Trying to get back into playing

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Hi All,

 I am a really old D&D player. I used to play back in late 70s and early 80s. I kind of quit when AD&D came out due to life, not because of AD&D itself. I talked to someone at a comic store saying they were coming back out with the original D&D but I found out later it wasn't. Anyway, I saw a red box of AD&D at Barnes and Nobles and scooped it up. I opened the box to find cards in the box. I never played D&D with cards before. I read the book that came with it but I guess I just could not grasp all the new rules. What are the cards for? Are they requried? Why do I see maps like what Star Frontiers has? Did this go from a mind game to a board game? I guess these question is more for the old timers that remembers the original D&D series and not some newer person starting out in the AD&D world. Just trying to grasp playing this new fangled creation of D&D.
I am in sort of the same situation as you having just returned to the game for 4e when I hadn't played since 1e.  I believe the cards are used to keep track of your spell/abilities easily without having to look them up in the PHB everytime you use them.  The tabletop element is a way to micromanage movement and ranges.  I don't believe that they are required but are there for people who prefer that technical element in their playstyle.

The cards as nofax1 stated are just there to remind you what powers you currently have, once you get into higher level you can make them yourself for new powers you gain or just stop using them (I don’t use them) Also if you make a chr sheet it will have them listed on it.


Yes; sadly DnD imo has moved a lot further toward being a board game then a mind game.


4e has stepped far away from the theater of the mind kind of play that was 2e, it is more combat tactic based so figurines make it easier since you don’t have to visualize distance (if it says you can cast 2sq you pretty much know where you can and can’t) w/out the table it turns into the DM trying to do math to equate squares into feet.


NOTE I have played a 4e game without a map or figurines, purely theater of the mind; and it was GREAT and it still SUPER doable, it just calls for an experienced DM who has run those types of games in the past.  It is still the same ole RP fun, just with more options to help visualize combat.


My recommendation; get a DM who (like yourself) loved to play the old editions, they will bring the best experience for older players in 4e. An example of this (even though they break SO many rules) is the podcast NerdPoker, they are essentially playing a 4e game like they would a 2e.


Also I am not dis-recommending 4e, It is a great system (even with its flaws) and I hate that it Is going to be phased out by DnDNext (5e)

IMAGE(http://www.nodiatis.com/pub/1.jpg)

Yeah, I'll pretty much go along with that. I actually LIKE tactical 'grid' play, but it isn't necessary or even the best option all the time. 4e has some other ways to resolve things that can be handy, like minions and skill challenges, so you do have a good bit of variety possible (not to mention just using TotM and ignoring some of the fiddly grid stuff).

One really large difference between say 1e AD&D and 4e is that you have a LOT more character options in 4e, just oodles more. The game is more focused on characters and story than on navigating through traps and managing oil flasks, but you can play 'old school'. You may just in that case want to ignore some of the advice on how to make traps and etc (IE you might want to amp some things up, 4e is more about attrition vs insta-gank, which is a bit different feel). Its worth trying out. There are still plenty of people that play the older games too. WotC just now announced they are reprinting the original 'white box' D&D from 1974 too ;)
That is not dead which may eternal lie
I talked to someone at a comic store saying they were coming back out with the original D&D but I found out later it wasn't. Anyway, I saw a red box of AD&D at Barnes and Nobles and scooped it up.

Yep, it's the basic introductory set for D&D 4th Edition.  Very different from AD&D 1e or even 2e.
I opened the box to find cards in the box. I never played D&D with cards before. I read the book that came with it but I guess I just could not grasp all the new rules. What are the cards for? Are they requried?

You don't need cards to play, but they are there to help you remember all your powers so you don't have to look them up in a book every time.  As far as the rules go, forget everything you know about D&D rules.  There is little resemblence to older versions.  Don't worry, that's a good thing.
Why do I see maps like what Star Frontiers has? Did this go from a mind game to a board game?

Movement is no longer in inches or 10 increments, everything is measures in 5 foot squares (though the squares can be any size since what really matters is squares, not how big they are.  It makes tactics way easier and reduces the amount of kludging and DM judgement calls that can be argued over.  But all that having been said, with how precise the rules are, nothing prevents you from improvising and changing things - in fact, it's still encouraged. So the answer is, no, it's not a boardgame, but it does have more wargame type elements now, and that's good.  But also no, nothing prevents you from using a little Theater of the Mind.  But with how many game elements rely on squares as their distance measure, you should really use a grid and get used to how that works before you throw it out and go totally with your imagination.
 I guess these question is more for the old timers that remembers the original D&D series and not some newer person starting out in the AD&D world. Just trying to grasp playing this new fangled creation of D&D.

