I started playing D&D (Basic, Expert, Companion and Master) and AD&D 1st Edition some 25 years ago and played 2nd Edition for a few years but am now looking to return to the game with some friends who are new to it.
So, it's 4th Edition is it... I was going to start with the basics: PHB, DMG and MM but the new structure of the books is bewildering...where would you guys suggest I start?
Like I say, I'd consider myself an advanced player, just new to 4th Edition.
The main thing I can recommend is a DDI sub. You should get one for the group.
They are fairly cheap and give you access to this:
Compendium: Lets you see all material in all books via a search engine. Character Builder: Has some errors, but is very pretty/user friendly Monster Builder: Nice for making custom monsters if you DM.
Currently working on making a Dex based defender. Check it out here Spoiler: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
First thing i recommend, forget everything from AD&D...go in with a blank mind on it. In my experience, is the veterans of former editions the ones that struggle with 4th edition, while brand new players master at an surprising fast rate.
You must get rid of older editions paradigms and such...
Book-wise, I'd recommend starting with the Essentials books.
The earlier books are fine — and probably a good idea to get too — but (and I say this as a big fan and defender of 4e) they screwed up some of the math early on, and it took them a little bit to figure out their mistakes. They didn't hit their stride for monster building until MM3 came out; the Monster Vault books which came out with Essentials were basically them going back and updating things, to some degree. From a PC perspective, they did better earlier with the PHB2/DMG2 releases, though they add on easily to the first stuff.
Anyway, compared to the Essentials line, the plain PHBs (1, 2, & 3) are Unearthed Arcana-like, in that regard. Essentials is basically a streamlined version of the classes, simplifying choices to one or two things over the course of a tier. In the original books, you usually have choices between 4 different things per level — with the Powers books (the "splat books" of 4e) and the stuff given in Dragon magazine, even moreso.
While I'm thinking of it, let me also note that with 4e, refluffing of monsters is fairly easy. Once you know what the numbers should look like, for any given level, you can basically take any monster, use it as a mechanical framework, and put any skin over the top of it. In one game right now, I'm using a halfling guttersnipe build to be a goblin sharpshooter; in another, a town guard as the Bandit Leader; and in another instance, I refluffed a grell as an aberrant green dragonling.
So, from my perspective:
Required: For DMs: • Dungeon Master's Kit (Essentials) • Monster Vault or Monster Vault:Nentir Vale • DDI subscription for access to Dragon, Dungeon, Compendium, & Monster Builder. • DMG2 — in my opinion, the best of the DMGs. I think the DMK covers DMG1's stuff well enough — especially with the fixes that were put in since — but DMG2 really expands and builds upon things.
For Players: • Heroes of the Forgotten Lands & Fallen Kingdoms (or is the other way around?) • PHBs 1 (Martial, Divine, and Arcane classes) & 2 (Primal, Divine, and Arcane classes) & 3 (Psionic, Primal, and Divine classes), depending on player interest. • DDI subscription for access to Dragon & Character Builder.
Less mandatory stuff, unless you don't have the DDI subscription: • Powers books • Other Heroes books • Monster Manuals • Race books (which only ever came out for Dragonborns and Tieflings, but they're still interesting reads, if you need some ideas)
Anyway... The Red Box has an adventure which should take most groups to 2nd level. The DM Kit has one that gets them through 2nd and 3rd to 4th. The Monster Vault has one to get them to 5th. Gardmore Abbey — and it's Deck of Many Things — covers 6th to 8th. By the time you get through those, you should be experienced enough at handling adventures to be able to make up your own with not too much work, especially if you use the tips and tricks present in some of the other books (esp. DMG2). And if not, you can always use refluffed LFR adventures.
