Quest for 5e testing resources for a two n00b couple

My wife and I are both very new to D&D. I've played two games, and she joined our group on the second. The guys we were playing with are distinctly not interested in 5e. That's cool, this isn't about edition wars, but to quote Mike Mearls on the Gencon Keynote panel, "... D&D Next, at the end of the day is D&D." I have expectations of things D&D Next based on technology that simply did not exist when even 4e was published, but that is for other threads.

  1. My wife and I have dice, we do not have token sets or miniatures. No play mats or sets of anything else. There is a "Beginner's Box" offered by 'some other company' on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9KPv80QsBfI that looks pretty much like what we would need to really playtest 5e if I got the box and set aside the books. Does that make sense? Is there a WotC version of this? I would prefer to throw money at WotC if that is what will help me get to the point of playtesting 5e, but throwing out the other company's books and using the resources in the box appears the most straightforward way to get token/ miniatures and a battle mat. A 'win' for me is if I knew what used "Beginner's Box" for 3.5e I could purchase off eBay so I would have the 3.5e books plus hardware for the 3.5e group I just started with, but it looks like "Redbox" skipped the 3.5e release. I'm really new at all this, please forgive my ignorance. But if I could buy that other company's Beginner's Box with the 3.5 ruleset, and if the hardware in that "Beginner's Box" was enough for me to go through 5e testing without wondering what to do, I would be very happy. Of course, if anyone has ideas on how I could get just the hardware cheap, that beats searching for freebie tokens and taping together grid paper to make up the Blingdenstone Adventure included in the packet.

  2. I believe I am up to learning multiple rulesets and that the differences are not so much they would be a problem for me. I'm quite sure the 3.5 guys in the group will prevent me from exercising any 5e rules that do not apply. I don't know how big a deal this will be for my wife, however. Are the differences between the 3.5e and 5e rulesets so different that it would cause problems for someone just learning the game?

  3. There is a joke that ends with the punchline, "Oh, you can wear whatever you want, 'cause it's just going to be you and me!" Not only are my wife and I both learning the game fresh, at the moment it looks like it will be just the two of us. Would anyone have resources on strategies for a GM running a PC with one other PC? Is it possible for us to run our 'upgraded' Sorc and Druid... no druids yet... Fighter? Is it possible for me to actually have this thing work in a way that we can both learn, enjoy, and help test 5e as n00bs without having more pain than any realistic gain?


Thank you for considering how I can get the hardware resources to participate in this playtest, and what strategy I can use for a "Just you and me" game with my wife.
Go here to sign up for playtesting and download the packet.
 http://wizards.com/DnD/DnDNext.aspx

Its a bit spare at the moment since this is early testing but I bet the R&D guys would love input from completely fresh/new players.
There is no Beginner's Box or Redbox for Next as its not even close to publication yet. 
Hope that helps. 
Tokens/minis shouldn't be required for 5e... one of the design goals is that combat can easily be run in a "theater of the mind" style (basically, you imagine what happens). Dunno about the best options if you did want to use them, but the game doesn't require them.
You might try looking for a group already playtesting 5e. I know gaming stores usually have at least some idea of how to find a group if there isn't a regular group at the store. You might also look online, though I don't know the best sites for that. This would solve the problem of only having one player. Otherwise I'd suggest letting her run multiple characters at the same time. I know that is usually a bad idea for a first timer, but the way 5e looks right now, I doubt it'd be possible to run with only one character, I'd say you need at least 3 or 4.

As for the differences between editions... It shouldn't cause too many issues. If you're playing a wizard you have some different types of powers. Skills are pretty different, but it won't be hard to tell them apart for right now. Fighters in 5e have some dfferent mechanics, but again it is just reminding yourself what you can and can't do...

I'd make notes on your character sheets, "in 5e I can do this, but in 3.5 I can't" or something simliar just in case you forget. But like you said, your group should help you differentiate.

Hope I helped a little


  1. My wife and I have dice, we do not have token sets or miniatures. No play mats or sets of anything else. There is a "Beginner's Box" offered by 'some other company' on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9KPv80QsBfI 




Don't get the 3.75e(as my players call it) box if you are getting DnD 5e. Though since you said your interested in other systems I won't stop you if you want to do that. Its was written for the 3.5e crowd, because it is a continuation of 3rd it adds more classes and tactics than those used in 3.5e.

If you can find a box that gives you miniatures that would be great, dungeon command could help with this since it has minis. DnD Essentials' Red Box uses tokens but it doesn't come with enough to play a long game.

