I love TTRPGs, but they’re kind of tough to break into, especially if you don’t already have a group of friends interested in learning how to play. Thankfully, I was lucky enough to have a group that was ready to learn, but I have also snagged a few players and groups from the interwebs using some fun tools, and you can too. Don’t worry; I’ll go over everything. As someone who struggles with anxiety and depression — a combo that is less than ideal for a journalist or a game master juggling seven different players in a six-hour Dungeons & Dragons game — it can be tough to open yourself up to a whole new group of people let alone find them.
In this week’s column of Tabletop tips from an anxious GM (all of which can be found on our DND tips hub), I’ll be providing five tools or resources that you can use to find a group to play with. This was inspired by a recent message I received from someone asking to join my own group — I was incredibly flattered, but unfortunately, I am full up on players. So this is for that person, and others like them that want to find a group.
This isn’t as simple as messaging random people or offering your Discord username when it’s convenient — it certainly can be, but that’s not always the case. In some places, you’ll even have to put in applications (yes, I’m serious). Let me explain.
There are five tools you can use. D&D Beyond. To find groups or players in D&D Beyond, go to Forums > Looking for Players & Groups. Roll20. You’ll want to jump to the Join a Game tab after making an account, and then narrow down your searches to find what you’re looking for. Tabletop Wizard. You can look through the list of games available, and all you have to do is click “request to join.” StartPlaying. Pay some money for a professional game in the Find Games list. Meetup. Check out the Dungeons & Dragons topic (opens in new tab) or even the Tabletop Role Playing and Board Games topic (opens in new tab) to search through local events or groups.
How to find a group for DND and other TTRPGs — an in-depth look
D&D Beyond. This is primarily exclusive to those looking for a D&D 5e group, but D&D Beyond is one of my favorite sites to find players and groups. I created an entire D&D group for my wife and I in D&D Beyond just to get her to try it out, and now she has four new best friends.
To find groups or players in D&D Beyond, go to Forums > Looking for Players & Groups. You can either create your own thread and write a little about yourself and what you’re looking for, or you can look through the latest posts and comment on the ones you’re interested in. It shouldn’t take you anytime at all to find a game, but it might take you a bit to find the right game for you. On these forums, they typically prioritize stating preferences such as game, group preferred, experience, timezone, availability, preferred role, and game style.
Roll20. I am not a big fan of Roll20, or its looking for group listings, but I will talk about it because it is popular. You are not advertising yourself or looking for a group necessarily, but rather you’re looking for a game. Unlike D&D Beyond, Roll20 covers a wide range of TTRPGs, including Call of Cthulhu, Vampire: The Masquerade, and Mutant: Year Zero.
You’ll want to jump to the Join a Game tab after making an account, and then narrow down your searches to find what you’re looking for. Typically, you’ll have to post a new thread within the game that you’re interested in, or you’ll have to comment on an existing thread. There are typically tons of views and comments, but don’t let that discourage you! You’ll have to “apply” to one of these games using the creator’s format — make sure to include your contact information (something not too private).
Tabletop Wizard. This is a fun new tool that’s specifically designed for finding groups unlike the previous tools. You can create an account, set your location, timezone, language, experience, preferences, and more. Then, you look through the list of games available, and all you have to do is click “request to join.”
There’s not too many available games that I’ve found, but once you request to join, you can choose your preferred role in some cases and then pitch yourself. It’s kind of like writing a cover letter for a job. Yes, it’s work, but so is socializing, and this is how you get started, so don’t be discouraged and give it a try!
StartPlaying. This is less for those looking for a group and more for those looking for a TTRPG run by a professional. The primary difference between StartPlaying and the other sites is that this is not free. Games start at $5 and can go up to $50. This is a great opportunity for those that are new to a certain TTRPG and need a guide, or even those looking for more serious play.
You don’t have to pay money to find a good group of TTRPGers, but if you go this route, you’ll flip through the Find Games list and request to join by inputting your credit card information. You won’t be charged until the session actually begins, but you’re essentially paying for a spot to play at one of these tables.
Meetup. This is a tool for finding events of all kinds, not just TTRPG related, but if you’re interested in joining an in-person session, this might work for you. You’ll have to do some legwork by creating an account and finding a local group that participates in the specific game you’re interested in.
You could always create your own event through this as well, and that would be a great way to assemble an in-person group. Check out the Dungeons & Dragons topic (opens in new tab) or even the Tabletop Role Playing and Board Games topic (opens in new tab) to search through events or groups. If you live in a more populated area, this’ll be much easier to use. But if you can’t find any groups local to you, I highly encourage you to create your own.
I hope this helps new players and GMs out there who are just jumping into TTRPGs. If you liked this column and want to see it continue, you can send me your own questions concerning mechanical, narrative, or social issues in the tabletop gaming space. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or find me on Twitter.