D&D 5E People don't read the 5E DMG for a reason

I don’t know if you misunderstood me or something else… I agreed with you about the need for teachers in state education.

I’m making a distinction between state eduction and its needs and those of learning a game.

I would expect that distinction to be clear to an educator.
As an educator, I'm aware that learning is learning, irrespective of if it's physics or a game.
 

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BrunOrc

Villager
The reason: It's the weakest of the core books.

It doesn't spend a lot of time teaching how to be a DM, but instead has a bunch of world-building advice.

It has a bunch of setting information (the most planar info we've gotten in 5E to date), while trying to be a tool for every table.

It has a bunch of magic items, although it's not terribly well organized (why are the weapons mixed in with everything else -- are there DMs who are equally likely, as a rule, to toss in a +1 longsword or jug of alchemy into a treasure?) but not enough information on how they can be made or sold. (I do like the double-page spread of ways to flavor magic items; I've used that a ton.)

Spell-creation advice essentially comes down to "you'll figure it out, champ," while the monster-building and player character species-building advice feels like it was created long before the math of 5E was finalized and isn't terribly helpful.

If 5E is supposed to be someone's first RPG, or even just their first game mastering experience, the DMG isn't the book for them to start with. (Return of the Lazy Dungeon Master is better, but even that is meant for an already experienced DM looking to detox a bit.) But it should be, since it's the resource new DMs are most likely to have.

The irony is that WotC's 4E DMGs were widely respected and looked back fondly upon. Surely some of that text could have been lifted wholesale, or made the model for what to put in the 5E DMG.

Here's hoping that the 1D&D DMG is recalibrated to be more than a resource for existing DMs (honestly, it reads like a bunch of Dragon articles, rather than a cohesive work, to me), but to actually be the textbook for new ones as well.
Hi. I just started reading it after buying the return of the lazy dungeon master and I’m quite shocked how abstract and wordy the guide is. I’m reading our curiosity but I don’t think I’m coming back to it.

Any advices on what I should read after/instead of it?
 

Wolfpack48

Adventurer
The reason: It's the weakest of the core books.

It doesn't spend a lot of time teaching how to be a DM, but instead has a bunch of world-building advice.

It has a bunch of setting information (the most planar info we've gotten in 5E to date), while trying to be a tool for every table.

It has a bunch of magic items, although it's not terribly well organized (why are the weapons mixed in with everything else -- are there DMs who are equally likely, as a rule, to toss in a +1 longsword or jug of alchemy into a treasure?) but not enough information on how they can be made or sold. (I do like the double-page spread of ways to flavor magic items; I've used that a ton.)

Spell-creation advice essentially comes down to "you'll figure it out, champ," while the monster-building and player character species-building advice feels like it was created long before the math of 5E was finalized and isn't terribly helpful.

If 5E is supposed to be someone's first RPG, or even just their first game mastering experience, the DMG isn't the book for them to start with. (Return of the Lazy Dungeon Master is better, but even that is meant for an already experienced DM looking to detox a bit.) But it should be, since it's the resource new DMs are most likely to have.

The irony is that WotC's 4E DMGs were widely respected and looked back fondly upon. Surely some of that text could have been lifted wholesale, or made the model for what to put in the 5E DMG.

Here's hoping that the 1D&D DMG is recalibrated to be more than a resource for existing DMs (honestly, it reads like a bunch of Dragon articles, rather than a cohesive work, to me), but to actually be the textbook for new ones as well.
The best essay of refereeing I have come across is in the RuneQuest 3 Gamemaster Book. It's so on point, succinct and inspiring - I've never come across anything better. Advice goes for any system, any game. Steve Perrin gets kudos.

69_w91wqp.jpg
 

Whizbang Dustyboots

Gnometown Hero
Hi. I just started reading it after buying the return of the lazy dungeon master and I’m quite shocked how abstract and wordy the guide is. I’m reading our curiosity but I don’t think I’m coming back to it.

Any advices on what I should read after/instead of it?
Have you watched Matt Colville's Running the Game videos on YouTube? It's a subset of his other videos and you can find them all in their own playlist. They are excellent and even include a miniseries within them specifically about becoming a first-time Dungeon Master and running your first game and first campaign. (It's probably just worth watching the videos in order, rather than jumping ahead to them, since he sort of builds up to those episodes.)

Are there specific issues you want help with?