I suggest using dice, we played using dice for the longest time before I bought tokens and a dry erase game board(paizo made it). Dice are just to visualize where everything is. My DM actually uses graph paper, but it takes too long to pass the map around the table so people know where everyone is.

2. Are the differences between the 3.5e and 5e rulesets so different that it would cause problems for someone just learning the game?


Yes, not this is what my friends have said to me, it is not a generalization. They are ticked off about how skill ranks work now, now you can only train skills or up them +1 every 2 levels. They dislike how Wizards can always cast lvl 0 spells. They dislike how feats are now specialties.

They love backgrounds though. And they do like how fragile their characters are. 

Ant Farm
Go here to sign up for playtesting and download the packet.
 http://wizards.com/DnD/DnDNext.aspx

Its a bit spare at the moment since this is early testing but I bet the R&D guys would love input from completely fresh/new players.
There is no Beginner's Box or Redbox for Next as its not even close to publication yet. 
Hope that helps. 



Thank you. I already have the test packet, and my wife is signed up. I think that is part of the problem. I have the expectation of playing the game out the way I see it from the Pathfinder's Beginners Box. I do understand DnD Next is not even close to publication, nevermind having a Beginners Box released. I have it in my mind everyone else has all the goodies of minis and a game board, and perhaps that is not the correct approach, but such is my ignorance of how things ought to work vs. my expectations.

@Koga305, I must apologize. I'm a n00b, and I don't have the practical experience of being with gamers that can help wetnurse me towards doing Theater of the Mind. I wish I were in a 5e group that could help, and I can picture things pretty well such as reading a fictional book passage. Unfortunately, I have to side with Dungeon B___tard as he communicates in his video www.youtube.com/watch?v=6znZ3iLiPD4 and for the same reasons. That is also why I hope on the next playtest packet WotC breaks maps out in a way that I can print them out as battle mats and use them, instead of looking at pages with, "What do I do!? WHAT DO I DO!?!?"

@Chaosmancer, thank you for your suggestions. I'm not sure my wife is going to be up to running multiple characters. We are involved in this to spend time together, as well as to get out of the house and spend time with other people, but D&D as a whole is not quite in her interests. Perhaps as we play she may get the bug. At this time, she doesn't have it. So I want to keep her burden down to a minimum both in terms of what she has to learn and in what she has to manage. We both work full-time jobs, and 'fun' that borders on being 'work' is not so much fun. Fortunately for me, I think our group is willing to accept significantly better aspects of 5e play as long as everyone knows in advance and the GM has approved it and it doesn't unbalance play. I'm very interested in 5e's take on Sorcs with a draconic heritage. But I have to get practical experience on how this all works together.

@DontEatRawHagis you have a bold idea I ought to look at. I don't know if Paizo still makes what you said, but I ought to be able to get a small table size plain dry-erase board, score a 1" grid on it, and I can bring it to Game Night or have for my personal use at home. I can see possibilities with a 'homebrew' battle board, and I can use that for 5e testing.

I'm not entirely certain what my 3.5e group is going to do in the long run, though I'm certain they have no interest in 5e. I can see 5e being released as an app with modules people can purchase, so instead of having a heaving bookshelf of rulebooks and suppliments, I can have it all on a tablet with the means to quick search or the ability to purchase race stats not included in my current bundle. I see an app that will allow me to roll & print up character sheets using what modules I've purchased, something like the current Wizard's Adventure Tool stuff does, only on my app and stored off-line where I can't get WiFi. I see a ton of things that 'might be' with 5e and new available tech that were simply not on the table when 4e was published, nevermind the other editions. I want those things.

The trick is in the getting there. Thank you everyone for your input. I'll see how I can wade through this to be able to contribute to the discussion of 5e. 
You know what I love? How we bicker and fight, but at the end of the day everyone is nice to the new guy It really shows that there is a good community beneath it all.
My two copper.
You know what I love? How we bicker and fight, but at the end of the day everyone is nice to the new guy It really shows that there is a good community beneath it all.


 
We don't want to scare the fresh meat, errr... I mean nice new people, away. Smile

If your looking for a mat or game board to use, any of the D&D map token, things, I forget what they are called and minis can work well for anything. Or go to www.chessex.com/ these guys are the be all and end all of dice but have things like mats. I've been using mine since 2nd editions.
Also, if you want nice minatures, and enjoy painting them, try out www.reapermini.com/, the Dark Legends miniatures. They have great stuff, personally I like Bobby Jackson and Sandra Garrity's stuff the best.
If you insist on miniatures and maps, you can buy any number of paper miniatures and battle maps from existing companies for relatively cheap, including Paizo, but certainly not limited to them.  You certainly don't need them.  Hell, that's mostly limited to D&D and it's spin-offs - play a game of most other RPG's and you'll likely not have miniatures at all as most RPG's don't encourage their use.

