Playing Dungeons & Dragons

Cast Party is a group of D&D fans who also happen to be professional actors, directors, artists, producers, and friends with decades of collective gaming and storytelling experience.

And we want to play Dungeons & Dragons with you!

How to get started, how to play online, and how to play with us (for free).

Getting Started

Many people are finding solace, distraction, entertainment, friendship, and connection by playing D&D right now. If you would like to give it a try, we are here to help.

Dungeons & Dragons is a collective storytelling game. The Dungeon Master is a kind of narrator/referee who guides the players through adventures. The players are not in competition with each other; they work together towards mutual goals. Each player controls one character who has unique abilities and attributes. The Dungeon Master controls all the other characters and creatures encountered by the players (friends and foes alike).

The adventures can be self-contained, single-session games (called “one-shots”) or played as part of an ongoing episodic series to form a continuing story (or “campaign”). A typical session will last 2-4 hours. At Cast Party, we prefer to play for about 4 hours in person, but a bit shorter than that if we’re playing online.

The Basic Rules are available to download free in PDF form. They contain everything you need to play, except some dice. If you don’t own D&D dice, there are numerous free digital dice rollers available online (here’s one). To help friends play during the pandemic, Wizards of the Coast (the company that creates official D&D products) has released a bunch of free material.

Which Adventure to Play?

Some Dungeon Masters prefer to create their own adventures. Others prefer to use pre-created adventures – either in whole, or to mine for ideas in order to create their own stories.

If you and your group are completely new to D&D, we recommend the D&D Starter Set. This set contains the essential rules of the game, five pre-generated characters, and an awesome adventure, Lost Mine of Phandelver, designed to teach the game to new Dungeon Masters as they play. In addition to the physical boxed set, this adventure is available digitally on DNDBeyond, Roll20.net, and Fantasy Grounds. It will provide weeks or even months of play.

Other starting adventure options include Sunless Citadel (included in the Tales from the Yawning Portal hardcover compilation, but also available “a la carte” on the three sites listed above) and Dragon of Icespire Peak. We think Lost Mine of Phandelver is the best of these three, but feel free to sample them all.

Once you’ve played through your first campaign, you might be ready to create your own adventures. Or you might move on to one of the official campaigns, available digitally or in hardcover form, or to adventures available digitally or print-on-demand on DMsGuild.com or elsewhere (here are some by Cast Party’s Tal Aviezer).

If you are just getting started, we’re kinda jealous. There’s something very special about your first Dungeons & Dragons campaign. You’ve never played anything quite like this before. We hope you pass your death saves.

How to Play Online

The core experience of playing D&D requires refreshingly little “stuff”. That makes it ideally suited for playing remotely. All you need is:

  • A Dungeon Master and players
  • A voice connection (Skype, Zoom, Discord, Google Hangouts, a Facebook call, or even a good old fashioned conference call will do). Some people like video connections, but all you NEED is voice.
  • Some way to roll dice

That’s it! The DM can share visuals with the players using chat rooms or via email or private messages. This style of play is generally called “Theater of the Mind” because it relies primarily on verbal descriptions and the power of the imagination to set the scene.

Some players and DMs make extensive use of tabletop maps, miniatures, and/or terrain in their games. There are ways to simulate or recreate this style of play in an online environment. One option is for the DM to use a webcam to display their physical tabletop, and move the minis around as the players request.

Another option is to make use of a Virtual Table Top (VTT) system, such as Roll20.net or Fantasy Grounds.

We prefer Roll20.net because the basic system is free to use and entirely web-based (no downloads required). You can also purchase Roll20 versions of many of the official adventures. The free extension Beyond20 is highly recommended if you already own DNDBeyond digital versions of rule books such as the Player’s Handbook, Xanathar’s Guide to Everything, Volo’s Guide to Monsters, or Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide. This extension will connect DNDBeyond with Roll20, and save you from having to purchase that content again to use it in the VTT environment. Fantasy Grounds requires a fee to use, but many people enjoy it and find it a little more intuitive than Roll20. It also has the advantage of a licensing agreement with Dungeon Master’s Guild. This means that Fantasy Grounds has MANY more pre-made adventures available than Roll20 does.

Both Roll20.net and Fantasy Grounds have a bit of a learning curve and can feel daunting at first. Video tutorials for them are of mixed effectiveness. If possible, try to get somebody who already knows how to use one of these systems to spend a little time walking you through the basics. Remember that you don’t need to master them all at once (or ever). For many games, just being able to use the maps and tokens will be enough.

Finding People to Play With

If you don’t already have a group, there are plenty of places online to look for fellow players. DNDBeyond, Roll20.net, ENWorld.com, and Reddit all have forums with “Looking for Game” areas where players can find each other and form groups. There are many Facebook groups dedicated to D&D as well where you can find games to join. When we’re able to play in person again, your local game store or Meetup.com are great resources. In fact, your local game store may be running online games right now. In New York City, try Hex & Co.

Even if you are not able to find anybody to play with, there are some very good solo adventures (i.e. no Dungeon Master required) available on DMsGuild.com! We recommend starting with The Death Knight’s Squire by Paul Bimler.

How to Play with Cast Party

Cast Party is offering free and premium online D&D games run by our Dungeon Masters. The sign up links will be posted here, and also on our Facebook and Twitter. You can be among the first to learn when the new sign up link is posted by joining our email list.

Space in these games is limited. Click here for this week’s games!

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