A Long Awaited Review: 4e Dungeon Master’s Guide…

2008 July 23
by Dante

I finally got some time to become acquainted with the 4e core rules! While taking a flight back home from Colorado, I got the opportunity to plow through the Player’s Handbook and the Dungeon Master’s Guide and what follows are my mostly formed opinions of the latter book. I’ll leave my opinions of the PHB for another time.


Before getting too far into my high level feelings, I must say that the visual appeal of the new core rulebooks is fantastic. The artwork is stunning and the layout of the information is relatively attainable.

As for the actual content of the DMG, honestly I feel like it could have been cobbled together from the collective roleplaying blogosphere. Do not take this wrong: I am not unimpressed, nor could I have done much better… but as I was reading it, I kept having “I saw that on Martin’s site three months ago” or “wow, Yax just mentioned this concept a bit ago” and so on. I guess that reinforces that we’re largely on the right path.

The changes to the game mechanics are interesting. We will be playing our first 4e session this weekend, so I will get some firsthand experience in executing the new combat systems which should be interesting in a group that has historically eschewed miniatures.

I am eager to give the skill check system a try. I think it creates a good situation for storytelling, doesn’t frustrate the players that don’t enjoy puzzles, and gives the DM a discrete “pass/fail” criteria that is easily outlined into an action plan.

One of the more exciting things for me as a DM is the inclusion of the action point system. I think that this is an incredibly good way to handle the “oh crap, I have to rest” process that plagued 3.x editions, and the idea of milestones is an excellent way to reward the group for interim progress toward a goal.

More to come!

I was able to get just into the Treasure section when my plane ride got bumpy enough as to inhibit my ability to remain focused. I’m going to pick up there soon, and I’m sure that will compel a follow-up post along with my first impressions playing with the new rules in practice.

I am happy to say that I’m genuinely excited about the opportunity to get to play the new system. A lot of the aggreviations that we face as Dungeon Masters appear to have been lessened and much good advice is given in the book for how to handle common gaming situations, so the DMG already earns fairly high marks.

Keep an eye out for more soon!

4 Responses leave one →
  1. Dee permalink
    July 24, 2008

    Awesome, I cannot wait to read more. I have been thinking about starting a 4Ed campaign in my town recently, hoping to bring out some of the roleplayer’s I know lurk about. Hope to here some positive feedback before I give it a shot.

  2. Dave The Game permalink
    July 24, 2008

    Gotta agree with you completely… looking through the beginning, I kept thinking “read it already” and skipping most of that. Once it got into the crunchier parts, I was a lot happier.

  3. Patriarch917 permalink
    July 24, 2008

    I had similar thoughts regarding the content of the DMG. It seemed to be a well organized compilation of much of the best DM advice I'd already seen during these past few years scouring various blogs, podcasts, and web sites… and that's a great thing! If I wanted to help a newbie learn to DM, or to help a current DM improve, I can now hand them this book. The advice is particularly relevant to D&D, of course, but much of it applies equally well to a lot of other games.

  4. Yax permalink
    July 24, 2008

    I also think it awesome that a lot of advice I have giving now is in the Dungeon Master’s Guide. It now a great resource for dungeon masters rather than a tool to create random dungeons and roll random treasure.

    All in all, there’s more for a DM in the 4e DMG than there was in the 3.x DMG.

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