It’s here! Finally! The first installment in the new Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition releases hits stores this month at an extremely enticing price point. And while some fans are hesitant to pick this up, grumbling that it’s all about the money, there are a lot of changes that are meant to draw in new player of all ages. And who doesn’t want to show the next generation of gamers what all the fuss is about? My friends, I present to you the Dungeons & Dragons Starter Set!
I’m going to cover the content of this box set first, if you don’t mind (and if you do, that’s unfortunate because I’m doing it anyway). Included in this package is a concise 32-page rulebook that quickly covers the basics of how to play. Describing the major attributes of a character and how certain scores can bestow advantages and cause disadvantages, the beginning of the book is geared to the newbie.
Quickly jumping into combat rules, the next section of the rulebook speaks to character actions and interactions within the melee context, but also covers how outside influences can affect the battle, too. Moving on to the section on adventuring, we see lots of lists and descriptions of equipment. This is the start to any great quest. You simply must have the right items and luckily this gives the new player a fighting chance, so to speak. Rounding out the last pages is a decent collection of spells for the wizard and cleric in your group. Since this is a starter set, the spell collection is much smaller than you will find in upcoming books (or in previous editions), but it covers the more useful and popular spells. It also describes the effects of each one and in what ways it can be used.
The next item included in the set is a 64-page booklet that combines an abbreviated Dungeon Master’s Guide with a four-part module to take your fledgling gamers on their very first adventure! The tutorial in the front will help acclimate a new gamer with roles and duties of the DM and the appendices in the back will detail all of the items and encounters for the supplied adventure! Throughout the booklet are maps and helpful hints to guide the game in the right direction. Several descriptive passages on each page will assist new game masters in learning the proper way to entice and intrigue gamers in an ongoing fashion. I won’t spoil the surprise, but suffice to say there is a little bit of everything in the way of monsters, from random encounters to undead creatures. It looks to be a great start to anyone’s game night!
Rounding out the accessories for this box set, the good folks at Wizards Of The Coast included a basic six-piece dice set and premade characters. I’m not sure if everyone got similar sets, but my dice are all a marbled blue and include a d4, d6, d8, d10, d12, and a d20. The characters in this box are all first level and include two fighters, a cleric, a wizard, and a rogue. Covering most alignments from neutral to chaotic good, the only parts of the spectrum not included are the evil ones. My guess is that they weren’t included so as to have a cohesive and well-meaning team for the first go around. I’m sure subsequent releases will have no problem introducing the naughtier dispositions to players.
Now, having described all of that, I must say it wasn’t as robust as I first expected. But tempering any disappointment I felt is the truly low price of the box, it’s under twenty bucks! And to be fair, with this preceding the first three hardbound books in the next few months, I should have foreseen that this was more of an introduction teaser than a standalone set. That said, I’m sure that creative DMs will craft their own low-level stories and adventures to entertain their groups prior to the arrival of upcoming rulebooks. As far as I can tell, the only restrictions this box imposes are on the spells and abilities of mid- to high-level characters. But everything about this release speaks to introducing a new gamer to the world of D&D.
In summation, I was happy to receive an advance copy of this newest incarnation of Dungeons & Dragons. The Dungeons & Dragons Starter Set releases to the public on July 15, 2014 and as I mentioned earlier is under twenty bones ($19.99 MSRP and only $12.65 at Amazon right now). My friend Adam did find it for sale a couple of weeks ago in a local comic and hobby shop which really disappointed me. Street dates exist to level the playing field and not give any retailer an unique advantage. But other than that, I haven’t got any complaints at all. This would make a great gift for someone who has held an interest in D&D, but maybe felt overwhelmed by the quantity of books in a previous edition. I wholeheartedly recommend this for any tabletop gamer or even a curious video gamer!
And stay tuned for more D&D news and releases! The new Player’s Handbook is coming out next month!!!