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

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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