New to D&D, what is it all about?

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I'm new to tabletop RPGs, and I'm seriously thinking about starting.  My other hobby, miniature wargaming, is getting far too expensive for my liking (try running three games, two made by Games Workshop!).

D&D look really good.  I've heard so much about the game.  But I want to get a few things clear first:

1 - Do I need miniatures and stuff to play the game?  Can I play the game orally? 
2 - If I do need miniatures, can I easily use non-WOTC miniatures for the game?
3 - How complex is the game in comparison to Warhammer 40k?
4 - Are there any substitutes for the d20s and stuff?
5 - Are the AD&D reprinted rules better?

Thanks.

EDIT:
6 - What should I buy? 
I'm new to tabletop RPGs, and I'm seriously thinking about starting.  My other hobby, miniature wargaming, is getting far too expensive for my liking (try running three games, two made by Games Workshop!).

D&D look really good.  I've heard so much about the game.  But I want to get a few things clear first:

1 - Do I need miniatures and stuff to play the game?  Can I play the game orally? 
2 - If I do need miniatures, can I easily use non-WOTC miniatures for the game?
3 - How complex is the game in comparison to Warhammer 40k?
4 - Are there any substitutes for the d20s and stuff?
5 - Are the AD&D reprinted rules better?

Thanks.

EDIT:
6 - What should I buy? 



1. you can play the older editions orally, but i would always advise having some sort of visual aid available. we used to use buttons and graph/hex paper
2. yes
3. never played warhammer, but classic editions are pretty simple
4. you could draw pieces of numbered paper from a hat, but honestly, a set of dice is pretty standard
5. no. they introduced new errors and are just absolutely, absurdly overpriced. id say they are for collectors only. otherwise download a free clone of a d&d ruleset or buy the originals off of ebay or amazon
6. correct me if im worng, but it sounds like you want a simple version of the game that can be played orally if need be. if thats the case, you need:

-buttons or minis (some call this optional)
-graph/hex paper, can be downloaded for free online (some call this optional)
-pencils and paper
-dice
-this free clone of the original dungeons and dragons boxed set from the 70s

www.swordsandwizardry.com/whiteboxpdf.pd...

and you are good to go


I'm new to tabletop RPGs, and I'm seriously thinking about starting.  My other hobby, miniature wargaming, is getting far too expensive for my liking (try running three games, two made by Games Workshop!).

D&D look really good.  I've heard so much about the game.  But I want to get a few things clear first:

1 - Do I need miniatures and stuff to play the game?  Can I play the game orally? 
2 - If I do need miniatures, can I easily use non-WOTC miniatures for the game?
3 - How complex is the game in comparison to Warhammer 40k?
4 - Are there any substitutes for the d20s and stuff?
5 - Are the AD&D reprinted rules better?

Thanks.

EDIT:
6 - What should I buy? 



0) Yes you should play.
1) You do not need miniatures to play the game, however if you play for any length of time in 4th edition you will definately want one or more.
2) Of course.  Typically anything with a 1inx1in base is good
3) The game is a lot less referential to individual pieces than Warhammer 40k if that makes any sense.  There are a lot of rules to learn to get basically how to play, but the action-to-action is fairly simple.  While Warhammer doesn't have as many rules it has a lot more minutia on the action-to-action rules.
4) Not sure what you mean.  Do you mean can you substitute dice with other things?  Sure, there are dice rolling apps and programs online.  Even excel or openoffice spreadsheet can do a random function.
5)  There are lots of different editions of the game, and they each have a slightly different take on things.  4e and DnD Next are probably the easiest for a new player to pick up and play.  If you are in a decently populated area go to the main site and search for "DnD Encounters" near you.  While people who have been playing a good while might thumb their noses at Encounters, it is a decent intro to the hobby.  Encounters is designed to be for new players, be completely non-commital (as in, you can show up however often you like), have everything you need at the event and is generally free.
6) I would go check out Encounters first and foremost.  If you find you really like that, work at getting a group or starting a group of your own.  Once you have a group make sure you have access to the monthly subscription of the DDI account and maybe pick up a Dungeon Master's Guide or a Players Handbook for 4th Edition depending on whether you will be playing or running the game.  If you don't like that, come back and tells us what you didn't like and we might be able to suggest a different setting or edition you would like better.

