Monday, March 11, 2013

Too Poor to Play

My oldest, after watching the episode of community, has wanted to play Dungeons and Dragons.  I have never really played.  As a kid I remember me and a few of my friends wanting to play and looking at the plethora of books in the bookstore.  All of the books were $15-20.  We new we would need at least the player Handbook and probably the monster manual and someone would have to DM so we would need that one too.  Not to mention dice.  So it looked like we had around a $60 price point to start.  Unfortunately, our families were not in the financial position to spend this much money on a game that I might or might not like. 

Fast forward 20+ years and now my daughter wants to play.  The player's handbook has a cover price of $35, another $35 for a DM book and $20 for a monster manual.  While the books are probably below inflationary increases and I am much better off than my parents where when I was a kid, they are still really expensive.  Now the game almost requires figurines, map boards, and other peripherals.  You can still get by with just a pencil and paper apparently, but it seems to be discouraged in the player's handbook and DM Guide. 

Thankfully there is a library and while our branch doesn't have the books, they are in the interlibrary loan and we have copies of the books at home for at least the next couple of weeks.  Longer if someone else doesn't put them on hold.  This will allow us to try the game out, see if her friends will like it so she will have people to play with. 

Saturday night was the first night she had her friends over and let me tell you it was a mess.  None of us knew what we were doing. I am slowly figuring things out and trying to pass this on to my daughter so that she can desiminate the information.  For instance, I told them to write the At-Will, Encounter, and daily powers on an index card so they would know what their attacks were.  Did they write down what to base the attack on or what dice to roll for damage? Nope, they all wrote down the flavor text which will help them naught as they will still need to open the book to check everything (one book=time consuming). 

As I never played growing up, I am clueless.  I don't feel comfortable playing DM as I feel like I am going to be botching things left and right.  We are playing a free adventure; Keep on the Shadowfell.  I imagine there will be lots of trial and error. 

Any tips/hints on how to do this.  Challenge:  players are 11-13yo girls. 


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

You've already short attention spans working against you!
Is there a group in your area that plays? Anyone else that knows the game? You really need the feel of an experienced DM. If there's a store that sells the items, they might have groups that come in to play on the weekends.

Geoff N. said...

The rules for the full game can be pretty complex, especially for a group made completely of newcomers.

You can get the rules-lite D&D Essentials boxed set for $20. It includes stripped down versions of the books, a pre-made adventure, a battle map, character tokens and dice.

If you start with that and they still like it, you can move up to the full game later. Also, used book stores may have copies of the source books at a significant discount.

ROFL Initiative

Geoff N. said...

forgot the link to the Essentials product page...

Talysman said...

Oh, bummer... It's too bad you've already invested in D&D 4th edition, even if it wasn't a monetary investment, just a time investment. Because there's a whole movement based around creating "retro-clones" of older, simpler editions, and pretty much all of them are available as free downloads. And those guys in Community were playing 1st edition, so it's going to be quite a bit different.

For what you're aiming for, I would have recommended Labyrinth Lord (perhaps with the Advanced Edition Companion), Swords & Wizardry, or Delving Deeper, although OSRIC is a pretty exact clone of 1st edition.

There's a whole bunch of free adventures for old school versions of D&D out there, too.

Geoff N. said...

Talysman's suggestions are also very good, especially if you just have the 4E books from the library. I'm a 3.5 player myself, but that's as complex, if not moreso than 4E.

Francis Lee said...

Try this guy (Tim Shorts) over at

MiniatureWargaming Editor said...

I'd recommend trying one of the free MicroLite games here:

They're easy to get into, without any investment, and if you find you like D&D style role playing, they you can make the transition from these to the commercial versions very easily.