Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Books: Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition, Dungeon Master's Guide

The Dungeon Master's Guide has always been a unique book. Since a DM is tasked with running the whole game, the DMG has traditionally been something of a grab-bag or catchall; past editions have contained more detailed combat rules, tips for making a world or campaign, Prestige Classes for the PCs(!), and lots and lots of lists of magic items. Like most things in 4E, though, the DMG has been simplified. Here's a peek at some of the new stuff:

- Noncombat Encounters: Finally, noncombat encounters (defined as any situation outside of combat where the PCs face negative consequences for failure) have been given their own chapter. There are some nice, concrete examples of "skill challenges" that require multiple skill checks for success, as well as a whole "trap bestiary" and examples of puzzles that might be placed in an adventure to tickle the PCs' brains.

- More practical advice: This section'll probably be a bit redundant for experienced DMs, but it's nice to see the actual business of running the game get a little more coverage than in years past.

Overall, the new DMG is kinda slim and back-to-basics. It's not as essential to running a game in years past (if you're prepared for the game session, you could easily leave it at home if you like), but it lays bare the mechanics of the rules in a way the PHB could never do.


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