A Beginners Guide To D&D: Part One

Posted by Katie Sutton on

Two years ago myself and my partner in crime were running our own geeky blog - Geek Frequency. Since then due to time restraints and the development of this page we have shut the blog down. 

However, there was one particular series I was pretty proud of and had some great feedback on....This one, The beginners guide to D&D series. 
Since we stock a few D&D related products and more are on there way, I figured it would be nice to upload this old series as is onto this website for anyone that may be interested. I will post them over the next few days just as a guide for anyone that wants a bit of advice in launching their own campaign. 

I hope you enjoy:

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Welcome to the first chapter of what will eventually be a short series of articles running through the basics of D&D. I myself only started playing this year but its now a regular part of my life, seriously...nearly every conversation B and I have ends up being about D&D. We mostly centre our games around 5e, with a little bit of homebrew (my beastmaster's companion is a homebrew build) and custom rules to keep the game a bit more interesting. Adjusting the rules to suit your group is totally okay, just make sure to run any ideas or changes you want to make past your DM. Find yourself a group of like-minded people (you can even do this online and play via skype these days) decide who is going to be the DM and get started!

Note: I am just going to be covering basics for players, if you want info on DMing, see B's upcoming article on this topic.

What you will need:

  1. Dungeons and Dragons Players Handbook - There's no way around this one, you can't play the game without a handbook. Fortunately, you can find free downloadable copies online for those like myself who are financially impaired, however, I encourage you to eventually buy yourself an authorised copy to support the game and its creators. As an added bonus the books are beautiful to look at!
  2. Dice - Gamer jewellery!  This one is a bit of an obvious one, you are going to need at least one full set of dice (D4-D20) to play a dice based RPG ;) If you are anything like me and B. don't be surprised if this becomes a serious habit...you can never have too many dice, especially when they are so pretty!

    DICE
    *hyperventilates* need...more...

  3. A good DM - This one can be a little trickier but will make or break the game. If you have a DM that fudges rolls, is determined to have a playable character in your party, doesn't respect your parties wishes or just doesn't invoke an engaging roleplay experience, then try someone else. If you are concerned that you may hurt the DM's feelings by confronting them about their style of play, then suggest taking turns at being DM, perhaps you can switch around each game so everyone gets a chance at playing a character and controlling the story so you all end up with a more well rounded experience. Do what works for you, but If nobody is really enjoying themselves, then its time to make changes!
  4. Unnecessary but helpful items - There are a few things I use that are not required to play the game, but I find extremely helpful to my style of gameplay (*cough* OCD *cough*). I keep all my character sheets and info in a sturdy folder based on the setup they have on the 'Critical Role' Twitch show (this will be detailed with photos below) and my dice together in a box that doubles as a dice rolling station, helpful when like us, you don't have too much space to yourself on the table. I have also recently purchased a set of ranger spell cards for my Dwarf Ranger, they haven't arrived yet but they will complete my setup. Again, these aren't necessary for play, but they will make things run a bit smoother and keep all my spells organised.

Spellbook-Ranger1My Setup

I like to keep my folders overly organised, this works best for me so I'm not frantically looking for information in the middle of a boss fight. This slows the game down and can annoy the other players. Even if my setup isn't right for you, I definitely recommend organising yourself so you can find info and stats quickly.

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The folder and the box contain everything I need to play which keeps things nice and contained so we can play anywhere with no trouble. In the little pocket in the front is an erasable marker and then everything is seperated into the following sections:
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The first section is for character sheets which are kept in a heavy duty plastic sleeve so stats that regularly change throughout the game (such as HP) can be written with the erasable marker and erased as needed. I find this works better than a pencil and eraser as eventually the continuous erasing wears through the paper. Others in our group prefer to use the D&D app for this purpose as you can change things just as easily, I am just more of a fan of traditional pen and paper.

The second image also shows how the dice box separates into dice storage and a rolling platform. I made this out of an old box I bought in Bali when I was a kid and lined the inside with some self adhesive felt, easy!

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The next section is for spells and special weapon information. The spell cards are currently just printouts but will be replaced with the proper ones as soon as they arrive, and are kept in TCG plastic sleeves. Our DM gives us all the information for special weapons and items we find on notepad sheets so I store them all together in plastic sleeves, along with any extra information about my characters development that wont fit on the character sheets.

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The next section is for all the character building and levelling information relative to each characters race and class (pulled directly from the players handbook). This gives me quick access to any information about special attacks and skills, especially when levelling up.

I then repeat the sections for each character. I am currently actively playing 2 characters, a Drow Rogue and a Dwarf Ranger so I have a section for each (I store my rangers beastmaster companion info with the dwarfs character sheet).

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Lastly I have some refill and grid paper stored at the back for taking notes and copying down any maps or symbols that might come in handy.

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I hope this guide helps some of you beginners to the game and encourages you to get a group together to start playing. My next post in this series will be about building a character so if you are interested, stay tuned!

Tune In - Geek Out
K.