And So It Begins

Welcome to your first Dungeons & Dragons adventure – here’s all you need to know (plus free stuff to get you started!)

Dungeons & Dragons is a genre of fantasy role-playing from the 1970’s that’s having a current resurgence thanks to the Netflix hit Stranger Things (where the game is an integral part of the show). Even before that, though, new players were discovering D&D via Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings, and even popular horror like the Walking Dead.

D&D games are immersive, collaborative experiences that engage logic and imagination simultaneously, while also nourishing social skills like compromise, conflict resolution, and advocating a position. Sounds complicated, right? No worries, we’ve got a Dungeon Master on duty, here to walk you though this exciting new world of possibilities.

Paul Lazrow is gamer, parent and elementary/middle school math teacher with years of experience running virtual D&D campaigns for players all over the country through his virtual D&D camp, Adventuring Portal. This guide here is a summary of two previous blog posts linked below.

Introducing something new to a child or adult is magical. You are privileged to see the confusion, understanding, appreciation and learning. Ideally, you’ll find a new passion together that enriches your relationship. While such connections can certainly take hold spontaneously, it’s best to have a plan, for maximum success.

Since most people are familiar with video games, I start there. Since I love video games, myself, it’s not hard to talk about my favorites and why I enjoy this or that. If you’re not a gamer, you can still initiate a conversation about video games to engage interest. As you discuss different types of video games, it’s easy to compare elements (like maps, weapons, avatars, etc) to Dungeons & Dragons. Then I make a shocking statement: D&D is better than a video game. WHAT?!

That usually gets their attention. So I give them my top three reasons:

  1. There’s nothing like it! Everyone has a turn to add their voice and make decisions, creating a one-of-a-kind adventure.
  2. No losers (or winners)  – it’s all about the quest, which can go on as long as players want.
  3. Cooperation creates incredible strength & opportunity, allowing the team to achieve advanced levels that individuals may be otherwise not be able to attain.

D&D play can be complex, but it follows a basic formula that’s easy to dive into: exploration, role-play and combat, which is determined with dice. The first roll is to see if your attack was successful, the second tells how much damage you did — or how badly you are hurt, if your offensive failed.

Small sampling of the various monsters you may encounter in a D&D adventure.

One of the wonderful things about D&D is how many different things there are to fight! An enormous collection of natural and monstrous foes offers various challenges as the group explores their surroundings. A good Dungeon Master describes each room in vibrant detail, encouraging players to wonder about every nook & cranny: what’s in that desk drawer? Can we see behind those drapes? Is that big painting hiding a secret passage?

In exploration, players are often rewarded for thinking outside the box. That’s where everyone’s avatars come in – remember, in D&D, you’re not engaging as yourself but role-playing a character you’ve chosen who could be an elf, a dwarf, a hobbit, a human… Each has their own strengths & weaknesses and ideally players will imagine a backstory, and flesh out their avatar’s personality.

Are they brave but foolhardy? Cautious to a fault? A jokester? These things will all affect how each player reacts to every new room and creaking door, every creature they interact with. Avatars develop, too, as they find weapons, armor, magical items and other treasures that advance their status and abilities. Players that get comfortable with each other may do voices, make speeches, play pranks, and enjoy creative fun together at every turn.

With so many options and so much possibility, D&D can look intimidating for beginners. I hope this breakdown here helps make it a little more accessible. For more information, check out my original post which includes more instruction and particulars.

Elfin’ Awesome — D&D for FREE!

Ready to get started? Try before you buy! I’ve spent a ridiculous amount of time poking around the internet for free D&D resources. Here are my go-to favorites:

  • D&D’s own website is a great place to start, lots of articles & news on the latest games.
  • The Only Dungeon Map You’ll Ever Need (the name says it all, doesn’t it?)
  • More free maps at com!
  • Tabletop Audio provides music and background sounds that really bring an adventure to life.
  • Lots of cool D&D stuff at com, including tools like name generators, pocket dungeons, and an incredible wealth of lists to enliven play even further.
  • People make their own adventures and sell them on a website called the Dungeon Masters Guild, but there are also free ones you can download. One of my favorite adventure writers, T. Black, offers 20 free adventures worth checking out, as well.
  • Random encounter generators, monster lists, magic items and soooo much more to see on donjon’s amazing site.
  • Having trouble coming up with a name for your character? can find you the perfect moniker whether you’re a male dwarf, a female orc, a non-binary pixie or more than a hundred other fantasy creatures.

This is just a sampling of free stuff available – lots more goodies in the original post on my website. Here’s hoping you’ll be inspired to introduce D&D to someone you love!

Happy gaming!

Learn more about Paul’s favorite game, Dungeons and Dragons, through Adventuring Portal, a local small business that provides exciting, virtual D&D adventures for all skill levels.

Adventures are 3 hours per day (M-F) for a total of 15 hours of gaming for $180. Four timeslots: 9am, 1pm, 6pm & 9pm.
Paul Lazrowfounder & Dungeon Master
**Friends Discount: 10% off for Local Readers**


Local games are being organized now, email for info & updates.

About Paul Lazrow 4 Articles
Paul Lazrow is the founder and one of the Dungeon Masters at Adventuring Portal, an online service that focuses on running live-guided fun, safe D&D games for kids. Find out more at

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.