View Full Version : [4E] Starting a D&D Game For the First Time

2011-02-15, 04:12 PM
Alright, I'm part of a group of four friends and as an introduction to D&D, we played the D&D Essentials Red Box campaign and we had a lot of fun and now we want to get into normal D&D 4E.

What do I need to get?


When it comes to manuals, does every player need to own a copy of one, or can we just share one Player's Handbook? We're all poor college students right now.


Are there any good campaigns that anyone can recommend for a first time?

2011-02-15, 04:20 PM
Yes, you can all share the same books. I've been in groups where that was done, and it worked OK so long as everybody understood that it was going to be a little slower while you handed books around.

You pretty much need to re-buy only the core books (player, DM, monsters), but beyond that, you don't need anything (you may, however, want other things). Don't buy them new--there are lots of used-book sites where you can get them cheaper. Do some research and compare prices. Borrow a friend's copy and look through it to make sure you want it.

You're aware that the 3.5 and Pathfinder core rules are free online, yes? But beware: 3.5 and 3.P are very, very different from 4th. It's not the same game at all. I prefer it (so I like that it's not like 4th), but fair warning--they might as well be totally different games. Except for both being fantasy RPGs that use d20s and a set of six stats, the feel is very very different.

Essentials and normal 4e are very similar in feel and style, though. Make sure you actually want to spend the money to switch.

Mando Knight
2011-02-15, 04:23 PM
The rest of the Essentials line will build up the most like the characters in the Red Box. Mix it in with older books for more options. You can also go the cheap route for grabbing material and do what I do: just get a DDI subscription and go from there.

There's no rule anywhere that people can't share resources for their own games, so your group can pitch in together for a subscription to DDI.

For campaigns, it really depends on what you want. There's two full campaigns that I'm aware of, though one requires a subscription to DDI, and the other is a series of smaller linked adventure packages. You can get the three campaign world books (Forgotten Realms, Dark Sun, Eberron), but they're mostly just background information for those campaigns and don't have full level 1-30 adventures in them. There's also a couple of Super Adventures, which are full-size books with series of dungeons and adventures for a specific level range (including one for the Tomb of Horrors), and one book (called Dungeon Delves) that's just a bunch of pregenerated dungeons made for each range of character levels but only has a few plot hooks.

2011-02-15, 04:23 PM
If you're poor college students then have everyone chip in $20 and buy a year's subscription to DDI (http://www.wizards.com/DnD/Subscription.aspx). That will give you a (currently buggy) Character Builder (with access to all currently published materials), Adventure Tools (AKA Monster Builder - access to a monster-creation utility and all monsters currently published), and the Rules Compendium (which has pretty much everything else). Oh, and back-copies of Dragon Magazine if you go in for that sort of thing :smalltongue:

Aside from that, buy a physical copy of the Player's Handbook I ("PHB I"), Dungeon Master's Guide I ("DMG I") and download the Errata for them (http://www.wizards.com/dnd/Article.aspx?x=dnd/updatesarchive) and you will have all you need (save dice!).

As for campaigns... I'd honestly recommend just writing up your own following the guidelines in DMG I. I've never been happy with modules and 4e is easy enough to run that I'd advocate "learning by doing" over "learning by example."

2011-02-15, 04:23 PM
Well these are what you are going to want to get in order (assuming just one book due to lack of money).

1) Heroes of the forgotten Lands or Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdom or Players Handbook 1 (buy additional books as you go).

Both Heroes books are essentials classes which are closer to what you have already played and each has all the rules that you need to play a character. The PHB 1 is similar and has the original classes in it (and older nonupdated rules). The Heroes books are cheaper individually but the PHB has some good classes in it and will have slightly more classes in one book. If you can get an in person look at each book and see which has the stuff you want.

2) Monster Vault- This is the most recent version of the classic monster and comes with a bunch of stuff. This is your best value and mechanics for monsters

3) DM Kit- Best overall DM package due to all the stuff that comes with it.

Multiple players books could be needed if your group can not share easily. If you all live in the same house it is not as needed though eventually in the long term you will want to each have your own player oriented book (one of the Heroes books or the PHB 1)

Lastly check your local library. My local library has a bunch of D&D books including the PHB and the dungeon masters guide. This can help you out while you try to build your library and can help you get access to splat books.

2011-02-15, 04:24 PM
I was considering giving Pathfinder a try, though I figured it'd be best to stick to 4E for now as it'd be easier for my friends to ease into from Essentials.

Didn't know the core rules were free though...hm...

Thanks for the info.

2011-02-15, 04:30 PM
"Need" is relative.

Depending on the funds you have, I'd get books in the following order:

"Classic" 4.0:
Optional: Rules Compendium (Has almost all the errata and rules in one book)
Monster Book (Can be any MM or Monster Vault, pick the one your DM likes best)

The above is all you "need"

Optional: If you have a computer available at the game table, a subscription to DDI can get you access to the Compendium online, which gives you look ups for almost all the rules, items, and monsters, great value.

