DnDBeyond Recommends 4E DMG

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Havard
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DnDBeyond Recommends 4E DMG

Post by Havard » Thu Jan 31, 2019 8:40 pm

https://www.dndbeyond.com/posts/414-dun ... th-edition

What do you think of this presentation? :)

I recomment owning every editions DMG, personally. Oh and all the BECMI books :cool:

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Re: DnDBeyond Recommends 4E DMG

Post by shesheyan » Thu Jan 31, 2019 9:13 pm

From memory, I recall thinking the 4e DMG was extremely well written and would prove very useful to new DMs. It stood out from other DMGs I read over the years, except of course 1e AD&D which was a mind blowing revelation.

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Re: DnDBeyond Recommends 4E DMG

Post by Tim Baker » Fri Feb 01, 2019 12:44 am

I've always appreciated the 4e DMG. I thought it did a good job of focusing on how to be a DM, rather than as a book of mechanical content meant to be kept out of the hands of the players.

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Re: DnDBeyond Recommends 4E DMG

Post by Big Mac » Fri Feb 01, 2019 9:40 pm

Havard wrote:
Thu Jan 31, 2019 8:40 pm
https://www.dndbeyond.com/posts/414-dun ... th-edition

What do you think of this presentation? :)
James Haeck only covered three sections of the book (which is probably a fairly low percentage, but the idea that the 4e DMG can help non-4e GMs is certainly an interesting one.

I had heard that there was a description of Nentir Vale in the 4e DMG, and had figured that my adjusted "buy in" price would be based on the percentage of Nentir Vale canon in the book, but if there are some sections that would help me run a 3rd Edition game that would add to the percentage of the book that was useful to me.

And if some of the 4th Edition concepts are generic enough to be turned into house rules in 3rd Edition* that would add to the percentage of the book that I can use.

* = Probably house rules for bespoke Spelljammer crystal spheres, in my case. ;)
Havard wrote:
Thu Jan 31, 2019 8:40 pm
I recomment owning every editions DMG, personally. Oh and all the BECMI books :cool:
I'd love to see other people write articles (or start Piazza topics ;) ) similar to James Haeck's one about some of these other DMGs. The Dungeon Master's Guide is a book I have mostly overlooked (as I've always been more focused on the core books for D&D campaign settings).

Maybe I'm missing out.
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Re: DnDBeyond Recommends 4E DMG

Post by Tim Baker » Sat Feb 02, 2019 4:32 am

Big Mac wrote:
Fri Feb 01, 2019 9:40 pm
I had heard that there was a description of Nentir Vale in the 4e DMG, and had figured that my adjusted "buy in" price would be based on the percentage of Nentir Vale canon in the book, but if there are some sections that would help me run a 3rd Edition game that would add to the percentage of the book that was useful to me.
The first chapter is all system neutral content. There are three pages that cover the different personality types players exhibit at the table, and how a DM can engage that kind of player. There are two pages on the DM style and how those can inform the type of game you want to run. There are two pages on table rules.

Chapter 2 has 16 pages of almost entirely system neutral guidance on how to run a game. It covers preparation, the modes of the game (exploration, social, and downtime, with combat encounters only touched on, because they deserve a chapter of their own), narration, pacing, props, dispensing information, improvising, ending, troubleshooting, and teaching the game. The only content that I saw that was system-specific was references to rituals (which vary from edition to edition) and specific skills (again, the skill list changes over editions).

Chapter 3 describes combat encounters, and is more system specific. Skill difficulties, determining surprise, the initiative system, ad hoc damage charts, rules for cover, forced movement, falling damage, aquatic combat, mounted combat, aerial combat, disease, and poison won't apply to all editions. There's still a lot of system agnostic material in the chapter, too. The section on running combat makes recommendations on how you should describe the scene, how to run monsters, how to think about enemies' tactics, the consequences of combat, and tracking combat conditions. Even in the more system specific sections, there's advice scattered throughout, such as how high you should make a precipice, depending on the level of the characters and how to think about movement in three dimensions.

The next chapter describes how to build encounters. This mostly applies to 4e, but the advice on how to make sure your monsters are varied and cover different roles in the encounter can apply to any edition. There are encounter templates that simply list how many monsters of different roles will lead to a certain feel for a given encounter. For example, if you want to create the feeling that the monsters control the battlefield and are employing tactics that limit the movement of the PCs, consider using a Controller and six Skirmishers. I really enjoy the section that covers different types of terrain and how different monster roles can be used in conjunction with challenging terrain. The examples of fantastic terrain are pages I keep coming back to when I build potential combat encounters (I say "potential" because I never want to force the PCs to fight). There's also a section that suggests building an encounter script – a simple walk-through of the way the encounter is likely to unfold in your mind. What's motivating the enemies? How might they use their surroundings? How will they react to the characters? What is their "win" condition? What will they do if they begin to lose? Having answers to questions like these will lead to a more realistic encounter, and prevents every battle from being a fight to the death.

