Tag Archives: Dungeon Master’s Guide

Basic and Advanced—Was Advanced Dungeons & Dragons a different game? (Part 5)

Late in the spring of 1976, Gary Gygax started work on a complete revision of Dungeons & Dragons. In Gygax’s TSR office, he and collaborator Tim Kask cut up several old copies of the D&D rules—copies much like the one … Continue reading

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Basic and Advanced—the time Dungeons & Dragons split into two games (Part 1)

In the fall of 1977, I found a copy of the blue, Dungeons & Dragons Basic Set and devoured the rules. The game electrified me, but one thing also baffled me. The rules kept sending me to ADVANCED DUNGEONS & … Continue reading

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The fifth-edition Dungeon Master’s Guide joins the battle against excessive backstory

When I got my copy of the Dungeon Master’s Guide, I first looked at topics that overlap with posts I plan for this blog. If the DMG already said it, I will work on something else. Turns out, as good … Continue reading

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How I learned to care (a little) less about what PCs have in hand

Until the third edition of Dungeons & Dragons, players hardly worried about what their characters had in hand during battle. Since then, the game’s designers have tried and failed to free players from needing to keep track. What your character … Continue reading

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Character roles appear in 4th edition D&D, disappear in 5th

In original D&D, thieves ranked as the least effective character on the battlefield. However, when the party explored, thieves took the biggest role. Early D&D players spent most of their time exploring, so who cared if thieves only rarely saw … Continue reading

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Game masters guides fail to give perception enough attention

In the early days of Dungeons & Dragons, perception worked by a simple system: To find hidden objects, players said where they wanted to look, and the dungeon master said if something was there. This method has advantages: It rewards … Continue reading

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The brilliance of unrealistic hit points

(This post continues a discussion I started in “What does D&D have to do with ironclad ships?”) After the role-playing game hobby’s first 10 years, designers turned from strict realism and began to design rules that both supported a game’s … Continue reading

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Spinning a narrative around a skill challenge

(Part 5 of a series, which begins with Evolution of the skill challenge.) The Dungeon Master’s Guide 2’s example skill challenge shows the Dungeon Master responding to each success or failure in the traditional DM role─by telling the players what happens in the … Continue reading

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The Dungeon Master’s Guide 2 remakes the skill challenge

(Part 4 of a series, which begins with Evolution of the skill challenge.) Just a year after fourth edition’s debut, the Dungeon Master’s Guide 2 upended the original skill challenge. The new material makes just one specific revision to the original rules: … Continue reading

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Speed factor, weapon armor class adjustments, and skill challenges

(Part 3 of a series, which begins with Evolution of the skill challenge.) The first edition of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons included lots of rules that no one uses: weapon speed factor, weapon armor class adjustments. A little of that tradition lived … Continue reading

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