PDA

View Full Version : 4e DMs Guide



Maelstrom
06-18-2008, 05:54 PM
The DMG
Best DMG ever. Honestly. Especially for first time DM's. It's not about rules as much as prior editions, it's about running a good game. Understanding your players, understanding how to handle problems, all of that. I'm not finished with it, but I really think it's a great book.


This got buried with a philosophical discussion in another thread so I wanted to bring it back.

I fully agree with this assessment. The DMG is a very well done book full of wonderful advice and DM specific material. It's good for novices and veterans alike, and teaches you in an engaging and intuitive way. It encourages such skills as taught by the veteran DMs on this board such as giving characters choices, the rule of yes, and avoiding negative habits such as railroading and squelching. Its a rule system that encourages DMs to modify the rules as they see fit.

Here's an example of how its such an effective aid: Page 13, talking about different styles of games. For each type, it lists very well thought out list of positives and negatives, then allows you to draw your own conclusions. It encourages and advises you on how to play your style without falling into the pitfalls associated with it.

Now Content:
Diseases were just a nuisance in 3.5. In 4e they are a whole progression of possible events, making a disease menacing to the player and adding to the drama. Once a day, they make an endurance check... they can get worse, maintain its current effect, or improve until eventually it is gone. And none of the diseases kill outright (though they can make your character's life heck), avoiding the save or die symptom of 3.5.

Traps in 3.5 were all about the thief. Is she actually searching? Great! Does she succeed in finding the trap? Great! Now roll to see if you disarm it! All this is fun and very D&D, but its all up to the one character to do all of it. Traps are much more multi-dimensional in 4e, with more ways to go about dealing with them. It's still best to have a thief, but you can conceivably have the whole team engaged while doing it.

The section on puzzles is great, chalk full of ideas to use and enough to get your creative engine spinning.

Treasure and experience are straightforward, each contained on a single table, and encounter creation has never been easier. So much better when PCs start out of the gate well-balanced.

Templates are very cool... you can change up any monster with any of a whole bunch of templates from Bodyguard to Lich, spicing up encounters and keeping the players on their toes. And the character class templates are brilliant ways to quickly generate a monster with a pc-class bent.

NPCs build off of templates for ease of generation of the shopkeepers, nobles, and barkeeps in the game.

Finally, the DMG tops it off with a full blown town and surrounding valley full of adventure hooks and ideas to be incorporated with existing campaigns.

Alright, enough typing, I've gotta get back to reading!

Valdar
06-18-2008, 06:58 PM
Excellent assessment- I was amazed with the candor of the thing- explaining why to do things rather than just proclamations one way or the other.

Additional note: Magic items have moved to the PHb, so your players will never need to see this book. Now the PHb is thicker than the DmG as a result...

jkfoote
06-18-2008, 10:46 PM
Traps in 3.5 were all about the thief. Is she actually searching? Great! Does she succeed in finding the trap? Great! Now roll to see if you disarm it! All this is fun and very D&D, but its all up to the one character to do all of it. Traps are much more multi-dimensional in 4e, with more ways to go about dealing with them. It's still best to have a thief, but you can conceivably have the whole team engaged while doing it.

But thats the point, traps and locks are what rouges do, the break into things, fighters and magic uses, with the exception of "knock", should be nearly as good with those things as a rouge. Now if they wanted to spend the points they could be as good, but thats not what they do, thats not what they are used or played for. There should be a separation of classes. A wizard has no right to be as good at fighting as a fighter or as quick as a rouge. and vis versa, when you get up in the levels, a fighter has no business being even remotely as powerful as a high lvl wizard

Maelstrom
06-19-2008, 12:14 AM
But thats the point, traps and locks are what rouges do, the break into things, fighters and magic uses, with the exception of "knock", should be nearly as good with those things as a rouge.

At risk of derailing yet another thread...

