Dungeons and Dragons Philippines: How to Start Playing

Do you want to try playing Dungeons and Dragons in the Philippines? You’ve heard about D&D and you’re curious, but not sure where to start? You’re not alone!

Tabletop roleplaying games are a worldwide phenomenon, with people from all walks of life taking part. In this blog post, we’ll take a look at Dungeons and Dragons in the Philippines: what Dungeons and Dragons is, how it’s played here in the Philippines, where you can find a group to play with, and why it might be worth your time.

We’ll also have a few tips for starting out on your own or finding an existing group in Metro Manila or other provinces.

Important disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. If you go through them to make a purchase, Hey Meepling will earn a commission, at no cost to you.

Let’s get started.

What is Dungeons and Dragons?

Dungeons and Dragons — or D&D for short — is a tabletop roleplaying game where players create their own characters in an imaginary world.

Cover of the D&D Player's Handbook
Cover of the D&D Player’s Handbook. Source:

One player, called the Dungeon Master (DM), moderates this fantasy world. The DM narrates and describes what happens as the players do things in this imaginary world. This can include describing things like places they go to, obstacles they come across, and imaginary people they meet and talk to.

The DM’s and players’ imagination is the heart of Dungeons and Dragons, with the group creating a story together. While there are other story settings available in Dungeons & Dragons, they are all generally fantasy-themed.

There are even official and unofficial adaptations of popular series and settings. If you fancy Rick & Morty, Magic the Gathering, and The Lord of the Rings, there’s probably a supplement for that–and more.

D&D has been published since 1974, but the current popular edition in play is the fifth edition, commonly abbreviated to D&D 5e.

Is D&D popular in the Philippines?

D&D is not the only tabletop roleplaying game around. But Dungeons and Dragons has one of the largest followings, both internationally and in the Philippines.

Between being shown on TV in the show Stranger Things and the rise in popularity of online streams like Critical Role, D&D is becoming more and more recognized here in the Philippines.

The Critical Role crew in an episode of their second D&D campaign
Critical Role stars voice actors Matthew Mercer, Travis Willingham, Laura Bailey, Liam O’Brien, Sam Riegel, Ashley Johnson, Taliesin Jaffe, and Marisha Ray

The local communities have also been helping it along. Before the pandemic hit, Metro Manila had multiple organizing groups running huge gaming events for D&D. Newer groups also started flourishing in other provinces like Baguio, Cebu, and Davao.

Dungeons & Dragons Community Epic at Solaire
Dungeons & Dragons Community Epic at Solaire

The pandemic may have slowed down offline, in-person events, but the hobby has continued to grow as we look for activities we can safely do at home. Online games have flourished, and online conventions have brought together players in epic adventures, too.

What Do I Need to Play Dungeons & Dragons?

While there are plenty of D&D merchandise and collectibles around, don’t be intimidated. You need very little to start playing D&D. You might change your mind a month or two into playing D&D ;) but initially, you’ll only need the following:

1. Character Sheets

You can find downloadable character sheets online that you can use. Nowadays when most games are held online, this may be all you need!

Partial D&D 5e character sheet
Partial D&D 5e character sheet

If it’s easier for you to see a physical copy, it’s easy enough to print one out and use that to play. If you’re printing out your sheet, make sure you’ve got a pencil and eraser on hand when you game.

You don’t need to worry about filling out your character sheet yet. You can do it together with your group when you find them.

While you’re starting out it’s a good idea to get your character sheets at the official D&D website, but there are Google Sheet options as well as apps to help you later on.

You might even try playing with a pre-generated character for your first game. We think a lot of the charm of playing D&D comes from seeing a character you created come to life. But pregens are a great way to quickly start playing while figuring out what kind of character you’d like to play!

Check out these pregens:

2. Polyhedral Dice Set

Also known as RPG dice sets, this is a set of 7 dice containing different numbers of dice than the common six-sided die. Each die has a specific use within D&D.

While you can get great starter dice from your friendly local game stores (FLGS) or online, there are also free digital options for you. There are apps like Dice Ex Machina (iOS only), RPG Simple Dice (Android only), or the dice roller on the official website, or even Google itself. Just keep your phone on you to roll in person.

If you’re playing online, most virtual tabletops (VTTs) have dice rollers built-in as well. Many DMs will also require rolling within the VTT (much to the sadness of dice collectors everywhere).

If you score an offline game, don’t worry if you don’t have dice available on hand. Most people will be absolutely happy to lend you some dice during the game ;)

3. A Group of Fellow Players

This can be one of the hardest things to find if you’re just starting out. If you’re lucky, maybe you have friends who are already playing. Maybe someone you already know is also interested in D&D. Chat them up, you might get lucky!

