If you've been living anywhere other than under a rock since the eighties - or in particular, the past few years - chances are you're no stranger to the concept of table-top roleplaying games. But the world of D&D is so vast, and upon first look, the rules may appear to be a complicated maelstrom of lore, stats, and insider info. So where are you even supposed to start?
Fear not, reader. At one point, I was just like you. Following the success of shows like Stranger Things in 2016, the pop culture world saw a resurgence in popularity for RPGs, and perhaps none so drastically as the Dungeons & Dragons community. People knew they dug the concept, but other than the made-up version of the game utilised by the show (which takes just a few liberties to keep things plot-friendly), getting into the game itself seemed daunting.
Of course, it's not just the Netflix screen that gave your average person a starting point for RPGs. I know I'm not alone in saying that I already had somewhat of a good idea of how it worked. As the eldest child of a self-identified geek, my dad already had a few things to say about his own experience with table top gaming in his teens. Back then, you might be hard-pressed to find a supportive community of gamers who weren't also moonlighting as locker fodder for bullies. Movies will certainly have us believe that interests centring around fantasy worlds were looked down upon. Times certainly are a' changin'. Now, instead of a slightly underground, niche community of 'geek' hobbies, we're pleased to see that gaming in any form is more popular than ever, with geek subculture on the rise and popular culture more, well, popular than ever before!
This also means that there is a whole host of information available at our fingertips. Rather than having to ask a guy who knows a guy who knows another guy with a personal collection of long, dusty print books, getting started with a new hobby is as simple as a two-second Google search.
So, without further ado, read on to discover 4 steps you can use to start your journey into the world of Dungeons & Dragons today!
1. Get Researching
You know in Buffy, how the characters always seemed to spend hours holed up in the library, pouring over ancient texts for a scrap of information on whatever monster of the week they were about to battle? This is totally nothing like that.
I know you're no stranger to search engines. There are a gazillion resources out there designed to help beginners with their D&D journey, and even more than a few apps designed to make it easier than ever. You can read up on game rules, character ideas, and even find online generators for things like stats and dice rolls. Technically, you can play an entire game without a single prop or book, and you can do it all remotely. The nightmare that was 2020 certainly reminds us that this can be a good thing.
Once you're done scouring the web for the how-to side of things, don't be a stranger to videos and podcasts. YouTube is a great starting point for informative videos that won't make you feel like you've been staring at a wall of text for approximately eternity, and podcasts are a great way to listen to your favourite influencers, comedians, and RPG gamers try their hands at their own campaigns. Some popular D&D groups right now include Critical Role and The Adventure Zone. These are especially great for beginners, as you can chuck on an episode while driving to work, cleaning the house, or falling asleep. Listening gives you entertainment while providing your mind with an opportunity to absorb how-to-play info, too. It's a win-win!
2. Stock Up
...Yeeeaaah, I know what I just said about playing remotely, but... come on. You know it'll be more fun this way!
You can find a tonne of helpful books, starter kits, miniature figures, dice sets, accessories and more on reputable sites like Ozzie Collectables. (Wink wink, nudge nudge.)
Sure, you don't need all this stuff to play, but trust me when I say you'll thank me later; when you're in the middle of battling that high-level villain and the rest of your party is down to 1HP each, you'll be glad you stocked up on all those spell guides, with a hand-painted miniature figure representing your brave fighter character standing tall (er, a few inches tall, at least) on the board in front of you.
And owning your own set of lucky dice to help you role a nat 20 every time? Priceless.
3. Create your Character
So, who are you playing as? A human? Elf? Dwarf? And class? Bard, cleric? There are tonnes of combinations and ideas out there for your character, so get drafting! Once you're done with the basics, figure out your stats, and start envisioning your character's physical appearance. Don't forget to name them, too!
Something I always recommend for first timers is drawing their character, too. Even if you're not the best artist, it can help to get your creative juices flowing and bring your OC to life on the page. Plus, once you're done adding all your personal touches, it'll feel that much more rewarding to take your new character on an adventure. (And give you that much more motivation to keep them alive!)
4. Get Connected
The thing about D&D is that it's not really something you can do alone. I know, I know. A game popular with nerds and introverts, and I'm telling you you've gotta go out and make friends?!
The thing is, geek subculture is more social than ever. It's a great way to connect with people who are just like you, finding your tribe without totally abandoning your comfort zone. You can get started by visiting community pages on sites such as Facebook or Instagram, or else asking around at your local universities and hobby shops for information on tournaments and club nights. Even just in Melbourne you're sure to find a plethora of groups hosting game nights and events where you can meet up and connect with other players, dungeon masters, and experts. Once you find a group of people you're comfortable with, you can even make game night a regular thing, giving you plenty of time in between to stock up on strategies!
Not super social? I get it. Another idea, if you're just getting started, is to start your own D&D group. Know a few creative friends who'd be willing to learn the basics and kill a few hours together? Try volunteering the most creative or outgoing person as your DM, or switching it up with smaller campaigns and mini-adventures until you get a feel for what your group likes best. If you're all starting out together, don't worry so much about getting it perfect - like anything, RPG gaming is a learning experience!
Bonus Step 5!
Most importantly, don't forget to have fun! I know it can seem a little cliched, but with a game as complex as Dungeons & Dragons, sometimes you really can forget that it's just that: a game. Make sure to take some time to relax and find some real enjoyment in the creative, exciting fantasy world of Dungeons and Dragons!
What did you think of our list? Have you played much D&D, or are you just starting out? Leave us a comment below!