A while back I got into D&D at a young age but didn't get far into it before it faded from my mind. Recently (last week) I got back into it after watching some YouTube videos which cleared up a lot of issues I had with it at the time. That being said I bought a D&D book a few months back for forum roleplays I was into at the time. The book is the Player's Handbook for the 4th Edition. Since the latest is 5th Edition and it will be a bit of time before I can get a copy of the three books (Player's Handbook, Dungeon Masters Guide and Monster Manual) would it be efficient to read the 4th Edition Player's Handbook to learn how to play D&D or would that be a waste of time considering how much I've heard about the difference between 4th and 5th edition?


2 Answers 2



4th Edition and 5th Edition are completely different versions of D&D, and share very little in terms of rules and mechanics. If you're looking to learn 5th Edition, I suggest you start with the freely available D&D Basic Rules, which include almost all of the game's rules, but only a small subset of character creation options.

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    \$\begingroup\$ RPG book editions can change drastically on a whim. Unfortunately there just isn't a quick way to determine this unless you know both editions. \$\endgroup\$
    – Nelson
    Nov 4, 2015 at 8:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for clearing this up. I had issues with having to read 4th Edition and after finishing realizing I would have to read the latest edition. Also thanks for linking a place I can read the basics. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 7, 2015 at 23:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ The newly-released SRD also has more character options (races, classes, one feat...) \$\endgroup\$
    – Adeptus
    Jan 14, 2016 at 4:21

Not really. While 4e can be a good starting point for people who are new to tabletop rpg's, the 2 editions are too different to really transition between them fluidly. There are very few transferable skills between them.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm not sure 4e is a good starting point for people who are new to tabletop rpgs unless they are well familiar with MMORPGs. 4e is fairly rules and physical equipment heavy (in the sense of needing a lot of dice and battlemats are almost mandatory) compared to many other RPGs, including 5e. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 18, 2020 at 14:33

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