Basic Dungeons & Dragons will give new players everything they need to make a character and play up to level 20.
Tabletop RPGs can be a ton of fun. That said, they can also be insanely expensive, relying on rule and guide books that can easily set dedicated players back hundreds of dollars. If you need an example you can just look at the new edition of Dungeon's & Dragons coming out later this year. The Player's Handbook alone costs a considerable $49.95 and the expenses only balloon from there. Between $30 adventure books and and additional manuals and guides costing $50 each, even a group sharing books is looking at a potential burdensome investment.
Perhaps recognizing the potential barrier to entry that this could pose for prospective players, Wizards of the Coast has announced that it will be releasing a free handbook to help draw people into the game. The book, which will be called Basic Dungeons & Dragons will be released as a downloadable PDF aimed at giving players the information they need to create a character.
"Basic D&D is a PDF that covers the core of the game. It's the equivalent of the old D&D Rules Cyclopedia," said Mike Mearls, senior manager of the D&D research and design team. "It runs from levels 1 to 20 and covers the cleric, fighter, rogue, and wizard, presenting what we view as the essential subclass for each. It also provides the dwarf, elf, halfling, and human as race options."
Unlike the old Cyclopedia however, Basic D&D won't include any information regarding setting. Its the company's hope that the content included in the PDF will be enough to hook players who may then go on to buy the more extensive books. According to Mearls, the information in Basic D&D will also be expanded as new paid books becomes available.
"At the launch of the D&D Starter Set, Basic D&D will include the material needed to create characters and advance to 20th level," he said. "In August, with the release of the Player's Handbook, Basic D&D will expand to include the essential monsters, magic items, and DM rules needed to run the game, along with the rules for wilderness, dungeon, and urban adventuring."
All in all, it seems like a decent plan. Even with all the improvements promised for the new edition of Dungeons & Dragons, there are probably already more than a few players who would rather just play the game's they already own. Giving them something free to help them get into the new game however, could be just the sort of bait Wizards needs to help steal back some of the audience its competitors captured in the wake of the D&D 4th Edition's less than ecstatic reception.
Source: Wizards of the Coast