Customer Reviews: Dungeon Master's Guide 2 (4th Edition D&D)
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on October 8, 2009
I was, at first, leery of the DMG II. What could it possibly have that would make it worthwhile?

The answer: plenty.

Where the first DMG focused on basic tools and techniques for the beginning DM, DMG II focuses on rules, techniques, and help for the experienced DM. The chapter on group storytelling techniques taught an old hand like me a few new tricks, and considering that I've been doing this for 20 some-odd years, that's no mean feat. This chapter alone makes the book worth it. But wait, there's more! We finally get rules for creating traps and minions, rules for running games without magical items, and rules for creating companion characters to fill out missing roles in the party. There is also an entire chapter on designing and running skill challenges, with plenty of detailed examples for DMs who feel mystified by this new mechanic. The monster creation rules have gotten some needed tweaking and streamlining as well.

Add to this new artefacts, new monster templates, ideas for campaign arcs, new terrain, new traps, and a horde of other useful stuff, and the book more than justifies its own existence. The only section that really let me down was the one on sigil. It's been so boiled down that a lot of what made that setting special is gone. Newbies who never saw the original planescape likely won't care, but those of us who knew the old setting know how much got lost in boiling this down to a few score pages.

Overall, though, this is a supplement well-worth your money.
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on October 25, 2009
As anyone who plays RPGs knows at this late date, the fourth edition of Dungeons & Dragons (or D&D4E) has engendered a lot of controversy in the community by breaking dramatically with the game's past in several key areas, replacing decades-old systems like "Vancian" casting and skill checks with power lists and collaborative skill challenges. Where did these innovations come from? "4E rips off World of Warcraft," say people who in most cases know very little about either. The truth is that a lot of 4E's mechanics and underlying philosophy were heavily influenced by the burgeoning independent RPG movement of recent years, a collection of writers and designers that have worked to stretch the boundaries of what is possible in the world of roleplaying games. Games without dice or any random elements, games without referees or dungeon masters, games without rules...a whole new world of strange delights that Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson could never have foreseen.

Influenced by these innovators, the people who made 4E went under the hood of Dungeons and Dragons and rebuilt it from the ground up. Nothing was sacred. We've seen the result of their efforts in the rules of the system to date, but now, with the release of Dungeon Master's Guide 2, we see the philosophy illustrated, not with rules, but with storytelling techniques that any DM, for *any* system, can profit from. Very little of the advice is specific to 4E, or even to Dungeons and Dragons. It shows you, with examples, how to harness the power of collaborative storytelling, how to enlist your players in worldbuilding and how to tell stories that engage everyone at the table.

Let me share my own story. The day after getting this I was due to begin a new game of Star Wars Saga Edition with a new group of people - some friends and some strangers - and I was stumped for what to do. I was having serious trouble coming up with characters and stories, and I dreaded showing up unprepared. But I took the advice from chapter 1 of this book and during character creation at the first session, I went around the table and had each of my players describe for me a positive relationship their character has with another PC, a negative relationship they have with another PC, and to name and describe an NPC that they have a relationship with. Here's the thing: that may sound basic, but often, many players have thoughts about their characters and the game as a whole that they never share with each other or with the group - but here, as we went around the table, the characters came to life, not only in their players' minds, but in each other's as well, and they began relating to each other with a level of excitement and drama that in the past took weeks or months of play to form. And meanwhile the players had, completely without knowing it, given me enough story fuel to last for months! The game has been a huge hit and the players love seeing the NPC and setting details they created reflected in the world around them. I've been DMing for two decades and that simple trick had never occurred to me, and now I'll never run another game without it.

The book is full of useful, practical advice like that. But there's a challenge inherent in much of the advice, and it involves being willing to let go a bit of the old ways of doing things. Many DMs are immensely possessive of "their" story and "their" world, and the suggestions in this book will sound like madness to them. They want to stick with what's worked for them. And I can't blame them for that, but what this book has shown me is that even in a field as well-trodden as Dungeon Mastering there are still new things to try. In a way, it's liberating, to realize that after all this time, I am still a learner.
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on October 9, 2009
A very solid book throughout, as much for the advice on techniques and food for thought as the crunchy bits. Which are pretty nice, too, by the way.

