The trend is loss of DM control and its bad.

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I like nearly everything about 4th edition. I eagerly await its release and I intend on immediately running a campaign. I felt the same way about 3rd edition. It was vastly superior to 2nd in my opinion. In fact I have welcomed all new editions of D&D.

As for all products in an era (and not just the rules), the worst era was 2nd edition. The support products were lousy.

Anyway now to my point. I believe that the trend has been from each edition to the next a weakening of DM control. Here's a contrast between 1st edition and the coming 4th...

1st Edition:
1. Rule 0 is actually in the books and positioned to stand out. The last page of the DMG.
2. The DMG goes into some detail on how to introduce both money and magic items into the game. It is assumed that doing these things wrong would wreck a campaign. This responsibility lay on the DM.
3. Players are specifically told: do not read the monster manual or the dungeon masters guide unless you are a dungeon master.
4. Dungeon masters are presumed to be running their own custom campaigns and to be running multiple generations of characters (played by different people often) in those campaigns.
5. Most commercial modules are designed to fit in any of the campaign settings. (e.g. Tomb of Horrors, Giants, White Plume Mountain) They often gave multiple ideas on where to put a module in each setting.

I believe that half the DMs out there still believe in those basic tenants. I would say it is the Gygaxian style of DMing.

4th Edition (or where not known 3rd).
1. Rule 0 is no where to be found. Perhaps in 3.0 there may be some minor references.
2. Players are able to translate magic items to and from gold at will. This tight coupling of gold and magic results in less control by the DM about what enters his campaign (without resorting to rule 0 of course). So the 1st Edition goal of a DM controlling the flow of gold and magic pretty much went out the window. He has to control both to control either one which is often non-optimal.
3. Most players buy and read the Monster Manual and the Dungeon Masters guide. Nothing discourages this in the rules. In fact in 4th edition the magic items are being put in the players handbook. Is knowledge of every magic item common knowledge in the default setting? Apparently so..
4. DMs are typically assumed to be running in a commercial setting. Modules are often specifically for a setting. I know they tell you you can modify it for any setting and I don't disagree. The difference is that now they put the work on the DM who is not in that setting.


Now this all this does not affect me at all. I've been running campaigns for some time and I've always enforced the 1st edition approach. Rule 0 is always in effect. Unfortunately new DMs coming in are being led down the path of destruction because they are starting with the faulty 3rd/4th edition approach.

Now I'm sure some of you will whine that I'm ruining the players fun. Well my personal experience has been that those DMs using a 4th edition approach are not nearly as sought after as those using the 1st edition approach. The reason is that a good DM is already trying really hard to make the world interesting, mysterious, and fun. He analyzes his groups and tries to create challenges that suit their interests. So a good DM is a benevolent dictator. Anyone who isn't benevolent doesn't have a group. I've never really had any trouble getting a group.

A case in point. If a DM introduced a magic sword that forced enemies to save vs DC 50 or be disentegrated I haven't met the player or group that would refuse it. They may admit long after the campaign is over that they thought it too powerful. Players though are focused on their own characters and not the campaign as a whole.
I have failed to notice any such proposed trend.
Are you sure this is not simply anecdotal evidence?

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Well its clear that 3rd Edition exemplifies most of the stuff I put under 4th edition. The only extra things I know of right now are that magic items are now in the players handbook and they are available purely for gold. This makes the tie between magic and gold complete. In 3rd, x.p. was a limiting factor.
But don't DMs still determine if the particular magic item is available in campaign before players can buy it? So magic item obtainment is still in DM's countrol?

Plus, magic item pricing is not as forumlaic as 3.X, I believe. The magic items in the PHB serve as base examples and it's up to the DM to judge pricing of new magic items based on its abilities compared to the base level/abilities/cost of the ones in the PHB.
Keep in mind that we have not recieved much information on the exact contents of the DMG. I have heard from the various remarks on the book that it is 'absolutely outstanding, a must read for all DM's, etc.' If this is the case, your point couldn't be more wrong: the new tools for the DM and other DM techniques presented in the book will give DM's more "control" over their games than ever.

