Starting Gear: Items for New 5E D&D Players

Some new players may find the amount of stuff that some people bring to D&D games intimidating, because we make it look like you “need” a lot of things to play, and a lot of these items can be expensive.

However, you don’t really “need” a lot.  In fact, for your first session, many players at the game table will have spares of the essentials, so they might be able to help you out the first game or two, but if you stick with the hobby there are a few things you should get at some point.

For your first session, if you are just trying out the game, I recommend printing out a couple of blank character sheets, bring a mechanical pencil with a good eraser, and bring something to write on.  Someone will usually have spare dice they can loan you for the night, some generic mini for on the battlemat, and you can usually find someone who will loan you their player’s handbook for the night and help you create your first character.

Character Sheets

If it’s an adventure league game, like what is often run at game stores, you will also need some log sheets.  You can make a free account at DMsguild.com to get access to the documentation and additional rules for Adventurers League.

Adventurers League Player & DM Pack

If you continue with the hobby, though, I recommend putting together the following kit as “Starting Gear.”

  1. Player’s Handbook (often shortened as PHB).  This contains all the essential rules that a player will generally need to make characters and play the game.  There are many other books out there, but you only really need this one, the others are optional for players.
    • Note: for the short term you can get away with using the basic rules document, but it is missing a lot of the information and options available in the full book.  You can find the document here. 5th Edition D&D Basic Rules
    • Here’s the rulebook you’ll want to get.  If it doesn’t have this cover, you’re probably getting the rulebook for a different edition, and the rules are NOT cross-compatible.Image result for player's handbook
  2. Pocket folder.  There will be a lot of papers (character sheets, logsheets, handouts) and you’ll need a way to carry them.  You might want to mark the folder clearly so that it doesn’t get mixed up with someone else’s.
  3. Tabletop RPG dice set.  Dice are denoted with a d followed by the number of sides of dice (example:  a d6 is a standard 6-sided die).   The exception is that d% indicates that you roll two ten-sided dice, with the one of them labeled for the tens digit, and you use them to get a number between 1 and 100.  A complete set includes a d4, d6, d8, d10, d% (the tens digit die), d12, and a d20.  You can find these easily at your friendly local game store (FLGS for short) or online.  There are dice sets available cheaply on Amazon, just search for “rpg dice.”
    • Some people (myself included) like to get fancy sets of dice, but I highly recommend starting out by getting a simple set of dice that are highly readable from a distance, like the bottom set.  More often you find sets that look like the top set, which look nicer, but the tradeoff is that they can be harder to read.dice sets.jpg
  4. An extra d20.  Fifth edition Dungeons and Dragons often uses mechanics called advantage and disadvantage.  If the dungeonmaster says you have advantage on an attack or other d20 roll, you roll two d20s, and take the higher result.  If they say you have disadvantage you roll two d20s and take the lower result.  In either case, it’s handier to have a second d20 rather than borrow one or rolling the same die consecutively.
  5. Your current character sheet (and corresponding log sheets, if it’s an Adventurers League game), in the folder.  If you lose your character sheet, you might be allowed to rebuild it, but that is up to the DM and playstyle of the table.  You might have to make an entirely new character, or borrow one, and nobody really wants to do that.
  6. Blank character sheets, log sheets, any printable references you use.  It’s always good to have backups, because you never know when you’ll need a new character.
  7. Mechanical pencils with good erasers.  Pencils seem to roam and disappear at tables, so I recommend spares.
  8. Something to represent your character on a 1-inch gaming grid.  You need either a miniature or token of some kind that clearly marks where you are on the battle map, and fits inside a 1-inch square when upright.  There are a lot of miniatures you can buy or 3D print (if you have access to that), but there are a lot of crafty solutions I’ve seen online and at the game store for cheap minis.  I’ve seen people print out images and fold them up to stand up with a coin, pictures in small stands, pictures glued to corks; there are many options that don’t break the bank.
  9. A bag to keep all of this together and be able to grab and go.  If you let your stuff mix in with other stuff at home, you might find that you don’t have everything you need at game night.
  10. A dice bag.  Just something to hold your dice together in the larger bag.  Doesn’t have to be anything fancy, and one usually comes with the dice that you buy.

That’s it!

Anything past that is optional for players, though I know many players (myself definitely included) who carry much more, but this is all you really need to get started.  Have fun!

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