New to D&D? Start here!

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Welcome to the Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition Roleplaying Game
 
If you're brand new to the D&D RPG, you may be wondering where and how to get started.  Below is a helpful guide to D&D products and resources, as well as where to find opportunities to play the game.

The First Step

 
Check out the "New to D&D" section of the Dungeons & Dragons website!

The Red Box - If you are just getting started with Dungeons & Dragons, this is the ideal set to begin your adventures. 

You can also try D&D for free - D&D Quickstart Rules and Keep on the Shadowfell

What you may be wondering is: what happens next?  What products do I pick up after the Red Box to continue my adventures?


D&D Essentials for Players

Rules Compendium - A comprehensive guide to the rules of the Dungeons & Dragons RPG.  Highly portable and an indispenable reference during game play.

Heroes of the Fallen Lands and Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms - Each of those books presents a number of races and classes and everything a player needs to create a character.

Wondering just what races and classes are in the "Heroes of" books?

 

Heroes of the Fallen Lands

Show

Races


  • Dwarf

  • Eladrin

  • Elf

  • Halfling

  • Human 


Classes 


  • Cleric (Warpriest) - Divine Leader

  • Fighter (Knight) - Martial Defender

  • Fighter (Slayer) - Martial Striker

  • Rogue (Thief) - Martial Striker

  • Wizard (Mage) - Arcane Controller 



Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms 

Show

Races 


  • Dragonborn

  • Drow

  • Half-Elf

  • Half-Orc

  • Human

  • Tiefling 


Classes 


  • Druid (Sentinel) - Primal Leader

  • Paladin (Cavalier) - Divine Defender

  • Ranger (Hunter) - Martial and Primal Controller

  • Ranger (Scout) - Martial and Primal Striker

  • Warlock (Hexblade) - Arcane Striker 



At this point you may be wondering: But what if I want to run the game?  What if I want to take on the most challenging role in the game?  What if I want to be the Dungeon Master?

 

D&D Essentials for Dungeon Masters 

Dungeon Master's Kit - Book, tokens, maps, adventures, screen, this box is packed with goodies for the Dungeon Master.  The adventures contained within, Reavers of Harkenwold Part 1: The Iron Circle and Reavers of Harkenwold Part 2: The Die is Cast serve as a followup to the adventure in the Red Box and take player characters from level 2 to level 4. 

Monster Vault - Another box set packed full of goodies, Monster Vault includes a book full of critters, monster tokens, a poster map, and an adventure for 4th level characters, Cairn of the Winter King, which can follow directly on the heels of the adventures in the DM's Kit. 

Dungeon Tiles Master Sets: The Dungeon, The City, and The Wilderness - Sturdy cardboard tiles of all shapes and sizes to help you visualize your adventure and provide a battleground for your player characters and monsters.

 

Is that it, you may be asking yourself?  Is that all there is?

 

Beyond Essentials

 

Since debuting in June of 2008, D&D 4th Edition has built up an immense library of core rulebooks, supplements, and adventures.  Here's a quick rundown.

 

Core Rulebooks 

These books provide more race and class options to create player characters (Player's Handbooks), rules, hints, tips, and tools to run the game (Dungeon Master's Guides), and collections of creatures to pit your heroes against (Monster Manuals).


Supplements 

These books provide even more options for your campaigns and characters from new equipment and gear for your heroes (Adventurer's Vaults) to new powers and builds (Power books, Heroes of Shadow) to in depth lore and options for creatures (Draconomicons, Open Grave) to setting options (Underdark, The Shadowfell).


Accessories 

The perfect tools to augment your game from a sturdy screen to hide your DM notes and rolls to Dungeon Tiles to plan out and play your encounters to Fortune Cards to give your characters that extra boost they need.


Adventures 

Ready to play adventures and scenarios for your group.  The H, P, and E series of adventures provide a full campaign from levels 1-30.  Hammerfast and Vor Rukoth each provide a full adventure setting that DMs can use in their own campaigns.  Finally, Madness at Gardmore Abbey, Revenge of the Giants, and Tomb of Horrors are massive "super" adventures that provide many levels worth of exciting play.


Settings 

These books provide entire worlds for you and your group to explore and make your own.  From the classic sword and sorcery of the Forgotten Realms to the burnt desert world of Dark Sun to the high fantasy of Eberron.  And if you need a break from fantasy, you can explore the zany post-apocalyptic Gamma World.


Whoa!  Slow down, that's a lot of stuff!  Are there any online tools to help me manage it all?  

 

D&D Insider

 

Dungeons & Dragons Insider is a monthly subscription service that provides you with a plethora of online tools and new content for your games via Dragon and Dungeon Magazines. 


Ok, so I have the products and played with the online tools...where do I actually find people to play this game?

