That new player smell.

New to the game? Want some tips? Here we go. I decided as I was driving home from my weekly game last night that I would begin a series of posts aimed at aiding new players. There is a ton of resources out there for both players and DMs and my stuff might just be another note on the pile, but I have some good ideas and I’m gonna share them.

1. Go basic! The original players hand book or PHB has a large number of options for races and classes, and from my point of view, the easiest to learn and play well. I have notices the addition of complexity to the classes WotC has added with each new PHB. If it is your first time playing I would honestly suggest using one of the original classes; this will allow you to learn both the game mechanics and your character more easily. If you choose a complex class you might get really bogged down with an over load of information meaning less fun and more frustration. There is plenty of time to try out all of the new classes as you learn more about the game.  D&D was built on the backs of most of the core classes; Fighter, Wizard, Cleric, Rogue. They are tried and true, and fun to play. You can add flavor to them with other supplements, gear from the Adventurers Vault, Feats from other players hand books, and powers from class supplements like Martial Power 1 & 2. Doing this allows you to enjoy some of new content with out having to try a complex class.

2. Know your characters powers. I know I wrote this in the last tips post I did,  but it bears repeating. At the moment there are about thirteen 4th edition books with player race, class, power, feat, and gear options. That is a huge amount of information to know and learn. But the up side is you only have to know important information about the character you are going to be playing. So you can cut out a vast amount of information you don’t need. I’m not telling you you can’t read about other classes and enjoy the wide array of products WotC provides. what I am telling you is that knowing what your character can do and how the powers you have chosen work will give you a head start once you sit at the table. If you spend 2 hours a week reading Dungeons and Dragons material, spend at least 40 min of that studying things specific to your character.

Is your character trained in Arcana? Read up on what the arcana skill allows you to do, both in and out of combat. Does your character attack from a distance or up close in melee? Study ranged combat and cover rules, or learn about close combat and flanking. knowing these rules before you sit down will allow you to get more out of your character because you will have a broader idea of what you can and can’t do while playing. It might help you avoid the mundane “I stand in the back and use my bow” round after round.

2. Bring help. Game aids are always welcome at my table, and I have yet to meet a DM who won’t let you bring your own. I like to print out the rules which pertain to my character. As above if my character is trained in Stealth I like to print up the most up to date stealth rules so I know both in and out of combat what my character is able to do. Having a list of options help me expand my game play options. Instead of just searching a room I can see under the arcana skill that I can make a check to detect the presence of magic in the room. Or I could see that certain skills allow me to gain helpful knowledge about monster thus gaining my party a leg up.

I also like to have the status effect rules handy. There are quite a few, and often if I get hit with one it is nice to know the difference between dazed and stunned, or slowed and immobilized. Or how do I hit something if I am blind. Having this printed and easy to find will help the game run smoothly with less stopping to look things up in the books. Even though most DMs act like they know all the rules I have found that most don’t really have the status effects memorized. I know I don’t

3. Don’t let other players dictate your actions! I have watched “helpful” veteran players take full control of a new players character under the guise of helping them learn how to play. You SHOULD play as a team and take suggestions. You SHOULD NOT allow players to tell you what you should do every round of combat. If you want to try out a power, do it. If it does not work out for you the way you had planned then you have learned something about your character, and the game. If you allow other players to dictate your actions you will learn squat, and you will continue to need them to play your character. Ask for help if you have questions, and take advice if it is given sparingly, be wary of the guy who sits next to you and asks you for your character sheet repeatedly, and feel free to say no at any time.

4. Try to sit near a knowledgeable player. Yeah I just told you not to let others play the game for you. But I am now telling you to site next to someone who knows what they are doing. The reason is simple; if you have questions you can ask them in quiet conversation while others are taking their turn. A question or conversation taking place across the table while another player is trying to take their turn is very distracting and can end up putting the turn on hold until it is resolved. This suggestion is not only helpful to you but to considerate to the rest of the table. Do make sure you ask the person you will be sitting next to if it is ok for you to ask them questions during the game, if you don’t you might just come off as a rude jerk.

