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DMsGuild (Dungeon Masters Guild) is a Wizards of the Coast-sponsored platform that holds an immense amount of material provided by the community and WoTC themselves. It seems to contain a mix of homebrew and officially published and AL-usable materials.

How do you determine how something on DMsGuild is classified in terms of being official rules at the same level as PHB, MM, etc., or if it's homebrew, or something in between?

I'm not looking for personal opinions on classification, but on if/how WoTC has classified the materials published on the platform.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I'd suggest avoiding using "DMG" to refer to the Dungeon Masters Guild for obvious reasons of ambiguity. :P \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Apr 9 at 1:18
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Most of the content is unofficial, but there are ways to differentiate them

There are "four" types of products published in the Guild: unofficial content, AL-legal content, content released by Wizards of the Coast, and "DMsGuild Adepts" products.

Unofficial Content

Most of the content published in DMsGuild is unofficial content (aka, considered homebrew or third-party). To identify if a product is unofficial content, look at the Product Information sidebar on the product's page right side: it will contain the "Community Content" logo, indicating it was published by a member of the community. Another important information, is that the Publisher of the content (bottom of the Product Information sidebar) will always be the Dungeon Masters Guild.

Product Information Community Content logo.

However, there's a chance that such a product may be AL-legal. But there are ways to find out if it is AL-legal or not.

AL-legal Content

AL-legal content appears under the "Newest D&D Adventurers League Titles" slide in the DMsGuild front page. They are usually identifiable by their name (usually starting with the CCC or DDAL prefix), and they are always categorized with the "D&D Adventurers League" tag under the Browse Categories sidebar (left side) of the website.

The vast majority of the products under this label are adventures for DMs to run under the guidelines of Adventurer's League.

They are usually released by members of the Community (and will include the Community Content logo above), but sometimes, Wizards of the Coast releases material for use with AL in the Guild too.

AL Titles

Content by Wizards of the Coast

Wizards of the Coast also publishes content in the DMsGuild. To find if something is published by Wizards, look at the Product Information sidebar: it will include Wizards logo as the Publisher.

However, among the material published by WotC for D&D 5E, there is both unofficial and official content, considering 5E rules. Unofficial content includes the Plane Shifts, One Grung Above, and many others. To find out if something by WotC is unofficial, the best bet is to look into the D&D Beyond list of sources and inside the Adventurer's League documents.

Official content published there by Wizards include the Tortle Package, Volo’s Waterdeep Enchiridion (an excerpt of Waterdeep Dragon Heist), Winter's Splendor (an official AL adventure themed around Christmas), among others.

Wizards Logo Wizards of the Coast as Publisher

DMsGuild Adepts

DMsGuild Adepts is a special category of unofficial content published in the Guild. Products under this label are still considered unofficial, but they are loosely endorsed by Wizards of the Coast. This kind of content will always include the DMsGuild golden logo in its cover, and some of the adventures published under this category are considered AL-legal as well.

DMsGuild golden logo

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    \$\begingroup\$ Nice break down. My assessment of the situation is that "it's a hot mess" but I really appreciate how you presented the distinctions. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Apr 10 at 12:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast It is a mess indeed. Once you enter the page of product, its labels doesn't show, for example. The site needs a visual rework. \$\endgroup\$ – Kuerten Apr 10 at 12:12
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There is no classification

After a deeper dive into the Guild website, it does not appear that they have any sort of classification system identifying official content vs unofficial.

This is what they have and what we do know:

  • Anyone can create content and add it. There is no general vetting process.
  • Wizards of the Coast can do this as well. There is no clarification if something is considered generally official content or not.
  • Some titles are marked as AL Legal.

So what do we do?

Unfortunately, that leaves the general user without knowledge of how 'good' or 'official' content may be. And this inherently includes third party content as well as WoTC produced content.

The approval for Adventurers League provides a level of 'official', but it isn't clear. What's interesting is that none of those sources are generally included on dndbeyond in terms of character building or resources under their Sources.

If it isn't in the Sources list, it's not official?

One could extrapolate that if it isn't in the dndbeyond list of official sources, then it's not an official source. However, that does exclude all of the AL legal content, so that prospect is tenuous.

How to use the materials?

All of this ambiguity suggests that the inclusion of any Guild content outside of the official listed sources or AL approvals (if playing AL) is up to a DM as to whether or not it's official or usable at their table.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Let us continue this discussion in chat. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Apr 9 at 15:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ "Unfortunately, that leaves the general user without knowledge of how 'good' or 'official' content may be." - While officiality may be ambiguous, there is at least a rating system for all content there where people can leave reviews. So that's at least one way to know how "good" something is, dependent of course on the reviews being reliably accurate judgements. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Apr 9 at 23:06
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Its probably best to assume (and treat as) unofficial, and then make a few exceptions

To clear the obvious category out of they way; Dungeon Masters Guild (abbrev. DMsG) contains a large chunk of material that is published by users with no further qualifications and is obviously unofficial. There is also 'affiliate' and 'Adept' publisher which have varying levels of support from WotC, however it may mark that the content is probably quite reasonable, it is not official.

There are then two more publishers on DMsG of particular note: WotC themselves and one (infuriatingly) called Dungeon Masters Guild which is distinct but related to the category called Dungeon Masters Guild (which seems to simply be a featured-list). These two publishers (i.e. accounts) have most of the content published under D&D Adventurers League which is material that is available for official D&D play. However it is worth mentioning that the vast majority of this content are adventures/modules not player options, and that stores/organizers have some autonomy in choosing their adventures (WotC page one the matter simply links to DMsG. We might want to use the term for all of these Adventure League Recognized Adventures, or something similar, as they are unlikely to relevant in other contexts.

Among the WotC published materials there are a lot of material that is specifically not official, such as "One Grung Above", or that is specifically not fully playtested and balanced (which a lot of the idea behind something being official), such as Plane Shift: Ixalan. Therefore as there is (officially) unofficial material on DMsG published by WotC and little to indicate that others aren't, any material they have not specified as official should be assumed and treated as unofficial.

Notable exceptions

WotC has taken to use DMsG as a distribution platform for certain kinds of material; such as "The Tortle Package" which is included as part of Xanathar's Guide to Everything for the purposes of AL characters and as official material on D&D Beyond, and therefore should be considered official.

Similarly the AL basics is distributed via DMsG.

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