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Free References and Tools For Dungeons and Dragons Fifth Edition May 10, 2017

Posted by Maniac in Game News.

If you’re like me, you’ve probably been hearing musings from your friends and peers about this game called Dungeons & Dragons for years now.  It’s ruleset has been used as a template for countless Western RPGs for decades, and now that it has published its 5th Edition, its publisher has been pushing hard to get new players familiar in the game.

If you want to learn how to play D&D you’re in luck because Wizards of the Coast, the official publisher of Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition, is offering tons of rulesets and tools for new players completely free of charge. It’s the perfect way to learn how to play the game before deciding if you want to pay money on the core retail books.

You can find links to PDF files for the Basic Players Guide and Basic Dungeon Master’s Guide here.  You’re welcome to read them on your smartphone or tablet, and I know of plenty groups that will accept players using digital references. However, if you’ve got access to a printer or a local office supply store, you’re fully allowed to print out all the pages of both PDF files containing the Basic Rules.  If you’re going to print the rules, I recommend setting your printer to print them double-sided in full color. Trust me on that, printing double-sided uses less paper and including color makes reading the pages easier on the eyes. They’re a little too thick to staple together but as you can see here, the pages can be three-hole punched to fit in any three-ring binder you want.

The catch is that because these rules are free they do not contain everything.  Races like the Tiefling, classes like the Druid, and enemies like the Succubus are not included in the free rules while they are in the full retail core rulebooks.  That having been said, players are fully capable of using these free rules to help them in creating a new character and playing the game alongside others who have paid for the retail books.

If you want to play you’re going to need a character sheet and Wizards has you covered there as well!  Wizards allows players to print out and even copy character sheets, so you can download PDF files of several different sets of character sheets (blank and pregenerated) here.  Here’s a look at some of them.

5th Edition character sheets are compatible with players using either the Basic Rules or the full Player’s Guide. We’ll be taking a closer look at them below.

Under normal circumstances, a regular 5th Edition character sheet is made up of three pages. The first and second pages (which I recommend printing in a double sided format) are for writing down important information like player stats, current inventory, abilities, and character appearance.  The third page is only used for spell casters and is not needed unless you’re playing as a character who can cast spells.  You’ll use those normal character sheets if you’re playing D&D at home or with friends in a private game.

The character sheet website also includes master PDF files for every pregenerated character sheet included in the 5th Edition Starter Set, and those can also be reprinted. I prefer using copies of documents rather than the originals, so I was happy to find Wizard was hosting those files as well.  If you want to see everything that’s included in the Starter Set, check out our unboxing here.

So now that you know where to find the rules, you know where to get the forms you’ll need to create a character, all that’s left is dice.  Wizards of the Coast won’t give you game dice for free (although you will find a set of dice in the 5th Ed Starter Set), but we can help you out if you don’t have any dice. While a set of dice isn’t that expensive to purchase (you can see our review of a set of seven Chessex Gemini dice here), there are other free tools you can use instead of dice.

The iPhone’s Siri or Amazon’s Alexa voice services have random number generators that you can use to substitute for dice rolling.  To get your device to do a roll, just tell your digital assistant, “Roll *number of dice* D-*type of dice*”.  So if you need your Echo to give you a single D20 roll, you would say, “Alexa, roll one D20.”  Don’t use a plural word when asking to roll multiple dice, as that can confuse the systems. So if you want to roll two D6, you would say, “Alexa, roll two D6.”  It’s a little slower than actually having dice, but it’s still pretty cool.

Some of this information will probably be updated as D&D Beyond goes out of beta later this year. Hopefully this information was useful to all the new players interested in playing D&D 5th Ed. You might have noticed a different kind of character sheet in the picture above marked with the Adventurers League watermark. That is a special character sheet we’ll be discussing more next time.


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