 

D&D In-Store Play

 

Play D&D at your local game store every Wednesday night with D&D Encounters

You can earn rewards and, if you use Twitter, you can get special buffs during the game session by following the @Wizards_DnD Twitter channel. 


Ready to take off the beginner gloves and face a real challenge?  Check out D&D Lair Assault, another in store program like Encounters that pits your heroes against some of the most devious, challenging encounters we can come up with.  Plus, you can earn badges for your D&D Community profile. 

Hmm, you know, roleplaying is fun and all, but what if I want to get my D&D fix with a board game or video game? 

 

D&D Board Games

 

The D&D brand includes several exciting board games. 


D&D Video Games

 

Want to get a taste of D&D on your computer or favorite game console? 


Be a Part of D&D's Future

Sign up for the open playtest of the next iteration of Dungeons & Dragons!

 
  

All around helpful simian

Comments, suggestions, and questions are welcome.

Please keep your posts civil and helpful.

Thanks.

All around helpful simian

what a great thread.  kudos for doing this.

EDIT: you have a spoiler that seems unintentional.

EDIT EDIT:  sti - cky!  sti - cky! 
what a great thread.  kudos for doing this.

EDIT: you have a spoiler that seems unintentional.

EDIT EDIT:  sti - cky!  sti - cky! 



The spoiler thing is a forum glitch that we're currently looking in to.  That'll be fixed soon.

All around helpful simian

what a great thread.  kudos for doing this.

EDIT: you have a spoiler that seems unintentional.

EDIT EDIT:  sti - cky!  sti - cky! 



The spoiler thing is a forum glitch that we're currently looking in to.  That'll be fixed soon.


before or after the thread gets stickied?  Smile
what a great thread.  kudos for doing this.

EDIT: you have a spoiler that seems unintentional.

EDIT EDIT:  sti - cky!  sti - cky! 



The spoiler thing is a forum glitch that we're currently looking in to.  That'll be fixed soon.


before or after the thread gets stickied?  



As far as I can tell, it is stickied.  Is it not showing up as stickied for you?

All around helpful simian

what a great thread.  kudos for doing this.

EDIT: you have a spoiler that seems unintentional.

EDIT EDIT:  sti - cky!  sti - cky! 



The spoiler thing is a forum glitch that we're currently looking in to.  That'll be fixed soon.


before or after the thread gets stickied?  



As far as I can tell, it is stickied.  Is it not showing up as stickied for you?


in the 4e general forum, i do not see the sticky icon.  however, the thread does appear at the top of the forum.
Great post, Crazy Monkey.  I'd give you a banana, but I just don't know what you would do with it. 
Reflavoring: the change of flavor without changing any mechanical part of the game, no matter how small, in order to fit the mechanics to an otherwise unsupported concept. Retexturing: the change of flavor (with at most minor mechanical adaptations) in order to effortlessly create support for a concept without inventing anything new. Houseruling: the change, either minor or major, of the mechanics in order to better reflect a certain aspect of the game, including adapting the rules to fit an otherwise unsupported concept. Homebrewing: the complete invention of something new that fits within the system in order to reflect an unsupported concept. Default module =/= Core mechanic.
A huge Astral Diamond to crazy_monkey for starting this comprehensive Thread ! 

Yan
Montréal, Canada
@Plaguescarred on twitter

this favors essentials too much
Very well done
i would include the red box conversion document next to the red box entry, theres been a lot of confused players regarding this
First of all, yes, kudos for a great idea, well-executed.

Second, a request: either in this document, or in a similar one, can we please explain to people that "Essentials" uses the same ruleset as "core 4e," and simply introduces a new methodology for character creation?  I understand that everyone is new to the game at some point, but it's getting tiring explaining to people who ask, for example, if an upcoming product is going to be "for Essentials" or "just for 4e."  And since this document seems to be meant as a proto-FAQ for new players, and specifically calls out Essentials materials vs. "core 4e" materials, this seems as good a place as any.
loose [loos] vt. to let loose; to release; to unfasten, undo or untie; to shoot or discharge. lose [looz] vt. to come to be without (something in one's possession or care), through accident, theft, etc., so that there is little or no prospect of recovery; to fail inadvertently to retain (something) in such a way that it cannot be immediately recovered; to suffer the deprivation of. LEARN THE DAMN DIFFERENCE. The pen is mightier than the character builder. Copy this to your sig if you like 4e but don't use the CB. "OD&D, 1E and 2E challenged the player. 3E challenged the character, not the player. Now 4E takes it a step further by challenging a GROUP OF PLAYERS to work together as a TEAM. That's why I love 4E." -RedSiegfried
 everyone knows what someone means when you say its an essentials book or a 4e book
 everyone knows what someone means when you say its an essentials book or a 4e book

