New to D&D and looking for advice

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Hi all, I recently picked up the D&D 'Red Box' starter set and I plan to start playing D&D with a group of my friends who, like myself have never played the game. We are going to play through the content provided in the Red Box which I believe gets you to level 2. Anyway I saw the D&DI subscription and thought that looked great so I grabbed it for 1 month. I noticed that the Character builder allows for much more races and classes than is included in the Red Box (I assume I just get these with other products I can buy) but with the classes that are in the Red Box there were a few differences (such as powers). I was wondering should I stick with the character creation in the Red Box or the D&DI character builder and would it matter if we choose some classes that aren't included in the Red Box even if we didn't have the approproiate books to go with.

I am also thinking I will play DM so is there any advice for a first time DM and also any advice for a DM who also wants to play a PC (not at the same time if necessary).

Lastly do you guys have any advice at all for a group beginners who are diving right into D&D with no prior experience? 
Welcome! Welcome, friend! Come on in, there's room for all!

RED BOX is an excellent way to get familiar with the general manner of the D&D Roleplaying Game (RPG).

Play through the material provided, don't worry about the differenceswith DDI Character Builder.

To expand into Mainstream 4e D&D RPG, you'll need to acquire regular game manuals.

Start with Player Handbooks (PHBs) 1, 2, & 3 or the Heroes of ... manuals (Essentials line)

Whoever is doing the dungeonmastering (DM) also known as the gamemaster (GM) , might like to acquire the Dungeon Master Guides.

Remember, you don't have to get all of it at one time, grow into the game. Acquire manuals when you feel you are ready to expand.
"Duct tape is like the force. It has a light side, a dark side, and it holds the universe together" -- Carl Zwanzig

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D&D Home Page - What Class Are You? - Build A Character - D&D Compendium

The pen is mightier than the character builder.
Copy this to your sig if you like 4e but don't use the CB.

You picked a heck of a time to get into this hobby...


The best answers and advice I can give, in brief, are:

1. Personally, I would skip the Red Box. It does a fairly poor job of being D&D. If you don't have or can't get something else, it'll suffice, but as soon as you're able, I would buy the Rules Compendium and your choice of Heroes of the Fallen Kingdom and Heroes of the Forgotten Lands. Those will be useful for everyone at your table. For you, I would also purchase the DM's Kit, and the Dungeon Master's Guide when you can. DMG II is optional; you can save it for later.

Be aware that the softcover books labelled as "Essentials" are a sub-line to the hardcover books. The two lines are perfectly compatible with each other, but there are things in each that work differently. I personally do not like the Essentials books in the least, but they ARE newbie-friendly. If you're feeling adventurous, ambitious, or perhaps a little foolhardy and headstrong, skip the "Essentials" books entirely (except the Rules Compendium--that one is unquestionably worth getting, as it's the most-complete, most-current version of the main rules available in print) and focus on the hardbacks instead.

Be aware that the game has undergone massive, massive errata since its release. The DDI character creator and DDI Compendium are updated automatically as errata are released, so they are always the most current version of the rules.

You'll also need some monsters to throw at your players. Take your pick of Monster Manual I, II, and III, and the Monster Vault. Any of them would work fine.

2. Regarding DDI, get ahold of a copy of the Rules Compendium and one of the DM's books before you make that call. The Red Box/Heroes of the... character creation rules are much simpler than the full rules that many classes in DDI (particularly the older classes). If you start with the simpler rules, be prepared for a bit of a shock if/when you transition to using an older class.

That said, ALL characters, no matter their source, are compatible with one another, and can coexist in the same game without issue.  

3. DM Advice: First, never do anything just because someone said to--this is the Internet; fact-check anything you learn like you would writing a research paper. Second, ignore the impression of how to play that the rulebooks give you. Their presentation is extremely poor and, I think, intrinsically flawed (but remember the first thing I said). Third, learn the name Chris Perkins: read his "The Dungeon Master Experience" column on the website (over Christmas they released a compilation of all the DMXP articles from 2011, that's a good place to start), and find on Youtube the videos of him running D&D games--as "how to be an awesome DM" rolemodels go, Perkins is a good place to start.

Remember above all: D&D is a roleplaying game. It's a game about cooperative storytelling. It's not about loot, it's not about encounter after encounter, it's not about treasure, it's not about XP. It has all of those things, yes, but the core of the game is the story. Always has been, always will be. And I pity all of the people out there who never have and never will figure this out. Don't be one of them.

Oh, and Chandler's Law is a wonderful tool for a DM. Use it well.

4. New Group Advice:  Find your own path. There is no "right" way to play D&D, except the way that's right for your group. Take the time to find that, and NEVER do anything simply because you think you have to. Explore, learn, enjoy. Play.



