This is my jam. The Players Handbook is all very well, and the MM was of interest to me, but the Dungeon Masters Guide? That’s me, thank you.
The playtest for Next went on a long while, and it really concentrated on the player facing part of the game. Fair enough. But even the DMs bits were retreads of classic modules and placeholders at best. For my side of the screen, this is the book that really gives me a clue as to whether or not the edition change will work for me.
There have been loads of previews available online. I’ve ignored them all like a football fan with his hands over his ears saying ‘nah nah nah’ when the radio issues live results spoilers. I want to read it in my own time, in the right order, with a cup of tea and a biscuit and no distractions. It arrived today.
It’s divided into three big sections, the first called Masters of the World. Chapter One is A World of Your Own.
Another owl. 5e loves owls.
The fourth edition DMG was quite brilliant at showing a DM how to assemble and run a 4e game. This book takes a more generalist approach. It starts by running down all the various flavours and types of fantasy elements the DM can pull upon in order to make their own setting. In fact, it’s a great primer for the novelist, let alone the DM. It makes for an educational read, and an inspiring one too. It draws from myth, both in our world and in the accrued legacy of all the years of D&D writing, in order to illuminate the possibilities for the world builder. It’s a fun read.
It’s not procedural though. There’s loads of questions asked, and some examples provided. It relies on a DM using their imagination and bootstrapping their fiction skills onto a page of notes. Where 4e held your hand, this one gives you a seminar and then a friendly shove.
The default assumptions are a bit more generic than in 4e, and it’s suggested they be a lot more malleable too. I love that the text references blaster guns, the Old West, Greek myth, Thor and Greyhawk all in the same section. Specifically the chapter addresses: Gods and religion (I actually learned something in this bit. It’s cool); mapping; settlements; commerce and currency; languages; factions (with rules. Loose rules, but they’re there); magic; campaigns (with loads of cool event tables to set your world moving); play styles; tiers; and fantasy flavours. Woah.
And there’s not a prescriptive piece in there, it’s all advice, with pros and cons proffered. Sit and read this with a note book beside you, you’ll have 20 campaigns vying for your attention within an hour.
It’s almost as if they wrote a Guide, for Dungeon Masters. Great start.