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

Micah Sweet

Level Up & OSR Enthusiast
This is the question we should be discussing: why the heck do we need a DMG anyway?

I would say, we don't. It's not a good way to teach people to DM - free multimedia content would be the best way to do that; and rules would be more convenient if they where all collected together in a single well indexed book (like pretty much every other RPG).
I see your point, but given the virtual certainty that there will be a DMG, I'd prefer a better version of the one we have over a how-to book for new DMs.
 

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tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
This may be the fundamental problem with the DMG: back in 1st Edition that book contained a whole load of rules that were necessary for play. Since 2nd Edition the key rules have all been in the PHB, meaning that the DMG is needed only for the magic items and a handful of tables.

So maybe it's just a book that is struggling to justify its page count?
2e still had some rules in the DMG. The specifics of INFRA vision is one I recall

edit:infravision not darkvision..
 
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hawkeyefan

Legend
I did that. I got accused of edition waring because I dared to criticise the sacred 4e.

I’d say it’s because you’re being needlessly combative.

And without changing the fundamental nature of the game (e.g. to be more like Blades in the Dark) there is absolutely nothing that can be done about that.

You had said that different people will DM in different ways, right? If so, then it would appear there are things that can be done to change how much work DMing is without changing the game fundamentally.

The amount of work it takes to DM is variable and that’s the kind of thing a guide to DMing should likely discuss.
 

I’d say it’s because you’re being needlessly combative.
All I said was I bounced off the 4e rules. How is that needlessly combative?
You had said that different people will DM in different ways, right? If so, then it would appear there are things that can be done to change how much work DMing is without changing the game fundamentally.

The amount of work it takes to DM is variable and that’s the kind of thing a guide to DMing should likely discuss.
But a book is not a good medium for that kind of discussion. If people could learn from textbooks they would sack all the teachers and close all the schools.
 

hawkeyefan

Legend
All I said was I bounced of the 4e rules. How is that needlessly combative?

Because you concluded that because you bounced off of 4e that meant it would be a poor source to cite in a discussion how a manual can present information.

But a book is not a good medium for that kind of discussion. If people could learn from textbooks they would sack all the teachers and close all the schools.

The idea that reading cannot teach is absurd. It may not always be the ideal method, that may be true, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be utilized.

The DMG already offers some methods to tailor the gaming experience to specific gaming groups. I don’t think that advice is the best, or that it’s anywhere near as thorough as it could be.
 


Stormonu

Legend
This may be the fundamental problem with the DMG: back in 1st Edition that book contained a whole load of rules that were necessary for play. Since 2nd Edition the key rules have all been in the PHB, meaning that the DMG is needed only for the magic items and a handful of tables.

So maybe it's just a book that is struggling to justify its page count?
Sort of. The PHB is loaded down with a lot of things - races, classes, equipment, feats, spells, etc. I wouldn’t be adverse to putting magic items in the PHB, but would possibly strain the page count.

A lot of RPGs fit their main game into one book. D&D has only managed to do that once, and it got lambasted in 4E for the opposite with its PHB 1, 2, 3 and such. In many ways, D&D has too much stuff in it at its roots, and its hard to present it all in a small, slim set of books.

The one thing the PHB doesn’t really do is provide advice to play. It provides a couple springboard ideas for making this or that sort of character, but it doesn’t run you through what you need to know when you’re actually playing - like how to use a character, dungeon delving tips, out-of-combat RP or many such things. Yeah, there’s plenty of other books on the market that can tell you these things, but the PHB is primarily mechanics, more encyclopedia than a “teach me to play” manual.

And to me, that’s what the true strength of a DMG would be - advice and tools for the DM. Sure, you could put magic items in the DMG, but what a DM really needs is information of when and what to give out during the game, how to make new items and advice on what they should let PCs buy/build/sell. Same for monster & NPC creation - and how to use them, as well as a host of other aspects of the game, up to building an entire fantasy universe.

To me, the strength of the DMG should be in teaching someone how to put all these game elements together. Tables to inspire ideas and break down the components to make new stuff, and advice on how and when to use it all. It basically should be a D&D DIY kit book.
 

EpicureanDM

Explorer
As I said in reply to someone else, you can discuss whether the 4e DMG did a good job of supporting 4e DMs - and whether that approach and presentation could be good for future editions - without commenting on the relative merits of 4e compared to other editions. Just because you aren't personally equipped to have this conversation doesn't mean that others can't.
I did that. I got accused of edition waring because I dared to criticise the sacred 4e.
You did nothing of the sort. It requires a level of objectivity about 4e that you've shown no evidence of possessing.
 

Whizbang Dustyboots

100% that gnome
This is the subtext of people complaining about the DMG "not teaching": "People DM differently to me. This BadWrongFun must be stamped out!"
You must have been fun in school.

