What you need to start kids playing D&D

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Stuff to play with

Kids, especially younger kids, love playing with dice. Heck, I love playing with dice. I am going to show you how you can play D&D at no cost but I would also like to point out that giving kids dice to play with is a great way to hold their attention.

Free to play

Since Dungeons and Dragons 3.0 Wizards has made a Systems Reference Document (SRD) available for free! What is an SRD? This is a document made available for free that contains the basic rules of a game. The purpose is to make the basics of a game available to hook people to buy the other stuff the company puts out. It’s a win/win. This document also has provisions for other games to make their own RPG with the system in the SRD. What does that mean for your little RPGers? Free rule books!

It doesn’t have nearly the variety of classes, equipment, monsters, etc. as the paid material does, but it’s plenty to get started. Here is a link to the D&D 5 SRD.

What about dice? Once you have rules, then you need to do some rolling. Typically, you need a full set of 7 polyhedral dice to play D&D. There are some free options. Wizards has Dice Roller. It’s a cool site that understands what you need to do to play D&D. DnD Dice Roller is also pretty slick.

Play for Free Remotely?

What if your friends are not physically able to gather. If there was something weird like a global pandemic on, what then? I use FoundryVTT Tabletop but since this article is about kids playing I am going to talk about Roll20. Roll20 is a nice place to start because you can have free accounts and it’s fairly simple. I could write a whole series on Virtual Tabletops but I’m not going into much depth.

Suffice to say, in a world of infinite google images you can find all the maps and tokens you need for free.


Little plastic (or pewter) figures to move around a grid are a lot of fun. If you are unable to buy them the internet has tons of site to download tokens that you can print for free. DMSToolkit is great but just searching “printable D&D tokens” will yield thousands of results.

In the Money

What if you have some cash to invest in tools to get your kids playing? Here are some suggestions. First off, I know that Amazon rules the world in all things cheap but I encourage you to check out your local game store. These businesses need the support of gamers to stay open. These stores are a great place for D&D players to connect. They also introduce players to new ideas they can’t find on Amazon. That being said. If The Zon is your bookstore of choice, here are some recommended books to get.


In the section above I started with source material but her I am going to start with dice. Dice are great. They can be so cheap but there are so many to choose from. A cheap set of dice will cost between $3-7. You can buy any color and design combo you can imagine. If you have deep pockets, get some cool metal dice. Beware. Dice addiction is a real thing.

If you are sponsoring a group of young folks and want to gift them their own set of dice, you can buy some sets of really pretty ones for less than $25.


Remember my encouragement to visit your LGS when considering books. No matter where you buy them, the bare minimum needed are a Player’s Handbook, a Dungeon Master’s Guide, and a Monster’s Manual. You may also want to pick up an adventure. I like DM Dave’s Adventures. The scale really well with different level characters. You also should consider D&D Adventures for Kids of DMing Dad for younger kids.

It’s tough to beat ye old Starter set. It comes with a limited number of rules and no full books, but it has an adventure included and does a great job walking your through how to play D&D. The Essentials buncle is another light version of the rules with an adventure. This may be a good chioce if you are wanting to test things how and see if your kids are into it.

The best way to go is the Gift Set. It has a Player’s Handbook, Dungeon Masters’s Guide, and a Monster Manual. All the things you will need to play and/or run a full game.


D&D Miniatures can be a huge money sink, especially for the DM. But companies WizKids and Reaper have made them very affordable. You can buy a fully painted miniature for around $5. That’s a great deal.

You can get premium, painted WizKids minis like this one.

Unpainted minis like these guys.

Or you can go hog wild and buy a huge pack of monsters.


This is an optional step in D&D 5e. You don’t really need a grid but they are super cool and fun. You can find 1″ square grids all over the place. I have also made my own by drawing a permanent grid on the back of a piece of Plexiglas from Lowe’s.

These are super cool!

If you want to go hog wild, you can look at buying or building a gaming table like mine: https://authorjackadkins.com/how-i-built-my-gaming-table/


It doesn’t take much money to get started. Just be willing to invest some time and your imagination and your kids can be well on their way to adventure!

Click here for the link to the first article in this series.

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