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View Full Version : So I am Dm-ing to a pair of newbies



Dusk Eclipse
2010-01-26, 06:46 PM
One of the player's of my regular group told me his cousins want to try to give a try to D&D 3.5, he asked if anybody was upo to DM-ing a one-shot for them ann I thought why not?.

Anyway I asked the player to ask his cousins for character cousins so I can roll up the characters.

I got a few questions that I hope the playground might help me with:

Would a dungeon crawl be good for an introduction to D&D?

I am thinking on starting at level 5 (my personal sweet spot to start), is too high for newbies?

I have never designed a dungeon so does the playground have a good dungeon for those levels or any help in designing one?

My idea for the final encounter is a kobold sorcerer (maybe making him a dragonwrought loredrake to give him a spell casting edge without increasing his HD), his draconic bodyguard and some mooks, the question is: Is this too much?

The party will most likely be 5 PC's (3 of my regular group and the two newbies)


I've got most of 3.5 splatbooks (including Dungeonscape) so please suggest anything that might come to mind.

Thanks in advice

FishAreWet
2010-01-26, 07:32 PM
Run a first level module.

Saintjebus
2010-01-26, 07:36 PM
I have to suggest not starting at 1st level. The problem with first level play is that for alot of people, it feels boring, because there's not much you can do, and what you can do, you can't do it very well. I would say that you are right on to start at fifth level.

I would say that you should build some characters and let them choose which one they want. Building characters can be daunting for a new player.

DementedFellow
2010-01-26, 07:38 PM
5th level is a great place to start.

Wizards and other spell casters actually get to cast their spells instead of just "magic missile! prestidigitation! crossbow crossbow crossbow!" Druids get their goodies at this time too.

The thing about it is that when they are 5th level, there are so many options that are available (even some PrCs can be entered at this level), that it is hard to gauge how many bad guys you should sling at them. Prepare yourself for either an insanely easy first combat, or an insanely difficult one for their first time.

Is this just meant to get them started and then move on or are you going to continue with these characters?

Dusk Eclipse
2010-01-26, 07:39 PM
@ Fisharewet:Once I DM'ed a level one module to some non-gamer friends.. they hated it because of the reasons Saintjebus said, level 1 is boring.

I actually plan on making the characters (maybe with help from some friends) based on the concepts I hope to get. (I emailed them asking for concepts.)

Dusk Eclipse
2010-01-26, 07:41 PM
This is planned as a one-shot Dungeon crawl which if the cousins like may evolve into a campaing (unlikely but still possible)

Salanmander
2010-01-26, 07:42 PM
Don't run a first level module. :smalltongue:

Seriously, though, I would try to show off the system, while not letting it get too complicated. I would probably do level 3 or 4, personally. Make sure the characters have interesting things they can do, and give them a handy reference "options i have in combat" sheet. This should include any useful items, like tanglefoot bags they have.

The kobold encounter is probably fine, as long as you balance it properly to the player characters, and are willing to quietly remove some hitpoints or spells if things are going poorly. Just keep the build weirdness under the table.

I wouldn't go *too* far in avoiding complication, though, depending on your new players' abilities to handle mechanics. If you think they're fairly good at getting their head around things, about a warblade or sorcerer level of combat options is probably a good thing. Just write down everything they need to know to play their character, so they don't have to learn the entire maneuver or magic system.

shadow_archmagi
2010-01-26, 07:43 PM
I find that first level is an appropriate starting place because having too many options is really bad to start with.

"Okay, now choose four spells from this list, two from this one, three from this one, assign these sixty-four spell points, and pick out 64,000 GP worth of items..."

"Oh god what is this I don't even"

Dusk Eclipse
2010-01-26, 07:45 PM
I hope (and expect) they can handle the system quite well, they have designed their own dominations game and it is surprisingly playable and enjoyable. so mechanic-wise I think they will do just fine

herrhauptmann
2010-01-26, 07:59 PM
I hope (and expect) they can handle the system quite well, they have designed their own dominations game and it is surprisingly playable and enjoyable. so mechanic-wise I think they will do just fine

So they're newbies to D&D, but not to RPG's in general? If so:
Do a level 4-5, spend some time in town building up the reason for why the players want to go to a dungeon crawl. I'd say adjust your final boss build depending on what the players make.
If they're rocking out a Swordsage and a Druid, go for something more over the top.
If they go blasting wizard and bard, tone down the final boss fight.