Now, if you do buy other companies minatures and maps, obviously, they will not be specifically for the Caves of Chaos adventure, but you can improvise it - and pardon my  boldness and bluntness, but that seems to be your problem here.  You feel uncomfortable improvising things.  You don't need a 5E group to teach you that, you just need to do it.  The more you improvise, like all other skills, the better you get at it.

As for it just being you and your wife, and her not being into it, again pardon my boldness/bluntness, but in my experience with female gamers you have one of two situations with female gamers - either the girls want exactly what the guys want out of the D&D experience and actually resent you trying to customize it to a female viewpoint, or you've got the more social gamer on your hands and you're simply mistaking that for "female gamer syndrome"(TM). Laughing  What that means is that there are some gamers out there that don't want to murder everyone they meet and take their stuff, it's not a female thing, it's a personality thing, so try adding more social interation (roleplay, less roll-play) to your game and that may rectify everything.  If not, she's just likely not one of the few people on the planet that actually enjoy roleplaying games - and that's ok too, it's a niche hobby after all.  If she doesn't like it, well she just needs to find her own hobby to indulge in while you indulge in yours.
First: I think in many ways Theater of the Mind is easier, given a system that supports it.  5e seems to be just such a system.  3e and 4e most definitely are not, maps are pretty much required.  At the other extreme is 13th Age (tip: They're having a Kickstarter right now, and if you pledge $50, even if you subsequently cancel your pledge, you get a copy of the beta rules.  They're very interesting, I'd almost say required reading for evaluating Next).  If you're planning on playing 3e/4e/Pathfinder, the Flip-Mat and a pack of wet-erase pens is definitely a worthwhile investment.

Minis, however, are expensive and totally optional.  Use dice for enemies--I bought a few packs of d6's from the Dollar Tree to get six each of six colors; by turning each one to a different number I can track 36 individual monsters, which is hard to do with minis.  Colored pipe cleaners, cut and made into 1" diameter rings, are great for noting conditions.

For PC's or the occasional important NPC or boss, my tip is to find art similar to your character, or use HeroMachine or screenshots from any appropriate video game with customizable characters.  Print them out in 1" wide strips with two printouts attached vertically, head to head, with 1" margins below the feet on each side.  Fold in half, then fold the margins inward.  Tape the margins together so the whole thing makes a triangle when you view it from the side.  Then tape a weight (quarters work well) to the base so it stays standing up.

Edit: Oh yeah, you had other questions.  I wouldn't try to learn two editions at once, it will get confusing.  I get confused and I've had years to get used to all the differences.

As for one-on-one DMing, I recommend the "Kandi and Pepper" sections of this thread: community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/758... 

"Edison didn't succeed the first time he invented Benjamin Franklin, either." Albert the Alligator, Walt Kelly's Pogo Sunday Book  
The Core Coliseum: test out your 4e builds and fight to the death.

I like how 4E Essentials gave us 'games in a box'.

Even if you just get the Red Box (it's cheap) it will give you tokens for players and for monsters. It also has a map that you can use for other encounters.

 I have the Dungeon Master's Kit and Monster Vault as well, so that adds a lot of tokens for me. That starts to get expensive if you don't plan on playing 4E however.

For me 4E is still a better fit for my game since my daughter was drawn to the game because of the maps and figures.    
Ohh...I forgot to mention something. Like others have said, Next does not need figures and battlemats. That's the basic idea of D&D Next. The tatical combat like we see in 4E is going to be in optional additions to the core materials.


To start cheap, just get some graph paper to go with the dice, pencils, pens, and notepads  that you probably already have. The caves and maze from the adventure that came with the playtest are not easy to map, so you may not even want to try to match square for square what's in the adventure.  I just draw the area of the encounter and make circles for the monsters. Then we keep track of what's left by putting an X in the dead monsters.

Someone else mentioned a dry erase battle mat. You can get one for about $20 from Amazon if you don't have a brick and mortar store near you. Even if you don't use miniatures you'll find uses for the mat for sharing notes and not using up a lot of paper.


