Dungeons & Dragons RPG: Starter Set

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Everything you need to start playing the world’s greatest roleplaying game!

Explore subterranean labyrinths! Plunder hoards of treasure! Battle legendary monsters!

The Dungeons & Dragons Starter Set is your gateway to action-packed stories of the imagination. This box contains the essential rules of the game plus everything you need to play heroic characters on perilous adventures in worlds of fantasy.

Ideal for a group of 4 – 6, the Dungeons & Dragons Starter Set includes a 64-page adventure book with everything the Dungeon Master needs to get started, a 32-page rulebook for playing characters level 1 – 5, five pre-generated characters, each with a character sheet and supporting reference material, and six dice.

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****( ) (based on 3 ratings)

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Right priced introduction to D&D Next

****( )

My group was one of the thousands involved with the review/playtest effort. (That was very, very clever on WotC's part by the by.)

We enjoyed the playtest, and several of us have ordered the basic set of materials, e.g., introductory box, PHB, MM, DMG, etc.

That said, my group has been playing 4e for about four years now, and they voted to continue with 4e. For them, the simplicity of the 4e rules, and the PC survival++ nature of 4e makes it a less stressful alternative than Next (5e to me).

Left to my devices, I probably would have converted, because 5e (Next) has less of a combat focus and does a better job of helping me portray the gaming world.

I have a few table rules in 4e that let me bolster the excitement and suspension of disbelief, e.g., PCs can die from really bad decisions like swimming through lava. No, I don't feel obligated to give them multiple saving throws whilst the PC swims despite what the rules might imply.

:-D

Next would not require some of the DM hardwires that I have put into 4e.

Here is my review of the boxed, starter set:

"First, as I write this, you can get the starter set most places for less than $13. In other words, you get the entire starter game for the price of a movie ticket for one person.

The box does indeed come with everything you need to play, including a set of polyhedrons (gaming dice) including: d4, d6, d8, d10, d12, and the the mother of all dice, the d20/icosahedron.

The box comes with a blank character sheet (on the back side of an ad for dungeonsanddragons.com) that can be photocopied plus five pregen characters including: two fighters, a rogue, a wizard, and a cleric. The front of the pre-gen sheets has the basic stats for running an adventure, and the back contains some background for the race, the class, and what the level advancements would be from 2nd through 5th levels.

There is a shortish set of rules in folio form bound with staples aptly called "D&D Starter Set Rulebook." It comes in at 32 pages.

If you have played previous versions of D&D, this next section of the review will give you some insights into how the new rule set plays. If you have never played D&D or a fantasy role-playing game before, you might want to skip to the end.

5e is an amalgam of the previous four editions of D&D (although 1st Ed. was just called AD&D when it came out).

Characters have races (e.g., human, elf, halfling, etc.), classes (e.g., fighter, wizard, rogue, etc.), backgrounds (i.e., back-story that both provides motivations as well as some specific skills), and equipment. Each character has six primary attributes called abilities that include the standard set of: Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom and Charisma. These ability scores generate modifiers that are used in play. For example, an average ability score in the 10 to 11 range has a modifier of zero, and a score in the 12 to 13 range has a modifier of +1. If a character had a DEX of 13 then the player would add +1 to any rolls involving DEX.

Those of you who have played D&D before will remember that there are saving throws to either avoid or recovery from bad situations and conditions. In the original version of AD&D and AD&D second edition, these consisted of five separate saves for magic, death, etc. In editions three and four, this number was reduced to three, will, fortitude, and agility. Now all saving throws are based on the six ability score modifiers.

In fact, all of the mechanics are based on ability checks.

But, worry not doughty gamers! The core mechanic in D&D has always been casting the d20, adding some type of modifier, and comparing it to something else.

This remains unchanged.

