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

This still seems like a non-answer to me. Maybe it would help if I rephrase what you are telling me in the context of my question.

Despite what WotC has said, you believe that WotC does not genuinely hope to achieve anything for new DMs with regards to these changes to the One D&D? But instead, you believe that they are simply printing a DMG because "tradition"?
Hoping to achieve something is not the same as likely to succeed in doing something.
This argument is essentially a bad faith take about One D&D and WotC.
What do you mean by "bad faith"? Wanting to achieve something and having the necessary skills to achieve that thing are not the same.
And none of this actually addresses the question of what you think that WotC hopes to achieve by making these changes. You are repeating your belief that the DMG is not a good way to teach new players. But please note, Paul, that I am not asking whether it is or not. My actual question that keeps getting glided over is below:

I am asking you to speculate here, but addressing the actual question would be appreciated on my end.
Frankly I don't care about what WotC hope to achieve. I'm not them, I don't speak for them. As a professional educator and a DM with 40 years' experience, I believe I have a good insight into the best way to teach people to be DMs - much more so than the people who work at WotC, who do not have my experience.
 

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Aldarc

Legend
Hoping to achieve something is not the same as likely to succeed in doing something.
Wanting to achieve something and having the necessary skills to achieve that thing are not the same.
Your truisms aside, what you say here is not the point. Neither of us know whether they will succeed at their goal or what steps they will take in that regard. However, we do know their goal. We know that WotC believed that their goal to improve the DMG for newcomer DMs was important enough to tell the public that Chris Perkins was writing the One D&D DMG for this purpose. We can judge whether or not they succeed at their goal once it's printed, but you are already writing them off and making your judgment about it.

What do you mean by "bad faith"?
I mean that you are not taking WotC by their word of their stated goals but are instead applying a cynical reading that claims that they are only printing the DMG for the sake of tradition.

Frankly I don't care about what WotC hope to achieve. I'm not them, I don't speak for them. As a professional educator and a DM with 40 years' experience, I believe I have a good insight into the best way to teach people to be DMs - much more so than the people who work at WotC, who do not have my experience.
I'm sorry, but your difficulty in answering my simple question has made me skeptical of any special insight you may purport to have in regards to helping teach new DMs. This is the part where, if I was teaching my students, I would pull out my red-ink pen and write "address/answer the question" in the margins and deduct points.

Now, I only have your words in this forum in the past and present to rely on. You may believe that you have a better insight into the best way to teach people to be DMs, but I have not seen you demonstrate on this thread or elsewhere much desire to aid newcomer DMs to that end. Regardless of whether the DMG is the best way to learn how to be a DM or not, I have seen you arguing against the very idea of trying to improve the DMG so that it is more new player friendly and beneficial for new DMs. But I am open to giving you a shot here. What can WotC reasonably do to help improve the experience for newcomer DMs?
 

Neither of us know whether they will succeed at their goal or what steps they will take in that regard.
If someone tells me they are going to build a bridge across a river using sugar cubes I don't need to see the outcome to come to the conclusion that it is unlikely to be very successful.

A new DMG won't be any better than the old DMG at teaching new players how to be a DM because the problem isn't that the old one is badly written (although it is) the problem is it is the wrong tool for the job.
Chris Perkins
What are his teaching qualifications again? I must have missed that.
I'm sorry, but your difficulty in answering my simple question has made me skeptical of any special insight you may purport to have in regards to helping teach new DMs.
You question is far from simple, since I am not qualified in telepathy, I cannot know what WotC are thinking. I am qualified to judge if a proposed approach to teaching is likely to be effective.
 

pemerton

Legend
It doesn't surprise me that WotC wants to write a DMG that will be helpful for new RPGers. That seems a fairly obvious sort of thing to do, for a publishing house that specialises in selling books to all sorts of RPGers including many new ones.

Given that they own the copyright to a first-rate teaching RPG - Moldvay Basic - which overlaps quite a bit with their current flagship product, and given that there are many other examples of good teaching RPGs around, I don't think they'll have much trouble getting a reasonable way towards their goal.