Also on YouTube, rather than a book, are the animated Mastering the Dungeon videos. Those are apparently the outgrowth of a blog/Patreon, but the videos are charming, succinct and very focused (how to make a Zelda-style dungeon, how to use illusion-based traps, how to create a good town, etc.).
 

BrunOrc

Villager
Have you watched Matt Colville's Running the Game videos on YouTube? It's a subset of his other videos and you can find them all in their own playlist. They are excellent and even include a miniseries within them specifically about becoming a first-time Dungeon Master and running your first game and first campaign. (It's probably just worth watching the videos in order, rather than jumping ahead to them, since he sort of builds up to those episodes.)

Are there specific issues you want help with?

Also on YouTube, rather than a book, are the animated Mastering the Dungeon videos. Those are apparently the outgrowth of a blog/Patreon, but the videos are charming, succinct and very focused (how to make a Zelda-style dungeon, how to use illusion-based traps, how to create a good town, etc.).
Hi.

About my "specificities": I just wanted some more basis to start working.

Again, even though I have not run even one campaign, I felt like the “Return of...” was full of good stuff. I felt like I could use this as a framework and use my creativity to populate the world.



About the DM guide, though, everything feels super abstract (I am still on page 43).

I know I will eventually get to do my own stuff, but I don’t think this book will benefit beginners.
And if I already had experience, I doubt it would be me much, either.



Of course, this is just my anecdotal experience.

I will check on those videos.
I truly appreciate the time and effort you've put into answering my questions. Thank you so much.
 

hawkeyefan

Legend
Hi.

About my "specificities": I just wanted some more basis to start working.

Again, even though I have not run even one campaign, I felt like the “Return of...” was full of good stuff. I felt like I could use this as a framework and use my creativity to populate the world.



About the DM guide, though, everything feels super abstract (I am still on page 43).

I know I will eventually get to do my own stuff, but I don’t think this book will benefit beginners.
And if I already had experience, I doubt it would be me much, either.



Of course, this is just my anecdotal experience.

I will check on those videos.
I truly appreciate the time and effort you've put into answering my questions. Thank you so much.

I will recommend the Warden's Manual for the Mothership 1E RPG. It's not out just yet, but will be soon as part of the boxed set. The Kickstarter is currently being fulfilled.

It's a great guide for beginning GMs, with really practical and applicable advice. The game is a sci-fi horror game, so the prep guidance does take this into consideration, but it's easily applied to other types of games. It provides a system for establishing and tracking threats of different kinds.

They start with how to organize your prep and how to get the most from it, as well as how to keep a campaign notebook that's manageable and can help you throughout play. The book shows you exactly what to write down as part of prep, and has a kind of system for what to do.

There's practical guidance on how to create maps (they're not as hard as you think) and how to take good notes during play.

It's honestly a really solid book on how to run both an individual game session and an ongoing campaign, filled with practical and actionable advice. And the entire book is 60 pages.

I don't know if it will be available for purchase on its own, or if it can only be purchased along with the Mothership 1E boxed set, but I'd recommend it, either way.
 

tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
Epic
Hi.

About my "specificities": I just wanted some more basis to start working.

Again, even though I have not run even one campaign, I felt like the “Return of...” was full of good stuff. I felt like I could use this as a framework and use my creativity to populate the world.



About the DM guide, though, everything feels super abstract (I am still on page 43).

I know I will eventually get to do my own stuff, but I don’t think this book will benefit beginners.
And if I already had experience, I doubt it would be me much, either.



Of course, this is just my anecdotal experience.

