It’s the almost the most wonderful time of the year: the time when friends and relatives that have been quietly asking about how to play role-playing games might find one wrapped as a gift to try on for size. Your Geek & Sundry elves are here with some suggestions on what choices make the best opportunities for new players that want to pretend to be the kind of elves that have adventures. Boxed sets seem to be back in vogue these days, so we’re selecting a few of those, plus a couple books that are great first entries to a budding gamer’s shelf.
D&D Starter Set
There are a lot of reasons to like the Dungeons & Dragons Starter Set. D&D has been a gateway to the hobby for decades and Fifth Edition has proven to be very popular with old and new gamers alike. The retail price of $20 makes this boxed set an affordable way to try out the rules before dropping more serious money on a Player’s Handbook, Dungeon Master’s Guide, and Monster Manual. Curious geeks looking to see how the first three levels of a campaign progress could do a lot worse than the Lost Mines of Phandelver.
Pathfinder RPG Beginner Box
The fine folks at Paizo also offer easy entry into their massively popular game. The Pathfinder RPG Beginner Box is a step up in complexity to our previous entry, but allows players to build custom characters right away rather being stuck starting off with the ones provided by the box. Add in a collection of pawns as starter miniatures and one of their stellar battle maps for use with the adventure and beyond, and Paizo continues to offer an excellent alternative to the oldest fantasy RPG.
Gamers looking to bring old-school sensibilities to new players using simple rules that feel like gaming did “back in the day” might want to give the gift of Dungeon World. Dungeon World cuts down on flipping through rules and spell effect descriptions and takes some of the pressure off first time DMs through its collaborative world-building and exploration, a trademark of Powered by the Apocalypse games. The book is also chock full of best practices and advice that any Dungeon Master—newbie or veteran—will find useful.
Age of Rebellion Beginner Game
Fantasy Flight Games offers a starter box for each of its official Star Wars RPG lines. All of the beginner games are excellent introductions to the current RPG, but the Age of Rebellion set stands out thanks to the impending release of Rogue One. Each box has a mission that teaches the rules of the game, similar to the first tutorial levels of a video game. This box has players infiltrating an Imperial base to take it over and gives a little more leeway than the other sets. Fans who want to continue the story beyond the box can do so thanks to extra materials FFG provides on their website, like a longer adventure and more characters for use with the game.
First released in 2003, Savage Worlds has billed itself as “Fast! Furious! Fun!” since the outset. Its miniature friendly rules have a pulp sensibility that makes teaching them easy, with concepts like damage and leveling up taking just a few moments. The Explorer’s Editions of the rules are a steal. Polyhedral Santas can buy copies for the entire gaming group for the price of a Player’s Handbook these days. There are also dozens of games to choose from that use the system, like Deadlands: Reloaded or RIFTS. Pinnacle also has a series of genre handbooks to encourage players to roll their own worlds.
What is your favorite RPG to give to someone new? Let us know in the comments!
Featured image Macro Hazard | Flickr
Image Credits: Wizards of the Coast, Paizo, Inc., Sage Kobold, Fantasy Flight Games, Pinnacle Entertainment Group