When I started displaying interest in D&D, towards the end the 4th edition, there were 3 different hardcover books just for the players, 2 DM guides, 3 monster manuals, and then a bunch of supplements and adventures, totalling to around 40 books all up, each one hardcover, each one going for around $40 AU. That’s a lot of money. I actually started playing Dungeons and Dragons in 2014, with the launch of 5th Edition D&D. This was a modified, arguably significantly better version of the then current 4th Edition- EVERYTHING you needed to know to play the game was in 3 core rulebooks- A Player’s Handbook, A Dungeon Master’s Guide, and a Monster Manual featuring a list of all the monsters in the game. Unlike 4th edition, where players kinda needed all 3 books, and DMs needed at least 5 books, a 5th edition game could be run with only these three rulebooks, and nearly 3 years on, it’s still like that- for new players, you can get away without having read anything, though should you commit to playing more in the long run, I’d recommend at least getting a Player’s Handbook. Yes- There ARE more books, however these are all optional supplements- Pre-made adventures, supplements with addition (Yes optional) monsters and player options, and various accessories. Plus if you do want more content but can’t afford it, there’s a load of free stuff online. Now is a better time to get into Dungeons and Dragons then ever, and I cannot recommend it more.
When I tell people I play D&D, they all seem a bit concerned at first- The idea of me sitting in a dark room, rolling dice, fighting made up monsters, but realistically, I run games as roleplaying experiences first and foremost- which is the beauty of D&D. If you want to play a Diablo style “Break in, kill stuff, take treasure” kind of game, you absolutely can. You can also play games surrounded in lore, exploring the vast history of worlds that the DM has come up with. Though as I mentioned before, when I run a game, it’s roleplay heavy. I’d be lying to say I’m not heavily inspired by the work of Matthew Mercer, DM on Geek and Sundry’s Critical Role. I spend hours constructing characters, tough social encounters, and yes, combat and other more skill based challenges do factor into my games, however the social aspects, the interactions between player characters and non player characters, and each other, really takes centre stage. And I can afford to do that because of the people I play with.
Once upon a time, D&D was seen as a nerd game, and very few people would have argued that point. Now however, that’s not the case. Thanks to shows such as Critical Role, Acquisitions Incorporated, even Community, people have begun to see that Dungeons and Dragons really is for everyone. A lot of people in my regular group ARE somewhat nerdy, and there’s nothing wrong with that- I’m rather nerdy, however, I’ve played with people who absolutely aren’t, and they have been some of the most fun games of D&D I’ve ever played. I’ve played with musicians, who bring their own instruments and sing songs as a Bard. I’ve played with actors who’ve spent hours writing complex character backstories, and spent the entire 4 or 5 hours playing in character, and I’ve played with artists who spent the whole time making little sketches, before sending me finished artworks a day or two later, based on the adventures they got up to. D&D is an experience for everyone, and whilst the nerdier types are more naturally drawn to it, others enjoy it just as much once they sit down and give it a go.
Okay? So at this point, maybe I’ve convinced you. Maybe you want to start playing, but now comes the hardest step- Finding a group to play with. If you’re lucky, you might already know people who play, who may be willing to let you join in their campaign sometime. Probably not, given adding new people to a long running campaign can be quite troublesome, plus if you don’t actually like it, you feel obliged to stay. Some DMs run occasional one shots, I know I do, as do many of my DM friends, to give new people an opportunity to join in, and decide if they like the game without committing to anything. Alternatively, a lot of game shops, and some comic book shops run occasional game nights- These are great opportunities to join in, and meet people who may one day form the foundation of your regular D&D group. There are also a number of online services that let you play the game over a long distance (You could even join one of the many Facebook groups dedicated to D&D and see if there’s anyone in your area who might want to play) If you really can’t find anyone, you can download the free rules form the Wizards of the Coast website, or buy the Starter Set and run your own game, then invite a few friends or family members to spend a night playing. I’ll go into more detail regarding Dungeon Mastering in a later post, but for now, just go for it, so long as everyone has fun, you aren’t doing anything wrong.
Dungeons and Dragons is not just a lot of fun, but it’s a great way to meet and hang out with like minded people, it’s a creative experience, and can provide a much needed escape from the real world, plus with the current edition of the game, you can start playing for virtually no cost. For anyone who hasn’t played D&D before, I highly recommend giving it a shot