Dungeons and Dragons Essentials
Dungeons and Dragons is a game that a lot of people love and that is really popular right now. I’ve done a lot of articles on it in the past, though not as many recently because, well, after covering the classes, backgrounds, alignments, campaign building, world building and more, while there are a lot of topics left to cover there aren’t a lot of big topics left to cover. I decided that we should start at the very beginning, and let’s look at what you need to have even to start a campaign.
The Dungeon Master
The Dungeon Master has the most that they need, and even that isn’t all that much. As the Dungeon Master there are two books that you need, plus a few other things. The two books are Dungeons and Dragons Player’s Handbook and Dungeons and Dragons Monster Manual. There are a lot more books, but those are the two books that you need.
The Player’s Handbook is going to have all the options for your players as to how they can build their characters, or at least what they need to know for starting out in a very first game. There are additional books with more options, but those are just options, and you don’t need all of them to start, or really ever. The Monster Manual is going to give you a ton of things for your players to fight against and to build a campaign around. It’s really a great way to figure out what you are going to do in your campaign by just flipping through the book.
The last thing that only the Dungeon Master needs to provide, in my opinion, is character sheets. Now, not filled out ones, but ones for filling out for session 0. This doesn’t meant that they don’t need more, but it’s stuff that everyone will need. The character sheets are important because I’m not going to recommend that players have the Player’s Handbook, for me that is not an essential thing. So as the Dungeon Master, that person will have a copy of the character sheet they can make photocopies of, or you can find it easily online and print them.
What Does Everyone Need
I thought that I was going to split this between the players and the dungeon master, but really, the dungeon master just has more that they need to have before starting a game. So what do you recommend that everyone has?
Firstly, everyone should have their own set of dice. Personally, I probably have enough dice sets for 15 people comfortably, but that’s just me and a lot of other players who have been playing longer. When you start out, a single set of dice (should be 7 dice) is all that you need. It should have a D4, D6, D8, D10, D12, D20, and percentile die in it (D4 = four sided die, D6 = six sided, etc). While you might need to roll some of the dice multiple times for things, you don’t truly need more than one set.
Next I think everyone should have a pencil, which you need for making your character, but also a notebook. The notebook, or paper, is for taking notes. It’ll be handy for character creation, but also for during the campaign remembering everything that is going on. For the players, they should be jotting down what they find interesting, what seems to be important plot points, etc. For the dungeon master, you’d be using it for keeping track of NPC’s, plot points you’re creating, and general recaps of what the players have done.
And really that’s about it that everyone needs to get going on a game of Dungeons and Dragons.
What I skipped
So, I do think it’ll be useful to talk about some of the things that I skipped as well and why I skipped them.
Why not the Player’s Handbook for the players or everyone?
I don’t think that the players really need the players handbook. It is nice to have at least an extra copy around for character creation and leveling up, but it isn’t needed. So if someone wants to spend the money on it they can, but you really just need one copy. Also, for new players, they often get stuck in the rule book looking something up during the game and not paying attention. So for a lot of people it detracts from the game instead of enhances it having their own copy.
And the Dungeon Master’s Guide for the Dungeon Master, why not that?
While the Dungeon Master’s Guide contains a lot of useful information, it can be overwhelming. What magical items are out there is interesting, but is a lot. How to create an NPC or a bad guy also interesting, but also can be done without it. I think personally it’d have been too much for me at the start. The information is really good, but it could lead to delays in starting playing because of trying to get your campaign “right”.
Finally, these are the physical things that are essential for playing Dungeons and Dragons. Things like being willing to try it, having a good attitude, having fun, and everyone else having fun, those are important as well. And I will talk about those coming up because they are important, in fact more important. Without what is above, you can play something close to Dungeons and Dragons, but your experience won’t be as full as if you started with all of those. Thankfully, you can make it a pretty cheap hobby with cheap dice and those few books.
What do you consider to be essential for starting playing Dungeons and Dragons?