*Membership spots not really limited!
*Membership spots not really limited!
Dungeons & Dragons tries to lure back players
By Larry Frum, Special to CNN, and Topher Kohan, CNN
June 8, 2010 -- Updated 1735 GMT (0135 HKT)
Marietta, Georgia (CNN) -- "Uh oh," grunts Karr Doth, the half-orc ranger, as he unsheathes his swords. "We've got company!"
The party peers into the darkness as the ranger charges toward our unseen foe. Suddenly, creatures of bone and rotting flesh rush towards us -- catching nearly all unaware while in the distance, a skeletal figure bursts into flames and advances towards the group.
Yes. We are playing Dungeons & Dragons -- but it's a different version that the makers hope will lure back old players and bring in new ones.
First published in 1974, Dungeons & Dragons is described on the covers of the original rule books as a "Fantastic medieval war games campaigns playable with paper and pencil and miniature figures."
In reality, it is a way for gamers to spend hours and days with friends in a role-playing game that, more often than not, encompasses a lot of time in preparation and play.
Many of those early gamers were younger with plenty of spare time to devote to building and exploring fantasy worlds populated by goblins, elves and the occasional dragon. Even as the game evolved into Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, the fan base changed as players grew older and were replaced by younger players eager to go adventuring.
Wizards of the Coast, the current publishers of D&D, recognized that some of the 24 million people who used to play the game left, not because they didn't want to play, but because their lifestyles changed and they didn't have the time anymore -- so they have created a new rules system to address those concerns and bring back their former fans.
The new "D&D Encounters" provides all the materials needed to run a D&D game, but in a relatively short period of time. The goal, said brand director Liz Schuh, is to get those former gamers rolling the dice again.
"We wanted to try and create experiences to fit in their current time frames," Schuh said. "It is also an opportunity to learn the new rules system."
"Encounters" has premade characters and a premade adventure provided to the game's referee and storyteller, the Dungeon Master. Maps, tokens, game pieces and player aids, such as bonus cards, are all included.
The adventure is spread out over 12 weeks, but it only takes about two hours to play each week's encounter. Mark Watkins, a Dungeon Master for the "Encounters" game at Ravens Nest store in Marietta, Georgia, said the new version is simple and timely.
"It is very easy to DM. They give you everything," Watkins said. "This is really good for people to drop in and play."
Part of the appeal for "Encounters" was to give the busy gamer the chance to play D&D once a week as their schedules allow. In the past, D&D games could take months, even years, and players generally had to attend every session so that the story flow wasn't interrupted. With "Encounters," players can come and go as they choose and new players can easily be integrated into the story continuity.
During the 11th session in the first "season," called "Under Mountain," at the Ravens Nest game two weeks ago, there were two players who had been there since the first session, two that came in during the middle sessions, and three that were there for the first time. The game is structured so that anyone can join up with little or no preparation -- just a willingness to roll dice and have fun.
Wizards of the Coast wants to remind players that using an active imagination can be very satisfying compared to simply being fed information from a computer screen. "Encounters" showcases the best part of a paper-and-pencil role-playing game: interactions with others and imagining a rich, wonderful world in your mind that you can escape into for even a short time.
They hope it is nostalgic fun for a bunch of old-time gamers wanting to relive the thrilling but time-intensive games they used to play.
"We realize that our older players probably don't live near their old group and have a hard time finding a D&D game," Arron Goolsbey, director of Wizards of the Coast's Organized Play Programs said. "We want to connect gamers together in a way that fits their lifestyle and time challenges these days."
It seems to be working. At a recent "Encounters" game at Tower Games store in Lawrenceville, Georgia, the party was made up of three guys who had played in their youth and were intrigued about getting back into the game in a way that didn't interfere with family or work. Store owner Andrew Phillips said the response has been overwhelming.
"There are a lot of people wanting to play," Phillips said. "We even have some father/son and father/daughter players who are coming in."
The DM, who goes by "Augie," has a son, Alex, who plays "Encounters" and a father and son team that also plays in his game. He said it is good to see the kids learning the game and the new program makes it easy.
