Dungeons and Dragons Essentials Dungeons Master’s Kit
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  • Were I to partake in a game of Dungeons and Dragons , I believe that I would make a better player than a dungeon master
  • Frankly, I would have liked more of that as I think it is more helpful to people who might be intimidated by the task
  • Most DM's would agree that you can never have too many maps
  • Traditionally, the DM is supposed to draw it all out, but this is much quicker and actually makes for a more immersive experience


by David Finniss

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    Were I to partake in a game of “Dungeons and Dragons”, I believe that I would make a better player than a dungeon master. As such, I do get some enjoyment skimming through the player’s books and imagining what sort of characters I would create. That being said, like a coin, the game has two sides, and the dungeons master is essential (heh) in order to make for an effective game.

  • Dungeons and Dragons Essentials Dungeons Master's Kit
  • While DMing seems like a daunting task, I have to admit that they do get the cooler stuff. Rather than just get a simple book, they get box sets with all sorts of gear to help make the campaign more immersive.

    The first box set is the aptly named “Dungeon Master’s Kit”. It comes with a book, but also features character/monster tokens, a 2-part adventure, maps, and a DM screen.

  • Dungeons and Dragons Essentials Dungeons Master's Kit
  • Alas, the book itself isn’t much to write home about. Much like the the two “Heroes” books, this one devotes a lot of page time to the rules. Now, you could argue that the DM needs to know the rules. This is 100% true, but keep in mind that the rules compendium already exists, so it too falls into the “redundant” trap.

    It’s especially glaring as, if you skim through the original fourth edition dungeon master’s book, it does a much better job of giving you creative prompts to help you build a world and set up exciting adventures.

    That’s not to say that the book is completely devoid of that. There is a section that gives example locales and another that talks about improvisation. Frankly, I would have liked more of that as I think it is more helpful to people who might be intimidated by the task.

  • Dungeons and Dragons Essentials Dungeons Master's Kit
  • As noted, though, this comes with much more than just a book. For those who want to “pick up and play”, the box comes with a 2 part adventure so that people who are new to DMing can get their feet wet.

    It gives background information and details about various NPCs, as well as encounter and setting descriptions.

    The cool thing about material like this is that it’s rather flexible. Even if you don’t run the adventure verbatim, you can cherry pick the stuff you like and work it into your own campaign if you prefer to build your own world. Oddly enough, were I to DM, that is the approach I would take. I kind of feel like this has a higher risk of railroading the players as the DM wouldn’t want to veer too far off course.

    One other benefit, though, is the fact that the story knows no edition. Even if you are more partial to the more current fifth edition rule set, or the older AD&D, you could modify this and run it under that system.

    Technically, the adventure is set to get players from level 2 to 3, but you could just as easily have the players start at level 1. It would, theoretically lead to tougher encounters but it would also help negate the criticism that 4e players are too overpowered.

  • Dungeons and Dragons Essentials Dungeons Master's Kit
  • In addition to the adventure itself, the kit comes with sets of maps that allow the players to explore the various areas. Obviously, the maps correspond to the adventure, however the DM is not beholden to it. If they want to use the maps for something else, that option is obviously a possibility.

    This is something that gives the kit value, even if you’re not a fan of the system. Most DM’s would agree that you can never have too many maps. Traditionally, the DM is supposed to draw it all out, but this is much quicker and actually makes for a more immersive experience.

    I also rather like the DM screen. You wouldn’t think that it would be a selling point, but the artwork featured on the outside is quite good. The interior also has a handy set of tables that the DM can reference for skill checks, traps, and the result of various status effects. It helps keep the game flowing as people don’t have to keep flipping through the books and it also helps DM’s come up with things on the fly.

  • Dungeons and Dragons Essentials Dungeons Master's Kit
  • The kit’s material closes with a few sets of tokens. Most of them are character based, but there are a handful of monster tokens as well. It makes sense as most of the monster tokens are included in the monster vault, but it’s still a nice inclusion.

    If there’s one thing this kit needed, it was a set of dice. For reasons beyond my understanding, they decided to make an entirely separate box for the dice. It seems like it would have been so much easier, both for distributors and players, if they had consolidated it and just put a bag of dice in the box. There’s plenty of room, but that’s just armchair quarterbacking.

    All in all, this is a solid set. You get a lot of stuff for a rather decent price. It also has perks for DMs who prefer different systems, giving it more long term value than the player’s material. There are things I would have done differently, but the pros outweigh the cons. If you were considering running a campaign, this gives you everything you need to get started.



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The review was published as it's written by reviewer in May, 2016. The reviewer certified that no compensation was received from the reviewed item producer, trademark owner or any other institution, related with the item reviewed. The site is not responsible for the mistakes made. 2824051654320731/k2311a0524/5.24.16
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