In order to play the game you need a few things… a copy of the rulebooks, funny dice, a gamemaster, and some players. Oh… and don’t forget the pens and paper! Of course, if you play online using a Virtual Game Table like Maptool or Roll20, all you need are the bodies. The dice, rules, and pens and paper aren’t needed at all as it can all be stored digitally.
You can find the rules for 3rd edition for free by googling, ‘d20 SRD’. There are numerous sites that have the full rules available for free. Hurray Open Gaming License!
The software to play online is also free if you know where to look. Maptool and Roll20 are the two best free options available at the moment. OpenRPG runs a close third. I never bother with pay to play tables as it’s a waste of money.
The only other thing you need to play pen and paper RPGs is your imagination. D&D is a game of pretend with a gamemaster weaving a world of adventure in which the players are expected to react in. It can be great fun for all involved but it requires a commitment on all parties to be reliable and dependable and to show up each week. Nothing sucks so bad as a missing player… well, a missing GM is worse as nothing happens with out him to spin his tale.
If you’re interested in getting into a game you also need to decide if you want to join a face to face game or if you want to play online. Face to face is great, but playing online allows you to play in your underwear… I’m just sayin…
Seriously though, playing online using Virtual Game Tables is awesome. It allows friends from all over the world to meet up in one online location and play. It lets family men and women participate without having to leave the comfort of their home or invite a bunch of people over. It’s also a heck of a lot easier to find a game online. While your town might have a few groups that play, playing online really increases the odds of your finding a game that suits your desires more. Shadowrun, Mutants and Masterminds, Serenity, Mage, Vampires, whatever you’re into, you can always find it online.
So if you have been thinking about getting into D&D, think no more. Just do it. You won’t regret it. It’s a great way to spend 4 or 5 hours to escape reality without resorting to drugs or alcohol. I hope this article serves to bring a while slew of new adventurers into the world of pen and paper gaming.