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

It is the most commonly referenced part of the book, likely by a lot.
Very low bar, as if the rest of the book were better, I’d reference it more. Also, it takes up about 20% of the book by volume, so through inertia alone…

By way of example, if the environmental hazards and exploration sections were longer and better done, I’d probably use those more. Same thing if the DMG spent even half the word count it spends on treasure on traps.

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Micah Sweet

Level Up & OSR Enthusiast
Yeah well I'm still trying to wrap my mind around this multitude of players who are having the hardest time ever just getting into 5e but also that the game continues to grow and expand faster than any other edition. Can the DMG be improved? Sure anything can... but this narrative where players are falling in droves by the wayside due to the difficulty of learning 5e is just ridiculous when I look at the reality of adoption for this edition.
Yeah. Hard to argue with results.

Micah Sweet

Level Up & OSR Enthusiast
Do the other sets have more material about running the game?

What seems likely to me is someone picks up one of these sets expecting to run it. Then they see how little there is about actually running it and they buy the DMG expecting more helpful and more useful information. Which puts as back at the DMG not being adequate for DMs new to the game because it was written for DMs new to the edition.
That explains everything! No wonder the 5e starter sets have been so unsuccessful and sold so poorly! They must be virtually unplayable.


As long as i get to be the frog
Given that I think the biggest problem with the DMG is that it was written with the presumption everyone reading it had been playing D&D for a decade or two it should be no surprise I do not see this as an obvious outcome.
Should there be any books written for people that have been playing D&D for decades or even for a few years?

That explains everything! No wonder the 5e starter sets have been so unsuccessful and sold so poorly! They must be virtually unplayable.
Indeed. The entire game must be unplayable from all the problems with it. No wonder they're working on a revision.

Clearly people are figuring out how to play and run the game. Tracing that to any single cause seems likely to be a fallacy.


Is the common path to buy a module then and run that and then grow into building one's own campaign? (I have no idea, and so am asking).

If the DMG shuffled its material, it feels like it could probably be picked up right after the starter set and not be a complete dumpster fire. That's a pretty low bar though. Would a dozen pages at the level of "so you just finished running players through the starter set" at the beginning of it potentially be a thing?

I would think so, yeah. The way I would approach it would be to reorganize the material and change how it's presented. I would like to see better layout to improve reference (for everyone!) and less encyclopedic prose in favor of bullet lists and things like that. Having the first section not be about building your own world, but rather just running the game. Discuss it with runninga published adventure first (since that seems to be the expectation) and then have later parts about creating your own stuff (adventure design, worldbuilding, etc.).

Yeah, something like "Oh hi, I see you've wandered in from the starter set... awesome. Here's what's next..." Maybe use the starter set material as the examples given throughout the book. "We made Phandalin this way because of X and Y, and you can see how this accomplishes 1 and 2" and similar. And in the adventure design section they could elaborate on why they included the different threats... what point do the Redbrands serve? What about Venomfang? Discussions about the actual thought that the designers were putting into these choices.

And that's more what I'd like to see. Throughlines that show connections of all the various information that's in there. Cross referencing in a more deliberate and clear way. Actual existing examples of design choices and analysis on why those choices were made, and what factors were considered.

Why would it take years... is that what we are seeing currently? This is what I mean let's drop the hyperbole. They can use many of the sections right after running Stormwreck, especially when paired with the how to videos the starter set links to.

You keep pointing to the starter set as the resource for new DMs. I'm asking when does the DMG become a resource for them as well.

I would think right away. You seem to disagree. If not, then okay. If you do, then when will it be useful to them?

Along with the usual "It should be better" with little or nothing concrete to say how it should be better.

You offered some suggestions yourself! Plenty of other suggestions have been offered, though. Some are indeed broad or vague... but do we need to elaborate on "better layout"?

Even if it's one part of a multipath strategy they seem key (and thus are doing their job) since WotC has released 3 starter sets in the span of it's lifetime. If they weren't doing their job why continue to invest in not only selling them but evolving them?

Perhaps they thought they could improve on the starter set?

The idea of evolving is all that's being suggested here. Why do you think it's good for the Starter Set to evolve, but the DMG shouldn't?

What's lost is page count that could be used for more rule material.

I don't think so. Especially if they really lean into the whole "Omit unnecessary words" rule of writing. They could easily cut a dozen or two pages from the book as is just through some editing, and nothing would be lost. If they got aggressive about it, they could do a lot more, and then fill those pages with more generally useful stuff.
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