D&D 5E In Search Of: The 5e Dungeon Master's Guide

hawkeyefan

Legend
I think the only reason to want the 5E DMG to remain as is... to deny that it can be improved as a reference book and also as a guide to new DMs... is fear.

People don't want D&D to exclude their preferences.

And while that's a reasonable concern, I think it gets applied unreasonably. As much as I would personally love to see D&D be more specific in some ways, I absolutely get why they went with the very broad take that is 5E.

But that is really not an obstacle in any way to improving the DMG. They can improve it as a reference to be used in play... beyond just looking up magic items... and also to help onboard folks who are newer to the game (building on whatever may be taught by Starter Sets or through experience playing or advice from other DMs) without changing the way the game plays.

This is why I can't see the resistance to improving the DMG as anything other than a gut reaction of "NO DON'T CHANGE MY STUFF". And while I understand that instinct, it makes for a bizarre conversation.
 

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Oofta

Legend
I think the only reason to want the 5E DMG to remain as is... to deny that it can be improved as a reference book and also as a guide to new DMs... is fear.

People don't want D&D to exclude their preferences.

And while that's a reasonable concern, I think it gets applied unreasonably. As much as I would personally love to see D&D be more specific in some ways, I absolutely get why they went with the very broad take that is 5E.

But that is really not an obstacle in any way to improving the DMG. They can improve it as a reference to be used in play... beyond just looking up magic items... and also to help onboard folks who are newer to the game (building on whatever may be taught by Starter Sets or through experience playing or advice from other DMs) without changing the way the game plays.

This is why I can't see the resistance to improving the DMG as anything other than a gut reaction of "NO DON'T CHANGE MY STUFF". And while I understand that instinct, it makes for a bizarre conversation.

Has anyone said it can't or shouldn't be improved?

On the other hand just because some people disagree with you. You don't get to decide why they disagree Maybe you should try reading what is posted and replying to the ideas instead of just dismissing people's opinions as pearl clutching traditionalist living in fear of any possible change.

I have no problem with change. We just don't agree with what should change or why.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
Has anyone said it can't or shouldn't be improved?

On the other hand just because some people disagree with you. You don't get to decide why they disagree Maybe you should try reading what is posted and replying to the ideas instead of just dismissing people's opinions as pearl clutching traditionalist living in fear of any possible change.

I have no problem with change. We just don't agree with what should change or why.
And when we try to dig into details about what should change we typically find one of the following:

1. Proposed change toward prescriptiveness
2. Desire for content already present
3. Pushback on providing specifics (I’m not a game designer, etc)

The devil is in the details.
 

Oofta

Legend
And when we try to dig into details about what should change we typically find one of the following:

1. Proposed change toward prescriptiveness
2. Desire for content already present
3. Pushback on providing specifics (I’m not a game designer, etc)

The devil is in the details.

It's easy to say "It should be better", harder to say what the goal of the book should be or how it could be better.

I don't think there is an ideal way to organize the book and you can never please everyone. As an example I could see an actual play section in the PHB chapter on combat where it dedicates up to a page showing the start of the encounter and an initial turn or so of combat. Then in the DMG take the same exact actual play and talk about the thought process behind the example and link it to the sections of text that discuss the various options. For that matter you could do the same with the MM, walk through how two different monsters may respond to the exact same actions.

However that could lead to some people who would overemphasize any specific example and claim a one true way of gaming that the authors work so hard to avoid.
 

Aldarc

Legend
It's easy to say "It should be better", harder to say what the goal of the book should be or how it could be better.

I don't think there is an ideal way to organize the book and you can never please everyone. As an example I could see an actual play section in the PHB chapter on combat where it dedicates up to a page showing the start of the encounter and an initial turn or so of combat. Then in the DMG take the same exact actual play and talk about the thought process behind the example and link it to the sections of text that discuss the various options. For that matter you could do the same with the MM, walk through how two different monsters may respond to the exact same actions.

