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"Where to start with D&D" Topic

19 Posts

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nnascati Supporting Member of TMP15 Sep 2020 4:13 p.m. PST

So, I played D&D probably 40 years ago, and generally enjoyed it. Since then I've done mostly historical, with some SciFi and generic fantasy. Yesterday at dinner, my sons in law and I got to talking about giving D&D a try. I have plenty of suitable minis, but at this point in my life, I'm not sure I have the patience to create dungeons and good scenarios.
Where would I begin? Are there better rules now?

Thresher0115 Sep 2020 4:38 p.m. PST

Buy a rulebook, buy some minis – they sell nicely prepainted ones now for D&D, buy some dice, and have at it.

Building/buying a dungeon is optional, but recommended.

Buy a copy of the Mythic Game Master Emulator, so you don't need to work out in advance what will happen, and you can play along with the others, if desired, instead of just acting as the GM.

Don't skimp on the latter option, since that's the only way to fly, in my personal opinion.

nnascati Supporting Member of TMP15 Sep 2020 4:43 p.m. PST

Thresher, I actually have everything you mention except for the dungeon. I've been gaming for probably fifty years. But what is the current version of D&D? Or is there a better option out there?

Extrabio1947 Supporting Member of TMP15 Sep 2020 5:07 p.m. PST

Nick, you will get much better answers, but try going to Amazon and searchIng under books for Dungeons & Dragons. You should be able to see what is available, and get an idea as to the latest set of rules, scenario books, etc.

Just a thought.

Striker15 Sep 2020 5:31 p.m. PST

If you're running the game the same 3 books are it: Player's Handbook, DMs Guide, and Monster Manual, just 5E versions. They're considerably more expensive than 1st ed AD&D. There are other books to add new classes and such but imo they aren't worth the money unless you're going to get really into it. I haven't bought any of the "modules" they have put out but I'm playing in my second one, it goes from 1st to 20th level! So these aren't the 4-6 players of 2-4 level one shots but campaigns in a book. Personally when I started DMing again I got the reformatted Caves of Chaos/Keep on the Borderlands book (Goodman Games) as much for the nostalgia as the old school action. They give history of it's development and the original module and art, a bit of $ but I think worth it if you have fond memories of B1 & B2.
There are a lot of independent modules in and if you google up "5e Dnd" you can find some good free stuff out there for things like names, adventure hooks, etc. Overall the 5E changes are: less math, more player stamina, more people get spell-like powers/abilities, but monsters went up in hp but not AC so Orcs are tougher (hp and dmg dealt) in 5E than 1st or 2nd but they can be hit. Overall it's not bad if you want to play D&D. I'm making the move to Chivalry & Sorcery 5th ed(yes, that one) for the grit vs high fantasy but I'll still probably run D&D once the 'rona is over.

The Black Wash15 Sep 2020 5:32 p.m. PST

Get the starter set for DND 5 th Ed. It has the brilliant adventure Lost Mine of Phandelver, which, while being introductory is still a rollicking great adventure. I know people who have run it multiple times. It has the dice and as I recall quite cheap from amazon.
It's so good it makes me want to try DMing. (I'm just a player in a group right now.)
Happy gaming,

Personal logo Parzival Supporting Member of TMP15 Sep 2020 6:13 p.m. PST

Save your money. The core rules for 5e (the current edition) are free, directly from Wizards of the Coast (so, yes, legit) as a PDF download. They can take the core classic classes from 1st to 20th level (the current max).

BUT you don't have to use 5e. ALL of the classic edition rules, settings, modules and accessories are available on DriveThruRPG, either as PDFs (fully searchable) or Print on Demand. So if you like the original white booklet game, or the Holmes Blue Book, or Moldvay/Cook Basic/Expert, or Mentzer Basic/Expert/Companion/Master/Immortals, or the Rules Cyclopedia compilation, or Gygax's AD&D 1e, or 2e, or even WotC's 3, 3.5, or 4e, you can get any flavor you like, for very low cost.

There are also "retro clones" which mimic and rewrite the earlier editions, and many are free as well. Swords & Wizardry, Labyrinth Lord, Dark Dungeons, and more replicate the earlier editions.

And even that doesn't exhaust the possibilities.

A great place to look for advice on nearly every edition (though mostly it favors the TSR products) is
It has a solid forum of old school fans, and tons of resources (including a couple of mine).

USAFpilot15 Sep 2020 6:31 p.m. PST

I'm an old AD&D player from the 1980's. Being old and having a little spending money now I bought the 5th edition core rule books. I also bought two retro clones: Dungeon Crawl Classics and Basic Fantasy RPG. Of the three I think Basic Fantasy RBG is the best, even though it has a boring name. It's also the best value at $5 USD on Amazon. You can get it free online too. Lots of modules and supplements. It's basically a very streamlined version of the D&D 3.5 edition rules with an old AD&D feel (non of the pc nonsense). So think old AD&D with easier combat.

