Starting group of new players with new dm. What do we need?

18 posts / 0 new
Last post
As mentioned in the title, this group will be 5 players new to 4E or table top gaming in general, and I'll be a newbie gm with a very small bit of table top experience. We'll be running the premade H1 to H3 adventures to start. That said, aside from the obvious adventure kits, what do we need?

I'm assuming the players handbook of course, but what about DM guide and Rules Compendium? Is the DM guide needed if I'm not making the adventure? I'm asking that on the assumption that the adventure kit is complete in that regard instead of just saying "See book X for info." What is in the rules compendium that isn't in the other books?

Of course watch them decide on doing gamma world, which I have alreadt. Thanks for any help, though.

I actually do not recommend buying the PHBI anymore, because significant portions of the rules have been updated since it came out, and the essentials Heroes of...books are cheaper and have the most up-to-date rules.  I would recommend players get one of the two Heroes of X books, and if you are going to be using pregenerated adventures, that you pick up the Rules compendium. You will eventually want a DM resource so you can create adventures of your own, I would get the DM Kit, which I think is a better monetary value than the DMG.  Both products cost about the same, but in the DM Kit, you get a book, a screen, an adventure, fold-out maps, and two sheets of monster tokens.    I'd then recommend picking up the Monster Vault, which has updated versions of the MMI monsters as well as an adventure, fold up map, and several sheets of monster tokens.

H1 has a starter rules booklet, but it has numerous errors and many of the rules were changed after it went to print.  There is an updated version available for free download elsewhere on the WoC site, I recommend downloading that rather than buying it.

Alternately, consider picking up the Red Box, which has everything you and your players need to play through level two.  Character sheets, dice, an introductory booklet, a simplified rules booklet for the DM, and an adventure with a map.  It's an inexpensive and easy way to get started fast.
You have 2 basic choices:

PHB1, DMG1, and MM1 is your original classic 4e core book set.

HotFL/HotFK, DM's Kit, Monster Vault are the roughly equivalent Essentials products.

Note that all of this stuff is compatible, and you don't strictly need a monster book to play published encounters, they have all the required stat blocks. Also MM1 is a bit long in the tooth, you might just want to go with MV even if you use PHB1 and DMG1. MV and DM's Kit both include adventures as well (they are boxed sets). These are a bit more polished than the H1-3 series, though they only cover low heroic tier, so you may want to have the H series modules anyway.

I would say you probably DO want a DMG1 or DM's Kit. You can probably get by without, but the HotF* books don't delve into all the rules. If you have DM's Kit + HotF* you have all the newest rules. If you have PHB1 and DMG1 you might want to pick up a Rules Compendium as it does have somewhat updated rules. You could alternately download the update documents from the main D&D site.

Mostly just remember, PHB1-3 etc are compatible with Essentials stuff, you can play classes from either series of books together with no problem, the rules are the same, monsters are the same, etc. So there's no issue if you end up with some mix of books and characters at the table, in general.

Have fun!
That is not dead which may eternal lie
As mentioned in the title, this group will be 5 players new to 4E or table top gaming in general, and I'll be a newbie gm with a very small bit of table top experience. We'll be running the premade H1 to H3 adventures to start. That said, aside from the obvious adventure kits, what do we need? I'm assuming the players handbook of course, but what about DM guide and Rules Compendium? Is the DM guide needed if I'm not making the adventure? I'm asking that on the assumption that the adventure kit is complete in that regard instead of just saying "See book X for info." What is in the rules compendium that isn't in the other books? Of course watch them decide on doing gamma world, which I have alreadt. Thanks for any help, though.

If you're getting the Player's Handbook and DM's Guide the Rules Compendium is superflous (but a handy up-to-date reference).

The game has recently bifurcated into two parallel, compatible, lines.  D&D, and D&D Essentials.


Using D&D products, you'd need:

Player's Handbook 1 (other "Players' Handbooks" strictly optional)

Dungeon Master's Guide 1 (DMG 2 optional, but nice to have)

Any one or more monster books.  Monster Manual 1, 2, or 3, Open Grave, etc... or a published adventure like H1-3 (which has all the monster stats for that adventure)



Using Essentials Products you'll need:

Rules Compendium

One of the two "Heroes of..." books (the other optional)

DM's Kit

Monster Vault
(DM's Kit and Monster Vault actually come with mini-adventures - and cardboard tokens to use instead of minis)

You can also mix & match, for instance, using the Monster Vault vs PH1 player characters is possible, a little hard on them, perhaps, but possible.  Using MM1 monsters vs anything-goes PCs is possible, if not quite as challenging.  ;)

The way the content of core D&D vs D&D Essentials breaks out is something like this:

PH1 ~=  Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms + Heroes of the Fallen Land + Rules Compendium (and you still don't have feats or very many magic items).

