Day 43: Need-to-know for D&D 4e

September 8, 2009

Mike and I participated in a thread over at Story Games about the difficulty a player had coming up the learning curve for 4th edition D&D, and how that lead to a very unhappy session.

Reading that reminded me of what it was like to completely not know a system.  There were some excellent suggestions of what a player needs to know, and as a result of that,  I made sure to explain the following concepts before play began:

Everybody works like this:
* rolling dice and making checks
* initiative and order
* actions in a round: 1 standard, 1 movement, 1 minor
* basic melee attack vs. basic ranged attack

Here’s how your character is different
* roles: your powers can help other people
* at-will vs. encounter vs. daily powers
* rolling a power, calculate damage, [W] means your weapon’s regular dice, so 2[W] means roll twice your weapon regular dice

After that, Mike found an excellent list of what pages a player should read to really be ready for a game of 4th edition.  Here’s that, and what Mike said about it:

Minimum essential reading:

1. “Three Basic Rules” on page 11 (< 1 page)
2. “Power Types and Usage” on page 54 (< 1 page)
3. “Short Rest + Extended Rest” on page Page 263 (< 1 page)
4. “Combat” Chapter 9 (31 pages)
5. “Skills” Pages 178 and 179, from “Skill Training” to “Knowledge Skills” (< 2 pages)
6. “Feats” Page 192 (1 page)
7. “Conditions” Page 277 (1 page)
Total: ~38 pages.

Beyond that, it’s all “plug-ins” as I described before. Feats, powers, skills, items, etc. I myself might include the entirety of the skill chapter in that list, just so one knows what each skill is responsible for. Conveniently, this would bring the page total up to 50 (14 pages for skills, instead of 2). This should be enough for system competence. Yes, it’s a lot, especially compared to what we’re used to here, but it’s a far cry from a scientific textbook.

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One Response to “Day 43: Need-to-know for D&D 4e”

  1. Sandy Says:

    [steals notes for his player campaign guide]


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