Top 5 DnD Tips for Newbies

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Get these DnD basics down and you’ll be a newbie no longer

1. Pay attention

Playing DnD is like being a character in a movie. The DM is the narrator.

During exploration, your DM will drop hints about aspects of the town you’re in or whatever area you are exploring. You won’t be expected to remember everything, but you should have a working memory of the most important elements in your environment.

During combat, you should know who you’re fighting, and what the DM has told you about the enemy. You should also know where you are fighting, recent events, and any special items your party has acquired. 

Just like when you pull your phone out at a table, not paying attention can drain the energy out of the room. In DnD you’re supposed to be all in together, immersed in the goings-on of your adventure.

 Stay on task!

2. Know your actions 

During Combat, you have one Main Action, and one Bonus Action. Know what Actions and Bonus Actions you can take.

These are the actions you’ll be taking most often:

  • Attack – A melee, ranged attack
  • Cast a spell – Cast spells that cost an “action”
  • Dash – Double your movement speed
  • Disengage – Prevent opportunity attacks (when you are too close to enemies and try to leave, they have a chance for an extra “opportunity” attack)
  • Dodge – Increase defense
  • Hide – Go behind cover
  • Help – Give advantage to an ally (enable them to roll two dice for an attack, and choose the highest)
  • Use a Class Feature – Activate a special ability that costs an “action”

You can also take these actions:

  • Use shield Equip or unequip a shield
  • GrappleGrab an enemy so they can’t move
  • Shove – Break a grapple, knock an enemy down, or force an ally or enemy to move 5 feet away
  • Ready – Prepare for a reaction
  • Use an Object – Interact with the environment
  • Search

These are Bonus Actions:

  • Offhand attack – Attack with your weak hand
  • Cast a spell – Cast spells that cost a “bonus action”
  • Use a Class feature – Activate a special ability that costs a “bonus action”

Be ready when it’s your turn. After a few battles, you’ll get the gist! 

3. Narrate your actions

Narrating your adventure is a huge part of DnD. Not only does it add personal flair and excitement to the game, but it also gives your buddies cues on what to do next. Lead your partners into their next move! 

Narrating also lets your DM know exactly what you want to do, so they can react and defend appropriately. 

Don’t say: “I attack.” Say “I punch him in the jaw.” 

Don’t say: “I go outside.” Say “I go outside and look for the nearest market.”

When you’re narrating killing blows, it’s especially important to try your best at describing the action! Your party has fought hard to take down a foe and demands satisfaction.

Don’t say: “I kill her.” Say “I get a running start, jump off the wall, and bring my ax down straight between the eyes!”

4. Know your Dice

There are 6 types of dice in DnD: d20, d12, d10, d8, d6, and d4. The numbers mean how many sides the dice has. 

Generally, the d4, d6, d8, d10 and d12 are used to determine:

  • Weapons damage
  • Attack damage
  • Spell damage
  • Healing amounts

The bigger the dice, the bigger the damage (or healing). You’ll often roll multiples of the lower dice. All your abilities are attached to certain dice. Remember them!

  • The classic d20 is used to see if actions succeed, whether you’re fighting, exploring, or using all your neat 5e tools. Do you hit your enemy? Do you lockpick the door?

Important: Get your own set of lucky dice!

5. Take Notes

As your campaign goes on, the details will pile up, and so will the cast of characters. You’re not going to remember what that shiny blue diamond is for, or the name of the shady figure who lives in the manor atop the hill. Your DM will expect you to know about major details, so have them at the ready.

You can also jot down pointers for your character development. Write down people you want to get revenge on, items you want to track down, or rumors you want to explore. Think of it as your own personal diary.

Taking notes is also a great way to recap the adventure next time around!

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