DMG1 + an adventure + some minis, (you're short some magic items) ~=  DM Kit + RC

MM1 + an adventure + some minis, (monsters do less damage, solo & elite defenses too high) ~= Monster Vault (monsters do more damage, solos are nastier but die faster).

 

 

Oops, looks like this request tried to create an infinite loop. We do not allow such things here. We are a professional website!

 We'll be running the premade H1 to H3 adventures to start.



I know that you didn't really put this up for debate, but unless there's a pressing need to use this material (like you already own the adventures or something) I seriously suggest you don't start with these. They haven't aged well.

I suggest The Slaying Stone followed by Reavers of Harkenwold (available in the Essentials DM Kit). These are both fantastic adventures. 

If you must use the H series, I suggest the following tweaks:

H1: First off, use the updated adventure published on this site for free. Not only is it free, it has the treasure updated to post release standards. I would look into modifying the IronTooth encounter if you can. There's a TPK in there if the second fight gets triggered early. Finally, I would look into introducing Kalrael (is that his name? I can't remember atm) earlier than he is (the updated version has him come in a little early but you may want to ham it up a little).

H2: I will say that H2 is a pretty good adventure but you will probably want to modify the maps a bit (the parts where battles take place can get really cramped). Also, really play up exploring the labyrinth. Allow the party to get lost and describe a lost world. It really makes the module when you do that. As with H1, it's a good idea to try and introduce the big bad early (I completely spaced on that dude's name).

H3: This one could go either way. I hated it with a passion but I had a pretty terrible DM at the time. I think the key here is to really play up the different factions in the pyramid and allow the players to parlay and make deals. Anything to reduce the grind in this dungeon. When I went through it the DM just had everyone attack us on site. It bogged down faster than I could cry "Uncle!"

Again, I know that you didn't really ask for adventure advise, but I really wished I had someone to help me work the kinks out of these things when I first ran them as a new DM.  
Wow, thanks for all the responses!

I'm not set on H1 to H3.  I just selected those because they provide adventure for 1 to 10.  The consistent supply of material is the most important goal here.  I'm not concerned with the time to remake / modify maps.  Infact, given the years of various war gaming experience I have, I'm confident that I can make them interesting as well and I'm creatively capable enough in that manner to do it in decent time.  But I don't have the time or the experience is making plot, encounters, setting or mashing the provided setting together.  Not for a good while.  I'm not afraid of tying various adventure kits together.  Making a hook I can do.  It's just the providing the whole plot stuff...  Not so much.


Using D&D products, you'd need:

Player's Handbook 1 (other "Players' Handbooks" strictly optional)

Dungeon Master's Guide 1 (DMG 2 optional, but nice to have)

Any one or more monster books.  Monster Manual 1, 2, or 3, Open Grave, etc... or a published adventure like H1-3 (which has all the monster stats for that adventure)



Using Essentials Products you'll need:

Rules Compendium

One of the two "Heroes of..." books (the other optional)

DM's Kit

Monster Vault
(DM's Kit and Monster Vault actually come with mini-adventures - and cardboard tokens to use instead of minis)



Now, here's where I'm a bit confused.

If I go the older route, with the PHB1, I know where all the basic class stuff comes in.

If I go the Essentials route, grabbing Heroes of the Stuff book or books, and the DM Kit, where is in the info for the basic class stuff at?  Is it in the DM Kit, or do the Heroes of Stuff books have that information recycled into it?

Also, 
 
You can also mix & match, for instance, using the Monster Vault vs PH1 player characters is possible, a little hard on them, perhaps, but possible.  Using MM1 monsters vs anything-goes PCs is possible, if not quite as challenging.  ;)

The way the content of core D&D vs D&D Essentials breaks out is something like this:

PH1 ~=  Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms + Heroes of the Fallen Land + Rules Compendium (and you still don't have feats or very many magic items).

