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Akumie
2014-08-06, 05:06 PM
Hello, so I've never played D&D before, but I organized a group consisting of me and a few other friends (None of us have played, and it is very hard to find groups in NC that do, I'd probably be the only one able to sit in on a game beforehand). I was wondering which edition of the game would be the best to buy? Like, a list of pros and cons to each game. Also, what does the game-set come with? What would one need to start playing D&D?

Also, since we are new... is there any advice I can take with me to my friends? (I'm probably going to be the DM, as I'll have the books a good few weeks before they do)

Mark Hall
2014-08-06, 05:12 PM
"Which edition is best to buy" is hard to answer because a lot of it is subjective, and depends on what you want out of the system.

Right now, I'd lean towards 5e... not because it is objectively the "best" (I've only seen early betas, and am not terribly interested in more), but because it's what's currently out there, and there's a free demo edition to get your feet wet with.

My preference for D&D is actually an early 90s product called the Rules Cyclopedia, but it's long out of print and very expensive. For D&D-like games, I prefer one called "Castles and Crusades", or "Hackmaster"... the second of which also has a free intro version.

My suggestion? Get a book and start running the game. Have fun, tell stories, and don't get bogged down in rules. Learn those as you go.

Melville's Book
2014-08-06, 05:30 PM
If I could make a more open recommendation, it would be to play something other than D&D, since nobody's on the D&D boat yet and D&D really isn't a very well-designed game.

But you asked for D&D editions, in which case, it depends on what you're looking for.

The easiest D&D editions to get ahold of are 3.5e, 4e, and 5e. I haven't even looked at 5e, so I won't comment on that.

3.5 is all about options. Good ones, bad ones, cool ones, pointless ones, whatever. If you want to make a certain kind of character, chances are you can do it. There are a lot of fun things to try, and as a general rule things feel very distinct from one another. This edition has the most customization and feels the most true to the midieval fantasy genre. The biggest con is game balance. Those options, while diverse, are not all equal to one another. You put yourself in a risky situation with this game. When everybody is just going with what seems cool and not trying to squeeze the rules to find the most powerful options, everything works pretty well. On the other hand, people trying to make their characters just a little stronger can accidentally make their characters a LOT stronger, which would leave one player able to do everything and making the others useless unless they hold themselves back, which is never fun for anyone in that scenario. There are ways to skillfully manipulate the system so everything is equal again, but that generally requires either a lot of game mastery or a lot of reading on websites like this one.

4e is the opposite. The options are incredibly balanced and it's nearly impossible to make a character significantly less useful than their peers. On the flip side, there isn't as much diversity in playstyle; the game plays pretty close to the same way no matter what kind of character you make and it's literally identical if you're in the same role, and party roles are much more rigidly defined, meaning unlike in 3.5 you might actually need to tell your friend "sorry man I know you like playing support spellcasters but we need somebody doing damage so suck it up or we'll get wiped out."

Summary: 3.5 is lots of options and unique play experiences but huge danger of somebody outshining everyone else, 4e is much more fair and everyone is equal but everyone also needs to conform to certain roles and gameplay feels similar even when you play different things.

That's my evaluation of the system, at any rate.

kyoryu
2014-08-06, 05:36 PM
D&D Versions (with retroclones in parens)

Old-school:
OD&D (Swords & Wizardry)
AD&D 1e (OSRIC)
Basic (Labyrinth Lord, a few others)

I'm clumping these together because they're pretty similar, really. There's a focus in the old school D&D on "rulings" - that is, the GM making a judgement call for things that happen outside of the set rules. There's also a high emphasis on exploring the environment/dungeon, and what's been called a "Fantasy Vietnam" feel. There's not a ton of character optimization/customization - the assumption is that your character is more about how you play him/her than how they're built.

Of these, I'd probably start with Basic (or Labyrinth Lord). The rules are quick and concise, and well put together.

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Mid-school:
AD&D 2e

2e started as kind of a cleanup of 1e, but ended up diverging pretty significantly towards the end of its lifecycle. By the time you start adding in kits and whatnot, there became a greater emphasis on "building" your character. In addition, there were a number of subtle changes that moved the game from "Fantasy Vietnam" to "Big Heroes on a Big Quest", and many of the popular 2e modules definitely fit that mold (unlike the earlier module series).

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OGL Era:
D&D 3.0
D&D 3.5
Pathfinder

The move to "Big Heroes on a Big Quest" is pretty complete here. There's a ton more emphasis on tactical combat and character building - this series of games has probably more in-depth rules for character creation than any other game I'm aware of. Even games like GURPS, while they may offer a wider variety of characters that can be created, do not reward mastery of character creation in the way that 3.x/PF does. For some this is awesome, for some, not so much.

