Thursday, December 20, 2012

Holiday Suggestion: Dungeon's and Dragons Red Box

I've had a few friends ask me this holiday season about what they can get for their nerdy friends and family. Depending on the recipients type of "nerd," I've recommended a few different things.

This post is about the Dungeons and Dragons Red Box Set, which I recommend to anyone even vaguely interested in getting into (or back into) Dungeons and Dragons. For less than $20 ($14 on Amazon at the time of this post), you can get a gift which will provide hours of entertainment for 1-5 players.

For those of you that played D&D as a kid, a lot has changed in the last few years, and definitely for the better. Wizards of the Coast, owner of D&D, has put a lot of work into the game's rules to make it easier for everyday gamers to pick up and run with it. The Red Box has everything you need for you and your friends to start your own adventures together.

To start off your adventure, there's a Choose Your Own Path style book that walks you through character creation. You decide what actions your character will take in the story and those decisions set key features and stats for your character.

After each party member goes through the character creation book, there's a simple 1-player encounter that gives you a sense of combat rules from both the DM and player's perspective. If you decide you're not a fan of the character you've made, you can easily go back and make changes before moving on to the main adventure.

The main adventure is a good introduction to dungeon crawling and combat, for both the Dungeon Master and players. It's designed for a party of 5 adventurers and 1 DM, but you really only need 1 of each.

You can use the provided tokens in the box or use mini figures from other games. For my games, I use a mix of both.

The dungeon adventure provided in the box gives a full experience to players both new and old, exposing a wide variety of dungeon features like traps, puzzles, ambushes, and traitors. By the end of the adventure, all the players should have had a decent exposure of the game and know if D&D is something they'd like to get into. Otherwise, it's just another good game for those longer boardgame sessions.

If it turns out D&D is in fact your thing, the Dungeon Master booklet provides a decent amount of information about how to continue playing, either with the characters and plots provided in the Red Box, or starting from scratch with some new characters.

I've played through the adventure in the box twice now, once with a group of complete beginners and once with some old school D&D players. Both games went very well and by the end of the evening, both parties wanted me to organize a reoccurring game.

I'm now running a custom D&D campaign every other week with what used to be a bunch of newbies, all because of one game with the Red Box. I can't tell you how proud they were of themselves when they took out the powerful sorcerer that was attempting to unleash untold evil into the world. What started out as a group of strangers is now a lean mean fighting machine that works through riddles, traps and puzzles together.

I'm such a proud DM! *Sniffles.*