View Full Version : Just starting up a new group and campaign, first timer here.

2008-03-24, 12:29 AM
Its my first time starting up a game (I'm the DM) and I'm wondering what books I should get as a start. I know there are over a hundred books for the games, but which ones are truly needed to get off the ground for a beginner (I know the DM book is a must, as well as the monster manual and player handbook).

Also, should I start a campaign in one of the premade worlds from the source books (FR, Ebberon) or start up a custom world?

2008-03-24, 12:36 AM
1) Past the Core Three, consensus is solidly on "Player's Handbook 2" as the most valuable. From there, opinion is divided between Tome of Battle to allow melee to compete with spellcasters at mid-high levels, or the first four Complete books (Complete Arcane/Divine/Warrior/Adventurer). Magic of Incarnum (which is less about spellcasters and more about utility characters) and Tome of Magic are good ones to think of too. After that it's wide open.

2) I've always gone with custom worlds, it's not too hard and loads of fun. Premade settings are more if you're running package adventures, but some people really enjoy them for custom stuff too.

2008-03-24, 12:55 AM
Its my first time starting up a game (I'm the DM) and I'm wondering what books I should get as a start.

I slightly disagree with SonOfZeal (above me). If you can only get one book beyond the core three, I would suggest Tome of Battle all the way. It allows you to fill the Paladin, Monk, Fighter, Barbarian, and Rogue archetypes with classes that start out useful and continue to be useful throughout the whole game.

After that, Player's Handbook 2 would be my choice.

Also, should I start a campaign in one of the premade worlds from the source books (FR, Ebberon) or start up a custom world?

It depends just how much study time and money you have. If you want to shell out the considerable amount of cash required for the setting books, and then spend hours reading all the fluff and stuff, then do a premade world.

However, if you're confident in your ability to create towns, geography, and fluff on the fly, then doing a custom world is probably better. It isn't necessarily difficult; it just takes some practice. When a player asks, "So, what's over there?" you have to be able to go "The so-n-so Mountain Range. Various tribes of kobolds are always fighting over the boundaries of their territory over there." or something like that.

2008-03-24, 01:04 AM
I will echo the opinion of Tome of Battle; I also recommend that after you read through it, you highly recommend to your players that want to play fighters that they instead play warblades, and so on. After that, PHB II has some good things, yes, but I recommend C Arcane, Divine, Warrior, and Adventurer before those because of the massive numbers of good PrCs that makes available to you.

The problem with starting a game in a pre-made world is that it's quite possible your players may know more about it than you, and that can lead to disputes. If you're just starting out, I recommend you just have it in a generic world while you get a feel for the game. You can ease into Ebberon or your own world as you get the hang of it.

2008-03-24, 01:28 AM
Tome of Battle has some interesting lore in it as well.

Also, the Monster Manual is not necessary out of the core three, in my opinion. The DM guide has lots of useful stuff (the 100 random adventure inspirations are really useful, actually) and the PHB is just necessary. But isn't the MM more or less just the entires, instead of explaining any parts of the system? If you need the monsters, you can get them off the SRD (http://www.d20srd.org/). I don't use the MM myself, instead I make my own creatures, or search through to find a level-appropriate and interesting one off the SRD or one of my books with monsters in it. Or, ask the forum for help if you really need it finding a monster.

As additional books, I will further the votes for Tome of Battle and PHBII. PHBII is especially helpful for the new DM, because it has a quick-create system in the back for throwing together NPCs of a given level fast down to the spells and gear.

Kol Korran
2008-03-24, 02:01 AM
before running off and buying books, i'd suggest to just start playing with the current 3. play for awhile, find outthe tastes and style of you and your plaers, and THEN go looking for books. much depends on what rules you apply (for example: most parties rarely realy consider the illuminaiton factors other when there's magical darkness. and many simplify the grapple rules), how your players play, and many factors as such.
many of the supplements either raise balance issues, add very little interesting choices, and mostly just add a lot of headache to the DM (for example- all the added spells for divine casters from all the books). sure- a wide array of feats/ prestige classes/ spells/ bla bla is nice, but you can do quite well without it. a matter of taste.
i am unfamiliar with the above mentioned acclaimed Tome of Battle. so i can't realy advise on that.

