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Dungeons & Dragons Dungeon Master's Guide (Core Rulebook, D&D Roleplaying Game) Hardcover – December 9, 2014
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From the Publisher
Dungeon Master's Guide
Entertain and Inspire Your Players
It's good to be the Dungeon Master! Not only do you get to tell fantastic stories about heroes, villains, monsters, and magic, but you also get to create the world in which these stories live. Whether you're running a D&D game already or you think it's something you want to try, this book is for you.
Inside you'll find world-building advice, tips and tricks for creating memorable dungeons and adventures, optional game rules, hundreds of classic D&D magic items, and many other tools to help you be a great Dungeon Master.
Master of Worlds
Build Your World
From city maps to magical systems, the Dungeon Master’s Guide will help you color in a rich, engaging world for your players to explore.
You'll also get a Dungeon Masters-only tour of the D&D multiverse, discovering what adventurers may encounter in each plane and effects they may experience there.
Tell a Good Story
Learn how to craft compelling plots and balanced combat encounters.
The Dungeon Master's Guide provides a multitude of suggestions for how to kick off your campaign with a thrilling introduction, complicate matters with moral quandaries, and end it all in an epic finale.
Whether it's fresh level 1 characters picking a bar fight or a level 20 party battling a dragon god—guidelines are also provided to help you craft level-appropriate encounters that are as easy or deadly as you want them to be.
Master of Adventures
Create Unforgettable Characters
Inventing non-player characters on the fly is a tricky task. In this book you’ll find tables for quickly creating distinctive characters—from memorable quirks to personal ideals and intriguing family secrets. You’ll also find tips on creating the perfect villain, with ideas for dark schemes, key weaknesses, and even special class options.
Discover Legendary Treasures
Some adventurers seek more than just glory. The Dungeon Master’s Guide is where you’ll discover D&D’s most coveted treasures. Sentient weapons and bags of holding lie amongst glittering jewels and magic rings.
Objects have backstories too! Consider lists of suggested origins, histories, and special properties that will make your items truly awe-inspiring finds.
Master of Rules
Master the Rules
As the game's referee, a Dungeon Master needs to not only know the rules but know how to make quick judgment calls when players do something unexpected—and they will!
This book provides DMs with rules and advice for running all three pillars of a Dungeons & Dragons game—exploration, social interaction, and combat.
Create Your Own
Get tips and blueprints for creating your own monsters, NPC stat blocks, spells, magic items, and character options. Optional rules are also included for DMs looking to add a few twists to their campaign, with rules for coping with horrors, using firearms, figuring out alien technology, and more.
Playing Dungeons & Dragons
Become an Adventurer
Adventurers come in all shapes and sizes. Find one that’s fun for you.
An elvish cleric, driven from society for trespassing on tradition. A dwarven paladin, atoning for an ignominious past. The Player’s Handbook provides the skeleton for your characters. Flesh them out however you choose.
Join the Party
D&D brings people together and forges new friendships. Silly moments spawn inside jokes; moving battles leave treasured memories—whether in the heat of battle, embroiled in social intrigue, or solving clever puzzles, your party has your back.
Choose Your Own Path
The woods are growing dark. Behind a mass of ivy, you see the stones of a crumbling castle. What do you do?
In D&D, your options are limitless. Because the Dungeon Master, as narrator of your tale, can improvise in reaction to any choice you make, what happens next is entirely flexible. Do you dare go on?
- ASIN : 0786965622
- Publisher : Wizards of the Coast; 5th edition (December 9, 2014)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 320 pages
- ISBN-10 : 9780786965625
- ISBN-13 : 978-0786965625
- Reading age : 12 years and up
- Item Weight : 2.44 pounds
- Dimensions : 8.51 x 0.85 x 11.17 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #165 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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If you're approaching D&D for the first time, you should buy The Player's Handbook. Every single player and DM needs to know about Ch. 7 Using Abilities, Ch. 8 Adventuring, Ch. 9 Combat and Ch. 10 Spellcasting - this is the heart of the game.
Once you're comfortable with the basics, you need to start customizing your game with "house rules", optional rules that work well for your group and playstyle. Your game will naturally flow between epic storytelling and gritty tick-tock action. Your players will do inspiring things worthy of reward. You'll sometimes need to ignore the dice, or follow the "Rule of Fun". The Dungeon Master's guide has solid, time-tested advice on all of that and more.
Unfortunately all the good stuff is crammed in to Part 3; the DM's guide hasn't changed that much since the original bound AD&D version, including the awkward arrangement of chapters and information. Ch. 3 "Creating Adventures" and Ch. 5 "Adventure Environments" are important reads, and Chapter 8. "Running The Game" is what you think you're getting when you buy this - practical, detailed advice on running a D&D game. I really like Chapter 6 "Between Adventures", which helps you fill in the gaps with careers, philandering, politics and real-estate.
