D&D Holiday Gift Guide
Welcome to part two of our holiday gift guide! This year we know that things are a pretty different. We’re used to being able to help folks out in-store with choosing the right gift for the right person. This year, folks are rightly limiting the time they spend in the store. So in keeping with that – here’s a little guide to help you figure out how to pick out the right gifts for those comic and game fans in your life.
Unlike a lot of holiday gift guides, we’re gonna focus on what questions to ask those loved ones and give you the resources to figure out what they mean. We’ll include a few broad interest and popular suggestions, but when picking out the right gift this year thoughtfulness goes a long way. So if you need a hand with some recommendations, read on and let’s get started!
Phoenix Holiday Gift Guide: D&D
Fans of D&D can be a little bit tough to buy for if you’re not careful. Lots of folks who play D&D tend to buy the books they need up-front (since they’re needed to play the game), and there isn’t a lot of ‘extras’ that you absolutely need. So in the interest of figuring out the right thing to get the D&D player in your life, here are some ways to help!
Questions to Ask
Where are they at with the game? There are a few different ways to phrase this question, but what we’re trying to get at here is a sense for the experience level of the player. Are they brand new to the game? Do they have all the books they need to play? Or are they an old-hat and have everything that’s needed and then some?
Are they a player character, or a dungeon master? Player characters (or PCs) makeup most of the gaming group. As the name suggests, they’re the players creating a character that interacts with the dungeon master’s world and plot. By contrast, dungeon masters (DMs) are constantly in a state of needing to plan ahead and prepare encounters for the rest of the players. PCs require relatively few books to play (typically the Player’s Handbook plus one or two other books). DMs need the full suite of three books PLUS whatever else adventure they’re running.
Do they have any favorite colors? I know this seriously sounds like a joke, but a lot of accessories that we’ll suggest below come in a variety of shades of color.
Okay, so now that you’ve got a bit of information about your household’s D&D player, time to put it to use! Here are a few recommendations, along with short descriptions of who each recommendation might be for.
D&D Essentials / Starter Box
What is it? The D&D Essentials Kit (and it’s predecessor the Starter Box) are box sets that introduce players to the world of Dungeons & Dragons. The essentials kit walks the DM and new players through character creation and includes an introductory adventure.
Who’s it for? This is for the person in your life who’s expressed interest in D&D, but has never actually played. Or maybe they’re a player and have never DM’d before. In both cases, think of these products as ‘test kits’ that allow a player to try out the game before they invest in a somewhat pricier Player’s Handbook or Dungeon Master’s Guide.
D&D Gift Box
What is it? The D&D Gift box is everything an aspiring DM needs to get started. It has a copy of each of the core rulebooks (Player’s Handbook, Dungeon Master’s Guide, and Monster Manual) plus a DM’s screen that serves as a handy reference material for a budding DM. All with a nice box to slide into. And as an added bonus, the books in the gift box have a light foiling, making them easy to tell apart at the table.
Who’s it for? Much like the Essentials Kit / Starter Box, the Gift Box is for a new player, usually a new DM. New PCs won’t get quite as much from the Dungeon Master’s Guide and Monster Manual, but for the DM those are two required tomes.
Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything
What is it? Tasha’s is a new book that came out about a month ago, and is the second book to contain large amounts of expanded player character information such as class options, rules for sidekicks, and compiled information for new playable races from other published material. In short – it’s a big book of options, and PCs love that!
Who’s it for? Much like it’s predecessor, Xanathar’s Guide to Everything, Tasha’s is for anyone, PC or DM. Players will like all the options it gives them for their characters, and Dungeon Masters will like the rules for sidekicks and information about how to run a session zero and set up their campaign for success.
Dice! (Polyhedral sets)
What are they? They’re….dice! If you’re coming into this article with no clue about D&D, the game uses 6 different types of dice (4, 6, 8, 10, 12, and 20 sides). They come in a variety of colors and materials. Here at the shop, we carry plastic and metal dice, but if you’re willing to look on the internet you can find dice made from stone, gems, or other precious materials.
