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Top 4 Dungeons and Dragons Tips for Newbies

Dungeons and Dragons is awesome. It is a great way to spend lots of evenings and explore a new realm as someone else. You really get to be your character and make decisions they would make, which if you are playing a chaotic neutral dark elf, may not be decisions you would make, ever.  Unfortunately, D&D can be intimidating. There are so many books, there are so many rules, so many ways one can easily feel like it isn’t worth it. And if someone is playing a homebrew campaign, it can be even more confusing.

I am still a fairly new D&D player myself. I have a wonderfully accepting group that allows for questions, rehashing information, out-of-game game talk, etc., but I know that is not always the way of things. I am here to help people who want to get started do so. I will give you the places where I have failed, and tips I have discovered to play and really enjoy myself.

Let’s start off with a little background. Right now Dungeons and Dragons is on the fifth edition (5e). D&D was created by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson in 1974. The original game was a set of three booklets and assumed the player was already familiar with wargaming. In 1979 Advanced Dungeons and Dragons (AD&D) was released, this included additions, edits, and supplements. AD&D was replaced by 3e and 3.5e in 2000 and 2003 respectively. 4e quickly followed in 2008. Then for the 40th anniversary, 5e was released in 2014. There have a few expansions on 5e since its release. If you are interested in more information, I actually recommend going to this Wikipedia page and the official page from Wizards of the Coast.

Now to get started. The Player’s Handbook (or PHB) is your friend. You will actually want to read it. At the very least, you will want to read the parts about game play, your race, your class, and check out this site. Keep your PHB with you during sessions. I put tabs in places I know I am going to need to references often, spells, how to calculate hit dice, etc. If you are a magic user, I recommend finding a way that works best for you to keep your spells handy. There are apps out there, I have seen people use a spreadsheet, and note cards are also popular.

Go ahead and get yourself at least one set of dice. You will use them often, and there are many times you will use more than one. I have a friend who gets a new set of dice per character they play. It just helps them remember which one they are playing, also they are cool and it is fun to have many sets. There are also apps for that.

I had a problem keeping up with the shorthand and the abbreviations that are used in game. I got confused and asked questions often. What I did to help combat that, in my notebooks (just a regular ol’ three ring binder) I started keeping track. HP = Hit Points, AC = Armor Class, etc. Soon I got used to them, but there are different ways to refer to things and knowing what is being discussed helps.

Lastly, go find a game store in your area. Most of them have a bulletin board where people advertise or look for things. See if you can find a campaign you can watch. Some game stores have a gaming room. Ask if you can just watch. Get used to game play. Then when you feel you are ready, find yourself a group of adventurers who are starting a new campaign and jump in!

Any tips you think we're missing? Share them with us in the comments below!

Rachael Parker

Rachael has been a geek all her life. Beginning with deep dives in Narnia, the Shire, Tortall, Damar, and loads of others. As she grew, she added other realms to her geekdom, games of all kinds, movies, comic books, etc. In her free time, Rachael is involved with several local theatre groups, hangs out with her friends and family, and plays and snuggles with her nieces and nephews.


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