However that could lead to some people who would overemphasize any specific example and claim a one true way of gaming that the authors work so hard to avoid.
WotC says that the DMG can be improved for newcomer GMs and that this is an explicit goal for the One D&D DMG. How it could be better in that regard is speculation on our end, but I do not doubt that WotC has received their own fair share of feedback, polls, experiences, etc. that support their reasoning.
 

Oofta

Legend
WotC says that the DMG can be improved for newcomer GMs and that this is an explicit goal for the One D&D DMG. How it could be better in that regard is speculation on our end, but I do not doubt that WotC has received their own fair share of feedback, polls, experiences, etc. that support their reasoning.

Right. So we agree. The DMG can be improved and WOTC knows more than we do about what they're going to do.
 

hawkeyefan

Legend
Has anyone said it can't or shouldn't be improved?

Yes. It's more often a case of saying it should not be changed. But by necessity that means it cannot be improved. You can't improve something without changing it.


On the other hand just because some people disagree with you. You don't get to decide why they disagree Maybe you should try reading what is posted and replying to the ideas instead of just dismissing people's opinions as pearl clutching traditionalist living in fear of any possible change.

I have no problem with change. We just don't agree with what should change or why.

I get to decide how it seems to me. So far, the reasons put forth to not change the book have mostly amounted to losing something... either in the form of making room for something else, or in the form of losing what the DMG is "meant" to be in the form of optional rules for DMs (which I don't agree must or should be the case).

I haven't seen any argument that doesn't boil down to that gut reaction to resist change. Most people who are arguing for the DMG to remain as is are entirely beyond the need of such a book.... which is what is really amazing to me.

The OP jokes that no one reads the DMG... but does not want it to become a book that people would actually read. It's remarkable, really.

1. Proposed change toward prescriptiveness

Only so far as offering actual different styles of play and then saying how to achieve those styles. Not to present only one way to play. But to offer actual advice on those styles. To actually identify and define those styles and then talk about how to promote them in play, or which styles can be blended, or when to use one style as opposed to another.

2. Desire for content already present

The advice in the book is poorly organized, buried in prose, not properly cross referenced, sparse, and very often of minimal actual use.

However, yes some of the information that is currently in there should remain. It's more about how it's presented and to what extent.

3. Pushback on providing specifics (I’m not a game designer, etc)

That one or two people have said that doesn't mean specifics have not been given. I'll only share those I've already suggested throughout the thread, but there have been others.
  • Reorder the chapters and the information presented in a way that's more intuitive to new DMs, but without impacting an experienced DM's ability to reference the book in play as needed.
  • Focus on layout and presentation- whenever possible, stick to topics remaining on a single page, or a single spread of pages.
  • Get rid of the double columns of prose as the default format.
  • Take sections that are minimal and expand them. Like the one page 6 about "Types of Players"; each of these could use some pretty significant expansion.
  • Cross reference related elements. "This is how you can cater to the 'Optimizing Player' (see page 6)". Give advice and examples in each section on how to cater to the different player types. Group them up in easily viewable and understandable charts or lists.
  • Provide a sample adventure location, and use that example throughout the book. Maybe use Phandelver as the default. Or alternatively, put an example online for free that folks can reference. Use that location as a way to explain all the methods in the book.

The devil is in the details.

There's a whole Avernus worth for you.
 
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FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
Only so far as offering actual different styles of play and then saying how to achieve those styles. Not to present only one way to play. But to offer actual advice on those styles. To actually identify and define those styles and then talk about how to promote them in play, or which styles can be blended, or when to use one style as opposed to another.
First, thank you for providing details I can actually discuss.

1. Your very first sentence embraces a prescriptive approach. Not for the game overall but for each style. If you want style X do Y. Not everyone is going to agree that doing Y yields style X. Others will simply say that doing Z is better to get style X than doing Y. That's the problem with such a prescriptive approach and why such perscriptivenss keeps getting pushed back on.

Honestly when I first heard the idea of talking through how to implement various styles, I was nearly on board. But then I more carefully examined the concept and I no longer found it supportable. It's one of those things that sounds good until you delve into the devil of the details. IMO.

The advice in the book is poorly organized, buried in prose, not properly cross referenced, sparse, and very often of minimal actual use.

