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Dungeon Master’s Guide II scores critical sales

June 2nd, 2005: Allan Sugarbaker says...
Dungeon Master’s Guide II scores critical sales

It would seem there’s considerable excitement about WotC‘s next rulebook for D&D 3.5, the impressively-titled Dungeon Master’s Guide II. According to the company, orders from the hobby market are already so strong that DMG II will be the biggest release ever for the game (aside from the core rulebooks). Industry favorites such as Jesse Decker and Robin Laws developed the nearly 300-page tome, which is the first DMG sequel to be created for any iteration of the D&D game system.

Wizards of the Coast press release follows:

A Sequel With No Equal: Dungeon Master’s Guide™ II

The Dungeon Master’s Guide™ II comes out this month, and distributor orders for this book have been tremendous. With the exception of the Monster Manuals, the Dungeon Master’s Guide™ II is the first-ever sequel to a core book in any edition of D&D.

The Dungeon Master’s Guide™ II is a follow-up to the Dungeon Master’s Guide, designed to aid Dungeon Masters and reduce game preparation time. The Dungeon Master’s Guide™ II builds upon existing materials in the Dungeon Master’s Guide™. It is specifically designed to facilitate play, especially when the Dungeon Master has a limited amount of preparation time. The guide is full of time-saving tools, with many game elements ready built to bring to the gaming table.

Chapters include discussion on running a game, designing adventures, building and using prestige classes, and creating campaign settings, including attention to play style, speeding up play, types of players, non-player character stats, new rules for destiny, on-the-fly character modifications, and group power characteristics. Ready-made game elements include instant traps, pre-generated locations, treasures, and a fully realized and rendered town. Dungeon Masters and players alike will be especially interested in the new section on magic items, which discusses new ways of utilizing traditional items and introduces many new items written to fill specific niches in gameplay.

About the authors:

JESSE DECKER is the development manager for Wizards of the Coast, Inc. whose recent roleplaying game design credits include Complete Adventurer™, Races of Stone™ and Unearthed Arcana™. Before joining the RPG R&D team, Jesse served as Editor-in-Chief of Dragon® Magazine.

DAVID NOONAN is an RPG designer/developer at Wizards of the Coast, Inc. Recent credits include authoring Complete Divine™ and co-authoring Races of Stone™ and Unearthed Arcana™.

CHRIS THOMASSON, before joining Wizards of the Coast, Inc. as an RPG editor, served as Editor-in-Chief of the Origins-award-winning Dungeon® Magazine. His design credits include Fiend Folio™ and Monster Manual™ III, as well as Bow and Blade for Green Ronin Publishing.

JAMES JACOBS is the associate editor of Dungeon® Magazine and has published numerous articles in Dragon® Magazine. His most recent credits with Wizards of the Coast, Inc. include co-authoring Codex Anathema: The Book of Aberrations™, Races of Faerûn™, and Frostburn: Mastering the Perils of Ice and Snow™.

ROBIN D. LAWS, game designer and novelist, is best known for the roleplaying games Feng Shui, Heroquest, and Dying Earth, and the eponymously-titled book of gaming advice, Robin’s Laws of Good Gamemastering.

Dungeon Master’s Guide™ II

June 2005
Format: Hardcover
Trim Size: 8-9/16” x 11-1/8” x 11/16”
Page Count: 288
Price: $39.95 U.S.; $55.95 CAN

35 Comments »

35 comments

  1. Observer says:

    Gotta’ love this part:

    “With the exception of the Monster Manuals, the Dungeon Master’s Guide™ II is the first-ever sequel to a core book in any edition of D&D.”

    Wow! It’s the first-ever time this has happened, not counting the other times it’s happened. 😉 That’s hardly impressive. Why didn’t they just say it’s the first-ever book written especially for Dungeon Masters, with the exception of all the previous books written for DMs?

  2. Dai Oni says:

    LOL!

    Oh, you’re serious.

    What previous books solely for DMs?

  3. Allan Sugarbaker says:

    It’s all in the title. While dozens of books have claimed to be another guide for dungeon masters, none could actually call themselves Dungeon Masters’ Guide II. Right or not, the majority of D&D gamers will take a book from WotC more seriously than anything else. The name alone has made sure this will have huge sales levels.

