Come iniziare a giocare a D&D

How to start playing D&D


Films and TV series are giving more and more prominence to paper RPGs (Role-playing Games), so it is no surprise that players are increasing all over the world and there is ever greater interest in discovering and having fun with these fantastic products.

D&D aka Dungeon & Dragons is the most iconic and well-known medieval fantasy role-playing game around, based on the creativity and ideas of Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson who, way back in 1974, created the first OD&D (Original Dungeon & Dragons) version, a version which has become legend among enthusiasts, whose box set with the three basic manuals can even reach the value of 1000-2000 green American dollars, depending on the condition.
This edition has undergone changes, distortions and updates over the years, passing from version to version until reaching the fifth edition.
Most players today play the latter, known as D&D 5e but this article applies to most versions.

Small honorable mention to D&D 3.5, cause of the success of the role-playing game and its first explosion at the beginning of 2000. From 3.5 we see a balance of the rules and the standardized application of the d20 System (literally: 20-sided die system), furthermore, other successful games such as Pathfinder also derive from this version.

Imagine with a miniature of a fantasy knight

What you need to play D&D

Quoting Sheldon Cooper of Big Bang Theory: “D&D uses the most powerful graphics engine in the world, the human mind” .

With a quick search on the internet we discover that there are many manuals dedicated to D&D 5e. Most of which are settings, expansions and adventures that greatly enrich the game world.
Don't worry, you won't need to spend half your salary to play D&D. The manuals that players consider essential to start playing seriously are "only" three:

  1. Player's Handbook;
  2. Dungeon Master's Manual;
  3. Monster Manual;

As we will see later, they are not all mandatory to start playing D&D so you can reassure your wallet and your free time.

Player's Handbook

The Player's Handbook is the only truly mandatory manual.
Without this you simply don't have the basic information to start a session . You can't create characters, you don't even have the rules for combat, leveling up and the list of spells (more than 120) that any wizard or sorcerer needs to avoid being mauled by the first stray dog ​​that passes by.
In this manual we also find the various deities, the explanation of the D&D multiverse and some basic enemies to face.

Dungeon Master's Manual

image with the illustration of the dungeon master manual

To play D&D there must be at least two people , given that one of the participants will necessarily be the DM (Dungeon Master), i.e. the person who will write the story and direct it. Creating the game world, characters and preparing encounters and challenges for the players.
Practically the omnipotent "God" or "Director" of the game, the one who decides what has been and what will be.
The DM is entrusted with the most difficult task , which is why a specific manual has been created, the Dungeon Master's Manual , which contains many tips, objects, examples of settings and events that you can use for your sessions.
Personally, I would recommend this manual only when you want to go deeper , adding complexity and events.
In any case, it remains an excellent resource for the DM, so much so that many players consider it mandatory.
There is certainly essential information inside for structured campaigns but it is not necessary in order to try the game .

Monster Manual

Image featuring the Monster Manual illustration

The last manual which, together with the first two, constitutes the game's trio of core rulebooks is the Monster Manual .
During games it is normal for players to come across magical and colorful creatures. The Monster Manual contains a list of over 350 creatures to feed to players (but also the opposite).
Here you will find legendary creatures such as dragons, beholders and tarrasques but also the creatures necessary for a real fantasy evening such as orcs, goblins and demons.
Again, if you want to create a structured session, this is THE manual that allows us to create exciting challenges and tests.
However, it is not essential for a first look at the game.
In the Player's Handbook (p. 304) there are minor creatures, such as skeletons, imps, zombies and wolves, which can easily act as guinea pigs to understand whether you like the game or not.

What do I need to play D&D

image with various polyhedral dice

If you are a party (slang for group) at your first experience and you want to see if you like the game or not, you can start playing D&D by having :

If you know the game and want to have more exciting adventures , you can add the Monster Manual.
If you want to organize a campaign and create rich and complex sessions then you will need to have all three basic manuals.

Before closing this paragraph it is good to specify one thing:

There is no need for all players to have all manuals.

The only one who needs all three manuals is the DM . Other players need only have the Player's Handbook.
In fact they will face the creatures and events designed by the DM and will not need those manuals created to help him write the campaign.

Once you get started to play seriously the standard division of the manuals is:

    • Dungeon Masters :
      • Player :

      Wizard of The Coast has made an Introductory Set available to start playing, which contains:

      • 1 48-page adventure booklet with everything you need to get started.
      • 1 x 32 page rulebook for players levels 1-3.
      • 5 ready-to-use characters with related cards.
      • 6 polyhedral game dice.

      This product can help many players understand and understand the world of D&D.
      I didn't recommend it before because, in most cases, it turns out to be insufficient to truly understand the beauty and depth of this RPG , given that the information present within it is extremely basic and the ready campaign doesn't really make it clear what is behind the writing of a session.
      Despite this, it can be a valid alternative for your party due to its immediacy and low cost.

      The first D&D game

      Once we've established what you need, we can start creating our first D&D game.
      This RPG can become extremely complex , so I advise the DM to think of the most banal story he knows and propose it again .
      Nobody forbids us to use stories taken directly from films and TV series. There's no shame in copying, especially for our first game.
      Having said this we can proceed with the creation of the session.

      Campaign or One Shot?

