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Playing Dungeons and Dragons for the first time

Cal FinnCal Finn Registered User new member
edited February 2011 in Help / Advice Forum
Hello,

My apologies if this is the wrong section of the forum. I figured I'm asking for help, so this would be the logical place, but it's also relating to tabletop games...so if I'm in the wrong place don't hesitate to let me know.

My friends and I are all gamers, and fans of fantasy, fiction, and other creative outlets. We've decided to try our hand at playing a game of Dungeons and Dragons. We have five or so people, one of which has agreed to be our Dungeon Master. The only issue is that none of us have any prior knowledge of/experience playing the game, or anything similar, and don't really know where to begin.

Any DnD'rs out there that can point us in the right direction? What edition to play, what rules to follow, how to make a game run smoothly, etc. Really anything helpful as, again, we are complete novices.

Thanks!

Cal Finn on
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    KistraKistra Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    You will get much more specific advice if you post your question in this thread:

    http://forums.penny-arcade.com/showthread.php?t=134955

    Plus if you read the first post in that thread it has links to a free adventure that you and your friends can try out and a lot of other general D&D information.

    Kistra on
    Animal Crossing: City Folk Lissa in Filmore 3179-9580-0076
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    OnTheLastCastleOnTheLastCastle let's keep it haimish for the peripatetic Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    You're going to need to put on your cloak and wizard hat first. The forum Kistra linked is good. You can play pretty much whatever edition you WANT, but Wizards of the Coast came out with a cute little condensed "Red Box" that should have everything you need for a starting campaign, I think.

    I haven't played with it, but it was designed for that purpose. Call your gamestore and ask about the red box.

    OnTheLastCastle on
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    WanderingStarWanderingStar Registered User new member
    edited February 2011
    The newest version of D&D is 4th Edition. I've played it a few times and I'd highly reccommend it. It's a roleplaying game about tactical combat with your friends in a fantasy universe.

    To play, you'll eventually need the 4th Edition Core Rulebooks (available as a box set), a grid, and minis or some way to represent your characters and the monsters on the grid. All that should be available online or at your friendly local gaming store. As least your DM (and for maximum enjoyment, your whole group) will need to be familiar with the rules in those books, but you'll pick them up quick once you've played a few times.

    Possibly off-topic, but I've never been a big fan of minis and you might not be either. When I started playing we got around the need to buy minis by drawing our dungeons on 1-inch grid paper and using paper cutouts for our characters and the monsters - more work and doesn't look as nice, but it gets the job done.

    I don't know anything about the Red Box. I believe it's a simpler, "starter" version of D&D that people either like and use or hate. If you're intimidated about starting from scratch, it might be for you. Gabe wrote a bit about it here

    You might like the PA-PvP podcast available [url="http://www.wizards.com/DnD/Article.aspx?x=dnd/4pod/20080530]here[/url]. Gabe learns D&D having never played it before, and it gives you a sense of what the game is like.

    WanderingStar on
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    Reverend_ChaosReverend_Chaos Suit Up! Spokane WARegistered User regular
    edited February 2011
    The "Red Box" would have everything you need to start. This way you can see if you all like it before dropping a bunch of money. You are going to need a Players Handbook (commonly referred to as PHB) and I would reccomend everyong getting their own, you will use it all night. The DM needs a DMG, and should really get a Monster manual. You can run tons of written campaigns with just these books, but there are many, many more that you could get, with more races, classes, monsters, etc.

    Reverend_Chaos on
    “Think of me like Yoda, but instead of being little and green I wear suits and I'm awesome. I'm your bro—I'm Broda!”
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    Descendant XDescendant X Skyrim is my god now. Outpost 31Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    Don't do it!

    Dungeons and Dragons is an evil game and will lead you into witchcraft (wicca) and Satanism. It makes you cast real spells, which the Bible says is evil. Take a look at this here: http://www.chick.com/reading/tracts/0046/0046_01.ASP

    Just kidding.

