Why D&D for New Players?
For most of us, D&D is the first tabletop we play – and not without good reason. As one of the first of its kind, there is something venerable to be respected about the grandfather status D&D maintains. This long lineage also contributes to a much broader player base than many other games, which in turn simply makes it easier to play in the first place given the number of groups out there. In our post-digital age of video game rpgs, D&D also offers a degree familiarity. Western MMOs borrow heavily from earlier TSR products in their adherence to Tolkien-esque fantasy tropes and character design systems built mechanically around class/level progression. For new players moving into tabletops from having played digital rpgs, D&D will require little conceptual transition.
There are, of course, still tons of other great games out there. In the midst of our ever-growing Kickstarter renaissance, there is almost no limit to the breadth and diversity of tabletop rpg systems available to try. As a result, many veteran players and GMs – myself included! – have begun to passionately advocate taking their games out of the now “old-guard” world of mere dungeons and dragons. But even with these growing communities outside of WoTC products, there is still something to be said about the value of starting off new players in the world of D&D.
“D” IS FOR DIVERSITY
From a character perspective, D&D is still one of the most inherently diverse tabletops out there. The colourful array of races, classes, abilities, and equipment provide a huge array of clear decisions for players when making new characters. In few other games will a group of five first-level characters have the potential to look and feel so different from one another. For new players without any experience adopting, developing, and playing out a persona, this stark diversity on the surface of D&D’s character design provides a huge relief. Bold character diversity allows players to feel like their character stands out within the group dynamic without requiring as much nuanced role-play. When characters are literally different shapes, sizes, and colours, and they’re all swinging, shooting, or blasting with something different, it takes the pressure off of new players to come up with ways to proactively and creatively make their PC unique. This is, of course, not to say that other games lack character diversity nor that D&D’s rigid race/class system cannot accommodate extremely nuanced play. It’s simply that the overtness of this diversity – “pick a race;” “pick a class;” “pick a weapon;” etc. – makes it one of the most accessible character systems for new players who want to feel the excitement of roleplaying an exciting character straight out of the gates!