You can make a quick DM screen if you find your wife keeps looking at your notes and maps.    You can use a folder open on the table, or just keep your papers in the folder and close it when you don't need to look at them.

Thank you, @OrkBard. I'm rather late to the party, but I'm here and willing to contribute what I have to offer. I'll shop local where possible and move out beyond that as necessary. It just helps a great deal if I have some idea what it is I am looking for.

@EpicFreak, thank you. I'm simply unclear as to how to begin. I regret that I am so stupid and unimaginative as to be able to pick it all up just from the test packet, but I will give it my best shot. While my wife and I are both avid readers, neither one of us are avid writers. If I do the 'theater of the mind' thing with my wife, she will not participate. She can't. Sorry. Both of us are too old and stupid to hang out with the l33t girls & boys. Perhaps this is not the game for us. That is what I hope to find out.

The main point is for us to be socializing with real people rather than interacting with them in MMO's and such. I'm still trying to feel my way through what makes sense for us, and what does not. Playing just the two of us may help me understand 5e better for playing with a 5e group, but the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing, and just her and I playing isn't the main thing. The group we are currently with wants to remain with 3.5e, and I have to pick & choose my battles. Thank you for speaking honestly, and honestly it appears my wife and I are simply too stupid and lacking in imagination to meddle with 5e at this time.

@MindWandererB, Theater of the mind does have value, and my approach is from the two games of 3.5e I have played with a group plus my reading of the 3.5e material. That has a huge impact on how I think things are supposed to work, so I'm willing to accept that my presumptions about 5e are not correct. I'll have to read through the material again. As I mentioned in reply to @EpicFreak, I may have to simply shelf 5e for keeping the focus on the group I'm with and what they wish to play. If things don't pan out with that specific group, I'll have to see what other groups we would wish to participate in and what they are doing. Dear God I hope I don't end up having to learn to knit and crochet. :p

Thank you for the link. I think I'll have to bookmark it and go back to it. I checked out D&D Online out of curiosity, and my wife started to play to see it as well. Unfortunately, she gets seasick with the full 3d stuff. I suggested that it may be more useful if she and I were to have our own game sessions. After some thought, this morning she suggested that once a month of D&D is enough for her, and she does want to try it and be involved, but she's getting her fill of the stuff. The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing. Getting out with a social group is the main thing, and the current social group is 3.5e. 

So... that kinda puts a kill on the 5e explorations as this time. I'm still very interested, but all I can do is all I can do. If the group doesn't pan out in social stimulation, meeting the primary goal of bothering with any of this, I'll have to revisit 5e and see if there are groups testing it that I can look into. And thank you for the link... sorry, I'm exhausted from a long day at work and I either respond with an incoherent ramble or I can't respond at all until the end of the weekend, which is too long to wait. I value your kind comments and reference to useful links.

And thank you, MrHotter. I don't think my wife would look at the stuff she's not supposed to see. A more important problem is that she is getting her fill of D&D stuff from me stewing over it, so I'm going to have to leave it alone and not involve or discuss specifics about the game with her until game night with our 3.5e group so she would be able to enjoy it. In light of my discussion with her this morning (our 'evening' as we just got off work) I don't think the one-on-one game with her is going to be an issue after all.

I should be asleep, I'll stop rambling now. 
One other thing you should do is look for a Gaming/Comic/Hobby store. It's a good place, most of the time, to meet new players. Or at least a good start.course use you can drag some other friends into it. That's what I did.

@DontEatRawHagis you have a bold idea I ought to look at. I don't know if Paizo still makes what you said, but I ought to be able to get a small table size plain dry-erase board, score a 1" grid on it, and I can bring it to Game Night or have for my personal use at home. I can see possibilities with a 'homebrew' battle board, and I can use that for 5e testing.
 



Watch out for making grids on white boards. They can be trouble, even if you have a permanent marker grid it can get rubbed off. 

Here is a link to the Paizo board if your still interested.
paizo.com/products/btpy8oto?GameMastery-...
Ant Farm
@Orkbard Thank you. There are several such stores in our area, one in particular I'm familiar with. Hopefully the current group we are with will fulfill the social need, and that will be that. I can keep appraised of 5e changes and see how things go.

@DontEatRawHagis, I was thinking of scoring into the surface and using permanant marker into the scoring, but that's an idea I'll have to save for when there is a need of it. If wishes were fishes, I'd spring for buying out Dwarven Forged.

