If you're reading this blog, chances are that you know what book this is, even if you don't own one now.
The question is – if you don't own one now, why don't you own one now?
I myself never owned the 1st Ed. DMG until about 2001, when my girlfriend (whom I married, for reasons which will soon become glaringly obvious) dug up her old one and gave it to me (see?). I was playing 3.0 at the time, but as soon as I met Gary Gygax's nigh-overwrought gamemaster's wonderland, it was love at first sight.
Sure, I got by without for the first 13 years of my gaming life, but
having had ample time to examine and explore this tome since I acquired it, I am confident in making this statement:
Dude, you gotta get you one of these.
Look, it was state of the art in 1978, back when Leo Sayer roamed the Earth. But it's also a gem of the Dawn of Role-Playing, a veritable engine of creation which, like it or not, helped to shape the hobby as we know it. After all, it was the first real how-to manual for Dungeon Masters.
So is the book's value purely historical? Is it just a curio, an antique, an anthropological record?
No my friends. It's chock full of charts and tables, yo.
As I have mentioned before, I am increasingly enchanted by the suggestive powers of random charts. The 1st Ed. DMG turns 'em out to make the money, and you can use its resources to generate castles, people's personalities (hell, even their interests), piles of treasure, NPC parties...it goes on.
In case you're wondering what good this all is to the FRPG gamemaster of 2006, let me tell you about Lord Obregon, the increasingly-cranky paladin lord of Castle Foxmoor, whose obsessive interest in legends, coupled with his increasing fanaticism and intolerance, is getting him all itchy to unleash any manner of crusade or pogrom any minute now. Obregon, by the way, holds a small territory and oversees a pair of vassals – a fighter and a rogue, probably former adventuring partners or maybe just chosen underlings, who will doubtless be bent to his whim. Say, which one of them might choose to betray the old man, and hook up with some adventurers and warn them -or enlist them- against the crazy paladin's overzealous schemes?
All the makings of a memorable fantasy villain, spawned of my imagination...spurred on by the DMG's castle generation and charcater Trait tables.
[Okay, I used the extended castle tables from Dragon #145, too, but Obregon himself came out of rolls on the DMG's own tables.]
Perhaps more importantly, it's a great textbook. The 1st Ed. DMG, being the first text of its kind, is an excellent primer for the established GM. It's a look at how to do it with no preconceptions, no history, no experience; it's a kick in the pants to shake out the dust.
No, no, my brutha – you got to get your own.