I will check on those videos.
I truly appreciate the time and effort you've put into answering my questions. Thank you so much.
The 5e dmg is god awful but that was not always the case. I'd include some of the past DMGs. in the 3.5 DMG there is an entire chapter called
Chapter 2: Using the Rules . . . . . . . . . 19
More Movement Rules . . . . . . . . . . . . 19
Movement and the Grid . . . . . . . . 19
Moving in Three Dimensions . . . 20
Evasion and Pursuit . . . . . . . . . . . . 20
Moving around in Squares . . . . . . 20
Bonus Types . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21
Combat . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21
Line of Sight . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21
Starting an Encounter . . . . . . . . . . 22
New Combatants . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23
Keeping Things Moving . . . . . . . . 24
Combat Actions. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25
Attack Rolls . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26
Damage . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26
Effect of Weapon Size . . . . . . . . . . 28
Splash Weapons . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28
Area Spells . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28
Big and Little Creatures
in Combat . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29
Skill and Ability Checks . . . . . . . . . . . 30
Saving Throws . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33
Adjudicating Magic . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34
Describing Spell Effects . . . . . . . . 34
Handling Divinations . . . . . . . . . . 34
Creating New Spells. . . . . . . . . . . . 35
Rewards. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36
Experience Awards. . . . . . . . . . . . . 36
Story Awards . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40
Character Death . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41
Making a New Character . . . . . . . 42
Behind the Curtain: Experience Points......................................................41
Behind the Curtain: When a PC Falls Behind..........................................42
One Hundred Adventure Ideas.....................................................................44
Adventure Writer’s Checklist ........................................................................46
Behind the Curtain: Treasure Values ...........................................................54
Behind the Curtain: Why Dungeons?.........................................................58
Walls, Doors, and Detect Spells.......................................................................60
Behind the Curtain: Traps...............................................................................67
Variant: What Disabling a Device Means...................................................70
Variant: Upkeep ...............................................................................................130
Behind the Curtain: How Real Is Your Fantasy? ...................................136
Variant: No Sidebars for Variant Rules .....................................................171
Behind the Curtain: Why Mess around with Character Classes?....175
Behind the Curtain: A Limit to Attacks and Saves ...............................207
Behind the Curtain: Building an Epic Progression ..............................210
Variant: New Magic Items............................................................................214
Behind the Curtain: Putting Cursed Items in Your Game .................274
Behind the Curtain: Magic Item Gold Piece Vaules ............................282
Behind the Curtain: Special Weapons Materials...................................283
Behind the Curtain: Body Slot Affinities.................................................288
Some of that exists in the 5e dmg as an amorphous nebulous & not so useful near-parody of the original, but a lot of it is very good even still like DM's best friend & the linked "bonus types" mechanical hook it uses. Other areas like slot affinities explain the why of things 5e still uses but never bothered to explain
BEHIND THE CURTAIN: BODY SLOT AFFINITIES
A character who already has winged boots wants the haste effect provided by boots of speed. The player asks, “Can I make a hat of speed instead?” What’s your answer?

The question comes up with some frequency because some parts of the body can accommodate many more kinds of magic items than others. Almost every character gets a magic cloak of some kind early in her career, even if it’s a simple cloak of resistance +1. But magic vests are few in number, and almost all the magic robes are too expensive for low-level characters. Characters who have “empty” spaces on their
bodies are naturally eager to fill them with useful items that would ordinarily go in spots where they already have magic.

Some magic items strain credulity if they’re placed in an unusual location on the body. It’s much easier to imagine gauntlets of ogre power than goggles of ogre power. Other changes seem straightforward enough; for instance, a cloak of blending makes just as much sense as a robe of blending.

Each location on the body, or body slot, has one or more affinities: a word or phrase that describes the general function or nature of magic items designed for that body slot. Body slot affinities are deliberately broad, abstract categorizations, because a hard-and-fast rule can’t cover the great variety among wondrous items.

You can use the affinities in the list below to guide your decisions on which magic items you’ll allow in which body slots. And when you design your own magic items, the affinities give you some guidance for what form a particular item should take.

Some body slots have different affinities for different specific items. Gloves and gauntlets occupy the same body slot, for example, but have the affinities of quickness and destructive power respectively.

Body SlotAffinity
Headband, HelmetMental Improvenment, Ranged Attacks
HatInteraction
PhylacteryMorale, Alignment
Eye Lenses, GogglesVision
Cloak, Cape, MantleTransformation, Protection
Amulet, Brooch, Medallion, Necklace, Periapt, ScarabProtection, Discernment
RobeMultiple Effects
ShirtPhysical Improvement
Vest, VestmentClass ability Improvement
BracersCombat
BraceletsAllies
GlovesQuickness
GauntletsDestructive Power
BeltPhysical Improvement
BootsMovement
Wondrous items that don’t match the affinity for a particular body slot should cost 50% more than wondrous items that match the affinity. Compare the boots of teleportation with the helm of teleportation. Unless you are intentionally aiming for a truly oddball game, avoid patently absurd combinations such as eyeglasses of giant Strength at any price.

Despite having so little in common with any edition since, the ad&d 2e dmg was written at a time when it was still important to explain things that are commonly understood now & that leads to a wildly different slant on how it discusses a lot of high level* foundational elements like the importance of treasure pros & cons of magic item shops & an entire chapter on creating new spells/magic items.

* 40,000 foot view not level 1-20
 



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