Category Archives: Games

Let me be your roll model

I love working with Stands to make and share fun and clever nerdy stuff, like my Owlbear Conservation Society T-shirt.

It turns out that Stands likes me, too, so we have teamed up again to bring you another fun, clever nerdy shirt that is inspired by my … unique … ability to roll d20s.

I hope you get one for yourself, and ten more for your closest friends. We’re giving proceeds to Pasadena Humane Society, because I love animals and want to support the organization that gave me Seamus and Marlowe, so other dogs and cats can find their forever homes.

What’s the best entry point for Dungeons and Dragons?

A Redditor messaged me, “You’re a board game guy so i figured I’d take a shot in the dark and ask for your advice. Basically wanted to start Dungeons and Dragons and wanted your recommendation on the cheapest way to get everything I needed to actually start playing for real[assuming my boyfriend and our friends want to make it a regular thing]. I’ve seen people debating on what handbooks and packs i need to start, and i want to be sure I’m not wasting my money on useless books and all that”

It’s been way too long since I played or talked about D&D, so I’m sharing my response here, in case it’s helpful to other people.

Hey! I’m so glad you asked me, and I’m happy to help. This is one of those questions that wakes up the gatekeepers and can lead to people giving up and walking away from D&D before they ever start. I’ll do my best to give you a simple answer, and then some more information that you can come back to later, if you’re interested.

Speaking as a voice of experience, who has played the game since 1983, and who is intimately familiar with every edition and potential entry point: the very best way to get started is to pick up the 5th edition starter set. It has everything you need to learn and play the game, and if it turns out that D&D isn’t for you, you’ve only spent around $20. It’s widely available in bookstores, toy stores, and tabletop game shops. It’s written specifically for people who are new to the game, so it walks you through the basics and gives you information that you need when you need it, instead of overloading you with a bunch of facts all at once. For your twenty bucks, you’ll get enough to play for several sessions, and by the time you’re finished with the adventure it contains, you’ll know if you want to keep playing, or if D&D just isn’t for you.

You can stop now, and come back later if you’re still interested in the game, and want some more resources.

Okay, so if you want to get a deeper look at the rules that are in the Core Rule Books, Wizards of the Coast has a lot of free resources online to help you get your feet wet, including the basic rules.

Matt Mercer and Satine Phoenix have made tons of super helpful videos for Geek and Sundry about running games, including little tricks and things that can make adventures more interesting and fun for the players. They’re on the G&S YouTube channel.

If you’ve decided that you love D&D and you can’t wait to dive in a little deeper than the starter set, you will need to get the Core Rule Books. This is your first substantial investment, because there are three of them at minimum, and they all cost around $30 each. These books teach you how to design and create your own characters and adventures. They also give you the information you need to play through the published campaigns that Wizards has released, like Tomb of Annihilation, or Hoard of the Dragon Queen.

If you love that, and you want to start building your own adventures and campaigns in that world, Wizards has these incredible and detailed guides to their primary fantasy world, The Forgotten Realms (think if it like Middle Earth for D&D), including the Sword Coast Adventures Guide. These books don’t give you a specific adventure to run, but they tell you everything you need to know about the history, geography, fantasy races, cities and towns, and secret lore of that world.

I could go on and on, but I already have, so I’ll stop here. Feel free to shoot me a message if you have additional questions at any point in the future!

So this got me thinking: what’s going on in D&D right now? Is there a published adventure you love? A campaign setting you think veteran players should check out? Tell us, if you’re interested in sharing that sort of thing.