However, yes some of the information that is currently in there should remain. It's more about how it's presented and to what extent.

2a. I think the book is logically organized toward DM's that want to build their own worlds and fill it with wonders and interesting people.
2b. I'm not a huge fan of vast cross referencing. This isn't a webpage with hyperlinks. It's a book. A little is fine but not too much.
2c. I also think most of the information is useful. I read through most of it when we were discussing before, and I was surprised by it as my opinion before doing that was that it wasn't that good. My opinion was changed.

My biggest critique was that some sections could feel a little dry due to the density of the information being provided.

That one or two people have said that doesn't mean specifics have not been given. I'll only share those I've already suggested throughout the thread, but there have been others.
  • Reorder the chapters and the information presented in a way that's more intuitive to new DMs, but without impacting an experienced DM's ability to reference the book in play as needed.
IMO. Another sounds good idea but likely untenable. I feel like I'm in engineering principles class all over again. The simple truth is that reordering the chapters and adding alot of new to DMing D&D friendly advice is going to impact the experienced DM's use of the book. It's the classic, you can't have both problem.

  • Focus on layout and presentation- whenever possible, stick to topics remaining on a single page, or a single spread of pages.
This sounds like what is already done in the current DMG? Maybe you can elabroate?

  • Get rid of the double columns of prose as the default format.
Not sure the precise issue here, is it the double column format or the prose?

  • Take sections that are minimal and expand them. Like the one page 6 about "Types of Players"; each of these could use some pretty significant expansion.
Expand all minimal sections ignoring pagecount... Another great sounding idea that almost surely falls apart when it meets actual requirements.

  • Cross reference related elements. "This is how you can cater to the 'Optimizing Player' (see page 6)". Give advice and examples in each section on how to cater to the different player types. Group them up in easily viewable and understandable charts or lists.
1. I'm not seeing the relation to cross referencing here?
2. More prescriptive advice... And for something as complex as player psychology. That's a tough prescription to make.

  • Provide a sample adventure location, and use that example throughout the book. Maybe use Phandelver as the default. Or alternatively, put an example online for free that folks can reference. Use that location as a way to explain all the methods in the book.
I'm not opposed to a sample adventure that get's exapanded upon. I am a little worried about pagecount there and it detracting some from what I see the DMG's core focus which is primarily world building. I don't particularly like the material needed online though even though it sovles the pagecount problem. Making good use out of a 50 dollar book shouldn't require online material. (Supplemental material would be okay though).

I think I would go the other way, have the adventures in starter sets include a cross referenced section talking through why certain things were set up as they were. That might be better than cramming it into the DMG?

There's a whole Avernus worth for you.
Again thanks. I think there's plenty of changes I'd be comfortable with. I just don't agree with most of the changes you are suggesting.

I think it stems from viewing the DMG as having a different target audience and purpose than you do, from desiring less prescription in it and from heavily considering pagecount limitations (and even without hard limitations there would still be soft limitations as if the book grows larger and larger then fewer and fewer people will read it.)
 


FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
So the DMG shouldn't teach new people how to DM? So the first page of it should go, "This book is not for teaching people the art of DMing. If you don't know how to DM, go to YouTube." ?
I don’t think I said that. I said the focus was world building. World building is part of DMing, ala teaching new DM how to DM. It’s just not what people using the phrase teaching a new dm to dm mean in this thread.
 

I don’t think I said that. I said the focus was world building. World building is part of DMing, ala teaching new DM how to DM. It’s just not what people using the phrase teaching a new dm to dm mean in this thread.
So your fine with a chapter(s) teaching the art of DMing designed for new people? That world building is a different (more important) subject? The DMG should be able to cover both topics well.
 

I think the only reason to want the 5E DMG to remain as is... to deny that it can be improved as a reference book and also as a guide to new DMs... is fear.

People don't want D&D to exclude their preferences.

It might turn out that the changes they make going forward appeal more to people that already like the current 5E DMG. Especially if they continue to move away from dungeon crawling as a core concept.
 