It would be silly for a DM to say "there is no mithral in this campaign setting" without good reason, but it would be even sillier if the players were allowed to trump his ruling.
Let your voice be heard! Tell WotC to Publish D&D 4e under the OGL!
Couple things,

1. 4ed isn't out yet...we don't know if there is a Rule 0. 3.5 had it, although it wasn't labeled rule 0, the books specifically states that the DM has the last say, period.

2. We don't know how exactly treasure works in 4ed. I'm sure the DMG will have a lengthy explanation on how and when to give out treasure, as well as tips on how to keep things in line.

3. Really, just cause the book doesn't say "DON"T READ ME', doesn't mean the DM can't tell his players. Besides, in many groups, DM is a rotating role, so it's only natural for most players to have at least glanced through either book. Also, just because the PLAYER knows whats in the MM, doesn't mean the CHARACTER does. Abusing OoG knowledge is Meta-gaming, and any gamer worth his salt (and DM), will stomp this out pretty quick.


4. Putting the work on the DM sounds like giving the DM total control on how and where to use modules, which is totally opposite of your point.

just my 2 cents.
4th Edition (or where not known 3rd).
1. Rule 0 is no where to be found. Perhaps in 3.0 there may be some minor references.
2. Players are able to translate magic items to and from gold at will. This tight coupling of gold and magic results in less control by the DM about what enters his campaign (without resorting to rule 0 of course). So the 1st Edition goal of a DM controlling the flow of gold and magic pretty much went out the window. He has to control both to control either one which is often non-optimal.
3. Most players buy and read the Monster Manual and the Dungeon Masters guide. Nothing discourages this in the rules. In fact in 4th edition the magic items are being put in the players handbook. Is knowledge of every magic item common knowledge in the default setting? Apparently so..
4. DMs are typically assumed to be running in a commercial setting. Modules are often specifically for a setting. I know they tell you you can modify it for any setting and I don't disagree. The difference is that now they put the work on the DM who is not in that setting.

1. We don't have the 4e PHB, so it's unfair to infer that Rule 0 won't be mentioned. 3rd Edition mentioned it at the start of the PHB.

2. Even in the freewheeling world of 4e, I doubt very much that PCs will have the amazing alchemical talent to transmute gold into any magic item of their choice. They either have to make it or buy it. While I don't know what rules will be in place for PC-initiated magic item acquisition, it's a given that those who want to make an item will require means, materials and time. The DM should be able to rule when any of these aren't available.

3. Hey, most players bought and read the DMG and Monster Manual when I played 1st Ed! That's always happened. In 4e, there'll be no reason to discourage it, as there's nothing in there which players can gain an advantage by learning. Except maybe traps and artifacts, but both are easily disguised. As for the Monster Manual, good luck to the player who's trying to memorise it: a cool 500 monsters are in there, each of them changeable at the DM's whim.

4. The module list for 2008, that I've seen, is nearly exclusively edition-neutral. There's one or two FR modules, and that's about it.
4. The module list for 2008, that I've seen, is nearly exclusively edition-neutral. There's one or two FR modules, and that's about it.