Hoped this help. 
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It's been extremely helpful, thanks!

We were planning to play during boring lessons/free periods at school, so it would be easier not to carry miniatures and stuff.

I'll have to start a gaming group of my own, the only game shop I know only recently started stocking D&D - they're more used to selling 40k, WFB and  Warmachine/Hordes.

By the dice, I don't mean programs online but instead I mean using six sided dice - for a D20, I was thinking we could roll four D6s and take away 4 from the result?  Non-standard dice are pretty hard to find in these parts.

Thanks for the help guys, I really appreciate it!
If your'e looking for a quick game to run during free periods/breaks at school, that don't require minis or maps, and you really only have access to d6's, I'd highly suggest checking out MouseGuard.
It's created by Luke Crane, who also designed "The Burning Wheel", and MG uses a simplified ruleset of Burning Wheel.
MG is fairly simple, using only d6's for all checks.  It doesn't require maps or minis.  The basic rules are printed on the character sheets, which you can D/L from the MouseGuard forums.  However, the sheet doens't explain skills, traits, character creations, etc. 
There's only 1 book to buy- there is no separate player's guide and DM's guide or Rule Book.  You can order the Rulebook form Amazon, or see if our local gaming store can order it for you.  Oh, sessions are meant to run with 3 players and the Game Master, and should take 60-90 minutes to run.

It's been extremely helpful, thanks!

We were planning to play during boring lessons/free periods at school, so it would be easier not to carry miniatures and stuff.

I'll have to start a gaming group of my own, the only game shop I know only recently started stocking D&D - they're more used to selling 40k, WFB and  Warmachine/Hordes.

By the dice, I don't mean programs online but instead I mean using six sided dice - for a D20, I was thinking we could roll four D6s and take away 4 from the result?  Non-standard dice are pretty hard to find in these parts.

Thanks for the help guys, I really appreciate it!



Your Friendly Local Game store will order dice for you if they ask.

Also, ask if someone in your area can start up Encounters if there isn't one near you.  Having a game store get things rolling by getting the materials for you, and giving you a place to play can be a huge boon especially if it is new to the area.

Simming D20s with d6 is going to be nigh-impossible just because when you roll multiple dice instead of one it throws off the curve dramatically.  While it would still pretty strongly throw off the curve the best bet for a random situation like that is a stop watch for a d20, rolling twice but you have to change the numbers around slightly to get a 1 and a 20 out of that (and it will still be weighted to the middle).

Another thing you can do, if you want to play tactically minded, is use maps that are on normal graph paper and colored pins (you know, the ones people use for bulliten boards and the like).  The DM can draw the map out and use little scraps of paper for the monsters and the players can stick onto the "board' with their pin. 
Currently working on making a Dex based defender. Check it out here
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Need a few pre-generated characters for a one-shot you are running? Want to get a baseline for what an effective build for a class you aren't familiar with? Check out the Pregen thread here If ever you are interested what it sounds like to be at my table check out my blog and podcast here Also, I've recently done an episode on "Refluffing". You can check that out here
We were planning to play during boring lessons/free periods at school, so it would be easier not to carry miniatures and stuff.

The D&D ('Red Box') starter has everything you need to start out: rules, dice, miniature tokens, maps, etc.

I recommend it if you're just starting.

Non-standard dice are pretty hard to find in these parts.

Odd. fwiw: if you use average damage (which I even recommend), each player then only needs a single d20 (which they could probably share).

d6's can't really be used to simulate a d20 though: the probably curve would be completely off. A blindy pressed stop watch might be viable though.

Not interested in carrying around minis and only using d6? May I suggest checking out West End Games? The original Star Wars Role-playing Game was excellent for the short-run, quick&dirty, mostly dialog&description game. Want fantasy? no problem. Just change the theme. WEG has a downloadable set of rules for generic and fantasy settings using mostly the same d6 mechanics. Plus there are lots of available fansites and other online help. Oh, and you can probably pick up the plastic minis for pretty cheap from ebay or such-like. Metal minis are going to be harder to find and more expensive.