Alas, I humbly disagree. In fact, I've seen a number of questions along these lines recently.
loose [loos] vt. to let loose; to release; to unfasten, undo or untie; to shoot or discharge. lose [looz] vt. to come to be without (something in one's possession or care), through accident, theft, etc., so that there is little or no prospect of recovery; to fail inadvertently to retain (something) in such a way that it cannot be immediately recovered; to suffer the deprivation of. LEARN THE DAMN DIFFERENCE. The pen is mightier than the character builder. Copy this to your sig if you like 4e but don't use the CB. "OD&D, 1E and 2E challenged the player. 3E challenged the character, not the player. Now 4E takes it a step further by challenging a GROUP OF PLAYERS to work together as a TEAM. That's why I love 4E." -RedSiegfried
Just a gentle reminder to keep your suggestions civil and on topic.  No edition wars, please.  Thanks.  ;)

All around helpful simian

Since this is instructional in nature, it would be best if the guide assumed that the people reading this guide know nothing about terminology such as What "Core" means, and the difference between "Adventures" and "Settings".  Heck, I didn't know what they meant until I came here.  So a little information (Core books are the base rules, and include player rules for races and classes, DM rules for trap building, encounter design, effective player motivation, custom monster design, etc and rules and information for prebuilt monsters) next to the different categories of previously published materials before Essentials would give the newest player what they need to make informed decisions.  That means that this guide would also be helped by a link to the unofficial glossary of terms that are used on these boards; that way the newbie has, again, the information to make informed decisions.
"I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody." --Bill Cosby (1937- ) Vanador: OK. You ripped a gateway to Hell, killed half the town, and raised the dead as feral zombies. We're going to kill you. But it can go two ways. We want you to run as fast as you possibly can toward the south of the town to draw the Zombies to you, and right before they catch you, I'll put an arrow through your head to end it instantly. If you don't agree to do this, we'll tie you this building and let the Zombies rip you apart slowly. Dimitry: God I love being Neutral. 4th edition is dead, long live 4th edition. Salla: opinionated, but commonly right.
fun quotes
58419928 wrote:
You have to do the work first, and show you can do the work, before someone is going to pay you for it.
69216168 wrote:
If you can't understand how someone yelling at another person would make them fight harder and longer, then you need to look at the forums a bit closer.
quote author=56832398 post=519321747]Considering DnD is a game wouldn't all styles be gamist?[/quote]
Thank you for taking the time to post all this information in one thread. Very well done, and useful.
this favors essentials too much



+1 if I was introduced to the essentials products before the original 4e, I would get bored and leave D&D.
this favors essentials too much



I agree but understand why he did it.
In theory essentials IS SUPPOSED to be the new introduction to the game.

I would like to see a spoiler for the classes and races in the players handbooks though.

If you are going to make a lot of edits/updates I would not mind seeing a mention that REDBOX is not really for people who have played other RPGs in the past and looking into D&D. It's more for people who have never made a character and rolled dice before.     
The sea looks at the stabillity of the mountian and sighs. The mountian watches the freedom of the sea and cries.
Awesome job.  Something like this was sorely needed.

A few quick comments:

Essentials Tiles - it would be nice to let players know that they can use an erasable battlemat instead.  The list of stuff that is 'essential' for a DM looks a little daunting to me and in reality they don't need the tiles.

Along the same lines, it's probably worth noting that new DMs can get by for a few games with just the DM's Kit.

MM1 & DMG1 -  it should probably be pointed out that the DM's Kit and Monster Vault effectively supersede these.  I bought both a few months back not realising this and was a tad grumpy about it...
this favors essentials too much



+1 if I was introduced to the essentials products before the original 4e, I would get bored and leave D&D.

I guess you chould be glad you did not start with Basic D&D then. 
As the reasons you would find essentials boring are all worse in older editions, especially Basic and OD&D. 

In regards to essentials if i already have the dm guide and the monster manual is it worth me getting the essentials dm guide and the essentials monster manual or should i just get the two new player guide type things?
In regards to essentials if i already have the dm guide and the monster manual is it worth me getting the essentials dm guide and the essentials monster manual or should i just get the two new player guide type things?

Monster vault, Yes. But more monsters is almost always a good option anyway. 
DM Kit, have not read it, so no idea. 

In regards to essentials if i already have the dm guide and the monster manual is it worth me getting the essentials dm guide and the essentials monster manual or should i just get the two new player guide type things?

Monster vault, Yes. But more monsters is almost always a good option anyway. 
DM Kit, have not read it, so no idea. 





I think the monster vault is worth it even if you have the MMI, as it updates a lot of the monsters as well as providing you with tokens and an adventure.  and some of the creatures in it are out of the MM2, or are completely new, so they don't appear in the MMI.

The DM kit is a bit iffier.  90% of the content of the DM book that comes with the kit is already in the DMG, although the DM Book does have the updated rules text.  And you do get a screen, tokens, and an adventure (a really good one!).  It's definitely not neccessary, although neither is the Monster Vault.


