I finally got my hands on the new Dungeons & Dragons Starter Set for review. When I first learned of this new edition of D&D that Wizards of the Coast would be producing for the summer of 2014, I was a bit cool to the idea. I have been a long time player and dungeon master (DM) who has collected rule books and supplements from Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd edition through 3rd and 3.5 and even 4th edition systems. Why would I want to pay for something new and unnecessary?
Wizards of the Coast then surprised me by rerunning previous editions for their fans and published a free version of the basic rules for the latest in the series to allow for a broader access to the game. The basic rules can be found here.
From the official game site: “Explore subterranean labyrinths! Plunder hoards of treasure! Battle legendary monsters!
The Dungeons & Dragons Starter Set is your gateway to action-packed stories of the imagination. This box contains the essential rules of the game plus everything you need to play heroic characters on perilous adventures in worlds of fantasy.
Ideal for a group of 4 – 6, the Dungeons & Dragons Starter Set includes a 64-page adventure book with everything the Dungeon Master needs to get started, a 32-page rulebook for playing characters level 1 – 5, 5 pre-generated characters, each with a character sheet and supporting reference material, and 6 dice.”
The box description leaves out the mention of edition or the marketed title of D&D Next. This markets the system as the “go to” D&D so the next generation of gamers have the feeling of playing something without having to buy or worry about what version they are playing.
The 32 page Starter Set Rulebook contains clear and brief rules to make playing or running a game very easy even if all members of the group are brand new to the D&D experience. Understanding you can’t cover every single scenario of game play, the rulebook is still very effective and organized in a manner to find the necessary rules quickly so as not to disrupt a game in progress.
This manual does not cover character creation or customized advancement in any way, however the pregenerated characters that are in the box set have a progression already mapped out to level five for easier advancement to novice players.
The Lost Mine of Phandelver booklet is a 4 part adventure that introduces the DM and the players to the classic world of Faerun of the Forgotten Realms campaign setting. It’s laid out in such a manner as to give the DM an idea of how to structure an adventure, issue experience and other rewards, how to use monsters, traps, and magical items, and statistics for monsters and magic items. The books format is very easy to follow and even the first time dungeon master can proceed with confidence using this set as a foundation to his/her future adventures.
The character sheets contained in the set are designed to flesh out a balanced adventuring party of five with classic archetypes that include: the noble (fighter), the archer (fighter), the halfling thief (rogue), the dwarf cleric (cleric), and the elf mage (wizard). Each sheet has a basic background and progression laid out for leveling. It’s up to the player to fill in the other details such as age, sex, and physical characteristics. Racial descriptions and some roleplaying suggestions are also on the card to help the player get into the character.
Let’s not forget the dice included in the set. We get a set of blue marble colored 6 polyhedron dice that will get the group started to face any challenge the DM will provide for the players. I’d recommend this set to any one who wishes to begin adventuring in the worlds of D&D regardless of experience level.
Disclosure: I have no material connection to the product reviewed.