If you specifically want D&D, I would suggest picking out the 24 or so minis you need for each session and putting them in a small case. You're having trouble finding dice sets? really? I'm sure you can order those online from just about any gaming store. Heck, I'm sure WotC probably has them. I do recommend buying a set with high contrast and easy-to-read numbers. It's just faster.
If you specifically want D&D, I would suggest picking out the 24 or so minis you need for each session and putting them in a small case.

fwiw: 4e has been doing pretty well with tokens (and they take up hardly any room). As a compromise: try using tokens for the monsters, and miniatures for the PC's. It's pretty light-weight, and players can even supply the mini for their own PC (which is usually what they care most about anyway).

I'm an old AD&D player from my high school days, and then reclaimed painting and playing all kinds of Games Workshop stuff in my 30s. I now DM my old high school group (we are in our 40s) with minis drawn from Games Worskshop, Privateer Press (Warmachine, Hordes, Iron Kingdoms) and Reaper. I enjoy painting, and my friends prefer playing encounters with miniatures on the board. If you have that skill set, I'd say by all means use it.

D&D is fun, but because it is party based, small scale combats is what the game is really well designed for.  Warhammer handles large battles well, but D&D gets into a narrative style on the personal level. Go for the Red Box to start with as others have... It even has dice and cardboard counters to get you started... But in terms of miniatures, you're fortunate to draw on a large number of sources to play it. GW Mordor Orcs make for great Hobgoblins, and their Moria Goblins are perfect Goblins. The Uruk Hai make good "true" orcs.... And you can go on, and find almost any D&D monster as a miniature drawing from any 28-30mm miniature line.
 Non-standard dice are pretty hard to find in these parts.


Remember, you are on the internet.  You are not limited to retailers around those parts.
Seriously, though, you should check out the PbP Haven. You might also like Real Adventures, IF you're cool.
Knights of W.T.F.- Silver Spur Winner
4enclave, a place where 4e fans can talk 4e in peace.
I'm new to tabletop RPGs, and I'm seriously thinking about starting.  My other hobby, miniature wargaming, is getting far too expensive for my liking (try running three games, two made by Games Workshop!).

D&D look really good.  I've heard so much about the game.  But I want to get a few things clear first:

1 - Do I need miniatures and stuff to play the game?  Can I play the game orally?

It works better with miniatures or tokens of some kind to track positioning and movement.  It's not nearly as vital as in Warhammer, though.

2 - If I do need miniatures, can I easily use non-WOTC miniatures for the game?

The scale is 1"=5', so 20-30mm figures work fine, IIRC, that includes W40k minis.  So, yes.

4 - Are there any substitutes for the d20s and stuff?

Electronic dice-rollers for PCs, or mobile devices.  You really only need a d20 and a couple of each other die type.  

5 - Are the AD&D reprinted rules better?

LoL.  No, they're quite primitive.  Fascinating for perspective, though.

EDIT: 6 - What should I buy? 

At this point, probably darn near everything, or practically nothing.  There's a rev-roll coming up, so if you don't absolutely love an existing edition when you try it, you might as well hold off on major purchases until the new stuff hits the shelves.

If you're joining an existing group, they'll have all the books, anyway.  If you're looking to start a group and run games, you'll need the three core books - Players Handbook (/not/ PH2 or PH3, they lack the basic game rules), Dungeon Master's Guide, and any of the three Monster Manuals or the Monster Vault boxed set.

You could just try playing at a "D&D Encounters" event at a local hobby or game store near you. ;)  Encounters uses "D&D Essentials," a series of digest size softbound books and boxed sets.  

One alternative is to get the Essentials "Rule Compendium" for the rules of the game, and subscribe to DDI for a while, which gives you a Character Builder on-line utility to help make characters.  


 

 

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Cool guys, thanks!

What are the Pathfinder rules like? 
Cool guys, thanks!