And, feel free to drop me a PM anytime. Questions, comments, advice, whatever. I'm always happy to help. 
-m4ki; one down, one to go

"Retro is not new. Retro-fit is not new." --Seeker95, on why I won't be playing DDN

|| DDN Metrics (0-10) | enthusiasm: 1 | confidence in design: -3 | desire to play: 0 | Sticking with 4e?: Yep. | Better Options: IKRPG Mk II ||
The Five Things D&D Next Absolutely Must Not Do:
1. Imbalanced gameplay. Any and all characters must be able to contribute equally both in combat and out of combat at all levels of play. If the Fighters are linear and the Wizards quadratic, I walk. 2. Hardcore simulationist approach. D&D is a game about heroic fantasy. I'm weak and useless enough in real life; I play RPGs for a change of pace. If the only reason a rule exists is because "that's how it's supposed to be", I walk. I don't want a game that "simulates" real life, I want a game that simulates heroic fantasy. 3. Worshipping at false idols (AKA Sacred Cows). If the only reason a rule exists is "it's always been that way", I walk. Now to be clear, I have no problem with some things not changing; my issue is with retaining bad idea simply for the sake of nostalgia. 4. DM vs. players. If the game encourages "gotcha!" moments or treats the DM and players as enemies, adversaries, or problems to be overcome, I walk. 5. Rules for the sake of rules. The only thing I want rules for is the things I can't do sitting around a table with my friends. If the rules try to step on my ability to roleplay the character I want to roleplay, I walk. Furthermore, the rules serve to facilitate gameplay, not to simulate the world. NOTE: Items in red have been violated.
Chris Perkins' DM Survival Tips:
1. When in doubt, wing it. 2. Keep the story moving. Go with the flow. 3. Sometimes things make the best characters. 4. Always give players lots of things to do. 5. Wherever possible, say ‘yes.’ 6. Cheating is largely unnecessary. 7. Don't be afraid to give the characters a fun new toy. 8. Don't get in the way of a good players exchange. 9. Avoid talking too much. 10. Save some details for later. 11. Be transparent. 12. Don't show all your cards. Words to live by.
Quotes From People Smarter Than Me:
"Essentials zigged, when I wanted to continue zagging..." -Foxface on Essentials "Servicing a diverse fan base with an RPG ruleset - far from being the mandate for 'open design space' and a cavalier attitude towards balance - requires creating a system that /works/, with minimal fuss, for a wide variety of play styles, not just from one group to the next, but at the same table." -Tony_Vargas on design "Mearls' and Cook's stated intent to produce an edition that fans of all previous editions (and Pathfinder) will like more than their current favourite edition is laudable. But it is also, IMO, completely unrealistic. It's like people who pray for world peace: I might share their overall aims, but I'm not going to hold my breath waiting for them to succeed. When they talk in vague terms about what they'd like to do in this new edition, I mostly find myself thinking 'hey, that sounds cool, assuming they can pull it off', but almost every time they've said something specific about actual mechanics, I've found myself wincing and shaking my head in disbelief and/or disgust, either straight away or after thinking about the obvious implications for half a minute." -Duskweaver on D&D Next
Thanks this is all very helpful. I heard e5 is being released this year so (assuming all the e4 books are incompatible with e5) I may hold off on buying many e4 stuff and rather just try squeeze as much as I can out of stuff I can find online.
Thanks this is all very helpful. I heard e5 is being released this year so (assuming all the e4 books are incompatible with e5) I may hold off on buying many e4 stuff and rather just try squeeze as much as I can out of stuff I can find online.


5e will be another 1-2 years yet at least.

I'd recommend the Essentials 'Heroes of...' and the Essentials DM's Kit. Both are quite cheap and will last you a year or so.

I was wondering should I stick with the character creation in the Red Box or the D&DI character builder and would it matter if we choose some classes that aren't included in the Red Box even if we didn't have the approproiate books to go with.

I am also thinking I will play DM so is there any advice for a first time DM and also any advice for a DM who also wants to play a PC (not at the same time if necessary).

Lastly do you guys have any advice at all for a group beginners who are diving right into D&D with no prior experience? 



to get the most of your money, if you want to dm, the dm kit is excellent

the red box pcs can be converted to heroes books using the link below; i also linked the page that has the document on it at the bottom. you wouldnt necessarily need to buy the books, you could just use the character builder and read class info off of the compendium

wizards.custhelp.com/ci/fattach/get/8096...

wizards.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/...

once you have these, the monster vault would be a good pick. both the dm kit and monster vault have good adventures for yalls levels


so to review, dm kit, check the document and update on character builder, monster vault


Due to the current mess that is the 4e product line, you'll get different advice from everyone that posts here.  Some of it won't be very good.  I'd stick with the advice from the poster above me and ignore any advice further up the thread that conflicts with that.  You've made smart choice in getting a DDI sub and avoiding buying too many extra products is wise at this point too.  I doubt 5e is much more than a year away - Christmas 2012 wouldn't be a crazy guess.

