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Old 05-05-2020, 10:47 PM
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Very basic starter D&D during COVID lockdown


We are struggling to keep going during the social distancing.

The Cub has asked if there's any basic way to start D&D while it's just the three of us in isolation?

Any thoughts / suggestions?
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Old 05-05-2020, 11:06 PM
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The Dungeons & Dragons Starter Set has pre-generated characters, an extensive (and pretty good) adventure, and tips for DMing. Plus, it's fairly inexpensive. We've been playing through the adventure with one of my home groups, and enjoying it a lot.

With only two players (plus the DM), you'll likely want to scale back the encounters some, but there may well be some tips on that in the DM booklet.
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Old 05-05-2020, 11:36 PM
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We did something like this when we just wanted to play you might beable to work it out for your game


there used to a thing I'm the dms kit that had a bunch of monsters that were numbered and a bunch of treasure numbered

the 3 lines of story was it was a magical cave of training and we were sent there to train by various official entities the official end would be when we got to the magic portal at the bottom of the cave

so all the dm did take a piece of graph paper draw out a cave passage and every so often hed draw out a path going forward left or right or sometimes up or down and we rolled a 3 sided die to pick which way and then rolled to see what was in the path or cavern or room etc with 2 20 sided dice (sort of the basis what they call a rouge-like PC game) then roll to see how many and at the end to see what treasure ya got

Note the dm occasionally has to re-roll because you could end up with stuff they can't fight yet and treasure you couldn't get unless you were fighting on the demon plains .....

Last edited by nightshadea; 05-05-2020 at 11:37 PM.
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Old 05-05-2020, 11:57 PM
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You can download the basic rules here. They allow for the core races and the main archetype classes (healer cleric, thief rogue, champion fighter, etc). It explains how to make a character and how to play the game.

WotC has a set of five one-hour mini-adventures for free to download through May 11th. They are for levels 1-2 and should be easy to read and run one to get a feel for how to play the game from the DM's side.

Between those two free downloads, you should be good to go and see if you guys like the game. If you don't have dice, there's a bajillion free dice rolling apps out there.

Last edited by Jophiel; 05-06-2020 at 12:01 AM.
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Old 05-06-2020, 12:03 AM
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You can also keep an eye on this page for other free WotC offerings. In addition to the mini-adventures I linked, there's another free module for levels 1-4.
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Old 05-06-2020, 12:23 AM
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My daughter and her friends have started a Zoom game. It seems to be going well. If you want a larger party, my son would love to join.
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Old 05-06-2020, 06:59 AM
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In addition to the free Basic Rules and the Starter Set, I'd also recommend the D&D Essentials Kit.. It's similar to the Starter Set, with pre-gen chararacters and a solid introductory adventure. It's set up as a bit more of a sandbox than the Starter Set, but it worked pretty well when I ran it. It also comes with some nifty physical bits, like cards to hand out to players for treasures and quests.
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Old 05-06-2020, 08:20 AM
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Originally Posted by nightshadea View Post
. . .
Note the dm occasionally has to re-roll because you could end up with stuff they can't fight yet and treasure you couldn't get unless you were fighting on the demon plains .....
Once upon a time, I played in a scenario that turned out to be, not a starter dungeon, but a starting dungeon. It was in the process of being built. Some rooms were half-built, or empty. Also, sometimes you'd run into things like a 6" gelatinous cube. The idea being that it would grow to threatening size by the time the dungeon was fully functional.

It was a good excuse to scale down interesting monsters into forms that a first level party could handle.

The GM also used as many different traps as he possibly could. The scenario would have let him leave traps half-built. Not that he did that. He figured that the characters may have been beginners, but the players weren't, which was fair. That would not be the OP's case. In the OP's case, half-built traps could be perfect.
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Old 05-06-2020, 08:32 AM
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Originally Posted by kenobi 65 View Post
The Dungeons & Dragons Starter Set has pre-generated characters, an extensive (and pretty good) adventure, and tips for DMing. Plus, it's fairly inexpensive.
Quote:
Originally Posted by gdave View Post
In addition to the free Basic Rules and the Starter Set, I'd also recommend the D&D Essentials Kit.. It's similar to the Starter Set, with pre-gen chararacters and a solid introductory adventure.
For the record, either of these are very good ways to start the game. I offered my links as a free and immediate way to start looking into the game (I don't know how long Amazon is taking to ship these days) but I'd recommend either of those packages as well if the time and money isn't a factor.

