First I will start off with my assessment. It is a pretty good Dungeon Master Guide. I find myself liking it a lot. The biggest reason is probably because of its brevity in most sections. One of my favorite monster guides is the Monster Book for Swords and Wizardry. It one my favorite because each entry is short and too the point with not a lot of embellishment. The 5e DMG is much the same way particularly when it comes to mechanics. Because of its brevity it covers a lot of topics in its 320 pages. Finally it brevity doesn't mean every section is written tersely. Some, particularly the description of the outer planes, are written with a lot of flavor and tidbits of information.
However the DMG's brevity will likely be a source of criticism. It just doesn't go into great detail about any particular subject as you will see. So people expecting a complete psionic subsystem will be disappointed. When things like villainous classes are mentioned the book only gives a few worked examples.
In the past I would say that this is a hook for splat books. But after reading much of the books, my impression is that they took some hard in selecting and writing the topics that did get included. That the rest is intended for specific advantages and campaigns later down the line instead of a series of PHB IIs or DMG IIs. We will see how this works out when the Elemental Evil products come out this spring.
Given the lighter mechanics of 5e to date, the 5e DMG acts a springboard for creating your own material with a few essential sections that are fully detailed like treasure distribution.
Now onto the review
First grab a copy of the table of content
This part is pretty standard and those of us playing for a while have seen many variations of this. One nice thing is that it has a How to use this book section. The DMG is separated into three main parts.
- Master of Worlds
- Master of Adventures
- Master of Rules.
The first part is about inventing your own worlds. The second part is about writing adventures for that world, and the third part is about rules and options that could be used to adjudicate the actions of characters while adventuring. Seems to be a pretty good setup to me.
The Introduction wraps up with Know your Players. It practices several categories of actitives that players like to do. They are Acting, Exploring, Instigating, Fighting, Optimizing, Problem Solving, and Storytelling.
At first I thought it was just somebody's idea of categorizing players. Something that I found useless because players change over time in what they are interested in. But on a second read I notice it not categories of players types but rather categories of thing players like to do. Something that more useful in my opinion. It is terse so some people may miss this point.
Next is Part 1 Master of Worlds