I would expect them to look at how they use layout, how they use headings, how they introduce concepts and techniques, and how they illustrate concepts and techniques with examples.

Ideally, there will be a reasonable degree of interconnection between the various examples across the PHB and the DMG. This is a strength of Moldvay's examples - across his rulebook you get to see a dungeon designed and then explored, including by the sample character from the chapter on PC gen.
 

Aldarc

Legend
A new DMG won't be any better than the old DMG at teaching new players how to be a DM because the problem isn't that the old one is badly written (although it is) the problem is it is the wrong tool for the job.
What is the right tool at WotC's disposal for the job? What magnificent insight are you willing to part down upon us unqualified plebs about how to properly teach newcomers how to run the game?

What are his teaching qualifications again? I must have missed that.
To the best of my knowledge, Chris Perkins does not have any teaching qualifications. He has been working, writing, and game mastering at WotC on the D&D team for 25 years (so the entire WotC era D&D), with writing credits that include a fair number of 5e adventures and articles on helping DMs. But if WotC needs to teach new players maths, then I'm sure that your teaching qualifications will undoubtedly be pertinent then.

Now what Chris Perkins is having to do is what other games do on a regular basis: teaching people how to play the game they designed. Many of these other games were not designed by people who like appealing to their teaching qualifications and yet they do the job of providing instruction, guidelines, and game aids for helping new game masters. So what makes D&D the special exception to this? Or to put this in other words: why can't D&D better teach newcomers how to run their game the way that other TTRPGs successfully can?

You question is far from simple, since I am not qualified in telepathy, I cannot know what WotC are thinking. I am qualified to judge if a proposed approach to teaching is likely to be effective.
I am not asking you to be qualified in telepathy. I am asking you to make an educated guess based upon the available statements that WotC has made.
 


Aldarc

Legend
I'm not Paul, but from my perspective since playing is the best teacher, I'd suggest free online play examples which can remain available and be improved upon through future iterations of the game.
Playing is the best experience, but how do I run the game so I can play it as a DM? Most play examples, IME, are often from the perspective of the players and it shows barely anything about how to run the game from the DM side of things. This imbalance of information is often the problem, IMO, about a lot of online play examples. There are some videos that teach the GM side of things - e.g., Stonetop - but these are quite rare IME.
 

Oofta

Legend
If you feel that the DMG could be better and WotC believes that it could be improved for newbie DMs, why have you spent pages arguing against improving it for new players and newbie DMs? Maybe you aren't arguing that, but that's how it reads to me. I'm not sure why there is so much reluctance to improve the DMG if you and WotC earnestly believe that it can be improved. The main difference is that WotC has declared with respect to what that they believe that it can be improved.

So you may feel that the DMG should not be new player friendly or provide guidance for new DMs, but how might WotC see it differently since they have announced the what they did about Chris Perkins rewriting the upcoming One D&D DMG?

Do you think that WotC's desire to improve, reorganize, and rewrite the 5e DMG for the greater benefit of newbie DMs going forward in One D&D is a bad decision?

This is a thread on whether we think the starter kits are a good idea. I think they are. If someone is interested in playing, they should buy a starter kit before anything else and run a game or two. If you've already played a fair amount or watched enough actual play streams to understand how the game function, I think the DMG works just fine.

That doesn't mean that it can't be improved, everything can be improved.
 

Playing is the best experience, but how do I run the game so I can play it as a DM? Most play examples, IME, are often from the perspective of the players and it shows barely anything about how to run the game from the DM side of things. This imbalance of information is often the problem, IMO, about a lot of online play examples. There are some videos that teach the GM side of things - e.g., Stonetop - but these are quite rare IME.
There are obviously countless ways to address the issue, but I was envisioning a table of 2-3 persons which included a DM as the primary educator with the DM able to provide examples of various styles of play.
i.e. Players have their characters search the room for a secret door.

