THE ENTHUSIAST! Adventuring into Dungeons & Dragons

"There's a bit of a learning curve, until you know your cantrips from your spell slots ... however, the current 5th edition of D&D is arranged with newcomers in mind."

With the release of Stranger Things, people have been feeling nostalgia for two things: neighbourhood BMX bike rides, and Dungeons & Dragons.

D&D is an ongoing narrative roleplaying game in which you and your pals go on a series of adventures. The whole thing is guided by the DM — the Dungeon Master, your party host, and the omniscient gamesmaster. The DM uses a story outline, dice, and rules to decide what happens, and the players play their roles and make decisions. The story plays out in the theatre of the mind (a.k.a. your imagination).

You Must Gather Your Party Before Venturing Forth

Forming a group is an important step if you want to play. Remember that you generally need 3-6 people to get a decent game going. “The best way to start is definitely with a group of friends, and ideally, with an experienced player to run the first campaign for you,” says local gaming enthusiast Patrick Warren. Ask around among your friends. Tabletop RPGs are more pervasive than you may realize, and a lot of people either are playing, have played in the past, or want to play and have never had the opportunity. On your Facebook friends list, you’ve probably got at least handful of people that have fond teen memories of playing D&D in someone’s basement or shed. So, be ballsy, adventurer!

World Building

The excellent thing about D&D is that you can make it to be whatever you want it to be. If you’re into telling stories, board games, improv, group activities like Breakout NL or Escape Quest, then you can get into D&D. “My D&D groups over the years have included people who are intrigued by the math inherent in the system, the stories, the orc slaying, the idea of exploring wild and ferocious places…” says Warren. Stories can revolve around a merry band of adventurers or morally grey brutality. It’s up to you. Once you have a pool of interested members, you need to schedule the game. Many groups find that a recurring weekly or biweekly game running 3-6 hours is generally a good balance of frequency and duration, but do whatever suits your group best. Try to pick a time when the whole group can usually be expected to be available, but remember that real life still exists outside of the game, so scheduling conflicts happen. Not taking it all too seriously helps.

Doing Your Homework

There’s a bit of a learning curve, until you know your cantrips from your spell slots. With rules of simulating fights, character interactions, and magical occurrences, unless you have at least one person with a head for rules, you might be in for a bit of a slog. However, the current 5th edition of D&D is arranged with newcomers in mind. The Player’s Handbook is essential, fun to read and relatively easy to interpret. For rookies, The Lost Mine of Phandelver text contains a pre-made adventure for new characters. DMs can use it to run the adventure without major prep time. If you’re not quite ready to start your own adventure, you can eavesdrop on some pros as they tell their own tale on podcasts like The Adventure Zone (maximumfun.org), or Dan Harmon’s HarmonQuest (part animated, part live action, on SeeSo.com). Before you know it, you’ll be rolling through the streets of Phandalin, ready to punch some skeletons in the face.

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