You’ve heard about the game, the experience. You’re excited. You want to play D&D!
Get ready to embark on an epic adventure filled with monsters, magic, and treasure! With Dungeons and Dragons, the only limit is your imagination.
This classic tabletop role-playing game has captured the imaginations of millions of players around the world. But before you can dive into a session of D&D, there are a few things you’ll need to get started.
In this post, we’ll cover the five essential things you need to play D&D, including the Player’s Handbook, where to get the best D&D dice, and how to stoke that sense of adventure! Let’s get started.
Disclaimer: All opinions expressed here are my own. This post may contain affiliate links. At no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission.
1) You Need the Player’s Handbook to Play D&D
The Player’s Handbook, often abbreviated PHB, is the cornerstone of any D&D game. This essential reference book contains everything you need to create and play your character, from the rules and mechanics of the game to the spells and abilities available to your selected class.
It is designed to be referenced as you play. Don’t feel like you need to memorize the contents!
Understand the Basic Rules
The manual lays out the rules of the game in detail, including how to create a character, how to handle combat, and how to resolve conflicts. It’s important to read and understand these rules, as they form the foundation of the game.
Create Your Character
The official Dungeons & Dragons Player Handbook includes all the information you need to create a unique and interesting character, including different races and classes, ability scores, and skills.
Use the guidelines in the book to create a character that reflects your vision and playstyle. The book is there to help guide you with your decision-making process. If you’re really struggling, there are a set of premade characters available in the Dungeons & Dragons Starter Set linked below. I’m sure you could also find free premade characters with a quick Google search.
Backstory is Critical
If you need help coming up with a killer backstory, check out our article on creating the ultimate D&D character. It will help guide you through a few important choices when deciding how you want your character to function within the game’s story and your player group.
Stats and mechanics are very important, but equally important is how your character reacts or responds to adversity or different contextual challenges.
You’ll figure out more of this as you play and “get to know” your own character, but it really helps to have a good foundation. And if you’re wanting a bit more guidance on creating a great character, check out our article here; we want to help.
2) You Need D&D Dice to Play
No D&D game is complete without dice. Here are two reasons why dice are an essential part of the game:
D&D Dice Create Randomness and Chance
Dice add an element of randomness and chance to the game. This means that no two scenarios are ever the same. Rolling a natural 20 can mean the difference between victory and defeat, while rolling a critical failure can lead to bonkers consequences.
In my opinion, critical fails are usually the best moments in the game. This is when things get hilarious or really intense.
D&D Dice Help With Immersion
You’ve carefully selected your new set of polyhedrals. It’s time for action! Rolling your precious D&D dice is a fun and immersive way to experience the game. It adds a tactile element to gameplay and helps everyone feel more connected to the characters and the world around them. D&D just wouldn’t be the same without it.
Great Places to Get Dice Online
What better way to express your excitement for a fresh Dungeons & Dragons campaign than to pick up a set of dice? If you’re ready to splurge a bit, I recommend checking out Dark Elf Dice.
About a third of my substantial dice collection comes from Dark Elf Dice because they have an incredible variety available. I especially love their sharp-edged inclusion dice (made of resin) and their seasonal offerings.
Plus, if you use this link or the code MALICEINNANDTAVERN, you’ll get 10% off your order. Enjoy!
Another option is to go with Amazon. Can’t really go wrong there, especially if you want to buy in bulk.
No worries if you can’t afford to grab a new set now; Google has a perfectly functional rolling capability that will work for any D&D game.
4) You’ll Need Other Actual People to Play D&D
A D&D game is a social experience, and having other players is essential. While you could play with one player and a Dungeon Master, it is ideal to have at least three players involved to help with the myriad of encounters that can (and will) come up.
The more characters the party has available, the more skills, utility spells, and ideas everyone will have present at the table.
You’ll need to find a Dungeon Master, or become one yourself. I believe that being a DM is actually just as fun or even MORE fun than being a player in many cases. If you’re wanting to get started on this, check out our article on how to start a new D&D game.
While there has been chatter in trying to get artificial intelligence to run a game, a person does still need to do it at this point. Though, I will say that ChatGPT makes a fabulous DM assistant!
