First off the author leap into creating and detailing Dungeons. They have advice and tables for Dungeon Location, Who created the Dungeon, The purpose of the Dungeon, and a table for Key Events in the Dungeon's history. The authors go on to talk about the inhabitants of the dungeons, factions, and ecology. They have some interesting advice on encounter difficulty, suggesting that the referee should mix it up rather than slavishly follow the idea of deeper levels are more dangerous.
Then the authors get into Mapping a Dungeon. Features like Walls, Doors, Secret Doors, Concealed Doors, Portcullises, Darkness, Light, Air Quality and Sounds. Whew while it only one or two paragraph of advice per items it pretty comprehensive. There is a nice sample of a basic Dungeon Map on page 103. The dungeon section ends up with Dungeon Hazards which include Brown Mold, Green Slime, Webs, Yellow and Mold,
The next major section is Wilderness. The author outline two broad approaches to Wilderness travel, Travel-Montage Approach, and Hour-by-Hour Approach. They give the pros and cons of each and advice on how to do either way well. I think it is a great section and really shows off how the DMG is trying to be omnibus of a variety of play styles rather than presenting the one true way.
Mapping the Wilderness is the next section. The authors talk about Movement on the Map along with various Wilderness features. These features include Monster Lair, Monuments, Settlements, Strongholds, and Weird Locales. There are tables for Monuments and Weird Locales.
Next the authors discuss what is perhaps my friends favorite sections the Harn Wea... errr Wilderness Survival. Of course it starts off with the weather. Has tables for temperature, wind , and precipitation. Interestingly the authors do something different with temperature. You roll and get a number that plus or minus from the seasonal average. I think it is a good idea especially for those referee who don't want to go into great deal about the weather.
The authors go on to talks about how to handle Extreme Cold, Extreme Heat, Strong Winds, and Heavy Precipitation. The mechanics revolving around making saving throws or suffer levels of exhaustion which can be found on page 291 of the PHB. There also a short section on High Altitude. Its main mechanic is that you can only go half as far before gaining exhaustion. Simple and straight forward. Various Wilderness Hazards are then described like Desecrated Ground, Frigid Water, Quicksand, Raazorvine, Slippery Ice, and Thin Ice.
Next is a section on Forage for Food and Water. You roll Survival twice versus a DC depending on the terrain. If you succeed you find 1d6 + wisdom bonus lbs of food or gallons of waters. A little different than usable but like the other mechanics it is short, simple, and too the point. I am glad they didn't come up with something abstract and opted for lbs and gallons, Finally winds up with Becoming Lost. Again it is a Wisdom Survival check versus a DC 15 or head off in the wrong direction.
The authors then start talking about Settlement. It is mostly a bunch of random table. Interestingly they state you need now the size of the settlement and its government. I think that that the way to go as it is near impossible to come up with a Traveller style system of populating a overland map with settlements. The tables that are included are Race Relations, Ruler's Status, Notable Traits, What the settlement is known for, and Current Calamity.
After this section comes a part on generating random building. It not for making a settlement on the fly. Rather it for those times when a PC is chasing somebody, or need to evade a pursuer, or just pops into a random building for no particular reason. The tables helps the referee figure out what the building is and what it contains. There are tables for Building Type and sub tables for Residences, Religious Building, Taverns (and Tavern Names), Warehouse, and Shops. Next is some advice on Mapping a Settlement.
On Page 115 is full page overhead shot of a wall town, one of the many useful illustrations that a referee can scan and make use of. Just prior to this picture is a section on Urban Encounters including a sample table using the d12+d8 system introduced earlier. It then talke briefly aobut each result from the table giving ideas and suggestions.
After the authors go on to describe Unusual Environments like Underwater, and The Sea. Both have random encounter tables to use. Underwater has notes on swimming and visibility. The Sea has notes on Navigation, Weather, Visibility and Owning a Ship. It pretty basic but there is just enough details to use a foundation for a sea faring campaign. Stats are given for cost, speed, crew, passengers, Cargo (in tons), AC, Hit Points, and Damage Threshold. There also a airship on the table. This section wraps with notes on traveling through the sky.
