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

ECMO3

Hero
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.
I agree it is the weakest of the core books, but I also find a lot of things people say they want to be in there in optional rules.
 

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Stormonu

Legend
...except people do read the 5E DMG.


Right? I read it all the time. I was reading it just this morning, because one of my players asked about the optional rules for Mixing Potions (and we decided to use them.)

I don't know what people are on about. Yes, I agree that it's one of the weaker "core" rulebooks, but that doesn't mean nobody reads it. Sheesh.
Honestly, I've read bits and pieces as I've needed it. But it is horribly unorganized and difficult to find things within.

I'd much prefer if it was divided into two three sections - advice, rules compendium & toolbox. Right now, it's mixed together and scattered all over the place.

I'd prefer the first third to be advice, and the second to be more like a rules compendium. The third would be a toolbox - tables and charts for building things ranging from NPCs & monsters, to dungeons, encounter tables and the like.

And maybe put the magic items back into the PHB (but creation charts/tables/rules in the DMG).
 

Kurotowa

Legend
Jeremy Crawford, Chris Perkins, and James Wyatt are the credited leads for the 5e DMG. They're all currently on the D&D design team, two of them in the most senior design positions for 1D&D. I wouldn't hold out much hope.
Assuming the result will be the same assumes they have neither the ability or the intention of producing a substantially different work. I would argue the facts suggest otherwise on both points. It's readily apparent that WotC's design philosophy has shifted substantially over the last 10 years, as they seek to both correct previous mistakes and respond to the change in player demographics.

Faulty assumptions can be corrected and errors in judgment can be learning experiences. I have a higher opinion of those three than to believe they'll still be making the same mistakes a decade later.
 


Oofta

Legend
I have read it, continue to use it now and then, but will agree that it should be reorganized and revised heavily.

As just one example I'd reorder things with sections on how to run the game first. I'd also put a sample combat encounter in the PHB and walk people through a couple of turns (it shouldn't take more than a page or so). Then I'd put the same combat in the DMG and talk about it from the DM's point of view. Talk about why things are done, talk about motivations of the enemy, even talk about different types of monsters with different alignments. This section could be a few pages.

Fortunately it sounds like they recognize the problem and are going to be working on fixing it.
 


Faolyn

(she/her)
If that's true, then where are all the DM books?
Here's the thing:

I, personally, would love some DM books. But considering the overwhelming number of GM advice blogs and videos out there, would WotC think it's worthwhile to put out their own version, especially since it's practically memetic that nobody reads the DMG?
 

Whizbang Dustyboots

Gnometown Hero
I, personally, would love some DM books. But considering the overwhelming number of GM advice blogs and videos out there, would WotC think it's worthwhile to put out their own version, especially since it's practically memetic that nobody reads the DMG?
If they knock the 1D&D DMG out of the park -- seriously, just rip off the best stuff from the 4E DMG and freshen it up as needed, and that would go a long way -- then they could probably generate the enthusiasm for a DMG 2 at some point.
 

Clint_L

Hero
I agree it is the weakest of the core books, but I also find a lot of things people say they want to be in there in optional rules.
Sort of? There are a lot of interesting suggestions in the optional rules, but they aren't properly developed so I wind up going online to get a useful version of them.

Anyhow, as I wrote on my own thread over on the OneD&D sub-forum, I think the DM's Guide should have a first half focused on teaching people how to DM, with lots of short sample adventures covering a variety of story types and play styles, and a second half focused on fully developed optional rules for veterans. I think magic items belong in the PHB.

Like, make it an actual guide to DM-ing.
 

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