      A campaign in D&D consists of a story that unfolds over a series of separate sessions . Campaigns can be more or less long (sometimes lasting years) and are the most common games in D&D.

      A One Shot consists of a single self-contained session of two/three hours . It is often used to test specific mechanics, fight a particularly powerful enemy in a single boss fight or for a short adventure.

      For a first game of D&D I recommend a short campaign consisting of two/three sessions of approximately two/three hours each .
      In this way the DM has the opportunity to test all the basic mechanics, without being overwhelmed by events or unexpected events.
      The mechanics to test to see if you like D&D are:

      • Interactions with NPCs (Non-Player Characters) created by the DM;
      • Fights (with sidearms and spells);
      • Short trip (perhaps between two nearby locations);
      • Level up;

      It is worth noting that the longer a campaign goes on, the more difficult it becomes to take into account everything that happens and, for inexperienced players, it could become frustrating.

      What story do I write?

      Image with a picture book with castle and dragons

      Be banal, be obvious.

      It's your first session and you don't have to win the Witch prize.
      Write a story that is clear in your mind and above all that is simple and basic. You don't have to be ashamed of writing simple stories.

      One thing must always be kept in mind:

      The DM decides what happens in the world but the players decide what to do.

      The more complicated the story, the more inscrutable the player's ways, and a three-session campaign very easily becomes a lifetime commitment.

      To write your first short game, you must try to collaborate , accommodating each other.
      Don't believe those DMs who say "Yes, I predicted everything" . It is almost never true and it is often a question of false intuitions.
      A good DM can be recognized by his ability to adapt and by his knowledge of the Player's Handbook . Don't think you can get into a player's head, especially if he is just starting out and isn't playing (i.e. interpreting) the character as he should.

      An example of a short campaign

      Image with books and magic wand

      Session zero

      • The characters that will make up the party are created , using the Player's Handbook. In this way the DM will be able to create sessions that are able to fully exploit the players' abilities, guaranteeing fun.
        For example, if we have a wizard, we can make him stumble across a magical tome that only he can decipher thanks to an Arcana roll, in which he is competent;
      • The DM gives a first introduction to the story , without going into detail.

      Session one

      • The PCs find themselves in the palace of a Duke who has sent for them to free a cave to the south from the monster that inhabits it . Upon their return a reward awaits them;
      • Before leaving, the PCs will need to refuel by going to the inn .
        There they meet an NPC who wants to sell them a map to a treasure hidden in the caves;
      • They set out on a four-day journey and only have provisions for two. They will have to establish the running order and the tasks that everyone will have to carry out;
      • Halfway through the journey they are attacked at night by a group of bandits who want to rob them;
      • Once the battle is won, they arrive at their destination and the session ends;

      Session two

      • They stand at the entrance to the caves and see claw marks in the stone. They can try to figure out what beast it is before entering;
      • Once inside they discover that these caves are actually a treacherous and dangerous labyrinth . They also notice various cobwebs that thicken as they proceed, hindering their movements;
      • If they are lost , they suffer a level of fatigue before meeting the Giant Spider (p. 309 of the Player's Handbook), i.e. the boss of the Dungeon;
      • They increase by one level ;
      • They return to the Duke's palace to receive their reward. End of short campaign.

      Bonus Session

      • If at the beginning of the campaign they took the map from the NPC in the tavern, when they enter the labyrinth they will be able to find a hidden door (following the directions on the map);
      • If they didn't get the map from the NPC in the tavern, they can find the door with a Perception and Investigation roll as they enter the labyrinth.
        In this case finding the door will therefore be more difficult and there is the possibility that they will not succeed;
      • The door will open based on how the group is made up . If it is a party with magical classes (Sorcerer, Wizard...) then an Arcana check will be needed, if there is a thief the door will open with burglar's tools, if it is a physical party (Warrior, Barbarian... ) with a Strength check and so on. Therefore highlighting the skills of the players.
        Inside the door there is a room with another test that can be solved with the skills of players who did not participate in the first test .
        Example: the group composed of Paladin, Warrior and Sorcerer has found the secret door described on the map.
        The Warrior realizes that he can push the door down with his shoulder, he tries and fails. The DM makes him understand that he needs a hand and then the Warrior and the Paladin push together against the door and manage to knock it down.

        Inside they find an altar with a small silver ring.
        The Sorcerer analyzes it and realizes that he must wear it and cast a spell of his choice. As soon as he does, a small chest full of gold coins magically appears on the altar ;
      • The map only led them up to half of the labyrinth, if they get lost in the second half they will still have a level of fatigue before reaching the boss;
      • Once they have beaten the boss, leveled up and exited the cave, they will find the tavern NPC who, together with some henchmen, is waiting for them to rob them of the treasure they found ;

      This is a good starting point. We have 2-3 fights, a journey where the PCs will have to find food and face an ambush, a level up and a mini riddle.


      This little introduction to the world of D&D is over! I hope I haven't been too long-winded and have provided you with useful information to start playing.
      The world of Wizard of The Coast is very varied and complex, this is just the tip of the iceberg of what for many people is in all respects a hobby and a time to meet up with friends.

      Remember that the sessions are much more fun if accompanied by a good beer, preferably themed! Go to our catalog and choose the Bundle you prefer .

      Thanks for reading, hope to see you again in the next article ;)

      - Blayth

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