"The new version (Fourth Edition Rules) is about teamwork," explained Augie, who said he has been playing D&D since 1979. "I can whip up an Encounter in no time and players can be playing in about five minutes. In some ways, it plays out like a board game."
The new rules make the game faster and easier to run, said Schuh. She said it is also very flexible, so that players can use the premade characters or make up one of their own.
"We wanted to give them enough of a sandbox to play in," she said. "DMs and players can do whatever they want."
The new rules also enable people who know nothing about the new rules -- or maybe nothing about D&D at all -- to play and learn from D&D veteran adventurers.
At a recent "Encounter" session, Watkins explained the new powers and effects to new players offered tips on game strategy.
"Combat is more fun and more dynamic," Watkins said as he directed a flaming skeleton to throw fireballs at the party. The excitement and gasps around the table is proof that players are quickly getting emotionally involved in the game.
And they're just getting started.
While they didn't have hard numbers, Schuh and Goolsbey said they have had reports of tens of thousands of gamers around the world participating in "Encounters." And Wizards has made it easy to find a game near you.
Their website provides store locations running the program, a character generator if you want to create your own, reviews of previous encounters so you can catch up on the story and even gaming podcasts from webcomic giant Penny Arcade and the writers of the Cartoon Network show "Robot Chicken."
In an attempt to appeal to tech-savvy players, the game manufacturer offers bonuses via its Twitter account and an online subscription service to offer information on adventure building, character upgrades and more.
With a new season beginning on June 9 -- the "Dark Sun" adventures -- they have two words for anyone who is interested in D&D -- just go.
"You'll be handed a character and you'll get help," Schuh said. "There is a palpable, emotional response to playing the game with friends. Even new friends."
REVIEW: Dungeons & Dragons Fantasy Roleplaying Game Starter Set
Today, 03:38 PM
A classic returns for a whole new generation...
Other than toys, one of my passions is role playing games. I’ve got a pretty huge collection of pen and paper games ranging from good old Advanced Dungeons & Dragons all the way through to Star Wars, Rifts, Cthulhutech, and many more. Of course, it was Dungeons & Dragons by TSR that really started the whole thing way back in 1974. More than eight versions later, we’re now in the glory days of Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition as published by Wizards of the Coast. One of the most robust and yet easy to learn RPGs on the market, 4th Edition combines all of the best elements of previous versions while streamlining the process and giving the player a whole new toolbox of fun powers. While the main books (Player’s Handbook, Monster Manual, and Dungeon Master’s Guide) rolled out in 2008, Wizards of the Coast is now giving prospective players a fun new way to learn the game that’s at the same time an homage to a beloved and iconic product of yesteryear. That’s right; we’re talking about the Red Box!
In 1983, in response to the growing popularity of Dungeons & Dragons, the core game was expanded with a set of rules aimed at teaching new players. It was called the Basic Set, though because of the color of its packaging it became known affectionately as the Red Box. New in stores right now is the Dungeons & Dragons Fantasy Roleplaying Game Starter Set, D&D 4th Edition’s answer to that classic set. True to form, it too comes in a bright red box and has already become known by the same name.
The Starter Set comes in a sturdy (red!) box about 11 ¾ inches tall and 9 inches wide. The front panel recreates the classic product with the old school Dungeons & Dragons logo and one of the most famous paintings by Larry Elmore: a solitary warrior facing off against a huge red dragon. There are some interesting updates to the information found on the cover after 17 years, most notably the increase of the suggested age from 10 to 12 as well the change from “Role-Playing” to “Roleplaying” in the title. Of course, the logo on the very bottom is Wizards of the Coast and not TSR. The back of the box is emblazoned with the tagline “Your First Step on the Road to Adventure!” There’s a rundown of the package’s contents, as well as photos of everything you’ll find inside, followed up by a “Dungeons & Dragons Essentials” list of other available products.
Open the big red box and you’ll find a variety of contents. There are two books (Player’s Book and Dungeon Master’s Book), the only six dice you’ll ever need (4 sided, 6 sided, 8 sided, 10 sided, 12 sided, and 20 sided), multiple character sheets, power cards, a sheet of double-sided monster and hero tokens, and a double-sided battle map! Of course, you’ll want to pop out all of the tokens and cards right away so you can get to gaming. Though not advertised on the box, there’s also a handy sheet that shows some of the other great Dungeons & Dragons products organized into resources for players vs. dungeon masters.
