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


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Micah Sweet

Level Up & OSR Enthusiast
Even if players were telling WotC that they shouldn't worry about on-boarding new DMs, WotC should have known better. The core books need to be in the business of creating new lifelong players, in addition to any other jobs they might have.
No, the starter sets are in the business of creating new lifelong players. The DMG should be better organized, and the optional rules in it could definitely be better written, but they're on the right track.
 

Oofta

Legend
One of the first things they published for it was Lost Mine of Phandelver, which is widely considered the best starter set they've made for any edition. The updated DM's Guide could have more stuff like that - little adventures that gradually get a bit more complex and explore different styles of play.

Edit: I would argue that "Lost Mine" is a much better DM's Guide than the actual DM's Guide. Certainly for new players!
Which begs the question - should they primarily focus on starter kits and adventures for new DMs? Most people in my experience, which may not be universal, start DMing after having a decent grasp of the game. They've played some already and just need some advice on how to make the next step. The DMG should be better at providing that next step, but should a person absolutely new to the game even be looking at a DMG?

Whether we think the DMG could be expanded to the page count of War and Peace if it would have useful information, WOTC has pretty much decided on a page count for their books. Add info to the DMG on how to build a world, different styles of creating campaigns but leave modules like LMoP for the absolute newbies. LMoP is good for teaching people how to run the game and a module, not so great on teaching people how to prep for a home campaign.

Do we expect too much from the DMG? Expecting more, sure. I think it can be improved. But it can only do so much.
 

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
I think I should have posted this from another thread here, so moving it over...
---

Is the idea of the big three PHB, DMG, and MM just sub-optimal these days (except for tradition)?

How would the 1e DMG, for example have been viewed if it didn't have all the rules for running the game in it (combat, saves, etc...) too? Would people also have "never read" it? And so with the base rules rightfully there for everyone, is the DMG adrift?

How would the classic B/X have been viewed if they were in three books instead of one each?

How much would the DnD web explode if there was a DMG that had the basics of running things and a bunch of monsters, and then a Campaign Masters Guide and a Monster Manual with the rest? How much could you fit in a 128 page cheaper hard cover?
 


Micah Sweet

Level Up & OSR Enthusiast
Also, if really people don't play after level 10, they should get rid of planar information. Planar hopping campaign are usually high level, because before players seldom have the means to do to that, and if they are visiting a plane, it's through a GM device, reducing their agency. So... why keep it if it doesn't serve? It shouldn't necessarily be "player-facing" but at least useful for starting parties.
Never going to be in favor of just removing content.
 

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
Then write a new book for them. That isn't what the DMG is for.
As I tried to get at in the post that came in as you were typing yours, I'm not sure what the DMG is really for anymore. In 1e it had a lot of roles since many things were hidden from the players -- and so everyone had to read it. Does the way it is actually put together today make something that's worth calling a core book? Would putting in some monsters and removing some of the more in depth campaign building make an actual core book that was more useful to more people? Is there any reason besides tradition to have the core PHB, DMG, MM? Would a "Campaign Masters Guide" allow for a lot of new things?
 

Xamnam

Loves Your Favorite Game
I'm not going to rehash my full points from the prior threads, but as someone who used LMoP for my first full game, after having read the PHB and DMG, the goal of those starter sets isn't to teach you how to DM, it's to get you and your friends at the table and playing with minimal hassle. It offers support, but not a whole lot of instruction.

There's room for and value in a teaching text, and videos do not serve as a 1-1 replacement.
 

delericho

Legend
Which begs the question - should they primarily focus on starter kits and adventures for new DMs?

IMO, yes. Lost Mine is actually a really good example to follow - it starts with a very basic dungeon crawl that a new DM can run cold, then expands to a base village (introducing the interaction pillar), then a larger wilderness area (with several quests and introducing the exploration pillar), before coming to a conclusion. And in that final part, once the DM has been exposed to all the key topics, it advises them to give the players "a map to an adventure of your own devising". It's a really good intro to running the game.

Whether we think the DMG could be expanded to the page count of War and Peace if it would have useful information, WOTC has pretty much decided on a page count for their books. Add info to the DMG on how to build a world, different styles of creating campaigns but leave modules like LMoP for the absolute newbies. LMoP is good for teaching people how to run the game and a module, not so great on teaching people how to prep for a home campaign.

I'd pitch the DMG mostly (though not exclusively) to DMs of middling experience and expertise. So fill it with discussions of different types of players and DMs and different game styles. Provide detailed descriptions of different types of adventure (dungeon crawl, heist, mystery...), along with step-by-step tools and tutorials to help DMs reliably put together decent adventures of various types. (And do the same for encounters, campaigns, and settings.)

By and large, though, don't pitch your 300+ page book to newbie DMs (who'll be overwhelmed) or to hugely experience DMs (who "know it all" anyway, and almost certainly won't read it anyway).
 

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