What are the Pathfinder rules like? 



Like dipping your hands in a vat of luke-warm acid while getting your rectum pierced with the drive shaft from a '78 buick.
Currently working on making a Dex based defender. Check it out here
Show
Need a few pre-generated characters for a one-shot you are running? Want to get a baseline for what an effective build for a class you aren't familiar with? Check out the Pregen thread here If ever you are interested what it sounds like to be at my table check out my blog and podcast here Also, I've recently done an episode on "Refluffing". You can check that out here
Cool guys, thanks!

What are the Pathfinder rules like? 


Oooh you said that in the wrong place my friend. The rule system is great I prefer it over 4e. But it is also very hard for people new to RPGs to learn. It can literally take years to master the system. Stick with something simple to begin with, like 4e. Though Pathfinder does have a nice beginner box, which is 15 dollars more than the D&D one, but comes with about 4 times the material. I have both the D&D 4e Red Box, and the Pathfinder Beginner Box, and the Pathfinder one is vastly superior. In fact it makes the 4e one seem like near Dollar Tree garbage.

Come to 4ENCLAVE for a fan based 4th Edition Community.

 

Hahaha!  Should I take the question to a general RPG forum then?

Thanks for the info - could you say that the Pathfinder set to the DnD set is what the Warmachine set is to Dark Vengeance? 
Basically Pathfinder is a reprint of the last edition (3e) with some minor changes.  A lot of people like it but I would agree with Felorn above that it is not a great game for beginners with nobody to shepperd them through it.  It is also a really swingy system with some major issues in class/world balance.  I would deffinantly advise you to stick with 4e unless you end up not liking it.

That being said I wouldn't buy anything yet.  Go online and pick up the starter adventure PDF Keep on the Shadowfell and the pregen characters, you can get all of that from the WotC main site.  Play some of the adventure (it is rather long) and see if you enjoy the system.  If so then go to town and buy some things.

Monster Vault:  Great set of basic monsters with a ton of monster tokens that can be used instead of mini's
DM's kit: Solid advice and guidance for new DM's as well as tokens for PC's and NPC's,  Comes with a great adventure for levels 2-4
Rules Compendium: Have this at your table.  It is a reference book for basically every rule in the game, very usefull

After that you have some choices for Character creation.
You could get the original 4e PHB (1-3 but you only really need the first one when starting out). The characters are a little bit more complex with more powers to choose from and use and this style of character is the one used in Keep on the Shadowfell.

Or you could get Heroes of the Fallen Lands and/or Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms.  These books offer simpler takes on a lot of the classes so if your players were feeling overwhelemed by the options there characters had then this might be the way to go.

Also you should go to your local office stor and buy a big thing of 1 inch by 1 inch graph paper.  Draw the maps at home and then fold them up and put them in your backpack.  Easy transport and easy use maps with 0 hassle.

Between that and the tokens (which could easily be stored in a locker) you have everything you need to play the game with full maps (something I really really advise for 4e) 
Greetings ExNoctemNacimur,

I'm a huge D&D fan but since you are coming from the Warhammer Setting might I sugest looking into the Warhammer Fantasy Roleplaying game from Fantasy Flight Games. You're already familiar with the setting and the although the beginner box is a bit pricey at around $100. It has everything you need for 1 GM & 3 Players. It plays differently from D&D but it is great for those familiar with the setting.

Also, as others have suggested, you and your friends should try to attend a couple of Encounters sessions in your area to see if you like D&D.  
I recommend you do go with fourth edition (you can try it with keep on the shadowfell from the main site, without spending any money)- i've heard from people who've played various systems (and experienced in my own play and dip into other games) it's much better about tactical combat, and as a miniature wargamer, something tells me lackluster combat rules and the balancing problems from 3.5 or 3.75 (pathfinder) aren't what you want.

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

I'm new to tabletop RPGs, and I'm seriously thinking about starting.  My other hobby, miniature wargaming, is getting far too expensive for my liking (try running three games, two made by Games Workshop!).



