Aside from a set of DND Dice, there are relatively few things that you need to get started playing Dungeons and Dragons - or any other tabletop game, for that matter. Books, a character sheet, and notes as to what you can and cannot do, and you’re all ready to go. These “DND Essentials” are enough to get anyone started playing.
Before any adventurer starts off on their first quest, they must be prepared with a few basic essentials. For a warrior, this means a sword and armor, and perhaps a few medical necessities. For a mage, this means spell materials and totems. For others, this can be daggers, lutes, or scrying stones. Whatever it is that any adventurer needs more than anything else, they know better than to start off their adventures without it. But more than anything, they need an idea of where they are going and why, so that they don’t get too lost along the way.
What You Need to Get Started
When you sit down for your first session, there are a few things that you’ll need: your players, character sheets, books, dice, and an adventure. Ideally, you’ll have a couple of pencils and some scrap paper, too, so that you can take notes. If you want to get a little fancier than that, then you can get special cards and reference materials, so that you don’t have to worry about getting anything wrong in your notes.
The first and main thing that you need are reference books. These are volumes of rules, worldbuilding, and character creation materials that outline the ‘how’ of Dungeons and Dragons.
D&D Campaign Settings
Settings books are books that outline locations and worlds for you to set your campaign in. These often include supplemental rules, races, and classes, as well as an adventure or two set in each world.
Settings books in D&D 5e include:
Rules books are the basic reference material for Dungeons and Dragons. These don’t necessarily include a world to play in, but they have lots of material that you can use to customize your particular campaign, and use in any setting, even one of your own.
Rules books in D&D 5e include:
- Player’s Handbook
- Dungeon Master’s Guide
- Monster Manual
- Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes
- Xanathar’s Guide to Everything
D&D Modules and Adventures
Modules and Adventure books are pre-written games and adventures for you to play or DM. The usually include maps, art, and monsters, and can be played without having to come up with much of anything yourself. Sometimes they have a unique setting, and other times they borrow from already-released locations.
Module books in D&D 5e include:
- Curse of Strahd
- Rise of Tiamat
- Storm King’s Thunder
- Descent into Avernus
- Waterdeep Dragonheist
- Icewind Dale
Play cards aren’t as necessary as books or dice to playing a session of Dungeons and Dragons. They only include information that can be found in the books themselves, after all, but they save a lot of time, effort, and confusion for players. Anyone who has spent an hour writing out their entire spellbook for their wizard, or had to make a chart for someone to understand exactly what their different attack and damage modifiers were for their 3 bow-and-arrow attacks with different types of arrows, can understand the value of quick reference material for their games.
Class and Supplemental Spell Cards
Spell decks are decks of cards that outline the spell in a particular class’ spell list. They include what the spells do, as well as the casting time, level, materials needed, range, and duration of each.
Monsters and NPC Cards
Monster and NPC cards are more useful for players than DMs. They outline stat blocks and characterization for commonly found monsters and characters to be included in your session and world.
Martial Power Cards
Martial Powers decks are useful for Fighter, Barbarians, Rogues, and any other classes that don’t have spells to keep track of, but include a variety of combat options. These help you to quickly reference all of your helpful abilities and tricks while in the middle of a fast-paced combat, without having to fill up half of your character sheet with the information.
It can be difficult to know where or what to start with, especially if you’re new to Dungeons and Dragons, or tabletop gaming in general.
Luckily, Dungeons and Dragons often offer kits, filled with everything that you need to run a successful adventure, no matter your level of knowledge or experience.
A kit might include:
An brief adventure/module
A GM screen
A map for use with the adventure
Character sheets and/or pre-generated characters
That’s everything that you need to get started!