How to Play Dungeons & Dragons 5E: A Beginner’s Guide

Dungeons & Dragons 5E is the latest edition of the world’s most renowned role-playing game. Players create characters who embark on quests led by the Dungeon Master (DM). The DM acts as non-player characters (NPC) and monsters and narrates the events in the magical world.

This guide is the first part of a “How To” series on Dungeons and Dragons 5E for Beginners. My first experience of D&D took place this summer when I was invited to help create a campaign. Soon I found that there are a lot of details to absorb in the world of D&D, which sparked the idea of a three-part series to help newbies (like myself) get their footing. Including this post, the Dungeons and Dragons 5E for Beginners will look into:

  • How to Play Dungeons & Dragons 5E (here)
  • How to Build a D&D Character
  • How to Run your First Campaign (Interview)

Let’s get started!

What is Dungeons & Dragons 5E?

Dungeons and Dragons is the best tabletop roleplaying game where a group of participants manoeuvre their way through a fictional world using improv and dice rolls. The collaborated story is run by the Dungeon Master (DM) who describes and plays the world and its non-player characters. The DM is also the judge and jury as they decide the game’s rules and determine whether the characters are following them or not.

Since the original version was released in 1974, Dungeons and Dragons have expanded to a wide range of genres and settings for players to explore. D&D 5E is the current edition which consists of various campaigns such as Out of the Abyss (psychedelic Underdark city), Ghosts of Saltmarsh (sea and pirates), and the Curse of Strahd (blood-thirsting and vampire huntin’).

D&D has been referenced dozens of times in pop culture such as comic books, TV shows, films, and music. The game has notably been featured in Stranger Things, Community, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and E.T the Extra-Terrestrial. A highly-anticipated film adaptation is set to be released in 2023 with Chris Pine, Michelle Rodriguez, Hugh Grant, and RenΓ©-Jean Page.

Many celebrities have proudly shared their enthusiasm for playing D&D like Vin Diesel, Joe Manganiello, and Terry Crews. Who wouldn’t want these guys in their “nerd” party?

How to Play Dungeons & Dragons 5E

This section will touch on the guidelines for Dungeons and Dragons 5E and provide a list of everything that is needed to have a successful and fun campaign.

Basic Rules for D&D 5E

1. Players

Traditionally, D&D parties consist of four to six players, plus the Dungeon Master. This number is enough to help bring the fantasy world to life and create roleplaying chaos and entertainment.

2. Dungeon Master (DM)

The DM is a combination of a storyteller, actor, and enforcer of the rules. Their main responsibility is to create the adventure, which can be written from scratch (also known as a homebrew) or a pre-made campaign can be used. Campaigns can be a one-off i.e. played in a single session or an ongoing story which spans across several sessions.

3. Interaction

Everyone uses dice rolls to determine the consequences of their actions. For example, combat is performed as DM vs player, where the DM controls the monsters and the player controls their character. Dice rolls determine whether their attacks and spells make contact and the impact of their damage.

4. Characters

Characters must be created or a pre-determined one must be embodied ahead of the first session. First, a race must be chosen, followed by the class which will establish how much of an adventurer the character is, as well as their magical abilities i.e. spell-casting. There is a vast range of races and classes to pick from, including human, dwarf, and elf, and barbarian, cleric, druid, and more.

After, players must roll the dice to manifest their character’s stats, such as strength and wisdom. This, as well as skills and abilities, must be noted down in their character sheet.

My Dungeons & Dragons 5E Experience

As previously mentioned, I’ve been taking part in a new homebrew D&D campaign, which is being run by my boyfriend. I was both surprised and honoured at the invitation to be included and soon found that it is the perfect activity for those who enjoy creative writing and living out imaginary worlds with friends.

The storyline consists of time travel and centres around Jove, a powerful Elven Wizard who’s has uncovered the secrets of Time Travel. However, this doesn’t necessarily make his life any easier as he is sought out by devils and demons that want to capture and destroy him. Moreover, he has recently been conned by a shapeshifter who stole a crucial artefact that helps the possessor jump through time.

As such, Jove has summoned a number of characters from previous campaigns to help retrieve the artefact and more in exchange for fulfilling their deepest desires. He dubs this group the “Champions of Time” and along with his assistant Vershana (my character), a Kalashar Cleric, sends them out to retrieve the antique.

Since this is my first experience, I have decided to mainly help create the campaign and adventures for the participants. It is designed to last up to 3 to 6 sessions max. If you want a more detailed review, leave a comment below and I can add it to the end of this series.

There are some key items that you need to play D&D 5E such as:

  • A copy of Dungeons & Dragons: 5th Edition Basic Rules
  • Character (and spell) sheets
  • A set of polyhedral dice

While physical copies can be brought or downloaded for free from the D&D website, I would recommend using D&D Beyond as everything is available interactively online and it is more convenient for those playing remotely.

Top 3 Reasons to Play Dungeons & Dragons

Apart from the immense popularity of Dungeons and Dragons, what are the other reasons for going on a quest? Whether if you are curious about partaking or a seasoned veteran looking to convince others to join your group, here are a few reasons to get involved:

1. Escapism

During D&D 5E, literally anything is possible as it is all based on imagination.

Leave the stress of your work and home behind by living out your heroic fantasies.

2. Strategic Thinking

Your character will face obstacles which will require some out-of-the-box thinking. While fighting against a fire-breathing dragon is highly unlikely in the real world, trying to come up with a way out sparks problem-solving skills for your everyday life.

D&D also utilises simple math to calculate characters’ stats, attacks, and damage which is great for exercising your brain and keeping it sharp.

3. Keep in Touch with Friends and Make Memories

Playing D&D 5E is a group activity where you can work effectively as a team and encourages people to stay in contact, whether if it is in person or online. It is also a practical way to meet new people through friends. Spending hours together while having fun slaying villains can cement a friendship.

Thank you for reading my first instalment of this “How To” Dungeon and Dragons series! ❀

Please visit again and follow this series to learn more πŸ€— If this has piqued your interest or you have any further words of advice, feel free to leave a comment below! πŸ°πŸ‰

8 thoughts on “How to Play Dungeons & Dragons 5E: A Beginner’s Guide

    • Hi Kates! πŸ’— Thank you for reading this post and your kind comment – it means a lot πŸ€— I hope to spark even more interest in playing the game as D&D is a fun activity to share with friends! πŸ˜‚ I hope you are well and have a lovely day πŸ’•

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