Starting a new group with a bunch of people who have never played before

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Hey.
I've never played D&D before, we've made some homebrew games which were alright, but evidently lacked the depth and quality that a commercial game would provide...
So, tired of putting too much time into  making a flawed game, I've decided to go fork over some cash and buy the "real" thing.
Been doing some research for the last few days, and while it seems like a lot of people really don't like 4th edition for it's "simplicity", among many other complaints, a lot of people give it praise for eliminating some needless time consuming rules, as well as shortened battle times and what not... Which is all good with me.
So I haven't purchased anything yet. I do have tons of led "ral partha" pieces my brother bought 20 years ago, as well as a game box called "dragons quest". It contains a large game board, and a bunch of cardboard pieces for monsters.
I'm fine with this, but am willing to pay some extra cash if it really enhances the experience, or is necessary.
First things first, I know this isn't going to be cheap, and I'm fine with that. I DO, however, want to maximize the value of the amount I'm spending. There's so many books... And so revised books and what not... Just don't want to buy something that "wasn't the best choice".
I know I need a DM handbook, since I will be DMing... From my understanding there's Dungeon's master guide 1 and 2.
Now, does the 2nd edition contain revised rules? More rules? Do I need both? Is one perceived better than the other? Are there compatability issues with the second edition and the first edition for the players handbook?
The same goes with the Players handbook, I know there's 3. Which should I buy? I've read some reviews that the third one isn't that great. Some of the classes are cheezy. Do I need all 3? Or does the third one have the contents of the first 2, AND MORE?
Same questions for Monster manual.

Should I just buy this: www.amazon.ca/Dungeons-Dragons-Edition-R...
From my understanding it's just the first of each 3 of those books... But the price seems right.

So I know I need all 3 of those books, what are good recommendations for other purchases?
I'm guessing I should get a DM screen which is pretty inexpensive so I don't mind.
I'd like to start with a campaign for low level characters...
Anything else?
Forgive my ignorance, some of these questions just aren't addressed, or I haven't found the answers to them.
I realise there's a "New to D&D thread", and while I skimmed it, I couldn't find the answers to my questions.
Thanks for the help, looking forward to playing.

PS, to anyone suggesting I find a group, I've looked. Couldn't find in Vancouver, BC.
Well, the 3 'core books' for 4e would be PHB (often referred to as PHB1), DMG (also usually called DMG1), and MM (again, usually called MM1). I will just say however that MM1 is generally inferior to Monster Vault (there is also a 2nd Monster Vault: Threats to Nentir Vale which is a follow on). Monster Vault has an adventure, I think a map of some kind, and a bunch of tokens (which you can use in place of minis). PHB2 is a good book, with many iconic classes and races, etc. PHB3 is a bit more niche, but has some good stuff, you don't really NEED it though. MM3 is good and supplements MV pretty well. MM2 monsters are kind of in-between. In any case MV overlaps a lot with MM1 and some with MM2. You're probably better off just getting a DDI subscription if you get to the point of wanting that many monsters anyway. You might also consider other books at some point, like MME (Mordenkainen's Magnificent Emporium, contains many items and new equipment etc, overlaps a lot with Adventurer's Vault 1&2, which you might want but probably don't need).

There are also a set of softcover books/boxes, Essentials. This is somewhat of an alternate set of books, but can be used with the hardback books. There are 2 Heroes of books(Fallen Lands and Forgotten Kingdoms) which have classes and races. There is a DM's Kit, which presents a subset of DMG material, an adventure, and some tokens, maps, and a DM screen. Then there is MV and MV:TtNV. There is also a Rules Compendium, which reprints updated rules from various places, basically most of the core rules. It is a handy reference but nothing in it can't be found elsewhere, so it isn't required. It is good though if you have PHB and DMG and not all the Essentials books.

Post-Essentials books like Heroes of Shadow, Heroes of the Feywild, Heroes of the Elemental Chaos, etc to some extent lean on classes from Essentials, but contain a mix of support for core and Essentials classes. They are good books, but a few things in them may not be fully usable without the 2 softcover Heroes of books.

