Last Updated on October 26, 2023
The Dungeon Master’s Guide is a foundational resource for aspiring DMs.
It includes the core rules of the game – everything a Dungeon Master needs to get started.
While you can absolutely play D&D without it, for me it’s one of the few must-haves. Highly recommended.
What Is the 5e Dungeon Master’s Guide?
The 5e Dungeon Master’s Guide, commonly referred to as the DMG, is one of the core rulebooks of Fifth Edition Dungeons and Dragons. Released by Wizards of the Coast, this book sets itself up as the authority on guiding new and old DMs alike through the rules of 5e.
Essentially, the DMG provides rules and guidelines for how to run the game while also constantly reminding the DM that the final decision rests with them, their players, and the creative, collaborative process that drives the game.
If you’re already a player, you’ll know what works best for you and your group. The DMG is a great physical reference book to have at the table.
Most players I know will search up specific rules online, just because that might be quicker. I do that too but I always have this book and the Players Handbook available.
The other reason to look online is so sites like ours can expand on what the DMG is laying out and give our experiences for you to consider.
What Comes With the Dungeon Master’s Guide?
The DMG includes a lot of content. Since this is really meant to be the only book a Dungeon Master ever needs to buy, it’s full of answers to all sorts of questions from “How do I make my players roll dice?” to “How do I create my own multiversal campaign setting?”
Fortunately, this is all broken down into easy-to-manage chapters in even easier-to-manage parts. The three parts are as follows:
- Part 1: Master of Worlds (Chapters 1-2) – This teaches DMs how to build worlds, whether you’re creating something from scratch or simply running a pre-built adventure.
- Part 2: Master of Adventures (Chapters 3-7) – Being a Dungeon Master means guiding your players through adventures, and that means understanding elements like NPCs, dungeons, encounters, rewards, and more.
- Part 3: Master of Rules (Chapters 8-9) – As the “Master of Rules,” Dungeon Masters are the arbiters of D&D. To make decisions, you’ll need to not only understand the basic rules but also how to make a ruling on the spot. This section guides you through all of that.
Within these sections, each chapter breaks it down into a more specific set of rules and advice. Here are the chapters and specific content you can expect if you pick up this book:
- A World of Your Own – The basics of creating a D&D setting.
- Creating a Multiverse – How to incorporate the multiverse and planes in your D&D setting.
- Creating Adventures – A guide to understanding what an adventure is and how you can run and create one.
- Creating Nonplayer Characters – All sorts of NPC advice from monsters and villains to hirelings and rivals.
- Adventure Environments – More precise setting advice. This section teaches you what a world looks like while you’re adventuring within it.
- Between Adventures – Teaches you how to deal with downtime.
- Treasure – A compendium of magical items along with advice on how to divvy them out.
- Running the Game – THE MOST IMPORTANT SECTION OF THIS ENTIRE BOOK. The actual rules themselves.
- Dungeon Master’s Workshop – How to create everything you could ever want to create, so this can truly be the last D&D book you ever buy.
Is It Worth Getting the Dungeon Master’s Guide?
In my opinion, yes. This is a cornerstone of the game. You can find all the information online, and that’s what we do here at Black Citadel, but I always want a physical book.
The Dungeon Master’s Guide is an incredible resource and is definitely an investment.
Still, at the end of the day, nothing put out by WotC is “essential.” Even the so-called “Essentials Kit” isn’t necessary. What really matters is that you have some people excited to sit down and create a story together. From there, you can pretty much make up the rules on your own or lean on the incredible community for advice.
Be sure to check out our full guide to 5e books here.
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As a kid, I was often told to get my head out of the clouds and to stop living in a fantasy world. That never really jived with me, so I decided to make a living out of games, stories, and all sorts of fantastical works. Now, as an adult, I aspire to remind people that sometimes a little bit of fantasy is all you need when life gets to be too much.