Old Style - players describe what their characters are doing, DM determines success or failure
Moderns Style (A) - make a check, die determines success of failure
Modern Style (B) - make a check, die determines existence or not
Modern Style (C) - make a check, die value determine success or success with a complication
Combination Style ...etc

They'd run through these examples so the viewer could see how the DM dealt with it in each particular playstyle.
 
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Oofta

Legend
I'm not Paul, but from my perspective since playing is the best teacher, I'd suggest free online play examples which can remain available and be improved upon through future iterations of the game.

If you go to DndBeyond there's a New Player Guide link. Of course there's only so much free content WOTC is going to give away, but they have the link to the basic rules PDFs, a video and a link to the starter sets. If you don't want to buy a starter set there are a ton of free resources a web search away.
 

If you go to DndBeyond there's a New Player Guide link. Of course there's only so much free content WOTC is going to give away, but they have the link to the basic rules PDFs, a video and a link to the starter sets. If you don't want to buy a starter set there are a ton of free resources a web search away.
I haven't done any type of deep dive into the material available for new D&D players, but when I do my research on a board or card game I intend to purchase, I look through reviews and various instructional videos of play to get a sense of the game and to determine if it is worthwhile. I have to imagine this exists for D&D and for those looking to enter the gaming experience. It is a lot of money to not have done any real research.
The various types of playing styles though is perhaps where it can get tricky. As a brand new player you wouldn't necessarily know anything about that. It is certainly its own chapter.
 
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Aldarc

Legend
This is a thread on whether we think the starter kits are a good idea. I think they are. If someone is interested in playing, they should buy a starter kit before anything else and run a game or two. If you've already played a fair amount or watched enough actual play streams to understand how the game function, I think the DMG works just fine.

That doesn't mean that it can't be improved, everything can be improved.
Do you think that the DMG could be improved so that it is more beneficial for new DMs?

If you go to DndBeyond there's a New Player Guide link. Of course there's only so much free content WOTC is going to give away, but they have the link to the basic rules PDFs, a video and a link to the starter sets. If you don't want to buy a starter set there are a ton of free resources a web search away.
It's so weird to me that all of this should be required as a new DM for D&D when I don't run into similar issues with other TTRPGs.
 

Oofta

Legend
Do you think that the DMG could be improved so that it is more beneficial for new DMs?


It's so weird to me that all of this should be required as a new DM for D&D when I don't run into similar issues with other TTRPGs.
First, there is advice for new DMs in the DMG. You don't need to explain what an NPC is to someone who's played. But of course anything can be improved.

I've given a few ideas on how to improve it. Reorganize it with "running the game" first, world of your own towards the back. Have examples in the PHB and the DMG that explain things from the different perspectives. What I don't think it needs is a full blown starter set embedded in the DMG, that would add cost that would not be beneficial to most people. Go to the link in DndBeyond for new to D&D. They have links to creating PCs, the free PDFs, an intro video, suggestions to start DMing with the starter sets and the links. I think it's all a good start.

New players already have tons more options, examples and advice available to them than we ever had in the history of the game before 5E. How much is enough? Other than "make it better"?
 

It's so weird to me that all of this should be required as a new DM for D&D when I don't run into similar issues with other TTRPGs.
I'm not very familiar with many other RPGs, despite the fact that I own Torchbearer I, Shadow of the Demon Lord and a handful of others, but do you think it may have something to do with the volume of content as well as the possible playstyles one could adopt in play? I suspect those 2 factors play heavily why the DMG may not satisfy everyone. Jack-of-all-trades master of none.
 

pointofyou

Adventurer
I'm not very familiar with many other RPGs, despite the fact that I own Torchbearer I, Shadow of the Demon Lord and a handful of others, but do you think it may have something to do with the volume of content as well as the possible playstyles one could adopt in play? I suspect those 2 factors play heavily why the DMG may not satisfy everyone. Jack-of-all-trades master of none.
There's a reasonable argument that every other TRPG can operate under the presumption everyone coming to them has at least tried D&D. There's another argument that some other TRPGs are built for playstyles that extremely difficult if not impossible to replicate in D&D. From what I have seen games of the latter sort tend to have instructions specifically telling people not to play them the way they're used to playing TRPGs.
 