    If you're thinking of playing D&D, you may also want to take a look at Pathfinder. It's an offshoot of D&D 3.5 that Paizo Publishing created after Wizards of the Coast introduced 4th edition and all the neckbeards who spent hundreds of dollars on the 3.5 setting lost their minds. I've been playing Pathfinder with a group of friends for about two years now and it's a blast. We played 3.5 prior to this. The best part about Pathfinder is that players only really need the one book and the only extra thing the DM needs is an Adventure Path, which includes everything the DM needs to run the game.

    I should note here that we tried our hand at 4th Edition briefly and unanimously agreed that it would be more fun to play Pathfinder, but that's due to us being used to the old system and having tons of stuff that we could use for it. Your experience may vary.

    Descendant X on
    Garry: I know you gentlemen have been through a lot, but when you find the time I'd rather not spend the rest of the winter TIED TO THIS FUCKING COUCH!
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    BoomShakeBoomShake The Engineer Columbia, MDRegistered User regular
    edited February 2011
    Another route you could try is to see if there's any local game circles with experienced DMs who could run your first time and help guide you all through. Check hobby shops or meetup.com

    BoomShake on
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    QuidQuid Definitely not a banana Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    Not necessary, but what got myself and my wife really in to it and was especially helpful in understanding how it works were the Penny Arcade DND podcasts. Particularly since it was Gabe's first time ever playing so everything gets clearly explained. They're pretty funny too.

    Quid on
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    Z0reZ0re Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    Don't do it!

    Dungeons and Dragons is an evil game and will lead you into witchcraft (wicca) and Satanism. It makes you cast real spells, which the Bible says is evil. Take a look at this here: http://www.chick.com/reading/tracts/0046/0046_01.ASP

    Just kidding.

    If you're thinking of playing D&D, you may also want to take a look at Pathfinder. It's an offshoot of D&D 3.5 that Paizo Publishing created after Wizards of the Coast introduced 4th edition and all the neckbeards who spent hundreds of dollars on the 3.5 setting lost their minds. I've been playing Pathfinder with a group of friends for about two years now and it's a blast. We played 3.5 prior to this. The best part about Pathfinder is that players only really need the one book and the only extra thing the DM needs is an Adventure Path, which includes everything the DM needs to run the game.

    I should note here that we tried our hand at 4th Edition briefly and unanimously agreed that it would be more fun to play Pathfinder, but that's due to us being used to the old system and having tons of stuff that we could use for it. Your experience may vary.

    You want to be careful with Pathfinder though, 3rd edition in general was far more fiddly than 4th edition is and far more open to abuse and absolutely insane power discrepancy if people don't know what they're doing. Pathfinder fixes a few of the problems, but makes others even worse than they used to be and didn't really fix the underlying issue of magic=awesome.

    If you don't have a solid grasp of 3rd edition mechanics I'd honestly stay away from it or its derivatives as your first system.

    Z0re on
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    spool32spool32 Contrary Library Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    I'd suggest 4E as well, as the learning curve will be much more kind to you. The main thing is to enjoy yourselves!

    Also, if you wanna try a genuine mesh of PC gaming + D&D, hit my sig.

    spool32 on
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    AwkAwk Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    Make sure to catch the episode of Community a week ago where they played a game of AD&D. :)

    Awk on
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    ceresceres When the last moon is cast over the last star of morning And the future has past without even a last desperate warningRegistered User, Moderator mod
    edited February 2011
    Personally, 3.5 is the best system I've seen so far. You can do more with more different kinds of characters than just about any other edition, but that's my opinion.

    I think it also depends on your goal. Are you guys roleplayers? If you really want to get into a role, 3.5 is great for that. It can be complicated, but you can really get in there and tailor-make your characters to be exactly what you want. You can make their combat abilities fit their personalities pretty exactly. I also have seen combat be waaaay less protracted in 3.5 than 4E, but I don't like spending tons and tons of time in combat, either. I've heard good things about Pathfinder, as well.

    Probably the best thing for starters, though, is for the guy doing the GMing to look into different systems and figure out what he's most comfortable running. Then start with that, and you can explore other systems as you go.

    I'll always have a soft spot for THAC0, though.

    ceres on
    And it seems like all is dying, and would leave the world to mourn
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    PowerpuppiesPowerpuppies drinking coffee in the mountain cabinRegistered User regular
    edited February 2011
    4E has the most balanced combat I've ever seen in an RPG, but since combat is still the least fun part of an RPG for me, sometimes it's a mixed blessing as DMs put lots of vanilla combat in their adventures. I found 4E to be very simple and intuitive, and I believe Essentials ("the red box") to be even more so.