To expand on this, we know that there will be a CS per year but that materials will be more limited than in 3e and prior. TSR went under because of too many settings, and WotC pulled back settings in 3e, setting Greyhawk as default and emphasizing FR and Eberron. The devs have confirmed that 4e will have one CS per year, which will have a CS book, a player's guide, a few adventures...and that's it; aside from the big 2, the settings will get one production run and that's it. The vast majority of books will be CS-neutral.
yeah, i've noticed too. The more the rules are written in stone the harder it is to houserule as players get uppity. Players seem to feel they deserve a chew toy cuz they bought the book.
First off the DM has always had complete control. In the DMG (a friend is borrowing mine so I can't give you a page reference) it says that the rules are just guidelines and the DM has final say.
Also the players can't just change gold for magic items, they need to find a place that sells them. Oh look shops have shopkeepers, oh and shopkeepers are NPCs. Now who runs NPCs? That's right the DM. If the players want gauntlets of ogre power and the DM doesn't want them to have it then the shopkeeper can just say we are out of stock when the players ask to purchase some. Never has players been able to snap thier fingers, have gold disappear and have the magic item show up.
Finally just because someone in the group buys one of the new books doesn't mean the DM has to allow it in the campaign. If the DM doesn't like what is in the book he can ban all or part of the book. Anything new should be approved by the DM.
This is how I run my games. I give my players alot of leeway and we normally skip the shop scene because I can trust most of thier decisions to buy stuff, but I still want the to ask me before they buy most things. If things get out of hand I can always go back to the time consuming method of having to make them find a shop that has the item for sale.
Basically what I'm trying to say is that I don't agree with your assesment. The DMs have complete control, it has always been setup that way.
I'm still trying to figure out why players reading the DMG is a bad thing. Like, even approaching a bad thing. Like, under 1st edition "don't read the DMG!" status, what happens when the DM decides he wants to play for a while? "Oh F*** Bill, you've gotta get brain surgery! You know what's in the DMG and the entire game is ruined!" Most of what's in there isn't "stuff the Players shouldn't know" but rather "stuff the DM needs to know to run the game."

If you step back and think about the gaming group as a group that games together - instead of DMs operating like some higher ranking cult member with secret formulae that must remain impenetrable to the pleebs who come groveling for his DMing - then the idea of preventing someone from reading one of the core rules books that they very well may be DMing out of next becomes downright silly.

hell, most game systems don't even have a DMG/PHB division.

In the desert
I saw a creature, naked, bestial,
who, squatting upon the ground,
held his heart in his hands, and ate of it.
I said, "is it good, friend?"
"It is bitter – bitter," he answered;
"but I like it,
"beacuase it is bitter,
"and because it is my heart."

As for all products in an era (and not just the rules), the worst era was 2nd edition. The support products were lousy.

Just as a side note I would tend to agree with this statement in large part. 2nd Edition had a preponderance of fluffy accessories.

But it bears remembering that the Greyhawk stuff from that era was among the best of any edition. Beginning with From the Ashes, The Marklands, Iuz, etc. mostly the Carl Sergant accessories were among the most interesting and substantial game aids i've ever seen.

Just a thought...:D
In fact in 4th edition the magic items are being put in the players handbook. Is knowledge of every magic item common knowledge in the default setting?

Actually, the math of magic items is built into the game so the DM doesn't have to adjudicate them with tons of scrutiny. The DM still can, if so desired, but the effects of them are more in line with not being needing to be nannied.

DMs haven't lost any control. They've just been given enough tools to where they don't need to micromanage everything. If you still want to micromanage everything, you still can.

As for knowledge of every magic item knowledge in the default setting is off of a meta-game assumption. Does every character know what all 30 level paladins are capable of as common knowledge? No. That's meta-game knowledge. The idea behind putting them in the PHB is to have everything needed for a character to be in one character so that Players don't need to buy a MM or DMG. The DM still can say "No, you can't buy that item."
Unfortunately new DMs coming in are being led down the path of destruction because they are starting with the faulty 3rd/4th edition approach.

You take for granted your assumptions being correct. Try to formulate an argument that does not require highly controversial assumptions.
Rule 0, when invoked at the table, has, in my experience, more often than not, simply frustrated players and reduced enjoyment of the game. I have been playing since 2e; this has been my experience with every edition and every group I've played with.

I am in favor of house rules set ahead of time, with player input and knowledge beforehand. Rule Zero as carte blanche for the DM to do as he pleases, however, is a blight on the game.

Down with Rule Zero! Up with the DM as a participant!
Thanks for the responses. Lets just pretend for a second that all of my statements were about 1st Edition and 3rd Edition. We have both of those editions. I feel they are clearly true.

For example. In third edition players could take a feat, spend gold and x.p. and produce nearly any magic item in the DMG. But wait how'd they even know about that item in the first place? They knew about it because they were reading the DMG looking for items to make.

