D&D 5E Regarding DMG, Starter Set and Essentials kit: Are they good for the starting DMs?

hawkeyefan

Legend
By this definition everything in the book is an example of something... So I guess you win.

But this is the kind of thing you're resisting. This is what people are suggesting. Not "here's the one way to play" but "if you want this in your game, you may want to try X or Y" and so on.

See this isn't the first and only call for examples though... expanded player types, how to achieve different playstyes, setbacks... my point is achieving all of these is significant page count at some point.

In this case, we're talking about examples of success with setbacks for failed checks in the Starter Set. Pretty easily accomplished, I'd expect.

In the wider discussion of providing examples, again, I don't think that with some editing and formatting, that more examples couldn't be provided.

I know what examples are... I'm unclear on what exactly I am providing examples of... but wow that was clever...Soooo clever.

Just a joke to help display how examples can help!

The request was for examples of DMing basics along the lines of the examples offered about learning to play an instrument, and how hand position and breathing are the kinds of basics that are taught before how to play rock or classical or what have you.

I thought the request was pretty clear. Sometimes what's clear to some people isn't clear to others, and that can lead to setbacks.
 

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Oofta

Legend
What seems like the crux to me is that some people think "basic how-to" automatically means insistence on One True Way and others think "basic how-to" inherently includes introductions to many possible ways.
The problem can be that the basic how-to is interpreted as One True Way whether it's intended to or not. I don't think there's a simple answer.
 

The problem can be that the basic how-to is interpreted as One True Way whether it's intended to or not. I don't think there's a simple answer.
How can the basic how-to be interpreted as One True Way when it specifically includes introductions to many different ways? I don't think the possibility of willful misinterpretation should preclude the inclusion of actual useful instruction.
 

Oofta

Legend
How can the basic how-to be interpreted as One True Way when it specifically includes introductions to many different ways? I don't think the possibility of willful misinterpretation should preclude the inclusion of actual useful instruction.
Well, we'd have to get an actual sample to ensure we're talking about the same thing, I'm just saying that there is a tendency of some people to focus on a single sentence to prove how D&D "should" be played. That's all.
 

Well, we'd have to get an actual sample to ensure we're talking about the same thing, I'm just saying that there is a tendency of some people to focus on a single sentence to prove how D&D "should" be played. That's all.
I don't think the people who want instruction/s in the DMG are arguing for any "one true right way."

When one first learns to play an instrument one isn't taught how to play "classical" or "jazz"or "rock and roll" or any other genre. One is taught how to hold ones hands. If one is learning a wind or brass instrument one is taught how to breathe. One learns pieces in various styles to learn scales and chords and other aspects of theory.

It is only after one has some grounding in the basics that one starts to learn more in a specific genre or style. Something like that is what we want for the DMG. There's nothing in learning how to play classical piano that precludes one from playing Jerry Lee Lewis and there's nothing about learning how to run a game with fail-forward and setbacks and degrees of success that precludes one from running an old-school dungeon.
Just because your piano teacher starts with Beethoven doesn't mean she doesn't want you to play Joplin.
 

Imaro

Legend
Your particular video game analogy, which refers to tutorials, does not hold in specific reply to my post, because I am talking about DMG-as-reference-manual.

It also doesn't hold up, as it turns out, with respect to reference manuals. Here is a list of video games I own that have been published in the last 10 years that have separate user manuals (I looked them up):
  • Fantasy General II
  • Pillars of Eternity
  • X-Com 2
  • Divinity: Original Sin (1 and 2)
  • Fell Seal: Arbiter's Mark
  • Phantom Doctrine
  • D&D Tales from Candlekeep - Tomb of Annihilation

Honourable mentions go to Age of Wonders 3 and Age of Wonders Planetfall, which, while they do not have separate user manuals, have in-game "cyclopedias" that serve the same function. I stopped playing Stellaris after maybe 15 minutes, so I couldn't say for sure whether it has an in-game "cyclopedia" or not, but it wouldn't surprise me in the least if it did.

Wait, you looked them up...so you didn't actually use them whatsoever?

There is no expectation that players will read them cover-to-cover, or even that they will look them up at all, whether during or outside of gameplay. Nevertheless, they are available for those who want to make use of them. I am sure that if I cared to search more, I would find other games in my library that also have these manuals, to say nothing of how many video games I don't own that might have in-built or separate reference manuals.

My point is what the beginner expectation is... the default being that most people won't use them to learn and play the game...and I think you pretty much supported that. Thanks.
 

Imaro

Legend
Well, we'd have to get an actual sample to ensure we're talking about the same thing, I'm just saying that there is a tendency of some people to focus on a single sentence to prove how D&D "should" be played. That's all.
Which is exactly what I asked for earlier.
 


And the analogy that went the furthest over my head goes to ... eh. Never mind. :)
I sincerely didn't intend to be obscure so I will unpack the metaphor.

One of the first pieces I learned when I took piano lessons as a kid was the melody from Beethoven's "Ode to Joy" from his Ninth Symphony. As it happens the basic melody for that can be played almost entirely on one hand. Scott Joplin's music is heavily syncopated and substantially more complicated to play even accounting for simplified arrangements. I didn't have the option even to consider learning Joplin until years after I had learned that simplified "Ode to Joy."

There are differences in genre and style between Beethoven and Joplin but those are less relevant to the learning process. The general point is that the piano teacher probably doesn't care much which music you prefer to listen to or what you eventually end up preferring to play. In the same way a DMG that walked a new DM through various basics then various techniques and approaches in increasing complexity wouldn't need to have or state a preference for how a given DM ended up running their games. I also see no reason for inclusion of that sort of material to preclude the inclusion of reference material more useful to more experienced DMs. I even think some experienced DMs might learn something. Heaven forfend!
 

hawkeyefan

Legend
In all fairness, I would agree with such people that the DMG does not have to be structured as an instructional manual for new DMs - much like how the user manual for Finale 2009 is definitely not an instructional manual for new users of Finale 2009, much less a teaching tool for learning how to write music generally.

I'm also not sure that a starter set is meant to serve as a generic instructional manual - instead, the adventure included is the instructional manual. That being said, I do own the first starter set and while it mentions that you might have to make improvised calls about ability checks on the fly, it doesn't provide any concrete examples.

With all that said, I expect the DMG would be used by new and experienced DMs alike, so it probably shouldn't be devoid of guidance for newer DMs, even if it's not structured specifically to help them learn to run a game.

Yeah, I get that the DMG shouldn't just be instructional in the sense of teaching the game. I think it should help new DMs at least as much as experienced DMs. But yeah, I want to see a book that is for DMs of all experience levels.

One challenge in my mind, and one reason most of the people I know barely use the DMG, is that the more experienced you get, the more specific your tastes and preferences become. So, the broader the book must be in order to be useful across a wide swath of experienced DMs.
 

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