Dungeons & Dragons is huge now. Thanks to things like Critical Role, Stranger Things and Joe Magliano, what used to be a super-nerdy game that people played in their mum's basement is now a super-nerdy game that people play on YouTube and Twitch! And it's easy to see why - there is limitless opportunity for creativity with home brew stories and mechanics leading to multi-year long campaigns among some dedicated groups of players.
Joe Magliano proving that Dungeons & Dragons doesn't have a 'type'
So now that Dungeons & Dragons is so popular...how do you actually play it?
1. Gather a group of adventurers!
Yes you can't play Dungeons & Dragons without a group of willing participants. You'll need to find a Dungeon Master (DM) who will guide the team through their campaign and at least two adventurers for the DM to guide.
If you have friends that are keen to play - PERFECT! Continue reading. If not I recommend heading to Facebook and just searching 'Dungeons & Dragons [your location]'. A great group to check out is Dungeons & Dragons Aotearoa NZ - they're super friendly and there is always a group looking for new players. With things like Roll20 and Discord, it's now super easy to play D&D online with players from all over the place.
2. Create your character
Probably the most fun (and potentially confusing) part of Dungeons & Dragons is creating your character! There are 12 classes and 9 races in the official Player's Handbook to choose from but depending on your Dungeon Master, you could have heaps more available to you.
If you want to go the old fashioned route - just pick up a copy of the Player's Handbook and go for it. It can be a bit complicated getting your head around character creation but the Player's Handbook does have all the information required.
However, if you just want to whip up a character and get into you, D&D Beyond has a great free character creator (with some paid features) OR there are heaps of completely free character creators online. If you have an experienced Dungeon Master they should be able to help out with any niggly bits.
3. Start Your Adventure!
With your team together and your characters created, all that's left to do is play! Your Dungeon Master will introduce you all to the campaign and then it's up to you guys to decide what you want to do. Will you visit the local inn for some information? Maybe you'll attack the closest living thing and see how combat goes? The actions you can take in Dungeons & Dragons are only limited by your imagination...and what your Dungeon Masters says is possible in the situation.
What about the rules?
Until you start combat, the rules of Dungeons & Dragons really are down to your Dungeon Master. They will guide you in where you can go and what you can feasibly do so just throw your ideas out there and see what sticks.
What about combat then?
Honestly, this blog post probably isn't the best place to learn the basics of combat but in a nutshell:
* Players will roll for 'initiative' which determines what order players (and NPCs) get to move.
* On their turn, players attack, move, hide or disengage (or a combination if possible).
* During an attack, players will roll dice to determine 1. If they hit their target and 2.How much damage they deal
* Players will also need to keep track of their HP as they get attacked.
There's a whole combat section in the Player's Handbook they will help you with the basics but as always, just let your Dungeon Master know what you want to do and they'll be able to help you out.
What about levelling up/multiclassing/items/gold/xp etc
Okay okay for the technical stuff I'm sending you to the Player's Handbook. Seriously, the PH is a tome of knowledge covering all the basics you need to know.
BUT if you have a short attention span like me - I cannot recommend the Handbooker Helper series from Critical Role enough. They have heaps of short videos explaining different aspects of play like levelling, combat actions, spellcasting and more.
Any other resources you can recommend?
Critical Role's Youtube Channel is great if you want to see Dungeons & Dragons in action (and voiced by professional voice actors)
Tasha's Cauldron of Everything is a great second book to get as it adds new classes and other bits and pieces to the game
The are some great NZ D&D Podcasts including Fate of Isen, Don't Forget Your Towel and The Tear-Able Adventures of the Janderson Breffords Parchment Company which is the podcast I'm a part of so you know it's good 😉
D&D Beyond is the official Dungeons & Dragons website and has heaps of free and paid digital resources.
So there you have it, a very basic guide on getting started with Dungeons & Dragons. There is SO much information out there so as you get deeper into your journey you'll find yourself doing more research.
Sorry this one didn't cover much for Dungeon Masters, unfortunately I've not had a chance to DM myself so I wouldn't be a very good source of knowledge. But if you want to get into DMing that NZ D&D Group on Facebook is full of DMs happy to help out and get you started.
I hope you all create wonderful characters and live out amazing adventures! Happy roleplaying xox