I had a group of friends irl that wanted to start a campaign. I got so excited and was so into making my character. However, the plans feel through, and now Esmerelda (named after silly Loiter Squad video) the wood elf monk will never master all four elements ;-;
Yeah, my characters never got to the point that I wanted them too, So i bring them here and roleplay with them, making them what I want them to be in here. But I still try to get myself into a campaign that will last until the higher levels really xD
... Yeah, you need the rulebook in either physical or pdf form, and you'll have to learn a few things from it, but is that a huge undertaking? 80% of those books are just reference material. Buy a few post it notes to bookmark pages and you're good.
@Sea Jay and remember, the books are like... 30-40% art and tables and paragraph breaks, 20%-30% one-time character creation stuff, and the rest is the important bit; the rules behind your character's abilities (a paragraph or two per ability), combat, movement, loot, and leveling (which mostly references back to the character creation stuff.)
Steal a rulebook from them, give it a look over. Once you know the rules behind certain mundane things, you don't need the book as much. It will just be rolling D20s to see if you succeed at things, and reacting appropriately.