I got the D&D Starter Set in the mail last Thursday. Here are my brief impressions:
- When they say “starter set,” do they mean it. Essentially, the rules are a booklet with the standard explanations of what a roleplaying game is, a rundown on the 6 statistics that make up a character, a combat section, equipment tables and a brief chapter on magic, with divine and arcane spell selection to enable a caster to reach 2nd or 3rd level before the new Player’s Handbook comes out. Essentially, I was left wanting more.
- No information anywhere on character creation. You’re expected to use the pregenerated characters that come with the game. I’ve always bristled at using pre-gens ever since playing in a Champions tournament game at OrcCon. I downloaded the D&D Basic Rules and printed those out and that helped me see the bones of the character creation system a little clearer.
- Overall, the combat rules seem fairly straightforward to anyone who’s played D&D in the last 10 – 15 years. I like the idea of Advantage and Disadvantage; if you have either, you roll 2d20 and take the highest/lowest roll of the two, respectively, when determining an outcome that a d20 can affect (saving throws, attack rolls, skill checks, etc.)
- It looks as though Wizards of the Coast have take a page from Dungeon World (another excellent game) by incorporating roleplaying hooks for your PC with things such as Personality Traits, Ideals, Bonds and Flaws, all of which are gone into in more detail here. If you end up roleplaying any of these really well (how well is up to your DM), you get something called Inspiration points, which can be used to give you Advantage or to give Advantage to a fellow player, should you choose to do so.
- To be honest, I haven’t cracked the cover on the module that came with the Starter Set, the Lost Mine of Phandelver, but what I’ve read online makes it to be a pretty substantial adventure.
Final Verdict: It is what is says it is: a starter set, something to get you going and to whet your appetite for when the Player’s Handbook comes out in mid-August. Mine is already on pre-order.