Wizards of the Coast have released D&D Test Drive, a free get-started downloaded kit for Dungeons & Dragons fourth edition. The kit consists of three parts: a set of Quick Start rules, a free copy of published adventure Keep on the Shadowfell, and a version of the D&D Character Builder limited to level 1-3 characters.
The D&D 4th edition Quick Start Rules is a 27-page PDF covering the basics of gameplay. I’m genuinely impressed; the booklet is refreshingly concise and manages to explain most of D&D’s gameplay extremely well in only fifteen pages. Players new to D&D or to this edition of the game should read this booklet first. Six pre-generated characters are included.
Previously released in hardback, Keep on the Shadowfell is an adventure for D&D fourth edition covering levels one to three. Experienced players may find this kobold-slaying dungeon crawl cliché and uninspired, but as a free introductory adventure it’s not bad. Some tweaks and improvements have been made since the original release.
I haven’t used the D&D Insider Character Builder myself, but several of my players swear by it. It’s a Windows application to help character generation and levelling, which you can use to level up the pre-generated characters or create new ones. The free version works up to level 3, after which you’ll need to subscribe to Wizards’ D&D Insider service if you want to level a character up higher.
If you already own the D&D fourth edition rulebooks, this is an opportunity to get a free copy of Keep on the Shadowfell and a neat booklet you can distribute to online players or use to introduce new people to the game. If you’re not yet a 4E player, this is a free way to give the game a test-drive.