I hear you. I tried MechWarrior for like a month before I realized there was no way in all the Nine Hells that my budget would allow for it. Though, depending on how many supplements you want, this hobby can also get pricey.

D&D look really good.  I've heard so much about the game.  But I want to get a few things clear first:



Note that you're in a place where bias is going to be at a peak, for a variety of reasons. One, the newest edition is currently in playtest. Two, there are some seriously crazy people that fanatically trumpet their favorite edition over anything else, and they are in every camp. Yes, there are camps. The quality and clarity of answers in the home forums of D&D are going to be suspect, take them with a grain of salt, including my own. If you want a real variety of opinions, I recommend going to GiantinthePlayground, Paizo, andRPG.net forums. Of course don't throw out what you get here. Just get a solid batch of answers from all those other places as well, compare, and then shop around. Check out technical reviews too.

1 - Do I need miniatures and stuff to play the game?  Can I play the game orally?



The game can be played entirely via theater of the mind. No grid, no board, no tokens, no counters, no miniatures, the only thing you need is paper, something to write with, and an imagination. And of course the core books. And any supplements you might want.  That said, some editions make this easier than others, and I've personally found that using some basic markers and a simple grid goes a long way toward enriching a game. 4th edition D&D is the most difficult one for playing gridless, and it is a pain, but it can be done.

2 - If I do need miniatures, can I easily use non-WOTC miniatures for the game?



Sure. If the desire to use WotC minis ever strikes you though, talk to people on these boards about how to find discounts and deals. Some of the people here are unbelievably savvy in that regard. Sadly I'm not one of them.

3 - How complex is the game in comparison to Warhammer 40k?



I can't speak to that directly, but all of the 40k fans I know actually look down on D&D for being "simple." So, take that for what you will.

4 - Are there any substitutes for the d20s and stuff?



Yes and no. There are variant systems that can be used, like 3d6 bell curves instead of the d20, and those alternate rules are even printed in some of the books, but you would have to buy supplements to figure out how they work, or modify the standard system yourself. Really, it isn't that hard once you get a handle on the rules.

5 - Are the AD&D reprinted rules better?



I've only looked at them briefly, and never actually used them, so I honestly couldn't tell you. Also, the answer to this question will vary depending on who you ask. Some people really prefer the older editions, other people hate them with a passion. That is the kind of thing that I think would come down to personal preference.

Thanks.



You're welcome.

EDIT:
6 - What should I buy? 



Not to get all ancient Campbellian sage on you, but that's a question only you can answer. Seriously. Ask various people what they think of the various editions, cores, and supplements, and why. Check out reviews. Maybe show up to a hobby store and browse. You want to make sure you're spending your entertainment dollars wisely, as in, on something you'll enjoy.

Personally, I'm a huge fan of 3rd edition and Pathfinder. I like Pathfinder better than 3rd edition because it fixed some class balance problems, like lack of entertaining options for some of the more basic warrior-types, and gives magic-users something minor but fun to do with magic when they ran out of magic. I also liked Pathfinder because it gave some support to primitive firearms, that was something in particular that got me.

Other people don't like those editions. Magic users are still stronger than they should be at higher levels, and Pathfinder in particular can take a while to do adventure prep for. There's also still a lot of potential for "power creep," power that scales out of control, which causes things like things dying too fast in combat, mainly due to disproportionate hp totals when compared with damage output.

For 4th edition, there were things I liked about that are pretty similar to some of my reasons for liking Pathfinder. I like the options it gave to the warrior-types, and the lower-level magic that didn't run out was nice for magic users. i also liked what they did with the races, but that is for really technical reasons. Basically, the split what were once the elves, and made the elves and the "eladrin," the eladrin being much more like true Norse or Tolkien elves. I was really impressed with that.