All of Part 1 may as well be supplemental. It helps as background material for the official adventure modules, and can help ground your homegrown campaign in some official lore, but it's by no means essential, and you could get bored and discouraged if you tried to learn D&D by slogging through the differences between Arcadia vs Archeron vs Avernus. Save it for later.
Chapter 7: Treasure. Ah, treasure. This is the other reason to get this book: it's the best all-in-one official sourcebook for D&D treasure. The stuff of legends. Some of this stuff - Boots of Elvenkind, Bag of Holding, Belt of Giant Strength - has been in the game 30+ years. There's newer treasure as well, and it all feels appropriately quirky and powerful. Old-school DMs have a reputation of granting treasure sparingly, and Chapter 7 has suitably stingy (but useful) random treasure tables, and additional random tables to give each magic item special characteristics - who made it and why, how is it activated, does it have a name? I like to hand-write the magic item's name, characteristics, background and quirky details on a 3x5 index card and hand it to players when they identify it - it makes getting one a little more special.
All in all, the Dungeon Master's Guide is an absolute classic, but not an essential classic. You could play for a year before needing to crack it open, and I recommend buying The Player's Handbook and Monster Manual first. But once you've gained some experience as a DM, it provides tons of useful knowledge.
As the game grew, and more and more options arose for building characters, the basics of play moved into the Player’s Handbook, and the DMG relinquished XP values to the Monster Manual and most of the combat rules to the PHB. In the process, it morphed into a nuts-and-bolts toolbox, starting off with rules on combat management, followed by practical sections covering environmental hazards, towns and villages, NPC generation, NPC character classes, and so on. In both 3E and 4E, it opened with a narrow focus and gradually got wider and wider in scope, with the culminative chapters advising the DM on how to run a campaign and build a world.
The new edition does exactly the opposite, and therein lies its genius.
If there’s one thing that D&D is always about, it’s the experience of stepping out of this world and into another. The fifth edition DMG establishes how important that notion is by putting the world- and cosmos-building chapters up front. Creating a fantastical environment for players to adventure in and journey through is no longer something you eventually get around to by the end of the book; it’s front-and-center as the DM’s first responsibility. You don’t arrive at the “It’s Your World” headline half or two-thirds or three-quarters of the way through the book: it’s on the opening page of Chapter One.
From world-crafting, the book moves into storytelling, with chapters on designing and running adventures, populating them with colorful personages, and linking them with character-oriented downtime. It’s important to note that the magic item catalog resides in this section, because in this version of D&D magic items are not just buffs for players to enhance their characters’ abilities with; they’re the payoff for stories, and they’re explicitly supposed to feel unique, with their own origins and stories attached.
To create that feeling, the new DMG does what no other ever has: it copiously and beautifully illustrates the magic item section with free-standing images of the items themselves. The drawings spread across a third of every page, luxurious close-shots with nary a character in sight, making it plain that these are not mere accessories, but truly objects of sorcery and enchantment. If you’re an old-school gamer and you have any kind of sentimentality to you, you owe it to yourself to go a bookstore and have a look. The illustrations are so glorious they have to be seen to be believed. I literally got choked up looking at the dozens of perfectly imagined rings, robes, rods and staves around the 200-page mark. It’s natural to expect a cool picture of a flametongue or some figurines of wondrous power, but the art directors for this book went the extra mile and found artists who could render wands and rings jaw-dropping.
Of course, even the most beautiful rulebook – which this one is – ultimately succeeds or fails on the basis of its gaming content. Here too, the new DMG is a remarkable success.
Tables and charts are a longtime staple of RPG books in general and DMGs in particular, and this case is no exception. What is unusual is how richly imaginative and story-driven many of the tables are. The table of magic item quirks doesn’t just customize the game effects of items; each entry provides a sense of background and reality, or a dash of personality to spur creative role-play. The 3.5 DMG had a table of 100 NPC traits. In 4.0, there were two tables for mannerisms and appearance. Here, the tables for generating NPC details stretch across six pages and provide specific game-applicable hooks for motives, methods, and personalities that simultaneously provide quick tools to generate unique antagonists and also a source of inspiration for jumping off in any number of story directions. Even the table describing costs for magic item creation is a story driver, because when you do the math (one day of work for every 25 g.p. in an item’s manufacturing cost), you find that legendary items take about 54 years for a 17th level mage to craft. Who has that kind of time? Obviously, only an elf, a particularly obsessive dwarf, or some spellcaster of a shorter-lived race who has learned the secret of near-immortality. A vorpal weapon is therefore not just a set of game mechanics that let you lop off heads on a natural 20 – it’s someone’s life work, or at the very least an elf archmage’s long-term hobby.
