New to D&D? | The Basic Experience

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Despite the title, this small series of posts will be about how to help introduce gamers to D&D, not specifically for a newcomer to learn D&D on their own. I hope to hear from people about what worked for their group introducing new players.

What is the most important thing about teaching (or learning) to play Dungeons & Dragons for the first time? Conversely, when you think about D&D, what vivid imagery does it inspire in your brain?

My group has the good fortune of introducing a couple new players to D&D this past while and we are getting a couple new players in the near future (maybe for our dinner and gaming night). One thing I feel has always eluded me is to explain “how to D&D”. Sometimes I start with the rules, sometimes with how to make a character, sometimes with information about fantasy in general. Inevitably, something gets left out of the explanation… like roleplaying or imagination or math or rules or even the fun level of involvement and immersion.

I think no one can be expected to encompass all of D&D into a few sentences for a new player to understand the scope of the game, however, what would be the core elements that are vitally D&D for you?

My fallback position was always to explain from a common frame of reference. If the player plays World of Warcraft or another MMORPG, then certain concepts are a given (character creation, grouping, roles, etc.) and certain concepts might be completely foreign (dice and mathematics, roleplaying, ability to go beyond the confines, etc.). However, as I have learned more and more, I realize that this might the wrong way to do it specifically because of the frame of reference.

That is when it hit upon me that perhaps it was not job to explain D&D and what it is, but to tell the new player what D&D is to me. People might not want to hear about your character from 20 years ago, but they like hearing about how cool D&D is to you now and how it affects you now. Your tone, body language, excitement, and joy about D&D should be what they learn from you. I believe that is the inspiration and encouragement they need to read the rules (really, they are not too difficult to read and understand) and ask you questions. If everyone in the group paints a fun and amusing picture of playing D&D, then more people would be interested.

What experiences do you share with a new player to get them fired up and wanting to play?

The shared storytelling experience of D&D is really all about the experience and not which ruleset sucks the hardest.

But… what do I know…?

(Side note: Apologies to anyone checking in for an Out of the Abyss campaign update. We are off this week for end of month stuff, but back next Monday with Blingdenstone! Thanks for reading!)

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