Interested in D&D? Start Here!

Dungeons and Dragons is having a bit of a moment right now, with many people becoming aware of and interested in it due to shows like Stranger Things, Critical Role, or the newly released Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves film. There’s never been a better time to dip your toes into the world of tabletop role-playing games, but that particular leap can feel like a daunting one. Not only do these games come with rulebooks that make most novels look like light reading in comparison, the density of text in the rulebooks can turn an otherwise approachable game into an impenetrable wall. Well worry not, prospective TTRPG players, as we’ve collected a few resources to highlight to make your first outing into TTRPGs into one of many! 

A group of seven role-playing game dice arranged on a play mat.

While there are a plethora of tabletop role-playing games to choose from, with each one having its strengths and weaknesses in terms of the stories it lets you create, the most enduring and popular is currently Dungeons and Dragons, with the 5th edition of the game being a popular entry point. While the rulebooks published for the system are numerous, there are some shortcuts you can take. Wizards of the Coast, the company behind D&D has released the rulebook for their starter kit as a pdf online, which you can find for free at this link. This won’t have all the character options, but it will be more than enough for a first time dungeon master to get a feel for the rules. 

Another issue that can often serve as a roadblock for new players is not having an adventure to play! It can be a lot of work for a new group to come up with all of the characters, encounters, and set pieces that a game of D&D tends to have, so it’s often easier to build characters for an adventure that has already been written. With that in mind you have a few options: Wizards of the Coast has released a few adventures as free pdfs online, such as Grammy’s Country Apple Pie, a quest to find a long lost pie recipe for an aging wizard while navigating the goblins who possess it, or Dragons of Icespire Peak, a quest to fend off an ice dragon and save a village of reclusive gnomes. If you’d rather have something physical to reference for your adventure (and don’t want to print off the pdfs) you might consult Tales From the Yawning Portal, a book that collects a number of varied adventures that cover a variety of levels and settings for your party to experience, that you can find right here at the library.

A collection of role-playing game dice strewn across a game book and a grid map.

And that’s just the beginning of the resources available to make your first adventure easy. Not really sure how to make characters? Here’s a collection of pregenerated characters that are ready for use in your game, with the only thing not included being descriptions of spells that you can find in the starter kit rules. Have questions about specific concepts in the rules and don’t quite understand the way they’re laid out in the rules? Here’s a series of videos produced by the team behind Critical Role aimed at new players that explains a few concepts in detail per video to help clear up common mistakes. Want to make your own character but need someone to go through it step-by-step with you? We have a recording of a program DBRL produced that was precisely aimed at new players like you! Want to dive into the deep end and read all the books you can about the rules of playing and running a game? DBRL has copies of the books you need to do just that available for borrowing, with more on the way as necessary. Don’t have dice or fancy maps to move your figures on? Online dice rollers work great and graph paper is the only grid you need for combat (or run things in the theater of the mind and ditch figures entirely!). 

A number of miniatures arranged on a piece of fake terrain for a role-playing game session.

Starting any hobby can be daunting, but tabletop role-playing games have so much potential to be a wonderful experience to share with friend, or even to make friends doing. So don’t let your misgivings stop you! Get some friends together, grab a book and some characters, and tell a heroic story that is all your own. Plus, keep an eye on your local library’s events calendar for a chance to get some hands on experience of D&D of your own…

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