    As far as making the game run smoothly, one rule of thumb is never look anything up at the table. Let the DM make a decision, and let that be the end of it (It's still worth discussing things, since sometimes one person knows the answer and others don't, but when it gets to the point where somebody's pulling out a book, it's probably less fun to find out the right answer than it would be to guess wrong).

    Some people really enjoy a DM vs the players mentality, others prefer a cooperative storytelling feel. Might be worth talking about what everybody wants to get out of the game. As long as you'll all trying to make everybody else have fun too, it should be pretty easy to have good times.

    Powerpuppies on
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    November FifthNovember Fifth Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    I have a sort of a contrarian suggestion. Start with Castle Ravenloft. No one has to DM and you can wrap up a session in one evening rather than days or weeks of play.

    If you enjoy that experience then move on to redbox.

    November Fifth on
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    Kuroi OokamiKuroi Ookami Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    A small tip for the DM. Don't plan too far ahead with an elaborate map and plans for where certain parts of the story will take place. Things often don't go the way you're expecting or hoping unless you try to force players in that direction. Just plan accordingly and let the players feel it out and move it along. Our DM has a rough idea of the end goal, and adjusts on the fly as needed, because we like to really think outside the box and do crazy things he'd never plan for. Sometimes we're just bullheaded and wander off in a different direction he has planned for us, looking for a bit more extra fun before starting some important quest :P

    Kuroi Ookami on
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    Let me know if you add me on either.
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    PowerpuppiesPowerpuppies drinking coffee in the mountain cabinRegistered User regular
    edited February 2011
    Kuroi has the right of it

    That whole post was truth

    Powerpuppies on
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    ceresceres When the last moon is cast over the last star of morning And the future has past without even a last desperate warningRegistered User, Moderator mod
    edited February 2011
    Yes. The best GMs will do as Kuroi said.

    ceres on
    And it seems like all is dying, and would leave the world to mourn
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    brain operatorbrain operator Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    The "Red Box" would have everything you need to start. This way you can see if you all like it before dropping a bunch of money.
    The Red Box is a play once then shelve away deal. I bought it just for the box and dice. It's great for a demo in a game shop, but I wouldn't recommend that a group buys it just to try things out. It's not worth $20 for that purpose, by my reckoning.

    Yes, it can prevent you from ever spending anything else on D&D - but I would think that assumption is that you will actually want to play more, and then you'll need some actual books anyway. $20 gets you the Rules Compendium and some sodas for the first game. Getting the full core set split fiveways is less than $20, and it will last you the rest of your 4E gaming days.

    brain operator on
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    RadicalTurnipRadicalTurnip Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    A quick thing about versions: I would consider 3rd edition (and 3.5, and Pathfinder) to be more about a *Simulated World* where if the player says "I want to be able to do this" The version says "Okay". 4th Edition, I would say, is more about balance and specificity. I played D&D before I ever played M:tG. Eventually, I began to realize that I sometimes wished my D&D books would be more specific, like M:tG cards which lay out *exactly* what they do and what happens. Then 4E came out, and it did almost exactly that. They balanced it like an MMO to make most builds viable and very few overpowered.

    On a personal level, I've always wanted my rules to be more of a Simulated Fantasy World, and so I prefer 3.5.

    But besides rules, there are a few rules for players that they should learn. Firstly, you control your character, your character shouldn't control you. This seems obvious, but when you start saying "My Character wouldn't care about that (the quest)" or "My character wouldn't associate with these people (the party)" as a co-player, it's your job to either decide to abandon your character, or figure out a way *in character* for them to be roped in.

    Secondly, characters (especially non INT-driven ones) don't always act perfectly logically, even in combat. This can be disregarded to a slight extent if you just prefer to go around and kill stuff, and damned be the story: but if you play a Role Playing Game to actually roleplay, then remember that your character can't see the grid, and doesn't necessarily know conventional tv-tropes.