Xamnam

Loves Your Favorite Game
This is a thread on whether we think the starter kits are a good idea. I think they are. If someone is interested in playing, they should buy a starter kit before anything else and run a game or two.
I don't think people who want a more beginner friendly DMG are arguing that the Starter Sets are actively bad. (If that's someone's position, please correct me.) I think the LMoP Starter Set can be good for a new DM, unqualified yes. But the thread title is "Regarding DMG, Starter Set and Essentials kit: Are they good for the starting DMs?" People just are seeing a world where the DMG could have parity with the Starter Set as an introductory text, given that it's currently undergoing revision, or if not parity, at least be complementary in function to it. That's a world I actively want (considering that a world where the DMG is renamed isn't happening).

I know I'm only me. I'm not arguing that I'm speaking up for a silent majority. But, I'm also not the only person arguing for improvement here, and when you talk about a game that has players that number in the millions, a group that represents even just 5% (obviously a completely made up number) of the player base still equals tens of thousands of a players. I think there are enough players who would prefer an explicitly instructional text from the makers of the game as actively contrasted with jumping in feet first / having to search through online resources / look for third party assistance / etc. such that it would be significantly helpful for it to exist. Given a choice, I would always choose that first option, and I don't think I'm so out there in this that I'm alone in this, especially within the community that is drawn to playing D&D in the first place.
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
New players already have tons more options, examples and advice available to them than we ever had in the history of the game before 5E. How much is enough? Other than "make it better"?

See, the thing is ... this disagreement isn't really about 5e. Which is why we are rarely getting either examples from 5e, or acknowledgement of what is in 5e. And there's a reason for that.

D&D, and 5e, is in a different position than any other TTRPG.

I keep saying this, but it needs to be repeated. When people say, "Hey, look at X rulebook. Look at how it does things ...." They are forgetting that there is an unstated premise ....

X Rulebook is for a game that is not D&D.

You have to start by unpacking what that means. By default, a person looking at X Rulebook for the first time and trying to learn how to play has never played that particular game before, and there are unlikely to be tables where that person can just join a game to learn.

This is different than the situation that D&D finds itself in. For D&D, it is (for most people) trivial to find a game in person or on-line. Moreover, it is trivial to find examples of people playing it. Finally, it is trivial to find numerous additional sources, from videos to webforums to books for additional information on any subject that you want.

So you have to start with that premise- D&D isn't like the other games. In fact, the other games that are "guiding people through how to play" often have the advantage that many people already have a passing knowledge of TTRPGs because they have, at one point or another, played D&D.

This cannot be overstated- when people bring up these example, they rarely reflect on what they already know. I am always reminded of an example of a conversation I had here with an individual who always extolled the virtues of a particular very short rule set. And that person was right in terms of the ruleset (it's quite elegant and I like it). But what the person did not understand is that in order to run the three pages of rules, you had to (1) already know a great deal about playing RPGs, and (2) have a huge amount of knowledge about the particular genre and subject matter of those rules. The rules were only simple, easy, and elegant if you already had a base of knowledge going in.

It's like people are debating the best way to write a cookbook (think of the "setback" example). What do you have to assume? Does the person reading it know how to beat egg whites into fluffy peaks? How to caramelize onions? How to boil water?


People don't learn from books very well.
This isn't a universal point, and it's not just about "the kids these days." But the market for D&D (esp. for brand-new players!) isn't the olds. And as a person who has taught a fair number of middle and high school kids in the last few years how to play D&D (so that they can then go run their own groups) I can reliably say that many of them use videos ... a lot. It's not my thing, and a lot of them use it in conjunction with reading (and a very few still prefer reading) but there's a reason that video and podcasts/audio are so popular.