as to choice of campaign world. i'd suggest either take some homebrewed concept of someone here (there should be plenty), or get a published one to start with. the reason is simply to lessen your headache. ifthe party is new however, you can plan a small geographic area to begin with, instead of going for the world (a big valley?). most big campaigns take place in parts of worlds anyway. make things comfortable for the first gaming experince. most players will just get lost in masses of world data...
if you do pick a world, check around the boards for suitable ones to your tastes. most campaign worlds are designed with a certain perception/ theme/ roleplay premise in mind. for example:

Forgotten Realms: huge world, many (mostly) isolated regions (each region basically is another campaign setting- sword coast, icewinddale, calishman and so on). infamous for the large amount of high level NPCs, and somewhat "generic" style. (though that can be an advantage, especially when starting). it is also the world with the most literature, and playing aids (adventures, campaign modules and so on) there is out there.

Eberron: (my favourite, biased) WoTC developed this as both a competing world to FR, and also as one to "break consensus" sort to speak. it is a more "mature" thmed world- everythign is vague, alignements, religions, organisation, villains and more. also, it tries to break many of the "common" dnd perceptions. in Eberron elves deal heavily in necromancy, dragons have their own continent, and barely interact with the usuall races, halflings ride dinosaurs, goblins are accepted by society and even have their own country, mindflayers are outsiders, Rakshassas are a major evil, and so on... Eberron is often "downplayed", but used rightly, it can be a very unique experince. one (possible) downside is the high of "tehcnology", which might be too daunting for new players, and a head ache for a DM. also- very few playing aids... (compared to other campaign settings)

GreyHawk: one of the longest established campaign setting. i know very little about it (feel free to correct me guys), except that it's very medivel in it's style, all the PHB gods originate from there, and it's supposedly the simplest to play in. this world also has a fair amount of history (and aids), though probably not nearly as FR.

hope this helped, and one last word of advice: you can play a perfectly versatyle, varied, creative and enjoyable game by using the three core books alone... don't be set on rules, monster statistics and data, and be ready to tweak a feature or two to suityour needs, and you're ready to go.

remember- rule books don't make a game- a DM and players do.

2008-03-24, 03:54 AM
DM2 is a very good book on how to run a succesfull campaign. I wouldn't go for the extra options for players, but for educating yourself as a DM :smallsmile:

2008-03-24, 03:56 AM
PHB2 is my favorite fourth book, though I started with the Tome of Battle.

We tend to play in custom worlds using the Greyhawk Gods - works VERY well.

2008-03-24, 07:51 AM
If you're just starting and don't own anything yet, try picking up the D&D Basic set. It has a (paperback) copy of the Player's Handbook (PHB), as well as some pre-built characters, a pre-written first adventure, and I believe some miniatures and battlemats and stuff.

If things go well running that pre-written adventure, go ahead and get the rest of the Core three rulebooks (the Dungeon Masters' Guide and the Monster Manual). I know most of this is available online on the SRD (http://www.d20srd.org/) for free, but I, at least, find that having the actual hard copies much easier, especially since you might not always be able to get access to the internet/computer.

If you just use those three books for a while and things are going well, then start branching out. If your players want new options, I highly suggest Player's Handbook II and the Complete Series (Complete Warrior, Complete Adventurer, and others, tailored to suit what sorts of characters they usually play. Tome of Battle: Book of Nine Swords is an interesting book with a new mechanic for melee combat, and if your Fighters are being completely overshadowed by spellcasters it's a great resource; otherwise, though, I find it to be fun but not necessarily required (though a lot of others feel differently).

Of course, the new edition of D&D, 4th Edition, debuts in just a couple of months (May or June), so you might want to hold off on buying a ton of books from 3.5 if you anticipate you or your group might want to switch to that. Which is not to say that you have to switch - I probably will stick with 3.5 for a while, but play 4E at the same time - but it might be something you're more interested in since there won't be some much extra stuff just floating around (for a couple of months, at least :smallwink: ).

2008-03-24, 09:22 AM
Good and simple book :smallsmile:

2008-03-24, 01:00 PM
Thanks for all the help guys, I think I will probably start with the Tome of Battle as one of the first books to get. Also, for the setting, I will probably do a few dungeon crawls before I start to expand into a custom setting or premade one (probably ebberon, halflings riding dinosaurs is awesome).