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D&D 4E Why no beginner boxed set for 4E? [Set Confirmed in post 10]

Imaro

Hero
Goken100 said:
There's no 3-book buy-in for D&D. I've played for years with nothing but a PH and my imagination. That said, I might consider a DMG this time around, cause it sounds a bit more useful. But newbies don't need it, and they certainly don't need a Monster Manual.


You've played, but have you ever run a game? I think saying there isn't a 3 book buy in is kind of disingenuous. Someone, usually the DM (funny how the guy who has to devote the most time to the game also has to devote the most money) has to buy the three books in order for a group to play D&D. Does every player need the DMG? No, but again this is just another barrier to getting more people to be DM's instead of just players.

Reynard said:
Thanks, Scott, for the reply.

Given that you obviously have a long lead time on this, I would strongly urge you and the rest of the design team to not just go for a paired down, half-assed game in order to suck players into the game. Give new, young players a complete and exceptional experience and you won't have to "trick" them into buying the product. it will be good, and they'll want it, and they'll move on to the full version when they are ready.

Go dig out the Red Box and really look at it. Play the solo adventure again. Have someone who has never played before be the DM and see how easy it is for that to work.

That is the model a 4E basic/intro set should use, not a glorified board game or minis starter set.

All I can say is this sums up my feelings exactly. The 3e set went to level 2 and then you had to buy the core rulebooks...when you think about the boardgames it's competing with you really should go for a longer play time, especially at a cost of $25. I would argue you could go up to 3rd to 5th level without a significant reduction in those who will shell out for the complete game (up to level 30). I feel the 3e basic set was alot of pretty style with very little substance and hopefully this won't be the case with the 4e version.
 

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MrFilthyIke

First Post
Doc_Klueless said:
I don't think it's too far from the norm. In the last group I played in, only me and the DM owned any books other than the Player's Handbook and there were 7 of us.

The DMG and Monster Manual are really only needed if you plan on running the game, instead of just playing in it.

I'll back this. I own a metric ton of books, but the next closest person in our group only has about 2 bookshelves covering d&d through all editons, plus other game systems. The rest of our approx 12 players...borrow books. Don't even own them because they can always look up something at the table.
 

delericho

Legend
Doc_Klueless said:
The DMG and Monster Manual are really only needed if you plan on running the game, instead of just playing in it.

But that's just it: in order to play the game someone has to get and read the three books. That's a $90 and 1,000 page investment before you even get to start having fun.

My contention is that that is a barrier to entry for a great many people who would otherwise be DMs. And without new DMs, then we're limited to groups spawned by people who already play the game, which vastly limits the ability of the game to foster whole new groups.
 

Firebeetle

First Post
Reynard said:
Thanks, Scott, for the reply.

Given that you obviously have a long lead time on this, I would strongly urge you and the rest of the design team to not just go for a paired down, half-assed game in order to suck players into the game. Give new, young players a complete and exceptional experience and you won't have to "trick" them into buying the product. it will be good, and they'll want it, and they'll move on to the full version when they are ready.

Go dig out the Red Box and really look at it. Play the solo adventure again. Have someone who has never played before be the DM and see how easy it is for that to work.

That is the model a 4E basic/intro set should use, not a glorified board game or minis starter set.

I found myself quite pleased with the Basic game for 3.5, I felt it really help guide the players through the rules via an adventure. My son used it and it worked well for him.
 

Scribble

First Post
My Intro...

The Book from the red boxed set... Then purchased the black boxed set... Then the rules cyclopedia... Man that was one of my favorite gaming books ever... It also tmpted me into buying various gazetteers and Hollow World.
 

AdmundfortGeographer

Getting lost in fantasy maps
To WotC:

Please consider designing the 4e beginner box to take characters higher than 2nd level like the 3e versions.

Also, the Red Box was designed for ages 10+. The 3e Basic game was 12+. Please consider bringing the 4e beginner game back to the 10+ age range.
 

Melan

Explorer
Scott_Rouse said:
Keep on the Shadowfell will be an intro product for existing players to help transition to 4e rules.

