, I would suggest the D&D Starter Set. Or if you have already completed the Starter Set, there are a number of other adventures to go on. It all depends on what catches your interest, official licensed products allow you to fight Dragons, Vampires, Giants, Demons, and more. However thanks to the magic of the internet, there are many other supplements that have been created and released from the community.
As I have mentioned before, there are MANY different ways to play the game, and none of them are the correct or wrong way. Whatever works for the group you will be playing with is the best way to do it. Thanks to the power of the internet, there are many more tools than I have listed. If you are running a game, and want some more help, make sure to check out Five Online Tools for A Tabletop Dungeon Master. Or if you have more specific questions, drop them in the comments below, or reach out on twitter!
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