Having been a new DnD player recently, I learned a lot in my first few weeks playing that I wanted to share with others who may be starting off. Here are my Top Ten Tips for being new in a Dungeons and Dragons campaign.
- Play with a patient group. Like anything new, you need good people to teach you how to play and be patient as you figure out what your character can and cannot do. Playing with a patient group with a few experienced players allows you to figure out and ask questions and settle into the role of your character.
- Record yourself playing. I was so embarrassed at the thought of recording myself playing for my boyfriend’s podcast because there was a constant background of “Which dice do I use?” “Can I do this or is it too soon?” “What is an action?” But it helped me better understand role playing by listening to the experienced players make decisions, talk about what they’re doing, and discuss tactics. It led me to improve my own playing.
- Take time outside of the session to read up on your class, race, abilities, etc. Players often pick a few abilities when they’re new and just stick to those to learn the basics. As a druid, I kept wild shaping as a bear, and on the side the Dungeon Master finally told me–“You don’t need to be a bear every single time.” As a hint, this meant that I couldn’t always use the same cantrips, spells, and wild shapes. As the tank, this also meant I had other things to learn to use to my party’s advantage. Taking time outside of the session let me figure out which animals I could wild shape into, what the other spells do, and how to prepare them in a way to optimize the tanking.
- Also take the time outside of the sessions to practice. You can one off an experienced player and the Dungeon Master if they’re willing to practice what you don’t know how to do or want to improve. After the first session I did a two on one with my roommate and the Dungeon Master for combat, and then for role playing. The DM played us against giant spiders, and an awakened tree. The spiders helped me learn to do some combat spells and wild shape better, and which dice to roll. The tree helped me get better at role playing, and to use my character to her abilities–since I am a Druid Elf and I’ve chosen a life in the forest, I can probably communicate well with the awakened tree, and not have it kill us.
- Talk to other players. Chances are if you’re in a party and you’ve done 1-4 you’re probably talking to other players. But find communities and online threads to join conversations on and read up on DnD. Reddit has tons of subreddits for it and even some based on class. This is a good place to look into what your character can really do and what some advanced players are doing with similar stats, or even at a leveled point.
- Watch or listen to other players. If you have friends with other campaigns going on, ask if you can listen in or sit in on their session and watch how the players play. How much do they spend deciding what to do next? What supplies do they have in their inventory? What do they decide to do in combat? Where do they go to role play?
- A branch from number 6: listen on podcast if you can’t listen to your friends play. A podcast is an easy way to listen to a game on the go, and to pick up on what other players do. Some podcasted campaigns are designed around new people playing, including the one that I am in. Our party’s podcast is on Youtube and iTunes, called Legends from Aeramis. There are two new players, and two veteran players, and one creative DM. Episode 1 below:
- Get to know your dice. Spend time learning which dice you need to be using, how many, etc. You can do this by learning what your character’s weapons, spells, hit points, etc. are and by studying charts online or rolling your own around. Invest in a few sets so when you need 3 D4 dice you have them. A good resource to learn about dice and which dice are for which thing can be found on wikipedia, here.
- Like everything else, spend time reading through what Dungeon Masters also do so you can understand the game from both sides, and learn about plots. You can do this by listening to DnD podcasts, your friends playing, or checking out the forums for issues a DM might be facing.
- Have fun! Seriously. Get creative with your character, write a cool backstory, spend time imagining what your character does in combat, and immerse yourself into the session. The first few times you play can get clunky but it is such a great time to immerse yourself in your character and take a step away. Once you learn to really have fun with it, you’re doing exactly what it was designed for and you could really enjoy the campaign.