  4. Ash says:

    Now I think they’re getting silly. Sequels to the DM Guide? Oy! This is blatant cash-in fever! D20 book sales not doing so well? QUICK! Write another one! Doesn’t matter what it is, just find a subject and write one! Preferably something that we can dash out in a hurry without needing copious amounts of playtesting! I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the book consisted only of things from the original DM Manual expanded upon (and partially included to swell things out a bit) and on things that you don’t need to know. ‘How to cut down on set up times?’ What exactly is it going to suggest, pregen characters, NPC’s with no statistics (natch), and ‘Buy the official WotC character generator package and DM’s toolkit’?

    Also when they say how many copies they’ve sold already, it’s important to remember that these have been sold to stockists, whose agenda is slightly different to the actual gamers. Any book by WotC for this franchise is likely to sell like billy-oh to the stores even if the fans hate it, because you can bet that tons of fanboys will buy it regardless of its quality or content. Still you never know, they might actually have some decent and useful content in there. Or it might just be wall-to-wall encounter tables and lukewarm advice on how to arrange a dungeon bash (read *drinking contest* in a brewery – edited for sensitive ears). We can only wait and see.

    (Legal Notice: Blatant Cash-In Fever is, or should be, a trademark of White Wolf games. As is every other usable word in the English language. And several unusable ones. Except the ones that are trademarked to WotC. So there.)

    Ash

  5. Foe3 says:

    I’m not quite sure how to reconcile “Blatant Cash-In Fever” with the reality of running a business that generates recurring revenue, feed employees, returns profits, etc. Heaven forbid someone comes up with a product to sell…

    Personally, I’m looking forward to seeing the book. From the perspective of a very, very busy DM, it sounds like it has some good solutions, and it certainly has solid enough line-up.

    And I’d be pretty surprised if it was only a hollow repeat from the original DMG. I’ll certainly give ’em the benefit of the doubt until I see it. “Evil Empire” reputation notwithstanding, WotC puts out some nicely done, interesting books.

  6. Dai Oni says:

    Yes, Ash*, we can only wait and see.

    If it’s good and useful for DMs both newbies and veterans — for both published and homebrewed campaigns — I’ll buy it. If not, I’ll pass, pure and simple. If the sales bodes well for WotC, more power to them.

    *P.S. I almost typed “Ass.” 😉

  7. misuba says:

    This is not so much a blatant cash-in as it is raw, naked fear. WotC sees D&D’s market shrinking, and Hasbro increasingly balking at supporting it, unless the game gets easier to learn and play. So a guide aimed (a little imprecisely) at making the fledgling DM’s job easier is a band-aid step. But as Chris Pramas pointed out on his blog recently, what’s really needed is something that almost resembles a 4th Edition of the game. I’m sure Hasbro would love that, but players would revolt if it happened this soon. So WotC may end up between a rock and a hard place over the next couple years…

  8. beeber says:

    they’ve got to consolidate the new rules somewhere i suppose. thinking here of the additional action stuff–immediate, quick, whatever. all adding to the Magic the Gathering-ness of d&d. maybe some useful stuff inside? sure. enough to be worth the cover price? probably not.

  9. Chris says:

    Misuba, Just curious as to where you are getting your figures for D&D’s market share shrinking? I read sales numbers from my own store, and retailer forums, and it is doing very well. We are continuley upping our pre-order numbers for their products. We are bringing 2 dozen of this book in, and we _never_ do that.

    Just curious where you are hearing this from?

  10. Dai Oni says:

    I have to disagree with Chris Pramas’s blog statement. I have no need for yet another D&D makeover. If that is the case, then my limited money will go more toward WotC and less toward his company, Green Ronin.

    Better yet, join the real world and retire RPG altogether. 😉

  11. misuba says:

    Chris: Um, when I said WotC is “seeing” D&D’s market shrinking, I was referring to what I think are their fears, not their figures. Thought that would be clear from context. My bad.

    Dai: It must be said – what the hell are you talking about?

  12. Chris says:

    Misuba: It probabily was clear…but I have been sick as a dog, and way slow on the uptake. My bad 🙂

  13. Dai Oni says:

    Three words: No 4th Edition.

    I don’t care who wants it, nor do I care who recommend it.

  14. Chris says:

    Dai – then start selling your 3.5 books while they are still worth something, because there WILL be a 4th edition, and maybe as soon as summer of next year. Maybe as late as 2007…but it is coming, period.

  15. Dai Oni says:

    And you find this acceptable? A new edition (or revised edition) every three years???

    That is sad. 🙁

  16. D&D 4ever says:

    Bring on 4th edition. Preferably an incredibly simplified core, that an “advanced” line could be built upon for those who demand more.

