The box from Amazon came, and after a review I can say that overall I like it. Plenty of stuff in there I’ll never use, but there was plenty of stuff in the original 1e DMG that I never used (I, for example, am not a fan of random tables…). It will be fun to do a quick post at some point talking about different base assumptions (and where 5e itself seems to contradict itself already – but all games do that, so no real foul there).
But I like the customization section a great deal and can already see a couple of things that I’ll change in my campaign. It’s also nice to see that I was essentially already following the guidelines for tweaking character classes and even character races – even though mine are definitely higher-powered than the base game’s.
I kind of like magic items, sort of. I’m going to have to chew this section over a bit. There are definitely things that just simply seem nerfed for no good reason, while at the same time I have to ponder the general change from “adds” to “flavor text and traits” when it comes to lots of magical weapons and armor – it’s not bad or wrong, just really different. I do like the section on “Other Rewards” and the “Epic Level” section – the former is already a large part of my game, and the latter gives some nice guidelines and ideas for what folks get at that scale.
The one thing that I was really looking forward to and am severely disappointed in is “Build a Monster” section. First, it’s just as confusing as all hell. Neither option is remotely intuitive, and what I really wanted, which was an easy way to figure out character class levels to CR to figure out XP, is in no way evident. I’m really hoping that someone figures out an easier formula relatively quickly. I really cannot express how much I hate the CR system, especially when calculating it requires that I pick a CR first and then tweak the monster to fit it rather than build a monster and then figure out the XP (I mean CR). Ugh.
EDIT: Seriously, I just tried to “follow the rules” and back into the CR for the Archmage in the Monster Manual. I have no clue how they come up with a CR of 12. Nothing matches as near as I can figure… Plus, can I just say that the idea that an archmage is a balanced encounter for four 12th level characters just seems really off anyway?