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4 Of The Best Dungeons & Dragons Starter Sets

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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.

In the high school library that I manage, I’ve been running Dungeons & Dragons for the past four years. It’s been a huge amount of fun, and it also brings with it a ton of mental health and literacy benefits. The students that I’ve worked with have, in my opinion, increased their public speaking skills, self confidence, and creative writing skills just to name a few. I also think that the D&D groups in the library have formed a unique friendship group that sticks together and are now wonderful fixtures in the library. I’ve really enjoyed playing this amazing game with them that is so much more than a game. It is these benefits that I’ve noticed that has inspired me to talk about Dungeons & Dragons with other people. I’ve even recently written a book on this topic with loads of hints and tips for new librarians on starting Dungeons & Dragons in their public or school library. I’ve also written Dungeons & Dragons starter sets of my own of sorts, a one time adventure for new players (and especially new Dungeon Masters) that breaks down step by step how to describe the setting, what to roll and when and how to tie the story together.

There are some other great Dungeons & Dragons Starter Sets out there, though, ones that help both new Dungeon Masters and players alike. There are ones that I recommend all the time when I’m talking to new players and especially librarians who want to run Dungeons & Dragons in their libraries but are unsure where to start.

DND-Starter-Set Cover

D&D Starter Set

This set is perfect for new players to get started with D&D. It includes premade character sheets, a dice set, and even more importantly, a condensed set of rules. This is what helped alleviate my anxiety in feeling overwhelmed with D&D when I started running it four years ago. I was able to use this as a guide throughout the first few weeks of getting started with students. Even more exciting, the adventure provided, The Lost Mines of Phandelver, is a fantastic starting point into the world of D&D and can be used to put yourself into all kinds of pre-existing campaigns like Storm King’s Thunder and Ghosts of Saltmarsh just to name a few. I highly recommend this one to anyone thinking about starting D&D but unsure where to begin.

D&D Essentials Kit

Dungeons & Dragons Essentials Kit

Another great starting point that contains dice, premade character sheets, a dungeon master’s screen, and even maps and cool adventures, ones that can also be tied into pre-existing campaigns or can be used as one-time adventures. This D&D Starter Set has an adventure called Dragons of Icespire Peak with a bunch of little side quests that are often non-lethal, which is great for new players in my opinion. If you have younger players, this one is a must-have.


The Dragons of Stormwreck Isle

This is a new D&D Starter Set that also contains a 32-page condensed rulebook. I cannot stress how great this is, as the Dungeon Master’s Handbook and Player’s Handbook alone run over 500 pages. The adventure itself is 48 pages long, which again, is great because a full campaign book can run over 300 pages and requires a ton of pre-reading. This set also has a bunch of cool monsters and magical items and ways to incorporate them seamlessly into the game.

Stranger Things D&D Set

Stranger Things Dungeons & Dragons Starter Set

What’s cool about this D&D Starter Set is that it’s been made by the creators of the hit television show. This set includes some Stranger Things miniature figures that players can paint. You can play as characters from the show, the game itself, and after about ten minutes of reading through the condensed rules, you should be good to go. The campaign also contains a ton of little easter eggs that fans of the show will really love. It’s not just for big fans of the show, though, I feel that fans of D&D itself will really enjoy this set

There are a ton of entry points into the game, but these Dungeons & Dragons sets are the ones I’d recommend if you wanted to get started. You can also write your own, of course, but if you’re like me and are short on time, these will take away the anxiety that you might feel in getting started.

Need a guide for getting into D&D? Check out our starter guide on how to play Dungeons & Dragons. For an even deeper dive, check out our roundup of the best D&D podcasts.