DMG1 + an adventure + some minis, (you're short some magic items) ~=  DM Kit + RC

MM1 + an adventure + some minis, (monsters do less damage, solo & elite defenses too high) ~= Monster Vault (monsters do more damage, solos are nastier but die faster). 

 

Wait, so if I go the essentials route, my players doing have feats, without getting the PH1 book as well?  From what I've played in 3.5, that seems like a pretty vital thing to not have.

And I'll get back to adventures shortly, but first I want to figure out how the Essentials route covers all the bases.  I'm sure that it does, I'm just a bit confused as to where what get's covered.  I was under the impression that the Heroes books were expansions on stuff, either adding in new classes/races/etc or adding addition stuff to existing classes/races/etc.

Sorry if I seem lost.  My experience is in about half a year of 3.5 where the DM and 2 of the party players had literally every book printed.  So it was such an overflow of information, outside of the PHB1 and the stuff for the campaign we were running, I just nodded when they said X was legal for me to do.  The other experience is Gamma World, where I did the intro adventure, and everything there is to the game exists in the first two books (up to that point in time, anyways.  This was before the final installment came out)  So, having two compatible, parallel routes on D&D is leaving me a bit confused as to what comes from where.

I'm liking the Essentials line more, from what I understand.  Just, like I said, I'm missing where the basic stuff comes from.
Okay here goes:

To run an essentials game, you really only need two books (plus adventures): The DM Kit and either of the Heroes of... books. The Heroes of... books contain identical rules text and only vary in the races/classes they provide. They do have feats in them (though there are a lot more in the earlier books).

The DM Kit is reprinted info from the DMG1 and 2. If you have both of those books then you don't need the DM Kit. But I bought it anyway for the (rad) adventure and the poster map/tokens it has in it. If you don't own the DMGs, it's probably worth it to pick up the Kit.

The Rules Compendium is really just a quick reference book. It doesn't have anything unique in it except a lot of examples of rules interractions and a good index. I've found it invaluable at the table and it's low price point makes it a good buy. But it's not required at all.

Does that help?
To a degree, yes.  I have exactly 0 4e stuff, so it sounds like no matter what, the DM Kit is the way to go.  The Rules Comp does sound handy, put like that.  (I often bought starter sets of 40k, as well as the big rule book, simply because the little pocket sized rule book was insanely handy in being portable, but mostly because it was easier to navigate quickly without all the fluff.)

Still a bit confused about the Characters, though.  From what I understand, for example, Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms has the five classes and the six races.  If we decide to go with the DM Kit and HotForgotten Kingdoms, then without other books, my players only have those five classes to be, since that's all we have rules for?  From what I'm seeing at the review I've read at Points of Light, this means that if I have someone who wanted to be a rogue, fighter or cleric or one of the more traditional fantasy races is out of luck.  That's where I feel like I'm not reading my information right.  Or is all that basic stuff in there in the DM Kit book?  From what I can find, without going and pirating a pdf, it isn't.

Again, apologies for being so clueless about this.  I just don't want to pick up books only to find out that the entire book is replaced by another book I've already picked up.
Get both Heroes of... books, the Rules Compendium and the DM Kit.  You will then have all the necessities to play D&D 4th Edition.  If you can order them from Amazon you will pay about the same price for all 4 items as you would pay for 1 of the older books.  You're new, you don't need every option under the sun.  You and your players will have more fun right out of the gate with these books and once some game mastery is attained aquire more books for more options.  Besides all the older books are slowly being obsoleted by errata, rules updates and new releases.

My suggestion is DM Kit, Monster Vault and the Players Compendium.  You can pretty much skip all the character books and Players Handbooks if you have a DDI account and the advantage their is that your players don't have to read as much.  Since I got my DDI account I haven't openned a players handbook or character book, in fact they don't even make it into my bag when I travel to game sessions.  Everything a player needs is on his character sheet and the only rules reference you will need is the players compendium.  The DM guide is handy for the GM and the Monster Vault takes care of naturally monsters (aka creating your own adventures) but as mentioned published adventures always have all the monsters listed.  The nice thing about getting this setup is that you also get 2 adventures one of which is a two part adventure that takes you to about level 5 with all the tokens and maps you need to run them.  I think for new players this is the best setup, from that you will have everything you "need" to play and you can start thinking about what things you "want".