You may want to buy an erasable square ruled 'battle mat' such as the type Chessex etc sell, which work with erasable markers. WotC doesn't sell one, but there are many choices from stores or online. WotC does sell 'Dungeon Tiles' and has put out a LOT of different sets. These are modular map pieces you can combine and rearrange to make various maps. They aren't bad, though the cost does add up and I personally find them less flexible than a mat. OTOH they are quick to set up and obviate the need to draw anything on the mat.

Basically DMG1, PHB1, and MV will run you something like 60 bucks. Toss in 15 for a mat and markers and you're ready to go assuming you have dice. If you get Essentials books the 2 Heroes of books, a DMK, and MV will also probably run you in the $60 or so range these days. You do end up with a couple adventures and other extra goodies there, but the Essentials stuff is a bit less comprehensive (no rules for ritual magic for instance). Either way you're good to go.
That is not dead which may eternal lie
Awesome response, thanks for taking the time to help!
So my understanding is if I were to start from scratch, it's a good idea to get:
PHB 1 and 2 (3's not necessary, the only class I was interested in from that book was the monk anyways)
And PHB 1 and 2 are different, right, or does PHB2 cover PHB1?
Should I get DMG1 and 2, or is the second sufficient? What's the difference?
And I appreciate the tip about monsters vault. So, MM3 doesn't have any of the creatures from MM1 or MM2, right? But MV covers the majority of those?
This is going to be tough. I wish I could just find a group to get the feel for it first :\
Just to elaborate some stuff: Monster Manual 1, 2, 3 all contain different monsters. Essentially they are 3 seperate books which have a plethora of monsters to pick from and stat blocks so you can easily and handily create encounters for your party. That said MM1 has bad math so nobody likes that book. Monster Vault and MM3 have updated math so they run better.

PHB 1 has the Arcane, Divine and Martial power sources. It has Humans, Dwarves, Elves, Eladrin, Dragonborn, Half-Elf, Halfling and Tiefling races and many standard classes like Fighter, Wizard, Ranger, Paladin and Rogue, but lots of others too.

PHB2 has the "new" primal power source. It brings in a few of the "remaining" core classes like the Bard, Druid, and Barbarian. It also has Shaman and Warden and Invoker and other classes. The races are Deva, Gnome, Half-Orc, Goliath and Shifter...so it has different content from PHB1 entirely.

PHB3 deals with Psionics and gives u Githyanki, Minotaur, and 2 other races. It gives u most noteably the Monk and many more psionic classes like the Ardent and Battlemind. I think Runepriests come from there too.

Then there are campaign settings books which are little sub-worlds with their own backstory, their own setting and their own races like Eberron, Dark Sun and Forgotten Realms. These gives extra classes and races to be used in conjunction with the PHB/DMG core set.

The Heroes of Shadow/Elemental Chaos/Feywild as well as Arcane/Martial/Primal/etc... Power give you in some cases new Races, and new classes as well as additional builds for existing classes. Basically just more options. Get these if you feel your party mostly like Arcane or Shadow or Primal or Divine classes. If it's all even they're fun and yay options but you don't need them by any means.

Essentials is basically the PHB but sort of revamped where instead of the At-Will/Encounter/Daily/Utility bit you pretty much run on melee basic attacks and nobody really gets dailies. It's kind of dumbed down, but it is good and also it can supplement your options if you get the PHB 1 or 2.

So basically phb 1 dmg 1 and mm3 are what u rly want and everything else is just straight up more options.

See the way it works is Player's Hand Book 1 is the "core" of the game. It comes with all the rules, step by step character creation, and it holds your hand through the game. It shows you all the combat rules, all the basic equipment and pretty much all the basics you need to know to play the game. it's a little outdated but honestly, the rules work so if you don't want a million pages of errata the game should work just fine anyway.

PHB2 and 3 assume you already have PHB1 so they don't cover basic equipment, rules, and all that. They just give more classes and races and magical items options for the most part.

Monster Manuals are the same way, they are 3 different books with entirely different contents all with 1 thing in common: tons of monsters. But different monsters.

DMG 1 teaches you how to DM, and DMG2 gives you more supplemental ideas and advice on how to run a game and more in depth stuff if I'm not mistaken.

Basically the books are not retroactive. They don't reprint already printed stuff. D&D is progressive, all new books don't cover old material, they just add to it.  If you have PHB1, DMG1 and MM3 (for the math) then you should be a-okay. That said, every single book you purchase after those will just give you a multitude of more options and add to what you already have.

