Jul 28, 2009

Top 10 favorite TSR products, #1 Dungeon Master's Guide

Here we are, #1. Should be no surprise that it is the original Dungeon Master's Guide. I've mentioned before how this book was my first exposure to D&D. I had no understanding of how the game played but this book evoked a fantasy world and a mystery that intrigued me deeply.

Some of my favorite things were the explanations of unfamiliar words like milieu and campaign. Expert hirelings - for some reason the sage was interesting to me. Aerial combat. The sample dungeon! Stronghold construction and siege - something sadly lost in later editions. Artifacts, in particular Baba Yaga's hut and eye/hand of Vecna of course. Random Dungeon generation - which inspired Dungeoneer. The random city encounters table is particularly good. Alphabetical monster charts - which I'd read before ever seeing the Monster Manual. All those wonderful random charts in the back were inspiring and useful.

Then of course were those great illustrations. There is no honor among thieves. Darlene's scratchboard illustration on the page discussing infravision/ultravision. The guy trapped in a flooding room with the skeleton coming towards him. Sutherland's footer illustrations under the random dungeon generation pages. Emerikol the Chaotic!

This book still holds an enchantment on me and just looking at it stirs the imagination.


  1. I'm right there with you. Although I don't do lists or "good, better, best" (I like lots of different things, each for its own reason) this book was my intro to AD&D. Even before I had the Monster Manual, I was dropping monsters from the tables in the back of the DMG into my dungeons. I too loved the sage, and included one as a featured NPC in my home-brew dungeon, Fires of the Gorge. The vorpal sword - nonexistent in B/X - was the sword to have. And the Ring of Gaax was the artifact. (Probably because I had heard stories (indirectly) from my friend's older brother about how it had screwed over their party. And they were seniors - the Ring had to be an awesome item!)

    Thanks for reminding me of the magic the DMG brought into my life!

  2. I showed my better copy to a newish player and they were entirely unimpressed. I was confused until I realised that because it wasn't the edition she was GMing, it held little merit from a rules perspective. I am still confused, however why the NPC traits, Dungeon Dressings, and other Appendices didn't hold any interest for her.

    Kids these days...

  3. Back in my day we didn't have a rule for every situation. If we needed one we'd just make it up on the spot! Our 20 sided die had to be filled in with a crayon and only went up to 10 and had to double as a percentile die too! You kids have it so easy these days, everything handed to you on a silver platter...