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Best edition for new players: pick any two


First Post
I know I'm getting dangerously close to an edition war but I've seen this point made in a couple different threads that many people accept and I don't agree with: "4e is a good game for new players"

While I agree that we need this game to appeal to new players (especially younger players!) AND I agree 4e was designed for that purpose, I don't agree that 4e has been particularly successful with that aim. Yes, it's easier to get started playing it, but after that it rapidly becomes almost as much of a rules morass as 2e and 3e. More to the point, I've observed that the burnout rate with 4e is much higher for new players. Luring them in is good, but you've to to keep them too.

I think the source of this high burnout rate is that there is a higher barrier to be overcome when using your imagination. In other words, if you have a unique character concept in mind, it's much harder to make a 4e version of it than it is with other editions. As a result, a new player tries out a few tropes (dual-wielding ranger, wise old wizard, fearless fighter, etc.) and then gets stymied when they try to come up with something unique. (The character builder only compounds this problem by making it hard to add custom material.) Another example is adlib in combat. 4e makes you It actually takes an experienced player to overcome this barrier and so, more new players are lost.

4e has many strengths as well (please no edition war). Some of the game mechanics are brilliant in their combination of effectiveness and simplicity. The result is that you can focus more on the game and less on the rules and I think that's a big advantage.

I just think that it has not been as successful as hoped at luring and keeping new players. Have others observed this as well?


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First Post
While I may not like 4th edition I can agree that it is simple enough for new players to get their heads around, so probably serves new players well in that function.


First Post
D&D Editions for new players? 4th if they like tracking a bunch of wierd stuff with simple character design ideas. Basic if they want a real simple game to play.

for DMs? Basic.

You are asking as an entry level game not on the basis of how much fun they will have right?

Basic intro to roleplaying I think everyone should play HeroQuest board game.

For an RPG something to bring them in, won't always be the thing or have the ability to keep them. Overly simple will bore many after a while, and over complex makes it hard to get started for many...

There is a simpler way...remove all the rules from the players access, but many will likely not be happy with me furthering that suggestion.


First Post
I would say Basic D&D would be the best, as it melds the classes and races into one - you weren't an elf wizard, you were an "elf" and that meant you could use a sword & do magic.

And, I disagree on 4E. While I don't love the "feel" of the game after having grown up on 1E, Basic, 2E and 3E, I think it is very simple and very consistent. (And, yes, I know it is far from perfect in terms of consistency, but when compared to 3.5, 3E, 2E and 1E, it is more consistent)


Basic D&D is still the golden standard to introduce new players to D&D. They can generate a simple character by generating six scores, picking a simple to understand class, generating total hit points and taking a few notes from the DM. Even playing is easy, as first level mages have a single spell to track whereas clerics have none.

D&D 4th edition is easier than third -- but then, which edition wasn't -- but still includes quite a few features to be tracked during gameplay.


Moldvay/Cook/Marsh by far.

I'd throw out Swords & Wizardry:Whitebox as well.

Both of them:

No uneeded fluff, nor overly verbose.
Easy to grasp rules.
Simple quick character creation.
Complete enough for years of play.
Minimal cost


First Post
Iif you have a unique character concept in mind, it's much harder to make a 4e version of it than it is with other editions.

I honestly can not fathom this statement.

I would have said 4e can create a version of quite literally any concept one could conceive! (the ironic part being that this annoys me about it, :lol:)


First Post
I've been pretty impressed with the new Gamma World for how easy it is to get into - quick, easy, interesting char-gen, plus a pretty clear and concise overview of all the relevant rules.


If you have a knowledgeable DM 4E can support new players, but I think overall it has so many fiddly bits that it gets intimidating very quickly. Even the recent Red Box seemed "hefty" to me as far as rules & fiddly bits went.

Overall, I'd rank the Moldvay/Mentzer D&D sets as the best introductory games for D&D.


First Post
Yeah, I would have to agree that it is the old Moldvay Basic.

Rules Cyclopaedia (ooh look, mangled schpelling...) works too, but for introducing new players, yeah, Basic.

I've introduced folks through 3.X, and through Pathfinder, but Basic was easiest.

The Auld Grump


Basic D&D is still the best

For introducing new players to RPGs, Basic D&D would be my chioce. Either of the 1981 or 1983 sets would be a great place to start; I've never played the later ones such as the "black box" set, but I hear good things about those as well.

