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I'm not new to D&D--I've been playing since the tail end of first edition--and I've owned my share of Dungeon Master Guides. I've flipped through the 4e DMG a few times, and I'm stuck with one quesiton: Do I really need the 4.e DMG? Is this current edition going to improve my DMing experience? What is essential about it?

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5 Answers 5

up vote 10 down vote accepted

You need the Dungeon Master's Guide or the Dungeon Master's Kit. The former you know about; the latter will be coming out this October. Either will do the trick.

Here's the information you won't find anywhere else:

  • How to handle improvised attacks mechanically (I kick the brazier into the orc), with a chart for damage and difficulty
  • Rules for forced movement as it relates to difficult terrain
  • Aquatic, mounted, and flying combat
  • Disease and poison rules
  • How to build encounters in relation to the party's level
  • How to build skill challenges
  • Guidelines for handing out treasure at the appropriate rate
  • Templates to add to monsters
  • Rules for building new monsters
  • Rules for building NPCs

The last few are the most important, and you can't get them from an D&D Insider subscription.

It's worth noting that the DMG has been errataed, including the monster building rules and the skill challenge rules, so if you can wait till October it's worth doing so, and you probably can. Most of the stuff you want from the DMG is customization; if you run monsters right from the Monster Manual, you can do without that. There are no reviews of the Kit at the moment, but here is an unboxing video.

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I think I could adjudicate most of these items without the DMG or the DMG kit. However, I know I could use help with encounter building and skill challenges. Given the push for consistency, I think the kit may be a good idea afterall Thanks Bryant! –  Bricu Sep 1 '10 at 16:48

Really Really?

No

Is the Dmg super duper helpful, useful , and stuffed with useful things and information

Yes, quite possibly moreso than any other d&D edition

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Anything essential? Should I wait for Essentials? –  Bricu Sep 1 '10 at 2:33
    
The Trap Rules are my number 1 reason d'etra for the dmg. Improvised attacks can be made using the table on page 42, yes. but its just as easy to create a crib sheet with that kind of stuff (and people generally already have so booyeah) same with skill challenges. The rest is nice but you can easily go for a few sessions without or could find easily other places. Essential? No, Super useful to have, Yes. I'm not sure about anything about essentials, so I'll have to leave that t osomeone else. –  Logos7 Sep 2 '10 at 4:57

Do I really need the 4.e DMG?

Not if someone else has a copy you can flick through now and then.

Is this current edition going to improve my DMing experience?

Not as much as the 4e DMG 2 could.

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Of all the editions, the D&D 4e DMG is probably the most important. Although currently with the Rules Compendium you could get away without any of its useful advice if you already have 3.5 DMG2, DMGR1 from 2e, Robin's Laws of Good Gamemastering and several other books, or are just already hot stuff.

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You need pages 42 and 43, for improvised checks. Also maybe the monster creation rules in the back. That's it. Also, the NPC creation rules are broken, and don't scale with any other characters, either PC or monster, so ignore them. There also is no RAW for any class after the PHB1, which is probably a sign WotC knows they don't work. You're almost always better off just making (or selecting) a monster stat block to represent the NPC.

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