If you are going to make a lot of edits/updates I would not mind seeing a mention that REDBOX is not really for people who have played other RPGs in the past and looking into D&D.



Why not?  While some of the prose does address basic roleplaying concepts, a player who knows them can easily gloss over these and use the kit as an introduction to the basic rules of 4E D&D.  It also provides everything you need to play without a large outlay of cash, which makes it ideal for people who know other RPGs but don't know D&D and want to know if it's for them before they start spending a lot of money on the big rulebooks and box sets.  Why would we not recommend this for experienced RPG players who want to know what D&D is all about?



I like the Monster Vault and DM Kit.  They are a welcome addition to my library.  The monster tokens alone are worth it, and the included adventure (starts in DM Kit and crosses into Monster Vault) is actually pretty good.  The battle maps are really nice, too.
 
Reflavoring: the change of flavor without changing any mechanical part of the game, no matter how small, in order to fit the mechanics to an otherwise unsupported concept. Retexturing: the change of flavor (with at most minor mechanical adaptations) in order to effortlessly create support for a concept without inventing anything new. Houseruling: the change, either minor or major, of the mechanics in order to better reflect a certain aspect of the game, including adapting the rules to fit an otherwise unsupported concept. Homebrewing: the complete invention of something new that fits within the system in order to reflect an unsupported concept. Default module =/= Core mechanic.


If you are going to make a lot of edits/updates I would not mind seeing a mention that REDBOX is not really for people who have played other RPGs in the past and looking into D&D.



Why not?  While some of the prose does address basic roleplaying concepts, a player who knows them can easily gloss over these and use the kit as an introduction to the basic rules of 4E D&D.  It also provides everything you need to play without a large outlay of cash, which makes it ideal for people who know other RPGs but don't know D&D and want to know if it's for them before they start spending a lot of money on the big rulebooks and box sets.  Why would we not recommend this for experienced RPG players who want to know what D&D is all about?






i didnt write that dude
Moving on, gentlemen...  (remember, the point here is to help people new to the hobby)

I submit for inclusion and/or rejection-and-heaping-of-scorn my standard blurb/review:

RedJack's guide to all you wanted to know about getting into 4th Edition, but may not have thought to ask yet.



Despite the initial intent, some people have been confused by the arrival of Essentials, and where exactly they should start if they want to get into the game.  As an alternate "entry point" the game, it's really just a different option, not an inherently good or bad one.  One could pick up the PHB1, a Monster Manual 1 and the DMG 1, or one could pick up one of the Heroes of Fallen/Forgotten whatnot, a DM's Kit and the Monster Vault.  You should probably also pick up a Rules Compendium with either option.  Each has its own advantages and disadvantages.

On "The Red Box"
The new Red Box (in case you didn't know about the old one released way back in 1983) is pretty much an entry point only.  It's simply designed, simple to play, and helps one to learn the most very basic parts of the rules.  It's written in a pretty inviting and neutral one, which makes it an excellent tool for children and individuals who have never before touched an RPG.  When it comes to easing someone very gently into the hobby, there are few things that can compare.  It comes with some tokens, a couple maps, a premade adventure and a set of dice.  You can actually download a couple more adventures off the D&D website, but the Red Box is more of a teaching tool than a full ruleset for the whole of the game.  

Don't underestimate it though!  One of the most powerful things about this product is its ability to help people who are not only new to playing, but new to being the Dungeon Master!  Usually the DM is someone who's got a better knowledge of the system, and the Red Box helps even the most neo- of neophytes jump right in.


"Old" 4e
Still totally valid.  There has been errata, yes, and I'll go into the effect of errata later on in the post.  But errata is all optional, and you can absolutely play by the books as printed and have a great game.  My group definitely did before we were even aware errata had been released.

The PHB series: You definitely want PHB1 first if you go this route, as 2 and 3 just add more options, but do not reprint the rules.   These have character generation that is more customizable.  Each class presented in PHB 1 has at least 2 separate major groups of class features, as well as a host of ability choices at each level so you can build according to what you think looks neat, or what more closely fits a concept you already have in mind.  PHB 2 has another 8 classes and 5 races, and information on the "Background" mechanic with some sample backgrounds, along with more feats, adventuring gear, rituals, etc.  It's a nifty addition.  PHB3 has 4 new races and 6 new classes and rules for Hybrid multiclassing (closer to the much older AD&D multiclassing where you progress as a relatively even amount of both classes) Skill powers available for all characters, and of course more feats, magic items, etc.

The DMG 1 and 2: These are (in my mind) some of the best books ever written on running a successful game.   If you were to rip out all the stuff that contains only rules that are specific to 4e, you would still have two books worth buying on the general concepts of having fun while you run a fun game for your players in ANY system.  I've handed these over to friends who were thinking about running games (and not always just 4e games) and so far they have been universally praised by these folks for being clear and concise as wel as providing a wealth of knowledge and things to consider.  I've been running games for nearly two decades now and I am not ashamed to admit that I learned a thing or two from them.