One thing that really turned me off from 4th edition entirely, is that there was even less distinction between the classes in 4e than there was in 3e, which is pretty sad. All 4e classes run on the same power-tree structure, the only difference is the details of the abilities they get at each level, and half the time they aren't even that different. There's a lot of "hit your target for x damage and move them around the grid like this" abilities spread out through all the classes. The multiclassing in 4e is also really stripped down compared to 3e/Pathfinder. Those two elements combined killed the fun of character building for me.
Great suggestions everybody, only one issue:

The hobby store I know, and probably the only one here, only stocks 4e.  And they only just brought it in.
Then get 4th edition.  It is probably the best edition for new players anyway.  The rules are straight forward and sensible, system mastery is less important and the game is built to work out of the box.  You can get an intro to it online and test it out before you buy with Keep on the Shadowfell.
Then get 4th edition.  It is probably the best edition for new players anyway.  The rules are straight forward and sensible, system mastery is less important and the game is built to work out of the box.  You can get an intro to it online and test it out before you buy with Keep on the Shadowfell.

Not to mention the fluff of 4e is very unique. I actually like 4e's setting.

Come to 4ENCLAVE for a fan based 4th Edition Community.

 

Great suggestions everybody, only one issue:

The hobby store I know, and probably the only one here, only stocks 4e.  And they only just brought it in.

Not a problem, 4e is a better ed to start with, anyway.  In a couple years, when 5e comes out, your store should carry it, too.

It sounds like you're in an area with not too many RPGs going on.  Are you planning to get some friends together and try running D&D?  If you're starting from square 1 like that, first of all, don't even remotely bother with Pathfinder or digging up some older edition of the game.  4e is just much, much easier on a new DM.  While in $ terms it's ultimately a 'more expensive' or 'less efficient' way to ease into the game, starting with the "Red Box" D&D starter set, and moving on to the rest of the Essentials line is probably your best bet.  You'll get everything you need to play, including pre-made adventures to get your players through level 4.

So:

Red Box

then:

DM Kit + Heroes of the Fallen Land and/or Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdom 

then:

Monster Vault

Those are all "Essentials" products so should easy to get from your local shop.  Getting them in that order gets you a series of pre-made adventures that go through level 4 (one each in the Red Box, DM Kit, and Monster Vault).

The other Essentials products are the Rules Compendium (very nice to have, but not vital, as most of the rules are in HotFL/K and DM Kit), Three sets of "tiles" (for putting together play surfaces or 'grids'), and a set of dice.  






 

 

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Not to mention the fluff of 4e is very unique. I actually like 4e's setting.



Yeah the Great wheel of previous editions was always the first thing I got rid off.  I like the 4e cosmology a lot as well.  Also glad we have an empty core world in 4e PoL is way better than FR, Ebberon or Dragonlance IMO just because it doesn't have this huge detailed history to it, it is what you need it to be.
Sorry for thread necromancy, but just to update you guys:

I have bought the Red Box (which I must admit I really like, especially the single player adventure!) and both the Heroes of . . . books.  I plan to get the DM kit (because I've got all the stuff, it's going to me running all the games) and I now have three sets of RPG dice (the one in the Red Box plus two sets of fancy Chessex dice that was way overpriced but they're really cool and stuff).

Is it worth getting the Player's Handbook, DM Guide and the Monster Manual?  Also, which campaign setting would be good to start a campaign in?  I'm making my own at the moment, but I'm probably not going to be done for a while yet.
If I were you I would get the DMs kit and the Monster Vault, DMs kit for the adventure building advice and monster vault for the bajilion tokens and monsters.  You also may or may not want a rules compendium which is a really good reference book for all of the rules.

You could use the Nentir vale.  It is a fairly well supported mini setting that leaves the rest of the world open for you to explore as you wish.  I think theres some stuff about it in the DMs kit.

I wouldn't buy any settings books just yet.  If you don't want to use Nentir just homebrew.  There were some great articles for hombrewing a campaign world when 4e released.

here we go, hope this stuff helps a ton of good info in there.
www.wizards.com/DnD/Archive.aspx?page=1&...
One thing that may be worth noticing is the fact that the MM1 and 2 have dated monster statistics, should you get one of these, download the errata and apply the convertion.

Also, if you have a DDI subscription the rule compendium can replace the DMG and PHB (but the compendium doesn't have the character creating rules, but you can use the character creator online) 
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