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An illustration showing multiple whimsically designed characters around a table playing a Dungeons & Dragons campaign. One character is assuming the role of dungeon master, surrounded by two characters who are playing with dice and adventure books. The setting is surrounded by squiggles and explosions. Illustration: Alex Smith for Polygon

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The best gift ideas for D&D newcomers

Some books, games, and other items to ease you into your new obsession

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Dungeons & Dragons characters will go to great lengths to uncover valuable treasure, like challenging dangerous monsters, exploring cursed catacombs, and taking on sketchy quests. Luckily, getting good loot for a new D&D player is a lot easier.

The tabletop role-playing game has never been more popular or easier to get into, but with so many products available from Wizards of the Coast and other publishers, it can be hard to sort out what’s actually going to be fun or useful for newcomers. Whether you’re buying for kids or adults who are beginners, here are some gift ideas that can extend the passion for fantasy adventure to the gaming table and beyond.

Places & Portals: A Young Adventurer’s Guide

The imaginative play and socialization D&D provides is great for all ages, and Places & Portals makes it especially easy for kids to get in on the fun. Packed with colorful illustrations, the book largely eschews rules and instead provides guidance on how to come up with worlds, characters, adventures, and stories with the help of some friends. It offers a primer on some of D&D’s most notable settings and monsters, as well as possible encounters, encouraging the reader to think about the best ways to approach various challenges.

D&D Starter Set: Dragons of Stormwreck Isle

Everything you need for your first D&D adventure is packaged in this affordable box, which is designed for new Dungeon Masters and players. It includes a set of dice, five ready-to-play characters, and an adventure to take them through the game’s first three levels as they navigate an ancient conflict between dragons. There are maps for the DM and players to use, plus suggestions for dialogue and creative solutions to challenges. It’s a great way to get a taste of the game without making too much of an investment or getting overwhelmed by the entire breadth of rules.

Acererak’s Treasure Pack Dice Set

The archlich Acererak rules one the deadliest dungeons in D&D history, but there aren’t any traps in these new packs from Sirius Dice. Each pouch contains a dice bag with a D&D logo; a random, full set of polyhedral dice; and a metal coin representing the abilities of D&D classes, like a Druid’s wild shape or Barbarian’s rage. With more than 60 possible dice sets and 18 different coins, you could buy a few to share the joy of surprise.

Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves

You don’t need to have ever touched a 20-sided die to enjoy this goofy fantasy adventure flick starring Chris Pine, Michelle Rodriguez, and Hugh Grant. There have been several attempts to bring the magic of D&D to the big screen, but Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves is by far the best, capturing the often silly antics found at a gaming table and the excitement of battles featuring powerful spells. The disc version includes more than an hour of special features, including a gag reel, deleted scenes, and details on how the film brought the game’s lore to life.

Heroes’ Feast Flavors of the Multiverse: An Official D&D Cookbook

Add a little magic to your kitchen with recipes inspired by the many worlds of D&D. A long gaming session should always involve snacks or dinner, so this is an opportunity to bring some extra fun to the tradition by serving dishes that might be on the menu at the Forgotten Realms’ legendary inn, The Yawning Portal, or grace the table of the vampire lords of Ravenloft. Along with gorgeous pictures of roasts, cakes and cocktails, the book is packed with fantasy art showing meals and food markets and a bit of fiction following a party embarking on a culinary adventure. Some of Polygon’s staff took a stab at a handful of these recipes, which delivered scrumptious results.

5th Edition Mega Bundle

  • $1

Prices taken at time of publishing.

Searching for ways to spice up your 5e game? Look no further than this bundle, packed with a treasure hoard of 5e-compatible sourcebooks, adventures, and indispensable game aids from some of the finest publishers in the game! Sic some new threats on your seen-it-all players with the Tome of Beasts 3. Send them a journey they’ll never forget with Necropolis, a grand adventure based on the work of none other than Gary Gygax, the Father of RPGs! Broaden their horizons with a smorgasbord of new player options with the Tome of Heroes. Pay what you want for this vast library of over 70 books—valued at more than $1,000—and help support International Medical Corps! (From our sponsor.)

