Welcome to New Player’s Guide, the first stop on your journey to playing D&D. This series has advice for players who’ve just joined their first D&D campaign, as well as Dungeon Masters who want help taking their new campaign to the next level. To see the other articles in this series, check out the New Player’s Guide tag—and for the brass-tacks information on how to start playing D&D, click on the New Player Guide link at the top of this page!
This tenth installment of New Player’s Guide is filled with articles by D&D Beyond Lead Writer James Haeck and other skilled game designers who’ve joined us as guest writers. Start with the New Player’s Guide to help you as you start your first game of D&D, then branch out and learn other skills. This isn't an advice article, but a masterpost filled with a wealth of resources. Let's dive right into articles that will help you go from dungeon novice to Dungeon Master!
For Everyone: New Player’s Guide
Hey, that's this series! If you’re a newcomer to Dungeons and Dragons, New Player’s Guide is THE place to start. This article series comprehensively answers every question a first-time player or Dungeon Master could have, starting from how to find a D&D group, how to create a character, how to choose a first adventure, and so on.
Some great articles to start with are:
- New Player's Guide: How to Find a D&D Group
- New Player’s Guide: Making Your First Character
- New Player’s Guide: Everything You Need to Use D&D Beyond
- New Player's Guide: How to Play D&D Online
The New Player’s Guide is obviously aimed at first-time D&D players, but they’re full of helpful advice for players of all skill and experience levels. Even long-time D&D players can learn something from this series.
For Players: Class 101
Once you’ve played your first game of D&D, you might feel like you want to create ALL the characters! Character concepts pop around in your head like popcorn, and you need to let them out. Class 101 is the perfect series for serial character-creators. This series starts by examining a class as a whole, looking at what makes them tick with one class per article—and then moves on to take a close look at each of the subclasses within the Player’s Handbook, looking at only one subclass per article.
Use this series to help you decide what kind of character you want to play, or for tips on how to create a character of this class. These aren’t optimization guides! They’re starting points to help you learn how to have fun playing this class. Start with one of the twelve classes in the Player’s Handbook and start creating characters from there.
- Barbarian 101: A Beginner's Guide to Relentless Fury
- Bard 101: A Beginner’s Guide to Style and Panache
- Cleric 101: A Beginner’s Guide to Playing the Divine
- Druid 101: A Beginner’s Guide to Channeling Nature’s Might
- Fighter 101: A Beginner’s Guide to Heroic Combat
- Monk 101: A Beginner’s Guide to Mystical Combat
- Paladin 101: A Beginner’s Guide to Divine Justice
- Ranger 101: A Beginner’s Guide to Exploring the Wilderness
- Rogue 101: A Beginner’s Guide to Stealth and Subterfuge
- Sorcerer 101: A Beginner’s Guide to Innate Magic
- Warlock 101: A Beginner’s Guide to Eldritch Might
- Wizard 101: A Beginner’s Guide to the Arcane Arts
If you read about any of the classes or subclasses in this book and want to try them out, but don’t have access to the Player’s Handbook, you can buy subclasses, backgrounds, feats, and more features a la carte on the D&D Beyond Marketplace. Each small purchase actually lowers the price of the whole book, so you’re never wasting money!
For Dungeon Masters: How to Play Monsters
The How to Play Monsters series is like the Dungeon Master’s version of Class 101. Each article in this series breaks down an iconic D&D monster so you can play them like a master. Learn the lore behind these monsters, and how those stories inform a monster’s tactics and powers. Some monsters are so thematic that learning how to play one requires you to learn a little bit about genre tropes. Mind flayers, for example, are perfect horror monsters, so their article teaches you how to build suspense and horror in your games—in a way that’s fun for both you and your players.
Here are some classic D&D monsters for you to start with:
- How to Play a Red Dragon like an Evil Genius
- How to Play a Mind Flayer like an Eldritch Horror
- How to Play a Werewolf Like an Apex Predator
- How to Play a Manticore Like A Cunning Beast
Before you start trying to master the tactics and genre essentials of monsters, though, be sure you know how to read a monster’s stat block. It’s no use trying to become an expert if you don’t know the basics! Start by looking at the Monsters chapter of the D&D Basic Rules. Then look at the stats of a common goblin. If this stat block makes sense to you, then you’re ready to start leveling up your DMing skills!