• Ad Hominem— Attacking the person's circumstances, not addressing the argument. • Ad Hominem Abusive (Personal Attack)— Insulting the person, not addressing the argument. • Ad Hominem Tu Quoque— Saying the person's inconsistent, not addressing the argument. • Appeal to Authority/Belief/Common Practice/Consequence of a Belief/Emotion/Fear/Flattery/Novelty/Pity/Popularity/Ridicule/Spite/Tradition— Using emotion instead of Fact. • Bandwagon— Use of peer pressure. • Begging the Question— Assuming premises which haven't necessarily been agreed to. • Biased Sample— Using a sampling which may not properly represent the whole. • Burden of Proof— Shifting it to the wrong side. • Circumstantial Ad Hominem— Attacking the person's interests in supporting their argument. • Composition— Assuming that the whole has the same qualities as individual parts. • Confusing Cause & Effect— Assuming that one thing causes another because they appear in conjunction. • Division— Assuming that the individual parts have the same qualities as the whole. • False Dilemma— Assuming that only two options exist. • Gambler's Fallacy— Assuming the odds have changed because of past occurances • Genetic— Assuming a perceived defect in the origin of a claim is proof of a defect in the claim. • Guilt by Association— Attacking others who agree with the claim. • Hasty Generalization— Assuming a quality based on too small a sample size. • Ignoring the Common Cause— Assuming there is no outside cause of two connected things. • Middle Ground— Assuming the midpoint of two extremes must be correct. • Misleading Vividness— Assuming a colorful anecdote outweighs statistical evidence. • Poisoning the Well— Using unprovable claims about the person instead of addressing the argument. • Post Hoc— Assuming that something caused something else simply because it happened first. • Questionable Cause— Assuming that one thing causes another. • Red Herring— Using irrelevant evidence to divert a discussion. • Relativist Fallacy— Asserting that a claim may be true for some but not for the speaker. • Slippery Slope— Assuming the inevitability of one event based on another. • Special Pleading— Claiming exemption without justification. • Spotlight— Assuming individuals that get the most attention to be indicative of the whole. • Straw Man— Misrepresenting the opposing argument. • Two Wrongs Make a Right— Justifying something unethical/immoral as response or pre-emption to something else unethical/immoral.
Response to those who like to compare 4e to a Video GameShow
Also, I find that the "D&D 4e is like an MMO" argument is often a sign of someone who is deliberately being obtuse and/or is potentially ignorant of actual MMO play. As someone who only ended a 6-year World of Warcraft addiction a year ago, I can say that most of your bullet points actually don't match up to the truth of it.
In D&D 4e, you can choose a hybrid, you can choose to play one class as though it were another (people played Warlords as Bards frequently, when the edition first came out, and Rangers were refluffed to Monks), you can focus your class on its secondary role (a Warlock who is more controller than striker, for instance), you can multiclass, and you can create a particular concept (a mounted lancer, a charger, etc.) within the mechanics via feats, choice of powers, and choice of skills. You decide which set of stats you use--are you a Chaladin, Straladin, or Baladin?--and you have ultimate influence on how your character turns out in the end. Yes, powers require you to be using a particular weapon within your class's available selection, but the powers are not themselves tied to the gear. Powers tied to weapons or armor are typically powers that belong to the item, not to the character class that's most likely to use it.
Yes, there are only so many powers available, and these will be what you do in battle; this is all that the designers created. Yes, there is a time-frame in which they can be used; this has always been the case, even in the days of Vancian casting. Yes, there are suggested builds, but you can routinely ignore those if it pleases you; the only parts of a class you have to take are the class features, and even those have options at this point. But the only way that this can be considered at all conflatable with MMO character building/playing is if you are deliberately ignoring all of that.
In WoW, you choose a class and you're done. No multiclassing or hybridization, no way to mimic one class with careful building of a different one. There is a firm dividing line on what is a WoW class. No secondary roles or creative concepts, either; you're going to be what the class sets out to be, and that's it. You'll always have the same stat allocation as another of your class, because you get set numbers as you level up, and you've got at best four options--and that's only the Druid class--to build, and if you plan on running dungeons, particularly heroic level ones, or raiding, you'd better not even think of deviating from the single defined best build on the talent tree for what you want to do. It was only recently, with the complete tear-down and recreation of talent trees for Mists of Pandaria, that there was a concept of there being anything but the one best build that people who calculated such mechanical advantages (the folks on Elitist Jerks, for example), and the people who did things like achieve "World First" at various top-tier raids set precedent for.
Also, no class will ever not have a specific set of powers; all Priests in WoW have the same baseline, with deviation only based upon their talent tree specialization, where a D&D4e player could take whatever power in their class pleases them. Any Retribution Paladin will be the same as any other in terms of powers, because that is what a RetPally is. Any Assassination Rogue will always have the same powers as another, etc. All powers are always on specific cool-downs, but will always be there when they start a battle, where a 4e PC might enter an encounter with only At-Wills, or without their Daily powers due to what plot has done up until that point. Furthermore, no power that is not already specifically tied to an item will ever "require" you have that item, to my recollection. Classes get all their powers based on class; gear only gives bonuses to stats, possibly cuts down cast times for abilities or cooldowns, grants temporary extra bonuses to stats (the latter two most often on the raid tier equipment), and on rare occassions an extra power that may or may not be valuable, as some are only special effects instead of valuable abilities.
