Introduction to Dungeons and Dragons

Are you curious about Dungeons and Dragons? Have you seen Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves and wondered, “What kind of game inspired this movie?” We're here to answer those questions and more! 

Dungeons and Dragons is a tabletop roleplaying game released in 1972 that grew to fame in the 1980s. It is an open-faced storytelling game where players go on adventures led by a Dungeon Master.  A Dungeon Master is akin to the banker in Monopoly mixed with a referee (except they usually create the world), and the players interact with the game world by rolling dice to beat challenges and roleplay like improv actors. 

If you want to play the game, a great start is the Player’s Handbook. If you are going to be the Dungeon Master, then you will need the Player’s Handbook, Dungeon Master’s Guide and Monster Manual. You can find any of these books in our library collection through the list below! 

If you are a dungeon master and aren’t quite ready to build your own world, there are books which contain whole adventures, such as Ghosts of Saltmarsh.  Pro tip: If you read those books to plan your campaign, read the endings of the chapters first, so you can know where the story beats are and where things are supposed to end. If you feel confident or your players want to go in a direction not mentioned in the book, just use your imagination to go anywhere you want! 

If you want to play D&D online with your friends, you have many options to work with. For communication, Zoom, Discord,
TeamSpeak and Skype will allow you to talk to your friends in a live chat. Use whatever you are comfortable with. However, if you want your games to be more visual, you will need a what's called a virtual tabletop. 

All the virtual tabletops we'll mention here are free and are great options for your campaign. Roll20, opens a new window is one of the virtual tabletops you can play with. It has a 100 mb image limit for the free accounts, while paid options offer more features. Another great option is Owlbear Rodeo, opens a new window, which allows you to use images from your own computer and broadcast maps to your players. Both have tools allowing you and your players to draw out plans on the maps and move their character tokens around. 

Want to give Dungeons & Dragons a try? Several of our libraries run one-shot campaigns that are fun for beginners and experts like!

This blog was written by Eric Williamson, Library Aide at San Carlos Library.