How to Play Dungeons and Dragons for Free

Three Methods:Sample CampaignsPen and PaperPlaying Online

Dungeons and Dragons can be an engrossing and exciting game, but many view the cost of the materials as a significant barrier. Luckily, there are a couple of ways to experience the world of D&D without spending a dime, just by following these easy steps.

Sample Campaigns

Dungeons and Dragons Night of the Lichen Campaign

Dungeons and Dragons Greenwind Depths Campaign

Dungeons and Dragons Flayer's Valley Campaign

Method 1
Pen and Paper

Dungeons and Dragons is traditionally played on a tabletop, with paper and dice. The books can get expensive, but the basics are available online for free. The average player does not actually have to purchase anything, as the DM is in charge of creating the game.

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    Learn about the game. Play the demo on the Wizards of the Coast (WOTC) website. This will familiarize you with the game and give you a basic idea of the flow and systems at work.
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    Find a dice substitute. Dice are the only material that is required from all players. There is a dice roller at WOTC's site, or you can find a printable paper template and make your own. A pencil with dots on each side makes an inexpensive replacement for six-sided dice.
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    Make up a character sheet, or use a pre-made one. If you want the traditional DnD-style game, go with dwarves, elves, humans and even half-lings. If you want sci-fi, you can use any sort of aliens you want.
    • The System Reference Document (SRD) contains the rules of D&D, which are important to consult as you learn to play. Follow the link and scroll to the bottom of the page. Download the Basic Rules and Spells sections. If you're planning to be the Dungeon Master (DM), get the Monsters and Magic Items as well. Don't worry about any of the other sections for now, they're for advanced players. Be advised: The SRD is not comprehensive, and lacks vital information on subjects like character generation and gaining levels.
    • Printable character sheets are available here. For most beginners, the 4th Edition Character Sheets will do.
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    Make up your own story line. This is what makes your game interesting, making your own story line could be the hardest, but most fun part of the process. You can choose to have whatever characters you want, whatever mythology you want or you can even make up your own mythology.
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    Get together in a group and play! Dungeons and Dragons is a complex game that will take some time getting used to, so encourage everyone playing to read the core materials and go over the WOTC tutorial. Stay persistent and your game sessions will become much more rewarding.

Method 2
Playing Online

Online play is a natural fit for a game like Dungeons and Dragons, and now you can play it for free.

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    Download the Dungeons and Dragons Online program here. Dungeons and Dragons Online is free-to-play, and does not require a monthly subscription.
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    Create a free account. You will need to create an account in order to download the game. All it requires is a working email address.
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    Install the program. Be sure that your computer meets the minimum requirements to play, which can be found here.
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    Online games can take a lot of time to get ahead. Take a look at our guide for casual players to get the most enjoyment out of your game.


  • The most important tool for Dungeons and Dragons is your imagination.
  • Check your local used bookstore for used copies of rulebooks.
  • If you're frustrated by the incomplete SRD, can't find a good deal on used books, or are just feeling retro, several open license recreations of First Edition rules can be found for free online. These include OSRIC, Basic Fantasy RPG, and Sword and Wizardry.
  • You may be able to find old DM-created campaigns for free on Craigslist or through other online resources.
  • There are a multitude of forums on the Web that discuss the ins and outs of running a Dungeons and Dragons game.
  • If you have access to a computer for your play sessions, an online, indexed, and hyper-linked version of the SRD is available at this site: [1].

Things You'll Need

  • Internet connection
  • Printer

Article Info

Categories: Role Playing Games