Why does it have to be that way? Why must the rest of the PCs sit safely in the corner of a trap-filled room while the thief makes all the rolls? Because that's how its always been done?

ronpyatt
06-19-2008, 12:18 AM
But thats the point, traps and locks are what rouges do, the break into things, fighters and magic uses, with the exception of "knock", should be nearly as good with those things as a rouge.That's not the point that the DMG is making. It's not about pigeonholing classes to make cookie cutter stories. It's about promoting the roleplaying of characters, and that's what the DMG explains. The rouge still is the best at dealing with traps, however, as many of us have explained to our DM's in the past, there is more than one way to open a locked door or a trapped chest. You just have to be creative about it.

agoraderek
06-19-2008, 12:49 AM
i hate to admit it, but the DMG is the one book of the three that isnt completely worthless for my current game. there are a couple things i can use in it.

jkfoote
06-19-2008, 12:52 AM
That's not the point that the DMG is making. It's not about pigeonholing classes to make cookie cutter stories. It's about promoting the roleplaying of characters, and that's what the DMG explains. The rouge still is the best at dealing with traps, however, as many of us have explained to our DM's in the past, there is more than one way to open a locked door or a trapped chest. You just have to be creative about it.

Fair enough.

jkfoote
06-19-2008, 12:56 AM
At risk of derailing yet another thread...

Why does it have to be that way? Why must the rest of the PCs sit safely in the corner of a trap-filled room while the thief makes all the rolls? Because that's how its always been done?

At the same time, why should the wizard be able to fly, while the rest have to sit in the corner unless they have an item. at the same time, if you want to spend the skills you can disarm the traps to, your just not as good at it. just like your not going to get to be front line. it's not pigeon holed if thats just what you are, I'm not going to ask a rocket scientist how to get a girl, and im not going to ask a swinger how to build a rocket. Everyone has there place, No one should be good at everything, everyone should have there unique strengths, and weaknesses.

agoraderek
06-19-2008, 01:01 AM
At the same time, why should the wizard be able to fly, while the rest have to sit in the corner unless they have an item. at the same time, if you want to spend the skills you can disarm the traps to, your just not as good at it. just like your not going to get to be front line. it's not pigeon holed if thats just what you are, I'm not going to ask a rocket scientist how to get a girl, and im not going to ask a swinger how to build a rocket. Everyone has there place, No one should be good at everything, everyone should have there unique strengths, and weaknesses.

yep.

Maelstrom
06-19-2008, 04:37 AM
Everyone has there place, No one should be good at everything, everyone should have there unique strengths, and weaknesses.

Agreed. What fun is to play a game where each player has an equal chance to do something in each combat or non-combat situation?

4e doesn't attempt to do that, what it does is make it so that while one type of character really excels at certain things, such as a thief finding and disarming traps, the other players aren't completely useless.

Tamerath
06-19-2008, 02:12 PM
My friend asked me yesterday after reading the players handbook which book should he get next for 4th edition the DMG or the MM.

I told him, you know...in every edition prior to this the only thing I needed the dmg for was magic items and treasure. (traps were never my strong point in those days).

The thing is with 4th Edition though...they put A LOT of good stuff in that DMG. Even with the fact they moved the magic items to the PHB as a Dungeon Master working on my first 4th edition campaign there are two books out constantly...My DMG and my MM. I hardly even reference my PHB (which is good, players should have their own books with rules and what THEY need) and I should have two good books I'm going to keep using for all the stuff I need.

I told my buddy that though the Monster Manual is great (except for the metallic dragon thing) that I find myself using more tools from the DMG than ever and he should familiarize himself with how encounters are ran in this new version. God, I wouldn't have said that in the past...It's a good thing I can say it now.

Webhead
06-19-2008, 02:49 PM
Agreed. What fun is to play a game where each player has an equal chance to do something in each combat or non-combat situation?

4e doesn't attempt to do that, what it does is make it so that while one type of character really excels at certain things, such as a thief finding and disarming traps, the other players aren't completely useless.

Yes! *Ding ding ding* The Rogue should absolutely be the master of dealing with locks and traps, but that doesn't mean the rest of the party should just be sitting around, picking their noses while the Rogue "does his thing".

In D&D combat, everyone gets to participate in their own way with their own skills. It's a team effort. "Trap" and "Diplomacy" encounters should be the same way. Everyone should feel like they can at least add something to the scene, even if it's only to help out the "star" character.

Igbutton
06-19-2008, 04:01 PM
Yes! *Ding ding ding* The Rogue should absolutely be the master of dealing with locks and traps, but that doesn't mean the rest of the party should just be sitting around, picking their noses while the Rogue "does his thing".