For the character builder, definitely use it from the start.  I'd suggest using the 'new' button initially (as opposed to 'custom').  This gives you a much simpler character creation process and the info that you get on the character sheet will be helpful for learning the rules.

Re. advice for a first time DM:


  • the DM should avoid playing a PC at the same time.  DMing is the most fun job at the table - you won't miss having a PC.

  • play through a couple of small encounters by yourself before you run a game.  Start with the solo adventure in the red box and then run a few extra encounters with a couple of PCs and a few monsters.  You'll learn the rules much, much more effectively this way and you'll be a lot more confident when it comes time to run your first game.

  • stay relaxed during the game and don't stress if you screw things up from time to time.  Remember it's not you vs. the players.

  • visit the 'What's a DM to Do?' forum and ask for help with anything that you struggle with prepping for your games or running them.  You'll get lots of friendly advice over there from some very experienced DMs.


Good luck!
thanks. keep in mind i love all 4e, its just my suggestions will give you the most bang for your buck. the products i mention are more than just books, they have adventures, tokens for monsters, maps, etc

once you have digested those products you can expand. theres tons of good books. i would suggest making the rules compendium the next book you buy. by that time you would also likely be inspired enough to expand your own campaign ideas. a campaign setting can be helpful. neverwinter campaign setting would be a good purchase-its level appropriate and it has updated monster statistics

for magic items, i would just use the online compendium; its comprehensive and youre already paying for it
I would agree with generally not having a PC if you are running a game, at least until you get some experience under your belt.  The only time I do is when the party needs a role filled (such as a controller, defender, leader, etc) and it is a small group that cannot fill all the needs.  But never, ever let an NPC trump the PCs.  Let the player characters make the decisions and only volunteer RP contributions if drafted by the PCs.  I usually make NPCs within the party shy, mute or something else like that so they can stay in the background and let the PCs shine.

The easiest thing in the world for a DM to do is railroad the party into a particular decision.  Always, always give them at least the illusion of free will.  If they want to ignore your plot hooks and explore the world finding random, unplanned encounters, let them.  A good DM eventually learns how to create situations that will successfully encourage PCs into taking the "proper" (ie DM planned plot hook) path.  If a party feels that they are being led around by the DM yanking them by their ears the game loses a lot of its mystery and excitement.

It is tough sometimes starting out to find the proper balance for encounters.  Make them to hard and players get frustrated, make them to easy and they get bored and lose interest.

When you blow a rule, admit it, hopefully as soon as possible and apologize.  Most of the time players will know it before you do and resent it if you deny it.  That said don't let the players yank control of the game and dictate how things will go.  Be firm, but fair, be willing to try and balance an incorrect ruling if possible during combat or give them a bonus after to compensate.  The most fun games for everyone is when RP and combat is challenging, but rewarding.  I actually have more fun creating the world and letting the players flesh it out as they stumble through it seeing some of the crazy ideas and plans they come up with as they advance.

The DM/PC relationship is not antagonisitic, but symbiotic.  neither has rewarding fun without the other and both are helping the other enjoy the game in their own individual way.  Remember the DM is a narrator, or a director of the film that unfolds as the PCs wander through it.

It sounds like you are off to a good start because you want to make it fun for both them and yourself.  Good luck and find out exactly what works for you and your group by trying different things!
One thing I'll disagree with from earlier advice: the list of monster books for the DM.

FIRST, get Monster Vault.

After that, if you want, get your choice (one or both) of Monster Manual 3 or the Dark Sun Creature Catalog.

If that still isn't enough, get Monster Manual 2 but recognise that it's of lower quality. (But don't you have a DDI account for full Online Compendium access before you get to here?)

And if you really want a complete collection of dead-tree 4E books, finally get Monster Manual 1 but don't bother opening it. It was a first try at getting the balance between PCs and monsters right and, well, they missed. They didn't get it right until MM3. And then Monster Vault redoes a lot of the creatures in MM1.
"The world does not work the way you have been taught it does. We are not real as such; we exist within The Story. Unfortunately for you, you have inherited a condition from your mother known as Primary Protagonist Syndrome, which means The Story is interested in you. It will find you, and if you are not ready for the narrative strands it will throw at you..." - from Footloose
It sounds like you are off to a good start because you want to make it fun for both them and yourself.  Good luck and find out exactly what works for you and your group by trying different things!



