Dear Dungeon Master: Getting Started with DUNGEONS & DRAGONS

There are few things in life I take more seriously than Dungeons & Dragons. Sure, it’s a game. It’s played for fun. And for a little over a decade now I’ve been lucky enough to have run several sessions, a few completed campaigns, and even some one-shot games for curious friends. Taking the game seriously is not my way of saying I’m a ruthless taskmaster who demands everyone know every little sub-rule and detail of the books, but I do mean that I am committed to being the best damn Dungeon Master to have ever opened a Player’s Handbook.

I was late to the party with tabletop roleplaying games, playing my first game well into my 20’s. But, after a single session, I was absolutely addicted. I spend my days thinking up campaign hooks, epic world-shattering events, and especially lore and mythology that will draw my players into the story and leave them drooling for more. So, when I say that I love D&D, know that I truly, deeply love D&D.

Strangely, I’ve only ever played the game (or any TTRPG for that matter) with people who are not the type you’d expect to be interested. Sure, maybe I begged and begged them to try it out, but in the end every single one of them loved it. You might say I have a knack for introducing people to the wonderful world of Dungeons & Dragons, and I’d like to offer that particular knack to you, our readers.

Maybe you’ve been curious to try D&D, or maybe you’ve heard of D&D but don’t know much about it. Well, Dear Dungeon Master is a new series here at GeekTyrant where I will answer all of your questions about the game, and I’ll offer advice for Dungeon Masters, players, and even those of you who just want to know more. For our first editorial, I simply want to help you get started with Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition. Getting started can be cheap and very easy, so if you’re ready to join the legions of fans who adore this game as much as I do, I am about to teach you how.

First and foremost, you need the rules. There are a few ways to acquire this (and one way is free and legal!). If you want to start with just enough information to play the game, a great way to do this is with the Dungeons & Dragons Starter Set. This includes the bare basic rules, five pre-made characters, a set of polyhedral dice, and a basic character sheet. This bundle will set you and 3-5 friends up to give the game a whirl.

However, if you’ve already decided that you’re ready to go all-in, pick up the 5th Edition Player’s Handbook. This contains all the rules you need to run an entire campaign, but you’re still going to need dice, pencils, printed character sheets, a battlemat, and a slew of other things. But if you know you’re ready to commit to D&D, this book is a must-have. In fact, if you’re already in that frame of mind, double down and get the Monster Manual, too. It is full of creatures, monsters, guards, assassins, and more. The Player’s Handbook and the Monster Manual are the holy books of Dungeons & Dragons, and required reading for any aspiring Dungeon Masters.

Not surprising, all of these items are available on Amazon as well as your local game stores, and practically any bookstore (those are still a thing, right?) But maybe you don’t want to shell out cash to give D&D a try. Thankfully, Wizards of the Coast, publisher of Dungeons & Dragons, has released the 5th Edition Basic Rules for free on their website. You can also download blank Character Sheets and dozens of pre-made characters if your players just want to jump in and play. And if you’re looking to go the cheapest route possible, there are several iOS and Android apps for dice rolling, quick rule look-ups, and even digital character sheets.

Now some of you might be thinking, “Campaign? Polyhedral dice? Character sheets?” Don’t worry if you don’t know a d20 from an 8d6! The Dear Dungeon Master series aims to be the singular place to have all these questions answered and more. Do you still have questions about Dungeons & Dragons? Are you a new Dungeon Master? Are you part of a group with a problematic player? Struggling to put together your campaign? Just drop me an email at with “Dear Dungeon Master” in the title and I’ll gladly offer answers and advice in these articles going forward.

After 10+ years of running tabletop roleplaying games and even running a one-shot for one of D&D’s original creators, I’ve just about seen it all, experienced it all, and I am here to help you have the best game of Dungeons & Dragons of your life. Talk to you soon.

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