Monster Manuals: 1 & 2 use an older number set that results in longer combat.  At low levels it's not as noticeable, but it certainly is at higher levels (15+).  Because of the way monsters are made, all of this is actually pretty easy to update if you feel the need.  I have been doing it for a while but I can update a whole encounter (with 3-4 different monster types) in less than 5 minutes or construct an entire encounter from scratch using home-made monsters in about 20.  I actually do this pretty frequently.  I am used to it, so I'm quicker than the average guy just sitting down to it, but it's not a difficult thing to do by any means.  Monster Manual 3 is built using current numbers and has a lot of good critters in it--it just hasn't got a lot of "iconic" monsters... as in they didn't go through and rebuild all the MM1 and 2 stuff in it.  On the upside, that means that you don't pay twice for the same material if you get all three.

Furthermore, you can always take something from the MM3 that meets the general requirements of a monster you'd like to use and "reskin it."  Is it a large creature that basically takes heavy things and hits characters with it?  Sounds like a good ogre to me.  Small monster that's a vicious fighter?  Makes a good basic goblin/kobold.  ^_^

Later on you can look into other options including, but not limited to...

Players option books--Martial/Arcane/Primal Power, etc.:  All of these were designed with the "older" classes in mind and present new class feature options as well as new powers and feats.  Essentials classes can still use the feats and some of the powers, but not all, and they can't really swap out the class features.

Setting Books:  Each contains some additional races and usually a class or some other mechanical goodness in addition to information on the setting.  If you want an established world that players may be already interested in, these are a great place to start.  Eberron and Forgotten Realms each got a player's guide, a campaign guide and one pre-made module.  Dark sun got a campaign guide (players& Dm's stuff all in one book) and its own little MM, which is actually pretty fantastic.


Essentials
"Newer" doesn't always mean better--but it certainly doesn't always mean worse, either.  There is some good stuff in here, and I own some of these books myself despite having a full collection of the older material.  One thing to note about Essentials in general is that the softcover, smaller, digest-style format is cheaper than the larger hardcover books to produce, and thus the cover prices are lower.  Several sets (because they are designed specifically with new players in mind) contain things someone new to the hobby might not have, but old fogies like myself have a metric buttload of.  I'll point these out in their entries.

Heroes of FK/FL:  These are the "base" rulebooks, with information on character creation, most of the play rules, etc.  Each contains a few races and a few classes.  They don't introduce brand new races, just the older ones so that you have all the info you need to build a character.  The classes and feats are all new, although there are some feats reprinted in each book.  Outside of the different character options presented (races, classes, some feats) the books are identical in content, as each was designed to be a player rulebook, complete within itself.  The classes are variant sub-builds of existing classes (Slayers and Knights are types of fighters, etc.) and function in varying degrees of difference from the PHB versions.  The martial (fighter, rogue, ranger, and the paladins, a bit.) are exceedingly simplistic to play and create.  This is good for people who really  don't want to take the time to customize a character or put a lot of effort into figuring out what to do on their turn, and just want to sit down and play, but that really is not for everyone.  The more magic classes are built a lot like the PHB1 classes, but still have some options chosen for them rather than being able to choose.  Again, this works for some people.  It's been criticized as a return to an old 3.5 design precept that "wizards rule and fighter drool" but that's not 100% accurate.  The fighters/rogues/etc. are super simple, but they're still very effective.

DM's Kit:  Contains a rules supplement booklet (things not found in the PHB/Heroes books) but not a lot of the other wonderful material you'll find in the DMGs.   On the other hand, it does come with a other stuff that is really handy.  It comes with 2 pre-made adventures (with pre-made maps) a bunch of tokens for your players and monsters alike to help keep combat easy, (work great and are more damage resistant than minis in some ways) and a DM's screen.  I have never actually owned a DM's screen in my life as I've never been the sortof stereotypical guy who kept all his notes and rolls and whatnot hidden from the players and chuckled evilly from behind my miniature inscrutable fortress of solitude.  But!   This style works for a lot of DMs and players--I have had DMs over the years I loved playing with who did exactly this.  Aside from that, the screen can also serve as a handy reference.  The exterior has pretty pictures for your players to look at, and the interior is filled with simple expressions and handy charts to reference commonly needed rules at a glance.  That part is actually a life-saver, but I personally prefer to keep simple crib notes and cheat sheets for that stuff and keep a more open table with as few barriers between myself and my players as possible.  GM screens mess with my feng-shui, man. ;)

Monster Vault: Another option to the Monster Manuals, and one that a lot of people like--also with some extra goodies in the box.  It comes with another free adventure (set around 4th level) and some full size pre-printed maps, but not all of the maps you'll need for the adventure, you'll want to draw the rest.  It also comes with a metric ton of monster tokens and finally, the book itself.  The book contains primarilly updated versions of a selection of the MM1 monsters.  These save you the trouble of doing the math yourself, but the math, as mentioned, isn't tough.  Also not the word "selection" there.   It doesn't have all of the monsters, but it does have a fat load of them.