The chapter on noncombat encounters covers the skill challenge mechanic. It's a codified in 4e, but is usable in nearly any game with a skill system. The idea is to make skill-based encounters (or the skill-based portion of a hybrid skill/combat encounter) just as interesting and varied as combat. It also covers puzzles and where you can find good puzzles for your encounters. There are several pages of traps and hazards, which are primarily system-specific.

Next, the DMG covers how to build adventures. This is another largely system neutral chapter, discussing published adventures and how to adjust them, building your own adventures, how to create quests, how to vary the different types of encounters in your adventures, where to set your adventures (i.e., terrain type, climate, wilderness vs. dungeon vs. city), and how to create NPCs. There are several pages of tables for the setting as well as example map icons that a DM can use to create custom maps.

Rewards, the topic of the next chapter, are mostly expressed in mechanical terms. The XP rewards and treasure likely only apply to 4e.

The campaign chapter is another system neutral offering. It starts with published campaigns and how to make them yours. It then delves into campaign themes, genres, nonlinear exploration (sandboxes), building an outline, how to begin a campaign, communicating the key points of your campaign to your players, running a campaign, the tiers of play (how to make a game feel down-to-earth vs. epic), and how to end a campaign.

Chapter 9 explores the World (what we generally call Nerath). It's 24 pages long and touches on the core assumptions of the default setting (and what happens if DMs tweak those assumptions), settlements, government, commerce and the magic economy, organizations, and the wilderness. It then briefly describes the planes of the multiverse and Sigil. After that, it provides basic information about the deities of the Dawn War pantheon. It then covers artifact magic items that are specifically for the setting (although several, such as the Hand of Vecna, are found in other settings). Finally, it explains the languages of the setting.

The DM's toolbox chapter is a mix of 4e mechanics and general advice. Customizing monsters, monster templates, and DIY monsters aren't likely to be helpful if you're not running 4e. The creating NPCs section has some tables that cover NPC mannerisms and quirks, which I find helpful. There's a random dungeon generator that can come in handy if you need a quick dungeon. The random encounter generators are also useful. In each case, there are more robust options available in other products, but if a DM were to only buy the three main D&D books, it's helpful to include these options. I really like the section that discusses house rules. Not only does it offer some possibilities, it explains the pros and cons of implementing these rules in your game.

Chapter 11 provides maps and a high level details for the Nentir Vale and its central town, Fallcrest. It's 14 pages long.

Finally, there's a 10-page adventure. It's a fairly straightforward dungeon crawl. As a starting adventure for someone new to the game, it works well. Simplicity isn't a bad thing for players taking their first plunge into D&D. I've run it for my kids, and they had a great time.
Big Mac wrote:
Fri Feb 01, 2019 9:40 pm
I'd love to see other people write articles (or start Piazza topics ;) ) similar to James Haeck's one about some of these other DMGs. The Dungeon Master's Guide is a book I have mostly overlooked (as I've always been more focused on the core books for D&D campaign settings).
I'd enjoy other articles in the same vein, too.

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Re: DnDBeyond Recommends 4E DMG

Post by Zeromaru X » Sat Feb 02, 2019 10:34 am

It's so rare that they are recommending a 4e book in a 5e focused site... it's good and I wholeheartedly support it, but is weird.

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Re: DnDBeyond Recommends 4E DMG

Post by Havard » Sat Feb 02, 2019 10:51 am

Zeromaru X wrote:
Sat Feb 02, 2019 10:34 am
It's so rare that they are recommending a 4e book in a 5e focused site... it's good and I wholeheartedly support it, but is weird.
It seems to be an increasing trend. I remember Matt Colville talking positively about 4E on his videos. Mike Mearls is obviously a 4E fan. Perhaps they are trying to get more 4E fans on board with 5E? Or want to get 5E fans to buy 4E books on Drivethru?

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Re: DnDBeyond Recommends 4E DMG

Post by Zeromaru X » Sat Feb 02, 2019 11:13 am

I don't see Mike as one of the 4e fans, though that can be a matter of opinion. Many 4e fans blame him for 4e's untimely death.

And 5e has been really mean to 4e in general. People like Monte Cook publicly thrashing 4e, or books like Art Arcana, that say nothing positive about the edition, clearly have created a divide.

However, maybe is what you say, and they want to lure the 4e fans to 5e (now that some people have been attracted to 4e thanks to people like Matt Colville). Too late for me, though. They lost me when I read their opinions in 4e's entry of Art Arcana.

As a side note, I found fun that the blogger mentioned the pirated books. One way to make people do something you don't want them to do is telling them not to do it.

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Re: DnDBeyond Recommends 4E DMG

Post by Zeromaru X » Sat Feb 02, 2019 11:28 am

Tim Baker wrote:
Sat Feb 02, 2019 4:32 am
<snip>
You have wrote a really comprehensive review of the book. I also find myself reading both 4e DMGs from time to time.

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Re: DnDBeyond Recommends 4E DMG

Post by Tim Baker » Sat Feb 02, 2019 8:27 pm

Zeromaru X wrote:
Sat Feb 02, 2019 11:28 am
You have wrote a really comprehensive review of the book. I also find myself reading both 4e DMGs from time to time.
Thanks! Coming from you, that's a big compliment. :D

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