Remember, the books never rewrite things from the past, they assume you already have it, and just give more options.

HOWEVER, each books is also stand-alone, so you don't need every single book. The only ties the books have are to the core books. Think of it like a wheel. The center of the wheel is the PHB1 DMG1, and the other books are spokes, they all connect to the center, and on the outside they all connect together, but each spoke is seperate so you don't need them all. You'll just have a really empty wheel ;)

Haha I joke, PHB1 and 2 along with DMG1 and 2 and Monster Vault as you were planning to play will give you:

Dwarf, Dragonborn, Elf, Eladrin, Human, Halfling, Half-Elf, Tiefling, Gnome, Shifter, Half-Orc, Goliath, Deva and maybe one or two others races I forgot as well as Paladin, Fighter, Druid, Bard, Barbarian, Cleric, Warlock, Warlord, Shaman, Warden, Ranger, Rogue, Wizard, and many more classes. Plenty of options aye?  The two DMG's will give you every information you could want about running a game, and the Monster Vault will give you plenty of baddies to fight. 
I am Red/Green
I am Red/Green
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I'm both instinctive and emotional. I value my own instincts and desires, and either ignore or crush anything that stands in my way; planning and foresight are unnecessary. At best, I'm determined and fierce; at worst, I'm headstrong and infantile.


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

Awesome response! Thanks! I know what to buy! Any particular first level campaign to recommend? Or any other books that'll help? I saw a few for the dm to help. And I should probably buy a screen, ya??
lol you could buy a screen...or you could probably just find a nice box flap and fold it 3 ways XD, or maybe staple some heavy contruction paper together. What ever is your style tbh.

As far as campaigns, I never really actually bought any of the premade ones, I just do homebrew made up stuff, but my favorite campaign setting is Dark Sun :D If that's of any use at all.

 
I am Red/Green
I am Red/Green
Take The Magic Dual Colour Test - Beta today!
Created with Rum and Monkey's Personality Test Generator.
I'm both instinctive and emotional. I value my own instincts and desires, and either ignore or crush anything that stands in my way; planning and foresight are unnecessary. At best, I'm determined and fierce; at worst, I'm headstrong and infantile.


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

I would like to offer a different opinion.


I recommend to anyone who asks that you start with D&D Essentials: Heroes of the Fallen Lands and D&D Essentials: DM Kit, and a set or two of dice.

Then, after finishing the adventure included in the dm kit, add on D&D Essentials: Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms,  and D&D Essentials: Monster Vault.  Don't worry that the adventure is for level 2 characters. It can be done easily by level 1.


Essentials was created specifically for newer players. It also corrects several problems with the original hardcover books. The rules are the same, so you can add PHB 2&3 and Monster Manual 2&3 for more variety whenever you feel like it.

You may want to buy an erasable square ruled 'battle mat' such as the type Chessex etc sell, which work with erasable markers. WotC doesn't sell one, but there are many choices from stores or online. WotC does sell 'Dungeon Tiles' and has put out a LOT of different sets. These are modular map pieces you can combine and rearrange to make various maps. They aren't bad, though the cost does add up and I personally find them less flexible than a mat.



This is spot on. Consider a dry erase battlemap.
Cool! What does essentials provide thats different? I got 2 sets of dice already .
And a game board. Why is an erasable board better. For visuals?
I don't want to play a game "for dummies". Im willing to read for hours to get the hang of it if that's what essentials is... Like a dumbed down version.
Well...essentials is not dumbed down, as in "less than". It's still 4th edition, it just comes at a different design philosophy.

It's an ode, or a "shout out" to older editions. Every D&D game before this all the martial classes basically ran on basic attacks. Melee or ranged. To compensate they would get extra feats, or extra little spells, but 90% of combat was, "I swing my sword/dagger/launch an arrow" round after round. There was no footwork lure or dazing people or knocking them prone or dailies/encounters/at-wills as we know them in 4th ed.

Essentials classes mix 4th ed and old editions. You still get at-wills and encounters but there is much more basic attacking and no dailues for martial classes.

However some classes are split, like the Knight and the Slayer. One is a DPS fighter and the other is a tank. The Rogue becomes a Thief. The Wizard gets a remake and becomes a mage with a specialty in certain schools and spell types.