It's just providing a sample. Samples are a small number of examples, which is fine since it gives you guidance on DCs, attack bonuses and damage for minor, moderate and deadly simple and complex traps for all levels of the game. Then it provides a sample for you to see how the various kinds of traps are created so that you can get down to making a bunch for your game.
This makes no sense. Nothing turns on the fact that the traps in the 5e DMG were labelled as "samples". Would the "Treasure" section of the 5e DMG be better if it only included 10 magic items under the heading "Sample Magic Items"? Of course not!

Maybe we should also get rid of the Monster Manual? After all, the first couple of pages provide DCs, attack bonuses, and damage by CR, so throw in a couple of samples and you can save 250 pages!

Well, as I explained in a subsequent post, the whole point of the 4e DMG was different than that of the 5e DMG.

The 4e DMG was successful in many ways, including bringing people into a specific 4e playing style (just as Moldvay Basic is quite good at bringing people into dungeoneering). The downside is that a lot of people would bounce right off the first few pages.

The 5e DMG had a very different purpose.
I'm having trouble following your argument...

You're the one that made the comparison to the 1e DMG. I proposed 3 comparisons: 4e DMG, PF2 Core Rulebook and Level UP Trials and Treasure. You then responded that 4e had a different purpose than the 5e DMG.

It stands to reason than that you are claiming that the 1e DMG was closer in purpose to the 5e DMG than the 4e DMG was. That is a pretty bold claim and would require some evidence to support.
 

The 5e DMG is my favorite of the DMGs throught out the editions starting at 2e (didnt have 1e). I think I have read more of it than I have of the other books. I still crack it open from time to time. I never had any issues with how it was organized. It could stand to have a bit more new DM facing material I admit. I also thought it did a good job being a reference for building your own world. I personally hope the 2024 DMG sticks to the same structure. Not because I'm afraid of change but because I got a lot of use from it.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
This makes no sense. Nothing turns on the fact that the traps in the 5e DMG were labelled as "samples". Would the "Treasure" section of the 5e DMG be better if it only included 10 magic items under the heading "Sample Magic Items"? Of course not!

Maybe we should also get rid of the Monster Manual? After all, the first couple of pages provide DCs, attack bonuses, and damage by CR, so throw in a couple of samples and you can save 250 pages!
One of these things is not like the others. Magic items and monsters are much, much harder to build and balance. Traps, not so much. They give you all of the information to make just the traps you need.
 

hawkeyefan

Legend
1. Your very first sentence embraces a prescriptive approach. Not for the game overall but for each style. If you want style X do Y. Not everyone is going to agree that doing Y yields style X. Others will simply say that doing Z is better to get style X than doing Y. That's the problem with such a prescriptive approach and why such perscriptivenss keeps getting pushed back on.

This is the kind of fear I’m talking about. Why are people so afraid of prescriptive guidance? There’s a ton of it in the books.

How can play styles even be identified if they don’t have qualities that are unique to them? Once we establish what those are, can’t we make suggestions on how to bring that about?

It seems this is fear of “one true wayism” but that’s not what I’m suggesting. Like to be honest, I'd be all for the books saying "If you fudge dice, you're bad and you should feel bad" but I'm not advocating for that. I don't expect it, and as much as I'd love it, I don't think the books should say that given their goal.

The books can say "Here's how to do this, or here's how you can do that" without presenting these suggestions or ideas as the only way to do so. I mean, they actually already do this, just not always with consistency or clarity.

Honestly when I first heard the idea of talking through how to implement various styles, I was nearly on board. But then I more carefully examined the concept and I no longer found it supportable. It's one of those things that sounds good until you delve into the devil of the details. IMO.

But referencing these different styles, or at least suggesting that there are different styles, without defining them… that’s helpful? How? To whom?

2a. I think the book is logically organized toward DM's that want to build their own worlds and fill it with wonders and interesting people.

And if it was called the World Builder’s Guide, I’d agree. But not all DMs need or want to build a world of the scope that the book goes into. I’d be brutal on editing this section. I’d argue it’s among the least applicable info in the book, especially Chapter 2 about building a multiverse. I mean, the advice they give is to "Start Small", so you'd think this would be how they would start.

