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Thread: Getting Into D&D: Which Version Should I Play?

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    Question Getting Into D&D: Which Version Should I Play?

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    Alright. I've been an avid Wargamer up until now and I've finally decided it was time to try out a real role playing game. After doing some some very light browsing I've decided I want a game that is extensive. Nothing could be more extensive than Dungeons & Dragons. After checking out a wiki article about it I see it has gone through numerous revisions with AD&D 2nd Ed. being the longest running of all revisions.

    I'm not quite sure if AD&D 2nd Ed. is the best place to start though. Just because it has the most source material doesn't mean it is outdated as can be. The Wargame I play most is BattleTech which ran from 1984 to 1999/2000. While the game went through different editions the changers were minor compared to the massive changes that each D&D revision went through.

    Basically at this point I'm trying to figure out if I should go with D20, AD&D 2nd Ed., AD&D 3rd Ed., AD&D 3.5, or wait for the upcoming AD&D 4th Ed. If I go with D20 will I need to choose between D20 Past, D20 Modern, D20 Future, etc... or are they all the same game with each just being extended rule sets for the D20 system? Are AD&D and D20 different enough that I should play both of them perhaps? Any information, advice, suggestions, and so on would be most helpful and appreciated.
    Last edited by Mulsiphix; 11-22-2007 at 09:05 AM.

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    3.5 is a good system. But it may be about to be come obsolete. Of course 4.0 might suck. You may as well wait and see, unless you can find the 3.5 core books for cheap.

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    In fact, I would suggest GURPS is even more extensive than D&D. GURPS 3rd edition had more than 150 books out for it when they switched to 4th, and most of the 3rd edition appear to about 90% compatible with the new edition.

    However, I would ask what you're looking for in an rpg. You mention several times being a wargamer; some wargamers that I know are looking for a very strategic/tactical RPG experience, while others want to leave that to wargaming and experience more of the social interaction element of roleplaying (the "improv & acting" side of it).

    I think both are worthwhile to explore.

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    Don't listen to PhishStyx....play D&D 3.5.

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    Caveat: I'm not a big fan of D&D, in any version. I don't like the plethora of classes, the magic system, the complexity of combat, or the myriad "feats" (some of which change the combat rules for their possessors).

    To muddy the waters even more, there are:

    • True20, a radically simplified version of d20 under the OGL. There are only three basic roles -- Adept (magic), Expert (skills), and Warrior (combat) -- and instead of hit points characters make a save against "Toughness" to avoid penalties to further actions. All you need is a single d20.
    • Star Wars Saga Edition, which supposedly is the prototype for D&D 4e.
    • OSRIC and Labyrinth Lord, which use OGL mechanics to reproduce 1st Edition AD&D and Basic D&D. A major goal is to be compatible with all the old material out there. Both are free downloads.
    • A few other games that reinvent D&D within the OGL, such as Iron Heroes and the OGL series from Mongoose. They're not very well supported; I mention them only for completeness.

    Even beyond my inherent biases, I'd give d20 Modern/Future/etc. a miss. d20 Modern decided to keep classes, but they're a bit silly: Strong Hero (Str), Fast Hero (Dex), Tough Hero (Con), Smart Hero (Int), Dedicated Hero (Wis), and Charismatic Hero (Cha) ... plus "advanced classes" that actually reflect a role in society (Martial Artist, Investigator, Techie), but which require three or more levels in the stat-based classes. Even WotC has quietly dropped support for it.

    If I were doing any non-fantasy game using a d20 derivative, I'd probably use True20. I'd consider it even for a fantasy game, although other forces might require me to use D&D 3.x or (eventually) 4e.
    "On two occasions I have been asked [by members of Parliament], 'Pray, Mr. Babbage, if you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers come out?' I am not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question."
    - Charles Babbage (1791 - 1871)

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    True20 is nice. I play Mutants & Masterminds in the True20 system. If you are at all interested in a super-hero game then this is a good choice.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Digital Arcanist View Post
    Don't listen to PhishStyx....play D&D 3.5.
    You kidding? I didn't push Unisystem (the greatest game ever produce by human hands!!!) on him.

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    What I would suggest is to find Quick Start/Lite versions of the suggested rules systems and look those over to compare them. Then try and get into some different games using those systems. If you can attend a convention, you'll be able to play the largest spread of game systems there are around. If not, hopefully your Friendly Local Gaming Store will have someone running games.

    Then once you have found a system you like buy the books for that system. Each of the systems mentioned have their strengths and weaknesses. There are other systems out there, one which is a fairly streamlined system would be the Savage Worlds system.

