D&D (2024) DMG adventure design advice - a bit contradictory?

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
I think it's far and away the most natural reading of the 4 steps that they are things the GM does when they create the adventure prior to running the adventure. After all, Step 4 comes after Step 3, and is about working out how the adventure is expected to end - that seems to build on Step 3 telling the GM to determine the events and encounters "that take the characters from the beginning . . . to the end."
Step 4 also talks about possible endings and not ‘the ending’. So there’s clearly something else intended there.

While I agree just step 3 and 4 in isolation are not clear (likely because it’s trying to thread the needle of not offending any of the predominant playstyles and trying to summarize a complex topic in 4 simple bullets), not being clear is not contradictory.
If the intended advice was something like after each encounter, consider what would make for a good next encounter then they could have written that. If they're trying to say that with what they've actually written, then I have to say it's the most oblique set of instructions I've ever encountered.
Seems to me the whole ‘lay out the premise section’ immediately below lays this out pretty clearly. “Players are coauthors.” “Not narrative arcs with little deviation.” “The adventure unfolds organically from the players responses.”
 
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EzekielRaiden

Follower of the Way
Step 4 also talks about possible endings and not ‘the ending’. So there’s clearly something else intended there.

While I agree just step 3 and 4 in isolation are not clear (likely because it’s trying to thread the needle of not offending any of the predominant playstyles and trying to summarize a complex topic in 4 simple bullets), not being clear is not contradictory.

Seems to me the whole ‘lay out the premise section’ immediately below lays this out pretty clearly. “Players are coauthors.” “Not narrative arcs with little deviation.” “The adventure unfolds organically from the players responses.”
Yes. That would be where the conflict lies. The checklist reads as a checklist of a preplanned story, merely with allowance for (as an example) winning or losing the final battle. The paragraph text reads like almost exactly the opposite. Hence, contradictory advice.
 

Eric V

Hero
Seems to me a pretty obvious contradiction. Don't plan endings...but plan endings. Don't railroad, but plan every event and encounter.

This is the Dungeon Master's Guide. It should never leave key words implicit. The "potential," "possible," etc. that should be there are not there. One of the greatest problems of the 5.0 DMG was that it was crap-awful at actually guiding. This preview, while only a small slice, does not bode well for improvements on that front.
I think the reason a lot of people (and I include myself, initially) didn't see a contradiction is because we've been running games for years...when I tried to read it from the perspective of someone who was new at running an RPG, I definitely see @pemerton 's point.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
Yes. That would be where the conflict lies. The checklist reads as a checklist of a preplanned story, merely with allowance for (as an example) winning or losing the final battle. The paragraph text reads like almost exactly the opposite. Hence, contradictory advice.
It only reads the opposite if you leave out all context.

I’ll agree it could have been clearer, but not being clear enough isn’t being contradictory.
 

FitzTheRuke

Legend
"There’s plenty more ready-to-use content in the new DMG, including several example adventures. These are presented in a streamlined notation format compared to published DnD adventures, to give new DMs an example that’s easier for them to use when creating their own homebrew content."

I'm really hoping that this proves to be so well done, and so popular, that they learn to adopt it in the published adventures. I've always been very critical of the format of the published adventures, even if I've been less critical than a lot of posters when it comes to their contents. (For example, I ran Waterdeep Dragon Heist twice - it's fine!)
 

EzekielRaiden

Follower of the Way
It only reads the opposite if you leave out all context.

I’ll agree it could have been clearer, but not being clear enough isn’t being contradictory.
How much context does a brand new DM have? That is who this needs to be written for. It is, after all, a Guide to Dungeon Mastering.
 


Iosue

Legend
But in that case, the GM can't determine the end of the adventure either. Yet that is precisely what they are being told to do.
No, they can't, but nor are they told to. They are told to determine encounters and events that take the characters from the beginning to the end. They are not told to determine the outcome of those encounters and events, and are in fact specifically told not to do so, but to let the outcome of those encounters be determined by play.

You kinda downplayed it earlier in the thread, but this is exactly what happens with a dungeon. The DM determines the content of the dungeon, including the encounters, mini-bosses, and final bosses. Everything to take the PCs from the beginning of the dungeon to the end. But beyond that, he does not determine when or how the PCs handle each particular encounter.

Unless the DM is running an entirely random campaign, making it up as they go along, they are going to determine the start of an adventure, an endpoint/final goal, and some possible steps in between. That's all Step 3 is describing, in a brief blurb. And if that was all that was there, then we could say, "That' sounds like railroading/forcing the players to role-play your novel," and then if all they said was, "Don't determine events and encounters in your adventure," we could say it was contradictory. But we actually also have further explanation of what they mean, and even an example of what to determine and what not to determine. And that's still without the further explanation of Step 3 that is on the next page.
 


Lanefan

Victoria Rules
I find it contradictory only if you read 3 as preplan all encounters before the adventure begins. If one is planning encounters in response to player actions then one is doing it right (and most the time the game will feel like it’s playing itself if you do this).
Because you've often zero real-world time between the players taking an action and you having to produce the resulting encounter, "planning encounters in response to player actions" is just a long-form way of saying "wing it".

That doesn't work for everyone.
 

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