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on 12 June 2008
-->Old School D&D Dungeon Master here, 22 years of being Evil DM (tm) to players' characters, lol ;)

Despite what some say, I think 4th ed is brilliant, a much needed kick up the backside. hehe
3.5 ed was far too complex. Great simulation, lousy gaming for the DM because, as the game's prime story teller and umpire, the complexity just made my role no damn fun :(
3.5 is better left to a computer to run that amount of dice checks (like the Temple of Elemental Evil PC game)

I ridiculed game systems like RuneMaster for over complexity, years ago, and it's what D&D turned into with 3.5 ed....ARG!!

So, 4th ed is deliberate attmept to get rid of that complexity and put FUN back...and it does it! this is the best version for new players. *All* Classes are fun, not just the spell casters.

The DMG doesn't have magic items, except artifacts. RIghtly, "gear" is put in the Player's Handbook, leaving the DMG ot be filled with stuff on HOW ot DM!

Remember folks, most people have never DMed...so how are they supposed to learn? Thus, do not knock the simplicity.

4th ed is a far more tactical and varied game than 3.5, by a long shot.
Roleplaying has not reduced because roleplaying is not about dice rolls!
If you need Social skill checks, 4th ed has them: Diplomacy, Streetwise, Insight, Bluff.

D&D needs new players if it is to live and grow, so note that, grognards ;)So, this is a big, and well done step.

my only concern so far are some backstory changes (see Driders and Inevitables in the monster manual, ick!), and this first run of books have some pages that can smear, oddly enough.

I rate it 5 pints of Dwarven ale! :)
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on 22 June 2008
Ive played D&D since 1981 when i first started playing basic at High School. Although the rules are now completely different to anything that has gone before the concepts are still there- races, classes, AC, hit points etc.

What this DMG does better than any is actually tell you how to be a DM. Very little is provided in the way of extra rules something that 3.5 and earlier seemed to do - new book yet more rules to learn ! 4th Edition has gone down the route of helping new DMs get to grips with actually running games and designing adventures - i personally think this book has stuff for both old and new DMs alike.

Thoroughly recommended ever for an old timer like myself who was getting jaded !
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I agree in part with a couple of the other reviews here. The new DM's guide is crammed full of information about the Dungeon Master's craft; how to maintain interest, write good campaign narratives and create well rounded locations. Where I disagree with the other reviews is that they believe this book worthy of 5 stars.

If you have NEVER been involved in the game before, then this book might just scrape 5/5 but if you have been playing D&D for a long time then this is just money for old rope; there is going to be very little of worth to you on these beautifully rendered pages. There is almost no expansion on the rules outlined in the Players Handbook; this is both good, as it can save you some money and bad, because some things in the PH, just weren't very clear. The only thing that might be useful is the small adventure at the back, which would give you a chance to test out the new rules. To be honsest you might as well purchase 'Keep of the Shadowfell' (The New 4th Ed Adventure) and get a much bigger adventure for less money; you could run it easily without this book.

So in short, If you've never DM'd in your life this book is excellent. If you have, don't bother; you can find all its hints for good DMing on the internet.
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on 31 January 2009
I DM a 4th edition D&D session weekly so this is one of the three essential books (the other two are the players handbook and the monster manual). For your first experience just add dice, H1 Keep on the Shadowfell and a few packs of figures (you need something for kobold, goblins and undead as well as the players). Great fun. My only tiny criticism is that the pages feel very thin and might get ripped, but so far I've kept mine undamaged.
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on 2 July 2008
If I were to try to count how many times I have picked up an RPG book and read a "gamesmastering" chapter I would quickly run out of fingers, toes, and other extremities on which to keep score. Since this product is essentially a gamesmastering chapter stretched accross two hundred and some pages I could be forgiven for having low expectations. Thankfully, for all involved, this may be the best basic guide to roleplaying games I have ever read.

