5.5E What do you want in the revised DMG?

The thread on the current dmg made me wonder what people might want from the revised 2024 edition. Most conversation around the revisions have been about character options and monster statblocks, but less about the contents of the dmg. So what would the 5.5 dmg need to do in order for you to purchase it?

Here's my take:

Things to add
- Social contract: guidance on setting up the "social contract" of the game, including session 0 checklist and advice on managing player interactions and expectations (the Level Up dmg seems to do this, but I have not read it)

Things to expand
  • Running the Game: It oft-noted that the "Running the Game" chapter is the most necessary, and yet is at the end of the book. They could expand this section further with more detailed procedures for how to do...whatever the new edition wants to do as a game (e.g. in b/x, it's dungeon- and wilderness-crawling, so there are procedures for that)
  • DM Workshop: An expanded DM workshop section, with modular rules to fit a wider array of settings, tropes, and play styles. It's probably unlikely that they would do this. At the same time, they could go through all the optional rules they scatter throughout the book, reconsider what they really need, and gather the remaining ones together in one chapter.

To keep unchanged
  • Treasure and magic items: leave as-is I guess.
  • the NPC tables

Needs repair and revision
  • Usability: editing, organization, layout.
  • Encounter creation: fix the math and simplify
  • Adventure creation and downtime: I do like the random tables for the most part, but the advice on writing adventures just leaves me cold for some reason. I think it's because it tries to provide advice for every kind of play, instead of being opinionated as to what kind of game dnd is. So we have mysteries and intrigue and moral quandaries, but all kind of half-baked imo.

Remove?:
  • Miscellaneous rules: mechanics for things that don't come up that often, like ship rules, chases, diseases, etc. Would a lot be lost if rules were not included?
  • Worldbuilding: The worldbuilding and cosmology sections are the weakest and least relevant parts of the book. I feel to do it right, worldbuilding needs much more space that would be allotted to it in a dmg.


Thoughts?
 

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  • Encounter creation: fix the math and simplify
I dont think Ive ever read the 5E DMG all the way through.

Out of everything you mentioned this is the only thing I mostly care about. For me creating encounters in 5E is the hardest part of prepping and running games. If you try and use the RAW for them they always seem to come out too weak or too deadly; theres no in between. We play once a week for about 3 hours and even then its probably only 2 hours of solid gaming once we get settled in, get the initial conversation out of the way and resume after the inevitable distractions creep in. So we probably get 1 maybe 2 combat encounters in during a session. I would like to see this fixed so that I can create encounters of the challenge I need for a specific session. Id prefer a system that isnt multiple steps. A chart I can just look up the party level and figure out the appropriate CRs would be enough for me.

Tables I can roll on for NPCs, dungeon dressings, random weather, traps, poisons, wandering monsters, encounter distance, etc I can use but I dont need a ton of explanation on how to use them. Id like the book be divided into sections, put all the fluff in the front. Stuff like how to create a campaign, types of players, the multiverse, how to deal with disruptive players I can do without and never use. I know some people need it so I can live with it. Put all the mechanics and tables in another section in the back so I can quickly reference them. Id like to see a return of magical items table by type and not by CRs.

Over all I want better organization so things are easier to find and use. A better index would be welcome too. All I really want and need out of a DMG is to be able to open it, roll on some tables and come away with a useable adventure outline in an hour and easily reference at the table. Ideally I'd prefer the PHB and DMG be in one book like Pathfinder but I know thats probably not going to happen.
 

DeviousQuail

Adventurer
I'm sure there is a better term for it but I'd like a more robust boon system. The epic boons listed are fine for high level/power play but I'd like to see something geared for lower levels. To give an idea I'm thinking things that are less powerful than a feat but more powerful than a +1 to a skill. Right now I'm looking at doing this myself using the rare spells and maneuvers found in Level Up. Preferably there would be guidelines (e.g. given once per tier at DM discretion) and the boons would not be things that are already accomplished by other means.
 

Stalker0

Legend
A lot more traps, they are such a key part of the dungeon, and I always want more!

A new attempt at poison would be nice. Poisons just never work, they are always so expensive and so weak. I would love a new take on them.
 



I dont think Ive ever read the 5E DMG all the way through.