One thing I've found is that 3.x is a very hard edition to GM compared to the others.

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D&D 4e:
4e was a pretty big break from the previous editions. It had a much higher focus on tactical combat, and still maintained a lot of focus on character builds without the huge discrepancies in power you could see in 3.x.

On the other hand, it changed a *lot* from previous editions. From OD&D through 3.5, you could kind of squint at the character sheets and things would look pretty similar - hit point totals, saving throws, etc. Not 4e. Hit points were totally different, many common terms ended up meaning entirely different things. It's a very divisive edition - some people think it's a great game (though even many of those admit that it's quite different from previous editions) while some people think it is an affront to Nature itself.

Positives of 4e would include better balance than 3.x, as well as reduced prep time. Negatives would include better balance than 3.x, combats that can take a very long time, and just how different it is from other versions (including 5e/Next). It probably would have had a better response had it not had the D&D name attached to it.

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D&D 5/Next:
The current edition, just released. It seems to have a lot of the good points of many of the previous editions - it generally seems (to me) to be built on the skeleton of 2e, with some of the best bits of 3e and 4e grafted onto it. It's still early and hard to say, but one thing's for sure - it's the edition that will have the most "official" support in the near future.

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Also, if you're not set on playing "D&D" specifically, I'd *highly* recommend Dungeon World as a first RPG. It's incredibly fast, fun, and great for both new players and new GMs.

Akumie
2014-08-06, 05:55 PM
Well, it isn't the fact I would mind playing something else(Or those playing would), it's more of what's available... Hardly anyone in this area plays these kinds of games(There is still a bad stigma attached to them), and only the most popular are even mentioned. I will probably have some trouble finding Dungeons and Dragons.

I don't mean exactly best... I mean more along the lines of what would be easier and fun for new players to get into, everyone has been saying 5e, so that might be what I get...

I've decided to ask those who are also playing what they would like out of the game, and give a brief over-view over what each game has to offer, thanks to everyone, otherwise I would have no idea what each game offered or what each games difference even was.

Thrudd
2014-08-06, 06:47 PM
Well, it isn't the fact I would mind playing something else(Or those playing would), it's more of what's available... Hardly anyone in this area plays these kinds of games(There is still a bad stigma attached to them), and only the most popular are even mentioned. I will probably have some trouble finding Dungeons and Dragons.

I don't mean exactly best... I mean more along the lines of what would be easier and fun for new players to get into, everyone has been saying 5e, so that might be what I get...

I've decided to ask those who are also playing what they would like out of the game, and give a brief over-view over what each game has to offer, thanks to everyone, otherwise I would have no idea what each game offered or what each games difference even was.

I believe the easiest game for new people to get into would be one of the more basic rule sets. Labyrinth Lord is free online and is the same as basic D&D from the early 1980's. If you are determined to pay money for something, I'd get the new Starter Set for 5th edition, and download the free Basic Rules that tell you how to make simple characters. It appears to do a good job of explaining the concept of the role playing game in general and has rules that I think will be good to help new people really get it. More options for this game will be released in coming months and years.

I think Pathfinder/3e is a lot to deal with for someone brand new to the concept of role playing games. Also, you will need at least three core books to really play it. 4th edition is a lot, too. It also requires 3 books, and it absolutely requires that you have a battle grid and miniatures or tokens to play, though its system may be easier to grok for people familiar with MMORPGs.

Really, no game is beyond the ability of beginners. You just need to get the necessary books (and accessories like dice, grid maps and miniatures) and read them so you can teach your group how to play. People (kids) over the years have started with any and all editions. The basic sets just take less reading, require less investment, and have fewer options to deal with at the start.

kyoryu
2014-08-06, 06:52 PM
I believe the easiest game for new people to get into would be one of the more basic rule sets. Labyrinth Lord is free online and is the same as basic D&D from the early 1980's. If you are determined to pay money for something, I'd get the new Starter Set for 5th edition, and download the free Basic Rules that tell you how to make simple characters. It appears to do a good job of explaining the concept of the role playing game in general and has rules that I think will be good to help new people really get it. More options for this game will be released in coming months and years.

I think Pathfinder/3e is a lot to deal with for someone brand new to the concept of role playing games. Also, you will need at least three core books to really play it. 4th edition is a lot, too. It also requires 3 books, and it absolutely requires that you have a battle grid and miniatures or tokens to play, though its system may be easier to grok for people familiar with MMORPGs.

Really, no game is beyond the ability of beginners. You just need to get the necessary books (and accessories like dice, grid maps and miniatures) and read them so you can teach your group how to play. People (kids) over the years have started with any and all editions. The basic sets just take less reading, require less investment, and have fewer options to deal with at the start.