There is a very cool mechanic called "advantage and disadvantage." The way it works is if you have a situation that grants you an advantage then you roll two d20s and choose the higher of the two to be your roll. If you are in a situation that grants you disadvantage then you also roll two d20s, but you take the smaller of the two rolls to represent your result.

The rulebook covers skills, contests, and the various checks associated with each of the abilities. For example, intelligence checks include: Arcana, history, investigation, nature, and religion. As mentioned previously, saving throws are based on the ability modifiers.

The order of combat rounds remains largely unchanged since the advent of the third edition. You start by determining if surprise has occurred. Then you establish the positions of all of the characters both player characters and non-player characters involved. Then you determine initiative, and then you follow with alternating turns.

One thing that has changed from three and four to the new 5e is that there is less of an emphasis on purely combat abilities and actions.

There are no figures or counters included with this starter box set. There are no hex sheets. There is no mention of Texas (ah! you *are* reading!). There is also no mention of "hexes" or "squares." (Danged auto-corrector!!!)

In this way, the fifth edition really harkens back to the first and second editions. There is a large emphasis on non-combat actions and activities.

The one thing you may find disappointing is that this starter set comes with a large insert that takes up about half of the volume of the box.

I have been told that this was to let the box take up more space and to allow it to hold future released material. It doesn't work for me, but that is a single viewpoint.

For those of you who played in additions since third edition, you will recognize the mechanics of damage resistance and vulnerability. These have been brought forward and are also used in fifth edition.

You will also recognize the conditions in fifth edition as being an amalgam of third edition and fourth edition conditions. The dazed condition no longer exists though, at least in the starter set rulebook.

Finally, there is an included module that is both interesting and serves as a decent, graduated introduction to the 5e rule set.

All in all for less than $13, it would be hard to go wrong buying this boxed set.

I look forward to the release of the Players Handbook in a few weeks."

In service,

Rich

The Original Dr. Games site since 1993.


Great game, mediocre Starter Set

***( )( )

I have read the contents of the set and DM'ed a group through the first section of the adventure. I really like the way the new rules function, but I'm focusing this review on the contents of the Starter Set. There are four components:

  • The adventure (64 pages) -- It feels like the authors are going through the motions, right down to the plot hook (you're hired as a caravan guard). I appreciate that this is a Starter Set, but they could have been a little more creative without making the product any less accessible. I can't see myself using this once the Monster Manual and DMG are available.
  • The rule book (32 pages) -- The bare minimum of in-play rules is provided. There is no character generation. I wish they had simply included a printed copy of Basic. Instead, they provided a not-quite-subset of basic, which seems needlessly confusing. Even if it meant bumping the price, a perfect-bound Basic would have been something that remained useful once the PHB is available. As it is, this rule book simply doesn't have enough meat to warrant keeping around.
  • The dice -- A typical set of "swirly" blue polyhedral dice (though oddly there is only one D10...was it really worth saving $.25?)
  • The pregens -- These are the best part of the set. Nicely fleshed-out with just enough back-story, printed on high quality paper.

    Overall, I'd advise anyone who has any experience with RPGs at all to skip this, and just download the free Basic PDF instead.

    (***--)

    P.S.: Come on, guys...books need covers.


  • Just what you need to get started

    *****

    I have now used the Starter Set with two groups. The first was with 6 kids from our neighborhood, ages 7-12. I then ran it again for a group including a father and his 10 yr-old son. In both cases, the adventure and the rules were a huge hit!

    The intended audience is someone (whether experienced or new) that wants to get started right away with the new edition of D&D.

    The provided pregens and the rules behind them are simple, interesting, and encourage creativity. Players particularly like how the Bonds/Flaws/Ideals on the character sheets are woven into the adventure, helping create excellent interaction between the players and adventure. Advantage/Disadvantage really furthered play. It was an iconic D&D experience for both new and experienced players.

