Dungeons and Dragons is a fantastic roleplaying game with deep lore, fun mechanics, and more than its fair share of expensive components. But what if we told you that you can play free Dungeons and Dragons games? Most people who play DnD have shelled out a pretty penny to get the rule books, dice, miniatures, battle mats, and more, but it is entirely possible to play Dungeons and Dragons entirely for free. Today we’ll look at all the amazing free things you can use to play DnD without breaking the bank.
The Rules are Free
If you aren’t already aware or if you’re just trying DnD for the first time, it’s important that you know the core rules of the game are already completely free and available for you online. The reason not everyone knows this is because they are known collectively as the 5e SRD. SRD stands for Systems Reference Document and the 5e SRD is essentially the open source core mechanics that Dungeons and Dragons sits on top of.
As compared to the core rules in the official DnD rules books, the 5e SRD is paired way down. It does not have nearly as much lore, it has no art, and some copyrighted entities are renamed or removed so that Wizards of the Coast, DnD’s parent company, can keep ownership of them. Outside of that the 5e SRD is a fully functional set of rules for the game.
If you want to play DnD and can’t shell out the $90+ dollars it costs to get the core rule books for your group, try getting your hands on the 5e SRD and moving forward with that. The experience is comparable and it won’t cost you a penny. Wizards knows that if you play the game you’ll love it and eventually buy books anyway.
Free Dungeons and Dragons Adventures
Not everyone knows that there are a boatload of free DnD Adventures online. Wizards of the Coast periodically releases free material, but many people don’t realize it’s free because it’s often listed as pay what you want. On the Wizards of the Coast main website there’s a section for Free Material and it has all these goodies in one place.
If you get a taste for the material, you can head over to the Dungeon Masters Guild’s pay what you want section. Here they keep a list of hundreds of pieces of DnD material from adventures to homebrew rules, and if you don’t have the cash it can be completely free. Although, if you do have some cash and like the material you should absolutely throw a few bucks to the amazing people who work to make this great content.
Rules, Check. Adventures, Check. Materials… Free!
If you got this far and have the 5e SRD and a cool adventure in hand but don’t have anything else, you’re still in luck. Even if you don’t have dice, miniatures, or battle mats you can still play the game. If you can’t get a set of polyhedral dice – we’ve got you covered with Master the Dungeon’s very own DnD Dice Roller. This simple page acts as a viable stand in for simulating any die rolls you need and even allows you to roll multiple dice at once to make the process a bit faster.
When you need somewhere to record your dice rolls and get your characters fleshed out, don’t worry, free character sheets for D&D also exist. While you may not have minis and battle mats, Roll 20 offers a free ttrpg platform that will allow you to simulate minis and maps with ease.
At this point you should have everything you need to start playing Dungeons and Dragons for free.
With All This Free Content, Why Aren’t You Playing?
Wizards of the Coast is extraordinarily generous when it comes to allowing their system to have an open source core. This is good for everyone involved and allows people to play the game on a real budget. They understand that people that play DnD will often play for years and it’s unlikely anyone sticks with a hobby for that long without supporting it.
This win-win system allows creators like us to make content and material for the system without butting up against legal issues. The 5e SRD is a critical part of the homebrew environment and one of the things that makes Dungeons and Dragons the best TTRPGs in the world.
This open attitude coupled with so many people’s love for the game has made Dungeons and Dragons more than its official parts. The official 5e material may have 20 or so books, but the unofficial or 5e SRD built material out there is countless. There are thousands of ready to play open source campaigns waiting to be discovered. The supporting material that people have put together and shared online can make this all possible. There’s software, art, music, print and play maps, player tokens, and so much more.
While diving into DnD as a new player can be expensive if you go for the core rule books and fancy dice, it doesn’t have to be. While we all love and support the game, if you can’t afford it we still want to share it with you. I hope we’ve shown you that it’s completely possible to run a game of Dungeons and Dragons completely for free. So go out there and run some adventures!