a game for the new guys: any tips?

I’m currently writing a 4th edition campaign in preperation for a new year at University. I didn’t start playing DnD until last academic year, and my game society carried me through it quite well. As repayment, I’m preparing a short game for any possible new comers to the RPG next year. I have two of my friends taking roles that new guys may not want to take up to give the group a fighting chance.

My plan is to get the group to read through the new quick start guide Wizards have provided on their website and go into detail when we start playing.

I have Pregenerated characters here. I have six incase it reaches that number (I have played with more, and it was terribly slow, so I’m setting the limit to six):

Longtooth Shifter, Devoted Cleric of Bahamut
Warforged, Guardian Fighter
Eladrin, Control Wizard
Halfling, Trickster Rogue
Elf, Archer Ranger
Genasi, Assault Swordmage

I chose the first five so that players would actually think about their roles tactically. While most newbies to the game may opt for a “hit it until it stops moving” option for each class, I wanted to get them to think about their respective tasks and have them work together as a team. The six is open for debate, as I wasn’t sure how best to accomodate a six member. I used the general back grounds from Players Handbook 2 to give them a more focused role skill wise

Anyway, onto the plot of a game I called “The Cloak of Soulless Dreams”, which is a starter part of a larger plot within a campaign entitled “The Dead Gods”. I’m a writer, so dramatic titles are what I do best.

the game’s plot is fairly simple, filled with riddles, monsters and doubt. Yay

the players start off in the piratical port town of Scythe Ridge, where they are employed by a seer to find the eponymous Cloak of Soulless Dreams, so he can destroy it and prevent it from getting into the wrong hands. he gives them a Guiding stone to get through a forest and to a crypt that is lost within it, which contains a note book, filled with clues that will get them through the challenges of the temple, which lies on the other side of the aforementioned forest.

the group travels for a few days before reaching it. The forest also contains a deep mist which affects them mentally (generating fear effects ala Silent Hill). If they use the stone correctly, they will be guided to the crypt of Marcus Xen, who has become a wight. he fights the party and when they beat him (it will only be one Wight, for tutorial purposes), they recover the book, which is in Elvish.

The book is a hand out. I have used the cypher in the player’s handbook to actually write Elvish text. I have that much time on my hands. Only the Elf and the Eladrin can decipher it.

the group gets out of the forest and into the temple. there, they face the temple’s challenges, get the cloak and leave (the temple collapses when they leave, making room for a non-lethal skill challenge)

on the way back to Scythe-ridge, the party is captured by the combined forces of Kobolds and Goblins (Goblins in this universe are not the shamanistic types that they are in the Monster Manual, but the gear-heads we all know and love)

the players break out of the holding cell, get their gear and find that the Goblins are using the cloak to give sentient life to a cloak work Golem they are building. the Kobolds are there because the goblins need the wyrm-priests to boost the cloak’s magical essence.

if they pass this challenge, the party gets the cloak, ventures back to Scythe-Ridge, getting their reward and leaving for another quest.

The cloak: the cloak itself gives a +3 to attack and damage rolls to the user, but they must also take a will test. failing this gives the cloak control. the cloak’s mind is a violent one, and may cause the user to turn on their allies.

What I need to know is, is there anything else I can do to introduce the players to the game of DnD, and would there be a better class role for a sixth member?

So far it looks like you have a very well thought out campaign. A melee of some sort -I’m always a fan of the barbarian- for a 6th is a good choice right now it looks like 3 of the 5 first ones are ranged. The party looks pretty balanced without it anyway.

A potential difficulty I see is the part about being captured. If you have it be an in-combat capture, you need to have a back-up plan in case the players are on a role and end the entire encounter before they’re knocked-out or whatever. Inescapable traps are a good choice.

Besides that the outline of this part of the campaign looks like it’d be fun to play - Good job!

EDIT: As for introducing them to DnD, if they haven’t read very many sci-fi/fantasy novels or movies I would suggest having them read some. Just being familiar with the type of things they may encounter or be able to use is helpful. The pre-made characters is also a good choice for beginners because it’d hard to understand what the different numbers are for in character creation if they haven’t seen what they’re used for in-game yet.

Thanks man, that’s really helpful

I was, at one point, tempted to go for a bard, simply for comical value, but Bards have become somewhat awesome in 4th edition, so it wouldn’t really work as well.

If you’re going to have one of your experienced friends play the Defender role, have them play a Warden.

Wardens own.

Hm, I would do, but Like TrkJac says, it’s best to get them familiarised with the genre when playing a session of DnD. While a Warden would be awesome (though, I’ve never looked at them in detail) I wanted to use a more familiar band of adventurers.

As you can see, all the roles are there: the standard warrior guy, the archer, the thief and the spellcaster. The Cleric scrapped in, because, while the first four were well known, most other classes are obscure, often being used as minor characters within certain fantasies. The Cleric, like the race choices for all the classes, was a gameplay one, as the group would need a healer. Not to mention that, other than Bard, Clerics are more recognisable compared to other, minor classes. the sixth guy was simply there as a mystery, or wild card. I didn’t want to set my sights on a definite number of 5 players, so I made the estimate of 4-6.

besides, my friends have chosen the Cleric and the Ranger. The ranger was chosen simply out of ‘let’s see if it works’ and the cleric was chosen because the player thought that other players wouldn’t go for the healer as a first choice.