If you've been tempted to get into D&D—perhaps after enjoying Baldur's Gate 3?—but been intimidated by the price, now might be the time to jump in. With big sales on both the official D&D store and D&D Beyond, core books and sets are looking a lot more affordable, and it runs until 17 September.
Dubbed the "Back to School" sale (sounds like a lot more dragon-slaying is going on in classrooms these days than there was in my day?), it offers its biggest savings on digital books. On D&D Beyond—a digital platform for playing D&D that you can read more about in our guide to online role-playing—you can pick up the big three core books (the Dungeon Master's Guide, the Player's Handbook, and the Monster Manual) for 40% off. There's also some good savings on the big campaigns and adventures, including 25% off Descent Into Avernus (a campaign that serves as a prequel to Baldur's Gate 3) and 30% off the sprawling Dungeon of the Mad Mage.
These books don't come as PDFs—they're unlocked on D&D Beyond, which allows you to read them in a really handy wiki-like format on the site, as well as using content from them in your D&D Beyond games. Even if you're not planning to play online, this can still be a really convenient way to read and reference your books—it particularly makes searching for a specific rule a breeze.
If you still crave the feel of paper in your hands, over on the D&D store there's strong discounts on physical+digital bundles, including 30% off the Dungeon Master's Guide, Monster Manual, and Player's Handbook, as well as 20% off the Starter Set or Essentials Kit (which is basically an expanded starter set). These bundles get you the physical books (as well as things like dice and maps in the case of the Starter set and Essentials Kit) but also give you all the content on D&D Beyond too, so you're completely covered, albeit at a higher price than going digital-only.
If you're a little overwhelmed and not sure what to get, I think there's a few sensible ways to go.
The cheap option
If you want to just get started right away at a good price point, the Essentials Kit is a great buy. It contains everything you need to create a group of characters that can advance up to level 6, a complete sandbox adventure to run them through, dice, maps, and more, for less than the cost of one physical Player's Handbook. And because you get a physical copy and get it on D&D Beyond too, you can choose whether you want to run it in person or online (or even switch between the two).
The free option
If you want an even cheaper option than that… well, the core D&D rules are on D&D Beyond for free, excluding some bells and whistles like many of the character subclasses, and there are lots of free D&D adventures to run out there, including the official Lost Mines of Phandelver. Not quite as premium an experience, but it'll give you a great taste of what playing and running D&D is like.
The completionist option
If you want all the tools at your disposal and money is no object, the holy trinity of rulebooks is the Player's Handbook, Dungeon Master's Guide, and Monster Manual (players only need the Player's Handbook). These contain everything you need (other than a pre-written adventure to run)—though it's worth noting that we're expecting new versions of all three at some point next year, when D&D 5e receives its long-awaited rules update. That may make it a bad moment to pick these up, though if you get them digital only in this sale at least that's a substantial saving, which may take the sting out of it.
Or something completely different
If you're feeling rebellious, you could also check out our guide to alternatives to D&D for some options that are just all-round cheaper than Wizard's of the Coast's behemoth (and arguably cooler). There's a big world of tabletop RPGs out there to explore!