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Everything you need to start your Dungeons and Dragons campaign

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What do you need to start playing Dungeons and Dragons games?

Few games have as loyal a following as Dungeons & Dragons. The tabletop game franchise has become so popular that it’s almost a separate culture and lifestyle in the gaming community. It's spawned a variety of video games, board games, an entire film series and tons of merchandise.

Called "D and D" for short, the game is all about adventuring with a group of friends in search of mystery and treasure. It generally consists of several players who choose a character based on the game’s premise and setting. The dungeon master acts as the story's director, driving forward what happens to the players and what kind of creatures they encounter.

It’s highly interactive and incredibly detailed, and games can take several weeks to complete. But you can’t simply start a Dungeons & Dragons campaign unless you have the necessary tools.

A short history of D and D

The modern version of D and D has its roots in the early days of pen-and-paper role playing dice games. The concept is largely the same, but dungeon masters didn’t have all the intricate tools they do today. Instead of having apps, rule books or other fancy equipment, everything was planned out and carefully noted using a pen and many reams of paper. Each player had to keep track of their character’s statistics, inventory and plot using this method.

The concept for this fantasy role playing game was launched in 1974 and designed by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson. Taking inspiration from miniature wargames, the pair devised a tabletop game that uses individual Dungeons & Dragons characters instead of military formations. For a more immersive experience, the game includes several accessories, such as small-scale monsters, dungeons and passages, and non-player characters to interact with.

At the beginning of the 2000s, D and D became so popular that an estimated 20 million people played at least one game, and it had over $1 billion in book and equipment sales worldwide. The current version of the Dungeons & Dragons players handbook is in the fifth edition, with revised editions of it, the "Monster Manual" and the "Dungeon Master's Guide" set to be available in 2024.

Everything you need to start the Dungeons and Dragons role-playing game

best "The Game Master's Book of Traps, Puzzles and Dungeons"

"The Game Master's Book of Traps, Puzzles and Dungeons"

This Dungeons & Dragons book is an essential addition to any dungeon master’s arsenal. It's packed full of challenging riddles, puzzles, spiked pits, and Rube Goldberg-style death traps to make any game session an epic adventure. It features 60 traps and 50 modular dungeon chambers and comes with top-down location maps and three one-shot adventures.

Wizards of the Coast Dungeons & Dragons: Lords of Waterdeep Board Game

This strategy game is a great starting point for anybody who isn’t familiar with the D and D concept. It's set in Waterdeep, the crown jewel of the Forgotten Realms. Players are cast as Lords of Waterdeep vying for control of the mighty city; you recruit adventurers to go on quests, earn rewards, amass treasure, expand the city and more. This Dungeons & Dragons board game is best suited for two to five players.

best Tidyboss D and D Starter Set Battle Game Mat

Tidyboss D and D Starter Set Battle Game Mat

This Dungeons & Dragons starter set of game mats is perfect for dungeon masters who enjoy planning their own environments. They don’t crease as others do, and the four straightening clips let you flatten your mat instantly. The set includes six terrains that are easily marked out with dry-erase markers. It comes with multisided dice, an eraser and four markers.

best Wildspire Heroes, Animals, and Troll Miniatures for D and D

Wildspire Heroes, Animals and Troll Miniatures for D and D

Having a battle mat and dungeons is great, but there is nothing better for injecting visual representations into a game than Dungeons & Dragons miniatures. These 29 figurines are ready to be painted as you wish and include several 1-inch Dungeons & Dragons monsters, animals and props. The set comes with a digital file that includes 18 mini-quests, custom artwork and maps.

best Dungeons and Dragons Core Rulebooks Gift Set

Dungeons & Dragons Core Rulebooks Gift Set

This is perfect for anybody who wants to be a dungeon master, with special foil cover editions of the "Players Handbook," "Dungeon Master’s Guide" and "Monster Manual." It also comes with a dungeon master’s screen and slipcase for easy carrying.

best Spelljammer: Adventures in Space (D and D Campaign Collection)

Spelljammer: Adventures in Space (D and D Campaign Collection)

This collection has everything a dungeon master needs to run a successful adventure. It includes the "Light of Xaryxis" adventure book, the "Astral Adventurer’s Guide" setting book, "Boo’s Astral Menagerie" book of monsters, a double-sided poster Dungeons & Dragons map of the Rock of Bral and a dungeon master’s screen.

best QMay D and D Dice Set 42 Pieces

QMay D and D Dice Set 42 Pieces

No Dungeons & Dragons game is complete without a set of durable, high-quality dice. This 42-piece set consists of six double-color polyhedral Dungeons & Dragons dice sets with easy-to-read numbers on each surface. It comes with six drawstring bags with different patterns on each.

best The Deck of Many Things & The Deck of Many Fates

The Deck of Many Things & The Deck of Many Fates

These 49 hand-illustrated cards make for the perfect addition to any tabletop adventure. The Deck of Many Things cards contain a game-changing effect, while the Deck of Many Fates has new powers, curses or opportunities. The cards come in a cardboard box.

best Upgraded Condition Rings

Upgraded Condition Rings

It can be challenging for players and the dungeon master to track who is wounded, cursed or exhausted. These 96 condition rings make that easy, as each player's status is color-coded and indicated with text. The rings are made from hard plastic and have a 1-inch-diameter hole in the center.

best Forged Dice Co. Draco Castle Foldable Dice Tray and Dice Tower

Forged Dice Co. Draco Castle Foldable Dice Tray and Dice Tower

A great dungeon master has a great set of dice, and this is the perfect accessory to show you mean business. The 8-inch dice tower resembles an ancient castle with three levels inside, giving your polyhedral dice excellent rolls before landing in the tray. It's made of faux leather and felt and folds up into a neat square.

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Charlie Fripp writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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