A typical D&D game is anywhere from 2-7 players, plus a DM. While there are DMs who can run an adventure for just one player or even more than 7, these can be more challenging to find (and play in).

4. Time to Play

D&D games can be finished in one session (called a “one-shot”) or carried over multiple sessions, in a short or long campaign.

Session length can vary depending on the group you’re playing with: it can range from quick two hour adventures to four- or six-hour stories.

Make sure you consider the estimated duration of any D&D session you join, so that you won’t have to leave or be distracted before the game is over.

How much does it cost to play Dungeons and Dragons?

It can cost you literally nothing to play D&D! From downloadable character sheets and pregens to virtual dice rollers, you don’t need to spend a single peso to play D&D.

If you want to run your own games, however, it does cost money. Official books cost around ₱2,500 in local game stores and bookstores, and other supplements and adventures online can also cost a couple hundred.

Dice and other gaming accessories run a full range of prices, from ₱300 for a set of dice to ₱1,000 and beyond for handmade resin sets. You can get dice trays and bags, campaign journals, and custom character art to pimp your game, too.

Dice, dice bags and trays, campaign journals -- you can pimp your Dungeons and Dragons game as much as you like
Dice, dice bags and trays, campaign journals — you can pimp your Dungeons and Dragons game as much as you like

Where Can I Play Dungeons and Dragons in the Philippines?

With the Philippines in the middle of the battle against COVID-19, many games and organizing groups have moved to online games using virtual tabletop websites and applications.

While there are definite pros to playing offline and in person, finding games and playing online can also be a great experience! Playing from the comfort and safety of your home is a definite plus. For some people, this can also feel less intimidating than going in person to a venue.

The biggest challenge is finding a group to play D&D with. There are a few options for the enterprising adventurer:

1. Ask Your Friends

Perhaps you’ve got a friend who’s also into fantasy. Maybe a friend who’s a fan of Stranger Things and seen D&D being played in the show. There’s a good chance they might know where to find a game for you to join! Maybe they even have their own game that you can join for a session or two.

This is a great way to get started playing D&D. You’ll have someone to guide you through some of the early questions you’ll have.

Having moral support during your first game or two is also great! Knowing someone in the group can help you feel more comfortable and at ease during the game, which means a lot when it comes to your enjoyment.

Of course, sometimes it’s just not possible. Maybe this is a totally new thing for you and your friends. Maybe the acquaintances you know who play D&D aren’t people you’re comfortable enough to ask.

That’s totally fine–we’ve been there, and we understand the feeling completely. It can take a certain kind of courage to open up your imagination to people you slightly but not totally know, as opposed to complete strangers. We get it.

You can still do something! You can…

2. Check Online Groups

If crowdsourcing on your social media isn’t an option, checking and lurking in various online groups can help you find a game to join. There are a couple of Dungeons and Dragons Philippines communities on Facebook and other platforms.

There are a few things you’ll find in many online groups of this kind that you’ll want to watch out for:

  • Group organizers announcing events they’re holding and games they’re running that others can join
  • DMs looking for players, either for one-shots or campaigns
  • Groups looking for more players to join them

You can then message them to join and/or ask for more information about their game. Make sure you know the following:

  • Date and time of the game
  • Duration of the game, and if there will be multiple sessions
  • Expected character level for players (you’ll want to join a Level 1 / Tier 1 game)
  • General premise of the adventure
  • How beginner-friendly the adventure is

Many groups are very open and encouraging of new players, so don’t be afraid of admitting that this will be your first game! We’re all very happy to enable new players. Your fellow players and DM will only be too happy to help you get used to the game and answer questions.

Of course, if you can’t find games that you are interested in, you can also try creating a “looking for” post for what kind of game you’re looking for specifically.

Check out D&D Philippines and D&D Adventurers League PH to start your search for online games. There are a ton of Discord servers catering to players, and those two communities is a great way to find an active one you can join.

Useful Tips for Playing D&D

Still worried about that first game? Don’t sweat! Here are a few simple tips to help you get ready.

1. Take five to ten minutes to prepare before any game.

It’s always a good idea to be prepared for anything. While playing a Dungeons and Dragons game can be unpredictable and filled with impromptu decisions, there are some things that you can prepare for.

Make sure the items you need for the game are near at hand. Whether you’re playing online or offline, make sure you have your character sheet(s), dice (digital or real), and pencils (if needed) within easy reach.

Need some drinks? Get that coffee made before the game so you won’t worry about it after. Trust us, we’re all probably prepping our own coffee, too!

A great player will also quickly brush up on their character’s details: their abilities, spells, equipment, and the like. If you need a reference for your character’s abilities, make sure it’s easy to look up. This will keep the game going smoothly for everyone at the table!

