|“|| The second of three core rulebooks for the 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons Roleplaying Game.
The Dungeons & Dragons Roleplaying Game has defined the medieval fantasy genre and the tabletop RPG industry for more than 30 years. In the D&D game, players create characters that band together to explore dungeons, slay monsters, and find treasure. The 4th Edition D&D rules offer the best possible play experience by presenting exciting character options, an elegant and robust rules system, and handy storytelling tools for the Dungeon Master.
The Dungeon Master's Guide gives the Dungeon Master helpful tools to build exciting encounters, adventures, and campaigns for the 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons Roleplaying Game, as well as advice for running great game sessions, ready-to-use traps and non-player characters, and more. In addition, it presents a fully detailed town that can serve as a starting point for any D&D game.
The 4th edition variant of the Dungeon Master's Guide, like previous variants, is aimed at providing "dungeon masters" - the rules referees and storytellers of the Dungeons & Dragons roleplaying game, with guidelines and rules for running their own games. This includes such basic details as to how to interact with players, how to balance player wishes with game rules, details on how to construct NPCs, and how to build encounters in a way that is balanced and rewarding for players. The Guide also provides DMs with background information on the core setting, such as the setting of the Nentir Vale and some of the cosmological details.
The book is divided into eleven chapters, as follow:
- How to Be a DM — This introductory section explains what the role of the dungeon master, or DM, is and what kind of roles to expect from players. The chapter also includes a section on how to exhibit good behavior as a DM and basics on roleplaying etiquette.
- Running the Game — This chapter focuses on the basics of running a game, such as starting a session up, tips on how to narrate, how to build good pacing, and what to do if things don't go quite as planned.
- Combat Encounters — This chapter includes the fundamentals on how to run a combat encounter, such as how to launch and encounter or details on how to build combat encounters around specialized terrain or circumstances.
- Building Encounters — This chapter, which acts as a complement to the previous one, explains how to build combat encounters, with a table for experience rewards gained from monsters, an explanation of the roles various monsters fulfill in combat, and how terrain or sensory conditions within the game universe might affect the encounter.
- Noncombat Encounters — Unlike the previous two chapters, this section explains how to build encounters in which combat is either not present or plays a minimal role. This includes an explanation of skill challenges as well as how to build puzzles, traps, or other hazards players have to overcome.
- Adventures — This chapter details how to either incorporate a prepublished adventure, such as Keep on the Shadowfell, or how to build one from scratch. Details include how to build quests, how to make encounters interesting and varied, how to incorporate NPCs, and how to build a thematic "personality" for an adventure.
- Rewards — Details on how to reward players for successful endeavors are listed here, from experience point rewards to more physical treasures their characters can use within the game.
- Campaigns' — This chapter focuses on campaigns, larger settings within which individual adventures are placed. This includes details on how to use preexisting campaign settings, such as the Forgotten Realms as well as how to build one's own campaign, be it a full-fledged campaign setting or merely a "superadventure." Other details include a more detailed explanation of the themes behind each leveled "tier" of play within the 4th edition ruleset.
- The World — This chapter focuses primarily on detailing the core setting of the 4th edition Dungeons and Dragons roleplaying game, dubbed "Points of Light." The details are sparse, allowing room for DMs to customize or expand and most are applicable to some degree to preexisting campaign settings, such as information on the planar cosmology, which includes a brief explanation of the fundamental and parallel planes. Also included is a listing of four artifacts: the Axe of the Dwarvish Lords, the Eye of Vecna, the Hand of Vecna, and the Invulnerable Coat of Arnd.
- The DM's Toolbox — This chapter is essentially a set of tables and rules for DMs hoping to build encounters or NPCs. The chapter includes rules for how to build run-of-the-mill monsters as well as more advanced NPCs, complete with NPC variants of the Player's Handbook classes. There is also an explanation for how to create "house rules" or customized rules that may or may not be compatible with the core ruleset and what goals a DM should aspire towards when making a house rule.
- Fallcrest — This chapter, written by Rich Baker, is a sample city for DMs to use or take inspiration from in their own campaigns. The city, Fallcrest, is located in the Nentir Vale.