Out of everything you mentioned this is the only thing I mostly care about. For me creating encounters in 5E is the hardest part of prepping and running games. If you try and use the RAW for them they always seem to come out too weak or too deadly; theres no in between. We play once a week for about 3 hours and even then its probably only 2 hours of solid gaming once we get settled in, get the initial conversation out of the way and resume after the inevitable distractions creep in. So we probably get 1 maybe 2 combat encounters in during a session.
Wow. No book can fix this. The only 5th ed I GM at the moment is Monday 7pm to 10pm. You don't need more than 10 ten minutes of pre-play chat.
We can get at least 5 " encounters" in in that time. I think players need to be paying attention, be fairly sure what they will do on there turn, and learn not to be distracted
Only a chat and social contract can do this, a " guide" can only do so much

The CR systems isn't quite right. You cannot make it more precise, so lighten it a bit more and give things a more abstract challenge system rather than more detailed, as that's impossible.
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
Out of everything you mentioned this is the only thing I mostly care about. For me creating encounters in 5E is the hardest part of prepping and running games

You are playing the wrong edition of the game. 5e is not 3e where monsters were designed to precision - and lord know what a pain that was at high level. It's not 4e where everything is super controlled so that the encounter computations were precise. 5e is fuzzy and imprecise, because it's an open game.

Don't you think that, after all the (mostly unjustified, because people don't even read the whole section on encounter difficulty anyway) complaints about that encounter computation system, if there was a way to do it precisely, it would have been published by WotC or on anyone of the fantastic blogs out there ? What you are asking for is impossible to do with this edition, and if this is what you are expecting from the 2024 revision, I can guarantee that you will be disappointed.
 

Wow. No book can fix this.
...a " guide" can only do so much

The CR systems isn't quite right. You cannot make it more precise, so lighten it a bit more and give things a more abstract challenge system rather than more detailed, as that's impossible.
5e is not 3e where monsters were designed to precision
As I know about the number of encounters we have in a session I'd prefer something less abstract and not have to just wing it as @EzekielRaiden put it. I'd like a little more precision to be confident that the encounters I create are close to what I expect them to be and adequately challenge the players to the level I want. If I want an easy or deadly encounter (or something in between) the guidelines/rules of the game should be able to accommodate that within reason. After all combat is a pretty integral part of the game and should be more than a crap shoot.
Don't you think that, after all the (mostly unjustified, because people don't even read the whole section on encounter difficulty anyway) complaints about that encounter computation system, if there was a way to do it precisely, it would have been published by WotC or on anyone of the fantastic blogs out there ? What you are asking for is impossible to do with this edition
What I think is that if they could do it for 3E and 4E as you said that it should be possible to get it a lot closer in 5E than it currently is. Im not looking for perfection, just something close and more reliable than guessing most of the time.
 

What I think is that if they could do it for 3E and 4E as you said that it should be possible to get it a lot closer in 5E than it currently is. Im not looking for perfection, just something close and more reliable than guessing most of the time.
Well, in fairness, they didn't really do it for 3e either. 4e was very good, definitely not perfect but quite reliable and effective. The similar but distinct 13A was also pretty reliable, and indeed featured some difficulty-flexing options to expand a monster's threatening capacity (termed "Nastier Specials," and specifically made to be...well, nastier, so employing them can really boost the impact of a particular monster even if its statblock is otherwise unchanged!)
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
As I know about the number of encounters we have in a session I'd prefer something less abstract and not have to just wing it as @EzekielRaiden put it. I'd like a little more precision to be confident that the encounters I create are close to what I expect them to be and adequately challenge the players to the level I want. If I want an easy or deadly encounter (or something in between) the guidelines/rules of the game should be able to accommodate that within reason. After all combat is a pretty integral part of the game and should be more than a crap shoot.

Combat works fine, it's quick, streamlined and exciting. What it's not is challenging, and that is the whole problem for a number of people, including you, I suppose.

To create a challenging encounter that does not have the risk to turn into a TPK, you need precise computations of power, something that you cannot get out of 5e because the monsters are not calibrated and because the situations are not calibrated. 3e sort of had it, 4e got it down to near perfection, but only because it was a "closed" system in which the possibilities were restricted and computations could be made. 5e is way more open, with some advantages and some drawbacks, in particular in terms of precision.

What I think is that if they could do it for 3E and 4E as you said that it should be possible to get it a lot closer in 5E than it currently is. Im not looking for perfection, just something close and more reliable than guessing most of the time.
And then, once more, if it was doable, don't you think that someone would have done it ?
 

