Dungeons & Dragons: Starting Tips For New Players

These tips are aimed to help any new player settle into the world of D&D.

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D&D has been around for a long time, and even after all these years, new players are still discovering it and joining in on the classic roleplaying game. However, for new players, it can be a very intimidating and daunting prospect to try and play D&D, with its lengthy rules, focus on roleplay, and multiple systems and mechanics. There is a lot to the game, and it’s not always easy for new players to get started.

But do not feat, because every D&D player has been a novice at some point, and there is no shame in being confused or unsure of what to do or where to start. So, to help you along your first step of becoming a D&D player, we’ve put together this guide with some tips and advice for new players to the tabletop game, including how to get invested in your party, how to handle situations, advice for making the game run smoothly, and to generally have a good time.

Related: D&D Reveals First Look At Upcoming Dungeon Master’s Guide

Find The Right People To Play With

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Playing D&D for the first time can be a daunting prospect, so having the right group of players can go a long way in making your time at the table an enjoyable one.

Having other new players can help avoid the feeling of being the odd one out or having imposter syndrome, and you can all support each other as you learn and play the game. It’s always good to have some veteran players too, who can help teach you rules and lead by example, and explain and showcase some of the finer points of D&D. Taking a bit of time to find a group of players that make you feel welcome, are willing to learn and teach, and are generally lovely people is always a good call.

Like most gaming communities, there are some bad apples in D&D. Some players will gatekeep or criticize your playstyle, moan if you aren’t getting rules quickly, or just generally have bad attitudes. To that, we offer some simple advice: stuff them. If you don’t feel comfortable, feel bullied, or have an issue with a player, you can always talk with your DM and express your discomfort, and if that doesn’t work, consider finding some new players you enjoy being around. D&D should be fun, welcoming, and encouraging, and we don’t have time for negative players, and neither should you.

Ask All The Questions

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Not sure how a certain spell works? Confused as to how you use certain abilities or features? Maybe you forgot specific phrases or terms? We have all been there.

Every D&D player started as a newbie at some point and probably had the same thoughts and questions as you. The best way to learn and figure out the game is to ask questions. Whether it’s your DM or another player, no matter how silly it may seem, most players will be happy to help and answer any questions you have, stopping the game for a moment to make sure everyone is on the same page.

It’s completely normal and expected that new players won’t know everything about the game immediately, and there is no shame in asking for help or explanations when you feel a bit lost, so ask away.

Take Your Time Making Your Character, and Get Help If You Need It

Chromatic Dragonborn Paladin in Dungeons & Dragons
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Making your character is a big undertaking since you will have multiple elements and nuances to learn about each race, class, and background, and you will also be with this character for a long time, hopefully.

You will be investing a lot of time in your character, so don’t feel you need to rush through character creation and end up with something you aren’t 100% happy with. Every character has quirks, flaws, and personalities, and crafting that should be a fun and fulfilling experience, so taking some time to get it right is always worthwhile. Figure out what kind of backstory you want, look at the different racial bonuses, and see what each class can do and their unique features. It’s all about crafting a character you want to play that you think will be an asset to the team and a memorable and fun addition to the party.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help when creating your character too. It can be a long and daunting process for new players, so asking a veteran or your DM for some guidance is normal. They may even suggest using a pre-made character if you would feel more comfortable with that option.

Come Prepared, And That Includes Your Attitude

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A DM puts a lot of effort into running a campaign, setting them up, hosting, and organizing, so the least you can do is come to the game prepared and eager to play.

When we say prepared, we first mean more obvious stuff, like having your character sheet, dice, pencil, and paper (if you aren’t using digital). We also mean keeping your play area neat, organizing your stuff, and respecting your fellow players.

Related: Best race and class combinations in Dungeons & Dragons (5th Edition)

On top of all that, you should also turn up with a good attitude and mindset. If a DM has taken the time to host and prepare a session for you to enjoy, you should come to the session ready and willing. Participate in the game with enthusiasm, ask questions, compliment cool moments, have fun with the other players, and generally show your DM you appreciate their effort and hospitality. Bringing some snacks is also always a good call.

Be Prepared To Take Notes

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Simply put, A LOT can happen in D&D, even in one session.