The book provides some good alternatives to magic item progression, for those who find that undesirable, and also some good nuts-and-bolts type advice for building traps and skill challenges (as well as a number of sample plug-and-play challenges you can adapt very easily). The Sigil section is very well done; it captures the feel of the old Planescape material without being overwhelming for those who've not had the pleasure of reading about it before. My only complaint with that section is that there's a lot of Cant slipped in, but no centralized place to look it up so you can use it when adventuring there. STill, that's a minor complaint; there's still plenty of resources for that kind of thing on the interwebs.

All in all, an awesome book. Would definitely recommend to any DM who wants to up their game.
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on October 1, 2009
The advice from Robin Laws is worth it alone, but when you add on top of that character boons, good skill challenge advice (and errata), and excellent Paragon Tier play breakdowns...well I can't recomend this book enough.

Consider this DMG: Advanced for DM's looking to take their core D&D 4E games beyond the basic game.
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on February 17, 2014
I bought a boat load of dungeons and dragons rule books all at the same time. My motivation was not to test play each and every addition. I needed them as a research resource for a campaign world that my team is developing. I can tell you after having read every book from every addition there are not huge differences in 3 and 3.5 five unless you are purest. Most of the artwork is recycled. Version four is where the big differences come into play. All that being said let me state that having been a player for more than thirty five years the quality of the books has remained consistent. I am not a fan of breaking up books into multiple volumes to make more money so buy carefully. If you are a real D&D fan and you are considering a purchase, go for it.
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on February 9, 2015
While I do not play 4th Ed. (I play 2nd Ed. still), this book has superb information on role-playing, and handling players. I bought it solely for the DM'ing advice, and I am very happy with my purchase...

I've been playing since 1980, DM'ing since six months after I started playing. I've read several other books on DM'ing, but this one is really quite good, regardless of which Edition you play. Cheers!
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on January 4, 2014
okay let me say that Amazon customer service is awesome. instead of the dungeon masters guide I received Draconomicon Metallic dragons. I actually wanted this book too so they helped out with this issue and I came away from this a very satisfied customer no that said I will say that the Draconomicon Metallic Dragons book is just an excellent reference with nice are work and a must have for if you like to use dragons in your adventures. the book arrived on time and in great shape no damage what so ever. thank you amazon
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on September 20, 2010
This book was excellent, and gave me tons of ideas for my Campaign. In addition, it opened my eyes to things I can improve, and ways to get my players more involved in every aspect of the game. I cannot recommend this book enough, and it is still completely relevant with the release of Essentials products.

The one thing I must say is that the skill check DC table has been erratad and the updated version is available online at wizards site and also in the Rules Compendium (another great product).

I recommend this book for every DM wanting to taking their Campaign to the next level. Well done, WoTC!
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on December 10, 2011
Overall, I'm glad I purchased this guide. I kinda knew what I was in for though. Compared to Dungeon Master resources in other games such as Exalted, the D&D master's guide is more geared towards introduction of DM concepts and suggesting ideas for interesting storytelling. I bought this book for the ideas and concepts provided, because I run my campaigns on the fly, and give my PC's the option to do whatever they want. This book is very useful for that type of RP'ing. I could use this book as an aid, usually when the players take an unexpected turn away from the normal questline, to help flesh out their new destination, the NPC's they encounter, and provide some fun plot elements.

This book was also useful when one of the less experienced players in our group wanted to give a shot at running his own campaign. I've even used this book for its storytelling ideas when running campaigns in gaming worlds other than D&D.
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on August 17, 2012
Read the DM's guide, not the Monstrous manual. I thought I knew how to run a campaign for a long time but this made me a much better writer, gave me a lot of great campaign ideas, and saved me a lot of prep time.
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