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Posted on: March 22, 2021

A Beginner's Guide to Dungeons and Dragons

set of polyhedral dice on windowsill

Trying to come up with a fun family activity at home for spring break or something you can do with friends with just paper, pencil, and a computer? We have the perfect game for you that also builds problem-solving, critical thinking, and even math skills! No, not 20 Questions! Something fun and imaginative -- it's time for Dungeons and Dragons.

In case you're unfamiliar with it, Dungeon and Dragons (D&D) is a role-playing game set in a sword and sorcery setting. The game has been around since the 1970s, but the rules are constantly being revised. Currently, it's on its 5th edition, commonly referred to, 5e. D&D is now more accessible than ever, and you can play with your family at home, or players can meet online through an online social platform, such as Zoom, Discord, or Microsoft Teams.

Typically, a Dungeon and Dragons group consists of two or more players, with one person acting as the "Dungeon Master" of the game. Their job is to lead the game session and act as the referee, storyteller, map maker, banker, and party host. The other players take on characters in the story. 

What do you need to get started?

Dice and the D&D rules help decide what actions players can perform and whether they are successful. From rules on how many items you can carry to what you need to do to climb that looming mountain, these rulesets (and the Dungeon Master's interpretation of them) will set the base of your characters their actions.

D&D Basic Rules
The Dungeons and Dragons creators have released a set of free rules for people to jump in and get started with the basics. This is a bare-bones version of their player's handbook that will help you get started.

Player's HandbookDungeons and Dragon's Player's HandbookIf you'd rather have a physical book, don't worry! We have the latest 5e Players Handbook available for checkout! The book can be a bit daunting when you first look at it, but it contains everything you need to get a basic understanding of the game as well as tips for creating various characters.

Dungeon Master's Guide
One of the core rulebooks for any Dungeon and Dragons game is the Dungeon Master's Guide. The Dungeon Master is the person in charge of running the game. Every piece of treasure earned, every character the players meet, and every goblin slain -- they're all there because of the Dungeon Master. That's a lot of information to keep track of, so this guide will give the Dungeon Master the tools and tables to craft any adventure. This is definitely a handy book to have nearby!

Stories & Campaigns

The Dungeon Master can either create their own story from scratch or use a ready-made adventure. A campaign is a series of adventures, games, or sessions. Here are a few pre-made campaigns to get you started on your first adventure. 

Curse of StrahdCurse of Strahd Wizards of the Coast, Inc
The Curse of Strahd is a fantasy-horror campaign for D&D 5th edition characters. A campaign is a series of adventures, games, or sessions. The Curse of Strahd modernizes characters and scenes from the classic Ravenloft setting. It is a popular adventure for veteran and new players alike and one of my personal favorites!

Mythic Odysseys of Theros Wizards of the Coast, Inc
The adventures in Theros mirror Greek and Roman mythologies, allowing your heroes to perform feats that rival Hercules. "Choose a supernatural gift that sets you on the path of destiny, align yourself with one of Theros's fifteen gods, and carve a tale of odysseys and ordeals across the domains of mortals, gods, and the dead."

Dice and More

Dungeons and Dragons ask you to roll some strange dice, such as a twenty or four-sided die. There are many free online dice rollers if you do not wish to purchase your own set of dice, but if you'd like to have the experience of rolling the dice, you can typically find specialty dice sets for tabletop games at your local comic book store. You can also find many online retailers by searching "polyhedral dice" that come in a wide array of materials -- from your standard plastic to ones even made of wood or gemstone! 

If you need a little something extra for your game, the Dungeon Master's Guild hosts and sells official and fan-created content. Many of the items here have a cost, but they also have many free adventures to play through.

Happy adventuring!

P.S. Stay tuned for our next D&D Article, where we'll discuss even more campaigns and places to get inspiration for those looking to create a new adventure!


Michael S.
Library Technology Specialist

Dice photo by Stephen Hardy from Pexels

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