Ah, welcome fellow D&D newbie! If you’re getting ready for your first campaign, especially if you know close to nothing about Dungeons & Dragons, then I hope I can help you feel a bit more prepared with some tips based on my own experience.
It was often talked about at the radio station where I work that we were going to create a group to play D&D. I was very excited about it. I had heard so many great things about D&D, and it seemed to be the perfect game for me considering how much I love fantasy and storytelling.
However, when we finally found a dungeon master and a few solid players, I started to get nervous. I knew absolutely nothing about D&D other than its name and that everyone gets a bunch of dice. When a group chat was made to figure out a time to play, I realized I did not want to go in knowing nothing.
I was determined to go into my first campaign with a solid idea of how the game worked.
I was also fortunate in that I was not the only newbie at the table. It’s comforting to know that though there are those who have played a few times, or some a few years, there are also those players who know just as little as you do. It adds a very carefree attitude to the game, because the experienced players have patience with us.
It’s also important to remember and accept that though you may prepare beforehand, there is no better teacher than playing the actual game. I went into my first game knowing that I would probably make a fool of myself, and I did at least once or twice, but at the end of the day, we had fun, and I got to really learn more about the game as a player.
With that said, here are my tips for you:
Ask Your Dungeon Master for Help
Your dungeon master, ideally, knows the game the best. That is why they are the dungeon master (DM). Also, as your DM, they should know (if they, for some reason, don’t already) that you are a new player, and as a result, they’ll hopefully be understanding of all your questions.
My DM was very patient with me, as well as with all the other new players in my campaign. Not only did he answer all of my questions, he helped me with the process of creating my very first character.
With him, I was able to get a good grasp on not only the basics of character creation, but also on how to navigate the D&D player’s handbook. Though the handbook can be pretty easy to follow, it can be intimidating for a new player. Having a chance to flip through those pages with my DM gave me insight on what I personally needed to look for and what I personally wanted to read up on.
If you need help with your character sheet or anything, you shouldn’t be afraid to ask your dungeon master for help. With their help, you’ll both be able to have a smooth transition into your first campaign.
Read the Player’s Handbook
Now you don’t need to read the handbook cover to cover if you don’t have the time. I know I didn’t. However, it doesn’t hurt to give the book a quick skim, and a thorough read in the sections that you should be well acquainted with.
My character is a wizard. So, I needed to read up on the cantrips and first level spells for my spellbook. I also needed to read up on how spells work in the game. There is no better expert in the field than the handbook itself.
Reading the handbook also helped me with understanding the race of my character. Gnomes and elves in D&D are not the same gnomes in World of Warcraft or the elves in Middle-earth. As a new player, it’s probably best to work within the confines of the D&D world.
Whenever I got confused about something, I asked my DM, but I was able to get all the information I needed, so the game could go smoothly.
Watch How-to-Play Videos
There are so many videos on Dungeons & Dragons for beginners online. There are some that give you the very basics, and then there are some that give you a very detailed look into how the game is played.
I personally enjoyed the series created by “Don’t Stop Thinking” on YouTube. It’s a series of short, digestable videos that explain the game. The series starts off with the basics and then goes into different elements of the game that will help you get started.
Not only that, the creator indicates after which episode you can actually start playing with a good hold on the game, since you don’t have to watch them all. The videos also have examples that help with understanding how certain dynamics of the game work.
Here’s the first video if you want to jump right into the series:
Watch an Actual Campaign
As I said earlier, the best teacher you can ask for is experience. However, since it’s your first campain, you don’t really have a chance to just play a little bit before your first session.
A good way to get “second-hand” exprience is by watching the game in action. Watching a campaign is a great way to see how the game works. You get to see how the players interact with each other and with the DM, how dice-rolling works, and examples of actions/decisions players can make.
You can also get some practice at listening to the exposition. A big part of D&D is listening to the DM and the details they tell you about your campaign. If you’re not used to it, you may find yourself missing details that can be important.
Campaigns can be watched on twitch or even on YouTube. These streamed campaigns will give you a glimpse of the extent D&D can get to. For example, the campaign I watched had high tech equipment with hand-made characters. However, the campaign I’m currently playing has no map nor small character pieces to move around. So, just keep in mind that the version you are watching may not match the version of the game you’ll be playing.
If you have no idea where to find a campaign to watch, here is the one I watched:
My last tip for you is to remember to have fun. At first glance, D&D seems like a very complex game, but once you get playing, you’ll find yourself sharing laughs and exchanging banter with a group of friends.
At the end of the day, it’s a game, so you should ultimately be having fun. I certainly did, and I am so looking forward to the next time I play.
Best of luck with your first campaign, hero! Your adventure awaits!