Basically same classes with a little "remake" so to speak. Make sense?
I am Red/Green
I am Red/Green
Take The Magic Dual Colour Test - Beta today!
Created with Rum and Monkey's Personality Test Generator.
I'm both instinctive and emotional. I value my own instincts and desires, and either ignore or crush anything that stands in my way; planning and foresight are unnecessary. At best, I'm determined and fierce; at worst, I'm headstrong and infantile.


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

Yes! Great responses. Hope my questions aren't a bother. I found a red box for the essentials. Should I pass on this? Pretty pricy too!
My bad. I don't think it's part of the essentials.
You guys have helped a ton. I really appreciate it and hope me and my buddies can pick this up and play for many of hours. I want my girlfriend to enjoy it too as she enjoyed my homebrew game. And it's not to say she's not as smart as I, therefore can't learn, i fear she won't have the patience I do.
One more question, there's a rules compendium for the essentials. Should I pass on this?
Yes! Great responses. Hope my questions aren't a bother. I found a red box for the essentials. Should I pass on this? Pretty pricy too!

Red Box is an introductory product. It lets you play a couple of classes and races for 2 levels and gives you a sort of solo adventure/character generation, plus some dice and whatnot. It was basically designed as a 'ready-to-go' intro so that you can crack it open and play a bit right away. Good thing to buy for kids. I think they're a bit hard to find now though. In any case RB doesn't have anything unique in it, once your PCs are ready for 3rd level you just go buy Essentials Heroes of books etc. If you're already sold on playing D&D it isn't really needed.

The Essentials Rules Compendium reproduces rules that are also found in Heroes of books and the DMK. It is most useful for people that have PHB1 because it contains all the updated general rules. There's nothing in it you really NEED if you have the other Essentials books. I find it convenient, but I also never bothered to get the DMK since I have all the core books. So, yeah, you probably don't need it, though as a quick reference it isn't bad.

That is not dead which may eternal lie

I would pick up the Rule Compendium, it is a digest format soft cover so its easy to carry around and has all the rules, errata'd and up to date.  It is an excellent book and is cheap compared to most D&D books.  


Also if you are starting with new players, the two essentials "Heroes of ..." books might be better than the PHB's because of a simpler presentation of classes.  If you want to move to more content, consider a DDI subscription.  It gets you the Character Builder, online compendium, monster generator, Dungeon, and  Dragon.  Having the character builder is about like having all the PHB's plus the classes, feats, backgrounds and themes from the various setting books and Dragon without having to buy all the books.


Another great feature of the Monster Vault and DM's Kit that weren't mentioned was that both come with cardboard tokens that can be used inplace of mini's and each has a doublesided fold out map that goes with the enclosed adventure.


Good luck,


TjD

Very cool. Thanks for the responses. Still undecided about the rules compendium. I won't be needing to carry it around. And if I've got all the info already don't need. But if it's presented with more common rules in an easy to read fashion I might get it. Maybe I'll start with everything else suggested and if I'm having trouble I'll order one. Thx for everything. Hopefully one day I can find a group around here too.
I was pursuaded to go the Essentials route at the beginning, and while not a bad option, I ended up getting the core books anyway and use them almost exclusively now. I don't really follow the errata as there is a lot of it and can't be bothered to go through it all.

In my opinion, the Red Box is an excellent starter set. It is cheap, comes with an adventure, dice, tokens, maps, instructions, power cards. Basically, eveything you need to start playing . But it all stops when you reach level 3 and you then need to get the core books or the Essential books and create a whole new character.

What I would suggest is get the three core books PHB1 DMG1 and a MM (probably 3 as it is highly regarded. I don't have it so I can't comment, but you don't really need the first one as it is basically a list of monsters and their stats. PHB1 and DMG1 are needed as they have the rules of the game in them).

As for an adventure the first published 4e one 'Keep On The Shadowfell' is available as a free download PDF on the Wizards site. Not played it yet, but it's free so why not go ahead and get it? DMG1 has a short dungeon crawl at the end which is alright for learning the crunch. And if you get the Red Box, the adventure in there is also okay.

I've been toying with the idea of getting a erasable mat for a while. It is cheap and can be found in loads of places and you can draw your maps on there and wipe them off afterwards. I've got a few dungeon tiles and they're also good, but can get pricey. A screen is not necessary, but the official ones have a load of information on the reverse that you can quickly glance at during a session, so it is useful.
What's errata?
What's errata?

