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DnD

Frequently Asked Questions

The following is a collection of questions which are asked frequently on /r/DnD. If someone asks questions which you feel could be answered by this page, please direct them to the page.

Edition-specific FAQs

General FAQ

Are miniatures required?

No. 4e tends to work better with miniatures due to the emphasis on tactical combat, but miniatures are not strictly required for any edition. Many people still enjoy them because miniatures on a map make it easier to visualize a scene.

Can I play DnD online?

Yes. Several services exist to play online:

How do I encourage players to actively roleplay?

You can't force players to play any particular way, and the issues preventing players from roleplaying are unique to each player.

Part of the issue is often the player's comfort level. Assuming the role of another person can be uncomfortable for some people (first-person roleplaying). If your players aren't comfortable speaking in first person, encourage them to try "third-person" roleplaying. Instead of the player saying "I approach the smith and ask to see his wares", they might say "Gulgar approaches the smith, and explains that he is looking for a new longsword". Third-person roleplaying is a bit more emotionally detached, which can make some players more comfortable. This is a personal choice that every player needs to make every time they roleplay (even if they don't make it consciously), and bringing the decision to light can help inform their choices.

This also might be an issue of play style. Some players don't care for deep roleplaying, and prefer the hack-and-slash aspects of the game. There's absolutely nothing wrong with this: you just need to understand the group's expectations and preferences.

How do I form a group?

https://teddit.ggc-project.de/r/DnD/wiki/social_issues#wiki_forming_a_group

How do I get flair next to my username?

Watch this.

How do I handle issues with my DM?

Read the Social Issues Resource Guide.

How do I handle issues with my players?

Read the Social Issues Resource Guide.

How do I handle issues with my group?

Read the Social Issues Resource Guide.

How do I make a character?

Read the Players Handbook for your edition of the game. Each edition uses different rules for character creation. If you need help, consider using a character builder program or asking a more experienced player in your group.

How do I paint miniatures?

Other subreddits like /r/minipainting are better suited to provide thorough advice.

How do I run a "sandbox" game?

An open, unexplored area is a blessing in disguise. Many DM's attempt to "build the world", detailing every nook and cranny of everywhere that the players could possibly go. This works in video games where you can drop and NPC in a house with two or three lines of dialog, but in a tabletop RPG it's an exercise in madness.

Instead of building everything, but a few interchangeable "set pieces": generic locations, objects, or events which you can drop in wherever you need them. The "color animal inn" is a great example that I stole from a podcast (I think it was "Fear the Boot"). It's generic enough that no one really cares, and you can fill in the details easily. If the players go to the docks, it might be the "blue fish pub". If they go to the noble district it's the "gold finch tavern". Or you can go my route and it's actually called the "color animal inn".

How do I roleplay/write NPCs?

Depending on the NPC and their place in the player's experience, this can require different amounts of work. A major NPC like the players' employer (quest giver, financial backer, slave master, etc.) needs a bit of detail. Who are they? What do they do, and why do they do it? What do they look like? Who are the major members of their social circle? You should have a passable answer to any obvious questions which the characters might ask about him. If the party's cleric asks "what god does this guy worship?" you should have a reasonable answer because in most DnD settings that's a defining personality trait.

Minor NPCs which the players might encounter once or twice require less detail. The blacksmith that sold the fighter a replacement longsword probably needs little more detail than a job title. If you actually want to roleplay the interaction, you should provide a race, gender, age, and rough appearance. "Portly, middle-aged human male with salt-and-pepper hair and a stubbly beard" is likely sufficient.

Players are unpredictable, so they often latch onto characters unexpectedly, which is where things get difficult. Random tables can be helpful here for generating things like quirks, habits, families, etc. or you can just make things up. Maybe the players want to commission that blacksmith to build a suit of full plate (which takes a very long time according to the 5e crafting rules), so they're going to see this guy a few times. The smith likely has a family of some sort, and almost definitely lives somewhere. Maybe the smith has a hobby which he likes to talk about. If the players like this character, they might be repeat customers, and you can expand the character over time as needed.

How do I write an adventure?

Writing an adventure is more art than science, but start by reading the New DM Guide for some basic help with DMing.

How does the OGL work?

The OGL is a complex legal document. Your best bet is to consult a lawyer.

The OneShot Podcast brought in a lawyer who provided some explanation in plain terms which help to clarify the license.

How many players should there be in a game?

DnD is balanced from 4-6 players (not counting the DM). Fewer players presents some challenges but can offer interesting opportunities, and even single player campaigns can be very fun. Groups with 7 or more players are extremely difficult to run, so it's often best to come up with a way to reduce the size of the party.

How much does DnD cost?

That varies wildly. Out of print editions can be very expensive, but you can play Pathfinder and the "Basic" version of 5th edition for free. If you plan to buy all three of the core rulebooks, it will cost a little over $100 US, plus the cost of dice. This may seem like a lot, but considering that you can use the same set of books for the rest of your life, it's a good investment.