Lore & Legends

How did Dungeons & Dragons become so popular? The authors of the Hugo Award-nominated Dungeons & Dragons Art & Arcana are back with a new book exploring the game’s evolution. Lore & Legends primarily focuses on the renaissance the game has experienced since the release of 5th edition in 2014, delving into Wizards of the Coast’s business strategy of both courting new players and bringing back those who hadn’t enjoyed previous versions of the rules. It also explores the impact the game has had on pop culture, inspiring numerous other games along with TV shows, books, movies, and actual-play series. The book is packed with art showing how products are developed and the way key characters and settings have changed over the decades.

Baldur’s Gate 3

One of the most lauded video games of 2023, Baldur’s Gate 3 is set in the world of D&D and uses its rules, so it’s a great way to get familiar with the tabletop role-playing game or just get your fix without needing other people to play with. Build a highly customizable character and assemble a party of allies as you navigate a deep story filled with romance, moral dilemmas, and tough fights that require creative solutions in order to win. Besides looking great, the game is immensely detailed and filled with secret — some you might only glean by talking to cats or even corpses.

Planescape: Adventures in the Multiverse

Inspired by the beloved 1999 PC game Planescape: Torment, this weird and wild adventure turns character death from something that should be feared into a key mechanic of the narrative. Players will explore Sigil, a city that serves as a travel hub between the many strange planes of D&D and the philosophical factions that make their homes there. Beyond an adventure book, which guides newer players from levels 3 to 10 and features an epic conclusion at level 17, the set also includes a map, Dungeon Master’s screen, and plenty of new character options and adversaries. Polygon has a review of the campaign, in case you’re curious to learn more.

Level Up: Adventurer’s Guide

Part of the appeal of 5th edition is that it’s easy for newcomers to learn and play, but if you want a bit more complexity in your games, consider the Level Up: Adventurer’s Guide. It works as a stand-alone game, but is also fully compatible with 5th edition’s rules, offering new character options that add extra depth and breadth. Classes that primarily fight with weapons gain combat maneuvers that give them a bit more of the versatility of spellcasters, and everyone gains fresh ways to use skills to gather information, explore the world, and spend downtime between adventures.

D&D Campaign Case

D&D can be played entirely in the theater of the mind, but it originated as a wargame and remains focused on tactical combat. Packaged in a handy traveling case, these kits are filled with resources Dungeon Masters can use to immerse players in fights that will test their skills and teamwork. The Terrain case uses interlocking tiles and reusable clings so you can build maps for anything from a wilderness campsite to a crypt with a magic portal. The Creatures set features discs that can represent player characters and classic foes like zombies and dragons.

Flee, Mortals!

It can be hard for a Dungeon Master of any skill level (especially newcomers) to surprise their fellow D&D players, but this book of monsters will help you spice up fights. It offers both brand-new creatures and fresh spins on classics like gnolls and giants, with an emphasis on building compelling encounters by mixing together creatures with different roles in the fight and setting them in dangerous environments, with special rules for a villain’s lair. There’s guidance for designing your own monsters and building an entire evil party with their own agenda that will threaten heroes of any level.

Dungeons & Dragons Core Rulebooks Gift Set

After you’ve gotten comfortable with the basics, this collection makes a perfect gift for someone who’s graduated from the Starter Set or wants to try their hand at running a D&D game. It includes special foil cover versions of the Player’s Handbook, Monster Manual, and Dungeon Master’s Guide along with a Dungeon Master’s Screen that lets the DM hide their notes and dice rolls and offers a quick reference for key rules. Everything’s packaged in a slipcase that looks great on a shelf and makes the collection easy to take to a play session. It’s everything you need to devise countless hours of fun.

Mass Effect and Dragon Age Comics Bundle

  • $1

Prices taken at time of publishing.

The masterfully realized universes of famed game maker BioWare come alive on the page in this collection of Mass Effect and Dragon Age comics from Dark Horse! Get into Commander Shepard’s offscreen adventures in Mass Effect Volume 1: Redemption, which takes place after the events of the revered Mass Effect 2. Prime yourself for high adventure with Dragon Age: The Missing, the comic story that leads into Dreadwolf, the upcoming fourth installment in the beloved RPG series. Get more than 15 exciting Mass Effect and Dragon Age volumes in this bundle, and support Child’s Play with your purchase! (From our sponsor.)


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