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    confused DnD Core Rulebooks, or new Essentials?

    So I'm passing the DM torch on to a friend of mine, who wishes to start his own DnD group up at his college. He's already got a few potential players lined up, though they've never played an RPG. (I'll actually be running a few games for him and them over Spring Break so they can get a feel of DnD and decide if its something they actually enjoy.)

    Now, the only real issue is deciding what he'll need to start a new group. Specifically, should he just get the Core Rulebook deal they have, with PHB1, MM1, and DMG1 all wrapped up together for about 60 bucks? Or should he take a look at these new Dungeons and Dragons Essentials books that are being released? I don't know much about the Essentials, or what they're even really for. From what I've seen and heard, though, it looks like a bit of a revamp of the core 4E stuff, like the basic classes, monsters, and rules. And with a hefty price tag...


    He also said no to the cheap Start Kit, because he said if he's gonna get into DnD, he wants to just go straight for the rulebooks and stuff.


    So yeah... What should he be lookin' at?
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    Default Re: DnD Core Rulebooks, or new Essentials?

    Essentials is aimed at newbies and nostalgic AD&D fans. Normal 4e is aimed at players who want to have a variety of options and do something different every round. Personally, I'd pick 4e, but if all of the players have never played an RPG before, I guess Essentials might work.

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    Default Re: DnD Core Rulebooks, or new Essentials?

    I don't mean to start up the edition wars again, but if they're strapped for cash...
    why not just save their money and play the 3.5 srd for now? It might be a bit more difficult to learn, but if they have the time, I'm sure that they won't regret it.

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    Default Re: DnD Core Rulebooks, or new Essentials?

    Quote Originally Posted by Show View Post
    I don't mean to start up the edition wars again, but if they're strapped for cash...
    why not just save their money and play the 3.5 srd for now? It might be a bit more difficult to learn, but if they have the time, I'm sure that they won't regret it.
    If they are strapped for cash, there are dozens of better free RPGs out there. I don't think they want to play something other than 4th Edition, based on the original post.
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    Default Re: DnD Core Rulebooks, or new Essentials?

    Quote Originally Posted by Show View Post
    I don't mean to start up the edition wars again, but if they're strapped for cash...
    why not just save their money and play the 3.5 srd for now? It might be a bit more difficult to learn, but if they have the time, I'm sure that they won't regret it.
    The SRD strategically leaves out a few crucial things, like WBL or how much XP it takes to level up. If you have somebody familiar with the game you can work around it easily enough, but you kind of have to know more-or-less what's in the gap before you can fill it.
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    Default Re: DnD Core Rulebooks, or new Essentials?

    Honestly, I'm not a HUGE fan of the Essentials line, but for a group of new players that's what I'd go with.

    Also, it might be worth it if he were to pick up the Red Box. It's designed to be a stand-alone thing explicitly for folks who haven't played D&D/RPGs before. I believe it also comes with dice and other stuff that'll be useful.

    From the Red Box, maybe grab the DM's Kit (which has more adventures), the Rules Compendium (because it's pretty, er, essential for playing), and a copy or two of Heroes of the Fallen Lands for your standard Cleric/Wizard/Fighter/Rogue party. (Ideally his players would buy the copies, since it's a player book.)

    That should be between $70 and $80, if I remember the prices correctly, but it gets him a lot more than just three Core books. After they've run through all the adventurers and stuff with that, it's up to him and his group if they want to branch out into the 4E line of MMs and PHBs, or if they want to grab Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms and the Monster Vault (which he'll eventually want regardless, I think).
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    Default Re: DnD Core Rulebooks, or new Essentials?

    The Essentials books have some feats that even other characters will want (x Mastery, Improved Defenses, others depending on class or build) and are specifically geared toward new players. It certainly wouldn't be a waste to start with Essentials and then buy the PHBs later. The regular PHB1 was plenty easy for me to figure things out, but I've been playing 3.5 and some of the White Wolf games for years now, so I'm relatively used to learning a new ruleset. I like Tengu_temp's summary, that 4E offers more flexibility and Essentials offers easier learning.
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    Default Re: DnD Core Rulebooks, or new Essentials?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lycan 01 View Post
    Now, the only real issue is deciding what he'll need to start a new group. Specifically, should he just get the Core Rulebook deal they have, with PHB1, MM1, and DMG1 all wrapped up together for about 60 bucks? Or should he take a look at these new Dungeons and Dragons Essentials books that are being released?
    I would definitely recommend the PHB1. It has more options, builds, items, feats and other options than HOFL and HOFK combined. It's definitely more value for your money.
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    Default Re: DnD Core Rulebooks, or new Essentials?

    Yeah, having within the last year run campaigns for new players in both Essentials and Vanilla 4e, I'm going to say get the core books and ignore essentials, since essentials is only in the online character builder, which is junk.

    If your players are anything like mine, they'll <3 the character builder and use it as their primary reference.

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    Default Re: DnD Core Rulebooks, or new Essentials?