    Thirdly, a fun loss is better than a boring win. Learn to let-go of your characters. If they die heroically or how they would have wanted to go, then that's a success, not a failure. Never get so attached to your character that you're not willing to let him/her go. You can always roll up another character if you need to.

    I highly reccomend the DMs at least (and really, everybody) read this, or, actually, the top 4 things listed under "Play Theory". I got most of my recommendations above from Rich Burlew's site.

    RadicalTurnip on
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    KistraKistra Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    I also wouldn't bother with the Red Box.

    Here you can download a D&D adventure with some characters and all the relevant rules for free to try things out with no monetary investment. Later everyone can make their own characters and customize them however they want, but this way you can try out an adventure without doing all the set up before you know the rules.

    EDIT: Unless you have been playing D&D for years and just neglected to put that in the OP, you can safely ignore all the comments about editions. 4th edition will be the easiest for you to get into because it is currently being made and supported. You also don't need to worry about the distinction between gamist and simulationist games until you have been playing for several years and want to find the perfect system for you. I've been playing 4e since it came out and have yet to find anything that I couldn't do so it isn't like you are going to be running into tons of things that you can't do in 4e that you could in 3.5, it is just that the rules describe them differently and there are different abstractions.

    2nd EDIT: The one thing that you will need is some dice. If you really want to try D&D out for free there are online dice rolling programs, but I think actually rolling physical dice is a large part of the fun of playing in person. You will need (at minimum) one twenty sided die, one 12 sided die, one 10 sided die, one 8 sided die, one 6 sided die and one 4 sided die. You should be able to get these for less than $10 at a gaming store. You can also buy sets of D&D branded dice at comic book stores or big book stores like borders and barnes and noble. There is also a boxed set that has preprinted character sheets and several maps and the keep on the shadowfell adventure all printed out and comes with a set of dice - but if you get this you should look over the pdf that I linked to because they made one of the fights easier because it killed a lot of players the way it was originally written.

    Kistra on
    Animal Crossing: City Folk Lissa in Filmore 3179-9580-0076
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    ceresceres When the last moon is cast over the last star of morning And the future has past without even a last desperate warningRegistered User, Moderator mod
    edited February 2011
    Everything Turnip said. If you want to roleplay, 3.5 is awesome. If you want to play a tactical, overly balanced fighting game, go 4E. I'm a roleplayer when it comes to these things. I like to roleplay in intricate fantasy lands with combat that leaves room for imagination but isn't necessarily the focus. Some of that will be GM style, but 3.5 caters to that much more easily.

    If you guys decide to be roleplayers, on metagaming: Being in character is awesome, but if you can't come up with a reason for him or her to be adventuring with your group, you're basically out of the party. I have a character who is made of such pure chaotic good that butter wouldn't dare melt in her presence. Sometimes it was hard for me to keep her with a group of people who had questionable morality at best and still stay in character (one member of our party actually tricked a good cleric into eating human meat just for her own amusement). I mostly managed, and that's probably a good thing because she really rounded out the party and probably at a few points kept them from going all-out evil. The moral of that story is, don't be afraid to mix alignments to a degree, because as long as you can find reasons for your group to stay together doing so can actually make things much more interesting from a roleplaying standpoint.

    ceres on
    And it seems like all is dying, and would leave the world to mourn
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    OptimusZedOptimusZed Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    ceres wrote: »
    I also have seen combat be waaaay less protracted in 3.5 than 4E, but I don't like spending tons and tons of time in combat, either.
    This is really dependent on the situation and the experience of the group I think.

    New players just picking up the system (especially with high level characters, which is something that should be avoided if possible, it just wasn't in our case) or players trying to learn new characters that have a lot of powers (once they get around 9th level or so where they max out) can slow things down considerably. The combat you saw was a particularly bad example, since we had one somewhat experienced player and one new player both trying to come to grips with their brand new 9th level characters. That does tend to slog the table rhythm a bit.

    Starting from level 1 and developing an understanding of what your character would do in a variety of situations really speeds up combat. I've had nights that ran for 4 hours with 5 combats interspersed between decent length RP sessions. I don't usually go that combat heavy, but it can be done when the story calls for it.