    Personally, I prefer a game system that doesn't use levels to determine character advancement. GURPS is a great game for that as well as RuneQuest. Both don't have levels, but still have a skill system that you advance in. With GURPS, you gain character points which you use to increase stats and skills and you can also sometimes buy advantages. Kind of like feats in DnD 3.5.

    With RuneQuest, every adventure session that you complete, you gain x number of increase rolls that you can use to increase skill or stats and eventually get legendary abilities. So there are quite a few systems around that each has good points to and bad points to.

    Personal choices for me in order of preference are, RuneQuest, GURPS, 3.5 or Hero System.
    Skunk
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    Back off people! The gentleman had already chosen D&D as his game de jour. Peddle your low-quality wares elsewhere. He only wishes to know which edition of D&D to get books for.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Digital Arcanist View Post
    Back off people! The gentleman had already chosen D&D as his game de jour. Peddle your low-quality wares elsewhere. He only wishes to know which edition of D&D to get books for.
    Just explaining to him what's available. You do know I run a 3.5 edition game right now, don't you?
    Skunk
    a.k.a. Johnprime



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    Alright all you roleplayers: Step away from the nice Wargamer. It's my turn.

    He's still undecided on the game he'd like to try. Pretty much any one of the D&D systems will work. (For that matter the Swordbearer RPG would work.) Many (if not most) game masters out there use supplements from other gaming systems.

    I'm not sure if you're trying to switch your current wargame players over to try RPG's, but I have another suggestion. Jump right into a game with experienced roleplayers, if you can. Don't worry too much about the rules just yet. One of the big factors for a lot of players on whether they like a game or system or genre is based on their experience with other players and how well the GM handles the game/adventure. No need to buy a bunch a material if you're not going to enjoy it.
    Last edited by ronpyatt; 11-22-2007 at 05:22 PM.

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    If you want to judge by the rulesets, Wikipedia has an article comparing various versions: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edition...ns_%26_Dragons

    If you want to pick what's popular, 3.5 is the current winner, although there are pockets of AD&D 1e and 2e around. There's plenty of material for both, although from what I can tell 3.5 doesn't have as many adventures, comparatively, as AD&D.

    If you want something for yourself and your close friends, you could pick Basic D&D (with much simpler rules), or Advanced D&D (what many of us cut our teeth on). You could also try some of the alternatives mentioned above*.


    * Except d20 Modern ... it really is like someone who's only played D&D in his life tried to stretch D&D 3.5 into a "generic" game without understanding what a "class" actually means.
    "On two occasions I have been asked [by members of Parliament], 'Pray, Mr. Babbage, if you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers come out?' I am not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question."
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    Question

    Wow there are a lot of responses. I wasn't expecting this much, being a holiday and all, but then again most people are home I guess on national holidays. Alright let me further elaborate on what I am looking for since there are clearly so many choices.



    What I Am Looking For

    Complexity: Simple is definitely not better in our book. BattleTech battles are very drawn out. A singe battle can last anywhere from 3-4 hours to literally weeks with only a couple of players. The length is decided on how many units are in play. I'm not looking for a "wam - bam - thank you mam" kind of game. I want something that will be very drawn out (so Savage Lands is out). I want any campaign I'm running to last weeks or even months. A "lack of time" is not a problem. I love BattleTech because it is a thinking man/woman's game. It requires real strategy to win. I can't stand Warhammer/Warhammer 40K because every game is only six turns long. Far to short for my tastes and the level of strategy is non-existent compared to BattleTech.

    Source Material: I actually prefer to wait for a product line to be around for a couple of years before I start buying material for it. I like to have many different items to choose from and for this reason I doubt I'll be taking up AD&D 4th Ed. anytime soon. I'm only interested in a product that has a wealth of source material published for it. Even if that edition/product line is discontinued I still have a plethora of existing products to use with it. As long as the game system is sound and enjoyable I am more than happy to use outdated versions/editions of a RPG.

    Who I'm Playing With: My wife and I try to play BattleTech at least 4 hours every single day. Other than watching movies and work it is about the only thing we do for fun. My sister drops by sometimes for a game and she even brings her boyfriend some of those times. We have a neighbor we play with sometimes and I'm currently trying to make a friend or two locally who can help enrich our games. We really hope that within a year we can have two to three groups of people who meet weekly to play in different campaigns set in D&D, BattleTech, or hopefully both.

    Current Production Doesn't Matter: I work as a reseller on eBay for a living. Using eBay I have accumulated 115 - 120 of the entire 130-ish products/source material ever released for BattleTech. I've invested quite a bit of money but it was more than worth it. While it may take a while to track down everything I want for a given RPG I am patient and I have no doubt that any given product will eventually surface on eBay for me to purchase. Please don't let the current production or age of an out of print product affect any of your recommendations.


    But Why?