I've been playing for over 30 years and 4e is my favorite version so far.  There are almost zero grey areas in the rules and there are no rules that dictate how you roleplay and improvise - on purpose.  Improv and roleplay activities don't need rules, just a few guidelines on how you might come up with target numbers, and even those are not necessary at all.  I think 4e, while very different that older versions, is very liberating because it provides all of the GAME and rules "crunch" I want, and leaves the imagination, roleplay and "fluff" up to me.

Now keep in mind, what you have is the very basis intro set.  It's bare bones but does a decent job of explaining the basics to new players.  From here on out if you want to continue, find a 4e group or look for a D&D Encounters night at your local game shop. 

4e comes in two slightly different (but completely compatible) flavors:  "Core" and "Essentials."

Core is a series of hardcover books.  Players Handbook, Dungeon Masters Guide and Monster Manual.  Then they also have PH2 and 3, DMG2, MM2, etc. and these "sequel" books are optional but provide even more stuff.  PH books provide more races and classes, DMG has more advice on DMing and more optional methods of DMing (DMG2 is probably one of the best game-mastering books I've ever read) and MMs have more monsters, obviously.

Also, for Core, there are a number of "Power" books, like Martial Power, Divine Power, etc.  These are more options for Martial characters or Divine characters or whatever.

There are also settings books and others.  WoTC has to sell some books, you know?

The second flavor is Essentials.  They published this as a series of boxed sets and digest-sized paperbacks.  Essentials just presents simpler character builds with fewer options for newer players, but it still uses all the same rules as Core 4e, so Essentials and Core elements can all be used in the same game.

The Rules Compendium for Essentials is "just the rules."  It doesn't tell you how to build a character or which classes or races or monsters are available.  It just explains rules like how attacks and movement work, saving throws, skills, etc.  It's the only book I need to keep at the table as a DM - super handy, but keep in mind, it's just the rules and nothing else.

For players there are the "Heroes Of..." books.  These two books contain races and classes and everything else you need to build a character.  It also contains enough rules to get you playing, but not every single rule in the game.  They're really meant for players and not DMs.

For DM's there's the DM Kit and Monster Vaults boxes sets.  The DM Kit is everything you need to know to DM, with an adventure included.  Monster Vaults contain monster books plus lots of cardboard tokens to use in lieu of miniatures on the maps that are included in most boxed sets.

Just keep in mind, Essentials and Core are completely compatible and can be used together in the same game, since they are the same game. 

The biggest difference with the feel of 4e as opposed to older versions, in my mind, is that it is a game that encourages teamwork within a party and makes sure that while all the different characters are not the same, they are on an equal footing in terms of power, at all levels.  Each class has a role (striker, defender, leader and controller), and while you don't have to adhere to those roles strictly, teamwork and synergy happens best when you have a party that embraces all the roles.  Also, the characters are all assumed to be heroes from level one, not morons who get critted by housecats, and every character gets new and cool stuff to do at every level.   The game is designed to be very tactical (movement on a grid) but also has a "cinematic, movie action hero" kind of feel, where everyone has their moment to shine and the DM and the players are encouraged to work together to make the game fun for everyone instead of being at odds with each other.

Okay, I babbled enough.  That's my answer and I'm sticking to it.

OD&D, 1E and 2E challenged the player. 3E challenged the character, not the player. Now 4E takes it a step further by challenging a GROUP OF PLAYERS to work together as a TEAM. That's why I love 4E.

"Your ability to summon a horde of celestial superbeings at will is making my ... BMX skills look a bit redundant."

"People treat their lack of imagination as if it's the measure of what's silly. Which is silly." - Noon

"Challenge" is overrated.  "Immersion" is usually just a more pretentious way of saying "having fun playing D&D."

"Falling down is how you grow.  Staying down is how you die.  It's not what happens to you, it's what you do after it happens.”

