Thursday, September 15, 2011

How Do I get into Dungeons and Dragons?

I've noticed from my comments there are some people who are interested in the game that have never played before. One question you might have is: "How do I get started playing?" Dungeons and dragons can be a daunting game to get started with, to a newcomer it seems like there are tons of rules and its hard to understand. For the ultra new player I would recommend the following product.

more after the bump

The starter set includes everything you need to get started: dice, basic rules, and an adventure with step by step instructions. Its also fairly reasonable at $23 the dice set alone will run in at about $5 at a hobby shop.

So you played the starter set and loved the game what next?

The three main books of dungeons and dragons for any edition are:

1. The Players Handbook
Players handbook contains the basic rules for combat, creating characters, what statistics mean and general information players need to know. About 60% of the book is the various basic classes with the other 40% being other things.

2. The Dungeon Masters Guide
Dungeon Masters Guide includes tips on running the game and various specific rules not everyone needs to know. If your on a tight budget and need to skip a book this is the least useful of the three, however it is still important just not as important as the other two.

3. The Monster Manual
Monster Manual is basically what it says, statistics for the monsters in the game. This book is very important for the new game master.

With these three books and some dice you literally could get by without every buying another book. These are the core of the game. Now that said there are lots of other things for you to buy if your interested. For a new group I would defiantly recommend a subscription to D&D insider. Insider provides you with a host of tools including dungeon magazine which has ready to play adventures. Dragon Magazine which has ideas you can use in your game. It also includes the Character Builder which is an amazing tool for the complicated process of creating characters.

Other value buys:

  • Adventurer's Vault 1 & 2 - Includes tons of magic items to make your characters cool
  • Monster Manual 2 & 3 - more monsters whats not to love
  • The various campaign settings - these are full worlds fleshed out for use, for beginners forgotten realms is often the best buy.
  • Dungeon Delve 1 & 2 - Each include about 30 quick encounters that are ready made to play
  • Various modules - Modules is what D&D calls premade adventures that you can buy like this

So how much bread is this going to cost me?

well if your careful and watch ebay you can get most of these books for $15-$20 if you want to go with amazon they run about $25 each.

Oh my god I went to ebay and I'm so confused there are tons of different books and they all look different!
Dungeons and dragons is in its fourth edition. Many of the titles of the books have been used in each edition. Here is a visual guide to the editions of the books:

1st edition
Old and looks like it, the art isn't as polished and the inside is all black and white these books are all circa 1978-1985. believe it or not there are still people who play this edition and love it. I was born in 1980 so I missed the boat on this edition.

2nd edition
There are actually two or three printings of 2nd edition each with different art style. The main thing to look for in a 2nd edition book is it will have the word Advanced before dungeons and dragons. This was a legal thing to do with a lawsuit at TSR between the various starters of the company.  If it says advanced its 2nd edition these books are circa 1989-1997.

This is the late printing of 2nd edition (1995ish), they moved some stuff around and printed it on glossy paper in color but the rules are essentially the same as the other book. This is the edition I started with and parts of me still love it. Its clunky and not as polished as later editions but you love what you started with. I played this edition all the way through college and skipped the 3rd edition craze all together.

3rd edition
Third edition books usually look similar to this one they always have the brown logo with the sword in the middle. 3rd had two separate printings known as 3rd and 3.5. Of all the editions this one is the hardest to distinguish between the two because the cover art didn't change much between these printings. The core mechanics of the game stayed mostly the same but in 3.5 they got rid of some exploitable rules and tightened a few concepts. These books are circa 1998-2007

4th edition
Fourth edition is the current edition of dungeons and dragons, all the books have this similar layout with the red D&D logo and flashy production.

This game seems cool, what about those minis I saw in your pictures the other day?

Minis used to be sold by wizards of the coast, you could get a box of 8 or so random figures and one large figure for about $15. Sadly those days are gone. Wizards discontinued its line of minis about a year ago and they have become very hard to get.
Even commons sell for nearly $1 each with some rare figures going for upwards of $100. Minis are not required to play the game, I played for years with graph paper and a pencil. Other things we used were those little green army men you get at the toy store, pennies, and glass beads. Really anything that can represent a player can be used its not that important that they look like your character. There are other options for fantasy miniatures the mage knight click game has some nice figures a few years ago, I don't know how much they run these days but that's an option. If you played hero clicks and don't mind using superman for your guy that's also an option.

Whats with the dice in this game?

Dungeons and dragons uses polyhedral dice in the values of 4,6,8,12, and 20. you can find these fairly easy online for relativity cheap especially if you like to buy in bulk. If you just want a single set you can usually find them for around $5.

If you have any further questions leave them in the comments section below and I'll try to address them in a future post. Thanks for reading!


  1. Cool! I often see people playing d&d in our local game bar (we go there to play magic and computer games).
    They always seem to be having such a great time! :P

  2. It's a good guide, and I think I do have a game, or part of it, stowed away somewhere, but DnD is a thing a group of friends do and I haz one friend.

  3. i dont know ive tried dungeon and dragons but couldnt really get into it. maybe ill try again some time.

  4. People always used to make fun of it, but it sounded like fun to me. I might try to get a group of neighborhood kids to teach me.

  5. looks like a lot of reading ill be doing at barns and noble

  6. should check it out, although its not that populair around here ):

  7. Thanks for the guide man. I always wanted to play this and now I have the tips to start. I'll have to get into this now, I honestly will.

  8. Love this blog post! A really interesting read! Followed!

  9. I already play and used to on the regular, so this is nothing new to me. still, great post.

  10. i didnt think anybody played... we used to as teens in the 80s but....really? still?

  11. Have a friend of two who play every so often. Might have to study up to surprise them one day. :)

    Love the blog! +1 follower:

  12. Wow this made me wax nostalgia! I use to play this a lot with my friends! (then they all moved on an got wives) I haven't played in years! I miss it!

  13. That first edition guide brings back memories!!!