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4e 'Red box' Basic Set?

Akrasia

Lord of Procrastination
Validated User
I don’t play 4e D&D, and I have not been following the product line since the initial three hardback books were published. (I read halfway through the PHB before deciding that it wasn’t for me.) However, it recently was brought to my attention that WotC is coming out with a number of ‘box sets’ later this year, including one that seems reminiscent of the old ‘red box’ Basic D&D set.

Here are their descriptions (from here):

Dungeons & Dragons Fantasy Roleplaying Game
The Essential Dungeons & Dragons Starter
Mike Mearls, Bill Slavicsek and James Wyatt
The best way to start playing the 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons Fantasy Roleplaying Game.
Designed for 1–5 players, this boxed game contains everything needed to start playing the Dungeons & Dragons Fantasy Roleplaying Game, including rules for creating heroes, advice for playing the Dungeon Master, a solo play adventure, and group-play adventure content. Learning the game has never been so easy!
Several different character races (dwarf, elf, halfling, and human) and classes (cleric, fighter, rogue, and wizard) are presented, along with powers for each race and class.
Game components:
32-page book for players, with rules for character creation and a solo adventure
64-page book for Dungeon Masters, with the rules of the game, advice on how to run the game, and adventure content
2 sheets of die-cut tokens for characters and monsters
Cardstock character sheets and power cards
Double-sided dungeon map
6 polyhedral dice
Item Details
Item Code: 244660000
Release Date: September 7, 2010
Format: Box
Price: $19.99 C$23.99
ISBN: 978-0-7869-5629-6
Dungeon Master's Kit
An Essential D&D Game Supplement
James Wyatt and Jeremy Crawford
Awesome tools, rules, and adventure content for every Dungeon Master.
If you’re a Dungeons & Dragons player interested in taking on the role of the Dungeon Master, or if you’re an experienced DM looking for more game advice, tools, and adventure content, the Dungeon Master’s Kit has exactly what you need to build your own Dungeons & Dragons campaign and excite the imaginations of you and your players.
This deluxe box contains rules and advice to help Dungeon Masters run games for adventurers of levels 1–30. It also includes useful DM tools such as a Dungeon Master’s screen (with tables and rules printed on the inside), die-cut terrain tiles and monster tokens, and fold-out battle maps.
Game components:
96-page book of rules and advice for Dungeon Masters
32-page monster book
Two 32-page adventures
2 sheets of die-cut dungeon terrain tiles
2 sheets of die-cut monster tokens
2 double-sided battle maps
Fold-out Dungeon Master’s screen
Item Details
Item Code: 244640000
Release Date: October 19, 2010
Series: Essential D&D Game Supplement
Format: Box
Page Count: 192
Price: $39.99 C$47.99
ISBN: 978-0-7869-5630-2
Player Essentials: Heroes of the Fallen Lands
An Essential D&D Game Supplement
Mike Mearls and Bill Slavicsek
Exciting new builds and character options for the cleric, fighter, ranger, rogue, and wizard classes.
This essential player product for the 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons Fantasy Roleplaying Game presents exciting new builds for the most iconic classes: the cleric, the fighter, the ranger, the rogue, and the wizard. Each class comes with a set of new powers, class features, paragon paths, epic destinies, and more that beginning players can use to build the characters they want to play and experienced players can plunder for existing 4th Edition characters.
In addition to new builds, this book presents expanded information and racial traits for some of the game’s most popular races, including dwarves, eladrin, elves, halflings, and humans.
Item Details
Item Code: 247520000
Release Date: October 19, 2010
Series: Essential D&D Game Supplement
Format: Trade Paperback
Page Count: 352
Price: $19.95 C$23.95
ISBN: 978-0-7869-5620-3
Monster Vault
An Essential D&D Game Supplement
Rodney Thompson, Logan Bonner, and Matthew Sernett
Iconic Dungeons & Dragons monsters that are easy to run and fun to fight.
This essential product for Dungeon Masters collects the most iconic monsters of the Dungeons & Dragons world in one handy box and presents all-new variants, including new spins on such beloved monsters as dragons, orcs, and vampires. The monsters described herein are designed to be easy for Dungeon Masters to use and fun for players to fight. In addition to combat statistics, each monster entry comes with story information to help DMs incorporate the monsters into their adventures and campaigns.
In addition to a comprehensive collection of iconic Dungeons & Dragons monsters, this box contains die-cut tokens for the monsters that appear within, as well as a 32-page adventure that showcases several of the monsters.
Dungeon Masters can easily incorporate the adventure into their ongoing campaigns. Game components:
160-page book of monsters
32-page adventure
10 sheets of die-cut monster tokens
Item Details
Item Code: 244650000
Release Date: November 16, 2010
Series: Essential D&D Game Supplement
Format: Box
Page Count: 192
Price: $29.99 C$35.00
ISBN: 978-0-7869-5631-9
Player Essentials: Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms
An Essential D&D Game Supplement
Mike Mearls and Rodney Thompson
Exciting new builds and character options for the cleric, druid, paladin, ranger, and warlock classes.
This essential supplement for the 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons Fantasy Roleplaying Game presents exciting new builds for the game’s most popular classes: the cleric, the druid, the paladin, the ranger, and the warlock. Each class comes with a set of new powers, class features, paragon paths, epic destinies, and more that beginning players can use to build the characters they want to play and experienced players can plunder for existing 4th Edition characters.
In addition to new builds, this book presents expanded information and racial traits for some of the game’s most popular races, including dragonborn, drow, half-elves, half-orcs, and tieflings.
Item Details
Item Code: 247510000
Release Date: November 16, 2010
Series: Essential D&D Game Supplement
Format: Trade Paperback
Page Count: 352
Price: $19.95 C$35.00
ISBN: 978-0-7869-5619-7
So what is going on here? Do these box sets mark the beginning of a new ‘basic’ D&D – apparently called ‘Essential D&D’ – to run parallel to the main line of ‘regular’ D&D in just the way that Moldvay/Cook D&D, and later Mentzer/Allston D&D, ran parallel to AD&D in the 1980s and early 1990s? The ‘Starter’ kit even seems to include a ‘solo’ adventure, just like the Mentzer Basic D&D set.

