The Dungeons & Dragons Dungeon Master's Guide: Roleplaying Game Core Rules, 4th Edition, commonly known as the 4E Dungeon Master's Guide (often abbreviated as "DMG", or as "DMG1", in order to distinguish it from the upcoming "DMG2", or Dungeon Master's Guide 2), is a dungeon master-oriented book, as its title suggests. It presents a wide range of advice for dungeon masters of all skill levels. Because it also includes discussions of how to handle uncommon game and rules situations, the Dungeon Master's Guide is generally considered to be a useful tool to have on hand during play. Along with the Player's Handbook and Monster Manual, the Dungeon Master's Guide is one of the three "main" or "core" rulebooks upon which all official 4E D&D material is based.
The DMG explains how to create and tell a compelling story within the context of D&D, and how to plan and create encounters, adventures, campaigns, and settings. It also details the sample town of Fallcrest, elaborates upon the specific natures of the evil deities, describes templates to modify existing NPCs and monsters, and includes a brief description of the core D&D cosmology, as well detailing a variety of noncombat challenges and nonstandard combat set-ups, such as skill challenges, traps, and hazards. The DMG also introduces specific poisons, and powerful, story-driven magic items called "artifacts", which are described in the section below.
The Dungeon Master's Guide was released in North America on 6 June 2008, both singly and as a part of the Dungeons & Dragons Core Rulebook Gift Set, 4th Edition. A "deluxe" version of the Dungeon Master's Guide was released on 21 October 2008, boasting enhanced-quality binding, but no significant rules differences.
Optimization-Relevant Material Presented in the Dungeon Master's Guide Edit
Because it is explicitly a dungeon master-oriented product, the Dungeon Master's Guide contains very few rules elements useful to optimizers. However, it does contain a few elements which some players might find interesting, including various poisons (page 51) and artifacts (page 164).
The Dungeon Master's Guide introduces four artifacts, each one a powerful magic item with its own goals and intentions. All artifacts grant a number of properties and powers beyond what a normal magic item does. These properties can be beneficial or harmful to the bearer of the artifact, depending upon whether or not the bearer's goals are aligned with the artifact's.
- Axe of the Dwarvish Lords -- Epic level; +5 thundering greataxe. Goals include protecting dwarves, inspiring honorable people to do good, and slaying goblins and giants.
- Eye of Vecna -- Paragon level; Head-slot item. Goals include the pursuit of secrets and arcane power, furthering the agenda of the evil deity Vecna, and reuniting with a related artifact called "The Hand of Vecna".
- Hand of Vecna -- Paragon level; Hand-slot item. Goals include the pursuit of secrets and arcane power, furthering the agenda of the evil deity Vecna, and reuniting with a related artifact called "The Eye of Vecna".
- (Note that while the Eye of Vecna and the Hand of Vecna are closely related in terms of origin and goals, each artifact grants different properties and powers.)
- Invulnerable Coat of Arnd -- Heroic level; +2 chainmail armor. Goals include fostering legendary bravery and heroism, proving itself against formidable foes and obstacles, and overthrowing tyrants.