D&D can seem like an expensive hobby for someone new to the game.
Watching live streams like Critical Role or The Chain can make it seem like you need a custom built room, miniature scenes, a vast assorted of well painted miniature figures, dice trays, dice vaults, books, creature cards, treasure cards, custom painted artwork, monitors, tablets, music, lighting, effects and enough dice to fill a ball pit.
Well I’m here to tell you that you can actually play Dungeons and Dragons today, without spending a penny.
First, I’m going to make some assumptions; that you have a device to access the internet (where you’re reading this), paper and a pen. Considering most people have a smart phone these days I don’t think it’s unfair to assume your players will too.
So what do you actually need to get started?
- a set of rules
- some characters to play
- an adventure
- dice or some method of generating random numbers
a set of rules
Wizards of the Coast wants you to play Dungeons and Dragons and they want you to buy their books so like other purveyors of addictive products they’ll give you the first taste for free and provide you with a free PDF of the basic rules.
In those basic rules you’ll get a cut down version of the rules from the players handbook, dungeon masters guide and even a bunch of monsters from the monster manual.
some characters to play
Now in the basic rules is a guide to creating your own characters but do you really want your players spending the first 90 minutes of the game rolling characters before you even get into the game?
In some cases the answer might be yes, for a lot of D&D players character creation is a really enjoyable process.
For everyone else, and especially for new players, you might want to just use some pregenerated characters and guess what, Wizards has you covered there too. They’ve provided the pregenerated characters from the starter set for free, as well as a selection of other pregenerated characters.
It contains you a complete adventure to get your players from 1st level all the way up to 5th level.
This adventure is not as beginner friendly as the Lost Mines of Phandelver from the starter set which was custom written to help new dungeon masters run their first game but hey, it’s free!
While some of the monsters in the adventure aren’t covered in the basic rules, a quick internet search will bring up their statistics ready for your game.
The alternative to running someone else’s adventure is to create one yourself. In the original game this was the expectation, Dungeon Masters had their own dungeon that they would improve and change over time.
While the game has moved on, as has player expectation, it’s still an option and one I’ll step you through in a later post.
Dice are probably the one expense I’d suggest you should try and stretch for, simply because people like rolling dice, players need something to “Jenga.”
If you don’t have any dice though, there’s plenty of other options.
Search for dice rollers, on the Play Store, Apple store or Google and you’ll come up with more than a few options. I like CritDice but try a few and see which one you like.
If that doesn’t work for you try getting cups out line them up four for a four sided die, six for a six sided die and so on, then have the players try to toss balls of paper into the right cup.
There’s also a slew of other minor tips to help improve your first game experience that won’t cost you any money.
The backs of most wrapping paper comes with a nice grid that can easily be used to draw out battle maps.
Search online for background music and audio to help build atmosphere such as Tabletop Audio.
You’ll find a lot more of these types of tips online to help make your first game successful, so get out there and start playing!