Updates that come out after things are published. In this day of easy digital distribution WotC has been quite liberal with updating in-print material. The errata (really more than just errata, but that's a good name for it) for PHB1, MM1, and DMG1 runs to a good 30 pages or so. Much of it is just minor fixes for powers and whatnot that corrects things that were a little too good or didn't quite work the way they were intended.

Also when they put out Essentials they revised the wording of a bunch of the core rules somewhat. Most of the changes aren't major, but they did heavily revise the rules for hiding for instance. The original printed rules work fine though. You may just find a few powers are a decent amount better or worse than others, and a really clever player can optimize their character a bit more than would be ideal. Starting players aren't likely to cause that kind of problem (and you can always download the errata document and thwart them if they do, lol).

Having a Rules Compendium does mean less reference to the errata if you use it.
That is not dead which may eternal lie
Cool.
Still not entirely sure what the Rules Compendium is exactly.
I'm assuming it's just a quicker reference to rules.
I did find a wicked deal at a local store, so I think I'm going to pick up the 4 essentials, and order the rules compendium online as it's only $13 on the american amazon.
Really appreciate all the help. Really looking forward to playing.
Hopefully I'll get the hang of DMing without any playing experience :D
So, next question, once I've purchased the dm kit, the monster vault, the and the two essential heroe's of books, where do I start?
Start reading the DM kit book?
The Rules Compendium is the only part of the Essentials range I would consider to be essential. It is a handy quick reference guide for all the general rules of the game. Not 'needed' like the core books are, and, admittedly it is basically reprinting a lot of what is in those books, but as a reference guide it's a lot easier to carry around to the host's house than a load of hardbacks.

I would personally start by reading the player's guides (if you're going for the Essentials range then that'd be the Heroes Of... books). This will give you an introduction into being a player which is by far the easiest thing to do in DND. Once you understand that, then move on to reading the DM book to get the hang of actually running the game.
The Rules Compendium is the best rules rescources Wizards has put out.  If there is a rule in the game it is in that book.

I as well consider it the only essential book to have at the table.  I would never run a game without it again.

Start reading the DM book but also just jump in and start playing.  Learning the rules in a vacum only gets you so far.  The best way to really learn how they work is run a simple combat and make some mistakes. 
Cool.
Ordered the rules compendium from amazon.
Have 5 components. Will play this weekend!
Any tips for DMing before our session?
Keep your story simple and have your maps pre-drawn.  I know when I was just starting out I was always pausing to draw things and it really seemd to interrupt focus for my brand new group.  As you get better at DMing you will get better at "winging it"

Also, reisist the tempation to launch into some sort of mega, long-running campaign from the start.  As you and your player's learn how the game works what you want out of it may change and mutate, this is good.

If you are running a pre-published adventure, try to get to know it fairly well.  You don't need to memorize it but it would be good to know the crucial information that needs to be imparted to the players at each scene.  I recommend making it easy for them to follow the story so they stay interested.

One last thing, your first combats will take a very long time.  There is little you can do to mitigate this as you learn the system.  Don't expect to get very far.

And the most important piece...HAVE FUN.  That is the reason (I hope) you are getting into D&D.  If you or your players are not haveing fun, see what you all can do to make it better. 
wicked.
very stoked to get started =D
Cool.
Ordered the rules compendium from amazon.
Have 5 components. Will play this weekend!
Any tips for DMing before our session?



When in doubt, kill the wizard!



No, just kidding. 
I think you've ended up with a pretty solid set of books to get started with.  A few ideas for where to go from here:

1. Listen to at least the first four podcasts from Series 1 of the Penny Arcade series here: www.wizards.com/dnd/podcasts.aspx  You'll learn a huge amount about how to play the game and how to be a good DM in the process, and they're pretty funny too.
2. Read through your Rules Compendium or at least the How to Play section of one of the 'Heroes of..' books.
3. Play through a combat or two by yourself.  Even if it's just throwing a few monsters up against each other.  You'll learn much more effectively from playing than you will from reading - and it's more fun.
4. Pay for a 1 month DDI subscription and download an adventure or two to get your players to level 2; then run the adventure in the DM's Kit from there.  You can also use the character builder to make character sheets for your players that will make learning the game easier.

Good luck