    The adventure is simple enough to run easily and for the young, new, or casual player to grasp. But, it is also a very well written adventure that fosters creative play and encourages a fun time. The village in the adventure is excellent - a distilled and improved version of Hommlet and other classic towns. The village and several of the locations could be lifted by talented DMs and placed into their own campaigns.

    I would strongly recommend both the Starter Set and the 5E rules. Note: The Starter Set does not have character creation, but that's because those rules are provided for free on the Wizards web site.


    Grand Lodge

    Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

    I have begun to participate in a Starter Set campaign this past weekend, and have found it to feel much like D&D always has. We will see if this is just because the low levels always feel that way or if we just haven't gotten enough time to fully experience the game. In any event, I'm reserving judgement for now.

    Shadow Lodge

    Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Card Game, Cards, Class Deck, Companion, Maps, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

    I played (the first half of) the Starter Set adventure over the weekend. This was my first exposure to D&D Next, but anyone who is familiar with Pathfinder shouldn't have any difficulty playing.

    It's a lot simpler than even the simplified 'Beginner Box' rules. The flip side of this is that there's less opportunity for character customisation. I don't know if the full rule set provides more options; like TOZ I, too, will reserve judgement until I've played some more.

    One thing I definitely dislike, though, is the 'advantage/disadvantage' mechanic; it's far too coarse-grained an adjustment at low level.


    Compared to 3.5
    Monks and Fighters in DnD Next are absolutely amazing and on par with Barbarians and Paladins

    Rogues can actually stealth better than anyone and if they choose to be an assassin they can kill a lot of things in one shot with a sneak attack or at least severely cripple it.

    Casters are still very versatile, but they lost a lot of their extreme world bending destruction.

    Bards are less "versatile" and pushed farther into the supporting caster+skill monkey role, which they do really well.

    Warlocks have interesting choices early that can change how the class plays.

    Gone is power attack and str*1.5, so two handed weapons that aren't polearms are generally worse than shield and a weapon.

    Archetypes are built into classes. When you play a Rogue you pick stuff like "Assassin" or "Arcane Trickster" at level 2-3ish and get additional class features based on the choice.

    Overall it looks pretty fun from what I've seen.

    Shadow Lodge

    2 people marked this as a favorite.

    At first blush, I wasn't a fan of advantage/disadvantage.

    After some time, it's grown on me tremendously as a way to very quickly tackle how to give a character bonuses/penalties and resolve them very quickly as well. For a player, one of the most disappointing things is a bad roll at the wrong time, so this gives them a feeling of their rolls smoothing and reduces the amount of bonuses-math going on.

    In my mind, this is a cornerstone of resolving a character's turn in initiative faster and making everyone feel like there are less delays as they wait for their turn to come around.


    Insain Dragoon wrote:

    Compared to 3.5

    Monks and Fighters in DnD Next are absolutely amazing and on par with Barbarians and Paladins

    Rogues can actually stealth better than anyone and if they choose to be an assassin they can kill a lot of things in one shot with a sneak attack or at least severely cripple it.

    Casters are still very versatile, but they lost a lot of their extreme world bending destruction.

    Bards are less "versatile" and pushed farther into the supporting caster+skill monkey role, which they do really well.

    Warlocks have interesting choices early that can change how the class plays.

    Gone is power attack and str*1.5, so two handed weapons that aren't polearms are generally worse than shield and a weapon.

    Archetypes are built into classes. When you play a Rogue you pick stuff like "Assassin" or "Arcane Trickster" at level 2-3ish and get additional class features based on the choice.

    Overall it looks pretty fun from what I've seen.

    Please keep in mind that only the basic rogue, cleric, fighter, and wizard are included in the D&D Starter Set, as pre-gens. So far, the free, downloadable Basic Rules only include those as well, though that will be updated with more once the Player Handbook is released, at GenCon. Some changes have been made since the last play test packet, which is what I think you are referring to.


    I don't believe they would change things enough between the latest playtest packet and release to make a lot of the changes I mentioned invalid.

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