D&D 5E Should D&D be easier to learn? If so, how would you do it?

WarDriveWorley

Adventurer
Honestly the biggest asks I've heard from new players to make it easier to learn is making finding the needed information in the PHB/DMG easier and cleaning up clunky language.

I kind of wish WoTC did what Monte Cook Games did with their cypher system and give sidebar page numbers on where to find topics mentioned.
 
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Celebrim

Legend
All systems are easy to learn. The difficulty is in how hard they are to master.

The way to teach a new player is to get them to play make believe, and then coach them through situations as they try new things. If the game doesn't lend itself to playing make believe, that's a problem.

But D&D because it is primarily an process/sim type game at its heart is pretty good historically at playing make believe. None of what you describe is what I think of as poorly friendly to noobs. What I find poorly friendly to noobs is when they have a bunch of specific moves that define the limits of what they can do and they are being forced to state what they do in the form of mechanics and not in the form of fictional positioning. A rules light system can often get around this by having the GM figure out how the fictional positioning translates into a move on behalf of the player, with some negotiation over "Is that what you really intended?" when the move might not be the most obvious idea under the circumstances, but the more you get into rules medium or rules heavy in a moves system the less noob friendly it feels.

That said, I also gravitate to a certain sort of new player. Players that come from wargaming or other settings where complex rules are normal, they may just devour the rules while still not picking up on the basic cycle of roleplay I want to see at my tables where you are stating how you change or want to change the fiction from an in fiction perspective.
 

Voadam

Legend
Stats are the starting point and are very fiddly for little reward in getting into character and the game. This is not great for first time players. I like to go with new players choosing a race and a class and then assign a simple standard array. This is what I did when running a D&D game for my son and a friend of his to introduced the friend to D&D.

I like the standard array of three 15s and three 9s so they are good at three things and not great at some things and the numbers are straightforward. Thinking about it I might just bump it up to 16s and 10s to make the math easier and not worry about ASIs.

Picking spells and skills are a little fiddly and time consuming. Picking equipment can be as well, I usually just give them the starting equipment from class and background and try to get into the game faster.
 


Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Starter sets are the best way of getting into ANY game.

Agreed. If the goal is simply to learn the system, start with a patient GM, a starter set and pregenerated characters.

New players, who don't really know how the system works, are not in a great position to make satisfying character build choices, so don't dump them into the character generation minigame right off the bat.
 





Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
I know what you're talking about, but my brain went to a motion picture about the actual playing of D&D. Not even going in-game; just dramatic shots of dice rolling, book pages being flipped, and HP being crosssed off on character sheets.

Dame Judy Dench is the Dungeon Master

So, Critical Role with better cinematography, then?
 


FitzTheRuke

Legend
First, design a clear, simple, and informative character sheet.
Second, fill those sheets with pregens. New players do not need to make mechanical choices.
Third, design a very short campaign that connects directly to the backstory of the pregens.
Fourth, Keep the encounters easy to understand with very little fiddly corner cases.
Fifth, and yet show off all three pillars.

That's about it.
 



Reynard

Legend
Let's do this.
I once wrote a script for a short "sports film" parody except it was the final bout of a stadium filling tournament of competitive DM vs Players D&D. Having no capacity to produce it, i shelved it and subsequently lost it in a hard drive crash (this was before easy and cheap cloud storage).

I still think a good movie about playing D&D is a better idea than a D&D movie.
 


jasper

Rotten DM
I was recently listening to a Podcast by Mastering Dungeons about the Playtest and they had a few interesting points. The one that got me thinking was in regards to new players and character creation. They pointed out the confusion of having a new player pick a Class, a Race, and then build a background (including choosing a Feat). They discussed the idea of choosing each as a feature of the first three levels.

Level 1 - make a simple background (2 skills, a language, and some starting equipment) along with your race, focusing on the narrative over mechanics.

Level 2 - pick a Class and ASI. This could look like a current Level 1 character.

Level 3 - pick a subclass and a Feat. You have a fully realized character, returning/advanced players start here.

At first I laughed the idea off it sounded so weird but upon reflection it makes it far easier to explain to new players. Keep the choices fewer for those first levels and let them grow into the rules (allowing swapping) of each until they hit level 4. It feels similar to level 0 characters of yesteryears and makes teaching the game simpler.

What are your thoughts? How have you streamlined character creation for new players? I am introducing a new group of young teens and an always interested in ideas.
1. Use standard array.
2. Pick a race. No ASI.
3. Pick a class from the PHB. add 2 floating skills.
 


FitzTheRuke

Legend
In my experience a lot more people want to play D&D than want to learn the rules to play D&D.
That's why I feel they should just jump in and play (no chargen, no rules lecture). They can pick up the rules as they go along. Once they've got a few sessions under them, reading the rules might actually make some sense to them. As should making a character.
 


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