Also, hide your dice rolls behind a DM screen.  Occassionally if my group is breezing through encounter after encounter I will spice things up a little with a "fudge" and crit when I otherwise wouldn't to let them remember stuff happens.  Conversely, if my monsters get "too lucky" and I score multiple crits I have no problem with fudging a couple of those crits away (or missing entirely) to prevent a TPK.  Especially if the party was using smart tactics and playing their roles correctly.

That said I also let the PCs deal with logical consequences of their actions.  If they insult a king, expect to get thrown into a dungeon, if a 3rd lvl wizard wants to single handedly charge a horde of orcs I won't fudge my rolls to save him.  Stupid choices have tragic consequences (usually) and smart decisions are rewarded. 

 My advice is never fudge a die roll.  Instead if you find your PCs are breezing through encounters realize you are either not building tough enough encounters to challenge the group or not using good enough monster tactics to challenge the group.  Either reevaluate your encounter tactics to play creatures with a decent intelligence more intelligently or just up your standard encounter level by 1.  So if they are breezing through your encounters that are designed as the same level as the PCs are.  Make the encounters PC level +1 and continue adjusting until you find the right challenge level.  PCs that find the DM is fudging critical hits against the PCs will not be too happy with said DM.  PCs that find the DM is removing the challenge from fudging away critical hits will also not perceive any real threat, and probably get more upset at the DM if he ever does TPK the party.  On the side of monster tactics if you find you are not challenging the PCs because of poor tactics quit having your intelligent monsters just stand there and swing at the defender.  Make your ranged monsters attack any "squishy" target in range without cover instead of plunking arrows at the defender.  Start using positioning to get combat advantage.  Use your encounter powers.  The PCs will generally appreciate being challenged by the challenge put infront of them.  I'm not saying you can't use "easy" encounters just realize if the PCs are breezing through encounters it is probably something you are doing other than just rolling poorly.

On the book choices I don't have the essentials player's books, but I do recommend both the monster vault and the Monster Vault: Threats to the Nentir Vale.  The nentir vale book has the monsters listed in groups that can definately be used together as well as fluff that you can use to build a campaign with.  It is my favorite of the monster books between MM1, MM2, MM3, MV, and MV:TttNV.  Oh and monster tokens come with both since I assume you do not have a collection of miniatures.  I almost like the tokens better than miniatures for non BBEG monsters.   
Welcome to this wonderful hobby!

Here's my advice:

1. Don't worry about the next edition. It's at least 1.5 years out, if not more, so if you want to play D&D right now, play 4E.

2. Play through the Red Box and don't worry about inconsistencies with DDI. Use the options in the box first.

3. For beginners, I would suggest sticking with the Essentials line of products. For players, this means "Heroes of the Fallen Lands" and "Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms". Either one will do, having both offers more options. Having DDI, you can of course just make characters there, but the books take you through the steps nicely. Someone also needs to pick up a Rules Compendium (not necessarily you, the DM). Next, the DM's Kit is a good choice. It will give you lots of advice on how to run the game, has a DM screen (for looking up certain rules quickly) and, most importantly, an two-part adventure that you can play after the Red Box. I'm not sure if the tokens in the box cover all the monsters you need, but with the ones in the Red Box you should be fine.

4. Later on, you may want to add the Monster Vault (lots of useful monsters and tokens) and some Dungeon Tiles (however, these are easily replaced with a vinyl mat or simple sheets of grid paper).

5. Don't worry about getting things wrong; just have fun.
One thing I'll disagree with from earlier advice: the list of monster books for the DM.

FIRST, get Monster Vault.

After that, if you want, get your choice (one or both) of Monster Manual 3 or the Dark Sun Creature Catalog.

If that still isn't enough, get Monster Manual 2 but recognise that it's of lower quality. (But don't you have a DDI account for full Online Compendium access before you get to here?)

And if you really want a complete collection of dead-tree 4E books, finally get Monster Manual 1 but don't bother opening it. It was a first try at getting the balance between PCs and monsters right and, well, they missed. They didn't get it right until MM3. And then Monster Vault redoes a lot of the creatures in MM1.

Ok quick recap:
Get DM Kit, Monster Vault then use online resources and DDI to fill in gaps. Got it!
Is 5e really that far out? I'm in the same boat this guy is in but i assumed it would be sooner. I guess I'll check out this red box and subscribe.
Is 5e really that far out? I'm in the same boat this guy is in but i assumed it would be sooner. I guess I'll check out this red box and subscribe.

Yeah, maybe August of 2013 at the earliest, so the Essentials books are a pretty good bet. The boxed set parts will mostly be useful with any future game (IE maps and counters and whatnot, those are always handy, as are dungeon tiles).