    Before you balk at the idea, realize that a lot of people who aren’t currently roleplayers or are only casual gamers might be more interested in the D&D game if it weren’t so intimidating to get into. The previous intro boxes and so forth were nice, but not complete games. A complete basic game as the core would be ideal. Put it in a real game box so it can be sold in the game aisle of any store or make it a single volume book. Make the advanced game a series of books as usual to appease the serious gamer who wants d20 System levels of detail. Or not.

  17. D&D 4ever says:

    Bring on 4th edition. Preferably an incredibly simplified core, that an “advanced” line could be built upon for those who demand more.

    Before you balk at the idea, realize that a lot of people who aren’t currently roleplayers or are only casual gamers might be more interested in the D&D game if it weren’t so intimidating to get into. The previous intro boxes and so forth were nice, but not complete games. A complete basic game as the core would be ideal. Put it in a real game box so it can be sold in the game aisle of any store or make it a single volume book. Make the advanced game a series of books as usual to appease the serious gamer who wants d20 System levels of detail. Or not.

  18. D&D 4ever says:

    Bring on 4th edition. Preferably an incredibly simplified core, that an “advanced” line could be built upon for those who demand more.

    Before you balk at the idea, realize that a lot of people who aren’t currently roleplayers or are only casual gamers might be more interested in the D&D game if it weren’t so intimidating to get into. The previous intro boxes and so forth were nice, but not complete games. A complete basic game as the core would be ideal. Put it in a real game box so it can be sold in the game aisle of any store or make it a single volume book. Make the advanced game a series of books as usual to appease the serious gamer who wants d20 System levels of detail. Or not.

  19. Foe3 says:

    I don’t find a new new edition every 3-4 years particularly annoying. For one thing, I don’t have to upgrade. It’s up to the publisher to convince me to do so with good product.

    For another, I’m pretty accustomed to being on software upgrade cycles of 12-18 months.

    Folks balk at DMG2 (which isn’t even an replacement for the DMG). They balk at 4th edition. They balk at too many sourcebooks or campaigns. They balk at paying more than $20/$40/$60/$xx for a book. Exactly how these same people expect WotC, or any other company, to generate the continual revenues required to pay employees, finance operations, etc., I have no idea.

  20. Chris says:

    FoE3: I think it’s this overlying sense of entitlement some people have from this hobby. Perhaps it stems from the fact that since they “put so much of their time into _______ (title of game)”, they have some warped sense of ownership. Sigh.

  21. Dai Oni says:

    Nope, no sense of entitlement here. Just wondering if 4e before 2010 is a wise business decision for them. I mean, WotC’s creativity must be dying — especially now that their designer pool is bit “kiddie tub” small — to want to order a reset, err I mean a new edition.

    As for DMG2, I think it is wise of WotC to pursue this. But as far as the content inside, that remains to be seen (I’ve yet to see a copy). It’s one thing to anticipate a new book, it’s another when the contents inside are useful for gamers.

  22. misuba says:

    Creativity on WotC’s part is not the gating factor here. The gating factor is that the game is hard to adopt. I’ve had a cursory glance at DMGII now, and I can already tell you that it’s the most broadly useful book they’ve done in years. So it’s a good band-aid. But every year they spend with an overcomplicated game is a year that they lose business. I don’t think they’ll wait much longer than ’07 – which seems like a reasonable length of time to me.

  23. Foe3 says:

    Misuba: Clarification… when you say, “Every year they spend with an overcomplicated game is a year that they lose business”, do you mean fact or fear? Is WotC actually loosing business, and does the data show it’s a result of overcomplication? And do you mean they’re loosing business (i.e., numbers are down) or the the overcomplication is driving off additional, incremental sales (i.e., the numbers are up, but they could be even better…). There’s a tangible difference on on both items.

    As for the level of overcomplication, I don’t know that I agree. Oh, D&D isn’t on the “light” end of things. But a very good chunk of what WotC publishes for D&D now is all optional, if you want it stuff. Which, yes, can complicate the game. Or, maybe a better term, is over-burden the game … the complexity increases with additional material, but it’s the *weight* of the stuff that increases it more. Maybe I’m more sensitive to the encumbrance of the extra rules 😉

    I mean, they have dedicated books for various climates (some of which I own) – hardly core stuff. But if they didn’t provide it, and kept things “simple” … do we actually know if that would be successful? What’s the target for proper complexity – does anyone know? Out of 20-someodd commentors on this post alone, do you think we’ll get consensus on how complex D&D should be? I don’t.