In addition, you can't learn DMing by reading. No one does. You learn it by doing. It's the only way. A guide (as in a reference manual) can have things for DMs to refer to. But as soon as you start playing, that's what you're doing. Playing. Which brings up the third point.


The best format is the Starter Set or something similar.
It's fascinating that people keep bringing up Moldvay basic. I love Moldvay Basic! But here's the thing about Modvay Basic for those who don't remember- it's incredibly limited.
It's only about Dungeon Crawls.
It's only for levels 1-3.
It had an example of dungeon design.
It was packaged with an introductory adventure.
Oh, and while it was pretty good for the time (especially compared to the dense thicket of Gygaxian prose in AD&D), people often forget that it wasn't perfectly organized either- for example, buried at the end, in a part few people read at the time, was the "Dungeon Mastering as a Fine Art." In that section the DM was instructed that there was always a chance, and therefore could roll a saving throw, or assign a percentage. Also, there's always a chance, therefore the DM should let a character roll a d20 and roll under an ability score, with a modifier of some kind. .... I mean, cool, huh?

That said, the closest comparator to the acclaimed Moldvay text .... a very limited boxed set, aimed at beginners, with an included adventure? Yeah, it's a Starter Set. So if you are truly aiming to bring new players in, then you don't look to improve the DMG- you look to improve the Starter Sets ... which WoTC has been improving.


The argument for prescription.
The elephant in the room, of course, is that a lot of the disagreement is simply a desire to shoehorn in prescriptive elements. It's not about on-boarding new players or DMs- as a simple matter of actual evidence, 5e has been the most successful edition of D&D ever when it comes to that. Instead, it's a desire that WoTC takes a specific stance on how people play D&D, with a desire that people learn to play the right way.

And that is where the trouble starts. I want a game that welcomes all, and validates them. The Dungeon Crawlers and the Anime Fans. The resource managers and the storytellers. The optimizers and roleplayers. The people that love giant battle scenes with miniatures and the people that prefer quick and infrequent theater of the mind. All are welcome! And I prefer not to have people insist that the book start by saying I have to have a battlemap and miniatures on the first page just to play the game.

That's just me. :)
 

hawkeyefan

Legend
So I've been considering this take on "prescribed" play, and how many folks in this discussion have said that's not what they want. This mostly seems to be from the perspective of being a GM, though. I feel the perspective from the player side might be a bit different.

And I was just thinking, if the rules aren't supposed to prescribe play, is it because that's the DM's job?

From the perspective of the player, what are the differences?
 

Oofta

Legend
See, the thing is ... this disagreement isn't really about 5e. Which is why we are rarely getting either examples from 5e, or acknowledgement of what is in 5e. And there's a reason for that.

D&D, and 5e, is in a different position than any other TTRPG.

I keep saying this, but it needs to be repeated. When people say, "Hey, look at X rulebook. Look at how it does things ...." They are forgetting that there is an unstated premise ....

X Rulebook is for a game that is not D&D.

You have to start by unpacking what that means. By default, a person looking at X Rulebook for the first time and trying to learn how to play has never played that particular game before, and there are unlikely to be tables where that person can just join a game to learn.

This is different than the situation that D&D finds itself in. For D&D, it is (for most people) trivial to find a game in person or on-line. Moreover, it is trivial to find examples of people playing it. Finally, it is trivial to find numerous additional sources, from videos to webforums to books for additional information on any subject that you want.

So you have to start with that premise- D&D isn't like the other games. In fact, the other games that are "guiding people through how to play" often have the advantage that many people already have a passing knowledge of TTRPGs because they have, at one point or another, played D&D.

This cannot be overstated- when people bring up these example, they rarely reflect on what they already know. I am always reminded of an example of a conversation I had here with an individual who always extolled the virtues of a particular very short rule set. And that person was right in terms of the ruleset (it's quite elegant and I like it). But what the person did not understand is that in order to run the three pages of rules, you had to (1) already know a great deal about playing RPGs, and (2) have a huge amount of knowledge about the particular genre and subject matter of those rules. The rules were only simple, easy, and elegant if you already had a base of knowledge going in.