So Heroes of the Fallen Lands/Forgotten Kingdoms are good for player books. DM kit has a good adventure and other bits and pieces plus advice and such. Monster Vault is great. Having a Rules Compendium is handy, but not vital, you can skip that for now.

You COULD buy earlier books if you're interested enough, but frankly you can use DDI Compendium/Character Builder and pretty much have all that information. Some of the 'DM Side' supplements are fun, like the Draconomicons and Open Grave, but not at all needed. They mostly have a lot of good fun info and ideas for making your own campaigns and adventures. I especially liked Demonomicon, many fun nasty things in there, and MM3 has plenty of good monsters with some fun lore (but they are all in the Compendium and Monster Builder too).

That is not dead which may eternal lie
Is 5e really that far out? I'm in the same boat this guy is in but i assumed it would be sooner. I guess I'll check out this red box and subscribe.


I'm betting that they're aiming to have 5e products on the shelves for Xmas 2012.  They're already far enough along to have 'friends and family' playtesting underway and open playtesting is starting in Spring.  It would be madness to announce a new edition more than a year ahead - pretty sure they see a major drop-off in sales as soon as everyone knows that a new edition is out soon.
Is 5e really that far out? I'm in the same boat this guy is in but i assumed it would be sooner. I guess I'll check out this red box and subscribe.


I'm betting that they're aiming to have 5e products on the shelves for Xmas 2012.  They're already far enough along to have 'friends and family' playtesting underway and open playtesting is starting in Spring.  It would be madness to announce a new edition more than a year ahead - pretty sure they see a major drop-off in sales as soon as everyone knows that a new edition is out soon.




This is what I've been thinking too. People predicting a year and a half left with 4E are going to be really disappointed.
Khyber is a dark and dangerous place, full of flame and smoke, where ever stranger things lie dormant.
If the new edition is a year or less away, then it's going to be an unmitigated disaster and a huge mess. This crowd-sourced design idea they're trying needs minimum 18 months to bear fruit, and unless Cook is even more arrogant than I think he is, Wizards should know that. 

My bet is GenCon 2013, at earliest. 2014 would be better. 
-m4ki; one down, one to go

"Retro is not new. Retro-fit is not new." --Seeker95, on why I won't be playing DDN

|| DDN Metrics (0-10) | enthusiasm: 1 | confidence in design: -3 | desire to play: 0 | Sticking with 4e?: Yep. | Better Options: IKRPG Mk II ||
The Five Things D&D Next Absolutely Must Not Do:
1. Imbalanced gameplay. Any and all characters must be able to contribute equally both in combat and out of combat at all levels of play. If the Fighters are linear and the Wizards quadratic, I walk. 2. Hardcore simulationist approach. D&D is a game about heroic fantasy. I'm weak and useless enough in real life; I play RPGs for a change of pace. If the only reason a rule exists is because "that's how it's supposed to be", I walk. I don't want a game that "simulates" real life, I want a game that simulates heroic fantasy. 3. Worshipping at false idols (AKA Sacred Cows). If the only reason a rule exists is "it's always been that way", I walk. Now to be clear, I have no problem with some things not changing; my issue is with retaining bad idea simply for the sake of nostalgia. 4. DM vs. players. If the game encourages "gotcha!" moments or treats the DM and players as enemies, adversaries, or problems to be overcome, I walk. 5. Rules for the sake of rules. The only thing I want rules for is the things I can't do sitting around a table with my friends. If the rules try to step on my ability to roleplay the character I want to roleplay, I walk. Furthermore, the rules serve to facilitate gameplay, not to simulate the world. NOTE: Items in red have been violated.
Chris Perkins' DM Survival Tips:
1. When in doubt, wing it. 2. Keep the story moving. Go with the flow. 3. Sometimes things make the best characters. 4. Always give players lots of things to do. 5. Wherever possible, say ‘yes.’ 6. Cheating is largely unnecessary. 7. Don't be afraid to give the characters a fun new toy. 8. Don't get in the way of a good players exchange. 9. Avoid talking too much. 10. Save some details for later. 11. Be transparent. 12. Don't show all your cards. Words to live by.
Quotes From People Smarter Than Me:
"Essentials zigged, when I wanted to continue zagging..." -Foxface on Essentials "Servicing a diverse fan base with an RPG ruleset - far from being the mandate for 'open design space' and a cavalier attitude towards balance - requires creating a system that /works/, with minimal fuss, for a wide variety of play styles, not just from one group to the next, but at the same table." -Tony_Vargas on design "Mearls' and Cook's stated intent to produce an edition that fans of all previous editions (and Pathfinder) will like more than their current favourite edition is laudable. But it is also, IMO, completely unrealistic. It's like people who pray for world peace: I might share their overall aims, but I'm not going to hold my breath waiting for them to succeed. When they talk in vague terms about what they'd like to do in this new edition, I mostly find myself thinking 'hey, that sounds cool, assuming they can pull it off', but almost every time they've said something specific about actual mechanics, I've found myself wincing and shaking my head in disbelief and/or disgust, either straight away or after thinking about the obvious implications for half a minute." -Duskweaver on D&D Next
 My advice is never fudge a die roll.  Instead if you find your PCs are breezing through encounters realize you are either not building tough enough encounters to challenge the group or not using good enough monster tactics to challenge the group.  Either reevaluate your encounter tactics to play creatures with a decent intelligence more intelligently or just up your standard encounter level by 1.  So if they are breezing through your encounters that are designed as the same level as the PCs are.  Make the encounters PC level +1 and continue adjusting until you find the right challenge level.  PCs that find the DM is fudging critical hits against the PCs will not be too happy with said DM.  PCs that find the DM is removing the challenge from fudging away critical hits will also not perceive any real threat, and probably get more upset at the DM if he ever does TPK the party.  On the side of monster tactics if you find you are not challenging the PCs because of poor tactics quit having your intelligent monsters just stand there and swing at the defender.  Make your ranged monsters attack any "squishy" target in range without cover instead of plunking arrows at the defender.  Start using positioning to get combat advantage.  Use your encounter powers.  The PCs will generally appreciate being challenged by the challenge put infront of them.  I'm not saying you can't use "easy" encounters just realize if the PCs are breezing through encounters it is probably something you are doing other than just rolling poorly.  



