You can play D&D for free.
Update: I have updated this article by including more sources of free content.
Lately, I’ve been thinking how much D&D 5th Edition content Wizards of the Coast has released for free. It’s actually not an insignificant amount. So today, I would like to present you some content that is free and you can use in order to play D&D.
These are two PDFs that can be found at WotC’s site. The first one acts as the Player’s Handbook and provides help in order to create your character. Of course, it doesn’t include every option from the Player’s Handbook. It contains four races(Dwarf, Elf, Halfling, Human) and four classes(Cleric, Fighter, Rogue, Wizard). It does not provide any feats.
The second PDF combines the Monster Manual and the Dungeon Master’s Guide. It provides a lot of ready monster statistics, some information on creating combat encounters and even some magic items.
Personally, I could survive some time with this content. But I know there are people out there that wouldn’t be satisfied with just that. However, you don’t have to worry because there’s still more free content for you to utilize. Moving on!
System Reference Document
A couple of months ago, WotC released the System Reference Document(SRD) which contains guidelines for publishing content under the Open-Gaming License (OGL). It also contains an incredible amount of content you can use. Since WotC released this content so that it can be used by anyone who wants to publish their work, I’m sure they don’t mind if someone uses it to entertain their home group.
The SRD contains the rest of the classes and races, magic items and even more monsters for the DMs to use for their encounters. Of course, again, it doesn’t include everything. Not every class path is in there, but still it’s already more than enough.
Every time WotC releases a new adventure, they usually accompany it with extra free content. This can range from new character options to a small adventure. Links to the extra content can be found here.
The Unearthed Arcana articles provide extra content every second month. Of course, it should be considered playtest material but it’s still something you can use. Most of the content is character options like classes, races, feats, class paths but it can also be extra rules that handle different situations like large scale combat or even guidelines to create your own content. I have a list of all the Unearthed Arcana articles here.
The Plane Shift supplements combine D&D and Magic The Gathering. Each one provide lore, character options, and monsters for one of the worlds of Magic. Sometimes we get brand new options, but others we only get a reskin. However, the lore provided each time is really good and gets the creative juices flowing. You can find all of the Plane Shift supplements here.
Dungeon Masters Guild and the other OneBookshelf sites
If you don’t already know, the DMs Guild is a place where people can publish content using Wizards of the Coast intellectual property. And let me tell you, there is a huge amount of good content that is free or pay what you want. You can take a look here and I’m sure you’ll find something interesting.If you’re not sure if something is good enough or need a recommendation, you can check out the Unearthed Arcana articles that showcase DMs Guild content.
While the DMs Guild provides content exclusively for D&D, there are sites that offer products for a wide variety of RPGs. These are DriveThruRPG and RPGNow and have equally good content.
After presenting you all those ways to play D&D for free, I would also like to remind you that it’s a good idea to support a content creator if you like their work. I’m not only talking about WotC but also all those people on the DMs Guild, and the other OneBookshelf sites, that are kind enough to release their work as free or pay what you want.
And until next time, have fun!