Edit: It looks as though WotC is offering the Essentials Kit Rule Book for free as well right now. At 66 pages, it looks more streamlined than the Basic Rules, even.

Last edited by Jophiel; 05-06-2020 at 08:36 AM.
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Old 05-06-2020, 08:36 AM
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Further on the Essentials Kit: it also has expanded rules for Companions, NPCs who adventure alongside the Player Characters, which can be useful to bulk up a smaller party.

Back to the Starter Set, it is, I think, still temporarily available for free through Roll20, and the basic account for Roll20 is also free. Since Roll20 is a Virtual Table Top, the way the Starter Set is formatted on Roll20 it isn't easily downloadable or printable, but it's still very useful as an online reference.

In fact, if you've got two computers and two screens, especially if you can hook one computer up to a big-screen TV, you could use Roll20 to run the game, with the players sharing one big screen and the DM using the other screen. More than a few gaming groups actually used Roll20 this even before the pandemic, sitting in the same room around a table, but using screens instead of physical maps and minis.

Now, D&D doesn't need maps and miniatures, and there are groups that prefer "theater of the mind", but their obviously aberrations from the Far Realm. There are a lot of cheap, or Pay-What-You-Want, or free resources for papercraft minis and terrain pieces. For certain values of "fun", it could be a fun crafts project for your family to print out and assemble the minis and terrain pieces you use for your game.
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Old 05-06-2020, 09:47 AM
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Now, D&D doesn't need maps and miniatures, and there are groups that prefer "theater of the mind", but their obviously aberrations from the Far Realm. There are a lot of cheap, or Pay-What-You-Want, or free resources for papercraft minis and terrain pieces. For certain values of "fun", it could be a fun crafts project for your family to print out and assemble the minis and terrain pieces you use for your game.
If your family has a lot of LEGOs, itís fun constructing your own figures. And dungeon or terrain features.
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Old 05-06-2020, 10:47 AM
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You can certainly play D&D without accessories and just "Theater of the Mind" it. That's how we played it for years in the 80s and 90s until I stopped playing. When I started playing again, some five or six years ago, most groups were using maps and minis but you don't have to.

If you want to use the maps & minis approach, wrapping paper usually has a 1" grid on the back and makes for cheap and easy battle mats (which also have a 1" grid). You can use toys, coins, paper tokens or whatever else to represent players and enemies. But, again, you can also just imagine it.
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Old 05-06-2020, 11:39 AM
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On another tangent, you might want to try a different RPG. The designers of 5th Edition did a fantastic job of making a game that feels like classic D&D, but doesn't actually require particular classes or class mixes to create a balanced party. And you don't need 4+ party members. But, it's really optimized for four or so. It's going to be a bit of struggle trying to balance everything for only two players.

There are a lot of other RPGs out there, though.

Fate is a popular, "light-weight" RPG that really leans into RPGs as collaborative story-telling rather than tactical war-game. It has three variants - Fate Core, Fate Accelerated, and the brand-new Fate Condensed. Core is the most elaborate version of the rules. Accelerated is a faster version that's more new-player friendly. Condensed is, the creators insist, just a variant of Core, not Core 2nd Edition...but it's Core 2nd Edition. It's a lot more streamlined.

All three versions are available Pay-What-You-Want through DriveThruRPG or itch.io. Fate is really designed for the GM and the other players to collaboratively build the world and adventures, for which you don't need anything more than the core books, but it also has a TON of "Worlds of Adventures", also PWYW. These are sort of a combination mini-setting/campaign/adventure book. There are a LOT of different genres, from magical cats protecting their humans friends to swords-and-lasers planetary fantasy .