    Quote Originally Posted by Show View Post
    I don't mean to start up the edition wars again, but if they're strapped for cash...
    why not just save their money and play the 3.5 srd for now? It might be a bit more difficult to learn, but if they have the time, I'm sure that they won't regret it.
    This, for any free RPG. I was a poor college student once too. $60 buys a decent amount of beer.

    3.5 is probably easiest to point someone toward, since it's pretty well known, but there's a huge variety of free or highly inexpensive game systems out there.

    Also, you can pick up the core set off amazon for a lot less than $60, last time I checked.


    Quote Originally Posted by BRC View Post
    The SRD strategically leaves out a few crucial things, like WBL or how much XP it takes to level up. If you have somebody familiar with the game you can work around it easily enough, but you kind of have to know more-or-less what's in the gap before you can fill it.
    Nah. WBL is a guideline anyhow. You don't need to match it exactly, and if you're using any premade modules(something I highly suggest to first time DMs in almost any system), they'll give you a pretty solid feel for the treasure. Note that there are a *lot* of free modules out there, including a fair amount of official ones.

    XP can be outright ignored if desired. I've seen plenty of people just say "ya'll level now" every so often.
    Last edited by Tyndmyr; 2011-03-09 at 11:51 AM.

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    Default Re: DnD Core Rulebooks, or new Essentials?

    I'm pretty sure he'd rather go with the actual 4e books and system than the 3.5 srd. I'll inform him of that option, though.

    Thanks for the info, guys. I'll talk to him about it later. Or just link him to this thread.
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    Default Re: DnD Core Rulebooks, or new Essentials?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tyndmyr View Post

    Nah. WBL is a guideline anyhow. You don't need to match it exactly, and if you're using any premade modules(something I highly suggest to first time DMs in almost any system), they'll give you a pretty solid feel for the treasure. Note that there are a *lot* of free modules out there, including a fair amount of official ones.

    XP can be outright ignored if desired. I've seen plenty of people just say "ya'll level now" every so often.
    I find that one can work without the XP tables, or the WBL tables, but not both.
    Personally, I have the PC's level up every other adventure, and each adventure I give them treasure equal to half the expected Wealth gain for their level.

    I hadn't thought about using free modules to figure out a good guess of WBL. Which you don't need to stick to strictly, but it's nice to have some idea of how much money to give them.
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    Default Re: DnD Core Rulebooks, or new Essentials?

    Right. You don't have to be strictly on WBL, but it's good to be in the general ballpark.

    Actually, if you get into campaigns, a lot of these will negate the need for either one. Most campaigns are labeled with the expected level range, so you can mark it off in chunks and have them level there.

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    Default Re: DnD Core Rulebooks, or new Essentials?

    Pathfinder is nearly completely open and so you could easily start that for free. Only thing that I can't seem to find on their srd is deity descriptions.

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    Default Re: DnD Core Rulebooks, or new Essentials?

    Probably the best deal with 4th Edition would be to purchase the Rules Compendium and a subscription to DDI. Probably also the DMGs if he's going to run the game. DMG 1 is a fantastic tool, and DMG 2 introduces a few more guidelines for things like low-magic-item or Paragon-level campaigns.

    However, for showing the players how to make characters, nothing beats a Player's Handbook... though the Heroes of Fallen Lands/Forgotten Kingdoms also works. No, not even the excellent Character Builder is better, as making it by hand will force you to think about the sources of everything... nothing's more confusing than having big bonuses everywhere and not being able to justify them.

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    Default Re: DnD Core Rulebooks, or new Essentials?

    Guys, they seem to have picked out their system already. I don't suggesting others is going to be very helpful.

    On topic, it really depends on the group. Essentials aren't bad, but the initial martial options in it suffer from a lack of options compared to the others. The Core Books, however, are out-dated by this point, and it might be a better idea to pick up The Rules Compendium and have someone pick up a DDI subscription, as that would be cheaper for the first few months. You could probably even find the old Character Builder and Adventure Tools around, if you don't mind looking through a torrent site.

    e: woah, that got ninja'd fast. Though if you're going for any of the PHBs alone, I'd go for 2. It has a ton of good GM advice, so that your friend will have an easier time running his first few games.
    Last edited by Belobog; 2011-03-09 at 02:51 PM.
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    Default Re: DnD Core Rulebooks, or new Essentials?

    If your friends feel comfortable enough together, I'd suggest the rules compendium and a ddi subcription for the character builder instead of players handbooks, and especially instead of the essentials.

    If not I'd suggest the phb1 for the simple fact that it has the basic rules in it, while the phb2 and phb3 just have additional character options.

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    Default Re: DnD Core Rulebooks, or new Essentials?

    It depends on what you feel the group would like best. If they want as many options as possible, go PHB1, DMG1, and MM1. If they want to ease into it, I'd go with the Essentials books. If you've got someone who is bankrolling the operation, I'd get PHB's 1, 2, and 3; DMG1; Monster Vault, MM's 1, 2, and 3; and the Heroes of the Forgotten Lands and Heroes of the Fallen Kingdoms.

