Let’s get this show on the road! It’s time to take a look at the Dungeon Master’s Guide for the 5th edition of Dungeons & Dragons. But before we get to what’s in the book, I want to write a little about the biases I bring to bear.
I’ve been playing roleplaying games a long time – since 1977 – and helping to create them on and off for a good long while. It’s my experience that a whole lot of RPGs do a bad job of helping the referee understand what a successful session and campaign of this game might be like, what choices they should be thinking about to craft a fun time for their particular group, and like that. We are, far too often, left with something like Bun Rab’s angry denunciation of lucky rabbit’s feet in a Pogo strip: “What’s a rabbit’s foot without the rabbit? Nothin’ but a handful of disembodied toes!” So I’m always on the lookout for games that actually do provide this kind of teaching and support for the whole process of play.
D&D 3rd edition was pretty good about this. D&D 4th edition was excellent, but not nearly enough people knew it; far too many people harshing on the game never actually looked at what it said, even when they’d bought the books. Further, in recent years there’ve been a whole bunch of good RPGs of all sorts that do referee support really well. So I come at this deeply curious to see what sort of influences I spot, and also what kinds of cool new stuff (or at least new-to-me stuff) there is.
Finally, I much prefer to get enthusiastic over things that make me happy than to rant on about ones that make me unhappy or angry. Most of the time, therefore, you’ll find me spending more time and effort to explain just why something delights me than on artisanal locally sourced slams on parts I dislike. Negativity’s easy to come by; (hopefully) thoughtful happiness is in shorter supply, and it’s what I prefer to offer.