I agree 100% that a DM can stop this and exert rule 0. I agree that DMs can take action to bring some things under control. I'm just saying that the new editions have not made things clear to new DMs. The old Gygaxian era DMs know how to run a campaign but are we leaving the new generations out in the cold.

They have not talked about game oversight. I hope 4th is different. I agree that I only have two datapoints that tend to imply that it is not: magic items in the PHB and a ritual (one I believe according to Wyatt) that enables a player to create a magic item by paying gold.

Many players just play and many DMs just dm. I know also that many do both. I have also noticed that those playing who also DM (and DM well) are seldom people who are exploiting DMG knowledge. Also I agree that many parts of the DMG would be ok to read.

I also agree (hopefully) that each new edition has few issues that a DM has to use oversight on. I will say that 3rd was much better than 1st and 2nd. Even so no edition is perfect. How many people rule 0'd something in 3rd? I expect 4th to be a lot better but I also expect that it won't be perfect on day one.
3.5 edition explicitley states, before any other rules are presented, Rule 0.

They don't label it rule 0, but since it comes before any other rule....it IS Rule 0.

Pg. 6, DMG...under Adjucating.

"....it does mean that you're the final arbiter of the rules within the game. Good players will always recognize that you have ultimate authority over the game mechanincs, even superseding something in a rulebook."

In fact, the whole first section of the DMG seems to be providing exactly what you say the latest editions don't. Support for new DMs, which clearly show that they have CONTROL of the entire game, even above the rulebooks.

On a different note, I do agree somewhat with your point about creating magic items. You could chalk up character knowledge of the magic item they want to make, as being part of their initial/ongoing class training, but i agree, it can stretch believability. How to combate this, i'm not sure. Perhaps they could add in a research time and skill check, which would represent the character figuring out how the magic item works and how to make it, before the ritual takes place?

Without more solid info on how 4ed adjucates magic item creation, i'm not sure. I sure hope it's better than the confusing and sometimes broken mechanics in 3.5.
Actually, to me, it looks like 4th is getting away from the player pleasing/DMs go screw themselves vibe of 3rd Ed.

Once again DMs might be able to hear the words 'Hey, check out my character.' instead of 'Check out my awesome build!'
Actually, to me, it looks like 4th is getting away from the player pleasing/DMs go screw themselves vibe of 3rd Ed.

Once again DMs might be able to hear the words 'Hey, check out my character.' instead of 'Check out my awesome build!'

Of course, I'm looking forward to playing my human orphan girl raised and trained by an elf druid in their esoteric fighting art...

Who totally uses Positioning Strike and Wizard Training to kick every butt around.
Actually, to me, it looks like 4th is getting away from the player pleasing/DMs go screw themselves vibe of 3rd Ed.

Once again DMs might be able to hear the words 'Hey, check out my character.' instead of 'Check out my awesome build!'

That's my impression as well. 3e had so many overpowered options for players that it was basically daring DMs to invoke Rule 0 to reign them in. When you've got a Tyrannosaur who's casting AoE spells and comes standard with a hunting partner, it doesn't really feel like the game is trying to help the DM.

With 4e it looks like they're moving to keep the PC power-levels down closer to the earth (though there will obviously be some very interesting stuff) so that DMs can worry less about shooting down overpowered PCs and more about telling the story.

Basically, they're letting the DM play D&D, rather than referee it. I'm a fan.
Thanks for the responses. Lets just pretend for a second that all of my statements were about 1st Edition and 3rd Edition. We have both of those editions. I feel they are clearly true.

For example. In third edition players could take a feat, spend gold and x.p. and produce nearly any magic item in the DMG. But wait how'd they even know about that item in the first place? They knew about it because they were reading the DMG looking for items to make.

Then you qualsh there ability to make the item IN GAME without using any rule 0 at all.

DM: "Ok so you get back from adventure... what do you do?"

Player: "I'm using x gold and y XP to create Z!"

DM: "Make a knowlage:arcane check."

Player: "Ok...... 14 total!"