In short, every element of this book – the art, the rules tables, the text, the graphic design – has been carefully designed to make you, as a dungeon master, want to be your most creative. To imbue your campaign and its adventures with all the potential these pages promise. You may disagree with some of the specific choices – perhaps you’d rather enable adventuring characters to craft a ring of invisibility by taking a few months off from dungeon-crawling. But as always, the book actively encourages you to throw out whatever doesn’t suit your needs.
My group is in the final stages of a massive campaign from another game, but I’m bursting over with excitement to put this book to use at the first available chance.
And yes, for the first time in ... what, 20 years? ... the belt/gauntlets/hammer combo lets you kill giants instantly. If that means something to you, get this book.
After the 3.5 & 4th Ed debacle of endless books to buy and infinite rules to memorize I quit D&D for another game system and when 5th came out planned to ignore it totally. But a friend told me they were only coming out with the 3 main books and were planning on making money selling pre-made adventures, so I tried it as a player in his campaign.
I liked it and bought the DMG. After I reading the first 4-5 pages I KNEW I was going to start my own campaign, which I have.
As a final note this game is NOT for "Rule's Lawyers" as... there are NO rules to argue with the DM over! The campaign flies or falls on the DM's decisions and creativity.
By Nathan Pressley on April 2, 2018
Top reviews from other countries
The book itself is very high quality, beautifully illustrated and filled with useful info drawn from a wealth of experience of previous editions and lots of new tweaks. Cover to cover it is a great read and obviously a labour of love by those working on it.
Experienced DM's will find themselves smiling at the nostalgia and homage of previous editions now faithfully tweaked restored in this book, as well as recognising it is a solid tool to help you get your campaign planned out and finely tuned. The Magic items section in particular had me grinning like a schoolboy, reading through the classic adventuring treasures alongside some new entries.
New DM's are in for a great treat. This book is a wonderful intro to the role of Dungeon master. It has a step by step guide on pretty much every basic campaign aspect and has a ton of tables for randomly generated story points and scenario building if you don't have time to sit down and plan every little thing!
The one and ONLY criticism of this system comes from this book however. The guidance on building levelled combat encounters. Because of the simplified approach to this edition, the math behind the system balance is not as (insanely) fine tuned as it was in say 3.5. When following the step by step guide to picking your monsters and such, I would advise you use your common sense as well as the rules given. Even a level 2 combat encounter may end up being extremely deadly if you happen to build it using certain foes that seem perfectly appropriate for the party level on paper, yet may actually have some tactical advantages that pushes them well beyond the threat level you expected!!
Overall my favourite DMG so far.
If you're new to Dungeons and Dragons, and want to start running your own games, this book is very useful to have.
Alternatively, if you're a veteran in D&D and know what you're doing with your eyes closed, this game won't provide much of anything outside the pre-made magical items and a few handy reference tables that are unique to 5e. (But you likely already knew that.)
When I run games I like to have this beside me, although I rarely use it for anything other than loot tables and magical items. I'm glad I own it, and it's added a lot of fun and flavor to the game, but by no means is essential reading.
The art is good and it covers a little of everything, so you do have not just world building but magic items, alternative rules you can add to change the way the game runs. There are a fair few magic items, but I do wonder if WOTC are going to release a supplement that covers more magic items. I really like the art they have for them, it'd be nice to have one piece of art per item though.
There are rules for creating new NPC's/monsters, but I feel re-skinning existing monsters is actually a much better idea (that is, taking an existing monster and re-flavouring it's attacks an abilities to match a new monster you have invented).
The result is that I only really use this for one page- the page on calculating the difficulty level of an encounter, and that can fit on an A4 sheet (and a new version has been published in their Unearthed Arcana as a free pdf on their website).
For a completely new DM, just get all 3 (Players guide, this, and monster manual), although I would also say the starter set is excellent for first timers. For more experienced GM's/DM's you would not use this as a reference but it is a good read. If you're strapped for cash and had to choose one to leave alone, I would drop this one.
The main improvement would be an expanded section on running combat encounters; I know combat is mostly in the player handbook, but really combat is the core of many games and it would have been much more logical to have it here. In return, the Player Handbook would benefit from having an extended and consolidated price list, including land/house prices etc.
World building advice and core assumptions are handled well though, and there is much solid mid-level advice. However novice DMs might well feel a bit lost without any worked examples! The random dungeon generator could perhaps be let go in favour of a bit more world-building material.