Probably the biggest complaint I have with Shadowrun is that very thing. One guy would jack in and the rest would sit around a wait as the DM ran him through his paces.

Sure we kept ourselves amused by making ooc jokes and other shenanigans but it's hard enough to keep players focused the less difficult the mechanics make it the better.

fmitchell
06-19-2008, 04:40 PM
Probably the biggest complaint I have with Shadowrun is that very thing. One guy would jack in and the rest would sit around a wait as the DM ran him through his paces.

Yep, the dread Netrunner problem. However, you get the same thing when a wizard goes astral (with no one else along for a ride), a Runequest shaman goes to the spirit plane, a ninja scouts ahead (and kills a whole lotta people in the way), etc.

In all cases, the GM should reduce the whole sequence to a skill check or two, and announce the results ... unless it's *really* riveting (e.g. the ninja's solo missions in our current campaign). Another alternative I've heard of is to give the players not involved an NPC opponent to run ... but that would depend on the maturity of the players.

Inquisitor Tremayne
06-19-2008, 04:40 PM
Probably the biggest complaint I have with Shadowrun is that very thing. One guy would jack in and the rest would sit around a wait as the DM ran him through his paces.

Sure we kept ourselves amused by making ooc jokes and other shenanigans but it's hard enough to keep players focused the less difficult the mechanics make it the better.

Its is/was the same way with dungeon delving in 3.5. How fun is it for the rest of the party to stand behind the Rogue while he searches every 5 foot square in front of him down a 50 ft. long hallway? Those are the times when I am looking up and reading spell descriptions and deciding which spell to choose next level or I have an ooc discussion with the rest of the players = boring.

InfoStorm
06-19-2008, 06:55 PM
But it's all down the the DM and the players in the long run, not the rule system. It's up to the DM to keep everyone active in the adventure, and to the players to want to stay involved. I personally never let a solo spot go on too long before I go to the rest and keep them busy, for about the same length, and then back. It not as good as having multiple clones of yourself, but there are just times there some things rest on 1 person. Literature of all types have this. It goes in all cases. The diplomat is only as solo at the rest of the party let's them.

I'll reserve opinion on the DMG until I can read it. . . .
OK, just started reading it and I'm already annoyed by marketing, "Things you NEED to play: Battlegrid or D&D Dungeon Tiles and D&D Miniatures."
Those used to be luxaries, not requirements to play. :mad:

Wiegraf
06-19-2008, 07:57 PM
I myself am running a test game of D&D with the default adventure at the end of the book (it's not that RP intensive but still); in the room where the first traps appears, my ranger went ahead and spotted them while the other guys start to dismantle them; granted, it was helluva funny to see them often spring a trap and damage themselves while attempting; but I can attest that the ranger had an easier time than the Fighter and the Warlord.

So yes, the Ranger, a 'rogue-like' somewhat character, outdid them in undoing the traps... but the two others participated... and weren't left with nothing to do... which was awesome for them all

Webhead
06-19-2008, 08:43 PM
Probably the biggest complaint I have with Shadowrun is that very thing. One guy would jack in and the rest would sit around a wait as the DM ran him through his paces.

Yeah, that's why no one wanted to play a Netrunner in our Shadowrun and Cyberpunk games (and I was relieved).

Maelstrom
06-19-2008, 11:09 PM
It's all about pacing... the minute someone loses interest in the game because they are left with nothing to do, the whole rhythm is broken. When it comes to a point where they can help again, they have to get back into the game and change their mental set. Starting over and over is a more sure way to damage an engine than to keep it running.

From early on, I learned to appreciate 4e's take on encounters and rest between encounters (another point in 3.5 that could damage the pacing). Now even non-combat encounters such as traps and diplomacy mesh with the same kind of pacing, where each character is involved in some way. It no longer feels like a bunch of individuals that occasionally help each other, it really feels like a team.

Here's another example:
Take one: You watch an intense movie at home. Kids or other relatives occasionally force you to stop for a minute, you get up to get some more popcorn, or the phone rings. That's one experience.
Now take two: You watch an intense movie in a theatre. The sound surrounds you, there is nothing to look at but the screen, and you are fully engaged. Totally different kind of experience.