Next is a section full of advice on everybody favorite type of hazard, traps. There is advice on triggering a trap, detecting/disabling a trap, trap effects with tables, and complex traps. Traps are rated to whether they cause a setback, dangerous, or deadly. From that you get the Save DC, Attack Bonus for the trap. The damage is also cross indexed with the character level. Where this section shines is in the sample tables. Seven traps described in detail. These include Collapsing Roof, Falling Net, Fire-Breathing Statue, Pits (Locking and spiked variety as well), Poison Darts, Poison Needle, Rolling Sphere (cue Indiana Jones Themes) and last everybody favorite from the Tomb of Horrors the Sphere of Annihilation including a variant where a charm is on the trap to compel creatures to crawl in. And that wraps it up for Chapter 5.
Chapter 6 is about what happens between Adventures. The authors feel is not only important to have adventures but to fill up the time in between the adventures to give the campaign a natural ebb and flow.
The authors start off talking about Linking Adventures with advice on Using an Overarching Story, Planting Adventure Seeds, and Foreshadowing. Next advice is given on Campaign Tracking and the different ways you can keep track of the details including a Planner, Notes, Handouts, Calendar and Adventure Logs.
The next two section are probably the one that many will look at in this section. First is recurring expenses. It builds on the Lifestyle expenses found on page 157 of the PHB by presenting more options for the PCs to spend their hard won gold on. This is in form of a table detailing Maintenance Costs. Each type of item has the Total Cost per day, the number of skilled hirelings and untrained hirelings you will need to pay for using the service table on page 159 of the PHB. Items include things like Abbey, Farm, Guildhall, Inn rural, Inn town, Keep, Hunting Lodge, Noble Estate, Outpost, Palace, Shop, different sizes of temples, Tower, and Trading Post. The section goes on to note that some of these include soldiers or guards as part of the skilled hireling totals. Like the section on ships this is not overly detailed. While some may find it simplistic most will be happy with this level of detail.
The next section details Downtime Activities. You can do things other just spend your gold. Well some of the activities still involve spending gold but in a interesting way. First up is Building a Stronghold. The able list the construction cost and construction time of the items on the Maintenance Cost table. Next is Carousing! Really want nothing to show for your gold than a good time. Then use the Carousing table. The result range from being jailed to winning even more gold from gambling.
A section inspiring debates since the release of OD&D is crafting magic items. Yup the 5e DMG has rules for making your own magic item. Like the other systems presents thus far it is pretty simple. A magic items is common, uncommon, rare, very rare, or legendary. Each level has a escalating creation cost (from 100 gp to 500,000 gp) and a minimum levels (common is 3rd, legendary is 17th). The time to make these bad boys is 25 gp per day per character. So if you want to make a legendary class MI yourself we are talking 20,000 days or 55 years. A common items will take four days to make yourself.
Next you can use your downtime to gain renown in your organization, perform sacred rites, run a business and, gasp!, sell your magic items. Other actitives include Sowing Rumors and something from all the way back from ADnD 1st edition training to gain levels.
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Gaining Renown is about how many days you have to spend in doing mundane activities for your organization. If you spend at least 10 days performing sacred rites you gain inspiration for 2d6 game days. Running a Business involves rolling a d100 adding the number of days you spent at the business (max 30) and looking up the result. You could pay 1 1/2 times the maintenance cost or make a profit of up to 50 gp per 30 days.
Selling a magic items involves looking up the item's rarity and finding not only the base prices but how many days it takes to find a buyer. The item's rarity also acts as a modifier on the selling chart which determines how much you get offered for it. The more rare the item the less likely somebody can pay full price.
Sowing a Rumor gives advice on why this may be useful and a table to use to see how long it takes to get a rumor going. The larger the settlement the longer it takes. Training to gain levels starts with 10 days and 20 gp at 1st to 4th level to 40 days and 80 gp at 17th to 20th level. Finally this section ends up with a section on creating your own downtime activities.
This section is pretty darn good on multiple levels. First all of this stuff can be ignored. But if used doesn't require looking up tons of modifiers and mechanics. Last it easily expandable into something more detailed for the few who want that type of thing in their campaign. I can see people coming up with alternative tables or tables for specific businesses.
Next we wind up Master of Adventures with Chapter 7 treasure.
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