Hi All,

 I am a really old D&D player. I used to play back in late 70s and early 80s. I kind of quit when AD&D came out due to life, not because of AD&D itself. I talked to someone at a comic store saying they were coming back out with the original D&D but I found out later it wasn't. Anyway, I saw a red box of AD&D at Barnes and Nobles and scooped it up. I opened the box to find cards in the box. I never played D&D with cards before. I read the book that came with it but I guess I just could not grasp all the new rules.

The current D&D rules are actually easier to grok if you haven't played the older versions of the game, at all.  Even if, like me, you've stuck with the game through multiple editions, the '4th' and "Essentials" still felt a little jarring in ways.  

Key bits that might help:  



  • Characters and monsters have more hit points, and hps more clearly represent avoiding damage, with any actual damage, even so much as a scratch, not really happening until you've taken half your total hps, and genuine life-threatenning wounds barely even kicking in at 0.  

  • Related to that, your 1st level hps are Constitution /score/ (not modifier) plus a 10, 12, or 15 depending on your class.  Like I said, a lot more hps.

  • Even weirder, instead of healing coming exclusively from clerics and potions, each character provides most of his own healing resources.  Each day, each character gets a number of "healing surges" based on his CON.  Using a surge is something any PC can do once per combat instead of attacking, or between combats while resting.  Clerics (and other 'leader' classses - 'leader' is a euphamism for healer) and potions let you spend one or more surges in combat.  Such 'surge based' healing doesn't really represent wounds going away, but the character soldiering on in spite of them (and remember, hp damage doesn't really represent serious, let alone mortal, wounds).  Clerics still have a Cure Light Wounds and similar 'prayers,' that provide non-surge healing, but they're a very limited resource.

  • You don't roll dice to get your CON.  Well, you can, it's an option, but the assumption is you'll use an 'array' or 'point buy' system to choose your stats.  And, though not as dramatically so as hps, they are going to be a bit high compared what you'd've been used to rolling 3d6.

  • By the same token, you have a lot of control over you character and how it develops.  You have lots of choices beyond just race & class.  All classes get to make some 'power' choices, not just spell casters, for instance.

  • Feats are a new sub-system that let you further customize your character, both initially and as he levels.

  • Dice rolls have been standardized on a "d20 system."  You still roll a variety of dice for damage (longsword is still a d8, for instance), but for most everything else it's d20, plus bonuses, and you want /high/.  No 'rolling under' stats, for instance, no percentile checks, etc.  This replaces all the attack and saving throw matrixes for instance, and means that AC is higher-is-better, with a 10 still being unarmored, but leather being AC 12, DEX /increasing/ that, and Full-Plate-and-Shield being 20.

  • You no longer have a bunch of different saving throws.  3e consolidated them down to 3, Fortitude (Poison, Death Magic, Petrification/Polymorph, etc), Reflex (Rod/Staff/Wand, spells like fireball, dragon breath, etc), and Will ("Spells," illusions, psionics and the like).  4e inverted them, making them attack rolls.  So, instead of 20 orcs making saving throws against your fireball, you 'attack' each orc in the area effect and do half damage if you 'miss.' Mathematically it's identical, but it threw some of us, initially.

  • There is an actual skill system, not just for Thieves, for everyone.  Each class has a list of class skills that you pick from, and you can add more skills later if you really want.  All skills get better with level, but the ones you pick are significantly better than the ones you ignore. 

  • Like most things, skills are a 'check:' d20 + a stat mod + 1/2 level, but with a + 5 if you're "trained."

  • Along with the Skills there's a "skill challenge" system that the DM can use to design non-combat challenges and calculate exp for them.

  • Monsters now have levels instead of hit dice, and 5 'standard' monsters of your level constitute an average encounter.  In addition there are elite monsters (worth double) and "solos," monsters that constitute an average encounter to a same-level party all on their own and 'minions' 1-hit-kill goon-monsters worth a pitance.  A monster's, level, the threat it poses, and exp it's worth are all pretty well tuned, at this point.

  • You can still fight monsters in dungeons, outdoors, indoors, underwater or in the air.

  • The scale is 1" = 5', regardless, and most distances and areas are given in inches or 'squares' of the assumed 1" grid.  So if weapon has a 10/20 range, that means a short range of 10 squares (10" = 50') and a long range of 20 squares.  

  • Ranges, for everything, BTW, are pretty short, 20 or 40 is about the upper limit with 10 being typical.  It's a concession to the limited table space most of us have, I suppose.

