December 5, 2014

It’s Good to be the Dungeon Master!

So with today’s random FedEx encounter, I get to officially close off what’s turned out to be probably the single busiest year of the ten-and-a-half years I’ve been freelancing for Wizards of the Coast. The Dungeon Master’s Guide is, of course, the third and last of the core rulebooks, and is the third and last of those books that I helped to edit.

Working on the 5th Edition core books involved pretty much exactly the amount of alpha-nerd awesomeness you’d expect. The team that put this edition together are an amazing group of people, from those I worked mostly closely with (including, on the DMG, James Wyatt, Jeremy Crawford, Chris Perkins, Michele Carter, and Greg Bilsland) to the developers and other editors who flailed away at the book (virtually) alongside me, to the entire R&D team going back to the D&D Next launch. It was, in the most real sense, a dream job, and will remain a singular highlight of the work I’ve done on D&D over the past decade, and of an overall experience of the game that goes back thirty-three years.

And of all the many amazing things that went into this book, and all of the many bits of rules work and story details and minutiae that I got to mess around with, clean up, tighten, double check, and massage as an editor on the Dungeon Master’s Guide, here’s what I’m most proud of right at this moment.

If you’re of that certain age that means you started off as a DM playing AD&D with the original Dungeon Master’s Guide from 1979 (as was I), you remember the random dungeon generation rules and the random dungeon dressing tables from that book. Those tables and the type of on-the-fly design they were built for are back in a big way in the 5e Dungeon Master’s Guide, which wholly embraces the philosophy that running a game can and should involve as much randomness as the way the game plays out at the table.

Now, I had absolutely nothing to do with the new edition embracing that philosophy; I’m just heavily on board with it, and highly appreciative of the R&D team deciding that it was high time that approach became a big part of the game again. But I was the one who got to make a change to the “General Furnishings and Appointments” table that I have literally wanted to make since 1981. Because I got to add to that table that a firkin is a small cask, and how much it holds.

(Yes, I know a firkin actually holds closer to 11 American gallons/9 Imperial gallons. One of the other things you get to do as an editor is round off.)

I did the same for the barrel, the butt, the cask, the hogshead, the keg, the pipe, and the tun. Because that’s how I roll. And so I bask tonight in the warm glow of knowing that an entire new generation of DMs can now play this game without going through the following, which may or may not be an actual conversation that happened:

“44… firkin. That’s, like, a miniature dagger, right?”

“I thought that was a bodkin.”

“No, that’s a leather jacket.”

“I thought a jerkin was a jacket.”

“That’s a type of pickle.”

“No, that’s a gherkin, dumbass.”

“Wait… what were we talking about again?”

And my job here is done.

(Archive post from the personal blog.)