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


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EzekielRaiden

Follower of the Way
It's heavily geared to experienced DMs. The little advice and help to new DMs are so poorly organized and referenced that a new DMs' eyes will glaze over in confusion if they search for it

An experienced DM can sticky note what they know they might need. A new DM...
Exactly.

It is called the "Dungeon Master's Guide."

It is terrible at guiding. And time after time after time, instead of actually giving advice, it basically just says, "You can do X. Or you can do not-X! It's up to you." One of the most egregious examples occurs in the section talking about giving XP for non-combat challenges. It literally tells you to just...pretend that it's a combat and then decide how much XP it should be worth. Without ANYTHING like actual, practical advice for how to do that or what that would mean.

The 5e DMG is one of the worst I've ever read. And yes, I have in fact read multiple DMGs.
 

EzekielRaiden

Follower of the Way
I probably prefer the elegance of advantage…but it’s not endless variety or anything…
The greatest problems with advantage are:
(a) it's MASSIVELY over-used, which means it fails to actually feel like a benefit in a lot of cases, and
(b) it's both the weapon of first resort AND the weapon of last resort, meaning trying to do anything else is...problematic.

If there had been slightly more leeway, slightly more options, and if advantage had not replaced the "DM's Best Friend" as the go-to benefit, then it would have been quite a bit less of a problem. 5e went so whole-hog for eliminating bonuses, it ended up producing something rather...flat and not particularly engaging. I have seen players basically stop caring about anything more than ultra-basic trivial strategy once they have advantage, because they know there's no point, they'll never get anything better than what they've got. As long as the plan isn't obviously bad, why bother? It just wastes everyone's time.
 

Warpiglet-7

Satan’s Echo Chamber! Muhahahaha
The greatest problems with advantage are:
(a) it's MASSIVELY over-used, which means it fails to actually feel like a benefit in a lot of cases, and
(b) it's both the weapon of first resort AND the weapon of last resort, meaning trying to do anything else is...problematic.

If there had been slightly more leeway, slightly more options, and if advantage had not replaced the "DM's Best Friend" as the go-to benefit, then it would have been quite a bit less of a problem. 5e went so whole-hog for eliminating bonuses, it ended up producing something rather...flat and not particularly engaging. I have seen players basically stop caring about anything more than ultra-basic trivial strategy once they have advantage, because they know there's no point, they'll never get anything better than what they've got. As long as the plan isn't obviously bad, why bother? It just wastes everyone's time.
I don’t know.

Another +x bonus is not super exciting in and of itself. In fact, the stack of bonuses really can wash out their identity too.

So our other option is to have a bunch of disparate “spell like” abilities as it were and that is not the simplicity for general actions that I want.

While I don’t think advantage is so different each time, it’s every bit as good as +4 for this or +3 for that but simpler and more parsimonious.

So while you are not flat wrong, I don’t see a lot that I like better either. I think “it works”
 

EzekielRaiden

Follower of the Way
I don’t know.

Another +x bonus is not super exciting in and of itself. In fact, the stack of bonuses really can wash out their identity too.

So our other option is to have a bunch of disparate “spell like” abilities as it were and that is not the simplicity for general actions that I want.

While I don’t think advantage is so different each time, it’s every bit as good as +4 for this or +3 for that but simpler and more parsimonious.

So while you are not flat wrong, I don’t see a lot that I like better either. I think “it works”
I mean, there are at least four things you can do which preserve most of the simplicity while still allowing greater leeway.

1: Stacking only for the purpose of overcoming disadvantage (or vice-versa.) Currently, ANY amount of advantage cancels out ANY amount of disadvantage, making no change. Allowing stacking just to determine which one "wins" immediately removes the fact that getting advantage from two separate sources is pointless, as it is currently, without changing the actual bonus effect.
2: Bring back the DM's Best Friend, the +/- 2, as a parallel but separate track. Call it Boost and Bust, or something like that. A Boosted roll can in fact actually achieve more than Advantage can, but is a smaller bonus on average. This even allows complexity--perhaps offering a "Busted Advantage" roll, or a "Boosted Disadvantage" roll, for situations of problematic approach or high risk.
3: Allow more than just one feat (which is thus contextually broken) to play around with the Advantage formula, e.g. rolling three dice and taking the best one.
4: Using more roll-replacement type mechanics, whether floors (a la Reliable Talent) or, my preference, "use your raw score in place of the die roll." That's reliable and extremely simple. Other options could be "roll a d4 and multiply by 4" (chunkier), "roll 3d6" (more curvy, lower range but better average), or various other things.

It isn't that hard to keep the simplicity. 5e just wasn't interested in actually doing the game design work required.
 

Hussar

Legend
Another point.

If the DMG is so great why do we have to rely on modules for mechanics that should exist in the DMG?

Ship or vehicle combat? Ghosts of Saltmarsh has that. Mass combat? The Dragonlance module. Running a business? Dragonheist. I’m sure there are other examples.

These are all mechanics that should be in the DMG. In the past these were all in the DMG. But whenever we have a module that leans on some mechanic or other, it never references the DMG.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
Another point.

If the DMG is so great why do we have to rely on modules for mechanics that should exist in the DMG?

Ship or vehicle combat? Ghosts of Saltmarsh has that. Mass combat? The Dragonlance module. Running a business? Dragonheist. I’m sure there are other examples.

These are all mechanics that should be in the DMG. In the past these were all in the DMG. But whenever we have a module that leans on some mechanic or other, it never references the DMG.
To be a bit pedantic, Ghosts of Saltmarsh does reference the underwater combat rules from the DMG fairly extensively, and there are other examples of the more obscure rules in the DMG being central to a campaign book, like weather effects for Icewind Dale. The Adventures don't rehash the rules, they direct the DM to the DMG.
 

Hussar

Legend
To be a bit pedantic, Ghosts of Saltmarsh does reference the underwater combat rules from the DMG fairly extensively, and there are other examples of the more obscure rules in the DMG being central to a campaign book, like weather effects for Icewind Dale. The Adventures don't rehash the rules, they direct the DM to the DMG.

True but the ship combat doesn’t reference the DMG.

I don’t have Rime, so I cannot comment.

While the books might not rehash rules, they are pretty quick to fill in the very glaring holes in the DMG. Even the corruption rules in the new Phandelver module are not connected to anything in the DMG.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
True but the ship combat doesn’t reference the DMG.

I don’t have Rime, so I cannot comment.

While the books might not rehash rules, they are pretty quick to fill in the very glaring holes in the DMG. Even the corruption rules in the new Phandelver module are not connected to anything in the DMG.
Fair, bit those modular rules in books were always intended to be a thing, from early in Next playtesting.

The new glossary format should make navigation of the DMG rules far more easy, at least.
 

TiQuinn

Registered User
True but the ship combat doesn’t reference the DMG.

I don’t have Rime, so I cannot comment.

While the books might not rehash rules, they are pretty quick to fill in the very glaring holes in the DMG. Even the corruption rules in the new Phandelver module are not connected to anything in the DMG.

Not knowing anything about the new Phandelver campaign or the corruption rules, is it fair to expect designers to create a rule for a book published in 2014 that then doesn’t get true use til 10 years later? Part of my issue with the DMG is that these optional rules can be half-baked and it’s the rules that come up as part of campaigns or books like Xanathar’s that really have the detail I’d want - which kind of points to the conclusion “why even have a DMG?”
 

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