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before the D&D starter set comes out #3 “a sudden realisation”

April 22, 2014

Recap: The D&D “Starter Set” for the next edition of the game is due out mid-July. I’m someone who has never successfully played a roleplaying game before – but I’m willing to give it another go. Is the Starter Set for me? It’s title implies it should be, but what would it need to contain to allow me and my friends and family to start our own playgroup and get into this hobby?

Previously: first post, second post


Sudden Realisation Edition: I’m sure I’m not the first to wonder about this, but I’ve only just had the thought. Perhaps the place to start for new players is actually D&D Board Games not the D&D Starter Sets.

dnd starter vs bg - BOTH 1

Which is a better gateway to D&D roleplay? D&D Starter Sets or D&D Board Games?

Combat rules are not the greatest hurdle

I don’t think learning combat rules and running combat is the most difficult and confusing part of learning the game for a DM. Far more daunting to me is DMing exploration and interaction, as well as creating fun adventure scenarios before play and reacting imaginatively to player choices during play – the “roleplaying” part of “roleplaying game”.

All of the above has at some point to be learned but perhaps playing the board games is a better place to start the process. By separating out the combat aspects of the game and teaching that first, players would soon have a good grounding in the mechanics of combat and could then focus on expanding out from there into all the other aspects of the game.

Expansions could extend the board game into these areas and eventually, with all players up to speed, DMing could be introduced and taught through a standalone adventure scenario based on the board game setting.

 

Here’s how I think board games could be developed to become learning tools for D&D roleplaying

1. D&D 5e board games:

Would allow you and your group to soak up the themes of D&D while you gain mastery of combat rules without the need for a DM. Combat rules would be identical to those within the roleplaying game.

2. D&D 5e board game “roleplay-expansions”:

Would add roleplaying set-pieces where you and your group would be introduced to exploration and interaction while still using the board game for combat – again without the need for a DM.

3. D&D 5e “starter scenarios”:

Would be short adventure scenarios developing from the previous two products. Players would retain their characters from the previous games. The role of the DM would be introduced and players would also take turns acting as the DM in short, fairly railroaded scenarios.

 

Benefits

Each of these products is a complete game in itself or extension of a complete game.  So there’s a proper multiplayer game in every box instead of just a book of rules.

No preparation time would be needed prior to the group gathering.

Apart from a short period spent learning the rules at the start of the game (as you would with any board game) learning occurs as you play.

Each game builds on knowledge gained in previous games.

The board game format would provide a more accessible entry point to the game – a format most people are more familiar with.


 

No, I’ve never played any of the board games and I’m not sure how they would stand up to the task – no doubt they’d have to be tweeked to some extent. Most importantly they would have to be re-branded not only as great board games but also as the entry point to the entire roleplaying hobby with a clearly started progression path.

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