Thank you everyone for your input. I just have to keep focused on the point of the exercise, which is not to play D&D as such, but to find and be in a good social group doing something I enjoy. I'd really like to be part of the 5e experience, especially from what parts of it that I could wrap my mind around. Time changes things. We'll see how it works out. 

@DontEatRawHagis you have a bold idea I ought to look at. I don't know if Paizo still makes what you said, but I ought to be able to get a small table size plain dry-erase board, score a 1" grid on it, and I can bring it to Game Night or have for my personal use at home. I can see possibilities with a 'homebrew' battle board, and I can use that for 5e testing.
 



Watch out for making grids on white boards. They can be trouble, even if you have a permanent marker grid it can get rubbed off. 

Here is a link to the Paizo board if your still interested.
paizo.com/products/btpy8oto?GameMastery-...


They also have the roll up battlemats which I've used for years. You can use washable crayola markers and they will come right off every time. Also, a lot more portable than some of the others.

www.amazon.com/Chessex-Role-Playing-Play...
My two copper.
They also have the roll up battlemats which I've used for years. You can use washable crayola markers and they will come right off every time. Also, a lot more portable than some of the others.

www.amazon.com/Chessex-Role-Playing-Play...



My prefered choice for mats. Though mine has a fading permanent maker, sharpie I think, mark on it from when I wasn't paying attention and started drawing the gangplank for a ship and realized, or it was pointed out, what I was begining to draw with.
They also have the roll up battlemats which I've used for years. You can use washable crayola markers and they will come right off every time. Also, a lot more portable than some of the others.

www.amazon.com/Chessex-Role-Playing-Play...



My prefered choice for mats. Though mine has a fading permanent maker, sharpie I think, mark on it from when I wasn't paying attention and started drawing the gangplank for a ship and realized, or it was pointed out, what I was begining to draw with.


Every Battlemap has at least one
My two copper.
Finally you could go the extreme option, like I did, and make/buy a complete table made for RPGs. Geek Chic is famous for theirs, but there are other brands out there. Me? I made mine. 8x4 with a glass top, grid underneath. Pull out drawers and cup holders as well. Finally, A DM space and a TV that connects to my macbook for displaying pics, playing music, and showing the initiative order But that's only if you are harcore lol. This is my setup btw, not some pic off the net lol.

My table.
My two copper.
Thank you for speaking honestly, and honestly it appears my wife and I are simply too stupid and lacking in imagination to meddle with 5e at this time.


Well, I certainly wasn't trying to imply that...Surprised

What I'm saying is that you seem to be implying that you have almost no experience with RPG's, your wife seems to have almost no interest in playing them, and you're trying to learn 5E on your own while having no idea how to go about doing that - is that correct?

If so, then to rectify your lack of experience with RPG's, there's only one way to do that and it's to play them.  Your first few sessions as DM might not be all that great, but as you actually do it, you'll get better at it - practice makes perfect.  Improvisation is a big part of playing RPG's, and it's a skill, practice and improve it.

I tried to point out the reason your wife may not have interest in it is likely one of two things, either she doesn't like the combat part much and the social interaction or "roleplaying" part much more (so she wants more of that to make it fun for her) or she simply doesn't like playing RPG's, which is simply a fact that most people don't and there's nothing you can do about that except find another one. Tongue Out

I guess I'm having trouble figuring out exactly what kind of help you're seeking from us here too.
Thank you everyone. I've seen the game tables at the Seattle Comicon, and they are wonderful, and way out of my price range. But it is fun to dream. I think I'll wait for an opportunity to get a game mat, and move forward from there.

And thank you for your response, epicfreak. I'm just tired from work and somewhat discouraged for my hope of getting into 5e. My wife is interested, she just has limits on what she is willing to spend her time on with any one thing. She has only had one game, and she isn't certain at all what she likes or doesn't like. Our primary goal is 'people mingling', and sorting out how to do the 'people mingling' stuff with people we enjoy and without the booze, cigz and sports that we don't care so much to be around. So there is what I would like, which is getting involved in 5e, and there is what will do the job for now, which is learning 3.5e with our current group. At the time of my initial post, I had hopes that perhaps I could playtest 5e with just my wife, but she said what we are doing with our current group is best for now, and more than that is just too much.

So I do thank everyone for their help, and I have some wonderful links to read. Unfortunately, I discovered after my initial post that my wife is at her D&D limit for the time being. 
I prefer dry erase, mainly because its easier to change stuff on the fly.

Sorry to hear about your Wife's limit. Hopefully you might get into it again. 
Ant Farm
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