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Old 09-22-2010, 02:52 PM   #1
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D&D 4e for Gaming Newbies

Hey, I'm starting up a D&D 4e group either this weekend or next, and it seems like the most experienced member of our group besides myself has played a grand total of one 3.5 adventure; beyond that, no one is a pen-and-paper gamer. I think 4e does a pretty good job of making things easy to understand, but I'm a little torn between the idea of giving the players access to all of the major releases so they can geek out on the various races and class ideas, or if I should limit them to PHB1, or even the new Essentials handbook that just came out.

While I don't think having that many race/class options out there would be particularly daunting, I'm a bit worried about feats and that sort of thing, which is honestly where I start to flounder myself. Are there any guides out there that y'all have found useful for making those choices a bit easier on the newbie? Does anyone have a DDI account, and would they recommend getting one, at least for a month?
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Old 09-22-2010, 02:56 PM   #2
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So, your main concern is with the newbie players being able to decide what they want in their character builds?
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Old 09-22-2010, 03:04 PM   #3
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Why don't you just pick up the new Red Box? I've heard very good things about it.
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Old 09-22-2010, 03:19 PM   #4
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or if I should limit them to PHB1, or even the new Essentials handbook that just came out.
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Why don't you just pick up the new Red Box? I've heard very good things about it.
Well, he asked if that's what he should do. I guess you vote yes?
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Old 09-22-2010, 03:23 PM   #5
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Well, he asked if that's what he should do. I guess you vote yes?
The Essentials handbook is like an add-on for the Red Box. He made no mention of the Red Box, so I wasn't sure if he was aware of it. Also, I like saying Red Box. Red Box.
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Old 09-22-2010, 03:29 PM   #6
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The Essentials handbook is like an add-on for the Red Box. He made no mention of the Red Box, so I wasn't sure if he was aware of it. Also, I like saying Red Box. Red Box.
Oh, I thought the Essentials handbook was the book that came with the red box and that they were basically synonymous. My bad.
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Old 09-22-2010, 03:36 PM   #7
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Oh, I thought the Essentials handbook was the book that came with the red box and that they were basically synonymous. My bad.
I think it's like a whole range of stuff, with the Red Box being the starter set.
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Old 09-22-2010, 03:39 PM   #8
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I've been wanting to start up a group as well. My biggest concern is that my friends won't be able to get into the spirit of things. I picked up the red box and plan to try it out but so far it seems like a big start up cost. I had one friend create his character and it took about an hour.

I may just end up grabbing the Castle Ravenloft Board Game to try to ease people into the experience. Let us know how your group works out, especially if you have advice.
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Old 09-22-2010, 03:52 PM   #9
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If you guys have access to the character builder program through whatever means, it helps a LOT. It even organizes all the feats based on what they're from (class, tier, weapon) and you can choose to take out certain books so that their options don't pop up. It also provides an awesome printout.

Edit: Also, just be really understanding with letting them try out new things and change feats/powers if they find they don't like it. Don't let them be like "Well, we're fighting undead now so I want to take the anti-undead feat!" but if they find out that their implement mastery isn't helping them at all, let them change it.
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Old 09-22-2010, 03:54 PM   #10
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Character builder is a free demo up to level 3, I believe.
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Old 09-22-2010, 03:56 PM   #11
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I actually do have the Red Box as well, and I would actually say that the Red Box is like Heroes of the Fallen Lands (the essentials handbook)- Lite. It seems to have some different powers in there, and according to some on ENWorld (I haven't spent the time to double check) might actually be incompatible with the rest of the essentials line, which is an issue because it doesn't even provide powers for level 2 in there. I made a character with it the other day, and I'm considering using it as a fallback if character creation seems to overwhelm, but I'd like to give them as much choice as possible without sending them reeling.

Also, TheKeck has it right on; I'm concerned that looking at a long list of feats might overwhelm them, and I'm not particularly sure how to guide them, as I certainly don't have a great grasp on what feats are worth it, or even the "finer points" of what classes fill what roles better when playing with X other classes. I've asked which types of characters they'd like to be - what do you picture yourself doing in a fight - and no one was really sure, so I'm trying to find a balance between giving them enough options to excite them, and holding their hands through the choices they won't have the experience to handle.
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Also, I wish everyone I didn't like in Real Life turned out to be Schnoogs too. That would bring a rather charming and hilarious symmetry to things.
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Plasma cannons are just tops. Stupid demons and their gay-ass hell-magic. lol.
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Old 09-22-2010, 04:05 PM   #12
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The Red Box should definitely be compatible with the rest of the Essentials line, that's the whole point. It's kind of a screw up if there are problems.