Rules Compendium
Rules Compendium:  Yes, this deserves to be listed separately as it's just an incredibly handy reference  to have at the table no matter if you are playing from PHBs MMs and DMGs or right out of Essentials.  I offered to buy all my players a mini of their choice if they bought one for themselves, and most did.  They like not having to ask me to stop the game and look up a rule they're not sure about, and I like that they can do it quickly so the game keeps moving on the off chance a rules question comes up.  I love this product.  If my dog and this book were both hanging off the edge of a cliff and I had the strength to save them both, I would still let go of the dog to make sure I had a firm grip on this book.  <3


Some common objections to Essentials
A lot of people don't like Essentials for one reason or another.  That's fine, and I actually understand (and in some cases partially agree) with some of their points.  I don't think it's the Great Satan, though.  The thing about Essentials is that you can integrate an Essentials character pretty seamlessly into a game with nothing but PHB style classes and vice versa.  No muss, no fuss, one person just has different layouts for their character abilities.  

If you have players that like non-magical classes (like fighters) that are very simple to play or partially magic but not full on "casting spells all the time" classes and want those classes to be similarly simple, buy (or have them buy) the Essentials books.  If your players want to play those same kinds of characters, but have a high degree of customization and a little more complexity, then the PHB is probably more the speed you want to go.  Both have highly customizable magic classes, so if you wanted say... a wizard as simple as simple to play as some of the Essentials fighters, then you'd be kindof out of luck at the moment.


On Errata--because whichever you buy, there's going to be some eventually
Love it, hate it, follow it slavishly, or completely ignore it.  You can do any of these things or find yourself somewhere in between.

WotC does not march into your house in the middle of your game and threaten to slaughter your friends and family if you aren't using the latest update.  If you don't have a DDI subscription (where the character builder program--super handy, by the way--always contains the latest updates built in) then there is nothing stopping you from playing directly by the books as printed, or even choosing to ignore some errata and latch on to others.  Your books are not "obsolete" because of errata, and while many people will say so, I have never understood why someone would make such a claim--then again, I'm 'old school' and we respect books in my house.  The last player who used one of my books as a coaster for his drink was not invited back to the table for a month.

Anyhow, the actual volume of errata that applies to most people is not that big (a lot smaller than some particularly hysterical people let on) for a number of reasons:

1. The PDFs of errata have big pagecounts, but not all of that is actual changes.  Some are additions, not to change the rules but because people didn't understand what was there in the first place and they felt adding in an example or another sentence or so would clear things up for a lot of people.  Along with each change there is a section that explains why the change was made, which increases the size.  Additionally, you don't see "replace X word/number with Y word/number" when it comes to things like powers, you see fully reprinted power blocks which also makes it seem a lot larger than it is.
2. Much errata is to specific powers.  If you're not playing that specific class, or have not (and do not wish to) choose that power, it simply doesn't apply.  (remember those powers really bulk out the space used in the PDF too)
3. Many people will say "about 10%" of the PHB has been errata'd.  By this count they mean that one out of every 10 pages has at least one change on it.  Despite the wording they have chosen to use, that does not mean a whole page worth of material has been replaced, and, in fact, it may only mean only one word or number got corrected on the whole page, or a sentence or two were added for clarity.
4. As mentioned before, a lot of changes are to very specific things that may not effect your group at all.  As far as general rules changes, there haven't been any huge sweeping changes, aside from re-tooling and clarifying stealth.
Jackonomicon™ It's not always safe for work, but it's great for play. It's my blog, yo.
i didnt write that dude

You do realize how many people can not use quotes properly, and do not double chech before posting. 


 
Is that it, you may be asking yourself?  Is that all there is?  Not even close.

 


Might want to rephrase this.  It sounds like you "need" to buy all that stuff.  Perhaps something like...

"That gives you enough to play for years.  But what if you want more?  More fantastic creatures to fight?  More Races or Classes to be?  More treasure to find?  More locations to explore?  Well, we've got more."

guides
List of no-action attacks.
Dynamic vs Static Bonuses
Phalanx tactics and builds
Crivens! A Pictsies Guide Good
Power
s to intentionally miss with
Mr. Cellophane: How to be unnoticed
Way's to fire around corners
Crits: what their really worth
Retroactive bonus vs Static bonus.
Runepriest handbook & discussion thread
Holy Symbols to hang around your neck
Ways to Gain or Downgrade Actions
List of bonuses to saving throws
The Ghost with the Most (revenant handbook)
my builds
F-111 Interdictor Long (200+ squares) distance ally teleporter. With some warlord stuff. Broken in a plot way, not a power way.