My personal favorite RPG is Savage Worlds, which recently released a brand-new Adventure Edition. The PDF is only $10. Savage Worlds is definitely crunchier that Fate, and retains a lot of table-top tactical wargamey elements, but that's the style of game I prefer, anyway. For me, it really hits the sweet spot between more narrative games and more tactical games. It's a Fast! Fun! Furious! RPG of pulpy, savage action and adventure. It's a really flexible system, that works well straight out of the box while also explicitly leaving a lot of room for GM tinkering.

It also works well for smaller groups. In the new Adventure Edition book, the artwork and the examples feature a pair of "iconic" characters, "Gabe" and "Red". (Regardless of genre, Red's player likes making fierce female warriors with long, flowing red hair, while Gabe's player likes making sturdy, powerful guys with an emphasis on tech skills and heavy weapons. If you really want to get hit in the feels, look at the artwork and read the examples, then look at the final piece of splash-page artwork, and the implied meta-story about the players playing "Gabe" and "Red". It's also eerily prescient of the current situation).

Powered by the Apocalypse has a rich ecosystem of 3rd party games. Like Fate, they're much more collaborative story-building than tactical wargaming, but PbtA's system of "playbooks" makes them very newbie-friendly - players get a booklet that lays out and explains all of their character options, and, in the better examples, provide a ton of quick but evocative character hooks. My personal favorites include Masks: A New Generation, Dungeon World, and Monster of the Week.

There are also games like No Thank You Evil which are specifically designed for introducing younger gamers to RPGs and for family gaming.
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Old 05-06-2020, 12:45 PM
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Originally Posted by gdave View Post
On another tangent, you might want to try a different RPG. The designers of 5th Edition did a fantastic job of making a game that feels like classic D&D, but doesn't actually require particular classes or class mixes to create a balanced party. And you don't need 4+ party members. But, it's really optimized for four or so. It's going to be a bit of struggle trying to balance everything for only two players.
I don't think it's all that hard, especially with short rests for hit point recovery. And the Essentials rules linked earlier give the rules for sidekicks in case the party decides they really need to take a fighter or healer along but no one wants to play one.

More to the point though, if the kid suddenly decided he wants to try D&D, it's likely based on one of the popular streams/videos and I think he'd rather want to try the game he saw than something else. Plus, he might already be passingly familiar with the 5e rules from watching.
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Old 05-06-2020, 01:10 PM
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I don't think it's all that hard, especially with short rests for hit point recovery. And the Essentials rules linked earlier give the rules for sidekicks in case the party decides they really need to take a fighter or healer along but no one wants to play one.

More to the point though, if the kid suddenly decided he wants to try D&D, it's likely based on one of the popular streams/videos and I think he'd rather want to try the game he saw than something else. Plus, he might already be passingly familiar with the 5e rules from watching.
*Shrug* Agree to disagree, I guess. As I wrote, I don't think you need any particular classes in the party, but in my experience, the game is really optimized for four or so players in addition to the GM. The pre-made adventures definitely are.

And, sure, if the kid specifically and explicitly wants to play Dungeons & Dragons (TM), then absolutely, play Dungeons & Dragons (TM). And don't get me wrong, I think 5E is a great game, and I really enjoy it, so even if the kid just wants to play "D&D" without caring specifically about the brand, it's a perfectly good choice. I was just pointing out some other options.
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Old 05-11-2020, 09:55 AM
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Now I'm curious about whether the game happened, and how it went.
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Old 05-16-2020, 06:06 PM
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I have not played a virtual D&D game, but it seems social distancing has caused an uptick in the number of people playing that way. You can use Zoom or some other general group video chat, or you can invest in some of the virtual tabletop apps that are purpose-built for RPG games and have the rules, character sheets, mapping tools, and whatnot all within the app. I have played 5th edition D&D and think it is a good game. My main complaint with D&D, in any edition, is that it seems most fun to me at low levels. I am happy playing in the level 1 to level 10 range forever. As character levels increase, you start being able to do amazing things, but the game seems to get more cumbersome, combat gets more tedious, and additional rules and bookkeeping suck some of the fun out of it.
Like gdave above, my favorite game currently is Savage Worlds, for pretty much the exact same reasons. (Thumbs up to gdave!)
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