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The Best Books and Podcasts for Players New to Dungeons and Dragons

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Lucas Maxwell


Lucas Maxwell has been working with youth in libraries for over fifteen years. Originally from Nova Scotia, Canada, he's been a high school librarian in London, UK for over a decade. In 2017 he won the UK's School Librarian of the Year award and in 2022 he was named the UK Literacy Association's Reading For Pleasure Teacher Champion. He loves Dungeons & Dragons and is the author of Let's Roll: A Guide for Setting up Tabletop Roleplaying Games in Your School or Public Library. You can follow him on Twitter and on his blog.

It’s no secret that I love Dungeons and Dragons. I write a lot about it and play it as much as I can. It’s been a huge help to me emotionally and socially. I even have a Dungeons and Dragons podcast with three fantastic authors, and I’ve written a book on how to set up D&D in a school and public library.

So, it’s no surprise I also love reading about Dungeons and Dragons and listening to podcasts that discuss it. I listen to a lot of podcasts, and D&D has quickly crept up and become a big favourite of mine when it comes to taking in information. A big chunk of my spare time is spent writing things about Dungeons and Dragons, reading about D&D, and listening to D&D podcasts. And there’s nothing wrong with that because it’s a game that brings me a lot of calm and happiness.

If you’re brand new to the game, though, where do you start? What should you read? What should you listen to? I’m here to give you a list of both books and podcasts to get you started! Dungeons and Dragons is an amazing experience, but it can be overwhelming at first, so here’s where to start!

the logo of The Black Dice Society Podcast

The Black Dice Society Podcast

Set in the terrifying realm of Ravenloft, The Black Dice Society is an official Wizards of the Coast actual-play podcast. It has an amazing diverse cast and is truly gut-wrenching and terrifying. This is a welcome break from what is normally a comedy-themed run of Dungeons and Dragons podcasts. Expect werewolves, vampires, gothic settings, and a lot of terror. That said, the Ravenloft setting is a great place to start for newcomers, and simply listening to D&D podcasts was how I got back into the game after many years out.

the logo of Not Another D&D Podcast

Not Another D&D Podcast

I love this podcast because not only is it really, really funny, but it also tells a fantastic story. Currently on its third campaign, it’s a hugely engaging and fun story to listen to. I love it because of the combat, to be honest. I really like how the Dungeon Master will allow things to happen as long as they fit the story and seem fun (the “rule of cool” personified). It’s a truly immersive, fun world that has been created here, one that you won’t want to leave any time soon.

the logo of the Three Black Halflings podcast

Three Black Halflings Podcast

This podcast doles out some amazing tips for a new Dungeon Master and player from a diverse cast of characters. There are a lot of laughs and a lot of serious discussions about diversity in Dungeons and Dragons, film and television, and a lot more. The halflings talk about pop culture as much as they do D&D, as there is a lot of crossover to be explored. It’s a fascinating listen that is well worth your time!

Welcome to Dragon Talk book cover

Welcome to Dragon Talk by Shelly Mazzanoble and Greg Tito

Shelly Mazzanoble and Greg Tito run the Dragon Talk podcast, which is a fantastic collection of conversations with D&D players from every corner of the globe. This amazing book highlights the most memorable conversations about Dungeons and Dragons and in addition, provides a quick yet informative history of the game. From teachers that use D&D to inspire impoverished youth to authors who run D&D to empower writers of colour, this book talks about D&D’s impact in a truly enlightening way, and I highly recommend it!

Dungeons and Dragons Player’s Handbook cover

D&D Player’s Handbook by Wizards of the Coast

This is the D&D book. Of all of the D&D accessories and add-ons, this is the holy grail that D&D players need to seek out if they are new to the game. It really has it all. Yes, there are new additions that make the game more fun that aren’t listed, but this has everything you need to get started. You don’t need to memorize it, you don’t need to even study it; I suggest reading it in small chunks and never leaving home without it. Use it to make your character, get a handle on how the mechanics work, or simply read cool stuff about the different races in the game.

Dungeons and Dragons Starter Set cover

Dungeons and Dragons Starter Set by Wizards of the Coast

This manages to condense the Player’s Handbook into a much smaller version plus it contains pre-made characters so you can jump straight into the action. It also has an amazing starter adventure called The Lost Mines of Phandelver, which is brilliantly written. The rule book within is straightforward and easy to understand. If you are brand new to Dungeons and Dragons, this truly is the place to begin. I cannot recommend this set enough. It’s like having a bunch of books in one: the rule book, the adventure, the player’s handbook, all stripped down and ready to go!

Journeys through the Radiant Citadel cover

Journeys Through the Radiant Citadel by Wizards of the Coast

Written by a huge cast of diverse voices, this D&D campaign book features 13 adventures for players of levels 1-14. It’s a great place to start if you’re looking to begin a series of one-shot adventures tied to a mysterious and elegant place known as the Radiant Citadel. This book has something for everyone, including a bunch of new monsters to deal with. However, it also has adventures for new DMs that need something light to get them started. It’s a great book that represents a lot of new voices and experiences in the Dungeons and Dragons world.

Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount cover

Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount by Matthew Mercer

This is a fantastic resource for new players or Dungeon Masters looking to get into the game at an entry-level. There are four really great short adventures, not to mention a bunch of new things for players to do. I think, combined with the Player’s Handbook, this is a fabulous resource to use as a new D&D Player. This is the world created by the hugely popular Critical Role group during their second campaign. It’s a nice way to bring new life into your campaign but also a great place to start.

In the end, a lot of new players just want a character sheet and some dice. However, it can be a lot of fun to dive into these podcasts and books to truly immerse yourself in the world of Dungeons and Dragons!