"Edition wars like all debates exist because people like debates"

http://www.gamersdungeon.net/



Still a bit confused about the Characters, though.  From what I understand, for example, Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms has the five classes and the six races.  If we decide to go with the DM Kit and HotForgotten Kingdoms, then without other books, my players only have those five classes to be, since that's all we have rules for?  From what I'm seeing at the review I've read at Points of Light, this means that if I have someone who wanted to be a rogue, fighter or cleric or one of the more traditional fantasy races is out of luck.  That's where I feel like I'm not reading my information right.  Or is all that basic stuff in there in the DM Kit book?  From what I can find, without going and pirating a pdf, it isn't.

Again, apologies for being so clueless about this.  I just don't want to pick up books only to find out that the entire book is replaced by another book I've already picked up.



Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms and Heroes of the Fallen Lands both have the basic rules players will need, as well as a selection of races and classes for players to choose from.  Each book has a different selection of races and classes (both of them have humans).  So a player who wants to play, say, a Drow Hunter would want to pick up Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms.  A player who wants to play a human mage would need Heroes of the Fallen Lands.  The idea is that each player buys the resource for the class/race combo he wants to play.  If you are sharing books as a group, then buy both, and players will have access to all the races and classes in both books.  You can get both for the same price you'd pay for the hardback PHBI. 

The DM Kit does not contain any information about PC classes/races, and neither does the Rules Compendium.  The reasoning is that that is information the players need, not the DM.

One of the reasons I don't recommend that people pick up the PHB is that wizards is currently updating and re-releasing the PHB classes in Dragon Magazine.  So far, they've done the fighter, warlord, and cleric.
If your group is fairly new to table top gaming you probably don't have any minatures or tokens.  So I recommend that you get the monster's vault before any of the other monster books like monster manual 1.  It has the more recently (better) designed monsters and comes with a bunch of tokens.

Of all the PHB books to get I would go with PHB1 since it has the most classes.  PHB2 is really well done too, but it does not have things like equipment in it.

Others have summed up the differences between the two starting sets of books fairly well.  Essentials: Cheaper. more up to date, simpler with fewer choices.  Classic 4E: more expensive, lots of errata if you care about that, more complex with more choices and more support. 

Personally I prefer classic 4E PCs for the the most part because I like tweaking and customizing my PCs as much as possible, but I know other people who prefer the essentials line and have more fun with PCs where they don't have to spend much time on them.
To a degree, yes.  I have exactly 0 4e stuff, so it sounds like no matter what, the DM Kit is the way to go.  The Rules Comp does sound handy, put like that.  (I often bought starter sets of 40k, as well as the big rule book, simply because the little pocket sized rule book was insanely handy in being portable, but mostly because it was easier to navigate quickly without all the fluff.)

Still a bit confused about the Characters, though.  From what I understand, for example, Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms has the five classes and the six races.  If we decide to go with the DM Kit and HotForgotten Kingdoms, then without other books, my players only have those five classes to be, since that's all we have rules for?  From what I'm seeing at the review I've read at Points of Light, this means that if I have someone who wanted to be a rogue, fighter or cleric or one of the more traditional fantasy races is out of luck.  That's where I feel like I'm not reading my information right.  Or is all that basic stuff in there in the DM Kit book?  From what I can find, without going and pirating a pdf, it isn't.

Again, apologies for being so clueless about this.  I just don't want to pick up books only to find out that the entire book is replaced by another book I've already picked up.



The Heroes of... books contain most of the classic archetypes. There are two types of fighters, two types of rangers, a cleric, a wizard, a rogue, a druid and some more that I can't remember right now (I don't actually own those books). If you want more options, then you can get the earlier players handbooks which contain even more types of fighters, rangers, wizards, rogues, druids, etc. etc. etc.


EDIT: BTW, if you want to know what classes are available in which books, check out the table in this thread: community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/758.... I would repost the table here but it's really annoying to post tables in this forum. The table you're looking for is in the original post under the spoiler block marked "Data". It has all the classes released and which book they're in.  
In addition to other's suggestions of snagging some quintessential books, grabbing a month's worth of insider isn't too bad of an idea.  Some people have been disappointed with recent updates, but if you're brand new theres a HUGE backlog of material, which if you're a DDI member you can download the PDFs from the site.