It's like people are debating the best way to write a cookbook (think of the "setback" example). What do you have to assume? Does the person reading it know how to beat egg whites into fluffy peaks? How to caramelize onions? How to boil water?


People don't learn from books very well.
This isn't a universal point, and it's not just about "the kids these days." But the market for D&D (esp. for brand-new players!) isn't the olds. And as a person who has taught a fair number of middle and high school kids in the last few years how to play D&D (so that they can then go run their own groups) I can reliably say that many of them use videos ... a lot. It's not my thing, and a lot of them use it in conjunction with reading (and a very few still prefer reading) but there's a reason that video and podcasts/audio are so popular.

In addition, you can't learn DMing by reading. No one does. You learn it by doing. It's the only way. A guide (as in a reference manual) can have things for DMs to refer to. But as soon as you start playing, that's what you're doing. Playing. Which brings up the third point.


The best format is the Starter Set or something similar.
It's fascinating that people keep bringing up Moldvay basic. I love Moldvay Basic! But here's the thing about Modvay Basic for those who don't remember- it's incredibly limited.
It's only about Dungeon Crawls.
It's only for levels 1-3.
It had an example of dungeon design.
It was packaged with an introductory adventure.
Oh, and while it was pretty good for the time (especially compared to the dense thicket of Gygaxian prose in AD&D), people often forget that it wasn't perfectly organized either- for example, buried at the end, in a part few people read at the time, was the "Dungeon Mastering as a Fine Art." In that section the DM was instructed that there was always a chance, and therefore could roll a saving throw, or assign a percentage. Also, there's always a chance, therefore the DM should let a character roll a d20 and roll under an ability score, with a modifier of some kind. .... I mean, cool, huh?

That said, the closest comparator to the acclaimed Moldvay text .... a very limited boxed set, aimed at beginners, with an included adventure? Yeah, it's a Starter Set. So if you are truly aiming to bring new players in, then you don't look to improve the DMG- you look to improve the Starter Sets ... which WoTC has been improving.


The argument for prescription.
The elephant in the room, of course, is that a lot of the disagreement is simply a desire to shoehorn in prescriptive elements. It's not about on-boarding new players or DMs- as a simple matter of actual evidence, 5e has been the most successful edition of D&D ever when it comes to that. Instead, it's a desire that WoTC takes a specific stance on how people play D&D, with a desire that people learn to play the right way.

And that is where the trouble starts. I want a game that welcomes all, and validates them. The Dungeon Crawlers and the Anime Fans. The resource managers and the storytellers. The optimizers and roleplayers. The people that love giant battle scenes with miniatures and the people that prefer quick and infrequent theater of the mind. All are welcome! And I prefer not to have people insist that the book start by saying I have to have a battlemap and miniatures on the first page just to play the game.

That's just me. :)

One of the more frustrating things with this conversation is that if I bring up the D&D ecosystem is the "But they shouldn't have to!" response. Good grief. It's not the 20th century any more.

I had to reprogram my car's garage door opener yesterday because my wife decided we had to switch stalls. I didn't leaf through manuals, I googled it and found a video. When I wanted to learn how to do wood carving, I don't buy a book. I watch some videos until I found one that works for me. Yes, I have to parse through some stuff that is just trying to sell their product but I'm used to that by now and I'm an old timer.

Kids these days aren't on my lawn because they're playing a pick-up baseball game like we did with little Timmy back in the day. They're on my lawn because they're chasing after Pikachu, making a tik tok video or whatever the craze of the week is.

Oh, and they better darn well get off my lawn! :mad:
 

Oofta

Legend
So I've been considering this take on "prescribed" play, and how many folks in this discussion have said that's not what they want. This mostly seems to be from the perspective of being a GM, though. I feel the perspective from the player side might be a bit different.

And I was just thinking, if the rules aren't supposed to prescribe play, is it because that's the DM's job?

From the perspective of the player, what are the differences?
I don't want it from either direction. 🤷‍♂️
 

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