- 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 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 106 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #121,482 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Dungeon Master's Guide: Core Rulebook II (Dungeons & Dragons) Hardcover – September 1, 2000
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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
Top customer reviews
This is a guide that most players and DMs should grow beyond, but that is as it should be. The rules changes that have been made have been made well--the experience system is clearly and rationally laid out, and the new magic item rules should indeed lead to an increase in PC production of those wonderful devices. The writing itself, while slow at times, remains readable throughout, which is a good thing, since any starting DM should read the book cover to cover. Frankly, I'm glad to see the breaks that this new guide takes from the 2e model, which provided comparatively little information distinct from the Player's Handbook. While the sections on world building, campaign organization, and adventure design could certainly have been more extensively fleshed out, as they stand they are excellent building blocks.
For veteran DMs, this is probably a good pick up, but one that you can put off for a while if you've got a real feel for game balance. However, I wouldn't chance it--these rules may feel similar to the ones that you've run in the past, but the balance has been changed and tweaked in ways that may not be readily apparent. For the freshman Dungeons and Dragons game master, this book is a must have, and it should provide no small amount of invaluable knowledge. All things considered, this is an excellent guide book for DMs of any age and experience level.
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. After two sets of rules have told us that the creation of magic items was expensive, arduous and required rare ingredients, (oh and a constitution point if you wanted the item to last), WoTC has now given us a cohesive set of rules in a core rulebook (imagine!) that shows us how it can be done. Players now can, and undoubtedly will, create their own magic items within the game which (in my opinion) can only add to the gaming experience. One of my players' favorite jokes is making fun of the poor old wizard from AD&D who gave up all his constitution points making a dozen +1 arrows, (under the old rules, it wasn't clear why minor magic items existed at all, they simply cost too much to make). Now there is a framework for creating magic items, and with a little DM guidance, we can turn our player's limitless ingenuity in a whole new direction. Plus the existence of a sling bullet +1 won't seem so stupid now...
Options...Any player who read the Player's Handbook and complained that a particular option or characteristic had been written out of D&D raise your hand. Now use it to smack yourself in the head, because between the DMG's new "variant" rules, alternate character races, prestige classes, and campaign world options there is simply nothing you can't do. There are stats in this book from everything from a katana (d10, exotic- yummy!) to laser guns. (no, I'm not kidding. Purists who go pale at that fact should remember that since it's an option, you don't have to use ray guns if you don't want to). DMs are given a framework for creating (among other things) Troll player characters, and guidelines for creating ability modifications for customized sub-races. Anyone out there have a player who's been whining about the demise of the Assassin class? Show that player the prestige class section and watch them start to smile... show them that Blackguard characters who are ex-paladins get bonus abilities for being so nasty-and watch that player reach for some dice.
Prestige classes: Wow. Prestige classes like the assassin and blackguard are absolutely fantastic additions. Essentially, a prestige class is open only to mid-level characters who qualify (there might be skill level requirements, attack bonus minimums, etc.) and is taken as a second character class. Now when players run into an assassin, they know that at the very least that he's no pushover. These new classes offer DMs limitless possibilities. I've never met a DM who didn't have a special secret organization or knightly brotherhood in their campaign... now you can make those organizations a prestige class and give them entry requirements and special abilities. This kind of seamless additional class is a direct product of the flexibility of the new Character level/Class level system, and it positively shines.
My only complaints with this edition are small are directed more at the format of the publication. First off, whoever decided that putting a pullout page of coupons in the back of the DMG was a good idea should be given their walking papers right now. Most gamers I know don't buy a rulebook so they can gingerly tear a page out of it as soon as they buy it. Second, the inclusion of a glossary in the Players Handbook (a runner-up in the "it's about time" category) was inexplicably absent in the DMG. Aren't there a host of new terms in the DMG that are worth defining?
On substance, though it's a winner. It will give you a jumping-off point for your ideas and the framework to turn them into a campaign. Nice job, guys... Now hurry up and make me a Monster Manual.