4E Teaching 4e?
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Thread: Teaching 4e?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Seattle, WA

    Teaching 4e?

    I've got a new group starting up in a couple of days. Three of us have played at least some 4e before (and I've GMed it) but one hasn't played D&D since 2nd ed, and the other hasn't played pencil-and-paper RPGs at all (and I don't know what her other gaming experiences might be like).

    How do you prefer to introduce 4e to a player who hasn't played for 20 years? How do you prefer to introduce D&D to someone who hasn't played? Good strategies for doing both at once?

    If I was teaching an entire group and everybody was new to the game, I'd just hand out pregenerated characters and start teaching people how to use them, but I'm afraid that would bore the experienced players. (Well, one of them has said no, she doesn't think that'll bore her. But I also think that all the players are impatient to get their hands on their very own characters & some real story to chew on.)

    We're playing every two weeks. IME that's frustrating for learning, particularly for people with little to no RPG experience. After two weeks have gone by they've forgotten how everything works and end up spending half the session getting back up to speed.

    These players are all extraordinarily busy. I think I may have more free time than all of them put together. So I can assign reading, but it's unlikely they'll get around to actually reading things outside our regular sessions. And, I feel some urgency to make sure they have fun, since they're all carving several hours out of their precious weekend for this.


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    What has worked best for me is to sit down for a brief discussion of 4e game terms and concepts. If the player has played previous editions, I describe the major differences in a little extra detail describing the edition differenses (saving throws, defenses, attack bonuses, leveling, powers, etc). I then try to run a simple encounter with some premade lvl one characters vs. a few lvl 1 standard and minion monsters. I make this combat brief enough to show some of the concepts before they make their own characters. if there is time, I will run several different sample combats. Mind you I usualy do this with a beer and a hefty does of BSing. But it has always worked out very well.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Highlands Ranch, CO
    Here's my experience. (Sorry, this turned into a blog post - skip to the section in quotation marks at the end if you want to know what I said rules-wise rather than getting all of the background material.)

    I was at a wedding in Florida (I live in Colorado). The wedding was in the morning, and the festivities were done by mid-afternoon. I was a pretty new D&D player at that point and hadn't DMed at all, but I had brought the DMG 2 to read on the trip.

    One of my friends, Zach, noticed the book and asked about D&D. He had played World of Warcraft and knew a little bit about D&D. I talked to him, and he was into the idea of playing, as was his wife, Lane. She had never played anything like D&D. My wife, Barbara, had been playing in a game with me for about three sessions at that point, so she at least knew the rules.

    I helped Zach and Lane roll up some characters in the Character Builder on my laptop, guiding them through the process. Then the bride and groom showed up and wanted to play, too, so I had Zach guide the groom through character creation on his laptop (CB is a free download for levels 1-3, woo hoo!) while I helped the bride. Once they all had characters, I helped transfer their stats to sheets of paper in an abbreviated format (no printer, you see). My wife used her character from our session at home (which we saved on the laptop).

    Zach drew up a battle grid (freehand) on two sheets of letter-sized paper that we had on hand, and we fished around for coins and little dried fruits to use for PCs and monsters. I found a free adventure to run (Keep on the Shadowfell), and we dived right in, right there in the hotel room.

    So picture it: Six people seated around a hotel end table that's been pushed to the middle of the room. Four are sitting on beds, two on chairs. There are a couple of laptops around, one of which is mine that I'm using to run the game. People are busting out their cell phones to use online dice rollers (we had no dice, you see). The PCs (coins) are attacking the monsters (little dried blueberries and pineapple chunks), enjoying the pleasure of eating what they kill (if you haven't tried this, I highly recommend it).

    As for teaching the game, it went something like this:

    "On your turn, you have three actions you can spend - a standard action, a move action, and a minor action. Most of the time you won't have anything that's a minor action, but you can use it for drawing a weapon, for instance. Your standard action is usually going to be an attack, and I've laid out your options for those on your sheets of paper. Your move action can be moving up to your speed or, if you're standing next to a bad guy, you might want to just move one square - if you move away from a bad guy at full speed, he gets to smack you."

    "When you attack, you pick which bad guy you're attacking and which of your powers you're using for the attack. You roll a twenty-sided die and add a number to it (the number is on the power). I'll let you know if your total is high enough to hit the bad guy. If it is, your power will tell you to roll a different die and add another number, which will be the damage you've dealt to the bad guy."

    "You have a hit point total, which is how much damage you can take before you end up unconscious and start to die. You're trying to wipe out the bad guys before they wipe you out."

    That was it in a nutshell, and it was enough to get us through two encounters. We didn't do a lot of role playing, of course, but everyone seemed to get the gist of what they could do on their turn, and they had fun beating up kobolds and goblins. It led to a recurring online game after we went home to Colorado, so I'd call it a success!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    I think it might be best to run a one-shot with pre-gens to explain how things work. Make the pre-gens with an eye to all the things you want to highlight - powers working together, the capabilities of different roles, that sort of thing. I'd probably put a Taclord in there, along with a Human with Action Surge so that you can highlight APs. Explicitly call for monster knowledge checks.

    I am playing with people who don't have experience with 4E (but with previous D&D experience) and I can see them falling into certain traps. They don't tend to think of their special tricks (powers), they don't know how tough monsters are, they don't know how the different roles work, and they don't know how to use their powers together. The social contract of our game is probably different from most, though, since I want them to learn on their own.

    It surprises me because when I first started playing 4E one of my first PCs was a Brawny Rogue. I recall hitting a guy who had been marked by a Fighter with Riposte Strike, then moving to draw an AO (triggering the mark and the riposte), then spending an AP to hit him again. Sucker.

  5. #5
    The basics of 4E are taught rather easily. But things like power combos between chars are pretty hard to teach, that's at least my experience. But I think that might depend on the gaming group...

    Quote Originally Posted by LostSoul View Post
    I recall hitting a guy who had been marked by a Fighter with Riposte Strike, then moving to draw an AO (triggering the mark and the riposte), then spending an AP to hit him again. Sucker.
    I hope you remember it wrong - you can't take the II granted by Riposte Strike on your own turn.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Adelaide, SA, Australia
    What OnlineDM posted at http://www.enworld.org/forum/4e-disc...ml#post5240910 was awesome and you should read and re-read it!

    As to pregens and getting folks onto their own characters, here's what I've found a great compromise.

    I make up a whole stack of level 1 characters and let them pick the one they want and give it a name. Hopefully it's one they'd like to play long-term if they stick with the game/campaign.

    Then I print it from the CB off my laptop, cut out the cards and play. That gets them playing quick in the "one shot".

    Once they are done I give out XP and we talk it through. I let them know they can keep the character (1 free resurrection if they died) and redesign it if they want at this point. I'll email them the dnd4e file, talk them through customisation and even do the bulk of the work for them. Whatever it takes to tweak it into the PC they ultimately want to play.

    But this way they get the intro, get to keep their XP and get to have their very own customised character.

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