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Dungeon Master's Guide: Core Rulebook II (Dungeons & Dragons) Hardcover – September 1, 2000

4.5 out of 5 stars 98 customer reviews
Book 2 of 3 in the Core Rule Books Series

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The 3rd Edition Dungeon Master's Guide focuses on how to create and run a fun Dungeons & Dragons game. Like previous editions, the 3rd Edition DMG further explains the rules introduced in the Player's Handbook. But this book goes beyond rules and offers valuable tips on pacing, story creation, conflict, villains, motivation, and player rewards.

Novice DMs will benefit from the sections on creating individual adventures and describing action, while even experienced DMs will appreciate the notes on extended campaigns, detailed world creation, and high-level play. We loved the "Behind the Curtain" blurbs, which explain the reasoning behind the changes made in 3rd Edition. Well-considered optional rules are offered to daring DMs, including rules for monsters as PC races (troll paladin, anyone?), high technology, and guidelines for creating custom races and classes.

The nuts and (lightning) bolts of DMing are also covered in great detail. The book teaches DMs how to gauge Challenge Ratings for players and monsters in order to create balanced encounters. These encounters are easier to run thanks to 3rd Edition's standardized monster abilities, each of which are covered in depth. Rewarding players for successful encounters is also easier, now that the cumbersome treasure tables of 2nd Edition have been replaced. Particular attention is paid to magic items: how to award them, how players create them, how to adjudicate them, and how to take them away. The new magic item enhancement rules (similar to the magic items in the computer game Diablo) are also detailed.

One dramatic departure from D&D as we knew it could have used a bit more attention. The DMG introduces the concept of prestige classes, and includes rules for six sample prestige classes: arcane archer, assassin, blackguard, dwarven defender, loremaster, and shadowdancer. Characters can't take these classes at first level but must instead work toward them by choosing specific classes, skills, and feats. For example, before taking a level in arcane archer a character needs to be an elf or half-elf and have a high attack bonus, specific archery feats, and the ability to cast at least one arcane spell. Unsure how these classes will affect your game? Want tips on how to properly create and balance these classes? Sorry, the DMG does not provide adequate answers.

But aside from this complaint the DMG stands out as an honestly useful guide book to the incredible new Dungeons & Dragons game. The rules and tips are well organized and easy to find, thanks to a detailed table of contents and full index. Artwork, examples, and diagrams are liberally placed throughout the book. All this attention to detail makes the DMG an easy and effective read. We wouldn't want to DM without it. --Mike Fehlauer


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Wizards of the Coast; 3 edition (September 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 078691551X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786915514
  • Product Dimensions: 11.3 x 8.6 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (98 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #182,511 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
WoTC's treatment of the Dungeon Master's Guide at first glance seems unremarkable...Five chapters devoted to things like advice for DM's, Running the Game, and Adventures....but just wait 'till it gets going.
Veteran gamers will no doubt scoff at the advice the DMG offers new DMs and skip to the section on Magic Items. They shouldn't. The guidance for DMs that this book offers is (for a change) worth reading. Little things that a DM picks up over time like: "Agree on your house rules before you start playing" or "Keep a list of 20 or so unassigned names handy in case your players ask a passer-by for their name." Sure, a veteran DM knows to do that, but do I wish I'd read that when I bought my first DMG? Absolutely. This book is a guidebook for Dungeon Masters, and it sensibly devotes a sizeable portion of itself on telling new DMs the tricks of the trade. (Old timers will recognize the example of play section from the original '79 DMG has been used again, although they will note that originally the cleric said "I squash the nasty thing with my mace!" *grin*)
Building blocks: As any serious DM will tell you, a campaign is made up of lots of little details, usually assembled on the fly. Any charts, prefab'ed items or other labor saving devices are a godsend. This book devotes pages to structural properties of objects, animals and traps typically found in a dungeon. It also offers useful information on prefabricating towns and eleven pages of tables to generate Non-Player Characters.
My award for the biggest "It's about time award" goes to the new rules on the creation of magic items.
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Format: Hardcover
First, to all, a word of warning - this will not appeal to everyone! The 3rd Edition of Dungeons & Dragons is now fully revealed in all its glory, and it is two things - [1] a state-of-the-art customizable RPG, with extensive easy-to-use rules displaying impressive internal logic and coherence; and, [2] an EXTREMELY fun tribute to classic dungeon crawls.
The 2nd Edition of AD&D was all about diversity - new nations, new cultures, new horizons, new everything, in a bewildering array, from Dark Sun to Ravenloft. 3rd Edition, in contrast, retains a firm focus on the World of Greyhawk, a land with a much more thematically "pure" medieval setting. So if you loved 2nd Edition for its variety, you may find yourself looking through this book and wondering, "Where's my beloved sprawl of options?"
The answer is beyond the scope of this book - all of the options you could ever want are indeed here, as far as game mechanics are concerned; but if you were hoping for extensive details on cultures, ultra-customized PCs, and the mysteries of Oerth, you'll have to wait for future releases (and they are coming, believe me ;).
So now that we know that the book focuses strictly on rules, advice, and play guidance, we can judge it on its intended merits!
First of all, the play advice and rules on how to create adventures, campaigns, and worlds may seem trite to veteran DMs, in a very "been there, done that" déjà vu sort of way; but I strongly recommend reading these chapters carefully! There's so many pieces of good advice and clever time-savers here that even those who have played for decades (like me) can learn something of lasting value with just a single reading. Now that's quality game design!
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Format: Hardcover
For new players this might seem like the best thing ever. I have to admit I had some reservations about going from 2E to 3E with my players but they were all dying for it so away we go!
I suspect this review will be of more use to veteran types than novice types, as the latter have no comparison, but here goes:
(1) WORLD BUILDING: the 2E DMG didn't have this aspect in it. You had to get one of the supplementary sources to figure out all the things that are now in 3E. Good step.
Howeer, let me point out that 1E had the best context and advice for building a world. I would say that if you want advanced techniques for world building to seek out that DMG as well as the 2E CAMPAIGN SOURCEBOOK.
(2) NPC CLASSES: it was always a hassle trying to make the queen tough enough to not be killed by one sword blow. To do that, you had to make her into a class and most of the classes didn't make much sense for someone who never got out and was in court.
Now, there are artisan classes, like a 20th lvl blacksmith, and the aristocrat. It includes usual skills and such as well as the die to use.
Great idea. Now, I don't have to make the court queen a 15th lvl thief to keep her alive.
(3) PRESTIGE CLASSES: a cool idea. These are organizations of very tough or unique people who have special powers.
BTW, for you 1E players, the assassin is now a prestige class. Glad they brought it back.
(4) RUNNING THE GAME: again, this wasn't in the 2E DMG; it was in the sources mentioned above but overall, this is great for new DMs. The book helps you describe events like one of story rather than just numbers.
(5) ENERGY DRAINS: PCs now get saves against undead hits. That was always a bummer to PCs in previous editions.
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