Dungeons and Dragons for Beginners

After my family gorged ourselves on a Christmas feast, we were looking for something that didn’t involve much moving but would keep us entertained. I jokingly suggested that I run a Dungeons and Dragons game for them. To my shock, they agreed. So my mom, dad, and niece sat down around the table and started a game. I found a one-shot 5th edition Dungeons and Dragons game, threw together some character sheets, and off we went. With it all put together so quickly, we ended up using the gridded backing of some wrapping paper as our board and some mini-models I found online as our character tokens to move around.

None of them had ever played it, none of them even had any idea what it was or how to play. So we started with the bare basics, the dice types. Explaining what each dice looked like and when it would be rolled helped get a simple understanding of one of the most important mechanics.

Next we went over the character sheet. We went over what each stat meant and how to use those in the game. Because I tend to run a game that involves more roleplaying than battle, we focused on what each stat could be used for. Investigation to examine something for answers or connections, acrobatics to jump over an obstacle.

We started with a puzzle where they had to decipher a phrase hidden in a mess of letters. My niece, playing an assassin character, figured it out immediately. The whole group dove into the meat of the campaign, hunting for a demon deep in a cursed temple. They explored the rooms, sometimes needing some guidance on what to do. What helped was to not tell them what to do, but instead to offer suggestions.

When we ran into the first combat was the moment I started finding some hangups and problems. As a player, combat is one of my weaknesses. I get mixed up with some of the rules and since weapons can use a wide range of dice to deal damage, my family got even more mixed up about what dice to roll. My mother, playing a sorcerer, had a few more complicated rules to learn with spells. I ended up simplifying it significantly so she could cast without too much delay on looking things up.

Instead of getting hung up on making sure everything was rolled exactly to the rules, and exactly to the T correct, I kept things easy. Rolls were simple with a common number added to the attack rolls, the damage was done the same way. For the battle, I ignored having enemies strike with status effects. We moved through combat eventually, and they all started getting more confident in their characters.

They made it through the temple incredibly quickly and then hit the final boss of the temple. To my great joy, my dad dove into his barbarian character and threw his javelin straight at the demon. The fight was hard, and I actually knocked some of the boss’ stats down to keep the fight fun and not just a bloodbath. With all of their characters very near death, the sorcerer of the party finally laid out the monster and saved the day.

The most shocking part of the whole thing was that my family wants to play again. So it looks like I accidentally started running a campaign.

For me, running the campaign meant focusing on fun over rules. Simplify what might trip up or make the game seem too hard to pick up. Over time, I will add in more of the rules and move towards playing things by the 5th edition handbook, but for right now I’m thrilled to share something I love with my family.

I’m already looking forward to the next adventure of Red the Assassin, Sprite the Sorcerer, and Thorax the Barbarian.



  • Merrin January 10, 2018 at 10:20 am

    What a fun Christmas activity! That’s cool that your family was down for adventure.

    • Andi Judy January 10, 2018 at 10:57 am

      I was so surprised they were down to play DnD and that they want to play again sometime!

    • Shara White January 10, 2018 at 11:01 am

      That is a really cool Christmas activity!

  • Erin Bales January 10, 2018 at 3:40 pm

    Awesome! Some of my family members and I tried to start a D&D game over the holidays, but we’re all noobs, and we quickly got overwhelmed by the minutiae of the rules. This sounds like a much easier way to go about doing things!

  • Tanner Meservier January 10, 2018 at 7:59 pm

    One of the best experiences in tabletop gaming is introducing new people to the hobby. It sounds like your family had a great time!


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