    I also suggest a small shopping trip for the players to buy a mini to represent their character. I'm a big fan of toy stores; my current wizard mini is a toy army man (one of the little green guys). It's cheap and fits into the 1"x1" square. Hoorah!
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    Default Re: DnD Core Rulebooks, or new Essentials?

    I should probably respond to this and say I spent last weekend DMing a LOT of 4e at PAX East, most of it essentials, as a volunteer WOTC DM, and the experience really warmed me up to a lot of the essentials content. It's really quite good, even if the lack of an offline/free character builder makes it a lot less accessible. I wouldn't even necessarily say it's "basic" - just more streamlined.

    So I guess I revise my "Don't do essentials." to "Either way is fine."

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    Default Re: DnD Core Rulebooks, or new Essentials?

    I like how in a thread about "which of these two 4e books should I buy", in a forum specifically about 4th Edition, some people feel the need to say things like "You should really be playing 3.5"
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    Default Re: DnD Core Rulebooks, or new Essentials?

    To be fair, when most people made those replies, the special 4e subforum didn't exist yet!

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    Default Re: DnD Core Rulebooks, or new Essentials?

    There seems to be a huge uproar against Essentials, which I really think it's best to ignore. From what I've seen, Essentials seems to be good, doing its own thing. It depends on the group, really. If they're fine with more basic stuff and aren't interested in having a ton of options to pick from, Essentials would seem like the way to go. If they're all seasoned gamers and have a richer gaming background, you may want to go with the Standard PHBs.

    If they "graduate" from Essentials, the players could easily each go out and buy their own Players Hand Book with the class they're looking for, with more options.

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    Default Re: DnD Core Rulebooks, or new Essentials?

    Ignoring the uproar is best. Regardless of what you buy I would buy these books

    1) Rules compendium
    2) Monster vault
    3) Dungeon masters kit

    Then I would decide whether you like the PHB1 or heroes of the__. Which is best is from your personal point of view. I have all of them and for my group in the end we liked the essentials classes more, but if you go online you will find a lot of people that like the original classes. Take a look and decide they are all high quality.

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    Default Re: DnD Core Rulebooks, or new Essentials?

    Quote Originally Posted by Infernalbargain View Post
    Pathfinder is nearly completely open and so you could easily start that for free. Only thing that I can't seem to find on their srd is deity descriptions.
    It's not in the RD. It's over in the Golariapedia wiki.

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    Default Re: DnD Core Rulebooks, or new Essentials?

    Price Guide Essentials:
    Monster Vault - $30($20 on Amazon)
    Rules Compendium - $20($12 on Amazon)
    Dungeon Master Set - $40($27 on Amazon)

    Grand Total = $90/$59

    Price Guide for 4e:
    Player's Handbook 1 - $35($23 on Amazon)
    Dungeon Master Guide 1 - $35($23 on Amazon)
    Monster Manual *Any One*- $35 ($23 on Amazon)

    Grand Total - $105/$69

    Or for 4e:
    Dungeons and Dragons Core Rulebook Gift Set - $105($67 on Amazon)

    Note: this is all based on Store Listed and Amazon Pricing.

    Honestly I would stick with 4e just because of the amount of Customization allowed for. I like playing the PHB3 classes like Monk and Battlemind.
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    Default Re: DnD Core Rulebooks, or new Essentials?

    I would not buy the original Monster Manual. The monster vault is much better and it comes with extras. Ditto for the Dungeon master kit as both of those come with monster tokens, adventures, and other neat stuff.

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    Default Re: DnD Core Rulebooks, or new Essentials?

    Also, the balance and design of monsters has improved over time - the MM3 and Monster Vault monsters are much more exciting and fun to play with than the MM1 monsters.

    I'm actually really impressed with the Monster Vault.

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    Default Re: DnD Core Rulebooks, or new Essentials?

    Considering it is apparently cheaper and comes with extras the original monster manual just can't compete.

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    Default Re: DnD Core Rulebooks, or new Essentials?

    Having both, I can honestly say that Monster Vault is a better book than MM1. More interesting information, better stat blocks, and tokens for every single monster (which you will use over and over again).
    Quote Originally Posted by Flickerdart View Post
    Heroes of Horror is only 1.8 pounds. By comparison, the DMG is a hefty 2.6 pounds, making it by far the more powerful book.

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    Default Re: DnD Core Rulebooks, or new Essentials?

    Quote Originally Posted by DontEatRawHagis View Post
    Price Guide Essentials:
    Monster Vault - $30($20 on Amazon)
    Rules Compendium - $20($12 on Amazon)
    Dungeon Master Set - $40($27 on Amazon)
    You forgot that to actually play 4.4, you need either the HOFL or HOFK book, or most likely both. The PHB1 contains as much information as HOFL, HOFK and the RulCom combined.
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