How to Start Playing D&D – The Basics

This post will go into what you need to start playing D&D with your friends and family.  The basics of the game can be started with just a few books, bag of dice, paper, and website links.

I will provide plenty of download links to freebies, cool websites, and other helpful information.  Have fun and don’t feel overwhelmed, remember, this is supposed to be fun!


Game Overview

To start, if you are new to this, let me explain a few things.  D&D (Dungeons and Dragons) is a game that was started in 1974 and has several editions.  The editions are defined in a set of guide books that provide directions on how to play the game.

The game uses a persons imagination to progress through the game that was setup by the Dungeon Master (DM).

The DM could have created the game design or can be using a pre-designed game from someone else (box set or downloaded from the Internet).

All the players create characters using the guidebooks and the DM plays all other characters (called NPC for Non-Player Character).

The DM is the game master (referee) and will make any and all decisions in the game using the game dice.

They are sort of the referee.  The DM will also play the side of all monsters and assign any awards (loot).

The more ‘in character’ everyone is the more fun it will be.

To start playing the game, I recommend watching other people play the game first.

I created a post about a group of voice actors playing the game and putting it on YouTube.  It is called Critical Roll.

I highly recommend you watch them play the game and see if you enjoy it.  The game is a lot more fun when you are in the game and not just watching but to get an idea, the video is a great source.

Lets talk about some of the things you will need to start playing.


D&D Starter Set

The D&D Starter Set  is the quickest and cheapest way to get into playing the game without much investment in the standard books and equipment.

It is a self contained box with a pre-configured game already designed.

The purpose is to make the game simple and really fun for beginners.

There are plenty of other starter sets you can get in several D&D editions.

If this campaign is not what you are interested in, checkout the website resource links below and find one you like better.

This starter set is called “Explore subterranean labyrinths! Plunder hoards of treasure! Battle legendary monsters!

The Dungeons & Dragons Starter Set is your gateway to action-packed stories of the imagination.

This box contains the essential rules of the game plus everything you need to play heroic characters on perilous adventures in worlds of fantasy.

Ideal for a group of 4 – 6, the Dungeons & Dragons Starter Set includes:

  • 64-page adventure book with everything the Dungeon Master needs to get started
  • 32-page rulebook for playing characters level 1-5
  • 5 pre-generated characters, with character sheet
  • 6 dice


D&D Game Books

Players Manual

The first thing you need is the Players Manual.  This can be purchased on Amazon for the best price I have seen anywhere.

The Player’s Handbook is the essential reference for every Dungeons & Dragons roleplayer game.

It contains rules for character creation and advancement, backgrounds and skills, exploration and combat, equipment, spells, and much more.

Use this book to create exciting characters from among the most iconic D&D races and classes.This is the first book to get and if you are a player, probably the only one you will need.


Dungeon Master’s Guide

If you will be running the game as the DM (Dungeon Master), you will need 1-2 other books.

The Dungeon Master’s Guide will be critical to the success of your game.

The Dungeon Master’s Guide provides the inspiration and the guidance you need to spark your imagination.  It can create worlds of adventure for your players to explore and enjoy.

Inside you’ll find world-building tools, tips and tricks for creating memorable dungeons and adventures, optional game rules, hundreds of classic D&D magic items, and much more!

Monster Manual

The Monster Manual is not required but I am listing it here anyway because some DM’s might consider it a key part for any campaign.

There are enough monsters in the DM guide to get you started.  If at some point you will want to expand beyond those, the monster Manual will be needed.

The Monster Manual presents a horde of classic Dungeons & Dragons creatures, including dragons, giants, mind flayers, and beholders—a monstrous feast for Dungeon Masters ready to challenge their players and populate their adventures.

The monsters contained herein are culled from the D&D game’s illustrious history, with easy-to-use game statistics and thrilling stories to feed your imagination.



The last item you will need is a set of dice for each player.  Most players will have their own dice.  As a DM, you will need extra ones and the price on these are incredible.

The game uses 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 20 sided dice to determine many different things.

Dice can range in price to just a few dollars per set to over $20 a set.  From a functional perspective, there is little difference.

People on the Internet like to do roll testing to see if the dice roll true and if you get a true random roll each time by calculating how many times each number comes up.

Dice are not perfect.  There will always be an very minor unbalance in the shape which could slightly favor some numbers.  Just buy dice you like and don’t worry about how perfect they roll each time.

There is plenty of other things you can get including miniatures, mats, and other accessories.

Having extra dice make the game play faster and more enjoyable.

The DIY aspect of D&D is another great creative outlet for those who want to make visuals for the game.  The point is to enjoy this new game and hobby (yes, D&D is a hobby when you get into it).



Roll20 logoThe first website to use when creating an online campaign is

Roll20 is a suite of easy-to-use digital tools that expand pen-and-paper gameplay.

Whether you play online via their virtual tabletop or in person utilizing their character sheet and dice rolling application, Roll20 will save you time and help you focus on enhancing your favorite parts of tabletop gaming.

The best part, it is free to use!

After you signup, you can either start a new game and invite your friends or join someone else’s game.  The website is a great resource for any type of game you want to play (Digital or Paper version).

There is also the Compendium section which is a searchable reference to the D&D manuals.  It has a ton of information and can be searched very quickly.

If you are interested in downloading a game or maybe using one of their free or paid online games, you can take a look at there marketplace.


Image result for dungeons and dragons logoIf you want to save time and really make your players characters (and your RPC’s too) really stand out, you want to use character sheets.

You can find these all over the Internet.  The ones I like are available on the website.  It is easy to print them out and use them to create your players or RPC’s.

Character sheets are available on through Roll20.  The website also has a  tablet version too.  This can be a great start to a nice library of characters or RPC’s to use in your campaigns.



I think I can go on and on about DND and fun things to do to get more fun out of the game.

Let me know if this was helpful in getting your D&D campaign started or if you are a seasoned player, what started resources would you include.

I am very excited that D&D is making a comeback and I hope you give it a try and fall in love with it too.

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