Me and my gaming group recently decided to try Role-playing as it's something that isn't offered by any of the local gaming groups / stores. Since the popular hobby around here is miniature war-gaming, our group has been playing smaller and smaller games of Warhammer 40,000, trying to get as close to roleplaying elements as possible, until we decided to just bite the bullet and try something character based. We decided to try out Dungeons & Dragons, so picked up the latest game, Temple of Elemental Evil. We figured since it uses miniatures, it should be less of a shock to local players used to war-gaming.

Problem is, when we started playing we realised that Level 2 is as high as you can go, there's no equipment and Experience isn't even used for the one level-up that you do get (It's bought with 1,000 gold). There's no real character progression, stat customisation or roleplaying elements. There are Character Sheets in the box, but they're not actually used at all by the game (they're for D&D: Encounters, whatever that is). We have a 5th Edition Starter Set, but that's all Pen & Paper, which none of the local groups are willing to play. The whole thing has just left the entire group completely confused as to how to get started and we can't find any resources able to help us out.

So my question is, is there any way that people picking up a D&D Adventure System Board Game can upgrade to a full Dungeons & Dragons game? Assuming that there is no "Advanced D&D Adventure Systems Rules" that keeps the same game elements, but introduces character development:

  • Is there any way of using the boards and/or miniatures from Temple of Elemental Evil to play a real Dungeons & Dragons Campaign?
  • If so, how does a group get started with this?
  • Is there anything that a group moving from D&D Adventure Systems need to be aware of before starting Dungeons & Dragons?
  • Are there any tips you guys can give as to how make a smooth transition from D&D Adventure Systems to D&D 5th Edition (or what ever D&D System is most suitable)

Thank you all for your time, literally any information or links to resources on this would be greatly appreciated.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Miniatures have been used in D&D since some of the earliest incarnations. Your LGS should have vinyl grid/hex boards you can draw dungeon elements on, and use miniatures on that. \$\endgroup\$
    – JohnP
    Commented Jun 15, 2015 at 21:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm assuming LGS means Local Gaming Store? If so, no. None of the local gaming stores play Dungeons & Dragons or stock any RPG stuff. That's what I'm trying to start up. That's kind of where I'm stuck, there's nothing local to help us get started or teach us anything. It's literally just wargaming here. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 15, 2015 at 21:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Miniman My apologies, I meant to include mine in that statement as well. I work for the local gaming store (pretty much the only one around here), because I'm staff I sometimes accidentally use dissociative language when talking about the groups, despite me being a part of one of them. There's about 12 main groups that use the store, all interested in RPG's, none have ever done it since it's not something that has been locally available/supported before. I'm trying to change that, but it's difficult coming from Wargames to this, as people are used to using miniatures instead of imagination. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 16, 2015 at 0:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Darryl_Holmes Ah right, that makes more sense. \$\endgroup\$
    – Miniman
    Commented Jun 16, 2015 at 0:40
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Possible duplicate: I'm at a loss with “Dungeons and Dragons.” How does one play it, anyway? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 6, 2016 at 18:30

3 Answers 3


There are a few "next steps" that you can attempt -

4th Edition D&D is, in many ways very, very similar to the D&D Adventure System games. I recall seeing some threads on the WotC forums to this effect, and http://www.dndboardgame.com/ appears to be an effort to convert some of the earlier Adventure System games to that version of D&D

You could try one of the similar boardgames such as Descent, which has a richer character advancement mechanic than D&D Adventure System, and has a "Dungeon Master" controlling the monsters. However that would be a potentially expensive investment, and doesn't really bring you much closer to an RPG experience.

You could try an RPG like the Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay - https://www.fantasyflightgames.com/en/products/warhammer-fantasy-roleplay/ - which puts less emphasis on a pencil and paper character sheet, and rather has a feel closer to the Adventure System games with cards and other tactile elements.

