D&D 5E What Do You Not Like About The 2014 5E DMG?

Reynard

Legend
Supporter
People mention how bad the 2014 DMG is (and then often reveal they have not actually read it) and I am curious why you, individually, don't like it.

I am a fan. I think it does its job pretty well, and I refer to it regularly when running 5E.

As a corollary, whatever your issues may be, what would you like to see the 2024 5E DMG to do to directly address those issues.
 

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Quickleaf

Legend
People mention how bad the 2014 DMG is (and then often reveal they have not actually read it) and I am curious why you, individually, don't like it.

I am a fan. I think it does its job pretty well, and I refer to it regularly when running 5E.

As a corollary, whatever your issues may be, what would you like to see the 2024 5E DMG to do to directly address those issues.
Oh gosh. There are some good tidbits in there – like the Know Your Players page at the very front, which reminds me of some Robin Laws (iirc) writing (actually, the Play Styles on page 34 should be reworked and added to that bit right at the front). Also the two pages on Settlements have some outstanding tables that everyone should try at least once. And the magic items section is well done as always.

Leaving aside the organizational issues, some specific parts that either don't work for me personally or leave me concerned about their utility for newer GMs (along with my suggestions to fix):
  • Ch 1: Many of the world-building sections just dive right in, without posing the foundational questions "why/how does this matter at the table?"
  • Ch 2: Many of the planar effects make several Outer Planes almost unusable (e.g. forced alignment changes) – this is in direct opposition to the design ethos behind making the Inner Planes more accessible. Dumb move. Should be fixed. AD&D Planescape's "Planes of..." boxed sets address a lot of this, as do some 3rd edition books.
  • Ch 3: I have many thoughts on the Adventure chapter. But one glaring omission is pacing. It's mentioned once under Dark Fantasy (p40) and nowhere else, yet pacing is one of the most foundational things a DM needs to understand. It informs map creation & dungeon stocking. It tells you what framework to use with wilderness travel. It signals when is a good time at the table to use downtime.
  • Ch 4: Designing NPCs needs rules/mechanics guidance (note: the section in Ch 9 is anemic). "Should I make the villain a 9th level warlock?" or some variation, is one of the top ten questions I see asked by newer GMs. Instead of my long-winded explanation, I'd like to be able to say "look at the DMG."
  • Ch 4: I don't think paragraphs like "Contacts" or "Patrons" really earn their place in word count – it's not enough to say "This thing exists in the game, here's a sentence on examples", rather there needs to be actionable material given to the DM. Otherwise omit it. This happens throughout DMG. Example solution for "Contacts" is the Shadowrun approach - list out possible Contacts and their benefits.
  • Ch 5: There are big gaps in the Adventure Environments chapter. Two that come to mind: First, the section on Doors/Secret Doors feels insufficient to me (it's a "yeah, this will give you an outcome...but getting there isn't made at all interesting by the text"), and should include more details to inspire. Second, the Mapping section is antiquated and needs a rewrite with less fixation on "this is how thou shalt map so sayeth Gygax" and more reflection of current tools and different approaches to mapping.
  • Ch 5: Wilderness section needs (IMO) rethinking esp. the hour-by-hour approach & wilderness survival (which conveniently overlooks things 1st level PCs have to circumvent survival as a challenge). Similarly, I think this section overlooks how important DISCOVERY is to what excites players to have their PCs explore the wilderness. I'm pretty sure ship has sailed here and modern D&D won't change, so this is more of an "I wish" (and what I look for in 3rd party) rather than having hope WotC/Hasbro addresses this.
  • Ch 5: Traps need so much more thought/craft than they received. XGtE's info is a step in the right direction, but I'd like to see the DMG take two more steps.
  • Ch 7: Some attention on how to award treasure would be helpful, whether in the MM or DMG. For example, I reference AD&D monster ecologies & treasure tables, third party resources, and my own madcap ideas when figuring out treasure. Rarely I'll roll a hoard, but even then the non-magical treasure in the DMG is pretty bland.
  • Ch 8: Many of my issues with the Running the Game chapter are probably "that ship has sailed" issues related to exploration, implementation of poison, etc. I do think some nod to a skill challenge-esque mechanic would be helpful, for instance with complex negotiations/parlay/court audiences. I have strong dislike for the Chase rules – they're another example of "yeah, this will give you an outcomes...getting there probably will be dull...assuming entangle isn't cast round 1." Properly design and playtest some chase rules (and some escape & evasion rules while they're at it). Or leave it out.
  • Ch 9: The Creating a Monster section of this chapter is...adequate but far from great; it needs more attention to how to develop a concept & the CR maths (esp the Monster Features table) should actually reflect what WotC/Hasbro uses internally and applies consistently. Learn from what other publishers are doing in the monster-maker-book space.
 


Parmandur

Book-Friend
Pretty much just the organization: the content is gild, but it needs to be mined and refined. It took years for it to be clear to me that people were asking questions that were answered in the DMG, or suggesting houserules that were already rules in the deep DMG weeds. But, once you see that people couldn't find it in the DMG...it's not the DMs fault, it ia the organization and presentation of information.

The new DMG can be an easy win juat with a more logical organization and improved discoverabikirt...and rheybhave been working for years on just those points.
 


Gorck

Prince of Dorkness
[*]Ch 9: The Creating a Monster section of this chapter is...adequate but far from great; it needs more attention to how to develop a concept & the CR maths (esp the Monster Features table) should actually reflect what WotC/Hasbro uses internally and applies consistently. Learn from what other publishers are doing in the monster-maker-book space.
One thing I’d love to see in this chapter is a list of potential Legendary/Lair actions, and how adding them to monsters affects the final CR.
 

Aldarc

Legend
Organization: I wish it was organized more like the 4e DMG.
  • Ch. 1: How to be a DM
  • Ch. 2: Running the Game
  • Ch. 3: Combat Encounters
  • Ch. 4: Building Encounters
  • Ch. 5: Noncombat Encounters
  • Ch. 6: Adventures
  • Ch. 7: Rewards
  • Ch. 8: Campaigns
  • Ch. 9: The World
  • Ch. 10: The GM's Toolkit

This DMG organizes information from the encounter scenes to adventures to campaigns. The world and world-building is towards the end and not the very beginning. At the very end is the toolkit for customizing the game. This DMG builds up from the basics to the advanced.
 

Gorck

Prince of Dorkness
One thing I’d love to see in this chapter is a list of potential Legendary/Lair actions, and how adding them to monsters affects the final CR.
I was just flipping through the DMG for the first time in forever, and I noticed that Legendary Actions are listed in the Monster Features table on pages 280-281, and it describes how to adjust the effective CR when adding them. Who knew? But that still leaves out Lair Actions.
 

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