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Dungeons & Dragons Starter Set
Posted On 10/24/2011
Dungeons & Dragons Starter Set, or commonly known as the Red Box, is a revision of the the Dungeons & Dragons Set 1: Basic Rules printed in 1983. The Red Box is a complete kit with rules, dice, maps, counter and everything else one needs to play a basic version of 4th edition Dungeons & Dragons (D&D).
What I am primarily reviewing is the the Players Book, one of two book in the Red Box. The Players Book is a solo pick-your-path gamebook that is designed to teach character generation, combat, skill checks, and the UI of D&D. The gamebook plays like the first adventure of a computer RPG, designed to show the player the environment, basic rules, and the UI.
The story begins as you ride shotgun on a delivery wagon and goblin raiders attack. The first set of choices you face are: “Do you imagine pulling a weapon from the back of the wagon and leaping down to fight the goblins? Do you imagine casting a magic spell to blast the goblins? Do you imagine drawing a dagger...” Depending on your choice, you become on of the four classics classes: fighter, wizard, cleric, or rogue. Although there are 97 sections in the gamebook, the adventure is short because parallel storylines for four classes exist. The story is simple and absolutely linear and players are given a well disguised, illusion of choices. No matter what choice you make, you cannot fail or die. Your goal is to survive the initial goblin attack then search and destroy the goblin camp. Since the goblins have 1 hit point each, they are not a serious threat, even for a 1st level solo character. More than half the book is spent on explaining how to use the UI and fill in your character sheet, part by part. The gamebook only reveals rules and highlights sections of the character sheet that are pertinent for that section. Thus you start the adventure with a blank character sheet and fill in parts as explained and directed by the adventure.
The Red Box is an awesome intro adventure and other paper or computer RPG designer should take notice. A player who knows nothing about the rules-heavy and complex D&D 4th edition, starts with a blank character sheet and concludes with a fully filled character sheet and basic understanding of the D&D system. If you never played a paper RPG, the Red Box is a great start.