Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Mentzer Basic Cover to Cover: Dungeon Masters Rulebook

Phase II of the Mentzer Basic Cover to Cover series commences!  Today, I start by looking at the companion volume of the Red Box, the Dungeon Masters Guide.  While the cover has the same trade dress and art as the box and the Players Manual, from the start the style and tone of the book is a bit different.  Rather than a tutorial to get you started playing, this book has more of a reference book feel to it.  Of course, there is a "DM's Tutorial" at the beginning of the book, but it reads as if Frank understood that DMs would need to refer back to useful bits, so it's organized and written a bit differently.  That being said, let's start in on the front matter.

The inside front cover provides this handy index of mapping symbols.  I loved this, and still use most of these symbols myself on my maps.  The symbols here also gave me inspiration about the sorts of things I could add to my dungeons to spice them up (compared to the sample dungeon in the DM tutorial).  Of course, I still have trouble "Jacquaying" my dungeons, but at least some of the ideas here make them a little less dull than just endless 10' wide corridors connecting to square or rectangular rooms.  This Key serves as a subtle learning tool, conserves space by utilizing the inside cover, and is in a convenient location for repeated reference.

The Preface to this book is short and to the point.  If you just want to be a player, don't read this book.  If you're interested in being the DM, and you've read the Players Manual already, then "WELCOME!" [all caps in original]  Luckily, Frank does give us a bit of explanation why players shouldn't read this book, at least not yet.
"You will have less fun playing if you learn the information ahead of time!  A big part of the game is the mystery and excitement that comes from not knowing all the answers." [emphasis in original]
Next to that, we have the Table of Contents.  Again, I'll add hyperlinks to these sections as I cover them in various articles so this post can serve as a hub for the series.

 That looks really long, and it is long all typed out, but don't worry, faithful readers.  Most of the sections are really short, so I'll cover multiple entries on the TOC in one post.  Of course, a few single entries might get multiple posts, like the monster listings and magic item descriptions.  Hopefully I'll be a bit more dedicated to the series of posts this year.  If I don't lollygag, I may even get to start the Mentzer Expert Cover to Cover this year!