Don’t miss our article on the five top mistakes new DMs make. Check it out here!
Collaboration and Cooperation is Required to Play D&D
D&D is a collaborative game that requires teamwork and cooperation. Having other players in the game allows you to work together to solve puzzles, defeat enemies, and complete quests.
Playing D&D with others makes the game more enjoyable, as you can share your successes and failures with others. It is an unavoidable aspect of the game, so if the idea of socializing with others makes your skin crawl, you may just want to stick to single player experiences.
BUT coming from someone who is pretty shy and 100% an introvert, I posit that Dungeons & Dragons (or other tabletop games) are absolutely worth the social awkwardness in order to find a unique and fun gaming experience.
I encourage you to leave your shell. You may not always feel comfortable. You may have some social anxiety after some gaming sessions. Despite this, I have faith in you and I think it’s worth the effort. You can do it.
Diversity and Creativity
In addition to this, playing with others allows you to experience the game from different perspectives.
Each player brings their own unique creativity and ideas to the table, which can lead to unexpected and exciting outcomes. The best D&D stories I have always include the antics and creativity of others.
If you run into trouble with “playing nice,” I have a guide to help you with that, too.
5) You Need Your Character Sheet (and a pencil) to Play D&D
Your character sheet is your record of everything that makes your character unique, including their abilities, stats, and equipment.
I will shamelessly plug the D&D 5e character sheets that I make and sell on Etsy here, for your viewing pleasure!
My Etsy shop is linked on the images below. Each character sheet purchase includes both a printable version and a digital file that is fully form-fillable on programs like Adobe Acrobat.
If you’d like to check one out for free, I will send you a black and white printable version of “Wild Escapade” just for signing up for the newsletter here at Malice Inn & Tavern. You’ll receive updates when a new post goes live. That’s it! Spammers are fed to the false hydra here at the tavern. (It lurks in the basement from time to time….)
Of course, the free character sheets from Wizards of the Coast also work just fine. The most important part is that you enjoy creating your character and remember to bring your sheet with you when you play. A digital version can help with this, if you’re a bit forgetful sometimes.
Organization and Tracking
Your character sheet helps you keep track of your character’s stats and abilities, which is essential for gameplay. It also helps you stay organized and keep track of your progress throughout the game.
Where else are you going to track all the teeth, vials of blood, and weird skulls you’ve collected? (You do that too… right?)
Customization and Personalization
Your character sheet is a reflection of your character’s unique abilities and personality. Customizing and personalizing your character sheet can help you feel more connected to your character and the game, especially if you’re artistic at all. There are loads of options for customized character sheets! You can simply color the standard one from Wizards, or you can find a premade one with a style you love. (<- My Etsy link!)
A Sense of Adventure
A desire to adventure and explore the unknown is essential for a D&D game to be successful. Any good tabletop game will encourage imagination and creativity.
Embracing the unknown and taking risks can lead to unexpected and exciting outcomes. It allows you to create your own story and explore a world full of adventure and magic. The more curious and creative you are, the more likely you will enjoy the game presented to you by your Dungeon Master. Have fun with it!
It might help you to think about some of the stories you’ve read, or movies you’ve seen that you found most engaging. What aspects of those stories really drew you in? Perhaps that could be an angle for you to try to explore in your new game.
Chat about it with your Dungeon Master and see what could work for the table. Most DMs want to give their players really exciting, varied gaming sessions and will be excited to hear about your interests.
A lot of people play D&D or other tabletop role-playing games to get an opportunity to try something new or be someone they wouldn’t normally be. Just make sure that you’re making decisions that are considerate of the other people at the table. You don’t want to become someone people dread playing with because you never think about the ramifications of crappy decisions, or because you steamroller everyone else’s opinions.
What are your thoughts on the essentials for getting started in D&D? Is there something you must have in order to feel good at a gaming session? I’d love to read your comments below.
Thanks for reading this today. If you enjoyed your time here, please consider subscribing to our newsletter. You’ll get a free Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition compatible character sheet inspired by the Druid class to download and print out, and a notification in your inbox when we publish a new article. Spammers are fed to the false hydra!