Maybe you’ve only heard of Dungeons & Dragons in passing. Maybe a friend or two are badgering you to give it a try. Maybe you’ve only experienced the stigma of a game that is supposedly only for the nerdiest of nerds. Maybe you tried it in your youth years ago but have lost touch.
Whatever your standpoint today, if you are a gamer in any capacity (video or board game), enjoy storytelling or creativity, or you just like hanging out with geeky people, you should give D&D a try. If you need convincing, or want convincing, here’s the first reasons to try, and usually the main factor in why people choose not to:
Reason #1: You Can Invest as Much, or a Little, as You Like
They are a few misconceptions/exaggerations around TTRPGs (Table Top Role Playing Games). One major false impression is that it requires a full-time investment from everyone involved. I’ve seen people retreat from an invite to play D&D because they believe it is all consuming, requiring players to devote time to creating characters and coming up with endless story ideas. Additionally, many people think dressing up and ‘doing voices’ is a mandatory practice, and when you sit down at the table, you are focused and in-character for the duration.
You can play D&D that way, treating the game as a full time hobby and turning up for each game in full regalia. Or you can just turn up, play the game, and forget about it until next time.
The only person that needs to do any amount of homework is the person hosting the game – the Dungeon Master (or Games Master). Their role is to set the scene, narrate what is going on around you in the adventure. All you have to do, at the most basic level, is describe what your character is doing or thinking: I try to take the gem from the pedestal? I smack the orc with my hammer. What do I know about this dangerous looking creature?
That’s the basis of the game. One friend describes an adventure as it unfolds, you describe what your character would do in that situation. If your actions require any skill or involve a level of challenge, you roll a dice to determine the success of your actions. Your character will have certain abilities and bonuses that make you better at some tasks and worse in others. Success or failure, the result weaves in the narrative.
There is nothing else you need to know as a first-time player.
Here’s the thing. You don’t even have to make the character. There are tonnes of pre-filled sheets out there, or your Dungeon Master may have characters for you to choose from. You also don’t have to buy dice. There are virtual dice-rolling apps out there, and if your DM is like me they’ve probably collected far too many sets of dice.
Furthermore, you don’t need to have any understanding of the rules, what dice to roll or what the stats on your character sheet mean. The DM is the holder of the rules. All you need to figure out is what awesome things you want your character to do, and the DM will direct you. As time goes on, picking up the basic rules helps things move smoothly, but there’s no rush at all.
Or You Can Be More Invested.
Buy the dice, and print of a blank character sheet. Sit down with the person trying to get you involved, and they’ll talk your through how to make a hardened warrior or a wicked spellcaster. Again, you don’t need to know what each bit of the sheet means or what the numbers are right of the bat; your DM will sort you out, and understanding will follow.
After a while, you can invest more time or be content with simply turning up and taking part, like any other board game. I love writing story ideas and enjoy building worlds and monster encounters, and I DM for many players that talk about D&D even when we’re not playing. I would say at least half of the people I DM for, my wife included, spend very little time thinking about the game once the session is over. They turn up, have loads of fun, but never do they feel that they have to turn up with pages of written backstory or a handmade costume.
There are the official guides that teach you the rules and give you all the character options. Begin with the Players Handbook. If you want to lead a group as the DM and lack experience, I heartedly recommend the Starter Set. It has a really straightforward campaign, mini version of the rules and a set of dice.
If you want to be more involved, bring a notebook to scribble down names, places and clues you gleam from the Dungeon Masters words. That’s it really: character sheet, dice and notebook.
The dressing up and character voice thing can be something you choose to do. I personally do voices when I am Dungeon Master, but never expect it from my players. Some DMs might ask you to say things ‘in character’, but very few groups will expect you to turn up ready to stretch your acting muscles.
If you start this game thinking it has to consume all your free time, take my words as reassurance that that is far from the case. This is a wonderfully entertaining game that can appear in all variety of styles depending on the players, the DM and what everyone at the table wants to get out of the game, but how immersed you get is up to you.
To date, I’ve played with and DMed for a multitude of people. To date, I’ve had just two friends speak to me and confess that the game isn’t for them. It doesn’t upset me that they don’t want to play D&D, what I appreciate is that they gave the game a try.
That’s it for reason #1. There’s many more reasons to play this fabulous game. More on that soon. For now, if commitment and scale of the game was putting you’re off, know now that this is a game you can play, enjoy and forget or slowly and steadily wrap your creativity around.
If you agree or disagree with what I’ve said, please comment below.
Thank You For Reading
By Rufus Scott