    I think its analogous to a 3rd edition party full of spellcasters in terms of time taken, with the exception that you're not going to spend 25 minutes on the Wizard's turn because he's time stopping and summoning every demon from the third circle of hell, you're spending 10 minutes on his turn because he's new and doesn't know what all of his powers do so he has to read them all every turn. Either way can slow down a game considerably, but with 4th the learning curve improves gameplay speed as you level (in my experience) where I found 3rd to be the opposite due to expansions in actions per turn per party member. YMMV, obviously.

    Back to the general discussion at hand; The OP wants to stay away from the Red Box. It's not a great product for people just getting into 4E, and that was a real missed opportunity for them. Grab one of the free startup adventures from the website (linked previously) and go from there. The Core rulebooks (Players Handbook, Monster Manual, Dungeon Masters Guide) are a much better means of getting into the game long term. But I would see if you enjoy the initial free adventure before picking very much of that stuff up, since it can get to be an investment very quickly.

    And remember, there are plenty of systems out there that aren't 4E, some of which are available for free. http://www.d20srd.org has the basic rules for 3rd edition, which is perfectly serviceable, especially through the early levels, so if you want to get your feet wet that's a free set of rules with which to do so. It is not compatible at all with 4E, but it is (sort of) with Pathfinder if you decide you really like it.

    OptimusZed on
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    KistraKistra Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    ceres wrote: »
    Everything Turnip said. If you want to roleplay, 3.5 is awesome. If you want to play a tactical, overly balanced fighting game, go 4E. I'm a roleplayer when it comes to these things. I like to roleplay in intricate fantasy lands with combat that leaves room for imagination but isn't necessarily the focus. Some of that will be GM style, but 3.5 caters to that much more easily.

    Yes, but with 4th edition they won't have to spend two years studying hundreds of splat books before being able to make a playable character. In 4th edition it is nearly impossible to make a bad character. In 3rd edition most of the options are there to trick you into making a bad character so you have to carefully study up in order to avoid them.

    I also don't understand how the ruleset affects ones ability to roleplay. Roleplaying is the interaction between the people and has nothing to do with stats or powers or anything that is written down in any way. Personally, I find it easier to roleplay when I am enjoying the game and feeling useful to the party so I find it easier to roleplay with 4e.

    As I said earlier to the OP, unless some of your friends have secretly been playing D&D for years none of this discussion about editions will matter at all to you. Pick one of the free resources and go play. Make up your own rules if you don't understand the official ones and just have fun.

    EDIT: And the thing about making up your own rules is in the rule books. Page 42 in the dungeon master's guide if any of your friends question you on it.

    Kistra on
    Animal Crossing: City Folk Lissa in Filmore 3179-9580-0076
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    brain operatorbrain operator Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    Kistra wrote: »
    Yes, but with 4th edition they won't have to spend two years studying hundreds of splat books before being able to make a playable character. In 4th edition it is nearly impossible to make a bad character. In 3rd edition most of the options are there to trick you into making a bad character so you have to carefully study up in order to avoid them.
    Hyperbole much?

    Dude, WotC apparently thought it useful to restrict the 4E classes into Essentials because the regular ones could confound new players, because some powers are that much better/worse to take than others. This is not a 3E (only) issue. I've played (and still do) in a somewhat houseruled core only (that's right, just three books - 2 of which are only ever used by the DM) 3E game and we're fine. We're beyond "playable". We've been having fun for 10+ years that way. And nobody tricked us into anything. D&D is complex. That doesn't make it complicated, nor tricksy. If you just want to play, you can be up and running in a couple of minutes and to hell with careful study.

    brain operator on
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    ceresceres When the last moon is cast over the last star of morning And the future has past without even a last desperate warningRegistered User, Moderator mod
    edited February 2011
    4e also makes it nearly impossible to make an interesting character, from what I've read. 3.5 lets you keep things basic or do the research and make as fiddly or not-fiddly a character as your heart desires, and be as useful or as useless as you want to be. Combat is much less regimented, and for many that's a good thing because it can give way to amazing creativity. The only times I ever needed more than one book were when I wanted to do something fussy, which I totally could because there was information for it.