Who’s it for? Everyone. Player’s and Dungeon Master’s alike need at least one set of dice to play, and often times will have more than one set (just in case a set of dice just stop rolling well and need to be put in dice jail).
Battlemats, Grid Tiles, or Warlock Tiles
What are they? In almost every game of D&D, there comes a time when you have to fight monsters. The best way to do this is by way of some sort of table-based grid map. Chessex has a couple of roll-out options that work for various table sizes, and D&D itself has some branded tiles that come in 3 different varieties: dungeon, city, and wilderness. And if you want some real fancy high-end stuff, the fine folks at WizKids have put together a set of lightweight resin tiles that clip together in a modular fashion, known as Warlock tiles.
Who’s this for? Dungeon Masters will see the most benefit from these, but there’s also an argument to be made for players also having access to these tools. If, for example, a campaign winds up being hosted at different locations, then it might be wise to keep different sets of these at each location (but that’s both a bit of a stretch and also not really a good idea in this winter’s current pandemic-climate).
What are they? Fancy, padded, and soft places to roll your dice. More specifically, dice trays keep dice from scattering across the table, making lots of loud noise, and (in cases of metal or large dice) damaging the table with their impacts). We carry a variety of dice trays that snap together by way of magnets, so they can lay flat in your bag when not gaming.
Who’s this for? These are here for pretty much anyone, though they are particularly useful for players who’ve invested in metal or oversized dice
Spell, Monster, and Magic Item Cards
What are they? Made by Gale Force Nine, these cards are handy reference materials that provide details about the various spells, monsters, and magic items in D&D. The spells are organized by the type of magic (Arcane, Cleric, Bard, Paladin, Ranger, and ‘Martial Powers’ which is a fancy way of saying “monk and fighter powers”), and the monsters by challenge level.
Who’s this for? Player characters will get way more out of the spell cards, which make for a really good way to organize their abilities. Dungeon Masters will get more use out of the monster cards (since they’ll be the one flinging monsters at the players). And everyone will get some amount of use out of the magic item cards.
Young Adventurerers Books
What are they? The Young Adventurers series of books were designed to spark interest and curiosity for those young players just getting started with D&D. Without explaining the rules behind the game, each book outlines the various aspects of D&D in a way that someone on the younger age-range for the game might better understand.
Who’s it for? Beginning players that need a little bit of help understanding some of D&D’s concepts, or for younger readers who find the big rulebooks a little bit daunting. These can also be extremely useful books for an older DM running games for a younger audience. I’m looking at you dad-who-just-got-roped-into-DMing-a-game.
Curse of Strahd Box Set
What is it? Curse of Strahd is a D&D adventure module that really knocks it out of the park in terms of dark gothic themes. The box set offers a softcover copy of the book along with a bunch of other fun extras like the tarokka deck (used for generating random encounters), a custom DM screen built with the Curse of Strahd adventure specifically in mind, and more! Plus it comes in a giant coffin-shaped box. Y’know, for those of you who want a giftwrapping challenge this year.
Who’s it for? If you’ve got a new DM looking for an adventure to run, this is a fantastic gift. It’s got everything they need short of the base books, all in one convenient package.
RPG Fantasy Graphic Novels
What are they? This is more of a genre of graphic novels that have more than a little appeal to D&D players out there. These graphic novels can range from funny (the Adventure Zone Series), to action packed (Critical Role: Vox Machina) to dark and beautiful (the Die series). There are also straight-up D&D branded graphic novels too!
Who’s it for? If you’ve gotten down to this point in the list and that player or DM of yours already has everything, then this is probably for them. There are some caveats / content warnings for these though: all three books are aimed more at adult audiences, with Die being probably the most mature-reader oriented, and Adventure Zone being the least (though if this is a concern, definitely consider giving it a read-through before gifting).
Extra Honorable Mention: Custom Work
This year more than most, we have a lot of folks producing custom tools and accessories. These artists and creators need just as much support as we could use, so if you're looking to pick up something truly handmade and unique, why not take peak at a local artist like Game of Threads, This Is Hannako, or any number of other creators.