What it's not is challenging, and that is the whole problem for a number of people, including you, I suppose.
I can't see the point in creating a combat that isnt challenging in some way for the players; though it doesnt have to be deadly. Last I check monster have a "Challenge Rating", so I doubt the sole design intent of the CR/encounter design mechanics were strictly for fun and for the PCs to win all the time.
And then, once more, if it was doable, don't you think that someone would have done it ?
Perhaps WotC will change the CR system in 2024, maybe they wont and I'll be disappointed. Just because it hasnt been done yet doesnt mean it cant or wont be. Some people seem to like the way it is and it works for them, such as yourself, while others like me don't. But I've seen enough people say they'd like to see it changed to know Im not alone. IMO theres room for improvement in it.
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
Well, in fairness, they didn't really do it for 3e either.

It was still way more precise, in particular because the CR computations were more accurate, but also because the encounter calculator was more precise especially with regards to the number of opponents.

4e was very good, definitely not perfect but quite reliable and effective.

It is indeed, because it's based on paradigms which are simply quite different. What gave good results with 4e just cannot work with the intentional fuzziness of 5e.
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
I just want a secret sentence buried somewhere in it. In the middle of a long paragraph- “Congratulations for reading!”

So we can definitively say that … no one reads the DMG.

(I appreciate the sentiment, above, but other than useful organization and a useful index, people will just advocate for their preferences. The DMG is fine.)
 

Li Shenron

Legend
Things to expand
  • Running the Game: It oft-noted that the "Running the Game" chapter is the most necessary, and yet is at the end of the book. They could expand this section further with more detailed procedures for how to do...whatever the new edition wants to do as a game (e.g. in b/x, it's dungeon- and wilderness-crawling, so there are procedures for that)
I would hate this.

More procedures would inevitably turn out to actually make the game more restricted (unless they are marked as variants, but that would go in the other section of the book).

As a prime example, think about the spell identification rule in Xanathar. Even though I personally don't mind it, a lot of people. hate it because suddenly it sets a new standard rule for covering something that DMs handed more freely.

Even if by "procedures" you mean only streamlined explanations of existing rules, they would still need to be careful not to set a standard that many will treat at unquestionable RAW. The example here is the DMG procedure for noticing hidden doors which kind of implies that the DM has to use passive perception even if it means that every hidden door is automatically detected or automatically missed, with randomness removed. What might have been originally just aid text for one possible good way to handle hidden doors became a core rule in the hands of rules lawyers.
 

Li Shenron

Legend
To answer the main question, I don't want a revision so I would like a 50th anniversary DMG (and PHB and MM) to be just premium books with some fancies like leather cover and ribbons, and no content change besides improved formatting and layout, and maybe changes to the text only to make it more clear.

The DMG doesn't actually need much, but the PHB could have better spell lists with one-line spell descriptions, and of course the clarification that if a Druid chooses to use metal armor/shields then nothing happens.
 

A quick and easy fix I do is try and make the challenge as noted in the DMG but give creatures a bonus action. Even if it's just a simple attack, a cantrip or a disengage it adds to the challenge quite nicely without slowing things down. Just enough peril to make the player think a bit, and maybe panic a tad!
 

  • Running the Game: It oft-noted that the "Running the Game" chapter is the most necessary, and yet is at the end of the book. They could expand this section further with more detailed procedures for how to do...whatever the new edition wants to do as a game (e.g. in b/x, it's dungeon- and wilderness-crawling, so there are procedures for that)
  • DM Workshop: An expanded DM workshop section, with modular rules to fit a wider array of settings, tropes, and play styles. It's probably unlikely that they would do this. At the same time, they could go through all the optional rules they scatter throughout the book, reconsider what they really need, and gather the remaining ones together in one chapter.
  • Usability: editing, organization, layout.
These cover my list pretty well. To my mind, rulebooks ought be designed most to the benefit of people (especially children) just learning the game (using the logic that by the time you get past that level, you barely need rules, and at the very least can be tasked with finding the rules you need). A simple, straightforward ramp into the core ideas of what DMing is like, what decisions you need to make, what processes will produce what results (and the potential pitfalls of both following and ignoring said processes), and how to make an engaging play experience for your Players.
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
.
The DMG doesn't actually need much, but the PHB could have better spell lists with one-line spell descriptions, and of course the clarification that if a Druid chooses to use metal armor/shields then nothing happens.

and of course the clarification that if a Druid chooses to use metal armor/shields then nothing happens. they explode, And as a bonus, take out any bards in a 30’ radius.

Think of the tactics!
 


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