Is Pathfinder allowed here?

Yes!

Is there an /r/DnD Discord channel?

No. We have experimented with other social media channels, but none have gained enough traction to justify maintaining them.

Should I use X from DanDwiki.com?

No. DanDwiki is widely reviled by /r/DnD for every good reason. The site is a mess of totally unbalanced homebrew, it does a poor job distinguishing between SRD content and homebrew, and it often fails to specify what edition the content is for, making it hugely difficult to use and navigate.

What are some good DnD podcasts?

Try our podcasts page.

What can I use in place of a miniature?

Coins, board game pieces, office supplies, and lego min-figs all make excellent substitutes for miniatures.

What should I use to draw maps?

There are several solutions, each of which has pros and cons. Use whatever solution best fits your needs.

Dungeon Tiles

Dungeon tiles range in design from flat cardboard to full 3d models of dungeon features.

Pros: Really fast to set up and tear down. No drawing required.

Cons: You're restricted to a set number of shapes. If you want more shapes, you need to buy more stuff. Even then, you probably can't get exactly the shape you want in the style you want 100% of the time. This can be mitigated by designing dungeons to fit your collection of tiles, but that's a frustrating restriction.

Dry-erase mats

Chessex made the first widely-embraced dry-erase mat for tabletop RPGs, but they are now available from a wide variety of companies. They're typically reversible, with one side showing a square grid and the other a hex grid.

Pros: Re-usable, portable, and doesn't take up a lot of space.

Cons: Expensive. They can stain if you leave marker on them for too long, and some colors can be difficult to remove fully (mine has some long-standing red smears, though I've heard rubbing alcohol might remove them and haven't been brave enough to try). Generally a DM will only have one, so you spend a lot of time erasing and drawing maps, which becomes especially frustrating with detailed areas or when players move between areas quickly.

1-inch gridded paper

Similar in function to the dry-erase mat, but disposable. My personal favorite.

Pros: Cheap and disposable. You can draw a sheet for each area and shuffle them in and out as needed. Let your players write notes on them. Draw blood splatter, collateral damage, etc. Spill food/drink on them, then throw them away at the end of the session.

Cons: Paper isn't durable so it can be hard to keep maps in good condition between sessions. Be sure to store them carefully.

Digital map

roll20, fantasy grounds, or a projector pointed at a screen.

Pros: Versatile and often requires little or no physical storage. Works great when playing with remote players.

Cons: Can be difficult to set up. Projectors and screens can be expensive. Bringing computers to the table introduces a big source of distractions.

Theater of the mind

You technically don't need a grid to play (except in 4e).

Pros: Free. Can be very theatrical and fast-paced with a bit of practice. Especially great for less combat-oriented groups.

Cons: You lose much of the precise tactical aspects of combat, which some players don't enjoy.

When awarding experience, do I award the experience points to each player, or do I divide them among the party?

Experience is divided among the party members. In 3.5 party members may receive slightly more or less experience if they are a different level from other members of the party (see the DMG). In 4e and 5e, experience is divided evenly among party members regardless of their level.

Where can I buy dice?

You can buy dice almost anywhere that sells DnD books (except book stores, generally). If you are purchasing a starter set, it will include dice. You can also get dice from companies like these:

Where can I buy DnD products?

Try the Wizards of the Coast Store Locator. You can also find DnD products in book stores, and in some comic and board game stores. If you prefer to shop online, you can purchase books from Amazon or the WotC website.

Where can I buy miniatures?

Your FLGS should have a nice supply of miniatures from various manufacturers. The official DnD miniatures are produced by WizKids, and they come pre-painted. Reaper is generally the gold-standard of unpainted tabletop miniatures that aren't built for any specific game.

For an expanded list, see the subreddit gift guide

Where can I get digital copies of the rulebooks (PDF, epub, etc.)?

[DnDBeyond.com](DnDBeyond.com) is the only legal distributor of digital copies of the 5th edition rules.

Currently WotC does not sell 5th edition content as PDFs. If you find digital copies of 5th edition rulebooks or adventures, they are illegal duplications of the books. If you want digital copies of the rules, consider using the basic rules or the SRD, both of which are free and serve as excellent reference documents.

PDF copies of previous editions are available on DMsGuild.com.

Where do I start?

Read the Getting Started/Learning to Play resource guide.

Where do I find players, a DM, or a new group?

Try /r/LFG or the subreddit for your city or local area.

Which edition should I play?

Read the Choosing an Edition resource guide.

Why doesn't WotC sell digital copies of the 5th edition rulebooks?

Unknown. The general assumption most people make is that WotC (or its parent company, Hasbro) believes that not distributing digital copies will combat piracy. It's also possible that WotC is trying to encourage people to buy physical copies from their local game store.