Okay, this is actually not for me but for one of my friends, a regular group member of mine. He's gotten into a bit of an odd predicament, so I'll relate what he told me over Skype. Sorry if it's not totally clear, I'm working on borrowed info here and just wanted to get another opinion.
He was approached by a few of his non-gamer friends the other day, and they were intrigued and interested in having him run them a game of D&D. Thing is, my friend's general intuition and what he knows from being friends with these guys is that they wouldn't be so hot on the tactical/numbers side of the games, but they were insistent that they wanted actually play D&D in particular. Now, we as a group have only had D&D experience with 3e and a little 4e (didn't like it too much and went back to 3e), so my friend is a bit bewildered. He thinks they'd prefer the sort of play of a lot of the story games we've been experimenting with, but he doesn't know how to go about trying to convince them that this is probably more what they're looking for.
Based on what my friend told me they said, they're looking for the sort of zany, over-the-top style D&D, which I'm feeling a lot in Dungeon World, and I've heard it similar to old-school D&D.
My suggestion to him was to take a look back at old Basic D&D rules, the old-school stuff, but I have very little experience with it myself. Do you guys think that if they're looking for a crazy D&D adventure without the nitty-gritty tactical pieces, pointing them toward old 1e-type stuff is a good idea, or should my friend try to convince them that Dungeon World or even something else might be more their speed? Do you have any other suggestions for games that fit?
To boil it down: They like the idea of playing "Dungeons & Dragons" specifically, pretty much looking for the brand recognition, but don't know what kind of play it would actually entail. Should my friend give them the D&D he knows how to do but might not be what they're looking for, or try to convince them into playing something else that they might prefer stylistically but wouldn't necessarily have the D&D name attached like they're looking for (plus my friend doesn't have experience GMing outside of 3e)? Could using Basic D&D actually solve both problems?
And if Basic-type D&D is the way to go, got any advice on a running it for a guy used to running 3e? (though he's a frequent player in the story games I run, so it's not totally alien to him)
Oh, and my friend IS going to ask them directly about the tactical thing - if it turns out his impression was wrong and that's what they want, he'll totally run the 3e he knows. But he's usually got a pretty good eye for this stuff.
I hope that was easy enough to follow. Thanks in advance for the help!