By Jacky Leung Twitter
It’s the New Year and what a great time to play new roleplaying games or try new systems. But starting a new RPG rules system can be costly, especially many hardcover books can set you back roughly $50 USD or more. Even with the advent of digital books and PDFs, those can still set you back almost $20 USD and up. Such an investment can sometimes be a deterrent for curious RPG players to acquire these new systems. Also, the time it would take for at least one of the players to become acquainted with the rulesets to introduce it to their playgroup presents a temporal investment. Luckily, some publishers have created starter kits or quick play kits to help interested parties learn the basics of a rules system, and even present a short scenario that can be played within a game night. Here are some RPG rule systems that offer starter kits, where to buy them, and what each of them entails to get started on your New RPG Year.
Dungeons & Dragons
Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition currently has a system reference document that presents all of the basic rules of the game freely available for consumption and play. Thankfully, Wizards of the Coast has their D&D Starter Kit: Mines of Phandelver product to help introduce players to the world’s greatest roleplaying game. Inside, you will find pre-generated character sheets, an adventure, some dice, and a rules booklet. The Starter Set will only set you back rough $20 USD, which is not a bad way to go for your first introduction into D&D.
You can learn more about the product & where to purchase your copy under the Wizards of the Coast product link here.
Call of Cthulhu
Chaosium, Inc’s Call of Cthulhu has reached the pinnacle of Lovecraftian horror and mystery wrapped neatly in an RPG that has investigators combating against various eldritch monsters. Utilizing a d100 dice system, where the goal is to roll up to your statistic or below or risk failure, and in some let’s not forget losing sanity. This Starter Set was recently released in late 2018 and offers a plethora of resources to help playgroups dive into their first adventure. The box contains an introductory adventure to help players become acquainted with the rules and three starter adventures with additional handouts. There’s a rules booklet, blank investigator sheets, six sets of dice, and also five pre-generated characters. According to the product description, the box set offers over twenty hours of gameplay. The Call of Cthulhu Starter Set will cost your playgroup $25 USD, which is a fraction of the $110 USD to acquire both the Investigators Handbook and Keeper Handbook.
If you have ever been curious about delving into the world of Lovecraft’s mythos and losing your sanity, you can find more using the product link here.
Cubicle 7’s latest edition of Warhammer Fantasy has brought new life to the grimdark fantasy setting with polished mechanics and innovative character creation. Unlike your typical higher fantasy settings, Warhammer has players part of the common folk that may rise to call, but they are ultimately mortal like everything else when combating against deadly creatures and ancient powers. You can be a human villager or even a huffer (a sort of river warden), and even the invocation of magic is not always reliable. The game utilizes a variant of the d100 system but with the resources to provide fast rolls to adjust the game to fit your storytelling needs. At the time of this article, the Warhammer Fantasy Starter Set is currently available as a preorder with an intended release date in the first quarter of 2019. The starter set is sold for $30 USD and includes advantage tokens, rules references, pre-generated characters, and a simple GM screen. The Adventure Book provided offers an excellent starting point for new players to the game, with additional pages for experienced players and scenarios to your games. There is also a 60-page guidebook to the setting of Ubersreik with a plethora of adventure hooks, locations, NPCs, and lore of the region. According to the product description, this starter set can “keep your WFRP group busy for months.”
You can learn more about the product and the Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay game in the provided link here.
Vampire: the Masquerade
Vampire: the Masquerade broke ground in 1991 as the game vampire of political intrigue and horror in a world of darkness. Across the years, the game has evolved and changed with the current Vampire: the Masquerade 5th Edition (V5) released by White Wolf Publishing in August 2018, and the release of the V20 Anniversary Edition from Onyx Path Publishing in 2011. Vampire is typically a mature game that often deals with serious and disturbing themes, as the players assume the roles of nocturnal bloodsucking vampires. The game utilizes a d10 dice pool system based on a combination of attributes and skills while promoting narrative agency for the players.
Presently, there is no V5 Starter Set, but there is a free PDF Quickstart available for free distribution by Modiphius Entertainment. You can read my review on the new Vampire 5th Edition here. You can download the Vampire V5 Quickstarter with the provided link here.
Alternatively, you can use the ruleset that has become polished and refined from the original edition. The V20 Anniversary Edition is the original Masquerade experience, and if you get the V20 Starter Kit from DriveThurRPG, you get several other books which include the V20 Lore & Clans book, the V20 Companion, pre-generated characters, a V20 ST Screen, and the Dust to Dust adventure book. The bundle typically retails for $75 USD for the digital PDFs, but this set will only set your group back $48 USD at the time of this article. You can purchase the PDF V20 Starter Set with the provided link here.
Star Trek Adventures
You and your fellow players command a mighty starship set in the world of Star Trek universe. Utilizing the 2d20 rules system from Modiphius Entertainment, Star Trek Adventures allows the players to explore strange new worlds, find new life, and boldly go where no one has gone before. The book is primarily set during a turbulent time for Starfleet, centered on the Dominion crisis from Deep Space Nine to the pretext that would start the Voyager series. You will find a catalog of content for gamemasters and players new or familiar with the franchise. The rules and the game allow you to create your own Star Trek series.
Presently, there is no boxed starter set, but there is a free PDF Quickstart which provides a quick 30-page introduction of the game mechanics, the setting, six pre-generated characters, and a short, self-contained adventure. You can find the Quickstart in the link provided here.
Star Wars Roleplaying Game
Want to dive into a galaxy full of lightsabers, blasters, starfighter dogfights, and the best scum & villainy possible? Fantasy Flight Games established a series of Star Wars products as part of their Star Wars Roleplaying Game system that utilizes a new narrative-dice driven system that would later fall under the umbrella called the Genesys system. Under the Star Wars banner, Fantasy Flight Games presents three standalone games for different character types. Edge of Empire for the smugglers, bounty hunters, and pirates; Age of Rebellion for the rebel soldiers and freedom fighters during the Galatic Civil War against the Empire; and Force and Destiny for playing the last of the Jedi during the reign of the Empire. Each game genre has a Beginner Game that will only set you back $30 USD, providing a 32-page adventure booklet, a 48-page rules booklet, four pre-generated characters, several unique Genesys dice, and tokens.
You can purchase the Star Wars Beginner Games in the following links:
City of Mist
Ever imagine being something mythical or legendary in a previous life? Heroes, monsters, and deities are reborn as mortals but remain tethered to their mythical egos. In City of Mist, players assume the roles of ordinary humans who have a legendary Mythos awakened inside them, where now they must balance a normal life and a world of magic. The game offers a noir investigative feel but set in the tone of the supernatural. If you’re a fan of the Dresden Files or the October Daye series, this is an RPG for you to consider. Using the Powered by the Apocalypse system, Son of Oak Game Studio has elevated the mechanics to incorporate worldbuilding, themes, and produced a sophisticated character creation system.
The PDF Starter Set is available for free through email subscription on the City of Mist free downloads page. The PDF Starter Set includes the basic rules, seven pre-generated characters, four sample crew themes, and additional player aids. You can go to the provided link to snag your Starter Set here.