    What I'm saying is, don't let people tell you when you're starting out that 3.5 will be too complex for you and you that you should just use 4e because it's easy for beginners. If you want a mini war game, awesome. 4e is probably your game. But all that structure costs you a lot in the way of freedom, especially during combat. They really are incompatible because they are different games that cater to different play styles, and your group should pick the one that will work best for yours. 4e is not a blanket-godsend for all tabletop, and it shouldn't be treated that way. If you want to take a look at the other systems, you can almost certainly pick up some used books for cheap.

    First think about what you really want out of your game, and then find the system that will help you have the most fun at it.

    ceres on
    And it seems like all is dying, and would leave the world to mourn
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    KistraKistra Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    ceres wrote: »
    4e also makes it nearly impossible to make an interesting character, from what I've read.
    So you were bored watching the thri-keen raised by humans try to imitate human facial expression and end up succeeding in convincing four different people to work for him?

    And you found no interest at all in the shaman who works with sand spirits failing to understand water so badly that she poisoned a well guarded by a water spirit that she was trying to placate and appease?

    Essentials wasn't created because some characters are better than others, it was created because some people don't like having too many choices. It lets people create characters (especially at higher levels) with fewer options.

    Kistra on
    Animal Crossing: City Folk Lissa in Filmore 3179-9580-0076
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    ceresceres When the last moon is cast over the last star of morning And the future has past without even a last desperate warningRegistered User, Moderator mod
    edited February 2011
    I'm not going to have a personal argument here, and you shouldn't either. The majority of wonderful, colorful, truly varied characters I've seen simply aren't possible under that system. My favorite character to play, while not necessarily terribly interesting to others, is a lot of fun to me, and there is no possible way to convert her to 4e. I know the others from my group would all feel the same about their characters and watching the horrible character/combat castration that would mean.

    Which is why I say that what the OP should really do with his group, as a group, is figure out what kind of experience they're looking to have, and the best possible system to find it. 4e might not be that system for a roleplayer. If I had started out in a 4e game, I would have quit because it's not what I'm looking for in a game.

    ceres on
    And it seems like all is dying, and would leave the world to mourn
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    brain operatorbrain operator Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    Kistra wrote: »
    Essentials wasn't created because some characters are better than others, it was created because some people don't like having too many choices. It lets people create characters (especially at higher levels) with fewer options.
    Potayto, potahto. As long as get my Belgian fries I'm happy. ;-)

    I play both 3E and 4E. I enjoy both. 3E a little bit more perhaps, but even that varies with group and certainly with DM. 4E has an official Dark Sun, 3E doesn't. 4E absolutely requires using a grid for battles if you don't want to throw out a large part of the available powers, with 3E you can get by without a battlemap at all if you're not too finnicky about a few mechanics. 4E's more balanced, 3E lends itself better to ad hoc rulings. It's all good as long as everybody's having fun.

    brain operator on
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    EshEsh Tending bar. FFXIV. Motorcycles. Portland, ORRegistered User regular
    edited February 2011
    ceres wrote: »
    I'm not going to have a personal argument here, and you shouldn't either. The majority of wonderful, colorful, truly varied characters I've seen simply aren't possible under that system. My favorite character to play, while not necessarily terribly interesting to others, is a lot of fun to me, and there is no possible way to convert her to 4e. I know the others from my group would all feel the same about their characters and watching the horrible character/combat castration that would mean.

    That's the most colorfully worded and flowery way of saying "I can't min/max with 4E like I can in 3.5". ;-)

    Just giving you shit. <3

    But really, having played since the original Red Box back in the 80s, I'd recommend starting with 4E over 3.5 any day of the week. Much more user friendly, fast combats, and over all a much funner experience for a new player.

    If you do insist on 3.5, I'd go Pathfinder over D&D any day of the week. They really cleaned it up.

    Esh on
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    OnTheLastCastleOnTheLastCastle let's keep it haimish for the peripatetic Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    Well, since I don't play D&D, let me cut through all these posts:
    Whatever system you choose first will be your baby, you will love it and you will not want to play any other system because they are all evil. PA even made a comic about this.

    Castle Ravenloft is (from what I have been told) a fun game where you don't need a DM. It's like Heroquest + D&D. Could be fun.

