D&D start-up

I’d like to try out this out with my kids, and am wondering what the best approach is. I played a lot as a teenager, but it was a long time ago (how long? we only had the 3 basic books, plus Greyhawk and Blackmoor). So I did DM many years ago, and probably recall the basics.

I see there’s a “D&D starter set”, so that’s an option. If the starter set is not so good, I could also build a basic set out of components if someone could point me to the right components and a good place to buy them. Or maybe there’s some other RPG that’s sprung to life in the last 30 years that would also be fun.

I’m open to suggestions. Thanks.

Well, it really depends on what kind of game you’re looking to play. There’s probably a Core package out for D&D 4th Edition out right now, but some (like myself) feel that it’s missed the mark. Quite frankly, I hate the thing.

My advice would be to hit your FLGS (Friendly Local Game Store) or used book stores, see if you can find the 3.5 Edition Players Handbook, Dungeon Master’s Guide, and Monster Manual.

Another option, if you’re not made out of money and not sure if the kid’s’ll get in on this roleplaying thing, is to pick up Savage Worlds. It’s fairly different from D&D, a stripped down rules system for playing everything from traditional fantasy to laser blasting space romps. One of the best things about the system is the price point to play. The basic rulebook is a soft-cover thing a bit bigger than a paperback, you can pick up for $10.

There is indeed a 4E starter set, available as a free download from Wizards. I’m running a 4E game, but it’s fairly tactical and not as appealing to kids as the simple games of yesteryear, IMO.

D&D in general has a lot of rules. We tend to forget when we look back just how much looking-up-in-the-rules there was. Remember when THAC0 was introduced to simplify to-hit rolls? Yow.

You could try out Tunnels and Trolls. It’s fairly similar to the D&D you remember, easily accessible for kids, and has a lot of published solo adventures, which are good for single-player adventures with no GM.

It started off with less rules, which meant that whenever a new situation came up, the DM had to figure out how to handle it on the spot. You want to be consistent in how you handle situations when they next come up, so this ended up turning into house rules. And of course, some house rules worked better than others, so as new versions of the game came out, these house rules tended to get incorporated into the official rules. This doesn’t make much difference if you’re good at flying by the seat of your pants anyway, but can be a big help if you’re not so good at improvising, since you’re basically taking advantage of the improvisations of previous generations.

Or you could get one of the free clones of early D&D that are floating around the net, such as Labyrinth Lords. You can order a proper book, or download a PDF. There are many others around, such as OSRIC.

Another alternative is to get one of the many free, rules-light systems available online. Two good ones are Risus and PDQ. Don’t let their simplicity mislead you, they can do anything you want them to do, including the D&D setting.

If you really want a printed book, allow me to second Savage Worlds.

For the last few weeks, I’ve been running adventures through email for my girlfriend’s oldest son. He sees no dice rolling, and the only numbers he encounters are quantities and prices. I roll out the battles here at my place, then describe the encounter to him in a .doc file.

He never sees “You hit the goblin for 1 point of damage, now roll for initiative.”

He does see “A backhand stroke of your sword knocks the goblin on the far right to his knees—but he’s back up in a jiffy, screaming first at you, then at his companions, in his croaky, foul-sounding language. You wonder briefly if goblins have any words that don’t sound like curses.”

We started with the classic Aleena and Bargle adventure from the Basic D&D’s “red cover” set from the 1980s, and he’s currently fighting goblins in the book’s second adventure.

He really threw me a curveball when he

LEFT ALEENA LYING DEAD IN THE CAVE… but, to be fair, he was really afraid of those ghouls.

An NPC dressed him down for it, and marched him right back up there to set matters right–in the dead of night.

If that’s something you’d be interested in trying, I’d be happy to email you the 11 or so .doc files I’ve written, though I have to warn you that I use a hodge-podge of rules taken from various editions (mostly Basic and 1st…) When you move to tabletop gaming, you’ll have to reconcile those.

Oh, and the descriptions can be pretty bloody, too… twelve year old boys seem to like the idea of severing heads or pouring blood out of a boot.