Since you have a brand new DM, it might be easier for him to get in the groove with published adventures, which are included.

In addition, you'll be able to use the compendium (which has pretty much EVERYTHING in it) and monster builder, both of which allow for printing information straight off the site.

With enough spare time, hard drive space / paper and ink, a month's work can get you a lot of existing published material, and legally!

i would like to endorse other people's sum up, especially because of you're wargame experiences

O4E- the older fourth edition, more complex, more options, currently more support, also the classes have a baseline level of complexity, in this way people will tend to play what they want to thematically, less focused on what's *easy* for most new players i would hesitate to recommend it, but with some wargame experience... it might be advantageous, as for the errata, you can either factor it in or ignore it entirely- if you're group aren't the HOLY CRAP CHECK OUT THIS BROKEN COMBO types. For this you would need the PHB1 + DMG + MM or MV (really with the monser stuff take your pick, the new one's are designed for more streamlined combat)

E4E- Essentials fourth edition (which some cynically call 4.5), is far simpler, the classes give you a step by step list of abilities specifically gained at each level- reducing the amount of choice but making things far simpler to understand. Essentials is built with new players in mind, and the classes have varying levels of complexity, with classes like the fighter being far simpler than say, a wizard (though not less effective). the battles themselves should be of equal tactical complexity, it's msotly in creation and options. For this you'll need the Dm's kit, MV, Heroes of Fallen lands and/or Heroes of the forgotten kingdoms, the two heroes of books each contain the basic player rules and a selection of races and classes unique to each.

if anything i've said is false, please someone correct me

IMAGE(http://www.nodiatis.com/pub/8.jpg)

First off, Welcome to the community! 

2ndly  you've got a wealth of information about Essentials vs. Original so I won't touch on that..


As far as adventures are concerned.  A good place for PC's to begin would either be H1-H3 (post updates), or you should be able to get the first part of Scales of War. (Adventure Lv. 1-30)  If you're not an insider you can get your PC's to Lv. 6 before you have to get a subscription.  Otherwise you could try Chaos Scar (also in the magazines) which seem to be fairly low leveld. 
Now, here's where I'm a bit confused.

If I go the older route, with the PHB1, I know where all the basic class stuff comes in.

Nod.  THe PH1 is a complete player resource.

If I go the Essentials route, grabbing Heroes of the Stuff book or books, and the DM Kit, where is in the info for the basic class stuff at?  Is it in the DM Kit, or do the Heroes of Stuff books have that information recycled into it?

The most basic player stuff is repeated in both HotFL and HotFK, so you can get by with one or the other.  To get a range of classes & races comparable to PH1, you'd want to pick up both. 

IIRC:

Heroes of the Fallen Land has: 

Sub-Classes:  Slayer, Knight, Theif, Warpriest, Mage
Races:  Human, Elf, Eladrin, Dwarf, Halfling

Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms has:

Sub-Classes:  Hexblade, Cavalier, Sentinel, Scout, Hunter
Races: Human, half-Orc, half-Elf, Drow, Tiefling, Dragonborn

Human, like a lot of basic stuff, is duplicated in each HotF_ book.

Wait, so if I go the essentials route, my players doing have feats, without getting the PH1 book as well?  From what I've played in 3.5, that seems like a pretty vital thing to not have.

Did I say feats?  I meant rituals.  Essentials certainly has feats - fewer, but more potent ones than the PH1, in general.

 I was under the impression that the Heroes books were expansions on stuff, either adding in new classes/races/etc or adding addition stuff to existing classes/races/etc.

That's just to ease the misgivings of the existing 4e fans.  The reality is that the Heroes books are foundational player books, they cover basically the same ground as the PH, but with a twist here and a mechanical difference there, so they're different enough to claim to be 'adding' to the 4e of the existing fan, while also covering basic mechanics and architypes well enough to form a foundation for new players going forward.  They don't build on anything in prior books, and neither will future books. 

So, having two compatible, parallel routes on D&D is leaving me a bit confused as to what comes from where.

I'm liking the Essentials line more, from what I understand.  Just, like I said, I'm missing where the basic stuff comes from.

Everything you need to play is in both 'routes.'  You can combine them, there's some redundancy, and some things combine better than others, but, as a new player, there's little need to combine them. 

 

 

Oops, looks like this request tried to create an infinite loop. We do not allow such things here. We are a professional website!