Dungeons & Dragons Essentials Which Ones Are "Essential"?
November 29, 2011 7:41 PM   Subscribe

I'm trying to get my teenage niece into D&D from scratch but I'm bewildered by the range of Essential products. Which products are absolutely essential to get a beginners campaign up and running?

Whilst I've dabbled in D&D since my early teens, 4th edition really turned me off and I gave away my core books to my niece who I was hoping would be able to pick it up without my help.

It turned out, that she found it all rather overwhelming, however we recently played one of the d&d boardgames which she loved and is now showing an interest.

With this in mind, I thought about easing her into the game using the new(ish) Red Box, but can't find stock of it anywhere and all I'm seeing are the various "Essentials" volumes.

I've read over the various descriptions and I'm still not entirely sure which books I need to get going and can't really afford to pay out for everything up front at the moment, so my question is, where the hell do I start?
posted by DuchessProzac to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (10 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Find a Second or Third-gen DM guide, player's handbook, and monster manual at a used bookstore? That's how I got started oh so many years ago.
posted by jferg at 7:54 PM on November 29, 2011

Yeah, all you need is a 3.5 Player's Handbook, Monster Manual and DM Guide. And you can get by pretty well without the DM guide.
posted by griphus at 8:03 PM on November 29, 2011

Best answer: I'd recommend the Pathfinder beginner box at this point. Or just get her the Pathfinder rulebook. I saw the point of D&D4's revisions and enjoyed them, but setting aside the ideological question of whether Pathfinder is D&D 3.5's true heir, it is for sure released in a more consumer-friendly way.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 8:06 PM on November 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

Yeah, it would really depend on whether you were married to 4th edition or just wanted to get into roleplaying in general. However, if you were interested in the Red Box specifically, it seems to be available on Amazon.com here, and the first customer comment actually seems to be pretty useful about the red box and what you might need.

Personally, as a recipient of a 2nd edition D&D box, I would say that the boxes are more gateway products than anything, since you won't really be able to play beyond the stuff in the box with the information you get. For a longer-term commitment, you may want to take another read-through the player's guide or buy a module for beginning characters. Right now, I'm looking at Keep on the Shadowfell, which includes character sheets, maps, flavor text for the GM, and... hey, an entire simplified rules portion. You could probably get by with just a module if they're all like this one to see if the turn-off with this edition is a system issue or something else.

Also, as should be mentioned for all roleplaying questions, the rpg.net forums are a huge source of information for roleplaying things.
posted by daikaisho at 8:14 PM on November 29, 2011

Oh, sorry, missed your location, which makes my comment about the red box being available somewhat irrelevant. I still endorse finding a level 1 module - they really do have everything you need to try out the full game without buying any books.
posted by daikaisho at 8:18 PM on November 29, 2011

Response by poster: I'm not married to playing 4e at all, in fact I would rather run 3.5/GURPS/Anything else, but my idea was to blend the board game aspect of the D&D Adventure games gradually into something a little meatier as the rules seem like 4e very lite.

I do like the idea of the Pathfinder set, though. I don't know a great deal about the system however. From what I can gather it is d&d 3.5 in different clothing. AM I correct in this?
posted by DuchessProzac at 8:19 PM on November 29, 2011

It's an extension and streamlining of 3.0 made by people who weren't happy with the way 3.5 dealt with the issues that came up in 3.0. Many people who aren't playing 3.5 for the nostalgia/familiarity factor -- like me and my friends -- prefer Pathfinder as an objectively better/more fun game.

More info on Pathfinder.
posted by griphus at 8:34 PM on November 29, 2011

I agree Pathfinder is probably the way to go. I've always heard it referred to as a "fixed 3.5."

When I play with my friends we still most of the time say, "Hey let's play DnD Saturday" and only when someone else asks what rule version then "Well, actually it's Pathfinder, but it's basically the same thing!"
posted by Deflagro at 9:28 PM on November 29, 2011

I don't know whether they'd be the ideal gateway to making use of your old core books, but there are a number of D&D clones out there, several of which are free. You might like to look at Dark Dungeons, for one.
posted by Zed at 10:34 AM on December 1, 2011

Response by poster: Just to follow up on this...

I went out and bought the Pathfinder Beginner Box, which turned out to be excellent, and have run through with my niece who loved it. I have since gone on to purchase further Pathfinder products as, frankly they are amazing.

Dungeons & Dragons who?
posted by DuchessProzac at 1:42 PM on December 30, 2011

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