I doubt that you (or any other long time DM) need that section of the DMG to craft a setting. Might it help inspire a bit? Sure. But would we flounder about without it? No, not by any means.

This is information most needed by new DMs… but only those who are not using a published setting or who want to expand their world beyond a geographic region.

There are absolutely parts I'd keep, but I’d say it could be edited down significantly. Especially the cosmology stuff.

2b. I'm not a huge fan of vast cross referencing. This isn't a webpage with hyperlinks. It's a book. A little is fine but not too much.

I’m just saying to connect lessons that are related in an overt way. Show how the many tasks the DM performs are related and how to design things with that in mind. The books tells DMs to think about the play style they want, and to consider a bunch of factors to help them decide.

Funny enough, however you answer the questions, the two styles of "Hack and Slash" and "Immersive Storytelling" can both apply, so it's unclear how these choices affect the style; they seem more about tone; is tone the same as style? Who knows?


IMO. Another sounds good idea but likely untenable. I feel like I'm in engineering principles class all over again. The simple truth is that reordering the chapters and adding alot of new to DMing D&D friendly advice is going to impact the experienced DM's use of the book. It's the classic, you can't have both problem.

Well, reordering the chapters would have no impact on the page count. Adding new material could potentially do so, but only if you didn’t recover that space by editing other areas.

This sounds like what is already done in the current DMG? Maybe you can elabroate?

It's done a little. It's infrequent enough that I'd almost say it's accidental when it happens. Very often topics will overlap onto other pages, and then end in the middle of that page, then go on for two more pages, interspersed with some oddly placed art.

So what I'm suggesting is condense that info and tighten it up by category and stick to individual pages and two page spreads as much as possible. So for example, a page about traps and their purpose, when to use them and when not to, and then all the sample traps and related charts on the following two page spread. Minimal page turning, related information condensed.

Basically, look at many other RPG books produced over the last few years. There has been a real shift to focus on layout and design. To clearly present the material with as little searching as possible. There's a book for the Mothership RPG called "Pound of Flesh" that's a 50 page zine and it arguably presents more adventure material than any of WotC's adventure books. And it's incredibly useful at the table during actual play.

Not sure the precise issue here, is it the double column format or the prose?

Both, depending on the circumstances. I'm not necessarily against the double column when it works. But there's no need to use it on every page. Depending on what the topic is, I'd love to see more bullet lists, or perhaps a pair of related tables at the top of the page, and then a summary beneath them that's full page. Whatever is the best tool for the specific job at hand.


Expand all minimal sections ignoring pagecount... Another great sounding idea that almost surely falls apart when it meets actual requirements.

Why? Who's ignoring page count? Cut down on a lot of cruft and you save a ton of pages that can be used for this stuff. Concision is possible.

1. I'm not seeing the relation to cross referencing here?

As I said above, make overt references to connected ideas. If it's a section about designing a town, describe what are some elements to include in the region, and why to include them... by referencing play style or player type or character type and so on.

2. More prescriptive advice... And for something as complex as player psychology. That's a tough prescription to make.

But the book already does that. They're not afraid of classifying seven types of players and what their goals are. So why be afraid to reference that?

Again, this fear of prescription. The books have rules and processes that are prescriptive. No one complains "don't tell me how fireball works, dadgummit".

But there's also not reason to portray these suggestions as the totality of what's possible, or that they are all universal. I just think if the book is going to bother to identify the seven types of players... as early in the book as page 6, even... then they should use those player types throughout as they discuss how and why to do things.

I'm not opposed to a sample adventure that get's exapanded upon. I am a little worried about pagecount there and it detracting some from what I see the DMG's core focus which is primarily world building. I don't particularly like the material needed online though even though it sovles the pagecount problem. Making good use out of a 50 dollar book shouldn't require online material. (Supplemental material would be okay though).

Like I said, they can use Phandelver or an online freebie if space is a consideration. But I'm thinking this is pretty easy to incorporate. In the settlement section, they can explain how and why they made Phandalin the way they did, and what is the purpose of Crackmaw Castle and Venomfang and the Lost Mines themselves, and so on. Behind the scenes type stuff about actual design choices in creating an actual adventure.

