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New player looking for advice on how to get started on roll20 and with Dungeons and Dragons in general

Apologies if this is in the wrong forum, did not think it belongs in the looking for group forum as I am not looking for a group at the moment, rather looking for information on what I need to do before I even start looking for a group. Basic information about me is that I am a complete noob when it comes to pen and paper RPGs, I have played the cRPG equivalents like Baldur's Gate and and Neverwinter Nights based on the D&D ruleset so I have a basic understanding of how some of the dice rolls and stats work but I have never actually played a real pen and paper RPG, closest thing I have played would be Hero Quest which is far more limited in scope. In regards to what type of game I am interested in playing I am open to any setting, but I guess if I am going to start with anything it would probably be either Pathfinder or D&D v5 or whatever is most popular on roll20, is anyone able to guide me to what I need to do before even looking for a group? Do I need to buy any rule booklets or anything? Class manuals? Set up character sheets? Any advice would be much appreciated.
While this isn't really a Roll20 -based question, buying the book on Roll20 means you have all of the basic information you need to make a character. I assume Pathfinder has the same general compendium connection, in that buying the book increases your compendium. You can try to play with a Gamemaster/Dungeonkeeper who will share the info by sharing the books on their account, but as in all things, having your own magic item(the players handbook) is always better than sharing. Most of the worries you have, setting up game and making character sheets are for those actually running the Roll20 game. I am considering running a D&D game on Friday days. A newbie like you is more than welcome. BTW, I also run HeroQuest on here, but that is a game and discussion for another time. :)
Ah ok thanks for the reply, so at minimum if I want to start as a player I should at least grab the player's handbook? I take it all the other books (at least in the category of 5E D&D) are mostly for DMs looking for new adventure modules or monsters and items to spice up their campaigns? Or do some of the other books contain useful information for players as well? One thing I was always confused about was creating a character, was always unsure if you were supposed to create a character before the game or if you were supposed to roll for characters when the game starts and base your character off whatever you roll for your ability scores? As for your Friday game I would love to join you if you are accepting new players, however I am an Aussie and am unsure if our schedules would align long enough to play a session, in any case if you are welcoming new players and our time windows align I would love to join you and learn the ropes. 
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Pat S.
Forum Champion
Sheet Author
Greywolf. As a player, you do not have to purchase anything starting out. The compendium contains all the information you need to make a starter character and when you find a GM that has purchase various books on roll20, they are usually willing to share it with the players in their game(s) which eliminates any need to purchase the material on Roll20. Later on, you may find you want to make that purchase but you will be more aware of what you want and/or need. I usually recommend any and all players to hold off on creating characters till they find a group and work with the GM on creating said character but this is due to many GM's having specific methods (referred to as houserules) on how they what characters to be created. Depending on the edition and actual system, character creation can be complex so it is always a good idea to have the GM handy to ask questions about his specific game. Good luck and hope you find some wonderful memories in this exciting hobby. GM = Game Master (usually referred to as a DM or Dungeon Master)
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keithcurtis
Forum Champion
There's nothing the Player's Handbook online gives you that you cannot do with manual typing in of abilities. It just makes it more automatic. This is assuming you have access to some other version of the PHB. Many people run entire campaigns with just the SRD compendium and manually adding anything outside that scope.
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Dragon Dreamer
Roll20 Mod Team
Hello Greywolf, Welcome to Roll20! Just to add to the great information already given by the others here, I'd suggest watching our introductory video series,  Introduction to Tabletop RPGs , which covers the general idea of how they are played, which game to choose and then find a group of fellow gamers. Secondly, for the Virtual TableTop itself we have a  Tutorial  that shows you how to use the various parts of the software.Additionally, starting your own test game to play with the controls is an excellent way of getting used to the software, and you really can't break anything I promise. Thirdly, check out the  Looking For Group Tool  and  Looking for Group Forum  daily for games that may be of interest to you. Fourth, be sure to completely fill out your  User Profile .  Your Bio  is where you have a chance to catch a GM's eye with a well-written statement about yourself Enjoys Playing  is important for two reasons: Every entry you put here is a data-point for  The Orr Group Industry Report  of games being played, and it lets other people looking at your profile know a bit more about you Actively Seeks Group For  is where you can add yourself to the  Player Directory  for systems you want to play We have a  wiki  that grows regularly and is very much worth exploring. Feel free to ask any questions you have about Roll20 by  posting in the various sub-forums  on their particular topics (Don't stress about putting topics in the right sub-forums, we mods really don't mind moving topics when needed!) Happy rolling!
Ok thanks for the advice guys, think I have enough information to get started, just like to be prepared before I show up to a game.