I'd agree with this. Basic/Labyrinth Lord or 5e would be my recommendations within the D&D "brand", though I'll still pimp Dungeon World as a great first game (that hits a lot of the same points as the D&D versions mentioned).

Akumie
2014-08-06, 07:36 PM
There are so many options here... I guess I could ask if they would mind a simpler version, since we're all new.

Is there any sort of game(online or physical) that could help out new GM/DMs, just to familiarize themselves with all the basic concepts, or do Dungeon World and Labyrinth Lord introduce this easily too?

Thrudd
2014-08-06, 10:46 PM
There are so many options here... I guess I could ask if they would mind a simpler version, since we're all new.

Is there any sort of game(online or physical) that could help out new GM/DMs, just to familiarize themselves with all the basic concepts, or do Dungeon World and Labyrinth Lord introduce this easily too?

Labyrinth Lord and OSRIC have sections for the DM with advice, examples of play and sample dungeons. They are pretty much complete games in a single pdf document. You will still need the dice, and you can look for free published adventures and settings for these games (there are a number of them) if you want to get started without too much work. I taught myself and my friends how to play with Basic D&D and the "Keep on the Borderlands" module, back in the eighties. From there, I moved on to Advanced D&D and created my own world.

I think it would be a good idea to start with something free. Just download the free pdf's of some of these games, and look over them, and try one or more of them. Since its free, you don't need to choose, get them all! Once you have an idea what you like and how the games work, you can choose to invest in the more expensive printed material if they have what you want.

Arbane
2014-08-07, 12:48 AM
Is there any sort of game(online or physical) that could help out new GM/DMs, just to familiarize themselves with all the basic concepts, or do Dungeon World and Labyrinth Lord introduce this easily too?

There's some online games on this site (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?51-Finding-Players-%28Recruitment%29). Maybe you could join one, or just watch?

The best way to learn D&D is to play it with an experienced group. Unfortunately, the best way to never want to play D&D again is to play it with a BAD group.

Red Fel
2014-08-07, 07:19 AM
There are so many options here... I guess I could ask if they would mind a simpler version, since we're all new.

Is there any sort of game(online or physical) that could help out new GM/DMs, just to familiarize themselves with all the basic concepts, or do Dungeon World and Labyrinth Lord introduce this easily too?

Actually, depending where you are in NC, there are a number of regional tabletop RPG groups on the MeetUp (http://www.meetup.com/) website that might be local. I'd advise you and your friends to try to find one close to you.

One of the best ways to learn how to play a tabletop RPG - any RPG, but particularly one as complicated as D&D - is by experience. Many of these groups are open to newcomers to the hobby, and it's a great way to learn a variety of new games. It's also a great way to expand your social circle!

Mr.Moron
2014-08-07, 07:43 AM
Edition: I'd grab the 5e Basic Set. It's my favorite edition of the game so far and It's current so you'll get updates.

Needs: You'll need pencils 1 set of dice per player.

General Thoughts: Avoid letting the loudest/nerdiest person in your group the DM. If someone is annoying in real life they'll be twice as annoying at the table and beyond insufferable as a GM. The people will play with will make or break the game for you.

There isn't really any right or wrong way to play, just have fun and respect the other players.

DrBurr
2014-08-07, 08:24 AM
I know what this is like I like you started my group from scratch with 4e back in 2008 be forewarned you will screw up but don't be discouraged that's how you learn and improve. The best way to get in is to play whats available if you've got money to spend say between 15 and 20 dollars, depending on Amazon's sales, I'd suggest the Starter Set. I've bought it read through it and plan to run it Saturday. The rules are laid out for you right in the text about 30 pages in length and seem to be written with the point of getting people into the hobby like a good starter set should. It also comes with a pretty good adventure that should take 5 weeks but could easily eat 7 or 8 if your group tracks down all the little side quests. Your in luck though because the Player's handbook goes on sale soon and that means basic will be updated so even if you can't drop money on a $50 book you'll supposedly get some monsters by the time you finish rebuilding Phandalin.

hamlet
2014-08-07, 09:29 AM
Actually, one of the best ways to learn how to play is simply to pick up the books and papers and go to it. Really, that's the way many of us learned if we weren't brought into the hobby by somebody else.

My recommendation is this. If you're looking for fast and easy to get into the game, go and download either Labrynth Lord (free online and ridiculously easy) or the actual Rules Cyclopedia/BECMI clone Dark Dungeons (also free I believe, but somewhat more complicated, still very easy) and also go on the interwebs and purchase yourself a copy of one or two of the B and X series modules from the old TSR days. Highly recommend B3, B2 (with reservations since it's actually a bit deceptively complicated, it requires a bit of DM forethought and if you're still struggling with the basic rules, you will drive yourself to pulling out your hair because of it), B5, X2, and a couple others are good. B4 is good in that it leaves some of the whole thing open for the DM to fill in themselves, just don't look too hard at the logic of things or it falls apart.

