We looked at the Dungeons & Dragons Basic Rules download some earlier, but now it is time to open up the new Dungeons & Dragons Starter Set. The Starter Set claims to be "Everything you need to start playing the world's greatest roleplaying game". So is it?
The box contains four items. The first is a basic set of RPG dice. There is one each of a D4, D6, D8, D10, D12 and a D20. They are definitely not top quality dice, but weren't any worse than what I expected to see in a boxed set. Next up is the 32-page Starter Set Rulebook. This book is broken down into four chapters covering how to play, combat, adventuring and spellcasting. It seems to mirror most of the information presented in the Basic Rules download, minus the sections for character creation.
The Starter Set Rulebook doesn't need the character creation section since the set includes five pre-built characters to use. There are two human fighter characters, a high elf Wizard, a lightfoot halfling thief and a hill dwarf cleric to choose from. The front of the character sheet contains all the standard data such as ability scores, Armor Class, etc., but they have included additional information for players and DMs on the back of the sheet. This includes explanations of each of the character's race and class, a detailed account of the character's background and all the information for gaining levels. None of the characters have been given names, but each sheet provides suggestions for names under the race section.
Characters won't do you any good without an adventure for them to play. The Starter Set also includes the 64-page adventure Lost Mine of Phandelver. The adventure is built for four to five players of 1st level and promises to advance the characters to 5th level when completed. Lost Mine of Phandelver pits the PCs up against villain known only as the Black Spider who is attempting to recover the location of the Wind Echo Cave, a mine rich in minerals and magic. The adventure is broken up in to four parts each containing enough quests and random encounters to give players a pretty rich roleplaying experience.
Like the Starter Set Rulebook, the included adventure is printed on gloss paper and contains the high quality art that is expected from a D&D product. The adventure seems to be geared towards new players and Dungeon Masters, even providing an index on the back that cross-references to the Starter Set Rulebook. Lost Mine of Phandelver also gives players their first taste of monsters in the new edition including all the classics like ogres, goblins and bugbears. There is even a young green dragon in the adventure.
Wizards of the Coast wasn't lying when they said that the Dungeons & Dragons Starter Set contains everything that you need to play. The only thing not included in the box is four to five more people to run a game with. The Starter Set is really marketed towards beginning players which is great. The box retails at $19.99 so it is not as big of an investment for being able to try out the game. New players who are trying to break into the world of D&D will get a lot of value out of this boxed set, but what about veteran players? Should they buy the Starter Set? Here's my two cents. If you are an experienced player or group of players who are still on the fence about the new edition of D&D, twenty dollars doesn't seem like too much to spend to be able to run through an adventure and actually play the new rules. If you are a player who has already made up your mind to buy all the new core rulebooks for this edition, you might want to put that twenty dollars towards the Player's Handbook instead. Unless you just can't wait to play this edition; then by all means, buy this Starter Set. If you are in the group of players that have already determined that the new edition just isn't for you, I don't see anything is this box that will change your mind.
(All artwork belongs to Wizards of the Coast)