I’m going to be a bit content light this week, as I’d like to spend more of my time reading and digesting the new books. Of course, I still have thoughts about what I’m reading and what follows is a collection of thoughts and ideas about what I’ve read so far.

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The books look nice! All right, so I’m not really impressed by art in general. And there are some pictures that are better than others. I think the selection of scenes is very appropriate, and the fact that it’s full color really helps. The result is that the books are nice to read and look at.

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I heartily second Martin of Gnome Stew’s impressions. Based on having skimmed most of it, I think DMG is really, really solid. I wouldn’t call the 3.x DMG useless, exactly; it had magic items and prestige classes, both of which are fairly important. But beyond that, it didn’t give much in the way of practical advice about running good D&D games.

The DMG does exactly that, and there’s much in there that’s applicable to any sort of roleplaying game. It has a section about types of players, how to entertain them, and how they can be problematic. There’s a write-up of the pros and cons of puzzles, with suggestions for various types. There are sections for running sub-genres of fantasy. I highly recommend it.

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I was curious as to whether they would omit key monsters from the MM in order to convince you to buy more. After flipping through the book, I didn’t notice any startling omissions. This is ultimately a good thing, I think, because people should get kobolds and the tarrasque and gelatinous cubes and ogres and beholders and hydras and liches in the core book.

On the other hand, if you look for ‘em, you’ll find some monsters that were in the 3.5 MM that aren’t in the 4e MM. Frost worms aren’t in, nor are iron golems. I guess they’re missing some dragons, but honestly I’m just tickled that dragons are actually usable now.

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No random magic items indeed! I had mixed feelings about this, as you might’ve guessed from previous posts. I think that, ultimately, I believe in a mixture of random and designed magic items so that PCs get interesting items I know they can use and that there’s also a mix of other strange items applicable to puzzles and problem-solving.

That said, I’m inclined to believe that this is worth the price of admission— as Chatty pointed out, it should be fairly simple to compile a list of treasure tables, and I’m sure someone’s going to do it sooner or later.

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There are only four at-will attacks for each class. I found this somewhat unexpected, and disappointing at the outset. The consequence is that encounter and daily abilities are how you customize your class, and in this, there’s a lot of room to play around with. Typically there are three or four abilities to choose from each time you level, and your choices at the heroic tier are fairly constrained.

Along those lines, if you’ve got a copy of the book, you should take some time to look at how various classes interact with builds. Which Warlock powers have pact-specific enchancements follows an interesting pattern, and likewise with Fighter abilities.

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Writing down powers and feats is the bane of one-shots. This is also true of monsters to a lesser extent.

I’m really going to need to come up with a good solution for either. Then again, for a long term game, it’s trivial for PCs to write this information down on their own.

It has not escaped my notice that a subscription to D&D Insider would make this problem go away. It annoys me somewhat that I would have to pay to take advantage of this solution. Is it tempting? Since I am planning on running at least one ongoing game and playing in another, hell yes it is tempting.

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I really like what basically all of the races give you. Elves might be my personal favorite. A movement speed of 7 is just too cool. And, in contrast to previous editions, I could easily see playing a Halfling.

One thing I do notice is that if you are playing against type, you are potentially forfeiting a lot. Tieflings really do make great Warlocks and Warlords, and trying to have one as a Fighter means your stats just won’t be good as, say, a Dwarf’s or Dragonborn’s.

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My favorite class so far? I have no idea! I would easily enjoy playing a Rogue, Ranger, Wizard, Fighter, or Paladin.

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All right, I really should get back to reading the DMG now.

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