You can start playing Dungeons and Dragons for free using the Basic Rules and the free access to the Lost Mines of Phandelver adventure on DnDBeyond.
What are the Basic Rules for D&D?
Wizards of the Coast, the makers of Dungeons and Dragons, have put together a set of basic rules so that the game is accessible to everyone. It covers how you play the game, create characters and it even has a great starting selection of monsters and treasure.
This is a really underrated resource for new Dungeon Masters (DMs).
You can get your very own dungeons and dragons free pdf of the basic rules here or you can get it with a free account on dndbeyond
I highly recommend you sign up for dndbeyond anyway because it will make it a lot easier to build characters and it has some digital dice which you can use. This means you can try the game before you buy the gear for it.
How to start playing D&D free online
Read the basic rules first. Don’t worry, it doesn’t all need to make sense right now.
Read the starter one shot that you get when you sign up for our newsletter. Make notes and look up the rules we suggest for the game.
Recruit some friends to play with you or find some new friends. There are a number of groups on Facebook and Discord aimed at finding groups to play with. There are also reddit threads which can be useful.
Once you have three to five people ready to play with you then you can help them make characters.
How to Make Characters
Making characters when you first start playing dungeons and dragons can be tedious. There is a lot going on. This is why I highly recommend signing up for dndbeyond and getting all your players to as well.
When you make a character using the dndbeyond platform it’s a simple, step by step process that allows you to choose options as you go.
Use the Basic Rules to help answer questions as you take the players through the character build. Let them understand what benefits each race has, what dark vision means or what the stats mean ultimately so that they can build good starter characters.
TIP: The starter adventure comes with downloadable pre built characters which means you can focus on playing relatively fast, rather than trying to start with character building how to.
As a DM, even with a free account, you can create a campaign on dndbeyond and then get your players to link their characters to that campaign. That makes it easy for you to have access to your player’s character sheets so you can help them or see their stats.
Encounters and battles
A lot of D&D can be done using theatre of the mind. That’s a fancy way of saying you can tell the story and have other people role play with descriptions and dialogue all using your imagination.
Where I find you need some kind of tool though is when it comes to battle. Distances and placement matters and so a visual of it helps everyone understand what is going on.
This doesn’t need to be super fancy, though. If you are playing in person then some buttons as characters and monsters on the printed out version of the map that comes with our adventure is all you need.
When you are playing online this becomes a little trickier and a tool like Roll 20 can help. Even the free version of roll 20 allows you to import maps and play digitally.
Roll 20 can be complicated to learn though, so you will need a good video guide and some time to play with it in order to get the hang of the tool.
Dungeons and Dragons can be a little complex to learn but it’s not impossible and, in fact, it’s often easier to learn the game properly by starting as a DM than as a player. We hope that this guide inspires you to Start Playing Dungeons and Dragons for Free and become the best DM you can.