The 5th DMG -- Thoughts

4th Edition

i just barely scanned the DMG. It's for the beginner and not for an old hand at this. :) (points at self) -- non-the-less there are things you can use from the 5th DMG.


-- I looked through this and I'm disappointed. Well, there is this book that TSR published that you can buy on Drivethru now called the World Builder's Guidebook.

So, you start with your default assumptions. Great. And they give you some alternative assumptions for your world go with. For Phaeselis, assumptions were: the World of Alexander the Great, Technology is high for it's time, but still low tech for us (don't believe ANYONE who says that we have the best technology of any age, thank you).

The Pantheon section is okay. They basically rehashed what was in the Deities and Demigods 3rd Edition book. But for a new DM it's golden. :) Then they have a section on mapping out your campaign. Lovely. Now that I have a Wacom pen tablet, I can finally do it on a computer. :)

(hurray for photoshop!!)

Next is settlements. Standard questions about how your settlements are setup. Making you think about what makes your settlement stand out above the rest. Settlements are divided from village, to town, to city.

After that atmosphere is mentioned, then the settlement's government (although a village is more voluntaristic in its approach, while a city often requires a heavy hand), although if you are assuming a feudalistic society, PLEASE get a book on European Feudalism. Get two books with different authors. I used to think its great, but now the romance is gone.

It then goes into commerce and currency, and you can pick your own currency. It doesn't just have to be the gold piece based on the gold standard. :) In the Languages section you can pick your own languages and form your own factions, in the factions section. There is a section on Renown and a section on how you can decide how magic works.

But it's the Creating a Campaign section where I feel is more versed to beginners. If you really want good advice on how to make a campaign, buy a copy of the World Builder's Guidebook. If not, the advice in this section applies. Then there is the section on play style.

first of all I feel that WotC is honest about play styles in this section. Styles range from Hack and Slash, to Immersive Storytelling, to somewhere in-between. Although there are a lot of players in different styles of play. You can't cover all play styles, and there are different play styles for different games in different iterations of the game. For 5th edition, they nailed it down to three options and that's quite enough. However, there is more that goes on later in the book.

They then go into tiers of play. I really don't think this part is smart for a game that is set up like this, though. But this is one of the sacred cows of D&D, these tiers of play. The rest goes into styles of campaigning.

Chapter 2 is creating your multiverse. If you have the Manual of the Planes for 3rd Edition, it's still useful. Really, it is. Planescape 2e is also useful, still. :) But, again, the DMG is for the new DM. However, when creating a multiverse, remember this:

"According to the Many Worlds Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics, there are Infinite Worlds and Infinite Possibilities, so therefore . . . ALL FICTION IS TRUE!"

Part 2 goes over adventures. Yes, how to make them how to run them, and it also goes over the rules.


Now Part 3 is the most controversial part of the DMG. Yeah, a lot of people here expected way too much from Wizards of the Coast. So, what's in Part 3? The DM's Toolkit.

Here is where the nuts and bolts of the system is and you can tinker the game to your desire. No, really, it's all there. Really called the Dungeon Master's Workshop, this is for the old hands, the experienced DMs. I mean, new ones can read this too, but here you can turn the 5th edition of the game into a whole new game for yourself. It's a house rules tool kit.

With Paizo, you have to have the APG, the ARG, and the new Pathfinder book coming out to show you how to tweak your game, here -- well. It's all here. Ability scores? done. Adventuring options? done. Not liking how combat works in 5e? Combat options. Need a monster? It's there. Need guidelines to create a spell? covered. Making a magic item? Yep. Creating a New race? Yes. (although the ARG is much, much better in that regard).

Art is wonderful, follows 5e to a t-. So how does it stack up to Gamemastery?

If you have Gamemastery, you really don't need the DMG until you look at the Dungeon Master's Workshop. Gamemastery covers everything in the DMG, mostly. So, really, if you are an experienced DM, you can rely on your experience. :)

Oh, and read section 3 first. :)

The Exchange

What I've used the DMG for is magic items......and that's about it really. The rest of it I just run from experience.

The 4th edition dungeon masters guide is actually much better at covering lots of the world building and players style thing. The mechanics section is obviously not so good there, but I still read over the 4th ed DM guide occasionally just for good advice.

The new DM guide did help me with converting Runelords though, mostly in getting a feel for how to ensure balanced encounters so the module feels the same without having to mathematically work out exactly how many goblins to use in each fight etc.

Still a good resource for beginners though.

Here's a link to Nearyn's helpful advice on this same general topic. It's a good list and some very good links and short discussion.

Nearyn's tips for aspiring GMs

I did not see much value in the DMG, so I did not buy it. What I expected was more along the lines of an option book like unearthed arcana. If 5E is the DMs edition, then offer options to expand it or add depth.

