Rolling with Advantage

New to Dungeons & Dragons in quarantine? Here's 6 ways to make it easy

Experts of the popular tabletop game reveal how to get started despite all the awkward hurdles.

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Covid-19 has forced people everywhere indoors, and this has led to a spike in new, unexpected ways to pass the time.

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Playing Dungeons & Dragons is one of them.

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The 46-year-old tabletop game, where players imagine fantastical adventures out of The Lord of the Rings, is more popular than ever.

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Every game of D&D is led by a Dungeon Master, or "DM," a narrator/referee who shepherds a small group of players. The outcomes of battles and other crucial moments are decided using dice.

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Given the barriers to entry for new players (even without social distancing), we asked six D&D experts for tips during quarantine.

6. Don't think you need to know everything

"Let the DM tell you how the game is played."

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Being a newbie might be a disadvantage in competitive video games or board games, but D&D is different.

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Players are encouraged to speak up if they're new. D&D fans tell Inverse they are excited to welcome newbies and do their best to accommodate them. That's especially important over platforms like Zoom.

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"If you're new to D&D, say it to the DM. Don't think you need to know everything. The Dungeon Master Guide is a guide, not a rule book. If you're new, be humble and let the DM tell you how the game is played."

Satine Phoenix, professional Dungeon Master and former Community Manager for 'Dungeons & Dragons.'

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"So many people look at the character sheet and are instantly overwhelmed. Just know who your character is and what they would do in any situation, and let your DM translate."

Nathan McNiff, a Dungeon Master from Massachusetts

5. Put the phone away

"Take time to revel in this."

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Not only is it rude to check Twitter in the middle of a D&D session, but it's also counterproductive to the game's escapist benefits.

"Put your phone away if you don't need it. It might be tempting, but all it takes is for the front page of Reddit to mess up the energy you’ve been trying to maintain. Take time to revel in this. The news will be there."

Ashley Risteen, a 'D&D' player of five years

4. Don't play with more than four players

"You're not going to like it."

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It may be exciting to get the whole group together for game night, but teaching newcomers while dealing with lag could make a single battle take hours.

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Also: Don't assume certain people will say no.

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"Everybody is so excited that they want to start with six to nine people. You’re not going to like it. It’s going to take too long. Start with four."

T.J. Storm, Hollywood stunt man and 'D&D' player of 20 years

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"You'd be shocked how many already played and how many wanted to. I run into that with former cheerleaders and football captains. They didn't play because no one would ask them, and they wanted to. Don't be afraid to ask."

B. Dave Walters, 'Dungeons & Dragons' comic book author

3. There's no wrong way to play

"You can still have a genuine, significant connection."

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New players may think they need dice or miniatures, but those are just sprinkles atop a very accessible sundae. All you need is imagination.

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"I prefer being at the table. But you can still have a genuine, significant connection [over Zoom]. I myself don't use maps. I prefer theater of the mind. That said, it is easier to play that way. There is no wrong way to do it."

B. Dave Walters, 'Dungeons & Dragons' comic book author

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"There's no need for game boards or pieces. The game adapts very well to Zoom or Skype, wherever you connect."

Ray Winninger, 'Dungeons & Dragons' executive producer

2. Know the game is not a competition

"We need each other more than ever."

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Dungeons & Dragons is a game, but that might actually be misleading. There are no winners or losers at the table.

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"A lot of video games and card games are PVP [player versus player]. Dungeons & Dragons is way to work with your friends. That's the guts of it. And right now, we need each other more than ever."

Satine Phoenix, professional Dungeon Master and former Community Manager for 'Dungeons & Dragons.'

1. Forget the rules, let your imagination "run wild"

"Rules exist to facilitate story. Not the other way around."

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Knowing spell slots from spell-casting can be enough to make would-be adventurers running back to Netflix, but these rules aren't as rigid as they seem.

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"Rules exist to facilitate story. Not the other way around."

B. Dave Walters, 'Dungeons & Dragons' comic book author

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"Let your imagination run wild. Don't worry about the rules. The rules are there to facilitate play. Just connect with friends, be creative, and have a good time."

Ray Winninger, 'Dungeons & Dragons' executive producer

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