Maybe you’ve played a few games, or maybe you’ve got your first game coming up. Either way, I’ve got a long long list of gadgets, gizmos and great websites for you!
- These are all things for D&D 5e, although some of them are applicable across other games.
- I would always suggest playing a game before investing loads of money, and playing a few times if you don’t *love* the first game. I know a few people who don’t love me as a DM but love D&D, and that’s okay, but I also know people who spent £100 before realising they actually want to play Warhammer. You can also try the free online rules before dropping the money on the books There are loads of places across the UK to try out D&D, so check online for your local place!
The most valuable resource I can offer anyone ever is an online character builder. The books are great, and if you love pen & paper and making it yourself, I’m not suggesting stop, but there has been many a session saved by having your character sheet in the cloud.
Option 1: My personal favourite site is https://www.dungeonmastersvault.com/. It allows you to import homebrew content really easily and it allows you to share your character sheets with your DM. On top of this, there’s 0 cost – the best cost! It’s got a super easy guided process if you are creating your first characters. It also allows you to share your character with your DM if you’re all using the same sheet, and they can add them all into a party (share the URL by clicking www once you’ve shared your sheet and your DM can click add to party)
Option 2: If you’re wanting something with all the expansion books easily available, https://www.dndbeyond.com/ is the only choice. With all books loaded in, it’s an easy and simple choice but the price point is not to be sniffed at – buying the books costs RRP of the book price – so just the player’s guide & Xanathar’s guide will set you back £50 or so, and that is only a digital copy. The advantage is that if your DM buys all of them & the subscription, then all your party can access them!
Both of them allow me to show off my subtle D&D-nerdy-ness at any time. The ring gives me the ability to always roll a d20 – i keep it on my keys. The lip balm is a lovely little conversation starter that also deals with my chapped lips after a long 8 hour gaming session.
For the dungeon master
Every single dungeon master has that one time when the players go “oh and what’s through this door” and open a door that you hadn’t planned for. Part of the joy of DM’ing is ad-libbing what is behind the door and hoping your players don’t cotton on to the fact you’re making it up as you go along. But what happens when they start to ask about what it looks like, or want to start combat and you’re a map-based DM (rather than a theater of the mind DM).
Dungeon Tiles Reincarnated are exactly what you need at this point
If you make me pick between dice and these tiles, I’ll always pick the tiles as I love a good combat field to give my players a real sense of the room they are in. Players can always be represented by a leftover d4 or a bottlecap, but the maps really give players a sense of the room. Each pack, Dungeon, Wilderness and City, all contain 16 A4 sheets which can be mixed & matched to give your players an idea of the room. From big almost A4 maps of a tavern, to a mish-mash of 2×4 pieces, you can make almost any situation your players might be in.
I personally own all 3, and have them stored in plastic wallets by size – 1×1 gridded squares to 3×3’s in a little fishing tackle box, and larger pieces in a clear wallet ready to go at any time.
This is very much a situational piece, but I love having one of these. A beautiful brass coin for saving throws. If your players are dying and have no buffs, taking their dice out of their hand and handing them this coin can make this moment more tense. I tend to hand players this coin on their final saving throw, when they’re caught between life and death. Thrice I have handed it to a player on a darkened evening, sitting there with tears in their eyes, hoping that their character is not lost this time and twice it has allowed the player to return as the same character the next session. And in the time it did not, the moment was made more solem by the rattle of the coin hitting the table as it fell on the side of no return.
For the player
So you’ve played a few times? And you’ve decided to be a wizard for some reason (I mean, sorcerer and Warlock are right there! You could’ve sold your soul to satan or be rolling on random-tables but sure, wizard is fun too). The best investment for you (or any of your fellow magic users) is the D&D 5e Spellbook Cards. Now hear me out – I know some people despise them – but they are so useful if you wish to take your character between DM’s. My wizards use them often to help select spells after a long rest, and my sorcerer carries them to shuffle during some wild magic bursts. If I wish to pack light, I can fit them, and my character sheet, and some dice into a nice A6 bag, ready to play whenever the time suits. I’ve handed them to my DM to save them having to pass a huge book. I’ve put them into little A6 folio as a true wizards spellbook!
Either way, they are incredibly useful. They come in Arcana (Wizards, Warlocks and Sorcerers), as well as Bard, Cleric, Druid, Paladin, Ranger and Martial Powers & Races. There’s also an expansion for Xanathar and Elemental spells.
There’s something important that players forget sometimes which is that note taking can be vital. The DM will likely have a massive tome of notes and plans, and sometimes it’s really useful to have made notes (obviously not every game is the same etc).
The BEST notetaking books are the ones that are multipurpose. I have one similar to this, which stores my character sheet in the ziplock bag. It’s a godsend as I can just chuck my character sheet in whatever bag I’m taking to the event and boom – I have a notebook built-in. Need to know what happened last session? Perfect!
Everyone’s notetaking will be different (For example, often, mine is non-existent whilst I let someone else make the notes) but I’d also suggest adding the following things to whatever notebook you choose.
- Sticky Notes: They’re useful to pass secrets on. I’ve got a pad in 4 colours stuck to the first page so i can always grab one when i need it.
- Little tokens: I have a BUNCH of these in my wallet-book – they’re perfect for when I’ve forgotten my mini and just need a token. I’ve got some nice ones leftover from D&D 4e, but you can also just print one out and tape it to a bit of cardboard.
- A spare blank character sheet. Y’know how at the start I mentioned how there’s always a time you forget your character sheet? Well a plain blank one is a great way to deal with that – just keep it in the book at all times and if everything goes wrong, just grab your phone, and copy it from the webapp!
- A £5 note. This is just my personal preference and probably pointless after the end of the world but it’s always good to have a bit of cash to chuck at whomever buys the pizza.
- A paper coaster from your favourite bar. When you’re playing in a bar, there’s often enough. When you’re at someones house, less so. Always keep one on you to protect your favourite table!
- Little packet of paracetamol/Usb charging cable/any other essentials you may need. In like my second D&D session, I ended up getting an awful headache, but someone at the event had a small packet of paracetamol and I was able to stay till the end! My D&D book goes with me wherever I go so it’s always good to have everything I could possibly need with me.
This is obviously not an “everything” list – I could mention Roll20, Fantasy grounds or Astral for playing on, all the places to get beautiful dice from, Hero forge for printing mini’s… but hopefully it’s given you a taste of things to pick up, ready for when in-person gaming can happen again!