Dungeon Master's Guide 2 Hardcover – Sep 15 2009
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Top Customer Reviews
The DMG II expands on concepts introduced in the original DMG. There is a lot more theory and expert advice on running a better game then crunchy rule bits.
The first chapter gets into group storytelling. This has some great advice for any DM for any game on how to tell a better story, from structure to branching. It gets into Cooperative storytelling and gives suggestions on how your players can't help create the world they play in. There is information on Hooks, vignettes and XP rewards for roleplaying. Some crunch at the end gives rules for companion characters and adjusting character levels so a low level player can join a high level group or the other way around.
The Second chapter is a lot more D&D specific and looks at designing good encounters. There's info in here for a non-D&D DM as well, especially sections on setting up encounters based on your player motivations and playing styles. The section on creating combat movement and how to push players onward when they want to stop for an extended rest were particularly interesting and 4e in flavour. Crunch here includes new terrain rules, rules for making your own traps, some new traps and an example encounter.
Chapter three is all about Skill Challenges. This chapter basically replaces the original chapter in the DMG. It showcases the most significant changes to the 4e system. This chapter really takes everything that everyone has learned about skill challenges and how to use them to make your game better (as learned from various play tests, the RPGA and online forums) and puts it all together.Read more ›
The option to buff up the PC team with NPC and the rules to play the games without or with less magical item were not as good as expected. While still being very usefull and working well, those section where a little bit slim compared to the challenged face by DM with small group or who try to run the games without magical item.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The answer: plenty.
Where the first DMG focused on basic tools and techniques for the beginning DM, DMG II focuses on rules, techniques, and help for the experienced DM. The chapter on group storytelling techniques taught an old hand like me a few new tricks, and considering that I've been doing this for 20 some-odd years, that's no mean feat. This chapter alone makes the book worth it. But wait, there's more! We finally get rules for creating traps and minions, rules for running games without magical items, and rules for creating companion characters to fill out missing roles in the party. There is also an entire chapter on designing and running skill challenges, with plenty of detailed examples for DMs who feel mystified by this new mechanic. The monster creation rules have gotten some needed tweaking and streamlining as well.
Add to this new artefacts, new monster templates, ideas for campaign arcs, new terrain, new traps, and a horde of other useful stuff, and the book more than justifies its own existence. The only section that really let me down was the one on sigil. It's been so boiled down that a lot of what made that setting special is gone. Newbies who never saw the original planescape likely won't care, but those of us who knew the old setting know how much got lost in boiling this down to a few score pages.
Overall, though, this is a supplement well-worth your money.
Influenced by these innovators, the people who made 4E went under the hood of Dungeons and Dragons and rebuilt it from the ground up. Nothing was sacred. We've seen the result of their efforts in the rules of the system to date, but now, with the release of Dungeon Master's Guide 2, we see the philosophy illustrated, not with rules, but with storytelling techniques that any DM, for *any* system, can profit from. Very little of the advice is specific to 4E, or even to Dungeons and Dragons. It shows you, with examples, how to harness the power of collaborative storytelling, how to enlist your players in worldbuilding and how to tell stories that engage everyone at the table.
Let me share my own story. The day after getting this I was due to begin a new game of Star Wars Saga Edition with a new group of people - some friends and some strangers - and I was stumped for what to do. I was having serious trouble coming up with characters and stories, and I dreaded showing up unprepared. But I took the advice from chapter 1 of this book and during character creation at the first session, I went around the table and had each of my players describe for me a positive relationship their character has with another PC, a negative relationship they have with another PC, and to name and describe an NPC that they have a relationship with. Here's the thing: that may sound basic, but often, many players have thoughts about their characters and the game as a whole that they never share with each other or with the group - but here, as we went around the table, the characters came to life, not only in their players' minds, but in each other's as well, and they began relating to each other with a level of excitement and drama that in the past took weeks or months of play to form. And meanwhile the players had, completely without knowing it, given me enough story fuel to last for months! The game has been a huge hit and the players love seeing the NPC and setting details they created reflected in the world around them. I've been DMing for two decades and that simple trick had never occurred to me, and now I'll never run another game without it.
The book is full of useful, practical advice like that. But there's a challenge inherent in much of the advice, and it involves being willing to let go a bit of the old ways of doing things. Many DMs are immensely possessive of "their" story and "their" world, and the suggestions in this book will sound like madness to them. They want to stick with what's worked for them. And I can't blame them for that, but what this book has shown me is that even in a field as well-trodden as Dungeon Mastering there are still new things to try. In a way, it's liberating, to realize that after all this time, I am still a learner.
The book provides some good alternatives to magic item progression, for those who find that undesirable, and also some good nuts-and-bolts type advice for building traps and skill challenges (as well as a number of sample plug-and-play challenges you can adapt very easily). The Sigil section is very well done; it captures the feel of the old Planescape material without being overwhelming for those who've not had the pleasure of reading about it before. My only complaint with that section is that there's a lot of Cant slipped in, but no centralized place to look it up so you can use it when adventuring there. STill, that's a minor complaint; there's still plenty of resources for that kind of thing on the interwebs.
All in all, an awesome book. Would definitely recommend to any DM who wants to up their game.
Consider this DMG: Advanced for DM's looking to take their core D&D 4E games beyond the basic game.
The one thing I must say is that the skill check DC table has been erratad and the updated version is available online at wizards site and also in the Rules Compendium (another great product).
I recommend this book for every DM wanting to taking their Campaign to the next level. Well done, WoTC!
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