on table: starter kit

Hail and well met! Welcome to the first in a series of posts I’ll be creating to help players, new and old, hear my thoughts on the classic Tabletop Roleplaying Game (or TTRPG), Dungeons & Dragons. Through these posts, I’ll share tips and tricks to creating a gameplay experience that should (hopefully) feel welcoming, fun, and most importantly, like an adventure shared with friends.

So, where do we get started?

A few of the questions I get asked a lot by friends and folks I meet along the path of life are:

  • How long does it take to play?

  • How do I find a game I can join?

  • Do you have to be creative? Make funny voices? Come up with a million ideas?

These are the first few questions I’ll be addressing as we go further into that deep world of magic, mystery, and magnificent fun!

How Long Does It Take To Play?

The short answer? That depends. Oftentimes, you’ll hear players and DM’s refer to two main aspects of D&D, Sessions, and Campaigns.

  1. Sessions: This refers to the time spent, be it day or night, gathering together in person or online to play. These can last anywhere from 1 hour to 4 hours to longer, depending on what the group and DM decide ahead of time. But, for many, 2-3 hours is usually enough to start.

  2. Campaigns: This refers to the overarching story that is being told by players and the DM. Campaigns can be Modules (official and unofficial stories from Wizards of the Coast or others) or Homebrewed (typically created by the DM).

  3. For instance, my Campaign has been running for over two years now and we’ve had dozens of Sessions!

Now that’s answered, we can talk about the third and, in my opinion, the best opportunity for getting a feel for what D&D is like, One-Shots. And no, for the partygoers out there, that’s unfortunately not the start to a night in the club (though many tables don’t play “dry”, but that’s another post).

  1. One-Shots: Often played in a single session, one-shots can create a space for people to test character races, classes, spells, and all manner of mechanics for future sessions. But, they’re also a great place for people to step into the DM seat and test their skills at running a session!

In the grand scheme of things, D&D can start and end whenever the group feels it needs to do so. DM's often will have an ending in mind that, after many sessions, could change to something entirely different based on the players' actions. All in all, I'll tell people if they've got a free night in the week with nothing to do, why not sit down and "play pretend" with some friends?

How do I find a game I can join?

The biggest hurdle many face within the D&D community is that there are plenty of players, but not enough willing to act as the Dungeon Master. Solutions?

  1. Trading Places: Remember the One-Shots? Take turns within your group of interested friends running a couple and see if anyone sticks! Who knows, you may find you feel more comfortable at the head of the table. Just don’t let it go to your head! (Another post, another time!)

  2. Adventurer’s League: Ah, the Adventurer’s League. For a breakdown of what they’re about, check here! But, a brief description would say they’re folks who have dedicated loads of time to setting up nights where you can jump in and out of the campaigns they’re running.

  3. Join the Community: D&D has seen a booming growth within the last ten years thanks to things like Critical Role, Dimension 20, Community, The Adventure Zone, and more. Joining Discord or online communities associated with any of those or others is a great place to connect with people who may be looking for new players both online and in your local community.

Do you have to be creative? Make funny voices? Come up with a million ideas?

Short answer? Not at all! Dungeons & Dragons is about creating a shared story, so there’s no pressure coming into a game and not knowing how your character will react or respond to the world. The narrative is something built as a community, with times where the spotlight might be shone on your character for important moments.

The most important part of creating your character for the world is building trust and understanding with your DM. They’re there to be a guide, a mentor, and a narrator. Mutual trust is the best weapon on the table and off!

Phew! That’s a lot to take in, isn’t it? But, as I said at the start, this is only the first in many posts I play to drop onto your page. So, if you’re looking to hear the thoughts of a DM who’s always improving, improvising, and spending far too long creating characters that will never grace the table (DAMN YOU, DM CURSE!), then follow along!

In the next post, I’ll offer some tips I’ve found to help in Character Creation and links to resources both I and my wonderful wife share (Oh, did I not mention? We’re a house of DM’s here.)

See you along the path, friends!

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