This is fair enough criticism for what I typed.  I should have made it clear that fudging is something you should only rarely do.  In extreme circumstances saving a TPK of a group that is at a critical juncture of quest is something that a DM should do if possible if he can do it with stealth.  Lose a PC or two?  Possible, have all but a couple PCs go unconcious?  Sure.  Allow a TPK of fairly inexperienced group of newbies because they are just learning and made some poor choices?  To be avoided if possible.  And if your limited help isn't enough, go back and have everyone reroll new characters.

My main point with that was on occassion be willing not to be boxed in and refuse to help a well run (or learning) group of PCs get past a bout of bad luck, or your own lack of experience running a game.  If it's not the party's fault don't punish them for it.  Try and let them have fun,  if they are being stupid, let them reroll a new character.  Yes some encounters will be easy, others harder.  Luck does play a roll, but you dont always have to let an unfortunate choice of an encounter by the DM leave a bad taste in the player's mouth.  At critical times a DM can choose to "save" the party or fudge things to make it interesting enough to add a real threat of PC death.  At least he can if the players really believe that they are ones responsible for saving themselves.  And let's face it ultimately they are.  If they are playing like a idiot and ignoring good advice they deserve their fate.  Thoughtful, coachable players will usually bail themselves out, IF given a chance to do so.

Thanks this is all very helpful. I heard e5 is being released this year so (assuming all the e4 books are incompatible with e5) I may hold off on buying many e4 stuff and rather just try squeeze as much as I can out of stuff I can find online.




I'd go with the essentials line, as it's fairly cheap. The DM kit and Monster Vault are awesome.

The DM screen in the DM kit is one of the handiest things I have at my table, and Monster Vault will provide you with tokens, adventures, general monsters and IIRC, at least one pre-drawn map. Which is cool.

This way, you really haven't spent much, you've got a good year or more worth of basic material, the resources other people have pointed you to will help you make your own adventures and world build, etc.

Then, if you and your group are enjoying it, check out DDI. It's suite of online tools will really enhance your game, without you having to shell out tons of money for books. You can build characters with access to everything that's official material.


The next iteration of DnD is at least a year away. At least. Probably more than two. You will have plenty of time to get good mileage out of your 4e books. :P


And use the forums! :P

If your group isn't all about fiddling with detailed optimization, you don't need to hang out in CharOp, but CharDev will certainly be a big help, and there are forums for player advice and DM advice.

Basically, have fun. You've got a huge pool of resources to help you.


If you like the idea of having a regular part of the cast to play, check out the companion character rules, and consider playing a companion character that is loyal to one of the PCs. Something like a squire or house retainer, younger sibling, etc.

froth gives good advice. There are many good products to chose from, and DDI is a great service. If you want a low price point, pay for one month, initially. Make characters, get things rolling. Make the characters in the builder, but copy them by hand onto blank character sheets, so you don't have to reprint or scribble over printed text as you level up. Builder will do all the math for you, so that helps.

At first, even if you use the builder, I'd stick to classes and races presented in books the group has direct access to. It's just easier.