    Why Make The Jump From Wargame To RPG?:
    First off BattleTech allows for Role Playing. It encourages the Wargaming aspect to help bring the RP alive but it is not required under the MechWarrior RPG rules. When we RP for BattleTech I am the GM and my wife and anybody else who are playing try to defeat me in whatever Battle we've setup, with plenty of RP inbetween battles.

    While we can RP with BattleTech the problem lies in BattleTech's "human only" universe. Under the BT storyline there are no other sentient races. Humans pretty much all originate from earth and have gone forth and colonized all of known space. I'm a big Sci-Fi fan so the lack of aliens, fantasy, demons, etc... is truly missing from my gaming experiences. I don't think I'll ever find a better Wargame than BattleTech and I am more than fine with that. We're both ready for some heavy fantasy/sci-fi gaming to help broaden our gaming palette.

    Why Don't You Want To Play With Many Different Systems Though?:
    Frankly we're just looking for a fantasy/sci-fi heavy universe to RP in. A well fleshed out system that we can fall in love with and call home. We're not really caught up on having the latest and greatest system available. We know there are so many wonderful universes out there but it isn't important to us that we "have a taste" of them all. We just want to find a well documented and source material heavy universe to call home. We want to setup camp and play in this universe for many, many, Many years to come.

    D&D of course is very old, very complex, very source material rich, and finding players shouldn't be all that hard if we want to run a campaign. While it is heavy on RP it also allows for much combat. We're not interested in 100% roleplaying. We're more interested in something like NeverWinter Nights or Bauldur's Gate. 75% RP/25% Combat - TO - 50% RP/50% Combat. The story in these games was amazing and there was plenty of dungeons and fighting and death and countless types of enemies and completely enthralling storylines. Hell we even enjoyed the D&D movies. We're huge fans of Lord Of The Rings. In general we're fans of fantasy and D&D looks like the perfect game for us.

    No Talking You Out Of D&D Huh? So Why Are You Stuck On D&D VS D20?:
    While we love the classic fantasy setting of D&D we are also intrigued by games like SpyCraft, WarCraft, WarHammer 40K, and Dead Lands for the D20 system. So we're somewhat torn on whether we should go D&D, D20, or possibly both. If we go both are we learning two different complex gaming systems or are they somewhat the same rule systems? If only going with D&D we're unsure which version to go for. We understand how complex it is and how each new edition has brought so many changes to rules we never knew in the first place. That is why we need help so badly with figuring out which D&D system is right for us.

    Final Thoughts: As I said before simpler is not better. However, being over complex isn't any fun either. We're looking for something that takes a while to play but more importantly something that is complex in a fun way. BattleTech is complex but in a way that truly enhances the strategic nature of the game. I rarely find myself going "ug this rule is friggin stupid/unnecessary". When something becomes complex to the point that it is overly complicated for apparently no reason at all, that is where I draw the line and frown with everybody else. I'm all for streamlining rules but when the result of that is dramatically reducing the time it takes to play or the way a game is played, I'm never for it.

    We don't want to just do this on the side for fun. This is a very large part of our lives which is why it is important we have something that is very rich in source material and allows for the imagination to shape endless adventures, worlds, vista's, and so on. D&D appears to be the perfect game for us. We just need to know where we need to start to get involved with it. We need to know what exactly we're choosing between when it comes to different editions and D&D vs D20.

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    D&D D20 version 3.5 is definitely for you. Many games/universes are out there for your gaming pleasure which are all based off of the D&D D20 system. You could collect for 20 years and never get it all when you include all the other publishers ( a taste http://home.flash.net/~brenfrow/d20/d20.htm ). When you know the mechanics, it is easy to use many other games which are based off of it.

    All the old D&D material From basic, expert, Advanced 1e, and 2e can all be converted to the superior D20 system with a little work.

    The D20 Modern/Future/Past all use a version of the D20 system stuck somewhere between 3.0 and 3.5. I have played many games using it without any problems. While not the greatest system as many will tell you, it opens up a plethora of new modern and Sci-fi material. Even old games like traveller, shadowrun, cyberpunk, Twilight 2000, etc. have downloads for D20 adaptation.

    The Star Wars D20 is also very similar to D&D D20. A very easy switch once you know the system.

    The ease of miniature use with the D20 system will incorporate the good crunchiness of your strategic wargames into your games.
    Most men lead lives of quiet desperation.


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    Quote Originally Posted by rabkala View Post
    The Star Wars D20 is also very similar to D&D D20. A very easy switch once you know the system.
    Don't even mention Star Wars in the same sentence as d20. Star Wars should only be played in the d6 WEG version. I have to play Saga so I might have to include that as well but the d20 version was garbage!!!!

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