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What to buy if you want to play Dungeons & Dragons 5E

Everything you need to play D&D, plus some nice extras.

Now that you’ve developed an appetite for the ultimate tabletop RPG by learning how to get started with Dungeons and Dragons as a player, let’s get the boring stuff out of the way. What exactly should you buy if you want to play D&D?

A lot of this really depends on how much you want to invest in playing Dungeons & Dragons. There’s no point in buying ten sets of metal dice, only to wind up playing exactly one session every six months. However, having some extra little bits can also really improve your experience of the game, so it really depends on how far you want to go.

Browse our Dungeons & Dragons buyer’s guide below and you’ll discover what you definitely need to play and what you might like to spend a little extra on to make those many, many hours that extra bit more special.

What you need to play Dungeons & Dragons: The essentials

To keep things simple, let’s just run through the essentials:

  • One copy of the Dungeons & Dragons: 5th Edition basic rules (available for free from the D&D website)
  • One set of polyhedral dice (d4, d6, d8, d10, d12, d20)
  • One character sheet (these are available for free from the D&D website)
  • One spell sheet (if you’re playing a spellcaster. Also available for free online)
  • One pencil and rubber (if you’re using a paper character and spell sheet)
  • A tablet/laptop/PC/phone (if you’re using a digital character and spell sheet)
  • A notebook or digital writing tool
Dungeons & Dragons Dice Set

Actually playing D&D doesn’t demand that you have a huge amount of stuff and, in fact, a lot of the materials you’ll need you can find online for free.

What you’ll want to play Dungeons & Dragons: The extra accessories

If you wanted to spice up your Dungeon & Dragons roleplaying experience a little, you could also get your hands on some additional bits:

  • The D&D starter set (contains six dice, character sheets, spells sheets, pre-generated character sheets and rulebook for up to five people)
  • Buy on and
  • The Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition Player’s Handbook (contains loads of useful information)
  • Buy on and
  • Spell cards (good for quickly referencing spells)
  • Buy on and
  • Magic item cards (good for quickly referencing items)
  • Buy on and

    As well as...

  • Multiple sets of polyhedral dice (more sets will make playing quicker)
  • A bag for your dice (helps to organise your sets)
  • A dice tray (stops your dice from damaging your table or flying behind the sofa)
  • Map drawing materials (a physical battle mat, pieces of grid paper, digital drawing tools or similar)
  • Dungeons & Dragons Starter Set artwork cover

    A lot of these accessories can be found in any local board game store or cafe, as well as on online retailers.

    Do I really need the D&D Player’s Handbook?

    Whilst you can get the basic 5th Edition rulebook for free from the D&D website, it’s always good to have a copy of the Player’s Handbook kicking around. Be sure to get your hands on the latest edition of the D&D handbook (which currently happens to be 5E), not just because Wizards of the Coast makes a genuine effort to improve the game with each iteration (most of the time), but it’s also usually the most widely-available version of the handbook. Additionally, 5th Edition is probably the most accessible edition of D&D released yet, as the combat is significantly streamlined and character building is much more straightforward for beginners.

    Having your own copy of the handbook won’t just help with character creation, which we cover ourselves in our own guide, but it also provides some nice introductory parts for new players. Reading these will help in familiarising yourself with the basic principles behind D&D, and generally build up your excitement for getting stuck into the game. As such a significant amount of the book is devoted to character creation, reading parts will give you a sense of what you want to play as. Even if you don’t know the specifics, you might find yourself drawn to certain classes and races regardless (I mean, who isn’t excited by the idea of summoning demons or transforming yourself into an enormous bear?).

    Dungeons & Dragons 5E Roleplaying Game Artwork

    The most important thing to remember is that the Player’s Handbook and rulebook exist as a guide for players, not as some as a set of religious tomes. In other words, reading both front-to-back is most definitely not necessary, and doesn’t really help if you’re not at all familiar with roleplaying. Most of the time, it’ll just be intimidating, confusing and potentially boring (no offence to Wizards of the Coast).

    The Player’s Handbook and Core Rulebook only really come into play when you need to find a specific reference to something, such as a feat or spell. Consider them to be the dictionaries of the D&D world, only worth bringing out if you need to suss out the exact rules behind an action. Otherwise, the Player’s Handbook will likely be your go-to tool for creating or levelling-up your character (and even then, there are better resources for that).

    Now that you’ve got the materials you need, it’s about time you learnt how to actually make a character. Which, funnily enough, you can do right now by reading our guide to how to make Dungeons & Dragons 5E characters for beginners.

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Alex Meehan avatar
Alex Meehan: After writing for Kotaku UK, Waypoint and Official Xbox Magazine, Alex became a member of the Dicebreaker editorial family. Having been producing news, features, previews and opinion pieces for Dicebreaker for the past three years, Alex has had plenty of opportunity to indulge in her love of meaty strategy board games and gothic RPGS. Besides writing, Alex appears in Dicebreaker’s D&D actual play series Storybreakers and haunts the occasional stream on the Dicebreaker YouTube channel.
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