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Boradorin's Library - Game Supplements - Dungeon Master's Kit
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Dungeon Master's Kit

Game Supplements
256; w/ DM screen, (2) 32-page adventures, 2 die-cut monster token sheets, (2) double-sided maps
$39.95
978-0-7869-5630-2
Roleplaying Games
2010
Game: 0008
User rating: / 
PoorBest 

Review

Dungeon Master's Kit [Click for larger image]Dungeon Mastering Made Easy

If you're a Dungeons & Dragons® player looking forward to your first experience as the Dungeon Master, this box contains everything you need to get  started plus expert advice on making your game the bestit can be.  Create monster-infested dungeons, gather your friends, and let  the fun begin.  In the Dungeons & Dragons world you create anything is possible—the only limit is your imagination!.

Contents

  • Dungeon Master's Book, containing everything you need to build and run exciting Dungeons & Dragons adventures
  • 2 books containing Reavers of Harkenwold™, a ready-to-play two-part adventure
  • 2 double-sided, foldout battle maps
  • 3 sheets of die-cut hero and monster tokens
  • Foldout, four-panel Dungeon Master's screen

Dungeon Master's Kit [Click for larger image]Goals

The most important goal for the Dungeon Master's Kit is to provide everything a new Dungeon Master (DM) needs to run the roleplaying game.

That’s a big deal, actually. It’s something the game has never really tried to do before.  In the past, being the DM always meant buying more stuff. If you were just playing a character in a game, you needed the Player's Handbook.  If you wanted to be the DM, you needed the Player's Handbook plus the Dungeon Master's Guide  and the Monster Manual.

Now it’s no longer additive.  If you’re a new player, you pick up one or both of the player books—Heroes of the Fallen Lands  or Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms.  If you’re a new DM, you instead pick up the Dungeon Master's Kit.

That said, the Dungeon Master's Kit  is still just a starting point.  You can run a game using nothing but the Dungeon Master's Kit  for a while—probably at least a couple of months.  But eventually a new DM will want to pick up the Monster Vault  and the Rules Compendium  for a more complete and enhanced experience.

I like to think of this in terms of dollars.  A new DM used to have a $105 buy-in to start running the game.  Now we’re offering a $40 buy-in to get you started.

Contents

What do you get with your buy-in, and can you really play for months with just that investment?

The box includes a 272-page digest-sized paperback book, two 32-page adventure books, two poster maps, two sheets of monster tokens, and a DM screen.  It might help to think in terms of three discrete chunks.

First is the DM book.  A fair amount of text in the book is material that also appears in the Dungeon Master's Guide.  That’s really just a case of not wanting to mess too much with a good thing.  The Dungeon Master's Guide presents a strong treatise on the art of Dungeon Mastering for new and experienced DMs alike, and we wanted to preserve as much of that information and advice as we could fit into the Dungeon Master's Kit.

But there’s more! The book also includes essential rules material, the information a DM needs to understand how to play as well as how to run  the game.  There’s a discussion of alignment and information about the good and unaligned deities (not just the evil ones).  There’s a section of streamlined combat rules that can help you run the game until you decide it’s time to pick up the Rules Compendium.  And there are magic items for you to give out as treasure.

There’s also some material that first appeared in Dungeon Master's Guide 2.  For example, that book had a really good section on building encounters that focused on encounters as a means for telling the story of the adventure.  It also included good advice for creating movement in encounters.  Those sections speak strongly to some fundamental issues of running the game, so we thought they deserved a place in the first stop for new DMs.

The second chunk is the adventure material, which includes the two adventure books, the two poster maps, and the monster tokens.  The adventure books are two parts of a single, grand adventure called Reavers of Harkenwold, written by Rich Baker.  It’s a complex adventure that, to my mind, really shows off what’s possible within the framework of an adventure.  This represents a pretty significant departure from the approach we took in the first Dungeon Master's Guide, where we presented a really basic, bare-bones adventure to help DMs wrap their minds around the facets of adventure design.  In contrast, I think both new and experienced DMs will be studying Reavers of Harkenwold for years to pick up ideas about how to build interesting, dynamic, story-rich adventures for their players.

The adventures are supported by the poster maps and token sheets.  You can play every combat encounter in the adventure using the poster maps and monster tokens, and a broad selection of tokens appropriate for player characters are included as well.

Let me emphasize that: The Dungeon Master's Kit  gives you everything you need to run the game except dice.  With this box, you don’t need to buy miniatures.  You don’t need a battle mat or Dungeon Tiles.  The box includes everything you need.

The last component is the DM screen.  This is a nice cardboard screen with updated tables on the inside and a familiar piece of art on the players’ side.  It’s not the same heavy stock as the deluxe screen, but it is a great starting point with lots of information in one easy-to-reference place.

So how much can you play with just the contents of this box?  Well, Reavers of Harkenwold  will keep your gaming group busy for roughly two months, assuming that you play for a couple of hours every week.  Once you’ve finished that adventure, you can use the poster maps and monster tokens to build your own adventures, but pretty soon you’ll want the new monsters (with accompanying tokens) provided in Monster Vault  and some way (such as the Dungeon Tiles Master Sets) to build your own battle maps.

—James Wyatt
(Dragon, Aug. 16, 2010, No. 390)


Ed Greenwood Presents Elminster's Forgotten RealmsForgotten Realms Campaign GuideMonster Vault:  Threat to the Nentir ValeNeverwinter Campaign SettingTomb of Horrors


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