Note-taking is very common in D&D and for good reason. Think about it: you could encounter important characters, reach key plot points, or even have significant events happen to your character. After a week or two, it may be hard to remember everything that happened in previous sessions. Taking notes on these moments and other things that happened, like getting items or a bit of information for a quest, is always helpful for you, the party, and sometimes the DM.

On top of that, it can be helpful to write down specific rules, mechanics, or features of your class that may be tricky to remember or understand. If you need to use a skill a certain way, making a note you can refer to and understand can be a major help when you need a refresher.

Learn The Rules, But Don’t Be Afraid To Bend Them A Bit

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While it’s encouraged that you ask questions and lean on experienced players, learning the rules of D&D yourself is always a good idea.

The Players Handbook is every D&D player’s best friend and has all the information on most of the game’s races, classes, backgrounds, spells, and all the fundamentals of the game. Taking the time to read through it and understand the game is incredibly valuable and can help you play better and enjoy the game more. You can even find a lot of the rules online.

However, every veteran player will tell you that D&D’s rules should not be treated as gospel and more like a guideline. It can vary from party to party, but generally speaking, it’s not uncommon for a DM to bend or ignore a rule or two if it’s to the players’ benefit and creates an exciting scenario. They may give an advantage on certain rolls if it makes sense in the situation or to the character, or perhaps they discuss certain situations the rules don’t cover and improvise their own ruling. It’s all part of the game and makes it immersive and engaging, so don’t worry if things aren’t quite as they say in the rulebook.

The same applies to you; maybe you can bend a rule or two and create an exciting moment in your game.

Don’t Be Afraid To Speak Up, But Be Nice About It

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Much like we said with asking questions, it’s important for everyone playing to have their say and discuss potential plans and ideas, and that goes for new players too.

Every campaign of D&D will have moments and situations that require you to talk with other players and your DM, whether to plan your next move or get into some roleplay. Even if you are a new player, you should always feel able to speak up and give your opinion and ideas. Maybe you have a spell that will come in handy that other players don’t, or you notice a detail you think is important. Whatever it may be, you have something to offer, so don’t be afraid to communicate with your fellow players, and maybe you’ll end up being the hero of the session.

With that said, don’t be the player who doesn’t know when to pipe down or hogs the attention. D&D is a group effort; you should work with your party, not against them. So be brave, talk up, just don’t do it at the expense of your fellow players.

Play For The Party, Not The Individual

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D&D is a group game, so you should remember that the game isn’t just about your character but all the players at the table, and they are just as important as you.

Naturally, everyone wants a moment in the spotlight to pull off a cool moment or encounter, but you also should be cheering on and encouraging your fellow player. Give them the spotlight too, and support them in their cool moments, whether helping them in a roleplay scenario or just encouraging them to try an idea. It’s always a good move to be a proactive team member.

That also includes paying attention and being respectful of each other. You may not always agree on everything, but you should always be willing to listen to players’ thoughts and ideas on different situations you may find yourself in the game. Work together, play together, and win together.

Related: Best character sheets for Dungeons & Dragons (5th Edition)

Expect The Unexpected and Roll With It

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Something you will learn very quickly with D&D is that it is rare for something to go exactly as you or your party planned. But that’s part of the fun.

You may spend ages planning how to approach a situation, only for a nat one dice roll to throw the whole plan out the window. Perhaps the opposite happens, and an out-of-the-box idea is a major stroke of genius that saves your party. Whatever it may be, you should always be ready to expect left turns and plans to change on the fly and embrace those moments.

Every roll of the die is a chance for something wonderfully crazy to happen, and one of the best parts of D&D is learning to improvise, whether in roleplay or combat. No matter the roll or the game’s direction, be open to them, and you’ll find yourself enjoying the twists and turns of the story and adventure.

Enjoy The Adventure And Have Fun

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This may seem obvious, but it needs to be said. D&D is a great game that can bring people together, and it’s essential that you are having fun about everything else in the midst of epic battles and roleplaying intense standoffs.

Don’t be afraid to be silly and do some unexpected things in the game. Enjoy your company and find the humor and joy in overcoming obstacles and winning the encounter. Laugh and cry at moments that move you. Enjoy the story as it unfolds. All of these are important and make D&D awesome, and if you and your friends are having a good time, the rest of the game will come naturally.

Roll the dice, embark on your adventure, and have fun!