Unlike the distinction between ‘D&D’ and ‘AD&D’ during TSR’s hey day, I suspect that the system for ‘Essential D&D’ will be pretty much the same as that of 4e (simply a stripped down version of it). But that minor difference aside, it does indeed seem that history might be repeating itself.

Thoughts?
 

Skywalker

Back Off the Buddha!
Validated User
The new books are a landing strip for players. The game is essentially the same, just structured differently. So no, it does not appear to be a stripped down version of the 4e rule set (though Gamma World will almost certainly have to be.

All new GMs/players start with the Red Box.

New players then go:

1. Players Essential for their PC's class/race
2. Rules Compendium

New DMs then go:

1. DM's Kit (includes the Compendium)
2. Monsters Vault

There is some new stuff in each product but mostly things like adventures and counters. The Players Essential are supposed to be mostly new.

For existing players, its business as usual with the added bonus of things like the compiled and updated Compendium and new material in the Players Essentials.
 
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Owlbear Camus

Autothrusters engaged!
Validated User
The tokens are interesting to me. Something more portable when I don't want to haul a tacklebox full of plastic guys, or an easy visual indicator of minion-ness.
 

Keefe the Thief

Guuhhn Fingas
Validated User
I don’t play 4e D&D, and I have not been following the product line since the initial three hardback books were published. (I read halfway through the PHB before deciding that it wasn’t for me.) However, it recently was brought to my attention that WotC is coming out with a number of ‘box sets’ later this year, including one that seems reminiscent of the old ‘red box’ Basic D&D set.