That's really what I would recommend for "getting your feet wet." D&D5e, while new, supported, and ostensibly easy, is actually not that simple if you're coming to the hobby a complete newbie. If you know lots of basic concepts already, it's not difficult. If you're completely new, it's a bit more complex.

Another really good option for relative simple, but a bit higher up on the complexity scale is OSRIC/AD&D. As pointed out above, it's a bit more complicated, but also a bit easier to start fiddling with as you go forward and get more confident. Such as, as many people do already, you decide you don't like the idea of level limits, just remove them. Or, if you want to create a new race, it's fairly easy to do and actually a bit easier than it would be in Labrynth Lord or Basic. There are LOTS of really decent (and several really poor) pre-existing modules for this game out there. Some are just fantastic classics, like T1 the Village of Homlet (if you decide to invest in the game further, I'd say you essentially MUST own this) and the Dunwater series.

OSRIC is my recommendation if you decide you really do like the game and want to branch out into higher levels of complexity, but want to avoid the HUGE FREANKIN' PILES! of stuff that go along with later versions of the game.

AD&D2e is my absolute favorite version of the game, but I'm very cautious about how I recommend it. The basic core books (PHB, DMG, and MM) are a very simplex, very good, very solid game, but you do have to know how to manhandle it and how to use it. The issue becomes what to do with, if anything, the many MANY add ins that were published later on. At first, I'd say nothing. Later on, you might find some stuff you want to grab up.

Stay away from this unless you're positive you want to go there. It's a bit looser and more open than other versions of the game. Less concerned with the idea of "The Rules" than with the idea that the rules are a toolkit with which you build your own game.

D&D 3.x is a great game, but intensely complicated. Despite what lots of folks will say, it really is. There's so much rules interactions to keep track of, so many numbers to track, so many complicated things to follow that a new person will, in my opinion, probably go nuts with it.

I have little experience with D&D4 except to say I just don't like it. Aesthetic differences.

Those are my recommendations.

If you have any more specific ideas, run them by. Folks here are, mostly, friendly and love to help new folks to the hobby.

Akumie
2014-08-07, 10:20 AM
I downloaded the rules to Labyrinth Lords, just to see if they would still be interested playing something like that(If so, then I'll start looking a lot more into all of the different recommendations I've received.), and to introduce myself to the game style, if they like it, it's free(For the most part), so there's really no risk, and then once we understand the basics, we can move onto more complex free things, if they still like it at that point, I guess then I could start to consider buying the games and spending my money on it.

If they aren't open to the game, it seems like most people are recommending 5e, I'll probably end up reading more on the editions, and what each game has to offer before I spend money on it.

I mean, I know it sounds a bit silly to be asking them, since I'm the one paying, but I'd rather let everyone have a choice, since I'll be paying for something to sit on my shelf if they don't like it.

Red Fel, I did look for one, it said none are really close by, but there is this one guy my parents know who plays, so I'll probably be sitting in on one of his games to learn more about it, the rules, general feel, how the players and DM handles things, etc.

Thanks for all of the ideas and help, I'm really excited about starting to play and get into these kinds of games. I'll get back to reading the rules now.

hamlet
2014-08-07, 10:42 AM
If money is an issue, which it almost always is in the modern world, you can run your game like a club. Take a cue from the Knights of the Dinner Table (a magazine I recommend by the way). Have the group as a dues paying organization. Every month or so, everybody has to fork over an agreed upon sum of cash to pay for dice, books, and, with leftovers, pizza and snacks.

Problem then becomes what happens if folks don't like it or go their separate ways, but it's a good way to build up a collection without a huge layout of cash initially.

If you're going for Labrynth Lord as it seems you are, may I make a recommendation and head for a lovely dungeon called "Stonehell." It's a classic style "crawl" and full of many MANY hours of fun for a group. Granted, it's just a giant dungeon and you'd have to add anything outside of it, but it's user friendly and helps give you the gist of things from the get go. Plus, it's relatively inexpensive.

Mark Hall
2014-08-07, 10:55 AM
Another option for the cash-strapped: Rather than buying dice, if you've got smart phones, look for some die-rolling apps; if you don't have smart phones but have a convenient computer, find die-rolling programs or websites... we even have a die-rolling forum here on the Playground, complete with instructions on rolling dice.

(1d20+5)

(I am very bad at using the dice roller)

hamlet
2014-08-07, 10:58 AM
All true, though to be honest, a set of dice is something like $5 at most. You can order the good old "Pound O' Dice" from Amazon for a like amount and have enough dice for the whole club.