  • 5
    \$\begingroup\$ It's worth pointing out that of all the D&D editions, 4e is by far the closest to wargaming. It's the only edition that pretty much requires minis (3.5 takes a little finagling but you can do without) and it's the only edition that emphasizes tactical positioning. Whether something close to war-gaming is what the asker wants is, of course, a separate question. \$\endgroup\$
    – Oblivious Sage
    Commented Jun 16, 2015 at 0:57
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Re WHFRPG - If the locals are into wargaming, they may also be persuaded by the Warhammer name. \$\endgroup\$
    – Adeptus
    Commented Jun 16, 2015 at 2:22

As someone who started with the D&DAS games and moved to D&D, here are some thoughts.

The D&DAS board games are not RPGs. They are board games inspired by D&D 4e, with the latest installment, Temple of Elemental Evil, also having a few basic elements from 5e. As you have noticed, if you expect an RPG experience from them, you'll be disappointed.

They are, however, a great gateway to D&D. They share the basic mechanic of rolling a d20, adding a modifier, and comparing the result to a target number. Additionally, they are a fantastic source of minis to use in any edition of D&D. Specifically, Temple of Elemental Evil contains hero minis matching the classes and races of the pregenerated characters that are found in the 5e starter set.

Which brings us to the 5e starter set. This box includes a rule book containing the most minimal set of rules possible for 5e. It does not contain any rules for using a grid and minis. However, the accompanying adventure works perfectly well with a grid and minis. Basic rules for grids are found in the 5e Players Handbook or SRD, with more complete rules in the Dungeon Master's Guide.

In order to utilize minis in the starter set, you will need to either draw or print (or build, if you're really ambitious) each location where fights take place to scale (1":5'). Most locations described in the book are accompanied by gridded maps which can either be drawn by hand to scale, or either scanned or purchased online for printing to scale. Those locations that don't have maps in the book are easily drawn (a road with bushes to either side, a simple cave, etc).

Having transitioned from D&DAS games to the 5e starter set, I highly recommend giving it a try, adding in the rules for grid and minis from the PH and DMG. I also recommend following the starter set with Princes of the Apocalypse, a great adventure for 5e, which will utilize just about every mini you got in Temple of Elemental Evil, as they were released together.

However, coming from a war gaming background, 5e may not be your best choice. D&D 4e required much more tactical play than 5e, which is more optionally tactics-heavy. 5e's more tactical play options (flanking, facing, more exact grid usage) are found in the DMG. D&D of any edition is, in the end, a pen and paper game. If your groups are not interested in this, but actually want a single unit war game, D&D is not right for you.

In summary, my advice to you is to take the 5e starter set, throw away the rule book it comes with, get the PH or SRD and the DMG, and give it a try, printing/drawing out the adventure's maps to scale.


Is there any way of using the boards and/or miniatures from Temple of Elemental Evil to play a real Dungeons & Dragons Campaign?

Yes. D&D 5e rules work fine with the hex maps, like those from Temple of Elemental Evil.

D&D 4e would be a little bumpier, since it uses squares not hexes. But a rewritable map and erasable markers are cheap.

What miniatures you use won't matter much, as long as you can tell who is who. There might be some adjustment to particular figures not necessarily being particular monsters.

If so, how does a group get started with this?

About all you need is: a table to play at someone to volunteer to DM a little prep work from the DM (the DM might want to buy an adventure module, e.g., Hoard of the Dragon Queen)

Is there anything that a group moving from D&D Adventure Systems need to be aware of before starting Dungeons & Dragons?

The biggest change will be for the Dungeon Master. The DM will need to be fair to the players, and not "compete" with them. So don't have the monsters act on any behavior they would not have.

For the players, they will need to get used to listening to the DM and not arguing rules too much. You want the game to keep moving.

Are there any tips you guys can give as to how make a smooth transition from D&D Adventure Systems to D&D 5th Edition (or what ever D&D System is most suitable)

Your group will be well ahead of absolute beginners. You will be more familiar with the rules, and basic battlefield tactics.

Be aware with your backgrounds, you might end up playing the game more like a tactical war game that other groups do. There's no problem with this.

Players will get attached to their characters. The DM should make sure he is being fair when any of them come to an untimely end. If someone is unhappy about the death of a character, it's sometimes best to let that character get raised from the dead.

  • \$\begingroup\$ @CharlieHorse Comments are not for chatting about side thoughts inspired by a post; this conversation has been moved to chat. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 8, 2016 at 19:16

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