DM: "Yes, you know of the item, but you can't seem to recall the proper ingreediants."

Player: "Damn... isn't there i wizard school in this town?"

DM: "Yes there is...."

See? You didn't have to pull a "No you can't, quit metagaming" rule zero douche evil DM move, and the player thiks he acoplished something, and now has a cool roleplaying oppertunity to deal with at the wizards school.

SWOOSH! +2 points! (of intellegence)

Also, if the player rolled low, he could still go to the Wizards school and ask.
"I need a X that does Y. Have you ever heard of such a thing?"

And eventually you get the same result. Player gets what they want. DM gets what they want. everything is golden.
It is my opinion, that regardless of the game system, or edition of said system, the tone and feel is set by ALL of the group (not just the GM).

No edition or printing of a working system is really any better than the others if they both work (or can be made to work). Now they may in fact offer a different COMBAT experience. All of the different editions of Dungeons and Dragons have had different combat rules. NAd thats not neccessarily a bad thing,. Changes of pace can be nice.

If the mechanics of 4.0 dont appeal to you, then continue your current edition game. There are publishers that will be continueing to provide material for 3.5. Heck you can even find homebrew 2.5 material that is prety decent you actually take the time to look for it.

Ill tell you what I told my players when I started our first 3.0 campaign. "We dont have to give up our 2.5 game, lets just try this one out" We did try it, and they didnt give up thier 2.5 game, or the 3.0 game. They liked them both and so we played both In fact 2.5 still lingers on to this day. My group runs campaigns through a full story arc, then we switch up and either let someone else run thier story arc, or run some mudule content.This ensures that whomevers turn it is to run has time to prepare a fun adventure. So we swap campaigns every 3-10 months (depending on how long it takes us to utterly spend what creativity and will the running DM has to spend on the current story arc). This lets us play multiple editions with multiple DMs.

And yes the 2.5 campaign is one of the still running games. Well to be technical we have actually had a pair of 2.5 campaigns since 3.0-3.5. The first one finally got to a point (from a strictly story standpoint) that it made sense to retire the characters, and it only took 13 years to get there . The other 2.5 game is an oldschool dungeon crawl through Undermountain, as we have all the box sets, and printed modules for it. We even got a chance to use the Hackmaster rulebook for that campaign (which despite being based on a comic its actually fairly good 2.5 style material. Gnome titans FTW).

But point in case if your group found D&D 1.0 to be fun, then play it with them! And if there are things in 1.0 that 4.0 lacks and you want them to be there, then let your group know and add them. Right off the bat, I could name a few things about 4.0 that they downplayed or dumped that ive already decide arent go to be so in my games.

Im not letting characters be unaligned and I will be adding back in effects that effect different alignments. And while I like the idea of evil paladins (really liked the Dragon issue that had the evil paladin core classes), I will never have an unaligned one. Hell ive never really even let my players be neutral unless they had a really good reason to be (or they are in the alignment penalty zone). I force them to either choose Good or Evil. I feel having to make tough choices about how your character would behave in a situation are a good thing, and provides me with a way to add complex moral dilemma into some challenges. And that adds a lot of depth and ultimately, fun, to our games.

There are a couple of other things im mechanically preparing to overule in my 4e game, but I wont discuss them here, as my assumptions may be worng as I have not seen the printed material, and I dont want to take the conversation away from the OP.

But 4.0 is still a a story telling game. My group will give it a good romping and see if its still fun. I think the game will be much more dragon ball z than my group would like. But if we add a few of our own spices, I think we can make an experience that will suit our pallet perfectly. After all its our story, we can tell it how we wish to. Wether or not they not they say the DM has ultimate veto power has absolutely no bearing.

When you game you do it because its fun. If you arent having fun then you arent gaming correctly, that is ultimate reason for rule 0. Not to give the DM veto power over the players, but to make sure that no other element of the game can stand in the way of fun for the group.