2. Check in with your DM before the game.

It’s always a good idea to touch base with your DM before the game, whether you’re a new player or you’re more experienced. How they run their games can be different from DM to DM, so checking in to manage expectations is a good way to prepare.

Feel free to ask any question, but think about the following:

  • If you’re new, definitely let your DM know! They can help you out with any questions you might have about playing the game.
  • Let your DM know if there are any topics or scenarios that you know you do not want to encounter in a game. These can be anything from spiders to more complex topics and situations like suicide.
  • If they are using a virtual tabletop, check if you can get access earlier than the game. This way, you can learn how it works and set up your character beforehand. This will help make things move along smoothly when it’s game time.
  • Find out if your DM knows if the group or adventure is combat- or roleplay-heavy. This can vary from table to table, depending on the other players, but it’s always a good idea to be mentally prepared for either scenario.
  • Ask for any table rules that your DM has for their games. Even if you’ve done this a few times and know how most games go, each DM may have different table rules. Check in with them for any rules they have and make sure you follow for a smooth game!

3. Get into character, but be a team player within reason.

It’s always great to get into your character’s motivations and play the game as they would react to the situation. That’s why we play the game!

But it’s always important to remember that you are playing the game with a group of fellow adventurers. Your swashbuckling rogue with a criminal background might really want that shiny bauble in your party-mate’s backpack, but don’t be surprised if they try to kick you out of the party after.

You don’t have to bend over backwards to please the other party members, but don’t antagonize them unless there is a very good reason to. Just like in real life, your character’s actions have consequences.

“That’s what my character would do!” is never an excuse for poor player etiquette.

4. Show up on time.

Yes, we’re notorious for “Filipino time” as a part of our culture. Let’s turn that around and make sure we’re on time for the game!

Being on time for the session shows how much you respect your DM’s and fellow players’ time and effort.

If something unavoidable comes up, make sure you notify your DM as early as you can, and give an estimate when you can be available again. This way, your DM can decide whether to start the game on time and insert you into the story when you arrive, or to wait for you.

5. Let everyone shine.

D&D is a group game. Some of the best experiences in any game come from when your whole party wins over the villain, or solves a problem by using everyone’s strengths.

Your DM will also be facilitating this group effort, so you can take your cue from your DM. Listen to his cues, but listen to your fellow players, too.

We find that it can be more challenging to communicate over an online call, because there’s a real chance of speaking over someone else. That’s to be expected, but try to be careful and watch out for when that happens.

New Worlds Await

D&D is just the beginning in a veritable universe of tabletop roleplaying games. You can play a samurai in feudal Japan, the captain of a starship, a superhero, a vampire (or vampire hunter).

D&D is popular in the Philippines, but there are many tabletop roleplaying games around, both established games as well as plenty from the indie market locally and abroad. We even have some local homegrown published tabletop RPGs in recent years that you should check out when you can. If you realize D&D is not your cup of tea, just try a different system!

Exploring other TRPGs (especially local ones) is something we wholeheartedly encourage and enjoy ourselves. It might be more challenging to find public games, but you can look at D&D as just a stepping stone. Ask your new friends about other systems they’ve played and if they have recommendations.

Call of Cthulhu, World of Darkness, Legend of the Five Rings, Powered by the Apocalypse is only a few of the system choices you can explore
Call of Cthulhu, World of Darkness, Legend of the Five Rings, Powered by the Apocalypse is only a few of the system choices you can explore. Covers and art from the respective games

You can take a look at other popular systems like Call of Cthulhu (for weird Lovecraftian horror), the World of Darkness system (for vampires, werewolves, and changelings), and Legend of the Five Rings (for a Japan-inspired setting). Powered by the Apocalypse is another super fluid system with dozens of interesting settings to choose from.

For local flavor, check out the following amazing games:

  • ARC, a rules-light, tension-heavy RPG to slay the apocalypse;
  • Gubat Banwa, a tactical martial arts and war drama roleplaying game set in a heroic fantasy setting inspired by Classical Philippines;
  • Tadhana, an adventure tabletop role-playing game powered by cards and inspired by Filipino folklore, urban legends, and mythology.
Try local TRPGs like ARC, Gubat Banwa, and Tadhana
Try local TRPGs like ARC, Gubat Banwa, and Tadhana. Covers and art from the respective games

There are also D&D-compatible supplements to give your games a Filipino twist! Check out Islands of Sina Una and Islands and Aswangs, both for D&D 5e! Whether it’s other TRPG systems or Dungeons and Dragons, Philippines wont be left behind in adding our own unique creative spin ;)

Start Rollin’ Those Dice

What are you waiting for? Grab your friends, get to know the Dungeons and Dragons Philippines communities on Facebook, or find your own group! There are D&D groups all over the Philippines that are just waiting for new players. Join fantastic adventures and take down your enemies. You only need to roll the dice.

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