Extraneous Voices of Picayune > Tomes and Illusions

Starter Roleplaying books. What to get!?

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Chaosmark:
While we're on the topic of stripped-down, customizable systems, might I suggest Risus? I found it to be extremely quick when I was first trying my hand at GMing, and though deceptively simple, the combat actually worked quite well for making things entertaining and dramatic.

Shadoweagle:
So wizards.com has a 4ed starter kit. Im thinking of just grabbing that and maybe the dm handbook. In spite of suggestions to the contrary i think dnd is where i want to start :p if there's money left over i might try for the players handbook too.

Dossta:
It really depends on what you want to learn.  D&D 4ed has been widely disparaged as a "video game brought to the tabletop", but it supposedly made things a lot easier for the DM to run (if more boring for the players).  It definitely does not follow the spirit of the original RPGs.

You *can* find older editions of D&D, including the Basic Set Rulebook (http://rpg.drivethrustuff.com/product/110274/D%26D-Basic-Set-Rulebook-%28Basic%29?cPath=9736) from 1981 at RPGdrivethru.com.  They *just* made a deal with WoTC to sell their older stuff on PDFs.

But seriously -- what do you want to learn?  Lots of systems come with significantly less baggage and expense than D&D, and D&D is hardly the last word in RPGs.  Savage Worlds is one book (as opposed to three), but still has a very "classic" feel to it.  If you want a book that focuses entirely on the art of being a Dungeon Master, with heavy emphasis on adventure design, you could go for XDM (http://store.schlockmercenary.com/ProductDetails.asp?ProductCode=B-XDM).  Besides being a book-long treaty on the art of game mastering (authored by someone who wrote for D&D in its early years), XDM also includes a rules set in the back.

For the price of buying the three books you would need for a complete D&D set (3.0 onwards forces you to buy the Player's Guide, Monster Manual and Dungeon Master's Guide), you could buy 3+ one-book RPGs and would therefore be more versed in contemporary RPGs than if you simply owned one system.  BUT if you really, truly want to go with D&D (there's nothing wrong with it -- my first books were 3.5 ed) go for it!  Just know that the D&D rules system is not going to offer you any more insight into the hobby than the others.  (And don't forget to look at Pathfinder.  I've often heard it called D&D 3.75, and is possibly a better place to start than D&D 3.5 or D&D 4.0).

Shadoweagle:
Now it looks more like im going with pathfinder as opposed to 4th ed. We have a geek shop in town which sells em so I can go and quiz them on it all and actually check out the stuff before I buy it too :p

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