Again, I think the pushback is largely fear. In your case, fear of prescription... of someone else defining something for you. And although I get it, I also know you are free to define things for yourself however you'd like. If the 1D&D DMG is radically different and you don't like it, you can keep right on with your 5E DMG.

The other fear is about what will be lost if something else is added. I don't really think this has to be the case, or if it does happen, that it needs to be severe.
 

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
This is the kind of fear I’m talking about. Why are people so afraid of prescriptive guidance? There’s a ton of it in the books.

I wonder if this conversation would be different if the names of the posters were randomized in each thread. Right now when they see that it is some of the posters who commonly want to label what they are doing as bad wrong fun in other threads push for reorganizing, my guess is the two become tied together mentally.

It seems this is fear of “one true wayism” but that’s not what I’m suggesting. Like to be honest, I'd be all for the books saying "If you fudge dice, you're bad and you should feel bad" but I'm not advocating for that. I don't expect it, and as much as I'd love it, I don't think the books should say that given their goal.

As in, I wonder if it's bleed over from politics, where now a politician on one side suggests a compromise, to move from A to half-way between A and B and everyone just assumes it's a first step in going all the way to B and past it to C.

And so the group who likes A doesn't really see all of the great ideas you have on organizing the book <snipped from here, but I agree with entirely> as anything but a rhetorical ploy to nuke A and move to C.

Again, this fear of prescription. The books have rules and processes that are prescriptive. No one complains "don't tell me how fireball works, dadgummit"."

"I know we're talking about too much Jalapenos and Carolina Reapers on food and calling that spiciness. So I'll ask about why you aren't worried about Oregano, because that's used as a spice too."

And so the great ideas in the post are undone and they're back to having the view that the person posting the ideas just doesn't get their concern at all and are trying to dismiss it as entirely unreasonable.

Again, I think the pushback is largely fear. In your case, fear of prescription... of someone else defining something for you.

Or fear of the way some on here come across in posts and that the designers think the same way and will run with it - like where someone literally says they want DMs who fudge dice labeled bad in the book so much so that they bring it up in a thread where they're trying to convince folks they don't need to worry that the folks changing the game will label things they like as bad.
 
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Cadence

Legend
Supporter
And if it was called the World Builder’s Guide, I’d agree. But not all DMs need or want to build a world of the scope that the book goes into. I’d be brutal on editing this section. I’d argue it’s among the least applicable info in the book, especially Chapter 2 about building a multiverse. I mean, the advice they give is to "Start Small", so you'd think this would be how they would start.

I doubt that you (or any other long time DM) need that section of the DMG to craft a setting. Might it help inspire a bit? Sure. But would we flounder about without it? No, not by any means.

This is information most needed by new DMs… but only those who are not using a published setting or who want to expand their world beyond a geographic region.

There are absolutely parts I'd keep, but I’d say it could be edited down significantly. Especially the cosmology stuff.

I’m just saying to connect lessons that are related in an overt way. Show how the many tasks the DM performs are related and how to design things with that in mind. The books tells DMs to think about the play style they want, and to consider a bunch of factors to help them decide.

Well, reordering the chapters would have no impact on the page count. Adding new material could potentially do so, but only if you didn’t recover that space by editing other areas.


It's done a little. It's infrequent enough that I'd almost say it's accidental when it happens. Very often topics will overlap onto other pages, and then end in the middle of that page, then go on for two more pages, interspersed with some oddly placed art.

So what I'm suggesting is condense that info and tighten it up by category and stick to individual pages and two page spreads as much as possible. So for example, a page about traps and their purpose, when to use them and when not to, and then all the sample traps and related charts on the following two page spread. Minimal page turning, related information condensed.

Basically, look at many other RPG books produced over the last few years. There has been a real shift to focus on layout and design. To clearly present the material with as little searching as possible. There's a book for the Mothership RPG called "Pound of Flesh" that's a 50 page zine and it arguably presents more adventure material than any of WotC's adventure books. And it's incredibly useful at the table during actual play.