In the fall of 2008 we have a product planed that will be a starter for new RPG players that will teach the basics.
That's very cool, and I say it as someone who doesn't even like the idea of 4e.
 

WSmith

First Post
As someone that had started on the Holmes Blue Book Basic set, I can tell you that by not putting out some kind of Basic set in the vein of the old red Basic D&D sets, WotC are missing out big time on one heck of a marketing masterpiece.

The Basic set I started with, for those that don't remember or are too young, covered levels 1-3, at which time you were to progress to the 1st edition AD&D rulebooks. It also had, in that same paragraph of where to go for levels 4+, a brief description of additional races and classes that were not presented in the Basic set, (it had the classic 4 classes - 4 races.) I remember reading about the ranger thinking about how I couldn't wait to advance beyond level 3 to try out the new classes. It also mentioned higher and more spells. More goodies. It was, however, completely playable on its own. You could even expand on it yourself for higher levels. You could buy the Monster Manual itself and use that, as it was compatible. I can say from experience that with the right presentation, a 4e Basic Set would be a far more enticing "gateway" to the whole shabang!

Two things I would change right off the bat if I were doing a basic set for 4e:

1. I would take it to maybe 5th or 6th level. The 3e boxed basic sets were too expensive to send someone off to level 3 that soon. Plus I really don't think that 2 level is enough time to soak in the experience.

2. I think this is the single biggest flaw of the 3e boxed sets: no rules for character generation. Making your own characters gives the player a taste of the customization available in D&D.

Granted those two things might keep the players playing a lot longer with the set before getting the 3 core books, (and some might never upgrade.) However, but there would be a whole lot more players that stick with D&D in the long run if given a better introduction. The rules would not have to different. They could be the same 4e rules, just don't present so many of them. Keep some options limited, like classes, races, spells, weapons, equipment, etc.

My 2 cents.
 

Maggan

Writer of The Bitter Reach
WSmith said:
2. I think this is the single biggest flaw of the 3e boxed sets: no rules for character generation. Making your own characters gives the player a taste of the customization available in D&D.

It's not much of a flaw, since it is included. Quoting from an EN World review:

The book then goes into some of the stuff that makes Dungeons and Dragons an icon of fantasy gaming. It provides a blank character sheet, explanation of ability scores, information on how to roll ability scores (good old four d6), skills (a very reduced list with no knowledge, healing, profession or survival skills), racial stats (abbreviated of course), and at this point, I note that the simplification includes knocking out the gnome, half-elf and half-orc.

I've read some comments about other people not finding character generation in the Basic Set. One time it turned out that the Advanced Rulebook was missing. Maybe your Basic Set has the same flaw?

/M
 

Imaro

Hero
Maggan said:
It's not much of a flaw, since it is included. Quoting from an EN World review:



I've read some comments about other people not finding character generation in the Basic Set. One time it turned out that the Advanced Rulebook was missing. Maybe your Basic Set has the same flaw?

/M

I think the disconnect is that the 3e basic set did not include character creation rules while the 3.5 set did. At least that's what I remeber.
 

masshysteria

Explorer
How about including a $5-$10 off coupon for the PHB, MM, or DMG in the basic set? I know if I was a 12 year old, that coupon would be greatly appreciated. And for those that already have the core books but buy the basic set, the coupon could be passed on to get someone else in on the game.
 

Varianor Abroad

First Post
Reynard said:
Given that you obviously have a long lead time on this, I would strongly urge you and the rest of the design team to not just go for a paired down, half-assed game in order to suck players into the game. Give new, young players a complete and exceptional experience and you won't have to "trick" them into buying the product. it will be good, and they'll want it, and they'll move on to the full version when they are ready.

I concur. The current "starter drug" is cool in that it has minis, but it stops really short of being a usable product. Or rather it doesn't go quite far enough to hook potential players. The old boxed set that I got in 1981 ignited my appetite. As soon as I and my friends exhausted its possibilities (not long to be sure, but it did last most of a year), I was buying the PH, DMG and MM to get to the "Advanced" game because I knew it was cooler.

