A primer on Dungeons & Dragons

A local 13-year-old boy explains how to do online role-playing sessions with friends to master this game of storytelling

primer on Dungeons & Dragons

Your kids may not be able to play in person with their friends right now, but they can still connect with their buddies online. For imaginative tweens and teens, a good alternative to video games is Dungeons & Dragons. The classic storytelling game translates well to video chat and can inspire many related hobbies: sewing costumes, painting miniature goblins and paladins, making maps of fantasy worlds, writing short stories, and more. There’s no better time to give it a try than now. If you don’t know where to begin, here’s some advice from my 13-year-old — an avid player and “dungeon master” who organizes regular online role-playing sessions with his group of friends. 
– Montreal Families Associate Editor Briana Doyle   

Getting started with Dungeons & Dragons for kids in quarantine

You may have heard of a game called “Dungeons & Dragons” or “D&D” and might be wondering what it is and how to play it. D&D is a role-playing game. It’s all about storytelling. 

In a game, there are two roles: the dungeon master, or DM, and the player. The dungeon master’s job is to create and run adventures for the players. This could be anything from fighting goblins in the woods, defeating a Great Red Dragon in the mountains, or even gathering political power to overthrow a monarchy. 

Players create the characters who are the heroes of this story and role-play through these adventures as their character. While the dungeon master narrates the story, the players’ actions change how the story unfolds. 

To get started playing, you really don’t need much. Here are the basics: 

  1. Find a dungeon master. You can’t run a game without one. I’d suggest trying to find a friend who has played D&D before, but if you don’t know anyone, you can also find some helpful videos on YouTube to learn how to do this.
  2. Gather some friends. Because D&D isn’t as fun with only one player. A group of four or five players plus the DM is a great size. You can play in a group of up to eight people, but it is slower and more difficult with a larger group.
  3. Find some dice. You’ll need to get dice because most of the actions your character does will rely on them. These dice aren’t your usual board game dice. Dungeons & Dragons requires a set of seven dice, each with a different shape. These can be found cheaply on Amazon, or just Google “online dice roller” for a virtual option. 
  4. Create a character. To do this, you’ll need a character sheet. You can find printable versions online, or use online character creators. I’d suggest online character creators for starting out. My favourite resource for this is dndbeyond.com. 

So you’ve got your character built and your dice at the ready, but with a global pandemic going around, you can’t go over to any houses. I’d recommend using FaceTime, Zoom, Discord or Google Meet to have your games. For online sessions, Roll20.net is a great site for visuals such as maps, and it has a built-in dice roller that everyone can see, so you can’t fake rolls. 

Now, finally, you’re ready to set off into the unknown, for glory and gold with your loyal companions at your side. 

Resources for D&D newbies: 

If you or your child wants to learn more about how to play or how to become a dungeon master, these resources may help: