Gaming Basics & Advice

How to Start Playing D&D

Vexia would gladly tell you how to start playing D&D, but she doesn't have her own blog yet, so you'll have to settle for me.

Well, the best way to get started doing a thing is to do it, but here are a few pointers to help you get your start playing D&D. One of the biggest problems I run into as a Dungeons Master (DM) is that some new players are not interested in reading. If reading is not your bag, then tabletop role playing games may not be the hobby for you. So I always tell people the first step is to…

Do Some Reading

I recommend that new players start with the Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition System Reference Document (SRD). That’s a bit of a mouthful, but basically, this is a free document containing most of the Player’s Handbook (PHB). You could just buy the PHB, but why not give the free material a look before you sink any money into your brand new hobby?

You don’t need to read the thing cover to cover, just focus on the core mechanics of the game, particularly focusing on how combat works. The rest of the game your new DM can help you sort out pretty easily, but combat is a little more involved.

OK, so now that you know what to read, the next thing you’ll need to do is…

Find a Group to Start Playing D&D With

In a lot of ways, D&D is a very personal experience. In my opinion, people play the game so that they can tell their stories and experience being a hero. Some DMs view the game as being about telling the story they want to tell, and see their players as accessories. You need to find a group and GM you gel with.

If you already have friends who play, that may be a good start. You can also check to see if your Friendly Local Game Store is hosting games that you can join. Another good option is Roll20. The Roll20 website has a free tier that allows you access to a virtual tabletop, and listings of games that people are running.

There are a lot of other good options as well. Reddit has Looking For Game (LFG) Subreddits, and there are apps and groups on social media and Discord that can help you find people to play with as well. Assuming your making record time reading and finding a group, the next thing to consider is…

Choosing Your First Character

Some classes are easier to play than others. I generally advise new players to avoid spell casting classes (e.g. wizard, sorcerer, warlock and artificer) as well as some of the more complicated martial classes (e.g. bloodhunter and gunslinger). This is especially true if you are joining a group that is not starting play with characters at the first level. Casters get complicated very fast, and you have a lot of choices to make about what spells your character should know. That can be overwhelming. The more complex martial classes feature complicated mechanics that make them very interesting, but require some experience to play well.

It’s may seem a bit boring, but a fighter is generally straightforward to play, and has a clear role in combat that allows you to focus on the basics of the D&D combat system. Rogues are similarly uncomplicated and clearly defined. Consider starting there.

I run games that I stream on twitch. Feel free to come out and get a sense of the game, and ask any questions you may have either there, or here, on on any of my social media. I do my best to be responsive and helpful. Who know, maybe you’ll find your way into one of my games?

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