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

James Gasik

We don't talk about Pun-Pun
Supporter
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?
It doesn't matter what WotC thinks, sadly. As a publicly traded company, it comes down to the shareholders. Who want more money.* So WotC probably won't, no. Why bother ensuring the future of the game by helping DM's when you could sell us a movie, tie-in video games, and plush Mimic toys?

*EDIT: I'm not calling them greedy, mind. If you invest in something, naturally you want a return on that investment. But the things that give you more money in the short run might not be what's best for the product in the long term.
 

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billd91

Not your screen monkey (he/him)
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.
I think one very useful topic to cover would be how to tailor the game to the style of game you want to play and give it a lot more of a prominent presentation. This could also help deal with the questions boiling in a couple of other threads right now about pushing the game to the dungeon or to more story. I'd want them to be specific about some elements that might be worth emphasizing or cutting out - such as removing spells like goodberry or the camping spells (Leomund's tiny hut/Mordenkainen's magnificent mansion) to push resource management and risking rests or tailoring adventure hooks to PC backstories to emphasize getting the PCs to get into plots and central conflicts to the stories of the campaign, as well as how to mine PC backstory for ideas for the campaign.
 

James Gasik

We don't talk about Pun-Pun
Supporter
Adventure modules, rules supplements, etc... I mean, I guess WotC could be lying. 🤷‍♂️
It's true we're finally getting more campaign settings, so maybe there is a sea change ahead. Which would be nice. That it took so long to get strikes me as unfortunate.
 

EpicureanDM

Explorer
It's not an either/or proposition.

By virtue of its name recognition and place in the market, D&D is going to be the first RPG for the overwhelming number of RPG players.
I suppose I agree, but I don't think that's what animated the team who wrote the 5e DMG. None of them foresaw D&D's rise in the popular culture. They were writing for a niche audience who'd been through multiple editions, including an off-brand one published by Paizo.

D&D's been newcomers' first RPG experience for decades, but I don't think 5e was designed that way; the game never has been. Look, they have the opportunity to do that now with 1D&D, but they're layering on more complexity rather than streamlining. Ironically, given how much of a reaction to Pathfinder 5e is, 1D&D's adopting a lot of PF-shaped ideas. Not surprising, given how they've recently hired a bunch of PF designers, but there it is. I don't see PF2e as particularly newb-friendly either.
 

Whizbang Dustyboots

Gnometown Hero
I don't need think the game necessarily needs to be made more new user friendly. But I think reserving the first few chapters of the DMG to help give the world more DMs is absolutely doable and, frankly, the right move for the game's long-term health, which should be part of their agenda.

But yes, 2014 was a very different time and it wasn't clear to everyone that D&D would ever be able to come back. (It certainly wasn't clear to me, as I had converted our campaign from 3E to C&C.) New DMs were much less important than reconciling with folks who had left.
 

EpicureanDM

Explorer
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.
This is where folks always get into trouble. Specific designers and their potential shortcomings are named. Someone responds to say that it's "readily apparent" that "WotC's" design philosophy has shifted substantially, as if it's the corporation's charter in Delaware that's writing D&D books. No one ever gets specific by referencing the designers' actual work.

Where are we supposed to see this alleged substantial shift in the quality of DM support from Crawford, Perkins, and Wyatt over the past ten years? How have recent WotC books shown substantial improvement in helping DMs produce good play at the table? Where are the innovating in presentation? I see a lot of that in other third-part arenas, but where are we seeing it from Crawford, Perkins, or Wyatt?

EDIT: I don't think it's controversial to suggest that Crawford/Perkins/Wyatt wouldn't be in most folk's Top 5 DMing Advice recommendations. Sly Flourish, Alphastream, How To Be A Great GM, Matt Colville, The Alexandrian, Dungeon Dudes, and many others would probably edge out those WotC guys. Whatever their strengths are, DMing advice isn't among them.

I concede that Wyatt's name's on the 4e DMGs and those are well-regarded, including by me. Crawford and Perkins are not listed and they're in charge of 1D&D. So whatever Wyatt might try to contribute will have to run through them, which doesn't inspire much confidence.
 
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FallenRX

Adventurer
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.
5E wasnt supposed to be someones first RPG, or game mastering experience.
This system was designed to try to unite the absolutely broken, edition split factions that started during the 4E era, the design of the game assumes historical knowledge from previous books, and is meant to be adjustable to fit any style of play from those books, from old Dungeon Crawler of Basic, to the more actiony 4E. it doesnt do anything particularly well, but CAN do it all.

As someone once put it before, it is the Anglican Church edition of DnD. Meant to be a central uniting force, without deeply offending anyone else.
 

the Jester

Legend
It's true we're finally getting more campaign settings, so maybe there is a sea change ahead. Which would be nice. That it took so long to get strikes me as unfortunate.
What? They've been releasing several every year since 5e launched, haven't they? Including Magic settings, new ones like Theros, old ones like Spelljammer, etc.
 

James Gasik

We don't talk about Pun-Pun
Supporter
What? They've been releasing several every year since 5e launched, haven't they? Including Magic settings, new ones like Theros, old ones like Spelljammer, etc.
If you consider the Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide a full setting, maybe.

How about the three year gap between SCAG and Ravnica? The next year gave us Acquisitions Incorporated and Eberron. 2020 gave us Wildemount and Theros. 2021 is Ravenloft and Strixhaven.

So no Greyhawk. No Mystara. No Birthright. No Dark Sun. We're just now getting Spelljammer and Dragonlance. If this is sufficient DM facing product for you, that's fine. I don't think it is.

Now there is something to be said about adventures, which do have some setting information. But I don't buy an adventure, personally, to tell me what the deal is with a setting so I can make my own adventures.
 

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