  • 3D combat is handled by assigning each figure an 'altitude,' with 0 being the play surface.

  • "Mapping" is a lost art.  If your party is trying to navigate and underground labyrinth, the DM will make it a skill challenge or just 'narrate' it.  Ironic for a game that gives you 'poster maps,' I think. ;)  

  • DM'ing is a lot easier.  You rarely need to make up a rule, designing new monsters is easy, spells and other 'powers' are clearly written so generally easy enough to interpret that you spend little time playing the role of 'judge,' encounter and skill challenge design is fairly systematic.




What are the cards for? Are they requried?

Quick reference.  No, but they're handy.  Rather than write down the spells your mage prepares and look them up when you cast them, for instance, you just pick out the cards of the spells you decide upon and have them handy when you cast, once you cast a spell you can set it aside.   'Powers' other than spells also have cards for quick reference and tracking.  Clerics, for instance, aren't deemed to cast spells but use 'prayers,' and fighters and theives have 'exploits' (maneuvers/combat tricks/martial techniques) that are also summarized on cards.  

The actual player-oriented books, Heroes of the Fallen Land, and Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms, don't come with cards, even though they have a lot more character options and cover 30 levels.  Instead, WotC hopes you'll use their on-line "Character Builder" service, which includes printable character sheets with similar reference 'cards' (9 to a page, so not /really/ cards - you rarely see people cut them out, for instance).

Why do I see maps like what Star Frontiers has? Did this go from a mind game to a board game? I guess these question is more for the old timers that remembers the original D&D series and not some newer person starting out in the AD&D world. Just trying to grasp playing this new fangled creation of D&D.

Mind game?  Early D&D was a wargame.  At least, that's what the original said right on the cover. ;)  In the olden days (and I picked up about where you left off, in 1980, with Basic and then 'Advanced') the game was presumed to be used with miniatures and the usual wargaming paraphenalia, sand or felt tables, scale terrain, measuring tapes and so forth, but a lot of us used bare table tops and whatever bits - chits, bottle caps, plastic army men, dice, pencils, etcs for PCs, monsters and terrain.  Somewhere along the way, early 80s, I think, a company called Chessex came out with these very convenient vinyl mats.  They were marked with grids or hexes and you could write on them with wet-erase pens.  They're still popular.  Champions! was the first game I played that made heavy use of them (the hex version).  D&D finally got around to assuming the 'grid' everyone had been using for going on 20 years with the (apocryhpally numbered) "3rd" edition (even though there had been at least 4 prior editions: the original, the Basic/Expert/etc or Rules Cyclopeadia, AD&D, & AD&D 2nd).  We're now on the "4th" edition with a 5th under development!

Anyway, the 3rd edition (1999) went from the old 1"=10' indoor/30' outdoor scale to a 1"=5' scale that was actually closer to the 25mm figures that had become typical for D&D use.  Under 3.5 they started selling 'dungeon tiles,' heavy cardboard stock with top-down-view illustrations of dungeon rooms and corridors with a superimposed 1" grid, that could be used to 'build' a play surface rather than drawing one on a vinyl battlemat.   4e started using the kinds of 'poster maps' you found in the Box at some point, maybe with the "D&D Encounters" or "Game Day" public play programs.  They're an alternative to tiles, which WotC is still making and includes as 3 of the boxed "Essentials" sets.  Poster maps are convenient if you're running the module they come with, otherwise of limited use.  Tiles are prettier than just drawing on a battlemat, but obviously less versitile.  Pulling out the old-schoo wargaming gear is also an option, though I've not seen anyone do it recently.

The "Red Box" is a bit of a reference to a "classic" D&D that you might not have stuck around long enough to see, a version of Basic D&D with the same art on the box.  Aside from that, it bears little resemblance to Basic or Advanced or Original.  

RPGs have evolved a great deal in the last 30 years, and the version you picked up, the starter set for Essentials, hasn't lagged as far behind the curve as some other versions of D&D.  Your confusion is understandable, but you're not alone.  There are a lot of 'old school' gamers, either coming out of retirement or getting back to the hobby's roots these days.  It's a classic marketing cycle, really.  Something popular with kids in one decade tends to have a come-back two or three decades later when those kids are middle-aged and in their 'peak earning years.'   WotC (Wizards of the Coast, the current owners of D&D), have not capitalized on that phenom as well as they could have...



 

 

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