ey, I’m Cecil and welcome back to the Role Play Primer. So, as I mentioned last week, this week's session will be regarding the Starter Set for Dungeons and Dragons Fifth Edition, or D&D5E, so let’s go.
Dungeons and Dragons Fifth Edition
The Fifth Edition Starter Set was the first beginner box that I actually bought for myself. At the time, having no frame of reference, I thought it was pretty good. It came with the following:
- A Book containing a slimmed down version of the rules.
- A Book containing an adventure for the players to play through.
- A set of dice.
- 5 pre-made characters.
If you read last week’s Primer, you’ll already be able to tell that this is not a lot. As I said before, I didn’t have a large frame of reference to be able to tell this. One thing to note is the much lower RRP of $20, so you're going to get this for about £15. So let's go over each of the items included.
First up the adventure. The Lost Mines of Phandelver is actually not a bad little story to play through. It sufficiently introduces players to the basics of the world of the Forgotten Realms and includes standard fantasy quests such as saving a village from a cult, fighting a dragon and also an evil wizard. This book is the only good thing in this box though, in my opinion.
The rules included in this box cover the basics of how to play from levels one to five, which is the same as most games that release starter sets. It sets down a good foundation for learning the rules, but that’s about it. The fifth edition already has some pretty simple rules, as RPGs go. It’s more focused on story than gameplay, which is fine, although that's not what everyone is looking for. One thing this rules book does not include is how to make a character. One of the biggest selling points of these games is that you can basically play however you want to. If you want to be a Giant Half-Orc who cuts down any foe on a whim then you can do that. If you want to be a Halfling who is so charming that everyone but the most evil of villains will want to help them and not hurt them, you can do that too. This box, however, has you choosing between five characters with no rules for making your own. Character creation rules can be found for free on the D&D website but were only looking at the Starter Set at the moment, so this is very disappointing. The characters included aren’t particularly original, and also have the personality already decided too, which makes it that little bit more difficult to feel like you are playing as the character rather than just piloting someone else’s ideas. It also does not give any real pointers on how to make your own adventures, which is one of the biggest parts of these games.
Lastly the set of dice. These are awful dice. People that have experience with RPGs and all of the different dice involved will be able to tell almost immediately. The plastic they have used is a lot lighter than the standard most are made with, so they bounce too much, and are weighted weirdly so some numbers are more likely to come up than others. My particular set also had an issue with the D4. There was a small bubble of extra plastic on one tip, making it horribly unbalanced and even after removing it with a file and some clippers there is still a difference and it still doesn’t roll properly. If you do buy the Starter Set, I cannot recommend enough that you also buy a set of dice to go with it. My personal recommendation for dice would be Chessex. They’re what I use and at this point, I must have about 120 Dice from them.
After my more recent purchase of the Pathfinder Beginner Box, I can say that this set is not a very good introduction to one of the world’s most popular RPGs and undoubtedly the world’s most famous.
The previous edition of D&D, Fourth Edition, had a much better starter box, more comparable to that of Pathfinder, so I don’t really know what happened here. Hopefully, when Wizards of the Coast release the next edition, they will look back at some of the better starter sets.
That’s all for this week, sorry it’s a bit shorter than usual, but I don’t have a lot of great things to say about this product, and I don’t want to spew every reason under the sun why this product is my least favourite, because the purpose of this series is to introduce people to these games.
If you have any questions regarding this you can drop a comment down below, and I’ll get back to you. I don’t want to put people completely off this, as this is definitely the most affordable entry point to fantasy based RPGs.
That’s all for this week. Next week I’ll be covering starter sets from older and more obscure games, so it should be a much meatier post. So until then, Safe Travels, and may you always roll well.