Here are their descriptions (from here):

So what is going on here? Do these box sets mark the beginning of a new ‘basic’ D&D – apparently called ‘Essential D&D’ – to run parallel to the main line of ‘regular’ D&D in just the way that Moldvay/Cook D&D, and later Mentzer/Allston D&D, ran parallel to AD&D in the 1980s and early 1990s? The ‘Starter’ kit even seems to include a ‘solo’ adventure, just like the Mentzer Basic D&D set.

Unlike the distinction between ‘D&D’ and ‘AD&D’ during TSR’s hey day, I suspect that the system for ‘Essential D&D’ will be pretty much the same as that of 4e (simply a stripped down version of it). But that minor difference aside, it does indeed seem that history might be repeating itself.

Thoughts?
They had hinted at this during the 4e announcements but everybody was going crazy about crunch-scoops and thus nobody paid attention. The plan seems to be to first supply the hardcore gamers with all they need for their games for a time, and then publish a series of beginner resources to grow the market. The idea seems to be:

a) you buy the Red Box, play the single player adventure, learn to DM and play the included group adventure with your friend.

b) if you need more stuff you buy the essentials line. It contains all-new stuff that hardcore gamers supposedly will get anyway through DDI, mostly.

c) if you want to go all-out, you either subscribe to DDI and / or buy the core.

Basically, they try to eat their cake and keep it, too: two "lines", each specially designed bothr for experts and newbies, which are nevertheless compatible and don´t need them to have two lines going at the sime time.

It really seems that a lot of thought has been put into this new strategy, and i approve.
 

ggroy

Retired User
They had hinted at this during the 4e announcements but everybody was going crazy about crunch-scoops and thus nobody paid attention. The plan seems to be to first supply the hardcore gamers with all they need for their games for a time, and then publish a series of beginner resources to grow the market.
Do you have a reference or link which mentioned this explicitly?
 

Yo! Master

"Delicious"
RPGnet Member
Validated User
And yeah, it still is 4e, not a different system.

So basically they are doing Basic but keeping it inside 4e.
 

Ascanius

Use the singular they!
Validated User
Do you have a reference or link which mentioned this explicitly?
I don't, but I can say that I remember them mentioning this when asked about plans for growing the hobby - that their plan was to launch the game, then figure out a way to provide "entry-level" material.

So at least one other person remembers that. ;)

Akrasia, yeah, as others have said, this isn't going to be a simplified version of the game. The Essentials line looks like it's supposed to serve two purposes: structurally, it eases new players into learning the game, from solo adventures through to group play and even learning how to DM. It also looks to me like they're going a little heavier on the flavour so that new players have more of a hook - the Heroes of the Fallen Lands and Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms books look to be more strongly-themed than your average presentation of class and race material.

The other purpose relates to the fact that it's new builds and other material; these "newbie-oriented" books will still be useful as sourcebooks for experienced players.

I think the only simplification the new "Red Box" will have is stripping it down to four races and four classes, probably presented in a more structured "You can play a sword-and-shield fighter or a two-handed weapon fighter; here are the powers you get for each option" kind of way.

Even if they don't nail you down to a single set of choices, I wouldn't be surprised to see the classes' powers and features arranged by build rather than presenting the features and then a list of powers, leaving the player to figure out which powers are best for the type of character you want to play. So you might see the battle wizard build presented with a list of battle wizard powers/feats/whatever, then the beguiling wizard build with a list of beguiling wizard powers/feats/et cetera.
 

Keefe the Thief

Guuhhn Fingas
Validated User
Do you have a reference or link which mentioned this explicitly?
Nope sorry - lost in my last archive wipe. So, don´t quote me on it. I read pretty much all stuff on the web during the great 4e wars, so i´m pretty sure i remember this right, though. Damn, it could even have been in the preview books, but i don´t own those anymore.
 

mhensley

Registered User
Validated User
very tempting

this looks more like what I wanted 4e to look like- 4 races, 4 classes; no dorky new races and classes pushed upon me

i might actually buy this

But just as soon as i do, i know they'll announce 5e. I have that power over games.:eek:
 
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