Got a gaming question? Ask the Game Master to make a ruling, provide advice or referee your gaming troubles. Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or reach out on Twitter or Facebook. This week, we’re talking about getting started with D&D.
I’m trying to get into DnD and was wondering: Where I can get started with 5th edition? What should I buy? How do I learn to play?
Welcome to D&D!
In the immortal words of Ben Kenobi, “You’ve taken your first step into a larger world.”
There’s good news: It’s easier (and cheaper) than ever to get into D&D. The basic rules are free. Starter sets are cheap. Dice and miniatures and all the extras are plentiful.
But let’s jump ahead to the last question: How do you learn how to play?
That’s probably the most important thing up front. You could read the rules first and buy a bunch of hardcover books, but learn to play first and figure all that out second. One of the best ways to learn how to play is to… drumrollllllll…
Just play the game
If you have friends that play already, ask to join one of their games and show you the ropes. If you have friends that don’t play but are willing to learn, I highly recommend the D&D Starter Set. It has a rulebook, an adventure, dice and pre-made characters. It has everything you need to play, and the included adventure, The Lost Mine of Phandelver, is really fun. The Starter Set is also designed to teach you the game, introducing new elements one at a time. (If regular flavor D&D isn’t your thing, there’s also a Stranger Things-themed starter set and a Rick and Morty-themed one. They’re both great.) The Starter Set is also cheap, so it’s a great way to start without a big investment.
If you don’t have a group to play with, you can still learn. There is a plethora of D&D streaming shows that show people actually playing D&D. Many of them (especially the most popular ones) are more story driven, and you’re probably not going to pick up on a lot of rules. But you’ll get a good sense of how everything works, and it’s a great place to start if you don’t have a group to play with yet.
That’s where I’d start.
Pick up some books
Now if you’re wondering about what rules and whatever you need, we have a guide for that that explains everything you might want to pick up to start playing D&D.
Remember: The D&D basic rules are a free download. They include everything (the game rules, character creation rules, monster stats) for you to play. But especially for new players (and inexperienced DMs), the Starter Set and the Essentials Kit are fantastic since they contain so much stuff for such a little cost.
The Player’s Handbook is D&D 5e’s core rulebook, and you’ll probably want to get it eventually. But I recommend waiting until you know you’re going to play more or once your group moves beyond available rules in those starter boxes.
Once you get more into the game (and especially if you’re going to be the Dungeon Master), then you can pick up the Monster Manual, Dungeon Master’s Guide and other stuff. (Again, we have a handy guide just for this!)
Good luck, dear adventurer!