Review: Dungeon Master’s Kit

I’m behind the curve here, but whatever – I just bought it. Maybe you’re wondering if you should, too.

Maybe not, but its been a while without content, ya know?

I recently broke down and bought the DM’s kit. I had a 40% off coupon for Borders, and all they had that I was remotely interested in was either A) DM’s kit or B) Pathfinder Core Ruleset. Clearly, I made the wrong choice.

Before you ask – no, it didn’t occur to me to buy a “real” book.

I’m trying as hard as I can, and I can’t find any value in the product.

If you’re such a fan of D&D, why are you talking bad about it?

Right. I forgot. I promised to introduce a new staff member. I kinda lied. More like, I’m introducing an archetype – The Apologist. You know the type – they defend every boneheaded business decision and bad product WotC makes. These people exist for the following reasons:

  1. Being so invested in a hobby, it can be difficult to find any fault in it – for if any fault exists, it may mean the investment is a waste of time.
  2. There are people in this world that try to find the good in everything. I can’t relate, but they exist.
  3. ..and yes, WotC designers and developers are at cons, on twitter and on the VTT. Its cool to make a buddy list, and constructive criticism may work against that.

Whatever the reason, we need someone around here to balance out my negativity – hence, the appearance of The Apologist, who’ll pop up from time to time. PROTIP: You’re not necessarily a “troll” for being critical. Our hobby needs some honesty in it. Anyway, back to the review:

I bought the kit for two reasons:

  1. Whenever I’m wondering if something got updated from the DMG, I’ll first check the miles and miles of errata. Then I’ll ask Jason (or online) if X has been updated in the kit. This gets tiresome.
  2. One of my players asked what the best resource is to learn to DM. I couldn’t really tell him, since I hadn’t checked out the new stuff.

Thing is, everything I’d look up in the DMG, I now find in the Rules Compendium (which actually is a decent buy). Everything I used to look up in DMG2… is still in DMG2, and hasn’t been updated.

I figured maybe it would be good for someone new to DMing, and I can’t even say that about it. It comes with the updated DM screen – which is a much better layout than the old one, but this is the flimsy version. Spend the $10 and get the nicer one. The kit also comes with an adventure and corresponding tokens, and while it looks alright I don’t typically run stuff that long and I don’t think a new DM should a) run long adventures or b) go outside the first level or two til they’re comfortable with the system.

So what would I recommend a new DM? DMG1, DMG2, and Rules Compendium… and some time with white-out and a pen to update the vast amounts of errata. Oh, and ignore the DMG talking down to you in the first chapter. Granted, its not ideal – but the DM kit is so lacking. I’d also recommend talking to other DMs – most are happy to tell you their gaming philosophy. Cherry-pick theirs, and combine it with your own.

I’m not going to trash every product WotC comes out with – though I’ll trash Fortune Cards for as long as WotC sells them, and I’ll start trashing Heroes of Shadow before it even comes out. I’m not even down on Essentials as a whole… but there’s no reason to pick this up.

OMG! You’re trashing WotC!

No, I’m not – I even recommended a new DM spend more money on WotC stuff. This box, however, is a pass.


About Matt Savage

Matt Savage once had a torrid affair with a gelatinous cube.
This entry was posted in Essentials, Fortune Cards, Pathfinder. Bookmark the permalink.

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