Choosing Starting Equipment - How to Play DnD 5e


At this point you’ve filled out all of your character’s stats and proficiencies. You know what your character is capable of, and what kinds of weapons and armor they’re proficienct with. Now, it’s time to choose starting equipment.

The items your characters owns and carries are frequently just as important as what spells they can cast or how many hit points they have. Weapons and armor are crucial in combat, but even less-important items like a ball of twine and piece of chalk can be phenomenally useful.

Methods for Choosing Your Starting Equipment

The Player’s Handbook presents two methods for selecting your starting equipment, and they both work well for most characters.

Pre-Selected Equipment

The default method of selecting your starting equipment is to take the items listed in your class’s description under “Equipment”. This will be formatted as a series of bullet points, each bullet presenting one or more options. You select one option from each bullet point which presents multiple options. In addition, you add the equipment granted by your background.

For example: Let’s imagine that we’re building a wizard with the sage background. In the wizard class description under Equipment, the Player’s Handbook presents 4 bullet points. The first bullet offers a choice of a quarterstaff or a dagger, so we choose a dagger. The second bullet offers a choice of a component pouch or an arcane focus. We select an arcane focus, and we check the equipment chapter of the Player’s Handbook to find the list of arcane foci options, eventually deciding to take a wand. The third bullet presents a choice of two packs, so we choose the scholar’s pack to stick to our scholarly, sagacious theme. The final bullet gives us a spellbook; no decisions need to be made because we aren’t offered any. Finally, we add the items provided by our background: a bottle of black ink and some other items, plus 10gp which we can then keep or use to buy any other items which we may want.

Purchased Equipment

If you don’t like the pre-selected equipment offered by your class and background, you can instead choose to start with an amount of gold based on your class. Page 143 of the Player’s Handbook includes the Starting Wealth by Class table. Find your class and roll the amount of gold listed in the Funds column. This will give you an amount of gold which you can keep or spend as you please. If you want to walk into the first game of the campaign nude and unarmed, you’re technically free to do so. However, it’s more likely that you’ll want to shop for items.

Be sure to get armor if you’re proficient, a weapon if you’re going to use one, a dagger (both as a backup weapon and as a tool), any items which your class might depend on like a spellcasting focus, and consider one of the packs listed in the Equipment Packs sidebar on page 151 of the Player’s Handbook. If you don’t buy an equipment pack, be sure to get basics like trail rations, torches, and rope.

If you’re not sure what to buy, the pre-selected equipment normally provided by your class is still useful as an example. If you want specific advice for what to buy, our class handbooks and subclass handbooks typically provide advice on starting equipment.


Pages 159-161 of the Player’s Handbook detail trinkets. If you want to, you can roll 1d100 on the Trinkets table and recieve the resulting trinket. Trinkets don’t have any defined mechanical effect; they’re simply a weird little item that your character owns for some reason.

Trinkets are an easy rule to overlook, but they can be a fun addition to your character’s backstory. Unfortunately, in my experience most groups forget that they exist.

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