Feats can be a little daunting. I suggest pointing them at simple stuff like improved initiative. I haven't got my 4e books to hand, but if you need some help picking out a few feats to recommend, I can help you with that.
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Old 09-22-2010, 04:08 PM   #13
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I agree, I was a bit surprised by that. I also am not a huge fan of the fact that each essentials book only has 4 classes in it, but we'll see if it ends up being worth it.

And that would be a great help, thanks. I know the very basic ones, and if nothing else I'll pull feats from HotFL, since those books are still compatible with the main game regardless of the characters they make.

Thanks to those who have mentioned that CB is free through level 3. I'll have to see if I can get it running in Parallels and mess around with it a bit.
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Also, I wish everyone I didn't like in Real Life turned out to be Schnoogs too. That would bring a rather charming and hilarious symmetry to things.
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Plasma cannons are just tops. Stupid demons and their gay-ass hell-magic. lol.
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Old 09-22-2010, 04:20 PM   #14
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EDIT: Read the post above. D'OH!

Using the DnD Insider Character Builder makes it so much easier. You have to pay for it but it's about the price of an MMO subscription. Also, you can use it for free up to level 3. I've found the free version seems to be an update or two behind. Last I looked at it, it was missing PHB3 but they've updated it since then so that may have changed.
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Old 09-22-2010, 06:14 PM   #15
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The Red Box is your answer.

Hand them the player's book, let them go through the solo adventure/chargen thingie. The solo adventure will walk them through all the chargen choices and every thing.

Essentials itself is basically 4.5. With the Compendium, Heroes, and the DM Kit, you have basically all the rules you need to play the new version of 4e, once you've exhausted the limits of the Red Box.

That's what I'm doing.
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Old 09-22-2010, 06:15 PM   #16
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I agree, I was a bit surprised by that. I also am not a huge fan of the fact that each essentials book only has 4 classes in it, but we'll see if it ends up being worth it.
The flipside of this is that the Essentials stuff is all only $20-30 each. Significantly less if you go with Amazon.
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Old 09-22-2010, 06:46 PM   #17
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The flipside of this is that the Essentials stuff is all only $20-30 each. Significantly less if you go with Amazon.
Yeah, you're saving $15 from $35, but you're getting half the content in a digest-style binding that won't last as long as the hardcovers. I like the style (and price) of the new book, but at the end of the day, you're paying $40 for roughly the same number of base classes and fewer paragon/epic classes as the original PHB, and each class is trimmed down in options. The Amazon price drop is the reason I was okay with buying the Compendium in the first place, and probably the only reason I might buy the Monster's Vault (that and I hear the monsters have been significantly unbroken from MM1)
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Also, I wish everyone I didn't like in Real Life turned out to be Schnoogs too. That would bring a rather charming and hilarious symmetry to things.
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Plasma cannons are just tops. Stupid demons and their gay-ass hell-magic. lol.
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Old 09-22-2010, 06:48 PM   #18
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Eh, I'm happier getting into it this way. I like what I've seen of the Essentials rules, they feel more like D&D and less like WoW, there's more effort towards making classes interesting, and since the books are cheaper it means I can get into it for far less than the alternative approach, which would've meant full price 4e corebooks+supplements.

The naming and lineup is a bit confusing at first though.
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Old 09-22-2010, 06:58 PM   #19
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Eh, I'm happier getting into it this way. I like what I've seen of the Essentials rules, they feel more like D&D and less like WoW, there's more effort towards making classes interesting, and since the books are cheaper it means I can get into it for far less than the alternative approach, which would've meant full price 4e corebooks+supplements.

The naming and lineup is a bit confusing at first though.
What makes you feel like the classes are less like WoW now? Just that warrior relies less on powers than it had?

And I agree that I prefer getting into D&D this way, if only because there's not a version of the core books with up-to-date errata. The lower price point does give a nicer threshold-to-enter the game, but I just worry that it will add up faster than it needs to.
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Also, I wish everyone I didn't like in Real Life turned out to be Schnoogs too. That would bring a rather charming and hilarious symmetry to things.
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Plasma cannons are just tops. Stupid demons and their gay-ass hell-magic. lol.
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Old 09-22-2010, 07:05 PM   #20
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What makes you feel like the classes are less like WoW now? Just that warrior relies less on powers than it had?
The writeup I've seen for the Rogue looks a lot more like a 3e class than 4e's "list of generic powers that all do the same thing".

As well, the statements I've seen from Mearls seem to indicate that's kind of the idea. A lot of Essentials is trying to step back to the feel of the older editions and win back the people like me, while not going so far as to totally alienate the current crop of 4e fans who actually like a little WoW in their tabletop.

Not saying they've totally reversed course, but they've veered enough back towards a style of gaming I actually like that I'm willing to give it a second look.
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