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Reviews of 'Dungeon Master's Guide: Core Rulebook II'

Dungeon Master's Guide: Core Rulebook II

by Jonathan Tweet, Monte Cook, Skip Williams
D&D 3.5 Core Books, Volume 2


Reviews of 'Dungeon Master's Guide: Core Rulebook II'

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Reviewer: Matt

Rating: Stars

When you pick up the 3.5 edition of the Player's Handbook, at first glance it doesn't appear to be significantly different from the original 3rd edition release of the book, except for the new cover artwork. The same can't be said for the new edition of the Dungeon Master's Guide. The 3.5 DMG is 64 pages thicker than its previous incarnation, and it has been completely reworked to better reflect the needs of the many DMs who use its pages.

In addition to the extra pages, the new DMG has undergone a complete reorganization. The chapters on DM'ing the game, world building and rewards are gone—the rules are still there, but have since been folded into the new organizational structure of the 3.5 edition. The book begins with a chapter on running the game, followed by a chapter on using the rules, and then jumps into adventures, NPCs, campaigns, character creation and modification, magic items, and a glossary.

The section that got the most new content in the new DMG is the section on prestige classes. In addition to the Arcane Archer, Assassin, Blackguard, and others that appeared in the initial version of the DMG, the 3.5 DMG includes ten new prestige classes. The new prestige classes are as follows: Arcane Trickster, Archmage, Dragon Disciple, Duelist, Eldritch Knight, Heirophant, Horizon Walker, Mystic Theurge, Red Wizard (borrowed from the Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting), and the Thaumaturgist. The new PRCs offer some additional options for the standard character classes. I particularly like the special abilities of the Archmage and how they can trade spell slots for special magical abilities. The Heirophant for high-level clerics and the Dragon Disciple (for those characters who wish to add the half-dragon template to their characters once they achieve 10th level in the prestige class) are also unique options for characters.

Another addition to the new DMG is a short section that details adventuring and character progression for those characters that have advanced beyond 20th level. The information here is taken from the Epic Level Handbook, but only the most basic rules regarding changes to the core classes are covered, as well as basic rules for experience, awards, and a handful of epic feats. The epic level section provides enough information for a DM to be able to run a campaign for characters that have crossed the boundary from standard to epic level. However, the small section in the DMG is obviously designed as an introduction to rather than a replacement for the complete Epic Level Handbook—it's enough to get started, but serious DMs should purchase the handbook.

An entirely new feature in the DMG is the inclusion of dungeon maps and map items in the back of the book. There is a foldout map which can be used for random dungeon generation or in a pinch if the DM needs a 5-foot-grid for a battle. In addition, there are cutouts of common dungeon items (pits, traps, doors, treasure, etc.) that can be placed on the maps to add a bit of character to the dungeon. The maps and placeable items are intended for photocopying, but the black background may use a bit too much toner to be entirely practical.

The DMG's appendix also includes several pages of grid diagrams that show various areas and the areas of effect that are represented by them as a quick reference for the DM when a player decides to use the fireball spell. These supplement the additional diagrams and re-worked and easier to read tables present throughout the book to better reflect the tasks that the DM commonly needs to perform.

All in all, the new Dungeon Master's Guide is a good addition to your collection, with enough materials added, revised, and included from other sourcebooks to make it worth your while. If you already own a number of the additional 3.0 sourcebooks, then the new DMG will contain less "new" information. Still, with all of the changes to the 3.5 edition of Dungeons & Dragons, the Dungeon Master's Guide deserves more than simply a cursory look.


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