Like the Players Handbook this edition of the DMG is in many ways different from previous versions. Magic Items are, for the most part, considered a character resource so have been shipped out to the PHB. To be frank the magic items chapter was always the DMGs big selling point, so what does this 4th Edition book offer? Well, it offers concise and clear guidance on any number of aspects of running a game of D&D from keeping players happy when they have different motivations, to dealing with problem players, to stuff we all take for granted like fudging the odd die roll. It contains excellent guidance on building balanced encounters and rewarding the characters appropriately, if I were to run a a game of D&D then that section would be much referenced. The rules for adapting existing monsters and building new ones is also clear (and consistent with the Monster Manual)- something I've always struggled with in the past. The section on artefacts is well written, although I would have liked more examples, and the sample town near the end is loaded with plot ideas. Finally there's a short little adventure at the end that looks like a fun romp. Kobolds are tricky little buggers in this new 4th Edition and a clever DM could make a party really hate them and their "Shifty" ability.

Now I understand the criticism that this very fundamental guide to running games may be of limited value to an experienced DM and I accept that as being absolutely true. However this book is aimed at new DMs as well as the experienced ones and they will find those sections invaluable. Addtitionally I have to add that, although there was very little in the early sections that was new to me, I absolutely enjoyed reading the whole book. The later chapters where things get a bit more crunchy are worth the cost alone. So yes, its simple and yes, the "I've been playing since Gary Gygax was in kindergarten" brigade may feel short changed, but read and enjoy the best basic guide to D&D ever produced.
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on 23 May 2009
This is a great DMG, especially for new DMs. It requires a good read, because some worthwhile statements are somewhat hidden and not bolded or highlighted. Overall it stimulates creativity in DMs, which I found lacking in all previous editions, in which the DMG was more a book in which the designers warned you not to go too far away from their vision. This DMG empowers the DM!
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on 4 December 2011
Seriously, I love the whole D&D thing, but the rumours in the RPG industry is that WoTC have 're-employed' Monte Cook, who helped write 3rd edition to work on the 5th Edition.

This means that if you purchase the three Core Rule Books for someone this year for Christmas they may well end up owning something that the company doesn't support. The release date is VERY hush-hush but 5th Edition is well on its way - it could be next year or the year after.

Personally, I'd get them the Paizo published Pathfinder RPG - it's well supported with loads of supplements, sourcebooks, Adventure Paths and Modules. Don't get me wrong, I started with D&D, but somewhere WoTC lost their way.....
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on 26 December 2011
For a long time I didn't want to switch to 4e cause of the talk about it being worse than 3.5, but after all I'm very happy I did. For those who are happy with the 3.5 ruleset, there is no reason to change it, but those who want a faster paced combat and less out of combat trouble with resting, restocking and all that, will really apreciate 4e.

The book came in excellent condition, right on time.
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on 11 June 2008
For a disclaimer and a little background please take a look at my review of the Players Handbook, it's OK, I can wait here...
Back now? Ok good. :)
Production and so on are as good as the PHB, so pretty good, still don't like the style of the artwork though. :)
The content however is, well, there is a lot there for novice DM's, an awful lot, but it's all 'fluff' some of the things that were covered with helpful tables under old editions, and I'm thinking here of settlement generation, are dismissed in a few paragraphs of generalised advice, some tables would have been nice.
Then again that seems to conflict with their 'the world is just the place between dungeons' feel that pervades this new edition.
The section on traps is nice, and very complete, an improvement on the old section, and thee system for resolving skill based encounters is interesting, if a little simplistic, again I get the feeling they expect you to resolve things by force.
The section on treasure however seems needlessly complicated, and again could REALLY benefit from a couple of extra tables rather than a less than handy thumbnail guide stuck in a paragraph.
I'm pretty certain the combat will play well, but then it does seem now to be the be all and end all of the game.
(I wonder if the adventures will come with pre programmed responses for the NPC's, labelled ABC.)
Frankly important for the treasure rules, and XP, but frankly not really 'crunchy' enough for the veterans among us.
(If I don't know how to make a game fun after 30 years I doubt this book will help)
Caveat. There are ALWAYS new tricks in storytelling to learn, there are a couple in here I hadn't really considered....
Good in parts
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on 19 August 2011
From my point of view, the two first chapters are quite cross-sectional to any task that involves coaching and group decisions. The rest is quite useful for running a well done D&D 4th Ed. adventure. I won't say it's a must if you as I myself have run a D&D game before, but I think it's worth to take a look at it.
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