Then, cancel the sub, if you want.


Also, one last thing! :P

Sign up for playtesting for dndnext. As new players coming into DnD fresh, your thoughts and experiences will be invaluable to the process of building a new iteration of DnD. :D


And remember, have fun! The rules are there to guide you, not box you in.
Skeptical_Clown wrote:
More sex and gender equality and racial equality shouldn't even be an argument--it should simply be an assumption for any RPG that wants to stay relevant in the 21st century.
104340961 wrote:
Pine trees didn't unanimously decide one day that leaves were gauche.
http://community.wizards.com/doctorbadwolf/blog/2012/01/10/how_we_can_help_make_dndnext_awesome
 My advice is never fudge a die roll.  Instead if you find your PCs are breezing through encounters realize you are either not building tough enough encounters to challenge the group or not using good enough monster tactics to challenge the group.  Either reevaluate your encounter tactics to play creatures with a decent intelligence more intelligently or just up your standard encounter level by 1.  So if they are breezing through your encounters that are designed as the same level as the PCs are.  Make the encounters PC level +1 and continue adjusting until you find the right challenge level.  PCs that find the DM is fudging critical hits against the PCs will not be too happy with said DM.  PCs that find the DM is removing the challenge from fudging away critical hits will also not perceive any real threat, and probably get more upset at the DM if he ever does TPK the party.  On the side of monster tactics if you find you are not challenging the PCs because of poor tactics quit having your intelligent monsters just stand there and swing at the defender.  Make your ranged monsters attack any "squishy" target in range without cover instead of plunking arrows at the defender.  Start using positioning to get combat advantage.  Use your encounter powers.  The PCs will generally appreciate being challenged by the challenge put infront of them.  I'm not saying you can't use "easy" encounters just realize if the PCs are breezing through encounters it is probably something you are doing other than just rolling poorly.  



This is fair enough criticism for what I typed.  I should have made it clear that fudging is something you should only rarely do.  In extreme circumstances saving a TPK of a group that is at a critical juncture of quest is something that a DM should do if possible if he can do it with stealth.  Lose a PC or two?  Possible, have all but a couple PCs go unconcious?  Sure.  Allow a TPK of fairly inexperienced group of newbies because they are just learning and made some poor choices?  To be avoided if possible.  And if your limited help isn't enough, go back and have everyone reroll new characters.

My main point with that was on occassion be willing not to be boxed in and refuse to help a well run (or learning) group of PCs get past a bout of bad luck, or your own lack of experience running a game.  If it's not the party's fault don't punish them for it.  Try and let them have fun,  if they are being stupid, let them reroll a new character.  Yes some encounters will be easy, others harder.  Luck does play a roll, but you dont always have to let an unfortunate choice of an encounter by the DM leave a bad taste in the player's mouth.  At critical times a DM can choose to "save" the party or fudge things to make it interesting enough to add a real threat of PC death.  At least he can if the players really believe that they are ones responsible for saving themselves.  And let's face it ultimately they are.  If they are playing like a idiot and ignoring good advice they deserve their fate.  Thoughtful, coachable players will usually bail themselves out, IF given a chance to do so.



While I believe I understand your point.  I do also believe there are times when saving the party from a TPK can seem like the thing to do.  My problem is with fudging die rolls in particular.  If the party finds out that sometimes the DM fudges die rolls, however infrequent, the party will start to question whether that critical hit was a real critical hit or not.  They will also start to question whether that miss when they were at 3 HP was really a miss or not.  I also feel creating critical hits that did not exist is just a poor way to "add a real threat of PC death."  It can be seen as nothing but arbitrarily punishing the PCs for overcoming the challenge with greater ease than you predicted they would.  Now the PCs have to waste healing surges they never should have because the DM decided the party overcame the challenge too easily.  I really don't see any benefit to doing so.  As DM I would just say good job to the party.  I thought that fight was going to be much harder for you than it was.  Basically what I'm saying is an artificial critical hit against the party in a fight the party is going to win anyway doesn't show a real threat of death, even if it is done to a PC it is going to kill or cause to be dying.  It just shows the party they are subject to the whims of the DM.  It isn't their story it is the DMs alone and he can do whatever he wants.

So yes, sometimes saving a party from death can be good.  I would suggest rather than fudging die rolls some other method of doing so be used.  Some group comes to the aid of the PCs as the last fell unconscious, the monsters decide to knock the players unconscious rather than kill them to imprison them, the BBEG becomes aware of a more pressing matter than killing this lowly adventuring party and tells his guards to finish them off while he leaves (early enough this still doesn't result in a definate TPK).  I also feel sometimes letting the party die can be a great backdrop to a new campaign in the same setting immediately following the previous party's failure.

