Let’s talk role-playing games. Not the kind with a mouse and raids and guilds (although that’s good too) – but the kind with 20-sided dice and books. Some of you already play. Awesome. The rest of you may have heard of the grandaddy of tabletop RPGs, Dungeons & Dragons. This was my first RPG when I was just a kid, and one I still play, 25 years later. Indie and story games are incredible, but sometimes you just want to pretend to be an elf, kill some goblins, and get the gold.

Wizards of the Coast July 2014There have been different versions of D&D over the years, and Wizards of the Coast is bringing out the newest one later this month. To gear up for that, yesterday they released the new Basic Rules, and you can download them for free here. They have the main information for how to make a character, and some examples of play, although you’ll have to wait if you want a pre-made adventure to try out. I did a playtest of this at last year’s GenCon, and found it pretty slick and easy to pick up.

One of the most interesting things pointed out today is the addition of gender inclusion language (h/t to Adam Koebel, @skinnyghost). While Paizo has been including LGBTQ characters in their gaming materials for a while now, it’s really great to see WoTC acknowledge that not everyone is playing a straight white cis dude, even if they may want to run the terminology they’re using by some of the people it affects.

Wizards of the Coast D&D Basic Rules July 2014

While I haven’t had a chance to go over the new Basic Rules in detail, I did pick up a lot of Dragonlance references, and there’s an overall friendly tone to the language. This free release does not include art, although the pdf is attractively laid out overall. There’s a printer-friendly version without the background texture also available. If it’s been a while since you’ve played, or you’ve never tried it at all, this is a great way to try out Dungeons & Dragons.