Thought Switch Higher level build that grants upto 14 attacks on turn 1. If your allies play along, it's broken.

Elven Critters Crit op with crit generation. 5 of these will end anything. Broken.

King Fisher Optimized net user.  Moderate.

Boominator Fun catch-22 booming blade build with either strong or completely broken damage depending on your reading.

Very Distracting Warlock Lot's of dazing and major penalties to hit. Overpowered.

Pocket Protector Pixie Stealth Knight. Maximizing the defender's aura by being in an ally's/enemy's square.

Yakuza NinjIntimiAdin: Perma-stealth Striker that offers a little protection for ally's, and can intimidate bloodied enemies. Very Strong.

Chargeburgler with cheese Ranged attacks at the end of a charge along with perma-stealth. Solid, could be overpowered if tweaked.

Void Defender Defends giving a penalty to hit anyone but him, then removing himself from play. Can get somewhat broken in epic.

Scry and Die Attacking from around corners, while staying hidden. Moderate to broken, depending on the situation.

Skimisher Fly in, attack, and fly away. Also prevents enemies from coming close. Moderate to Broken depending on the enemy, but shouldn't make the game un-fun, as the rest of your team is at risk, and you have enough weaknesses.

Indestructible Simply won't die, even if you sleep though combat.  One of THE most abusive character in 4e.

Sir Robin (Bravely Charge Away) He automatically slows and pushes an enemy (5 squares), while charging away. Hard to rate it's power level, since it's terrain dependent.

Death's Gatekeeper A fun twist on a healic, making your party "unkillable". Overpowered to Broken, but shouldn't actually make the game un-fun, just TPK proof.

Death's Gatekeeper mk2, (Stealth Edition) Make your party "unkillable", and you hidden, while doing solid damage. Stronger then the above, but also easier for a DM to shut down. Broken, until your DM get's enough of it.

Domination and Death Dominate everything then kill them quickly. Only works @ 30, but is broken multiple ways.

Battlemind Mc Prone-Daze Protecting your allies by keeping enemies away. Quite powerful.

The Retaliator Getting hit deals more damage to the enemy then you receive yourself, and you can take plenty of hits. Heavy item dependency, Broken.

Dead Kobold Transit Teleports 98 squares a turn, and can bring someone along for the ride. Not fully built, so i can't judge the power.

Psilent Guardian Protect your allies, while being invisible. Overpowered, possibly broken.

Rune of Vengance Do lot's of damage while boosting your teams. Strong to slightly overpowered.

Charedent BarrageA charging ardent. Fine in a normal team, overpowered if there are 2 together, and easily broken in teams of 5.

Super Knight A tough, sticky, high damage knight. Strong.

Super Duper Knight Basically the same as super knight with items, making it far more broken.

Mora, the unkillable avenger Solid damage, while being neigh indestuctable. Overpowered, but not broken.

Swordburst Maximus At-Will Close Burst 3 that slide and prones. Protects allies with off actions. Strong, possibly over powered with the right party.

Great to see a post like this in the absolute right location - the 4e General Forum!  Well done!

I recently wrote a similar, briefer article on my D&D blog for new and returning players and playgroups:

New Players and Playgroups: What to Buy
LEONINE ROAR : Amp Up Your D&D Game : Visit my D&D blog :: FASTER COMBAT : Crush Your Combat Grind
If you don't want this to be an edition war, you'll have to stake out a more neutral position.

Essentials is not the only on-ramp to D&D.  It may the current 'official,' one, but starting with the core rules, is equally legitimate - and arguably superior in some ways.  If someone already has the PH, or is starting with the quick start rather than Red Box, continuing on to core, rather than diving off into Essentials is likely a better move.

It may seem 'confusing' to present both paths, but people do come here saying "I have the PH1 what else do I need?"  Telling such people that they 'need' HotFL or HotFK is doing them a diservice.



Edit:  Also, nothing to do with the Edition war, but D&D Encounters probably belongs much higher up the list.   You don't need /any/ books to show up at a table, get a pre-gen and get introduced to the game.  Probably right up there with the Red Box and Quickstart Rules.

Want to see the best of 4e included in 5e?  Join the Old Guard of 4e.

5e really needs something like Wrecan's SARN-FU to support "Theatre of the Mind."

"You want The Tooth?  You can't handle The Tooth!"  - Dahlver-Nar.

