Compared to the cost of a video game console and a library of video games, the cost of buying Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) books is cheap. But, expense is always relative and D&D is still a rather expensive hobby, especially if you want to own a large library of books. Since it is a hobby and not a necessity, it can often be difficult to justify spending large amounts of money on D&D, especially during difficult economic times. The following advice will help you stretch your budget when purchasing D&D products.
Minimum Requirements -If you are willing to forgo options and simply wish to play the game, you can easily play the game with only a Player’s Handbook. You will be limited in what character classes you can play, what races you can play, what abilities you can use, and what magic items you will have access to, but you will have the entire rules system and be able to create a character of one of eight different classes and one of eight different races. If you are running a game, you will also need the Dungeon Master’s Guide and at least one Monster Manual. With the new Essentials line coming out, a dungeon master (DM) may be able to spend slightly less by buying the Rules Compendium, Dungeon Master’s Kit, and Monstrous Manual.
Shared Resources – Most D&D players play with a consistent group. If you have a group of friends that all play the game and you are certain that you will be playing consistently together for some time, you can pool your money and buy books for the group. With between five and seven people contributing, you are much more likely to be able to afford a full library of books. This can lead to problems if somebody leaves the group or others try to join, so make sure everyone understands the deal before you implement such a plan.
D&D Insider – Wizards of the Coast (WotC), the publisher of D&D, has produced a new online product called D&D Insider. For roughly $5 a month, you can access a database that includes the mechanical rules information from every single published D&D book as well as gain access to Dragon and Dungeon magazines. Since most D&D books cost about $30 each, this is the equivalent of gaining access to every D&D books for the cost of two books a year. This is an excellent deal since WotC tends to publish about 12 books a year. The two drawbacks are that you will not gain access to the non-rules based information in the books and if you ever cancel your subscription, you will not own the physical books.
Borrow – Often, you will find that you only need a few pieces of information from any book. If this is the case, you may be able to borrow the book, record the information in another location and then return it. A stack of 3 x 5 cards is a great way to record information on powers, feats, and magic items, which is the most common information you will need from a book. If nobody you know owns the book, check the local library. D&D is becoming more mainstream in recent years and many libraries have the books for loan.
D&D doesn’t have to be an expensive hobby if you practice a few penny saving techniques. In addition to the above advice, the classic solutions should also be explored. Shop around and buy used if possible. A new book may cost $40, but the same book may be found used online for less than half that. As long as you are frugal and budget carefully, you should be able to afford to enjoy the hobby just like someone with an nearly unlimited budget.