Both, depending on the circumstances. I'm not necessarily against the double column when it works. But there's no need to use it on every page. Depending on what the topic is, I'd love to see more bullet lists, or perhaps a pair of related tables at the top of the page, and then a summary beneath them that's full page. Whatever is the best tool for the specific job at hand.

Why? Who's ignoring page count? Cut down on a lot of cruft and you save a ton of pages that can be used for this stuff. Concision is possible.

As I said above, make overt references to connected ideas. If it's a section about designing a town, describe what are some elements to include in the region, and why to include them... by referencing play style or player type or character type and so on.

But there's also not reason to portray these suggestions as the totality of what's possible, or that they are all universal. I just think if the book is going to bother to identify the seven types of players... as early in the book as page 6, even... then they should use those player types throughout as they discuss how and why to do things.

Like I said, they can use Phandelver or an online freebie if space is a consideration. But I'm thinking this is pretty easy to incorporate. In the settlement section, they can explain how and why they made Phandalin the way they did, and what is the purpose of Crackmaw Castle and Venomfang and the Lost Mines themselves, and so on. Behind the scenes type stuff about actual design choices in creating an actual adventure.

The things I snipped from my last reply that I totally agree with! I wonder if we had a + thread on this topic with something like this as the first post if there really wouldn't be much to add.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
This is the kind of fear I’m talking about. Why are people so afraid of prescriptive guidance? There’s a ton of it in the books.
Labeling my thoughts and preferences as irrational fear (they are not) isn't going to be conducive to good conversation. Nor is it going to diminish my point. I think it only strengthens my point because before it was claims that what was being advocated for wasn't prescription. Now that's morphed into 'only fear keeps you from prescription'. I'm glad we've moved toward agreeing that what is desired is prescription.

There are many areas in the books (especially the PHB) where things are prescribed. In general I believe most prescription there is necessary and necessary prescription I don't have an issue with. It's the unnecessary stuff that I would take issue with.

How can play styles even be identified if they don’t have qualities that are unique to them? Once we establish what those are, can’t we make suggestions on how to bring that about?
For discussion's sake let's assume we can objectively describe all the various playstyles based on their qualities. Enter the players - all human beings with different psychologies. The things that bring about a certain quality for one player won't necessarily bring about the same quality for a different player with a different psychology.

It seems this is fear of “one true wayism” but that’s not what I’m suggesting.
I would say it's desire to not have our playstyles impugned. Something 5e as a whole has been very careful not to do. And something that added prescriptiveness will result in.

But referencing these different styles, or at least suggesting that there are different styles, without defining them… that’s helpful? How? To whom?
I think you can define styles, you just cannot say what brings them about. Different players respond to stimuli differently and so the path to a particular style for one player need not be the path for another player. I'd be fine saying some DM's do X to try to bring this about in their players. Others do Y. Etc. But to actually say do X to yield this result. That's such a bad idea, IMO.

And if it was called the World Builder’s Guide, I’d agree. But not all DMs need or want to build a world of the scope that the book goes into. I’d be brutal on editing this section. I’d argue it’s among the least applicable info in the book, especially Chapter 2 about building a multiverse. I mean, the advice they give is to "Start Small", so you'd think this would be how they would start.
Then blame legacy for the title.

Honestly though, worldbuilding is the biggest and most challenging DM endeavor. The DMG should be focusing on that more than any other DMing topic IMO. I think the 5e book is solid on the world building side and that seems to be most of the content others want to rip out for 'new to DMing' advice. I don't think that's a good direction.

I doubt that you (or any other long time DM) need that section of the DMG to craft a setting. Might it help inspire a bit? Sure. But would we flounder about without it? No, not by any means.
Or maybe that's the wrong question. Maybe what should be asked is how does such advice improve a DM's worlds and how much easier does it make it for him to create worlds when following the advice. 'Just because I can cook something on my own doesn't mean a cooking book won't improve my cooking or make doing it easier'.

I think when asking that question the value of such information in the DMG becomes much more clear.

