It’s finally here….
First of all:
Wizard’s original plan was to release the Players Handbook in August, the Monster Manual in September, an adventure module in October, and the Dungeon Master’s Guide in November. They delayed the DMG’s release until December for reasons that were never exactly explained (but I think I can explain later on), but made good use of the delay by using the promise of previews to raise money for charity, with some quite dramatic success. Then when the new release came around, Wizards of the Coast failed to print enough.
Two other core rulebooks saw international release that was perfectly timed, and yet somehow completing the set proved too difficult?
Regulars of Dungeons & Dragons products, you may already have the same mantra as I have, “Love D&D, hate Wizard’s of the Coast.” Perhaps it’d be more accurate to focus that dislike onto Hasbro (the parent company) but either way infuriating decisions seem to be made at every turn when it comes to the worlds greatest RPG.
They may have printed fewer because there is somewhat less demand. After all, does a skilled player or DM need the DMG to run a game if they have the PHB for the general rules and MM for creatures, animals and characters? Simply put, yes! Traps, poisons, diseases, magic items, creature modification and creation, are all number-heavy game elements that require a great deal of balancing. It’s no small thing to try and reverse-engineer the maths behind the monsters just from the entries in the manual, having a guide is essential.
But here’s the thing: I have never seen a Dungeon Masters guide offer a more complete guide to re-creating the game, practically from the dice up. Advice on building anything and everything is included. Name an element of the game: monsters, magic items, even races, and (to a lesser extent) classes, including new examples of each, taken step-by-step through the design process. The race-creator was released as a preview, and I had a stab at creating the Bogeyman race, it was a throw-together cobbled from sporadic ideas but my group got a lot of enjoyment from that unique twist in spite of how over-powered Bogeymen turned out to be.
Where experienced DMs will require no help whatsoever is in the building of a world, it’s people and places, and stories. That’s our bread and butter, no matter what kind of DM you are, if you’re good, spinning a good tale comes as second nature. Even so, I’d advise veterans of any game system pick up a copy of the book if you have £30 lying around. Tables for everything! If you wanted to then you could procedurally generate an entire storyline. Roll up a city, roll up the buildings in the streets and everyone living there, from the palaces to the slums. There’s a dice table for every environment, the weather of every day, and maybe 30 tables for putting together fully fleshed out dungeons.
I may never choose to roll on any of those tables but it was a fight not to sit and write a campaign by just flicking through the pages, finally flesh out the setting I’ve been working on of the last month or two. It’s going to be a struggle to focus on the Super-Hero setting I’ve been working on for nearly three years.
Now here is the real kicker. Remember the biggest issue with the Monster Manual? It has finally been resolved, although granted in the wrong book. I got behind the rallying cry of people who wanted a list of creatures by Challenge Rating (a necessity for encounter building) and it looks like WotC listened. I suspect that the book was pushed back to get the list as an appendix, along with a list of creatures by terrain. That’s my theory, and I’m sticking to it because I’d rather not believe it could be any other reason than “They dun goofed.”
So, a final question from me: Was it worth the wait? Well frankly, no. The book is amazing, and maybe a few more months and some time to sit and play around with the content, but no matter how much I’m getting from the book now I’m still too conscious of how long I’ve had to wait and how much essential content I’ve been missing in the mean time. It’s worth the read, for sure, but if you’ve been waiting as long as I have, you have every right to be irritated.