5. Have your own dice. It is always nice to have a new player at the table who brought their own dice. This isn’t a huge deal. It does help if you get to know which dice to roll with which power. Know the difference between a d10 and a d8 or d20 and a d12.

6. Write some questions for your DM. If there are things about the game you don’t understand bring them to your DM before your first game. Do you have questions about movement or attacking? Do you need clarification on a power or what kind of actions you can take? most DMs will be friendly and should be able to answer any questions you might bring up. If they can’t I’m sure they know how to get the answers. I suggest writing your questions down because I often have questions through out my week which are forgotten before game night.

I will always stress communication when I post tips. Almost all of the bad experiences I have had in DnD have come from lack of communication; a few have come from people just being jerks but that is a very small percentage.

7. have fun.

I think that should about do it for today. I’m sure to post many more tips and suggestions for new players. On that note, if any new players out there have questions they would like me to address let me know. I don’t know everything but I can sure give it a try.


Part idiot. Part old man. All geek. Thadeous can't think of anything interesting about him self right now. Know this though if he could it would be creative and funny as well as thought provoking.


About Thadeousc

Thadeous can't think of anything interesting about him self right now. Know this though if he could it would be creative and funny as well as thought provoking.
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2 Responses

  1. i’m still a total newbie, but over the course of a few hours of gameplay, i’ve decided on a personal rule that i intend to bring to the table from now on, whatever game i’m playing. maybe this will be relevant to other players out there, who knows:
    don’t suggest any actions for a player to take during their turn, unless they ask for suggestions.
    during the second round of the last game day, i caught myself a couple of times thinking (or sometimes saying), “oh man, it would be really cool if that character did this awesome thing that they can do…” while i was playing. then, i realized that players spend a whole lot of time waiting for their turns. while i was waiting for my turn, i was formulating ideas about what my character should do next. i was trying to come up with something fun and cool, and really appreciated the strategical process. also, i really like the excitement of presenting my next move to the group. regrettably, i probably said, “oh man! use your ___ power! that would be awesome!” or something similar out of excitement. i feel like it probably isn’t a big deal, but it can possibly take a little bit of the spark out of someone else’s turn. as an added bonus, after catching myself in this faux pas, i realized that it was much more fun to watch in suspense for what everyone did with their characters than it was to try to think of ways that other characters could do neat stuff. also, i figure people probably don’t want a backseat driver hanging around, especially if they are the least experienced player at the table. it’s probably ok to strategize with people between turns if they seem interested in your input, but a players turn should be their time to shine.
    just my thoughts on the matter. /shrug

  2. I’m also brand new. I joined a game of 4e last summer that only lasted four sessions and then broke up due to troubles getting our schedules coordinated. Then just recently I got into a new game that has really clicked.

    I came to D&D looking for roleplay, and I have been caught unawares by the complexity of the game mechanics, so I have really been rescued by the friendliess of my second group. What I found made a big difference in the second group is that they are there not just to kill monsters but to build a story together; we do a great deal of roleplay and storytelling, not just battle play. So one “rule” I have for myself from now on is, any time I am in the market for a new group (which hopefully will not be for a very, very long time!), I will always shop for a group that suits my style and emphasizes roleplay (just as those who prefer battle should shop for a group that emphasizes battle).

    Also, I find that I’m often simply overwhelmed by the choices and not quite clear on what my choices are or where to start. It helps me out a lot when my teammates give me little tips – “Just pay attention to the number up in the corner – you’re always going to want to add that to your role, and that’s going to be the number your DM is asking for when you attack.” The D&D materials are information overload for a newbie, and it helps to be told, “Just block out everything else for the moment and look at X. Then block out everything else and look at Y.” That’s how I’m starting to process it all and start to play, battle by battle. There is nothing in the world that can replace having a group that accepts a newbie and wants you to succeed!

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