The important part is that the game doesn't overwhelm the new players with too much at once. The Basic D&D rules are pretty short, and character creation is very quick. The lethality of the game might be a big turn-off however, and low-level magic-users might be boring to play unless the DM creates opportunities for them to shine when they've already cast their one or two spells per day.

Asking a new player to read the bulk of a 300-page rulebook has a good chance of turning them off the game completely. Even asking a new player to read up on their class and race and a 30-page combat chapter may feel like too much work unless the new player is already keen on learning this stuff.

I feel that 4e does have a tendency to overwhelm new players, as I've seen it with my own eyes. The player of a first-level character has the following abilities to wrap his or her head around, all at once:
  • basic attacks (melee and ranged)
  • two at-will attack powers, which for melee classes tend to be a basic attack with a minor additional effect
  • one encounter attack power from his or her class
  • often (but not always) an encounter utility power from his or her race
  • one daily attack power
  • second wind, which is essentially an encounter utility power
  • action points

In addition to being familiar with all of a character's powers, new players also need to quickly come to terms with:
  • hit points, healing surges, and temporary hit points as distinct but conceptually similar measures of "how much damage can my character take" and tracking them all separately
  • opportunity attacks and what triggers them
  • triggered actions in general
  • tracking conditions and bonuses/penalties which change from round to round. This was a big one for the new players in my group.
  • skills

This is a lot to throw at a new player of a 1st-level character, and they need to get a handle on all of this quickly, as it only goes up from there. Due to the design mantra of "no dead levels," characters get a new power and/or feat virtually every level until they hit paragon tier and they start swapping out powers instead of just adding them. Assuming the player is new to RPGs in general, it is best for the DM or an experienced player to just create the character for the new player, selecting the most intuitive and least fiddly powers and feats with static bonuses.

Essentials does help a bit in this, as the Slayer is easily the simplest character in the game. The player has a slightly smaller list of abilities to learn:
  • basic attacks (melee and ranged)
  • two stances which can be changed at-will that modify basic attacks. Some stances are simpler than others
  • one Power Strike encounter power, triggered by a successful hit
  • often (but not always) an encounter utility power from his or her race
  • second wind, which is essentially an encounter utility power
  • action points

The player still has to learn all of the other concepts mentioned previously as well. None of the Slayer's powers have effects which need to be tracked by the player, but leader characters are still likely to be granting the Slayer temporary HP or a bonus to attack or defense that won't be the same every round.

Compare that to a Basic D&D Fighter, where the player needs to know that his or her character can:
  • attack a monster with a melee weapon, which is virtually always 1d20 + str mod unless they have a magic sword
  • attack with a missle weapon, which is virtually always 1d20 + dex mod, unless they have a magic weapon

Now, this is not an exclusive list of what the character can *do* so much as it is a list of things that the character can do that you need to understand the rules for.

The player also needs to understand:
  • when the character gets hit, subtract the damage from Hit Points. When they reach 0, the character goes down
  • if you turn your back to a monster and try to run away while engaged in melee, it gets a free attack on you
  • withdraw = slowly back away from a monster so that it doesn't get a free attack on you

There's a world of difference there. Even a more complicated Basic character, such as an Elf, doesn't need to add a whole lot to those lists.

And that's my major issue with 4th Edition -- it has a wonderfully streamlined and robust core engine, but every player gets half a dozen exceptions (powers) to contend with as a 1st-level character. On top of that, players (including the DM) need to keep track of status conditions, marks, quarries, curse targets, bonuses or penalties to attacks/damage/defenses, and ongoing damage which are designed in such a way that when combined result in a different set of battlefield modifiers each and every round.

Some new players will probably really enjoy this level of crunch, but for a lot of new players it will be overwhelming and feel like too much work.


First Post
I think we need to give "new players" a bit of credit here, it's not like they look at the powers on their character sheet and burst into tears at how horrible and complex it is.

I mean hell, have you played some of the video games out there? Some of them make 4e look like a walk in the park.


First Post
Agree with rogueattorney - one of the basic sets. I learned on the 1991 basic set, but that's hard to find. The others are all over eBay.

Of course, the OD&D clone Swords & Wizardry White Box would work pretty well too (available for free electronically). Introduces all the basic concepts and puts players in a good spot to move to other editions with more detail (if they even want to, heh).

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