Most honest/open response on why DDN needs to be InclusiveShow
I've always felt it is in the best interests of D&D to be as inclusive across the playerbase as they can be and still have a game. I've never felt though that making a game that was inclusive within a group was very useful or even desirable. DM's and players can decide amongst themselves what options or restrictions they want for their games. I tend to lean to the DM to make most of those decisions but again that is a group specific thing.
Having said that. I get the distinct impression that there are a lot of players on these boards who come from groups that generally ruled against their own desires. It's almost like they are an oppressed minority from a gaming perspective. I also get the impression that they tend to advocate against things that if available their fellow group members might like and vote them down on.
Do a lot of you feel this way?
Just for clarification...here are some examples... 1. Alignment restrictions as an option. 2. Alignment Mechanics 3. Martial healing 4. Races being included or not.
I know my perspective is not that I often play at tables where my likes are not represented. Instead, my perspective comes from the many years I spent being a bad DM. I was a bad DM because my guidance came from the books, and the books gave bad advice. The books told me that alignment was a useful approach to roleplaying, so I went with it even though it felt kind of weird to me. Now I know that, at least in my style of running games, alignment destroys rp. I trusted the books to give good advice, and it messed up my game. Now I'm much more mature as a DM, so I know how to take advice with a grain of salt. And I still learn new stuff every session I run.
I don't want future DMs to go through my problems again. There's a big enough DM shortage as it is. DMing well is hard.
The biggest thing I had to unlearn in my process of becoming a good DM was the idea that the game is a simulation of a world. I understand many DMs prefer a more simulationist approach, although I am always skeptical simply because I would have said the same thing until I learned and grew as a DM. This doesn't mean their approach is completely invalid, but it still gives me a personal twinge when I see a regression back to 3e era sim style gaming.
I also have noticed many groups where one or two old-school players run a whole group's playstyle because the newer players aren't even aware there are other ways of doing things. The newer players tell me stories of things they hated in the session, and I end up explaining to them how those things they hate are very fixable, and in fact are fixed in the newer edition of the game their older players have told them is terrible.
In regard to things like martial healing, I don't think it's necessary for it to be in the game for the game to be fun. However, the attitude that says martial healing is terrible and shouldn't exist is an attitude that, to me, reveals a wrongheaded approach to the game. Therefore, my fight for it to be an option is to help legitimize the more narrative approach that I think is what most players want, but many don't know is possible, because they've never been exposed to it.
As always with D&D, all that is necessary to play are the PHB, DMG, and Monster Manual. Extra content gives extra options. In 4E, the other PHBs had extra PC races and classes. In the "regular" PHB, you'll find, again as usual, a list of base races & classes. The class names will be familiar; the mechanics won't be, for the most part. For races, there are (mostly) the usual options, with some modifications: the Eladrin are new (but they're basically the old Grey Elves), the tieflings are now a base race, there's a new one called Dragonborn, which are cosmetically similar to the old draconians of Dragonlance, but are quite different in gameplay. And they took out gnomes & put them in one of the supplemental PHB.
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There are indeed multiple PHBs, but the initial rules for character creation and the like are in the PHB1. The PHB2 and PHB3 have rules for additional races and classes, more feats, and more magic items, but they don't have the basic rules to start the game. There are also character generation rules in the books Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms and Heroes of the Fallen Lands, which are both books for the slightly simplified "Essentials" line, though they are entirely compatible with the PHB classes. I personally prefer the race variations in those books, as they give the races a single set stat bonus, and a second stat bonus that is chosen from two possible stats. They also give another option for racial powers, which can be useful. The Players' Options books are likewise full of races, classes, feats, and items that are optional, though some are quite worthwhile to have available after you've gotten used to the rule system.
There is also a DMG2, but like with the PHB2 and PHB3, it's additional material. The primary information is in the DMG1, but there is lots of useful stuff like inherent bonuses and the like in the DMG2, so it is also useful. Likewise, there's more than a few MMs (and there's two Monster Vaults, at that), though MM1 and MM2 have lots of big monsters that do too little damage and have too much HP, the math for which was fixed in MM3 and the later Monster Vaults.
As for the various quick-plays, I haven't tried them, but from what I've heard, the Red Box is only good for the first 2-3 levels, after which you would have to buy the rulebooks if you wanted to play further. (I could be mistaking this for another of the quick-start products, but I know one of them is like that).
I would suggest starting with the PHB1 (or one/both of the Heroes of the- books in place of PHB1), DMG1, and either MM3 or Monster Vault. These provide all the needed rules, and give you plenty of material to kick around. It's a good place to get started and learn, and when you're more comfortable, you can add in the others PHBs, or the Players' Options books, or what have you, to spice things up as your group progresses. A DDI subscription can also be useful, but it's not a necessary tool.