For Everyone: Spell Spotlights
There are hundreds of spells in Dungeons and Dragons. Many of them are straightforward, but some are incredibly complex. Even some of the simple ones have hidden depths! This is why Spell Spotlight exists; to take a close look at some of D&D’s most complex, controversial, or unusual spells and figure out what makes them tick. This series is primarily geared towards players, but Dungeon Masters should be familiar with these spells, too—after all, there are a ton of spellcasting monsters and NPC mages that DMs need to play. They ought to know how their spells work just as well as the players!
Here are some classic D&D spells for you to start learning:
If you don’t know how spells work in D&D, it won’t help to start looking at how specific spells work. Before diving into Spell Spotlight, start with the Spellcasting chapter in the D&D Basic Rules. Learning the rules that govern all spells will help you get a handle on how all kinds of magic work in D&D.
For Dungeon Masters: Encounter of the Week
One of the hardest parts of being a Dungeon Master is creating adventures. Even using published adventures is hard, since you have to read, take notes, and modify encounters for your party before you can run them. Encounter of the Week brings you a short one-shot adventure every week. These adventures are compact, concise, and easily adjustable. Best of all, these encounters are designed to be dropped into an existing campaign with ease, letting you just grab an encounter off the shelf if you aren’t feeling up to creating a brand-new adventure for your group this week.
Here are a handful of great encounters to get you started:
- Encounter of the Week: The Dying Unicorn
- Encounter of the Week: The Lost Minotaur
- Encounter of the Week: Medusa’s Marble Menagerie
- Encounter of the Week: A Tale too Far
- Encounter of the Week: April Showers and Foul Flowers
- Encounter of the Week: Fight to the Death
- Encounter of the Week: The Watchers
If you want to start creating fun adventures for your own players, but don’t know where to start, the Dungeon Master’s Guide is filled with vital advice for new Dungeon Masters. It’s not a free resource like the Basic Rules, but it’s absolutely essential if you want to start creating your own custom adventures.
Not all useful articles are part of a series. Some excellent standalone articles (or article mini-series) are hidden within the D&D Beyond archives. Here are some large-scale tags for you to explore if you’re interested in a deep dive into the years of sage wisdom hidden in our arcane library. There's often significant overlap with these broad tags and the series-specific tags, so we've included a few standout hits from each tag to help get you started.
- Dungeon Master Tips. If you need DMing advice, this is the place to go. Top-notch articles in this broad category include Balancing the Scales, The Best Maps of Fifth Edition D&D, The True Master of Dungeons, Failing Forward: Losing without Ending the Campaign, and Reimagining Racial Ability Scores.
- Player Tips. If you want to become a better D&D player, there’s no better resource. Some of the best articles in this big-picture category include Session Zero: A Foundation for Greatness, Character Creation and the Importance of Fronstory, and Not Half-Bad: Playing Mixed-Race Characters.
- Let’s Design an Adventure. For the aspiring game designers out there, this series shows you how to create an adventure that’s good enough to publish!
- Roleplaying 101. Roleplaying is hard. Learning how to play a character so that they can feel like a real character in a story, rather than just a collection of stats and equipment, is really hard. This mini-series wants to help you become a better roleplayer.
- Theater of the Mind. There’s more than one way to run D&D. Do you like maps and minis, or just playing things loose in the “Theater of the Mind?” This mini-series shows you the best way to save on expensive accessories…
- Epic House Rules. Getting bored of the same old D&D? This mini-series dives into some house rules that help you shake things up.
The articles listed here are just the tip of the iceberg. Start diving into the tags and explore our archives! There’s a wealth of lost lore hidden there, just waiting to be discovered by an intrepid adventurer.
James Haeck is the lead writer for D&D Beyond, the co-author of Waterdeep: Dragon Heist, Baldur's Gate: Descent into Avernus, and the Critical Role Explorer's Guide to Wildemount, a member of the Guild Adepts, and a freelance writer for Wizards of the Coast, the D&D Adventurers League, and other RPG companies. He lives in Seattle, Washington with his fiancée Hannah and their animal companions Mei and Marzipan. You can find him wasting time on Twitter at @jamesjhaeck.