Getting Started with D&D - What to Buy!

To an outsider, Dungeons & Dragons seems impossibly complex. The barrier for entry appears an insurmountable wall, armored with rules and barricaded with the game’s long history. But today, that all changes. Today, we’re here to tell you about five products that will help you get started on your D&D adventure!


1) Starter Set


The cheapest and easiest way to start playing D&D is to pick up the Starter Set. In fact, this was actually what my partner and I bought when we first started playing D&D.


Contained within this box are:

  • Five ready-to-play characters
  • Six RPG dice
  • One mini-campaign (The Lost Mines of Phandelver)
  • One rulebook
  • One blank character sheet


Something I get asked quite often by customers in the Gameology retail store is, “What’s the difference between the Starter Set and the Essentials Kit?” (see below). Well, for one, the Starter Set is cheaper. But for me, the most important difference is that the Starter Set comes with five premade characters, with their character sheets already filled out for you. One of the most fun and exciting things about D&D is getting to make your own character and be as creative as you want. However, when you are new to the game, this level of possibility can be very intimidating (it was to me!). With the premade characters, it ensures you get into experiencing a real D&D session as quickly as possible. The included campaign is also fairly straightforward—awesome for new DMs.



2) Essentials Kit


The newer, fresher version of the Starter Set is the Essentials Kit. In this kit, you get:


  • A 64-page rulebook (including 1-on-1 rules for playing D&D with just a DM and a single player)
  • One campaign (Dragon of Icespire Peak)
  • 81 multipurpose cards in a tuckbox (used for magic items, sidekicks, conditions, etc)
  • 6 blank character sheets
  • Set of RPG dice
  • One double-sided map
  • One Dungeon Master’s screen


Though slightly more expensive than the Starter Kit, this Essentials Kit is great value for money and definitely the preferable option if you would prefer creating your own character over starting with a premade one. The included rulebook contains rules and tips for character creation, unlike the Starter Set rulebook. If you are looking to be the DM in your group, this is packed with useful stuff for you in particular, like the DM screen to keep your notes secret and have a handy reminder of the rules, and the cards to help with the more fiddly aspects of running a campaign. Great value for money and a solid choice for your first step into the world of D&D.



3) Player’s Handbook


Ask anyone: the Player’s Handbook is the essential rulebook for D&D. Even if you are looking to be a DM, you need this book. Contained within are all the core rules for D&D, everything from creating and levelling up characters to exploration and combat to spells and equipment. This is the foundation of knowledge that every D&D player has. Though it’s quite large and intimidating, you don’t need to read the entire thing. Treat it as an ultimate reference book and you’ll be smoothly sailing through your adventures.



4) Dungeon Master’s Guide


If you’re going to be the DM for your D&D group, this is the book you need. Overall, it is excellent for DMs looking to create their own campaign, but even if you are running a pre-written campaign, it provides a deep dive into the rules and flow of D&D, from the perspective of a DM. Where players can bumble and fumble their way through the first few games, as a DM, you need to keep track of a lot of rules and most importantly, keep the session flowing. The Dungeon Master’s Guide, with its nitty-gritty ideas and notes, will give you the tools you need to be a great DM.



5) Core Rulebook Gift Set


But...if you’re looking to go all out and dive straight into the deep end of D&D, your best bet is the Core Rulebook Gift Set. Packaged in a thick and luxurious textured slipcase, this gift set contains what I call the trifecta of D&D books: the Player’s Handbook, the Monster Manual, and the Dungeon Master’s Guide. Even though the image on the covers is the same as on the versions of these books that are sold individually, these gift set versions actually have a really cool matte-metallic finish, making them feel ultra-luxe. This gift set also comes with a DM screen to round out the collection. With this kit, you’ll be set for any campaign you embark on.





If you’re going to play D&D, you’ll need some RPG dice. If you bought the Starter Set or the Essentials Kit, you’ll already have a communal set, but eventually, you’ll need/want your own. The Oakie Doakie sets come in a variety of colours and finishes and contain all the RPG dice you’ll need to start playing D&D. However, if you really want to customise your dice set, come along to our retail store! There, we sell single RPG dice so you can mix and match to create a custom set!


And there we have it! Our top recommendations for products to get you started with D&D! We wish you all the best on your adventures! Got any other recommendations for new D&D players? Let us know in the comments below!

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