For those of you who haven’t heard of Dungeons & Dragons before or, DnD as some people call it, Dungeons & Dragons is an RPG or role-playing game. It usually involves a group of people lead by the Dungeon or Game Master who creates a fantasy world and leads the group through an adventure involving magic, epic fights, and often many jokes about sex.
For a long time, DnD was stereotyped as the ultimate mark of a basement-dwelling nerd, involving too much math and men who didn’t know what deodorant was. Lately, though, DnD has come out of the shadows and become mainstream. Celebrities like director Jon Favreau, actor Terry Crews, and even the late great Robin Williams have all publicly geeked out over the RPG and admitted their love for it. It has been part of popular tv shows like Stranger Things, and it’s pretty much its own podcast genre as friends try to recreate the popularity of shows like Critical Role and The Adventure Zone.
As DnD has gained more popularity, there are, of course, more players than ever before. So how do you actually play Dungeons & Dragons?
The first thing you ought to know is that it is a game. Don’t sweat it if you don’t understand every single rule; you’ll learn a lot as you go, so the most important thing is to have fun. All you really need to play is some paper and a group of friends. It will be helpful to have a phone or computer for reference, but it’s easy to make do without buying all the books, dice, mini character statues, etc. There can be a lot involved with playing Dungeons & Dragons, but I recommend keeping things simple in the beginning.
It’s really easy to be overwhelmed by all the content and rules involved in playing DnD. Questions will swirl through your mind like, what the heck is homebrew? What’s a d20? There are different editions of the game? It’s okay! There are tons of resources online to help you figure out how to start playing; you can find most of the basics for free without dropping tons of money on equipment or special boards. If you ever need help understanding how things work, there is an extensive network on social media to ask questions and just talk about their games. Checking Reddit and Facebook are great places to start if you have any questions and need help from seasoned players.
Once you’ve got a decent idea of how to play and make your character, it’s time to get down to business. Largely it is on the DM to guide the other players. They are the one who will introduce NPCs (or non-player characters) and assign quests which will give the game direction. The sky’s the limit for the kind of world they create, there is the standard medieval fantasy world, but there’s nothing saying you can’t play in modern day, the future, or underwater. The goal of Dungeons & Dragons is to create a collaborative story with your friends; you can do whatever you want and be whatever you want. Literally!
Check out this clip of Thomas Middleditch perfectly explaining Dungeons & Dragons…