"If magic is unrestrained in the campaign, D&D quickly degenerates into a weird wizard show where players get bored quickly"  - E. Gary Gygax

 

 

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So i've been looking for a while now at starting up a DnD group, but Im at a lose for what equipment I would need to buy. I'll Im really looking for are the rules for playing (combat, exploration, etc...) and character building information for some simple classes. I bought the red box thinking it had a full version of the player handbook, so now I need rules and level up info.
 So my question is, what is the difference between the Player Handbooks, and the DnD Essentials lineup in terms of which has the information neccesairy to play and progress at a feasable cost?
Check post #29... and #1.  And #32. ^_^
Jackonomicon™ It's not always safe for work, but it's great for play. It's my blog, yo.
I did, but Im stil a bit confused. So, the two seperate product lines are basically the same info granted in two different ways? So the information the the Player Handbook is the same as that in the rules compendium and the Heroes of books?
I did, but Im stil a bit confused. So, the two seperate product lines are basically the same info granted in two different ways? So the information the the Player Handbook is the same as that in the rules compendium and the Heroes of books?



Yes and no.  (And I can see why that's confusing.)

Basic rules for general play:  The same between both books--Heroes have some updated/clarified versions of some rules, but so does the Rules Compendium.

Basic rules for character creation:  Close on the races, vastly different on most of the classes.  PHBs contain classes that are highly customizable, but a little more complex to build.  I think that both PHB 1&2 contain more races/classes per book than the Heroes books, but I may be wrong on that--I don't have my library with me to check at the moment.  Essentials contains magic classes that aren't much simpler than the PHB versions, but martial classes that are incredibly simple, but also have a lot fewer customization options.

PHB 1/2/3 all contain very different information, with 1 being the book with base rules, and 2&3 adding extra races and classes, and many extra character options.

Heroes of the FK/FL contain different races and classes, but the entirety of the rest of the book is quite literally a page-for-page reprint of the other.

Jackonomicon™ It's not always safe for work, but it's great for play. It's my blog, yo.
So, as far as rules go, I could buy eigther the Player Handbook or Rules Compendium and still be able to play just fine, with the only difference being I would have to buy a heroes book for class building to supplement the Rules Compendium?
Actually, you could buy a PHB or a heroes book and play.  I recommend the Rules Compendium for either one.

PHB 1 OR Heroes of the FL/FK 
DMG 1 OR DM's Kit 
MM 1/2/3 OR Monster Vault 

Or you can buy all of the above and more.  It's up to you.

As far as price goes, The heroes books are pretty cheap, the DM's Kit and Monster Vault are not as cheap, but not expensive for what you get.

You can also get the sets of the PHB/MM1/DMG1 in one box cheaper than buying the books individually. 
Jackonomicon™ It's not always safe for work, but it's great for play. It's my blog, yo.
That clears it up. Thanks a ton! 
So i've been looking for a while now at starting up a DnD group, but Im at a lose for what equipment I would need to buy. I'll Im really looking for are the rules for playing (combat, exploration, etc...) and character building information for some simple classes. I bought the red box thinking it had a full version of the player handbook, so now I need rules and level up info.
 So my question is, what is the difference between the Player Handbooks, and the DnD Essentials lineup in terms of which has the information neccesairy to play and progress at a feasable cost?

The Player's Handbook 1 has complete information to play all the familiar races (humans, dwarves, elves, halflings  -  and a few less familiar ones), 8 classes, 18 builds of those 8 classes, with all the rules, gear, magic items, rituals, ans whatnot a player needs, complete in one, big, hard-bound $35 book.  The PH2 and 3 do not have complete player rules, but rather have extra races and classes (and feats, and the like), you /need/ the PH1 to use the PH2 or PH3, but don't /need/ either of them unless there's a new race or class in them that you want.

The Essentials line lets you get started with just the Red Box (for two levels, as you've discovered) or just one of the Heroes of the _______ books (softbonus, digest-sized, 20 bucks).  Each of the Heroes books has about half the classes/builds/races as the PH, all the basic rules you need to build a character, a very limited selection of items, gear (except for 'superior weapons), and lacks rituals.  Additional rules are in the Rule Compendium, also 20 bucks. 

Like the Red Box, the Essentials classes are generally intended to be easier to understand, build and play than the PH1 classes.  They are also meant to feel more mechanically distinct, though, which can have the opposite effect if you try to play several different classes over time.

Really, the less you want out of the game, the better Essentials is for you.  If you want to keep it very casual, and not invest much time in your building or playing your character - if you're into D&D more for the socialization and maybe the story than the game, itself - then you can just get one book, and learn to build/play one of the simpler classes (the Slayer is the flat-out simplest, for instance).  If you want to try a variety of classes, customize your characters, or otherwise get 'serious' (obsessively geeky) about the game, then you'd get more for your money out of the PH1 (with all the downloadable errata and Class Compendium articles that update and modify it), and would probably ultimately want all three PHs and all the Heroes of books.



Want to see the best of 4e included in 5e?  Join the Old Guard of 4e.

5e really needs something like Wrecan's SARN-FU to support "Theatre of the Mind."

"You want The Tooth?  You can't handle The Tooth!"  - Dahlver-Nar.

"If magic is unrestrained in the campaign, D&D quickly degenerates into a weird wizard show where players get bored quickly"  - E. Gary Gygax

 

 

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