The Head of DUNGEONS & DRAGONS Wants to Find a Way to Help Brand New Players More

Nathan Stewart is the Senior Director of Dungeons & Dragons, and while the game has made great strides in becoming easier for people to get into the popular tabletop RPG, and the game’s popularity has risen immensely over the past few years, he still sees a big problem with it. It’s still too hard for new players to get in. During D&D Live 2019: The Descent, Stewart talked with CB and mentioned that while talking with Target, the company revealed some key information to the D&D team that other sources weren’t able to.

The Essentials Kit was born out of conversations with Target asking about what players would buy next after the Starter Kit. Target told us that they didn’t think the [D&D] books will merchandise well here because they were training people to go to the gaming section, but they wanted more D&D stuff.

So it feels like Target is cultivating newer board gamers that we don’t think are being serviced by hobby stores or even Amazon based on what we’re seeing from the trends.

When it comes to these new players, Stewart is trying to figure out how to help them. After all, if you’re a new player and are lucky enough to find people to play with, your first few sessions are extremely bogged down with questions about rules and simply how the game is played.

If I can be completely candid, we don’t have a solution for this. My conversation that I have with Mike [Mearls, one of D&D’s lead designers,] all the time, is we do not have a good single player product. There probably never has been in D&D, other than the video games. I would love for a product that a new player could play.

So what does that person have to do between now and then? They have to create a character, and they either create one on D&D Beyond or sit down for an hour with a DM and do it together. But when Friday comes around and the new player sits at the table, their DM will describe a scenario with all these crazy things happening. And do you know what that player says? ‘What can I do?’

There’s got to be some fun, light story to have new players go through this stuff, to the point when they show up at the table, and the DM says ‘What do you want to do?’ the player has three things off the top of their head that they can answer with.

I think some kind of new product could be helpful, but I also think that DMs and veterans can also step up a bit more before the session and help the new players understand a bit more of how to play and answer questions so that when asked, “What do you do?” the player isn’t asking, “What do you mean?”

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