Lend a Kid Your Red Box Essentials Starter Set


Mike Phelan, says here you get a Starter Set. Jim Romero, please step inside the bus to be smitten by the cudgel of a blazing-eyed zealot in platemail armor.


By now, most of us have had a similar experience with the 4E Essentials Starter Set. It goes like this:

Attracted by the Elmore cover art and 1983 retro-clone layout of its red box set, or by the trumpets and war-drums announcing that the D&D Bus was rolling down your street, you ran right out and bought one.

Like John Aegard posted at storygames, you were then “struck by how hard it was aimed at the patient zero kid who is going to be learning the game as they’re introducing it to their friends. The ‘player’s book’ is a numbered adventure. When the player completes it, they have a completed character and a bit of a feel for what D&D is about.”

You were filled with admiration for this tool for introducing new players to the game who might have   just picked it up on the shelves of a Target store.

However, you then realized that you were not a new player. While making a character by stepping through an introductory adventure is awesome for first-timers, you weren’t going to want to do it more than once or twice. Maybe you went out and bought Heroes of the Fallen Lands: Create and Play Clerics, Fighters, Rogues, and Wizards so you could do like the subtitle says, and Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms in order to Create and Play Druids, Paladins, Rangers, and Warlocks. Or maybe you didn’t. Either way, your new red-box Starter Set is likely collecting dust.

Why not put it in the hands of a new player? Here are some ways you can do that:

  • I’m going to be teaching an afterschool D&D class for eight kids age 8-13, starting next Thursday (9/23). During the class I’ll be adopting the Starter Set approach of building characters and learning mechanics through play, and it’d be great to have some to lend to the kids to read and try out on their own outside of class.
  • The Game Loft is a a volunteer-run community center located in the heart of Belfast, Maine that runs after-school program organized around a community of interest based on games. I’m betting they would love to have your unused Starter Sets.
  • Many public libraries have games programs that would be glad for donations. Wizards launched a library program called Afternoon Adventure with DUNGEONS & DRAGONS, which inspired the Terra Libris effort at the Escapist (the RPG advocacy site, not the online magazine). Sadly Jamie Albrecht’s program at the Homewood Library seems to have run into problems, but there are likely many more successful library RPG programs out there that I don’t know about.

I can return Starter Sets loaned to me at the end of the semester; if you’re not a NYC local, I’ll put my address in the comments. (Otherwise I can pick ’em up at the White Sandbox game on Saturday, or otherwise arrange a handoff). Contact the Game Loft to inquire about donations at the link above, or visit your local library’s homepage.

8 Responses to “Lend a Kid Your Red Box Essentials Starter Set”

  1. September 17, 2010 at 1:52 pm

    The best mailing address for me is:

    Tavis Allison
    Mount Sinai Dept. of Emergency Medicine
    3 E. 101st St., 2nd Fl.
    New York, NY 10029

    Be sure to include your return address. You can put your name on the individual components, or just trust me to give you back a set of each one at the end of the class.

  2. September 17, 2010 at 2:35 pm

    Maybe not quite dead, Tavis. We got at least one more person who’s interested, but I think for her sake (and mine), we’re going to put the thing off until January when I can reconvene my schedule to not have so many damned evening classes. :)

  3. September 17, 2010 at 2:37 pm

    Awesome, glad to hear it! By then I should have some wisdom to share about what worked with my younger kids.

    Nice that you have some female players interested; I think one of my eight students will be a girl.

  4. September 17, 2010 at 2:43 pm

    Well, to be fair, my ‘interested pool’ at this point is one boy, one girl and two hypothetical boys who are in my mom’s 9th grade Civics class.

  5. September 17, 2010 at 2:44 pm

    Yeah, that’s between two and four times more gender-representative than mine! Small sample sizes have their advantages.

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Past Adventures of the Mule

September 2010

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