How to Successfully Find a D&D Group: In Person vs Online

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So you want to play Dungeons & Dragons? The first step is to find a D&D group. Now if you’ve never played before and don’t know anyone else who plays, this can seem like a daunting task. Luckily, there are ways to go about it, with the tactics looking a bit different depending on whether you want to play online or in-person.

Find a D&D Group In-Person

Finding a D&D game in-person is generally done through three ways:

  • Find friends to play with.
  • Reach out to a local game shop.
  • Convince your family to play.

All three ways involve you reaching out and getting the ball rolling. This is often the hardest part of finding a group. You could be lucky and have someone else invite you to an ongoing group, but if you are reading this article you will likely have to be the one to get things going.

Find friends to play with

Playing with friends is the most common way to play D&D physically. If you are interested in D&D, then there is a good chance that your friends will also be interested. After all, friends tend to share similar interests. This makes forming a group with friends a likely method, but first you have to convince them.

One of the best ways to introduce the idea of D&D to your friends is to find a gateway game. This can be an RPG, MMO, or fantasy game that your friends find interesting. Perhaps your friends all enjoy the game, but minor complaints start cropping up after a while when there aren’t enough options. Here you can ask them if they would like to play a game that has the same fantasy feel, but is more open-ended.

Your friends will be more likely to agree than others, since they already know you and like you. The worst that you will get here is a no.

If you get them to agree, playing with friends is one of the most fun ways to play D&D. You already know each other well and get along. Chances are, you enjoy spending time together. Your intimate connections will help make a better group and D&D experience.

Just be cautious, as sometimes friends can get side-tracked onto other things or be too comfortable with one another. There is an hierarchy in D&D where the Dungeon Master makes the rules. So your friends need to respect that person’s authority.

As a side-note, D&D with your friends does not have to be strictly in-person. If you live very far apart from one another or don’t have enough people for a full group, choosing to play online is also an option.

Reach out to a local game shop

Finding a D&D group at a local game shop is another possibility. Many of us don’t have friends to play with, and if we do, they might be too busy.

It is easy to get likeminded individuals together at a local game shop. People who frequent these shops tend to like games, after all. They are likely to let you play at a table or in the back, but there may be some problems.

If your group is too loud, you may be asked to leave. Game shops aren’t open all day and night, so you’ll have to work your game around that. Food and drinks may or may not be allowed (although alcohol certainly won’t be). You may also have to pay a small fee. These are some small inconveniences for playing at a store.

Now another option here is to find like-minded people at your local game store, but actually play somewhere else. This has its pros and cons. Obviously you won’t have to worry about the game store’s expectations, which is nice. However, it can be difficult to get people to really commit when they don’t know each other well. You will be strangers at first, and you might find that your positive first impressions don’t last. This can result in some unpleasant situations. If you choose this method, be cautious.

Convince your family to play

Playing with family is extraordinarily easy if you already do activities together. When your family is bored or looking for things to do together, bring up D&D. Not everyone may be interested, but there is a chance that at least some family members will be willing to give it a try.

Of course, there are some cons to this approach.

If your family has people of many different ages, teaching everyone may be difficult. Your family knows you even better than your friends do (or at least they think they do), which may cause arguments and distractions.

You may attempt to play with them online if you live far apart, but that can be hard to set up. There are common IT issues that people experience, so each person will need to be technologically capable to make this work.

Find a D&D Group Online

Perhaps you don’t know enough people who are interested in playing, or have a lot of friends and family in far off places. Maybe no one you know wants to run the game. If this sounds like you, another valid way to find a D&D group is to form one online, and then either play in-person or using the internet.

Finding a D&D game online is generally done through three ways:

  • Chat rooms with people you know.
  • Randomly on forums.
  • Find a professional DM.

Any in-person group can be converted to online play. However, may groups are also formed entirely online and consist of some combination of strangers, friends, and family. The internet can also be used to find people locally, if you want to go that route. Generally, it isn’t too hard to find people to play with using the internet. But there are risks to doing this, including dealing with strangers and IT issues.

Chat rooms with people you know

Finding a D&D group in a chat rooms is easily done. You can pitch the idea when playing an online game or discussing a topic. In a chat room, there are usually many people, sometimes dozens or even hundreds. This can make it far easier to find at least several people who are interested. However, here is where the risk comes into play.

D&D horror stories are born from a slight bit of trust or friendship that goes horribly wrong. It is easier to hide ones true self from others online, and it can be very difficult to feel someone out. When you get into roleplay situations, troubling problems may occur. This doesn’t happen most of the time, but it is something to be warry of.

Randomly on forums

Forms include places like Reddit /lfg, Roll20, and discord servers. If you list a post on all of these, you will most likely fill up your group in less than an hour.

This is by far the easiest method, but is also the riskiest.

You have absolutely NO idea who is coming to your virtual table, and you certainly should not risk bringing them to your in-person table. You have cast your net wide and far, and have no idea what you’ve caught until you either talk online or start playing.

Luckily, since these are strangers, most people will be on guard for any bad behaviors. It is certainly possible to block a problem player or leave a problematic situation. The quality of who you get for your game will vary, but as long as you maintain your boundaries, you should be ok.

The best thing you can do to make the process go well is to vet your players. This can be done during your Session 0.

Find a professional DM

Most professional DMs are found online, or are contacted through an online service. While it is possible to get a professional DM to attend your in-person game, this is a very rare profession and is generally far more expensive.

This is the hardest barrier of entry for finding a D&D group. You will likely have to pay for each session and it can get quite expensive. However, using a professional service has huge perks, as you are basically guaranteed to have a quality experience even if you don’t know a single other person in the group. If you and your friends are able to pay for an online game, you should have less risk and higher rewards when playing online.

If a professional experience sounds appealing, click here for $10 off your first game on Start Playing Games.

There are varying qualities of professional DMs out there. Price can be an indicator of quality, but not always. Professional DMs usually have a lot of experience dealing with all sorts of different players and are great at managing groups. If there are issues, they should know how to handle them. While you can certainly have a great time with a non-professional DM, there is a quality assurance that comes with a professional since it is their job to provide you will an amazing game.


As you can see, there are many different approaches you can try to find a D&D group. In-person and online tactics are both valid options, depending on whether you want to play with family, friends, or strangers. It may be helpful to decide whether playing in-person or online is the right fit for you, before deciding how to go about getting a group.

With these approaches, you should be able to weigh the pros and cons of each method and find a group that works for you.

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