Dungeon Master’s Guide (2014)

Honestly, outside of the treasure tables, I’ve kind of doubted the utility of DMGs for a long time. The only one that holds genuine, continued interest for me is Gygax’s, for 1E, and even that is mostly because it is incredibly idiosyncratic rather than terribly useful. The rest always seemed to be strange potpourri’s unsure of their actual purpose, which may be an inheritance from Gygax’s tome.

5E DMG is a bit more focused: it is a DM how-to aimed at the big picture of running a game: creating the world, the dungeons, managing the story. All of this seems rather tabletop RPG 101. That’s OK! Folks have to start somewhere and this DMG honestly does a better job of this than its predecessors. If you manage to get through it and not have a handle on how to run a game, I’d be surprised. A short sample scenario would have wrapped it all up in a neat bow, but I guess you can’t have everything.

Outside of the magic items table, though, is it going to get much use after the initial read or two? I don’t know. I suspect not. You tell me, though, 5E DMs: do you dig into the DMG on the reg?

Not very into the regular art here, but I love the magic item illustrations. They’re super fresh and interesting and I am not sure I can recall previous editions being so exhaustive in portraying their appearance, in the DMG or elsewhere. The downside of this is perhaps a fossilization or universalization of the items in the mind’s eye (you know how the depiction of the characters in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings movies kind of overwrote your own vision of how things looked? Like that, but for magic items), but for now, I think that’s a fair trade-off. Ten years from now, I might change my tune, though.

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