"WHO SAID THIS IS THE ONLY PROPER ENGLISH GRAMMAR! THIS AM UNFUNBAD!"

There are plenty of books of guidance on DMing that don't push a single style but, in fact, talk about how different styles make sense for different DMs and groups.
 


EpicureanDM

Explorer
It's not. DMing is walking down hill on soft grass.
You're preaching to the choir, here, Chad! If observing decades of threads and comments across a wide variety of Internet fora has shown me anything, it's that there are a lot of whiny, crybaby DMs who just aren't capable of doing what's so obviously easy. Whatever! Stop complaining! If those losers can't figure out this stuff, then they don't deserve to be Dungeons & Dragons Dungeon Masters. Choose an easier game, amirite?
 


the Jester

Legend
I'm not. I'm saying it was praised by people who often didn't particularly love 4E, but thought that it was full of good DMing advice.
I have to say, as a guy who ran 4e for its entire lifespan and then some, and who thinks that it has a lot to offer that has fallen by the wayside, especially in terms of monster and encounter design- the 4e DMG was, in my opinion, pretty bad.

I'd say my "best DMG" votes go to the 1e DMG (for being stuffed with amazing information about everything from disease and parasitic infestation to lifespans and game effects of getting older or younger to the characteristics of herbs) and the 3e DMG2, which- if I recall correctly, which may not be 100% true, as I haven't looked at it in ages- was packed full of great advice, too.

One thing that I think makes a DMG shine is examples. The aforementioned DMG2 had an example town (Saltmarsh). The DMG from 1e had a great example of play lasting a couple of pages.
 

Whizbang Dustyboots

100% that gnome
I wouldn't like a 1E DMG published today. It's terribly organized and full of random things that seem to have fallen straight out of EGG's head and onto the page.

However, as an inspirational text, it's amazing. I don't think I've ever used the magical properties of gems table in the 1E DMG, but if I ever need a magical gem (not my thing, personally), I will 100% be grabbing my 1E DMG reprint from a few years ago and going to that table.

And the Gygaxian prose, while not the way I'd write a DMG today (although it helped my spelling and vocabulary immensely, leading to a lot of confused adults wondering how I knew what a "carbuncle" was), evokes a strange tome full of semi-forbidden knowledge better than anything since, even the 3E faux magical tome covers, ever did.

I would like a modern-day equivalent to the 1E DMG as a supplemental work after the DMG. (In fact, that's one of the reasons I have Goodman Games' Dungeon Alphabet and Monster Alphabet, for that kind of inspiration-on-demand.) But I think the main DMG should be a more practical volume.
 

Clint_L

Hero
Yeah, I can be critical of those AD&D books and EGG's writing, but at the same time I truly, deeply love them. No other D&D book will ever conjure the magic that those did in my heart! I have a student who has gone back to them and is fascinated by AD&D; she's always marvelling at the way we did things back in the day (and then disappointed when I tell her "no one actually paid attention to 90% of those weapons tables," or whatever).
 

Because you concluded that because you bounced off of 4e that meant it would be a poor source to cite in a discussion how a manual can present information.
It's a poor source to site as a good example of how to present. As a bad example, it's fine. After all 4e had the fewest DMs of any edition. So obviously, it did not work.
The idea that reading cannot teach is absurd. It may not always be the ideal method, that may be true, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be utilized.
Textbooks can be a useful supplement to a teacher an practical exercises. As can magazine type articles. And there are a small number of unusual individuals who can learn very effectively from books.

But you are continuing to overlook the key barrier to entry: COST. You are asking the potential DM to shell out roughly three times as much money as the players (assuming they also buy a Monster Manual). Very few people are willing to throw that kind of money at a hobby unless they are ALREADY COMMITTED. You (or more importantly, WotC) want more DMs? And you expect them to pay for the privilege of doing you a favour!?
 
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Zardnaar

Legend
So you are saying I shouldn't listen to Hasbro or you folks. Ok.

Well alot of this grew out of articles referencing specific place eg NYC and paid DMs.

As I understand it DaMs online won't have trouble getting players and a few charge.

So online may have different ratio and if it's easier to monetize might attract s from offline games.
 

Incenjucar

Legend
Each edition has more or less unique DMG rules which need to be included to run that edition. DMing advice is mostly evergreen, with occasional revisions because we learn new lessons and times change. As unlikely as it is, I'd love to see the advice part made into an online wiki that gets updated and refreshed when needed, but otherwise just grows with new edition-agnostic information. When 10E rolls out, the wisdom and folly of the earlier editions should be available without dropping hundreds of dollars for mostly redundant advice or relying on the current writers to remember all the good stuff from before they were born.
 

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