    OnTheLastCastle on
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    Z0reZ0re Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    Esh wrote: »
    ceres wrote: »
    I'm not going to have a personal argument here, and you shouldn't either. The majority of wonderful, colorful, truly varied characters I've seen simply aren't possible under that system. My favorite character to play, while not necessarily terribly interesting to others, is a lot of fun to me, and there is no possible way to convert her to 4e. I know the others from my group would all feel the same about their characters and watching the horrible character/combat castration that would mean.

    That's the most colorfully worded and flowery way of saying "I can't min/max with 4E like I can in 3.5". ;-)

    Just giving you shit. <3

    But really, having played since the original Red Box back in the 80s, I'd recommend starting with 4E over 3.5 any day of the week. Much more user friendly, fast combats, and over all a much funner experience for a new player.

    If you do insist on 3.5, I'd go Pathfinder over D&D any day of the week. They really cleaned it up.

    Pathfinder is terrible and makes the flaws in 3.5 worse if you understand the underlying mechanics while being trotted out as a fix. It makes spellcasters even more powerful, gimps the only thing melee really had (ability to do a ton of damage) and is incompatible with the better 3.5 subsystems (Incarnum, Tome of Battle and Tome of Magic). Not to mention how ludicrously broken their original classes are, both positively and negatively, and how much they managed to screw up the magical item system.

    Frankly you're better with your own set of houserules, Pathfinder is just a terrible kludge.

    Z0re on
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    ceresceres When the last moon is cast over the last star of morning And the future has past without even a last desperate warningRegistered User, Moderator mod
    edited February 2011
    Esh wrote: »
    ceres wrote: »
    I'm not going to have a personal argument here, and you shouldn't either. The majority of wonderful, colorful, truly varied characters I've seen simply aren't possible under that system. My favorite character to play, while not necessarily terribly interesting to others, is a lot of fun to me, and there is no possible way to convert her to 4e. I know the others from my group would all feel the same about their characters and watching the horrible character/combat castration that would mean.

    That's the most colorfully worded and flowery way of saying "I can't min/max with 4E like I can in 3.5". ;-)

    Just giving you shit. <3

    It's kind of true. Though my character started out completely worthless and was for a loooong time because she had a hefty level modifier. She was a level 1 cleric in a group of level 5 characters, but she came into her own later, mostly as a character and through receipt of an artifact. She had three different templates and three different classes and was essentially worthless for the first 2-3 months of weekly sessions, but she WAS a flyer and was useful in interesting ways because of that. In one fairly epic move, she managed to catch a party member who had been fighting on a roof and was pushed over the edge. That die roll was made by the skin of my teeth, too. But, she was what I wanted to play, and the rules allowed for it, and I had a blast. Our group definitely had some min/maxers.

    That's a very specific anecdote, though. Some people have fun playing like that, some people want to play a video game on their table where all the characters are very balanced by force. Which is why I'm saying, again, that it's best to figure out what you want to do and find the system with the best fit for that.

    Also, seriously dude. Call of Cthulhu. You've not died properly till you've done it in that game.

    ceres on
    And it seems like all is dying, and would leave the world to mourn
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    OnTheLastCastleOnTheLastCastle let's keep it haimish for the peripatetic Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    Yeah, Call of Cthulhu's tagline should be "With great power comes great insani... gararabraahh, Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn!"

    OnTheLastCastle on
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    brain operatorbrain operator Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    Z0re wrote: »
    Pathfinder is terrible and makes the flaws in 3.5 worse if you understand the underlying mechanics while being trotted out as a fix.
    Not going there.

    Suffice to say Pathfinder works fine for me.

    brain operator on
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    DenadaDenada Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    ceres wrote: »
    4e also makes it nearly impossible to make an interesting character, from what I've read.

    This is not even a little bit true.
    ceres wrote: »
    What I'm saying is, don't let people tell you when you're starting out that 3.5 will be too complex for you and you that you should just use 4e because it's easy for beginners.

    This is true.
    ceres wrote: »
    If you want a mini war game, awesome. 4e is probably your game. But all that structure costs you a lot in the way of freedom, especially during combat.

    This is not true.
    ceres wrote: »
    They really are incompatible because they are different games that cater to different play styles, and your group should pick the one that will work best for yours.