    But, let’s not forget where these books are coming from. At least in part from survey results and gamer input. One of the things WotC supposedly practices to a good degree (and which TSR did not, according to the archivists) is market research. Feedback cards in every hardback. That sort of thing.

    As for the DMGII, I’ll agree heartedly with misuba – seems to be a good, solid book. So far, I’m enjoying the first few chapters very much. And they put in Saltmarsh. Saltmarsh!!

  24. misuba says:

    WotC doesn’t make their market research numbers public, Foe, but they also don’t put out a hardcover unless the numbers say it’ll sell. This, combined with the advertised content of the book, suggests that their numbers agree with my conjecture.

  25. Foe3 says:

    Er, actually, no – their marketing plan and advertised content doesn’t really suggest agreement with your conjecture. You’re just choosing to interpret it that way (which is your right). They’ve produced a book which they think will sell (i.e., has a ready market). I think the connection between “new book to help DMs” and “loosing money from overcomplexity” is pretty tenuous, at best.

    But, as you note, the data isn’t available, and dueling opinions go nowhere fast on the internet.

    You answered my question on whether your comment was based on fact or just speculation. Thanks.

  26. Dai Oni says:

    Well, I do admit the game is rules-heavy, I don’t think it is overcomplicated.

  27. Chris says:

    There has to be a way to get their numbers…maybe I will make that an on going project. On a side note, they are the only company in the industry (I am personally aware of) that did a substantial market analysis on their customer base, then make it public. It’s a little out of date now, but I know many retailers who have used it up to recently when setting up new shops.

    http://www.theescapist.com/WotCsummary1.htm

    Curious, any of you corporate types have access to D&B subscription information? I know D&B has a file on Hasbro. Maybe even WoTC. Might clean up some of this conjecture.

  28. misuba says:

    Yes, Foe, I think the real problem is that we both have strong opinions and they differ. You’re more than welcome to share yours in more detail.

    Chris, I’ve got to post about that link. Lots of meat there.

  29. Allan Sugarbaker says:

    If there was a promise of something new, some new advance in roleplaying technology or the like, would a new edition of D&D be more palatable? Xbox 360 and PS3 can claim to have improved features, graphics, etc, and *still* some console gamers will complain about buying another machine. (Setting aside the vast difference in scale between a tabletop RPG release and a game machine release, it still seems an interesting comparison)

  30. Frank says:

    The game has not only gotten rules-heavy, it is a paper-based video game so far from the original as to be wholly unrealistic. It caters to the video generation, which is a marketing scheme and is exactly what WizBro wants. They don’t care about realism or playability unless it sells books.
    And WizBro is perfectly within their rights to do it. They are a business. I’d be surprised if 1 out of 10 of their employees even PLAYS RPG’s, let alone owns an original DMG. So if they want to encourage people to use half-dragon/half mind flayer 13/2/9th level bard/sorcerer/spiritmasters wielding +27 holy vorpal flaming greatswords of allslaying, good for them. I will stick to a more realistic system.

  31. Dai Oni says:

    “Realism”? ROTFLMAO!!!

    If I want realism, I’d join the SCA or go LARPing.

  32. misuba says:

    What’s interesting is how the hyper-detailed D20 System is borne of attempts at simulationism. It goes to show how simulationism and realism are not at all the same thing. LARPs, for all the ways in which they’re not at all realistic, come closer in some other ways to the way we actually experience things like combat – the things for which simulationism produces rules by the bushelful.

  33. Dai Oni says:

    Quote: “What’s interesting is how the hyper-detailed D20 System is borne of attempts at simulationism.”

    Anyone who told you that ought to sell you farmlands in the Sahara. 😉

    Sorry, but I don’t buy that in RPGs in general (e.g., d20, GURPS, MEGAVERSAL, HERO, ROLL-N-KEEP, STORYTELLER, etc.).

  34. misuba says:

    1) Note the word “attempts.” 2) D20 comes from AD&D, which came from D&D, which came from Chainmail, which came from wargaming, which was explicitly simulationist in its goals and its effects. Somewhere along the way, that simulationism took a wrong turn and started serving a master other than reality… not exactly gamism, either… maybe just detail itself. The D20 System we have today as a result shows the many ways in which simulationism taken to a closed-feedback-loop extreme takes you further from reality than just about any other course. 3) Every system you cite above, with the possible exception of “roll-n-keep” which I can’t find much clear info on in a cursory search, comes from that simulationist tradition. There are others.

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