You are one of a very special group of people: AD&D® game Dungeon Masters. Your job is not an easy one. It requires wit, imagination, and the ability to think and act extemporaneously. A really good Dungeon Master is essential to a good game.

The Dungeon Master Guide is reserved for Dungeon Masters. Discourage players from reading this book, and certainly don't let players consult it during the game. As long as the players don't know exactly what's in the Dungeon Master Guide, they'll always wonder what you know that they don't. It doesn't matter whether you have secret information; even if you don't, as long as the players think you do, their sense of mystery and uncertainty is maintained.

Also, this book contains essential rules that are not discussed in the Player's Handbook. Some of these rules the players will learn quickly during play—special combat situations, the costs of hiring NPCs, etc. Others, however, cover more esoteric or mysterious situations, such as the nature of artifacts and other magical items. This information is in the Dungeon Master Guide so the DM can control the players' (and hence the characters') access to certain bits of knowledge. In a fantasy world, as in this world, information is power. What the characters don't know can hurt them (or lead them on a merry chase to nowhere). While the players aren't your enemies, they aren't your allies, either, and you aren't obligated to give anything away for nothing. If characters go hunting wererats without doing any research beforehand, feel free to throw lots of curves their way. Reward those characters who take the time to do some checking.

Besides rules, you'll find a large portion of this book devoted to discussions of the principles behind the rules. Along with this are examinations of the pros and cons of changing the rules to fit your campaign. The purpose of this book, after all, is to better prepare you for your role as game moderator and referee. The better you understand the game, the better equipped you'll be to handle unforeseen developments and unusual circumstances.

One of the principles guiding this project from the very beginning, and which is expressed throughout this book, is this: The DM has the primary responsibility for the success of his campaign, and he must take an active hand in guiding it. That is an important concept. If you are skimming through this introduction, slow down and read it again. It is crucial you understand what you are getting into.

The DM's "active hand" extends even to the rules. Many decisions about your campaign can be made by only one person: you. Tailor your campaign to fit your own style and the style of your players.

You will find a lot of information in this book, but you won't find pat answers to all your questions and easy solutions for all your game problems. What you will find instead is a discussion of various problems and numerous triggers intended to guide you through a thoughtful analysis of situations that pertain to your campaign.

The rules to the AD&D 2nd Edition game are balanced and easy to use. No role-playing game we know of has been playtested more heavily than this one. But that doesn't mean it's perfect. What we consider to be right may be unbalanced or anachronistic in your campaign. The only thing that can make the AD&D game "right'' for all players is the intelligent application of DM discretion.

A perfect example of this is the limit placed on experience levels for demihumans. A lot of people complained that these limits were too low. We agreed, and we raised the limits. The new limits were tested, examined, and adjusted until we decided they were right. But you may be one of the few people who prefer the older, lower limits. Or you may think there should be no limits. In the chapter on character classes, you'll find a discussion of this topic that considers the pros and cons of level limits. We don't ask you to blindly accept every limit we've established. But we do ask that before you make any changes you read this chapter and carefully consider what you are about to do. If, after weighing the evidence, you decide that a change is justified in your game, by all means make the change.

In short, follow the rules as they are written if doing so improves your game. But by the same token, break the rules only if doing so improves your game.

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