I have no doubt in my military mind that there will be options books coming out. I think the DMG is really pretty good. (As a side note, started playing the Holms book in 1979, been DMing for the most part since, skipping 2nd edition, wishing I had skipped 3.x). There are rules options in it, but more importantly, there are discussions on how to make your own options. A good 1/3rd of the book is treasure, and who can be mad about that.

I love the 5e DMG but remember that they recently said (Crawford on an interview on the Tome Show) that they will still release more from it to the basic PDFs. Practical things from it like how to create adventures rather than the optional UA-like tweaks.

I'm going to use "Initiative score" instead of rolling for initiative and am excited about that.

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I love the new DMG, definitely inspires adventure ideas and customizing your houserules. Lots of random tables, which Are always great.

The Exchange

See now, there's the rub for me I'm afraid. I'm DM ing the adventure path for League play. None of the options in the DM guide can be used I believe. Magic items can though.

If I get my home group converted I'll use it more though.

Yeah. Running under AL seems counter to the new freedom 5th has brought

It's a very good guide if you're a first time GM and on your own. I'm sure, by nature of those who go online and read forums of RPGs, that most will find it...underwhelming.

I really like it's variants for proficiency dice and the variants to skills being based on backgrounds and personalities.

I'm just 100% enchanted with this idea of starting a Curse of the Crimson Throne campaign with those proficency die and background skill variants.. and using the Harrowing in chapter 1 to figure out backgrounds/personality/flaws/bonds/ideals right then and there together as a party.. something about that just seems to fit nicely with me.

Liberty's Edge

I did a pretty detailed review here

Uchawi wrote:
I did not see much value in the DMG, so I did not buy it. What I expected was more along the lines of an option book like unearthed arcana. If 5E is the DMs edition, then offer options to expand it or add depth.

That's what I wanted/expected as well, so I was disappointed by the final product. There's a fair amount of options, but I think they ran out of room and couldn't include all they wanted.

But, because there's lot of options already, it makes a dedicated book of alternate rules harder to justify. So we get a so-so basic DMing book and a so-so optional rules book all at the same time.

Oh well. They're planning articles on the topic of optional rules, and if the OGL permits that kind of thing it'd be a solid idea for a 3PP.

I think it's excellent. I don't want lots more rules/options, I can always go back to PF for that. DMG contains advice on how to create run plays differently to other d20 fantasy.

I like a lot of the variant rule options, and the look behind the scenes at monster creation. I would have liked a bit more guidance on the presence of magic items, and on handling character wealth in general.

I've decided to try out a bunch of the variant rules in the form of paired 'Perks/Drawbacks' that my players can (optionally) choose to take. For example, they can get access to the Hero Points system (where they get a certain number of points each level that they can cash in to boost rolls and do awesome stuff)... in return for being at risk of the lingering injury table (where critical hits or mighty blows might leave them with permanent damage.)

thenovalord wrote:
Yeah. Running under AL seems counter to the new freedom 5th has brought

I'd agree to a point, but any organized play that allows players to change tables and DMs over the course of their careers is going to have to err on the side of a single consistent ruleset. Even so, in my experience AL still gives a fair amount of leeway to the DM, and quite a bit more than Pathfinder Society for example (which is a totally different thread topic).

The big benefit of AL is for new players who want to try the game but don't have a regular group, and people with busy/unpredictable schedules who can't commit to a regular game. In that context, the relative lack of freedom is not a big deal, because a regular AL group is always free to peel off and start their own regular game with whatever variant rules they want.

The other rule I really dig is the "Targets in Areas of Effects" formula that translates a shape/size description in a spell to a number. For example Burning Hands and Shatter now hits 2 people (-1d3 if they're really scattered and +1d3 if they're really close). Silence hits 4, Cone of Cold hits 6 and Earthquake hits 20 people. I love this for theater of the mind style fights.

Moving it a little bit from "The battle is still fought on minis, only that the minis are invisible to the players because they only exist in the DMs mind" and more towards "The battle is fought in a way where verbal descriptions are sufficient to convey the relevant information."

Olondir wrote:
I really like it's variants for proficiency dice and the variants to skills being based on backgrounds and personalities.

I'm on board with the variant skills, I like those, but I'm really glad that they made proficiency dice optional.

As it is, I am very much into doing a lot of "pre-calculations" such as "OK, to hit the goblin I need to roll an 8 or higher" and then not having to worry about making more additions as long as I'm fighting goblins. (Advantage works nicely with this pre-calculating style, too.)
Whereas if I'm rolling additional dice instead of having a static proficiency bonus, I need to do arithmetic every single roll.

I'm fast at arithmetic but I am an impatient soul. I love seeing as soon as the d20 hits the table whether or not my sword connected.

I didn't see any obvious editing errors. Given how many rules and other ideas that must have gotten excised over the course of writing the 5E CRBs I think it's a very good product. It lays out and explains the possibilities well, especially if one is new to DMing.

For those who like to RP and are not so much keen on the Tactical Grid Game, 2097's comments and the explicit "use the average" (for hit points, spell damage dice, etc.) option really meets that need without changing it into a different game.

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