In either case, go nuts with flavor descriptions. Instead of "Square room 30x20, with 4 orcs in the center. 3 walls are stone, one is wooden" say
"Gray stone makes up 3 walls of this dank room, each about a daggers toss in length. The fourth is an earthen embankment held back by wooden beams.
Crouched in the center are 4 burly greenskinned humanoids tearing into an animal carcass raw. One sees you, shouts to the others in a guttural tongue, and as one they all stand and draw weapons to face you"

shadow_archmagi
2010-01-26, 08:00 PM
I hope (and expect) they can handle the system quite well, they have designed their own dominations game and it is surprisingly playable and enjoyable. so mechanic-wise I think they will do just fine

Oh, well if they're RPG-friendly in general, then yeah, 4th level should do it.

Physics_Rook
2010-01-26, 08:56 PM
First and last, play to have fun, and don’t let anything get in the way of that.

Something that you might be interested in considering, is the different viewpoints and preconceptions that your new players might arrive with.

I'm assuming that you've created this thread to gather ideas from the playgrounders and minimize the chance that your newer players won't have fun.

In this light, it becomes a little clearer that someone who has never played D&D before might have very different expectations from the game then say a seasoned player.

To that end, I'd recommend giving your newer players a healthy heaping helping of something to wet their appetite.

What that "something" turns out to be depends largely on what your newer players are expecting, crossed with what is fun for them.

As it stands, were it the case that I found myself in a situation similar to yours I'd likely take a few specific steps. First, I'd setup a quick and straight forward adventure hook so as to get things rolling. Second, I think getting them quickly involved in some form of action they can all take part in would be appropriate (e.g. combat). And lastly, after having gotten into a little action (nothing too big), and being served a fresh adventure hook (something simple), I'd nudge them to head out on their adventure.

Even incorporating the two ideas (easy fight coupled with an adventure hook), isn't exceedingly difficult. It might be something as simple as arriving in town at the tail end of an ogre raiding party, and having to fight a few straggling henchman. And afterwards (after having seen their obvious combat prowess) the town spokesman could seek to enlist their aid in recovering their very stolen supplies.

At this point, they've gotten a taste of the combat system in a less than lethal environment, and you've also gotten them embroiled in an adventure hook.

From there, judge the reactions of the players, and adjust to their expectations accordingly.

First and last (I told you it was first and last:smallsmile:), play to have fun.

Shadowbane
2010-01-26, 09:01 PM
I find that first level is an appropriate starting place because having too many options is really bad to start with.

"Okay, now choose four spells from this list, two from this one, three from this one, assign these sixty-four spell points, and pick out 64,000 GP worth of items..."

"Oh god what is this I don't even"

I agree with this, actually.

Dusk Eclipse
2010-01-26, 09:04 PM
Ok thanks for all the good feedback, that leaves the level range (5) decided but I still need help with designing (sp?) the dungeon.

Anyhelp to design the dungeon will be EXTREMELY helpful.

:smallbiggrin::smallbiggrin:

Shadowbane
2010-01-26, 09:06 PM
It depends on what you're looking for, and how you want the players to feel. Do you want it to be tense and gritty? Action-movie-esque? Made-of-awesome-at-first-level-esque?

Dusk Eclipse
2010-01-26, 09:09 PM
I want the classical (at least for me) athmosphere of a dungeon, that danger lurks in every dark corner, that you musn't let your guard at anytimes less you want to be eaten... so I guess gritty and tense would be the option.

Shadowbane
2010-01-26, 09:14 PM
If you start at 6th, you could always have fun with Tomb of Horrors. :p

(I am a bad person.)

Dusk Eclipse
2010-01-26, 09:20 PM
If you start at 6th, you could always have fun with Tomb of Horrors. :p

(I am a bad person.)

Yes you are.

Shadowbane
2010-01-26, 09:29 PM
In my case it hooked my first and most experienced player. The other two, not so much, but they're still very interested. I just have to say "tomb" or "horror" now and they start jabbering though.

Dusk Eclipse
2010-01-26, 09:33 PM
I think Ill look at the layout of the tomb and see If I can modify or brew something from it

paladinthief
2010-01-26, 10:17 PM
I'd say run a 3rd level game. 2nd level spells, some good stuff for Rangers and monks, also you may want to use Pathfinder.

Dusk Eclipse
2010-01-26, 10:19 PM
never played pathfinder before

Ozreth
2010-01-26, 10:30 PM
I have to suggest not starting at 1st level. The problem with first level play is that for alot of people, it feels boring, because there's not much you can do, and what you can do, you can't do it very well.