The 3.5 boxed set is good for one short adventure. Bleah.
 

Delta

First Post
Reynard said:
If the game is intended to draw in a new, presumably younger, gaming crowd -- a new generation, as it were -- why is there no "Basic Set" for the game? I am sure I am not alone in saying that the old Basic Set (mine was the one with the hot cleric chick and Bargle) got me hooked forever by the time I finished the solo adventure...

This is the single biggest thing I can't understand about TSR/WOTC. The biggest sales uptick of all time was back circa-1980, when they happened to have a basic ruleset with full character generation options inside for levels 1-3. If building the "character" is the overwhelming massive hook in this game, then you simply must, must, must expose that in the Basic game offering.

But for some reason they never have done that since the early 80's. To be frank, I think it's just madness. Maybe they can no longer figure out how to cut down the chargen options for early levels, but I doubt that's the reason.
 

Henry

Autoexreginated
It's so hard to tell if a "starter" set will fly in today's market, because it seems like WotC has done it twice, and both times people weren't happy with it.

Think about the "German Board Game" craze of the past few years -- each player only has a few to a couple dozen options available to them, allowing hundreds of permutations to encourage play, but without drowning the new player in them. Having it as almost a totally different game based on d20 would seem to make the most sense: The Holmes / Moldvay versions (the Moldvay was EXTREMELY popular, I recall Gary or someone else from TSR at the time telling me) had maybe 20 to 30 choices for the player to make, tops - ability scores, about 7 classes / races, hit points, basic AC, and spell choices, of which there were a few. That's one of the things I think made its success -- the simplicity that allowed the whole thing to fit in about 64 pages. Such a pared down game would kill off feats, skills, and only giving 1 or 2 powers to each class. I have no idea how complicated the new racial and class abilities are, but I would almost think they have to be stripped to bare minimums to make character creation very simple for such a basic set.

THEN you'd hit them with a couple of pages of "IF YOU LIKE THIS GAME..." previewing the hundreds and hundreds of options that the full game gives you. After all, most of those "German Board Games" focus on strategy/gameplay over customization, and I think that's where you can hook people. The biggest draw of RPG's in my opinion has always been in both the strategy and the roleplay, rather than the rules and the character-building. To much character-building or rules to GET to the strategy or roleplay, and it starts to turn the light off for the new players.

This is the single biggest thing I can't understand about TSR/WOTC. The biggest sales uptick of all time was back circa-1980, when they happened to have a basic ruleset with full character generation options inside for levels 1-3.

Side thought that just occurred to me -- we can't discount the "D&D is Satanic" craze of the early 1980's as part of that draw, either, but I do believe you're right in that it may have been the most popular boxed set of D&D ever.
 
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Zaukrie

New Publisher
As someone with two boys in the identified age group, and who are intimidated by DMing right now:

Needs minis and tiles - this is a big draw
Needs pre-made characters
Need to be able to generate your own characters, but with simpler rules
Needs to whet the appetite
Paper counters for more monsters (with a suggestion to check out the DDM minis for more)

Things I'd suggest:
2-4 adventures in the set, not just one
Possibility to also play it like Descent or like other board games - needs to be both an RPG gateway and a boardgame
Links to free stuff on DDI, to get them hooked
DDM skirmish rules included, along with one map - see if they can get hooked on that game - I'd probably put in paper counters to supplement the minis
 

T. Foster

First Post
Every basic/intro set for D&D released post-1983 has been terrible, and none of them have sold as well as the sets from 1977-78, 1981, or 1983. There's a lesson there. An intro set that tries to reduce D&D to a glorified board-game and doesn't replicate the play-experience of the actual game is worthless. A $25 set that you get 2-3 hours of play from (with little-to-no replay value) before being expected to shell out another $90 for the "real" rules is an insult, and is going to turn off far more people than it turns on. Even a set that covers levels 1-3 like the old Basic Sets isn't good enough nowadays, because it took a lot longer to get to level 4 in those days than it does now (the Holmes-edit (1977-78) Basic Set suggests that it should take from 6-12 sessions for each level gained). To be honestly useful, a 4E Basic Set should probably cover levels 1-10, the entire Heroic tier.

