Where to Start: A Dungeons and Dragons Beginners Guide

From basements and living rooms around the world, there’s no game that’s captivated the hearts and minds of fantasy fans quite like Dungeons and Dragons. To the uninformed, this turn based role-playing game can seem utterly mind-boggling. While a blog post could never do this justice, we attempt to give you a very brief insight into the game and how it works in our Dungeons and Dragons Beginners Guide!

What is Dungeons and Dragons?

Dungeons and Dragons, or DnD as its affectionately known, was originally developed by two friends in 1974. With previous games proving to be popular with their fans, Dave Arneson and Gary Gygax set about creating the monolithic game of Dungeons and Dragons (with a little help from Gygax’s daughter in choosing the know house-hold name of Dungeons and Dragons).

The game itself isn’t too difficult to comprehend. DnD is a role-playing fantasy game where players adopt a character persona and play through a storyline. The storyline changes and adapts based on the players’ decisions, with a roll of the dice deciding the outcome of each choice and its eventuality. The game itself can be set wherever the Dungeon Master (we’ll explain this later) decides and is usually based in traditional fantasy lores. Think heroic knights, sage wizards, foolish jesters and fearsome trolls!

Dungeons and Dragons Beginners Guide: What do I need to play?

Now this bit is important. Remember as teachers have always said, fail to prepare and prepare to fail. To make this easier for you, we’ve summarised all the ESSENTIAL things you’ll need for a perfect game of Dungeons and Dragons:

  • A Player’s Handbook
  • A set of dice: D4, D6, D8, D10, D12 and the big boy himself…D20!
  • Character information sheets
  • Either printed maps or a whiteboard to draw your own on (remember those pens!)
  • Pencils and note paper
  • Either a pre-decided adventure or one of your own (remember this is a big undertaking so not something for a DnD noob)
  • Snacks
  • Fancy Dress (optional but kind of essential)

The Dungeon Master

The cherry on top of the cake. The Gandalf to your Fellowship. The glue that holds the game together. The Dungeon Master is the big cheese when it comes to a game of DnD. While it’s easy to pick up pretty quickly, your Dungeon Master will need to know their sh*t when it comes to a good game of DnD. The Dungeon Master essentially guides the players through the game and keeps the story moving. Think of them as the necessary cut scenes to make your game make sense. They’ll have a wonderful way with words and ultimately read the game to you. The better your Dungeon Master, the more fun you’ll have. Think silly voices, crazy actions and detailed scene setting. CHILLS, LITERAL CHILLS!

The Characters

Within a classic DnD game there are several characters who regularly feature in gameplay. With a game of Dungeons and Dragons, it’s important you pick the best character for you, or alternatively if your Dungeon Master assigns you a character, you play them to the style their best suited to. Whilst there are no absolutes, the traditional characters tend to be your warriors and knights, your wizards and mages, along with other notable playable characters like sentient beasts or jovial bards.

No dungeons and dragons game is complete without a full roster of characters

Image sourced via Reddit.

The Story

Much like a Dungeon Mater, the story is one of the most important aspects of a game of DnD. As well as being interesting and gripping, it needs to have a degree of flexibility and scope to account for variations in the game and different paths that can occur through decisions in the game. Like we’ve said previously, for a novice in the game we’d advise starting out with a small story from a pre-set game. For example, The Lost Mine of Phandelver is a much more accessible starter story that doesn’t require the commitment that a whole DnD campaign would do (these can last for days so you have been warned!).

How do I win?

How long is a piece of string? (Double half of its length…smart arse) A game of DnD is entirely dependent on the story, the characters, the Dungeon Master and how much time you have. Anything can be the end-game in a game of DnD. Your game is as long or as short as you want it to be, and with this it means there’s no specific way of winning. What we will say is team work is essential if you are going to succeed. You’ll all need to work as a team if you’re going to play through the story successfully.

Fancy starting your own game of DnD? Give us a shout and we’ll join you too!

Still not your cup of tea? Check out some of our other great board games!

Banner Image sourced via Dungeons and Dragons.

Team Zavvi

Team Zavvi


A collection of thoughts, opinions and news from the staff at Zavvi.