The name of the game here, literally, is “starter.” Pick up the Player’s Book and start reading, and you’ll be playing in moments. The design here is really impressive. With a “choose your own adventure” style you’re introduced to the mechanics of the game as you play! This book is just for one player, and by the time you get to the end you’ll have a good grasp of the character sheet, classes, ability scores, skills, feats, powers, healing, alignment, quests, experience, and dying.
You’ll also finish a mini adventure in which you create a well-rounded character, take on some goblin raiders, and earn both gold and XP! This character can then be used in the further Starter Set adventures or any other Dungeons & Dragons game. And that’s another big draw for this set: compatibility. Unlike some previous “Starter Sets,” everything in this red box can be used with 4th Edition as a whole, from characters to powers and maps.
Once you’ve got a few potential players together (who have hopefully each played through the Player’s Book if they’re new to the game), it’s time to move on to the Dungeon Master’s Book. Now it’s time to divide up the group, with one person taking over as Dungeon Master while the others (anywhere between 2 and 5) draw up characters and dive into the dungeon. There are 21 pages of simplified, fast-track instructions and rules for the DM, followed by the actual adventure consisting of seven combat encounters and a skill challenge (talking to a dragon!). The finale includes instructions for leveling up the heroes and moving on to further adventures, which leads appropriately into the next section, “Creating Adventures.” The rest of the book is rounded out by a menagerie of monsters and rewards, along with a brief introduction to the Nentir Vale, a sort of hub for Dungeons & Dragons printed adventures.
To play the Dungeon Master’s Book adventure, all you’ll need are the items included in this set. Each encounter has a miniature map laying out the battleground that corresponds to sections on the double-sided battle map. Like other D&D maps, this one looks great. One side is a full dungeon while the other features a wooded pathway and monster lair. To represent the heroes and monsters involved in these (and any other) encounters, you’ve got a full sheet of double-sided tokens that give you a nice selection of creatures. Potential hero tokens are ringed in green or red so you can easily find them, while the monsters even have little numbers for ease in battlefield bookkeeping! The books will instruct you on how to fill out your character sheets, and how to choose power cards relating specifically to your class and race. Last, but never least, are the dice to represent the intrinsic randomness in fighting and testing your skills.
The Fantasy Roleplaying Game Starter Set really does have something for everyone. It’s an absolutely invaluable resource for teaching and learning the game, but gaming groups of any experience level will find plenty of use for the map and tokens. All of the printed materials are very high quality, with fine glossy finishes on everything except the power cards and character sheets. The Starter Set is available in gaming stores everywhere, and with an MSRP of $19.99 it’s perfectly priced to get you and friends playing in no time!
Review and Photos by Scott Rubin
D&D Gamma World Roleplaying Game
A D&D Roleplaying Game
Richard Baker and Bruce R. Cordell
A wacky, wily roleplaying game of post-apocalyptic peril.
Earth. After the apocalypse. Never mind the radiation—you’re gonna like it here.
The D&D Gamma World Roleplaying Game offers hours of rollicking entertainment in a savage land of adventure, where the survivors of some mythical future disaster must contend with radioactive wastes, ravaged cities, and rampant lawlessness. Against a nuclear backdrop, heroic scavengers search crumbled ruins for lost artifacts while battling mutants and other perils.
This product is a complete, stand-alone roleplaying game that uses the 4th Edition D&D Roleplaying Game system as its foundation. It appeals to D&D players as well as gamers interested in fantasy science fiction set in a bizarre, post-apocalyptic world.
160-page book with rules for character creation, game rules, and an adventure
2 sheets of die-cut character and monster tokens
2 double-sided battle maps
Cardstock character sheets and mutation power cards
Mutation power card deck
Loot power card deck
Item Code: 254600000
Release Date: October 19, 2010
Page Count: 160
Price: $39.99 C$47.99
sdsichero wrote:GLX maybe?
john lewis wrote:Everyone but GLX has no taste.
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