The D&D Basic/Intro Set should be designed from the perspective that most of the people who buy it are never going to buy the full version of the game, but that they should be able to have an enjoyable and playable (and re-playable) game nonetheless. The idea that playing D&D requires a regular investment of 4 hours a week for a year or more plus hundreds of dollars of books and accessories should be thrown out the window, at least for this set. This version of the game should be playable with a random assortment of people more-or-less straight out of the box. It should be possible to go from opening the box to completing an adventure (including character creation and DM pre-game prep) in 2 hours.

The D&D Basic/Intro set should allow new players in a group to start playing within 5 minutes (via a 1-2 page cheat-sheet summary of the rules) with a created character, not a pre-gen -- one of the biggest appeals of playing D&D as a newbie is creating your own character; forcing new players to use pre-gens completely defeats that purpose. It should also include step-by-step instructions to teach the game to new players without a group, but it shouldn't be expected/required for players to read the entire rulebook if they've got someone experienced on-hand to guide them.

The D&D Basic/Intro set should primarily be focused on teaching newbie DMs how to design adventures and run the game. The DM is what sets D&D apart from CRPGs and MMOs, and rather than being the game's biggest liability is its biggest strength. But training new DMs is hard. The Mentzer-edit (1983) Basic Set does probably the best job of this of any version, but there's room for even more improvement. Ideally this set (combined, presumably, with web-tools available on DDI) should allow a DM to create an adventure with a minimum of prepwork - mapping tools and pregenerated maps, pregenrated monster stats and treasure hoards (or tools for automatically generating same), big lists of idea-fodder (tricks and traps, environments, plots, patrons, antagonists, etc.). With a map, a set of monster/treasure stats, and a few ideas picked (or even rolled) from the "idea database" even a novice DM should be able to run a satisfying adventure with no more than 15 minutes prepwork, and this set should teach him how to do it.
 

MerricB

Eternal Optimist
Henry said:
It's so hard to tell if a "starter" set will fly in today's market, because it seems like WotC has done it twice, and both times people weren't happy with it.

Here's the thing: Were people unhappy with it?

Sure, many Grognards who started with the Moldvay or Mentzer sets were, but I know people who think Mentzer "dumbed down" the Basic rules compared to Moldvay's presentation. (Honestly, when I started with D&D, and I bought the Mentzer Expert set after starting with the Moldvay Expert set, I was extremely disappointed in how it was edited... that feeling has never really gone away.)

However, how about the people who actually bought the set having never played D&D before? Were they unhappy? Did they transition onto the full game?

We don't have access to that kind of information. I hope Wizards do, and they've taken it into account with the new set.

Cheers!
 

Shortman McLeod

First Post
Goken100 said:
There's no 3-book buy-in for D&D. I've played for years with nothing but a PH and my imagination. That said, I might consider a DMG this time around, cause it sounds a bit more useful. But newbies don't need it, and they certainly don't need a Monster Manual.

Do you use dice?
 

Arkham

First Post
I think what would be helpful would be a Beginners DMG instead of a total beginners set.

Basic rules of DMing, a scattering of low-level magic items, a scattering of low-level monsters. No optional rules, variations, or in depth economic discussions on hireling wages, seige engines, or room and board.
Summary of conditions, a few poisons, diseases, and traps. You should be able to fit everthing in 64 pages, and sell it for $10 or $15.

This way new DMs can get started, and get the addiction, but don't have that $60 hurdle to leap over before they can begin.
 

Scribble

First Post
All this talk of a basic set got me hankering to read the cards that came in the red DM's screen in the black box.

Good stuff. I got thrown in Zanzer's Dungeon. :(

Also, I only got a gold piece for delivering a damn basilisk across town??? :confused:
 

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