Beginner Box

Last night I went over to a friend’s house for dinner. He lives with his younger brother in Uptown. I’ve known these guys for as long as I can remember. Our parents were friends, my dad and their mom taught at the same school, and their dad was my dentist until I was twenty whatever and moved to the cities. I never knew they played D&D though*. I guess I should be grateful that my kid goes spelunking through coffee tables and insists upon opening every door he comes across otherwise I wouldn’t have found the hand drawn maps and player’s handbooks they had hidden away. So we got to talking about D&D (they play 3.5) and Pathfinder and then roped two of our board game friends into trying the Pathfinder Beginner Box I bought last year on Monday. If all works out we’ll segue right from the Beginner Box to the Council of Thieves adventure path. More on that if it happens. First let’s talk about the Beginner’s Box again
This is a decent set up. You get a player’s guide, GM’s guide, short dungeon crawl adventure, dungeon map, a set of cardboard pop outs with PCs and monsters and a set of dice. Everything is full color, glossy and has the Pathfinder art you know and love. It’s shinny and is an awesome lure for young nerds.
The rules that come with the game make my head spin a bit. They’re very simplified. It really feels like a separate game to me. If you’re starting out as a n00b (which two of my players will be) you’ll have a learning curve and then another learning curve when you move to the core rules. I think this makes it a good introduction for kids but I think an adult could handle the core rules right off. There are also a few things that are just off putting to me like Gourm’s clerics using a longsword instead of a greatsword. This seemed unnecessary and it makes the transition to an adventure path a little more cumbersome for no good reason.
My plan is to let the two experienced guys to roll up their own characters. I’ll put together a sheet for each of the core rule classes for the new guys to pick from. I’ll leave the fluffier parts empty as this is probably where most of the initial fun comes from. I think this will let them dive right in like the box was designed for without having to relearn rules when we transfer to an adventure path.

*Sometimes I get mad that the man makes nerds closet their tendencies in order to be considered functional members of society. I could have been playing D&D with these guys for years! But then I realize I’m just getting mad because I’m male, middle class and white and really have nothing else to get mad about.

One Comment on “Beginner Box

  1. I was really considering getting this for my nephew’s 10th birthday, but I think he has to get a few more under his belt before he moves on to something like this.

    It is easy to forget that the way D&D (and its children) implements levels is a good way to introduce people to the game and once you are well and truly hooked, playing 1st level stuff seems tame. But the way they introduce the most basic class skills at first level and then slowly mix in the more complicated stuff is – I think – really awesome. Combined with the stepped level progression, you’ve got a pretty neat schedule of intermittent reinforcement, assuming that doing awesome stuff is something you find reinforcing.

    That’s lacking in a lot of other tabletop RPGs (Call of Cthulhu, you get better at skills and gain more knowledge at a reasonably set pace. Cyberpunk, you just keep getting guns added to you gundick that you bought with your first big payday. ) but seems pretty well entrenched in video games. When in doubt, the system that is bringing in squillions of dollars is the one that works best.