Wednesday, September 3, 2014

5E - The Starter Set Review

Yes, I  bought it. I felt like I should own a copy if I'm going to go on about it , and at the Amazon price it's lunch money.


  • Rule book
  • Adventure book
  • Pre-gen character sheets
  • dice
No poster or maps, no tokens or mini's. The dice are decent, a far cry from the old TSR sets.

The worst part: I've said it before, no character creation rules. I know they take up space, I know there's a free PDF out there now, but the whole point of a roleplaying game is to play a character, traditionally one that you create. Cutting that out of the initial out-of-the-box experience is just the wrong call in my opinion. Maybe you lower the level range to 1-3 instead of 1-5, maybe you raise the price of the box $5, I don't know what the options might have been, but running pre-gens is not the heart of the RPG experience.  

The best part: the included adventure is pretty good.
  • It has dungeons
  • It has a dragon
  • Many "monsters" have notes regarding goals and reasons they might talk to a party or respond with something other than violence. That's a nice touch and opens up a lot of possibilities.
  • It's not over-mapped or over-described, so there's "room to breathe" here for the DM
  • It's very MMO-like in that many NPCs are there specifically to give out quests. One town especially is a "quest hub" that I expect the party will be coming and going from quite a bit. There's a lot more individual detail but it's similar to the classic B2 style of base area with a lot going on around the countryside. The NPC's will hand out titles/membership in various Realms organizations as well if they like the PC's - that is an especially fun little addition.
Compared to the 4E red box it's very similar but I'll give the 5E set the nod because the adventure is quite a bit better.

Compared to the Pathfinder Beginner Box it is definitely a lesser product as the PF box has more complete rules including character generation, poster maps for the first adventure, and stand-up figures. Keep in mind the PF box is more expensive though.

It's not a terrible value, especially at a discount. The pre-gen approach is not my favorite, but the rest of the set works. If I was giving it to a kid I'd print out the PDF of the Basic Rules and give that to them at the same time for the best possible situation. 


Aaron E. Steele said...

Good review, I have yet to crack open my copy even though I've had it for over a month. Will need to find time to give this a spin.

Simon Gaudin said...

I quite liked the game however not so much that I would drop any of the games I currently play to play it instead

Blacksteel said...

Thanks - I figured I was really paying for the adventure and a set of dice, For the price, it's not a bad deal.

Simon - That's kind of my dilemna, more on that later.