Extra PHBs (Extra PHB I's or or Rules Compendiums can minimize passing books around, PHB II and III add more class options.
X Power books, based on what classes folks like best.


Rules Compendium
Heroes of (X) book(s), based on what classes you want.
Dungeon Masters Kit
Monster Vault
Other Heroes of (X) book if you did not get both above.

As for campaigns; that depends on if you want adventures set in a default setting, or a world to create your own adventures in.

If you want adventures in a default setting, a DDI subscription to grab back copies of Dungeon Magazine is great bang for your buck (Scales of War or Chaos Scar give you a whole chain of adventures)

If you want a world, Forgotten Realms is the more generic high magic fantasy, Eberron is kind of magitech/noir, and Dark Sun is harsh survival/low magic.

Hope that helps.

2011-02-15, 04:35 PM
Monster Vault over any previous Monster Manual. For comparisons

1) Monster Manual one- Same monsters as the vault but with the old stats which are not as good. In addition no tokens maps or anything.

2) MOnster Manual 2- Less classic monsters and same problems as MM1.

3) MM3- No/few classic monsters but best designed monsters of the three monster manuals. Probably your best 2nd monster book after the monster vault.

MOnster Vault is a great value and the mechanics are better. I do not think the monster manuals can compare.

Fox Box Socks
2011-02-15, 04:42 PM
I would start with Essentials (Red Box is a good start), then work your way back to classic 4e. The Essentials classes are easier to play, but you can slowly introduce new material in the form of new books (So if someone's playing a Slayer, picking up Martial Power gives them a wide selection of feats, paragon paths, utility powers, and epic destinies).

Whoever mentioned a DDI subscription is right, because Character Builder (buggy as it is) is just about the greatest thing since sliced bread, and it saves you a whole bundle on books.

2011-02-15, 04:44 PM
Just a quick note while the essentials classes are similar to the Red Box Stuff they are not exactly the same. The Red Box has its own rules (one example is that Red Box mages can cast magic missile and it will hit two targets while essentials mages can only hit one target).

2011-02-15, 05:09 PM
I was considering giving Pathfinder a try, though I figured it'd be best to stick to 4E for now as it'd be easier for my friends to ease into from Essentials.

Didn't know the core rules were free though...hm...

Thanks for the info.Huh, thought everyone knew that.

Here you go--
d20 SRD (http://www.d20srd.org/)
Pathfinder SRD (http://www.d20pfsrd.com/)

Pretty much everything you need, minus the fluff.

Fox Box Socks
2011-02-15, 05:13 PM
I'm sure I'm not the first person to point this out, but 4e and Essentials are literally the exact same game. If somebody wants to play a Human Slayer, and somebody else wants to play a Wilden Runepriest, they can both play in the exact same game with no conversion whatsoever.

2011-02-15, 05:15 PM
Some may beg to differ with you on that.

2011-02-15, 05:22 PM
Huh, thought everyone knew that.

Here you go--
d20 SRD
Pathfinder SRD

Pretty much everything you need, minus the fluff.

My D&D experience until recently has consisted of the old Bioware PCRPGs and Order of the Stick. I'm a huge newb.

Thanks everyone for all the info, you're all awesome. I'm gonna talk with my friends and we'll decide what to do.

2011-02-15, 05:24 PM
Go slowly, big campaigns can wait until you are well-versed with the rules.

Mando Knight
2011-02-15, 05:46 PM
That will give you a (currently buggy) Character Builder

It's not that buggy anymore. Sure, it's a touch slow, still, and it uses Silverlight rather than Flash, but it runs a lot better than it did a month or two ago when it launched.

2011-02-15, 07:02 PM
Some may beg to differ with you on that.

Yea and they are wrong. Saying essentials does not work with the rest of 4e is like saying that TOB does not work with the rest of 3.5.

Many people do not like how it works, and they do have some different philosophies in design, but they work together just fine (notice this applies to both TOB and essentials).

I will agree with your go slowly advice though. Big campaigns can wait.

Kurald Galain
2011-02-15, 07:47 PM
What do I need to get?
The best value for your money is the Player's Handbook, plain and simple.

Yes, you can get the 4.4 books ("Heroes Of The...") but the two of them combined contain less information than just the PHB. And yes, you can get a subscription to D&D online, but that means you're renting the information, and it disappears as soon as you stop paying. YMMV, but not my cup of tea.

When it comes to manuals, does every player need to own a copy of one, or can we just share one Player's Handbook?
If you share a book, WOTC's top secret ninja task force will come to your house at night to assassinate your goldfish!

Seriously though, share the books with your friends; that's what they're there for.