Hopes for the D&D Roleplaying Game Starter Set

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I'm really looking forward to the D&D Roleplaying Game Starter Set, to be released in November. I always had an affinity for the introductory products from 3rd edition. I haven't been playing for very long; I was first introduced to D&D through the old 3.0 D&D Adventure Game, which I still think is an amazing value at $10, and I always found the 3.5 2004 D&D Basic Game fascinating, and also a great value because it came with a set of dice and 16 relatively iconic miniatures. I never did buy the 2006 D&D Basic Game, but it looked interesting too.

I've always found these products to be pretty high quality and genuinely an excellent introduction to the game for new players, so I thought I'd share some of my hopes for the new Starter Set. Hopefully, I'll actually have the opportunity to introduce some new players to the game this time!

1. Clearly written rules which anyone can pick up

The quick-start rules from Keep on the Shadowfell suffered from some significant flaws. For starters, there were two different sets of rules, one for the players and one for the DM, a fact which forced the DM to photocopy part of the adventure booklet if he wanted to players to have all the rules information available. That mistake shouldn't be repeated in the Starter Set. I don't mind the format of including an extremely basic set of quick-start for the first adventure and then some expanded rules for the rest of the content, but all the rules for the basic mechanics should be available to the DM and players alike. On that same note, it would be nice if the rules booklet(s) were completely separate from the adventure booklet for maximum ease of use.

Secondly, the KotS quick-start rules left out some information. Specifically, they lacked information on mundane equipment and magic items. The rules in the Adventure Game and Basic Games never had that problem (they included abridged equipment charts for the players' perusal), but as it's a new edition, Wizards should take extra care to ensure the Starter Set isn't lacking any important information.

Finally, the KotS rules weren't as intuitive for new players as they could have been. They seemed to be geared more towards people who were already familiar with 4th edition preview material. Wizards should make sure that a person who has never seen a d20 in his life can pick up the Starter Set, give the rules a quick read, and start playing.

2. Eight to ten characters with ability scores

I always appreciated how the 3.0 Adventure Game came with eight different characters to choose from; it gave some real choice to the players right off the bat. I was disappointed when both the 3.5 Basic Games had only four characters. I hope that Wizards goes back to providing eight characters, two of each role, or even increases the number to ten characters, as five is now the standard number of players in a D&D game.

I also hope that Wizards goes back to including the characters' ability scores on their sheets, as was the case with the Adventure Game and the 2004 Basic Game, but not the 2006 Basic Game. The whole system is build on ability scores, and if Wizards expects new players to actually graduate from the Starter Set to the full game, ability scores should be in there for the players to get used to from the beginning.

Now, I don't expect WotC to include all eight classes and races; that would probably overload new players with information. Just including the iconic four classes and four races would be fine by me, though I do hope in particular they bring back Halflings, who were missing from the 2006 Basic Game.

3. Multiple adventures with ramping complexity

I much prefer the Adventure Game's approach of including six separate adventures to the 2004 Basic Game's approach of including a single large adventure. Including separate but linked adventures allows the players to head back to town and reflect on their game experience more often, and makes the division between the ultra-simple quick-start rules and the expanded rules less arbitrary (this way, it's probably just after the first adventure). It also lets the writers include more complexity and role-playing opportunities in later adventures.

As a side note, the 3.0 Adventure Game had more content overall, too. Its sixth adventure was about as long as the 2004 Basic Game's only adventure. I hope the Starter Set has as much total "adventure time" as the Adventure Game.

4. Miniatures, or at least high-quality counters

The 2004 Basic Game was a great value because it included 16 iconic miniatures and a set of dice for $25, pretty good even if you had no interest in the rest of the content. Unfortunately, the Starter Set is currently priced at $17, so it probably doesn't include any miniatures. It would be great if Wizards would consider emulating the 2004 Basic Game in this area, but I doubt it'll happen.

So it looks like we're back to the sturdy cardboard counters of the 3.0 Adventure Game. If that is the route Wizards is taking, if would be great if the Starter Set could include a large number (way more than 16) of durable, full-color counters with decent artwork on them. That would allow experienced players to use the counters even in their regular games, and would make the Starter Set an excellent value just like its predecessors. As a final note, it would be great if the dice in the Starter Set were of reasonable quality (as with the 3rd edition introductory products).

Does anyone else who has loved the Adventure Game or Basic Game in the past have any hopes for the Starter Set they'd like to add?
I have really fond memories of the Red Basic Rules set and the Blue Expert Rules set way back when 1ed was out. Great way to introduce players (particularly young players) and everything was self contained; all you needed was the box, a module (and at the time there were plenty) and dice, paper and pencil. I am really glad WotC is still producing the intro game for new players.
I hope for some nice miniatures, that was the only reason for me to buy the previous sets...
I'm there with the minis. In the boxed starter sets, you could be guaranteed a black dragon or blue dragon, and in the minis starter set, a green dragon.

I liked the old $10 set -- it came with cardboard counters aplenty -- but I am a sucker for good minis.
The best basic game ever was the Introduction to Advanced Dungeons and Dragons (2E) boxset. That thing was sweet. It had so many rules that for a year we played with nothing but that game.

Consequently I was disappointed with the 3.5E basic game, as it was so limiting. It suggested you shuffle the dungeon tiles for further adventures. I thought that was insulting for a roleplaying game. I thought if I had been a kid picking up that game for the first time I would have hated it and never played the game. Whereas the Introduction to AD&D boxset hooked me and started a life long obsession with the hobby that we all have.;)

Ultimately I picked up 3.5 basic game set to kick-start my minis collection, and from that perspective the game was very good. But, (at the risk of opening a can of worms) D&D is not a minis game, and the basic game failed to give that impression.

Anyway, back to loving the Intro to AD&D, I still use that DM screen because the art work, in my opinion is the most evocative of what I consider D&D. I can't find a picture of it but the box will give you an idea:


Well thanks for reading and peace out.
I think I heard ad the D&D Experience that they would not include minis in the basic set. It had something to do with manufacturing and shipping from China for just a handfull of minis. They said they could keep the overall cost down by including counters.

I'm wondering if, by buying the D&D mini basic set, that you'd have the right minis for such an adventure.

Still, keeping the price down is good.
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