Also as I said never fudge die rolls against the PCs.  I would go so far as to say never fudge anything against the PCs.  The DM has way to many options available to him to have to resort to fudging against the PCs.

Another alternative which I have used is let the PCs replay the encounter.  Particularly with new inexperienced players.  Is fudging die rolls going to help them learn to play better or is giving them a second chance in which they can try a different and hopefully better tactic going to teach them to play better?  Especially if you can point out places they did one thing and probably should have done something else. 
If the party finds out that sometimes the DM fudges die rolls, however infrequent, the party will start to question whether that critical hit was a real critical hit or not.  They will also start to question whether that miss when they were at 3 HP was really a miss or not.  I also feel creating critical hits that did not exist is just a poor way to "add a real threat of PC death."  It can be seen as nothing but arbitrarily punishing the PCs for overcoming the challenge with greater ease than you predicted they would.  Now the PCs have to waste healing surges they never should have because the DM decided the party overcame the challenge too easily.  I really don't see any benefit to doing so.  As DM I would just say good job to the party.  I thought that fight was going to be much harder for you than it was.  Basically what I'm saying is an artificial critical hit against the party in a fight the party is going to win anyway doesn't show a real threat of death, even if it is done to a PC it is going to kill or cause to be dying.  It just shows the party they are subject to the whims of the DM.  It isn't their story it is the DMs alone and he can do whatever he wants.

So yes, sometimes saving a party from death can be good.  I would suggest rather than fudging die rolls some other method of doing so be used.  Some group comes to the aid of the PCs as the last fell unconscious, the monsters decide to knock the players unconscious rather than kill them to imprison them, the BBEG becomes aware of a more pressing matter than killing this lowly adventuring party and tells his guards to finish them off while he leaves (early enough this still doesn't result in a definate TPK).  I also feel sometimes letting the party die can be a great backdrop to a new campaign in the same setting immediately following the previous party's failure.

Also as I said never fudge die rolls against the PCs.  I would go so far as to say never fudge anything against the PCs.  The DM has way to many options available to him to have to resort to fudging against the PCs.

Another alternative which I have used is let the PCs replay the encounter.  Particularly with new inexperienced players.  Is fudging die rolls going to help them learn to play better or is giving them a second chance in which they can try a different and hopefully better tactic going to teach them to play better?  Especially if you can point out places they did one thing and probably should have done something else. 



I do like some of your suggestions, some of which had never occurred to me.  The option of a 3rd party coming in and defeating their nearly victorious opponent after everyone had been knocked unconcious is very viable and elegant.  I like that one a lot.

Also keep in mind I only said that it was a rarely used option to either save the party from a wipe or keep the players from getting overconfident because of a string of extreme good luck on their part.  Over the course of my DM career I fudge maybe one out of 700-800 rolls, in other words, only when it is a campaign altering moment.  That translates out to only once a month or two.  And more importantly my party NEVER suspects that I did fudge it, that is as important as the fudge.  A majority of the time I roll in plain view of them, but sometimes I do roll when I am sitting behind my screen or a stack of books.  I have LOUSY luck generally, and the vast majority of the time my rolls are in their favor so they don't blink twice at the rare crit I actually do roll.

Their have been times I manufactured a crit or three for game balance as well.  One time in particular comes to mind.  The party went through 3 encounters in the session and through a combination of my usual horrid luck and their hot rolling only 2 party members had been hit at all, and for trifling damage at that. The encounters were properly designed and run, with good tactics on my part, it was just due to flukey dice rolls that they came through with virtually all their surges and daily powers unused heading in to the climactic combat of that part of the campaign.  So, I fudged a couple of my misses into crits.  I didn't consider it "punishing" the players, I looked at it as restoring some balance to the gameplay when they justifiably used a couple of surges and the fighter ended up finally blowing a daily to finish off the elite soldier of the encounter.  They SHOULD have had to use far more than that for one encounter, not to mention the other two.  That accomplished 2 things, first of all it stopped their overconfident swagger that WOULD have caused a TPK because they would have completely blown off the next (and climatic) encounter until it was to late.  Secondly since they lost a few healing surges and a daily power (the defender)  they had to think more soundly for the next battle and used much more sound tactics.

As a DM my philosophy is that I am there to guide and narrate, and at times to throw out a plot twist to keep things interesting.  I NEVER do anything to intentionally punish or retaliate against the PCs.  That is childish behavior and I would love to believe that anyone who has sat at my table knows I would be above that.

I know, I could just take my lousy luck into account when selecting warbands to oppose them, and I have tried this.  However, it seems like whenever I try this my luck swings the other way and.....TPK.  So, fudging one roll out of 400-500 times seems like the better solution for me.