I would say this is wrong. You are speaking in the mind state of somebody who has played the game and has an understanding over character advancement and development.

To somebody who has never played the game before, just the fact that they are able to pick locks and climb walls may be completely exciting to them, and could be things that they never thought would be possible in a game that many view has a board game type of game before they really get into it.

At first level, as a complete n00b, just being able to buy gear, cast spells, fight monsters, pick locks, pickpocket, perform, etc etc can be overwhelmingly exciting. Also they will be able to relate to their characters more if their characters are noobs as well.

OP: I would suggest starting at level one and also starting with something that isnt strictly a dungeon crawl. And, if you are at a loss for ideas, just present them with whatever you were presented with the first time you played, it obviously hooked you : )

Emmerask
2010-01-26, 10:31 PM
I would start at level 2 or 3 personally.
Especially if someone plays a caster level one is not that much fun and extremly lethal (especially with new players who donīt know the mechanics).

Level five on the other hand might be a bit much with all the spells and options :smallsmile:

A dungeon crawl with some easy quest bring back xyz for the local landlord is fine, simple and good for the first adventure.

Dusk Eclipse
2010-01-26, 10:46 PM
OP: I would suggest starting at level one and also starting with something that isnt strictly a dungeon crawl. And, if you are at a loss for ideas, just present them with whatever you were presented with the first time you played, it obviously hooked you : )

Well what hooked me on D&D actually was a LARP (wish they still organized it) :smallwink: and a level 4 adventure my now current DM cooked up at the camp.

My first character was an orc barbaria played straight to the archetype enourmous strenght, big con, so so dex, low int, LOW cha, so so Wis.... Wish I had that character somewhere in my character sheets file.

MickJay
2010-01-27, 06:09 AM
If you want to start around level 5, perhaps make a few characters from which the newbies could pick what they want to play? Or ask them about the type of character they'd be interested in and build it for them. Even if they're not going to use them, they'll have something to which they could compare their own characters.

paddyfool
2010-01-27, 06:32 AM
I suggest giving them the following two questions:

1) Would you like to start from rock bottom, and be quite fragile with few abilities, but get to build your character all the way up as you play [level one], or skip to where your character starts getting decent abilities [level 3-5]?

2) Would you like to build your character yourself if I give you the books and advice, to give me a concept for your character that I can then build for you, or to select from a range of pre-generated character sheets? If starting at level 1, building is quite simple, but if starting higher, it gets more complex and time-consuming, especially if you haven't done it before, and might well take a few hours to hash out.

I also suggest that you plan for a mixture of styles of play, but focus on dungeon-delving. It's what the game was primarily built for, after all.

Anonymouswizard
2010-01-27, 03:13 PM
I find that first second level is an appropriate starting place because having too many options is really bad to start with.

"Okay, now choose four spells from this list, two from this one, three from this one, assign these sixty-four spell points, and pick out 64,000 GP worth of items..."

"Oh god what is this I don't even"

Fixed it for you.

Rhiannon87
2010-01-27, 03:44 PM
Something that might help with building the dungeon is figuring out why it's there, why the monsters that are in it are there, and why the adventurers are there.

Was it an actual prison/dungeon? Was it a tomb? A natural system of caves? A fortress? That'll help you figure out the appropriate layout, and maybe some of the monsters that are there. Undead make sense for a tomb, while aberrations and dragon-types would probably be hanging out in caves.

The monsters that are there should be there for a reason. Are they the undead "survivors" of an ancient battle? Natural wandering monsters who've settled in and made their own little ecosystem? Creatures drawn in by the power of the [insert magical macguffin] here?

And finally, why are the adventurers there? That may depend partially on the characters themselves, IC motivations and backstory and whatnot, but you can also have more general reasons. They're standard adventurers, seeking fame and gold. There's a dangerous/powerful magical item that they've been asked to retrieve. They're on a mission from the gods. It'd be best if there was something in their backstory that motivated them, but the newbies might need some outside motivation. (Or not. Hope for pleasant surprises on the roleplay front!)

Hope that helps. >.<

AslanCross
2010-01-27, 06:23 PM
I started out at Lv 5 as a newbie DM (who had never played before) with 6 newbies with a full-blown campaign. It was a bit of a struggle as we had to stop constantly with rules consultations, but it wasn't as bad as people would make it out to be.

I did have a couple of months' worth of preparation and so did my players, so we were able to work on the characters together.

I recommend that you make the characters for your players if you plan to start above level 1. I do agree Lv 5 is a sweet spot, but the players might find chargen overwhelming if the first session isn't that far off.