    This is mostly true. 4E and 3.5 can both accommodate a wide range of play styles, but they are incompatible. This incompatibility is only due to completely different sets of rules between the editions.
    ceres wrote: »
    4e is not a blanket-godsend for all tabletop, and it shouldn't be treated that way. If you want to take a look at the other systems, you can almost certainly pick up some used books for cheap.

    This is true of all games, all systems, and all editions.
    ceres wrote: »
    First think about what you really want out of your game, and then find the system that will help you have the most fun at it.

    This is true. It can also be a daunting prospect for someone who's never played before, and is pretty much meaningless to someone who doesn't have any experience with PnP gaming. But what am I doing bickering? There's an OP to answer.

    - - - - -
    Cal Finn wrote: »
    Any DnD'rs out there that can point us in the right direction? What edition to play, what rules to follow, how to make a game run smoothly, etc. Really anything helpful as, again, we are complete novices.

    Thanks!

    As others have said, if you want to play D&D, there's a lot to choose from. The current edition is 4th edition, or 4E. If you want to try 4E, which you can do for free, don't buy the Red Box. You will not get a lot of use out of it. Instead, download the quick-start rules and Keep on the Shadowfell. Right there you have some sample characters, the basic rules, and a full adventure to run through.

    If you want to try 3.5, that's fine too. I'm not personally familiar with any free materials available, but most of the books are probably pretty cheap if you want to buy them used.

    If you want to try something other than D&D, I've heard good things about Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay and Dragon Age, though my experience with those systems doesn't extend beyond that.

    I would encourage you to listen to the Penny Arcade D&D podcasts, which you can find here. If what they're doing sounds like fun, then head up to those links I posted and get started for free. If you like the system, great! Buy some more books and keep playing. If you don't like it, great! Try something else.

    As far as advice on playing and DMing, head over to the D&D thread in Critical Failures. Yes, it's a 4E-centric thread, but the best advice goes beyond editions.

    Denada on
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    Disco11Disco11 Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    Whatever system you do use it might be good to buy a module. They sort of lay out a general story and have pre planned encounters.

    Disco11 on
    PSN: Canadian_llama
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    Cal FinnCal Finn Registered User new member
    edited February 2011
    Wow, thank you guys so much for the speedy replies! Heck of a forum community here. I'm going to sift through these responses in more detail with everyone around, but from what I can tell, it seems like 4E would be the simplest route to go, at least starting off. The red box is only $13.59 on Amazon, so we're probably going to pick that up, if for nothing else than the dice and grid. The sample adventure on the website might work as well.

    You guys have given me a great starting off point, so thank you again!

    Cal Finn on
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    DalbozDalboz Resident Puppy Eater Right behind you...Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    Don't be afraid to experiment with it. 4E is probably a good starting point. You can definitely make some interesting characters using it, but it does take a little tweaking and some experience to know what you're doing.

    One thing that I was surprised no one mentioned (unless I glanced over it without it registering) was that you might want to check out an Encounters game. Encounters is a program that WOTC is running which basically allows you to have one encounter each week, usually about an hour, maybe two hours, and over the course of the weeks you get a full story. They're pretty simple, but they can still be a really good introduction if you have no experience. Last night was the second session of the fourth season/story (which is actually a sequel to the 1st edition module "The Ghost Tower of Inverness"). Check the Wizards website to see if there's an Encounters game near you. At least you can see how things are supposed to flow, which can be different from simply reading about it in the books.

    Dalboz on
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    SneakertSneakert Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    I'm not the thread starter but thanks for all the info people. I Ordered castle ravenloft because some people mentioned that as a good starting point and I feel a boardgame would be easier to "force" on my friends.

    Sneakert on
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    BlurblBlurbl -_- Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    Just, eh, make sure that everyone in the group knows and will like how DnD plays, despite how enthusiastic they may be.

    Or you may buy all of the stuff only for them to want to go back to Halo after half an hour.

    Blurbl on
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    Disco11Disco11 Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    you could always look for a meetup group in your area and try a few games there. People there are generally happy to share books and minis.

    Disco11 on
    PSN: Canadian_llama
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