View Full Version : New Campaign Conundrum

2012-09-27, 07:57 AM
OK, so I've cross-posted this on several forums already, but I figure more opinions never hurt.

Here's the original question: For the sake of argument, say you had 3 players. You wanted to make a D&D campaign. One that is friendly to a new player (new to RPGs in general; a true newbie), but with complex enough character customization to also appeal to veterans. You cannot count on a perfectly balanced party. You may be missing either an arcane caster or a divine caster, perhaps both.

Which edition and/or campaign setting would you choose? (Saying "I wouldn't play D&D isn't a valid response.")

Here's additional background I posted because most people have been assuming I'm a newbie, as well: 2 of the 3 players have a preference for a particular version of D&D (not the same one, naturally). The only player that doesn't already have a preference is the new person (OK, she's my wife, which is one reason I'm not going to take a hard-nosed approach with what we're playing and things like that and I am going to acquiesce to her request to teach her D&D BY NAME).

I have a current campaign that's going to cycle through all the editions in which she participates (see the DoctorStrangeRoll link in my sig), but attendance isn't regular enough for us to play it often enough for either of our tastes. I'm not going to abandon that game, but I'm also not going to push forward with half the group absent (these two things are non-negotiable right now for reason I won't go into), so this will be a second game the three regular players can play and actually make progress in so my wife can learn the game and learn RPGs*.

I own pretty much every edition of D&D, as well as 15-20 other RPGs, so I'm well versed in most of them. I'm just trying to get a variety of opinions, mostly to A) validate my own thoughts and B) possibly awaken my mind to new ideas since us old grognards can sometimes not see the bleedin' obvious.

*Yes, I know there are better games for 3 people and better games for learning all about how to play RPGs, but she wants to learn on D&D and she who bought my Geek Chic table gets at least 3 or 4 votes on this matter, in my opinion.

2012-09-27, 08:56 AM
I think its a matter of personal taste, but i'd go with D&D 3.5 because it has a better understandable inherent logic than the previous editions (which helps new players) , but don't use too many splatbooks for the start, so you don't overwhelm the newbie with too many options. Why not 4E? Because IMHO all classes feel the same in 4E and i think veterans would like to play characters that really feel different from each other (but maybe your players like 4E, so who knows).


2012-09-27, 09:55 AM
I'd say either a laid back 2ed (i.e. handwave the rules that make no sense, don't throw rot grubs at the Lv3 party, start people above 1st level) or a fairly restricted 3.5ed would be best. There's customization to be had in 2ed, especially if you use a setting like Planescape where people could be from any number of campaign settings and allow kits, but even if you just go 'I'll play a fighter' in 2ed you can't really build a nonfunctional character.

In 3.5ed, this can happen far more easily, so you'd really need to have an experienced person there to give some help to people who don't know what they're doing or you might find that your new players are constantly switching characters as they're trying to get the hang of the game. If you do 3.5ed, I'd say its critical to make retraining easy, so new players don't get stuck because they didn't anticipate how things could change at higher levels.

2012-09-27, 10:15 AM
I'm going to say play D&D 3.5 as well, while nudging the newbies towards TOB, as those classes are somewhat difficult to mess up. In any event, the veterans will have plenty of options to choose from, and as long as you help the newbies with character creation they should be fine, as 3.5 had a fairly internally consistent ruleset.

2012-09-27, 10:21 AM
It seems to me that you should start off with whatever YOUR favorite is, put your best foot forward. Even if there's something confusing, you'll probably be able to explain it pretty well because you like it better, rather than running a simpler version that you don't know or enjoy as well. Plus, whatever she starts off with will probably turn out to be her favorite, so if I were you I'd take the opportunity to snag another vote for your side next time there's a question of what to run.

Joe the Rat
2012-09-27, 10:33 AM
The other angle here for 3.5 (or any system, really) is working collectively on character design - have her figure out what she wants to do (Be an X type character that can do Y), and put the old brain trust together on how to do it. Explain what each skill/feat/selection being considered does, and how the pieces work together.

The other side of that is that it lets other game-savvy-yet-system-naive players see how some of the pieces work for classes or options they aren't using this go-round (always keep an eye to the future).

That said, keep it simple to start out with. A learning walk-through to get a functional character, not necessarily an optimized one.

2012-09-27, 10:55 AM
I'm an advocate of 4e personally, and while that would be pretty easy for your wife to learn I'm not sure how your veterans will take to it. You know them better than I do and (I assume) are aware of how 4e feels and works, so you can make that judgement call.

Have you considered D&D Next? You can sign up for the free play test and get yourself all the materials you need to play.

edit: Whatever you choose however, try to make sure your veterans fall in line and don't make your wife's character useless. That's just fun for nobody.

2012-09-27, 01:28 PM
Unfortunately, D&D Next hasn't been released yet, so I'd go with 4E. It offers everything your looking for in that it's simple to pick up, covers the basics of D&D pretty well, the healing structure and monster roles are friendly to unbalanced parties, and there's enough material out to give experienced players plenty of options.

I'd run the campaign in either Planescape, for the benefit of the veterans, or in Dark Sun, because that's some of the best 4E material Wizards produced.

Incidently, I taught my wife to play with 3.5, but she really started to enjoy herself more when we transitioned to 4E.

1E and 2E are simple, but some of the subsystems are extremely unintuitive. 3.5 probably appeals to your veteran players, and the D20 mechanic is simple enough. But it's way to easy to screw up a character, and the shear volume of rules and options is overwhelming for a casual roleplayer.