A surprising amount of people don’t actually know what DnD is, or why people like it so much. If you’re one of those people who don’t know much about DnD or want to start playing and really want to enjoy your game, have a seat in our tavern, have a sip of our dragon’s breath drought, and our seers shall help you see the truth behind this magnificent game!
Of course before we can get you started, you do need a game and a group which we have a guide on how to start a campaign (the tips for finding players should work for finding a DM too), and how to write a campaign (if you want to DM, or you know someone that wants to DM) to get you started with the group and a game.
Players and DMs have similar needs, and so we’ll tackle the tips that can help you really get into it, whether you’re one or the other.
Starting off, we have: actually playing the game, and paying attention. Yeah crazy I know. If you turn off your games and your videos (you can use digital material to help you out), you’ll actually know what’s going on when everyone actually starts freaking out over something. But if you sit and watch the others at the table (Especially the DM), you’ll be able to do some incredible things, and none of the other tricks will work very well if you don’t follow this one. Besides: Your DM spends a lot of time working on the game, so on behalf DMs out there: please don’t join games if you aren’t going to actually play them!
Next up, try to do something you really want to do, even if you don’t feel it’s quite possible, such as: Try to yeet the annoying NPC! If it’s in character, or anything similarly hilarious, your DM may have you roll, and you could have a hilarious scene from: aggressively hugging someone, to helping someone take an involuntary bath! Or anything in between! And it’s very gratifying to have your crazy ideas come to fruition when the DM says: Sure, go ahead and roll.
In line with trying ridiculous things, we have: trying new things. Whether you try a new class, or a new race, or even a new rule/creation you/your DM has proposed. It’s simple, but exploration is always exciting if you embrace it, and are rewarded well for it.
Sometimes, you may feel a bit shy to speak. It’s alright, not everybody is ready to talk in front of friends, knowing you’re just speaking as a fictional character. That’s acting. But it’s more than just talking, it’s also motions, position, expression, and body language, so the tip I have is: When speaking as your character, try to speak with your body, and voice. This actually helps you feel more comfortable in your character, and the other players feel more comfortable as well as making the entire game more enjoyable for everyone.
And now that we have acting in place, we finally have: Look for action. You will be tempted to grind and grind until you have the items you’re looking for. Also, DM TIP: When your players have something that they’d need to grind for to progress, provide varying quests that would reward the players with what they need to “grind” for, just make them fun and different. But if you feel you aren’t having much fun, try to look for a bit of action in the world, or a change of pace. Also, don’t be afraid to accelerate the plot because people aren’t as engaged.
For my last tip: make sure you have a good group. This is so vital to having a good game. If your DM isn’t allowing you to try new things (a high DC, or your rolls being bad do not count), or the other players are hogging the spotlight (don’t forget to let them have some time in it), or any/all of the players are toxic, that can kill the mood. Also, leave arguments and disagreements at the door. If you have a bad group, you won’t be having fun, because they’ll drag the game on over the smallest issue and won’t move on, nothing different will be going on, you may be given the short end of the stick for all equipment, healers not doing their job, tanks being in the back lines, spellcasters running into the fray and never paying attention or simply never knowing which spell to cast, skirmishers trying to do something else, and the one greedy player trying to take all the loot for themselves. However you slice it, a bad group can ruin your experience. If you have one of these experiences, try posting on r/RPGHorrorStories. If you want more examples of how a game can turn sour, that’s also a reason to visit that subreddit.
To be honest, there’s probably more ways for you to engage with the game, but if you just want to get started, these tips should suffice. However, if you want to get even deeper into DnD, try to bring your interests into the game, even if it’s mostly little nods. If you’re good at art, try drawing some character art, or having a character that likes to paint, and if you’re good at geology, try to say something about a random rock you/your party finds. But just bring your interests in without going overboard (e.g. refusing to stop talking, even if out of character, people are telling you to stop).
Once you find yourself into DnD, it’s hard to get yourself out of it. And you’ll really want to get others into it. However, as much as I’d love to DM for many groups, I don’t have enough Simulacrums, though I might want to program an Auto DM that can run a game, with player votes on possibilities that aren’t accounted for (e.g. trying to run up a wall), combined with a dungeon generator… Maybe I’ll just write an entire Virtual Tabletop some day with these features and that’ll work for me. But I hope that after reading this, that you have an idea of what DnD really is, and why it’s so fun to play.