DisasterWargamer Supporting Member of TMP15 Sep 2020 6:35 p.m. PST

As an old d&d gamer

Recommend shifting to melee and wizard

Faster and easier to get into so you can focus on the story and game

Personal logo Parzival Supporting Member of TMP15 Sep 2020 6:44 p.m. PST

Adding to my thoughts above, I've played and DMed 5e. I think it's okay, but it puts too much emphasis on character builds and gaining new powers of my taste. I prefer the classic Basic D&D system as compiled in the Rules Cyclopedia. One book, nothing else really needed.

Thresher0115 Sep 2020 8:05 p.m. PST

Can't really say, since I don't have any experience really, with any of the rules editions.

I'd review comments here on TMP, and some/many seem to prefer the older editions, which might be less expensive, and perhaps even better than the newer rules.

lkmjbc315 Sep 2020 9:08 p.m. PST

5th edition is fine. The starter set is inexpensive and has the Lost Mines adventure, which is excellent.

As Parzival with great insight states, it puts too much emphasis on character builds and powers… Some folks however really enjoy character optimization and powers. At lower levels though none of that really matters much. The game is solid and fun… and has a lot of the feel of older D&D.

Only at above 8-10th level do the more annoying aspects begin to become apparent. As I stated… some folks love that part of the game.

Joe Collins

nnascati Supporting Member of TMP16 Sep 2020 4:23 a.m. PST

Thanks for all the comments and suggestions guys. I'll discuss with the boys and reach a decision.

Personal logo Sgt Slag Supporting Member of TMP16 Sep 2020 6:39 a.m. PST

Regardless of what rules you use, I recommend the Basic Fantasy adventure books: free, in PDF format; dirt cheap, in POD version, from Amazon. I've been playing since 1980, stopped buying rules after 2e. I recently bought all of the Basic Fantasy adventures off of Amazon, as well as the rule book. I will never play the game, itself, but the adventures are easy to adapt to my chosen rules.

Almost all of the Basic Fantasy adventures are for low, to mid-level, characters: 1st through around 8th. There is one series, based off of Gygax's classic Giant Series, which is for higher level characters, 10th+ Levels.

I adapt adventure modules written for other rules sets, frequently. I don't go through them, jotting notes, making corrections -- BLAH! I just adjust the stats, as needed, or make them up on the fly. I've been DM'ing since six months after I started playing… It is not really that hard to do.

Anyway, I hope you all have a blast with it. There is nothing quite like RPG's. I'm more of a role player, than a roll player, so take my advice in that light. Cheers!

mrwigglesworth16 Sep 2020 6:51 a.m. PST

I would recommend starting with Basic Fantasy role playing game. $5 USD for a quality rule book.

Personal logo javelin98 Supporting Member of TMP17 Sep 2020 10:53 a.m. PST

Having played D&D since 1980, then Pathfinder, my current ruleset of choice is Savage Worlds. Much more role-playing and much less digging through a 900-page manual trying to find that one rule that governs the speed of mucus in a snowstorm.

Syrinx017 Sep 2020 3:28 p.m. PST

Loved D&D since 78 in all it's forms up through pathfinder. 5E not as much but I play that online now and it is still fun.

I would second the recommendation for Savage Worlds. A really fun game system that is easy to run. Not quite as many already written dungeons as 5E or pathfinder.

SeattleGamer Supporting Member of TMP19 Sep 2020 6:43 p.m. PST

Since he was asking about D&D … I was a little surprised to see all the mentions of "other" systems. I get it, there are a number to choose from. And to each his/her own.

But in keeping with the D&D request, since it has been so long for youy, then you want (1) D&D Starter Set (under $13 USD on Amazon), and/or D&D Essentials Set (under $16 USD on Amazon).

The Starter set gives you 5 pre-gen characters. There is no character creation in the starter set, so it makes it easier to read the short rules, and get into a game.

The Essentials set doubles the length of the rulebook, because it includes (in a streamlined fashion) how to create your own characters. And Magic is also included.

Having taught my original batch of kids and their cousins how to play D&D in v3.5 25 years ago, I found myself with a stepdaughter who wanted to know how to play D&D before she went off to college. It had been so long ago, that I wanted to understand what was out there now. So I got the Starter and the Essential sets together.

Made explaining the characters easier, talking about the rules and role-playing aspects, and she was already wanting to generate her own. So the Essentials set came out, and she learned some more as she generated several characters.

For my own sake, I got the hardback full-blown books, just to get fully up to date (curiosity more than anything else). But it wasn't necessary to teach her the basics of the game, and how to generate characters.

The two adventures in the two sets are well done, and aimed at new players. They will not disappoint.

Albus Malum19 Nov 2021 7:16 p.m. PST

Stay with the Older rulesets, either Basic or 1/2nd edition, you'll be happier in the long run.

Haven't tried the retro clones, but they are a possiblity.

There were also some old school alternatives you may look at, such as Tunnels and Trolls,, etc. they are all easier to DM then any of the new editions.

If they havent played, buy a cheap copy of (or download) Keep on the Borderlands, the best introductory module out there, period. Also just about every old module can be found on the internet .

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