So, you and a few pals have decided to try this crazy game out. Ok, but how? Most of you have prob seen the “RPG” section at your local comic store. Or maybe hit up Amazon, Reddit and a zillion other interwebage and thought “Man, look at all that!”. Player’s Handbook, DM’s Guide, hundreds of adventure modules from 5 editions and don’t get me started on all the sweet materials on Drive Thru RPG. That can be, and no question is, pretty intimidating. Where do you start? Do I really have to spend all this dough just to see if I like the game? What are the minis for?
Easy, tiger. D&D is a rich, deep game but it all boils down to some simple basics. The best way to get your start is also fairly cheap. D&D, for it’s newest edition released a Starter Kit and it’s all you need. Plus, it’s only 20 bucks. Get everyone on your “tryout buds” list to kick in few beans and you’re all in business.
In the Starter Kit you get a ton of great materials. First off, is 5 pregen characters. They’re pretty basic, and cover the core styles of play. Melee Fighter, Archer, Rogue (a Halfling one, of course), Wizard and Cleric. Also, on the back of each sheet are directions on how to level up these characters up to 5th level. No need to delve into the number crunch of building a character from scratch, a process that is actually very simple but it’s something that takes a bit of practice. Save that for when you have the game down. A booklet of the basic rules is included as well, and it’s great at slimming the game down into an easy to absorb and quick reference guide to check out during play. Everyone can simply read a section, and help the others as you go. Whoever is the DM should have a good grasp on a few details but it’s a team effort here at the beginning. The Kit also includes a set of dice, however if possible each player and the DM should each have at least their own D20 (the heart of the game and your bestie/worstie depending on how you’re rolling that day), those can be bought at any gaming store or the interweb cheaply.
So you’ve got your characters, dice and a basic grasp of the rules. So how do we play? Where do our characters go? Where are they? Have no fear, the Kit comes with a really fun, simple adventure called The Lost Mine of Phandelver. It has a bit of everything, goes from level 1 to 5 and is written with the rookie DM in mind. Forget the minis and tactical maps for now, Lost Mine is set up that they aren’t needed. You’ll have to occasionally sketch some crude drawings to help keep track of distance, position of players/enemies and to generally help everyone “see” the same things in-game.
I also suggest that every person in the group rotate DM duties (yes, I said duty and YES it made me giggle) as you play. It requires the most effort but you’ll find it is just as fun as playing. Also, if you and your friends haven’t played before you don’t know who would be good at it. The Lost Mine story goes thru levels 1-5, so if you have a group of 5, 4 people can play and one can DM, rotating DM duties (giggle break) each level. As long as the current DM doesn’t read too far ahead there will be no spoilers. Explaining how/why characters come in and out of the story will make a good role playing exercise. If you’re lucky enough to know someone familiar with the game that would help, but don’t use them as a crutch. Getting the hang of the game mechanics is only part of the game, with role playing being the biggest and most important aspect. My tip is to use this Starter Kit to learn the basics, then cut your role playing teeth when you’ve gotten the hang of things.
Armed with this kit, a few pals and an open mind, you can get started exploring the world you will all be creating. Tips on custom character creation and ways to flesh out your character’s personality, along with role playing tips will be the subject of a future article. Next time, we’ll be going over why you want to be a Dungeon Master!
Let me know in the comments what other topics you guys are curious about. We’re just getting started, so the focus right now is to get you guys at a table and roll some dang dice!! Feel free to read up on the Starter Kit, the Lost Mine story (stick to spoiler free!) and get your friends in a room (beers optional) for some adventure and foolishness. Remember, it’s not D&D unless until someone crit fails trying to seduce the barmaid (or nobleman’s ladyboy, or the Countess’ manservant, whatever floats your craw)!!!