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Dungeons and Dragons For Beginners: What You Will Need

by: Lynda Mc Donald ; edited by: Michael Hartman ; updated: 4/17/2012 • Leave a comment

Starting your very first Dungeons and Dragons game can be very daunting at first. The trickiest things about starting a game is getting enough people (2-6) and, if you are playing the 3.5 version, getting all of the necessary dungeons and dragons books.

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    What Books Will You Need?

    dungeons-and-dragons books  

    There are three Dungeons and Dragons books you will need in order to play a game of dungeons and dragons:

    • The Dungeon Master's Guide
    • The Player's Handbook
    • The Monster Manual

    Make sure that the books you get are all the same version. The 3.5 version is by far the most popular, unfortunately the books are out of print at the moment so they are harder to find and more expensive than other versions. Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 may be considered the best version by many players but at the moment it is also the most expensive, so you may have to borrow books from someone or play a different version at first.

    There is a huge list of Dungeons and Dragons books, but the above three are the most necessary, often referred to as the 'Core Rulebooks'. Trying to use other books alongside these in your very first game will probably make it very confusing as they are really aimed at advanced players.

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    The Dungeon Master's Guide


    The Dungeon Master (DM) will have the most work to do out of all those involved in the game. The DM literally runs the game and so must know the basic rules for it very well. It is also very helpful if some of the players know the rules too, as it allows for a smoother game, which means a more enjoyable game. The Dungeon Master's guide is essentially the D&D rulebook with a little extra thrown in here and there.

    The DM will set up a quest for the players to play by creating a storyline, choosing the monsters for the storyline and rolling the loot for the quest. Loot can be found in the Dungeon Master's Guide as well. Loot must be rolled so that is a random selection, the DM must also decide on how powerful any magical items are so that they reflect the player's levels e.g. it would be unfair to give a very low level group a loot of extremely powerful items, as it would make any future quests too easy (and difficult for the DM to draw up).

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    The Player's Handbook

    The Player's Handbook is there to help players create their characters, give them information on levelling, armour, animal companions, feats, skills and spells. It is an essential item for any group because, as you level, everyone will need to decide on what feats to take and research what they get from levelling with their class.

    As you become more experienced you will find that there are many dungeons and dragons books that contain advanced classes, making the game even more interesting.

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    The Monster Manual

    The Monster Manual is essentially a list of monsters for the DM to choose from to use in an adventure. The stats and various info for the monsters can be found here also. Knowing the stats for a monster is very important when the party is in battle as the DM has to know how much HP they have and what damage they can do to the party.

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    Pencils, Paper and a Grid

    Everyone should have some pencils and paper – you will need them! The DM will need a grid for the map. Often graph paper will do; the map doesn't have to be fancy – everyone will be visualizing the scene anyway. It is important that the map is kept to scale with the character, otherwise theings become messy.

    If you get really stuck trying to figure out a map try a map generator.

    Character's can be represented by miniatures or as simple letters on the grid. Your first game doesn't have to be perfect. Enemies should be represented likewise – using letters or pieces of paper is cheaper than buying lots of enemy miniatures.

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    Character Sheets

    dungeons and dragons 3.5 character sheet  

    Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 Character Sheets come in various forms and can be downloaded from the Wizards of the Coast website, along with various other places around the internet. Character sheets are the most important thing for each player to have and keep safe. No one can mentally keep track of the changes that happen to a character over time so keeping a character sheet neat and safe is of most importance. Character sheets contain your character's stats, alignment, name, class, race, level armour, weapons, feats, backpack contents and spells, sometimes a separate character sheet can be kept for an animal companion.

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    dungeons and dragons dice  

    Everyone, including the DM needs their own Dungeons and Dragons dice set. They are not expensive to buy and are the only item that players have to buy. Having your own dice set is easier than sharing and keeps the game going at a good pace. The most important dice to have is the 20-sided dice (d20) as it is the most frequently used and it often occurs that everyone has to role a d20 at the same time.

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    Starting the Game

    Once you get your supplies together and read through the Dungeons and Dragons books you should be able to begin your first quest of D&D together as a group.