This is information most needed by new DMs… but only those who are not using a published setting or who want to expand their world beyond a geographic region.
I don't think so. Those kinds of questions often come up. Having thought about your world and how it works enables DM's to give thoughtful answers to those questions in play.

There are absolutely parts I'd keep, but I’d say it could be edited down significantly. Especially the cosmology stuff.
I think the cosmology stuff is really important.

Well, reordering the chapters would have no impact on the page count. Adding new material could potentially do so, but only if you didn’t recover that space by editing other areas.
Reordering the chapters would impact DM's that want to use the book for worldbuilding. Which was my point.
There is a page count goal. Adding new material does mean removing existing material. I don't see enough existing material that could be cut to help there. In the end you are having to decide which important thing to leave out and I think they made the right call (at least mostly).

So what I'm suggesting is condense that info and tighten it up by category and stick to individual pages and two page spreads as much as possible. So for example, a page about traps and their purpose, when to use them and when not to, and then all the sample traps and related charts on the following two page spread. Minimal page turning, related information condensed.
I think most info is already greatly condensed. Many of the worldbuilding sections are fairly dry reads.

Basically, look at many other RPG books produced over the last few years. There has been a real shift to focus on layout and design. To clearly present the material with as little searching as possible. There's a book for the Mothership RPG called "Pound of Flesh" that's a 50 page zine and it arguably presents more adventure material than any of WotC's adventure books. And it's incredibly useful at the table during actual play.
And this goes right back to prescriptiveness. A prescriptive RPG book can cover alot of ground in 50 pages. A non-prescriptive book will need tons more pages to cover the same ground on the same topic. Now I don't know the book cited but I'm willing to bet that it's very prescriptive and that's why that layout works for it.

Why? Who's ignoring page count? Cut down on a lot of cruft and you save a ton of pages that can be used for this stuff. Concision is possible.
It's already very concise.

The other fear is about what will be lost if something else is added. I don't really think this has to be the case, or if it does happen, that it needs to be severe.
It's not an irrational fear. Something will be taken out to add something else. Especially for the amount of new material being desired. It's inevitable.

Please reconsider the labeling of valid points as irrational fears.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
I wonder if this conversation would be different if the names of the posters were randomized in each thread. Right now when they see that it is some of the posters who commonly want to label what they are doing as bad wrong fun in other threads push for reorganizing, my guess is the two become tied together mentally.
IMO. Not vastly different, no.

The core concepts are prescriptiveness, primary audience, primary focus and page count.

Those are all intertwined to some degree

As in, I wonder if it's bleed over from politics, where now a politician on one side suggests a compromise, to move from A to half-way between A and B and everyone just assumes it's a first step in going all the way to B and past it to C.
I don't need to compromise here. I'm here to discuss and advocate for the best version of the DMG possible. I just don't share the same vision they do. Some of that is because I want to see it do different things. Some is because I think the tradeoffs are being vastly understated.

And so the group who likes A doesn't really see all of the great ideas you have on organizing the book <snipped from here, but I agree with entirely> as anything but a rhetorical ploy to nuke A and move to C.
Or the alternative. I've already thought through the consequences of pursuing those ideas and don't view them as tenable. I see the same thing happen in business meetings. A vague high level idea of 'do it all' is proposed and I'm sitting back thinking of the details on how to accomplish that and there's almost always some big holes. I'm not smarter, I just jump into the weeds more.

"I know we're talking about too much Jalapenos and Carolina Reapers on food and calling that spiciness. So I'll ask about why you aren't worried about Oregano, because that's used as a spice too."

And so the great ideas in the post are undone and they're back to having the view that the person posting the ideas just doesn't get their concern at all and are trying to dismiss it as entirely unreasonable.
Yea, there's far too much of this.

Or fear of the way some on here come across in posts and that the designers think the same way and will run with it - like where someone literally says they want DMs who fudge dice labeled bad in the book so much so that they bring it up in a thread where they're trying to convince folks they don't need to worry that the folks changing the game will label things they like as bad.
Moving toward more prescriptiveness will do that. It's not an irrational fear. It's literally a consequence of perscriptiveness.
 

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