As a GM that is your rockstar superpwer. You get to make the things that suck in your game disappear if they are prevent your group from having fun. So off with you, go use your powers for the greater good and quit worrying so much about what is being cooked up by WotC. If it is great im sure you will get it and enjoy it. If it sucks, well then there are tons of other systems to tell your story including several other earlier flavors of D&D. Or if you cant stand the stuff other folks are making, you could always make your own.

Be good.
3e had so many overpowered options for players that it was basically daring DMs to invoke Rule 0 to reign them in.

Also, 3rd Ed really promoted having an arms race with the players.

…Screw that.
Also, 3rd Ed really promoted having an arms race with the players.

…Screw that.

Actually, I've seen more arms treaties than arms races.

"We'll lay off the instant-win spells for all combat and mysteries, if you ignore that Blasphemy spell-like..."
Actually, I've seen more arms treaties than arms races.

"We'll lay off the instant-win spells for all combat and mysteries, if you ignore that Blasphemy spell-like..."

Yeah, David Noonan wrote a nice article on the unspoken cold war action that often happens in groups.

A sort of D&D Geneva Convention.

'Okay, I won't use this, as long as you don't use that…'


But the arms race thing also cropped up:

'Well if that player is going to keep using X, then I'm going to gank his bottom with Y!'
True, both happened.

As long as 4e keeps everyone's hands off the nuke button (as in, "I'm going to destroy the campaign if he crosses that line!, not as in Fireball!), I'll be a happy camper.
True, both happened.

As long as 4e keeps everyone's hands off the nuke button (as in, "I'm going to destroy the campaign if he crosses that line!, not as in Fireball!), I'll be a happy camper.

Mmmm. I know it'll still be very possible to Jon a campaign (named after a friend of mine who has a habit of purposely/accidentally derailing an entire roleplaying game campaign through his actions) even in 4e, but if it takes place through in-character actions and not exploiting loopholes in system mechanics, at least the DM will have a chance to respond.
Mmmm. I know it'll still be very possible to Jon a campaign (named after a friend of mine who has a habit of purposely/accidentally derailing an entire roleplaying game campaign through his actions) even in 4e, but if it takes place through in-character actions and not exploiting loopholes in system mechanics, at least the DM will have a chance to respond.

Hey, as long as I never have to have a debate with a player over whether any layer of a Prismatic Sphere protects against a cow falling from orbit (my prefered Rule 0 "you boned my campaign and now you get yours" mechanic), I'll be happy.
The only way WE are leaving new DMs in the cold is if WE as old DMs don't try to help out new ones. One of my players has decided to try his hand at DMing and I am always there to offer him help as needed. Although he has borrowed my DMG, and really the only help he needed was to manage the players in the group. That takes personal experience that the DMG can't give anyway.
I like nearly everything about 4th edition. I eagerly await its release and I intend on immediately running a campaign. I felt the same way about 3rd edition. It was vastly superior to 2nd in my opinion. In fact I have welcomed all new editions of D&D.

As for all products in an era (and not just the rules), the worst era was 2nd edition. The support products were lousy.

Anyway now to my point. I believe that the trend has been from each edition to the next a weakening of DM control. Here's a contrast between 1st edition and the coming 4th...

1st Edition:
1. Rule 0 is actually in the books and positioned to stand out. The last page of the DMG.
2. The DMG goes into some detail on how to introduce both money and magic items into the game. It is assumed that doing these things wrong would wreck a campaign. This responsibility lay on the DM.
3. Players are specifically told: do not read the monster manual or the dungeon masters guide unless you are a dungeon master.
4. Dungeon masters are presumed to be running their own custom campaigns and to be running multiple generations of characters (played by different people often) in those campaigns.
5. Most commercial modules are designed to fit in any of the campaign settings. (e.g. Tomb of Horrors, Giants, White Plume Mountain) They often gave multiple ideas on where to put a module in each setting.

I believe that half the DMs out there still believe in those basic tenants. I would say it is the Gygaxian style of DMing.

4th Edition (or where not known 3rd).
1. Rule 0 is no where to be found. Perhaps in 3.0 there may be some minor references.
2. Players are able to translate magic items to and from gold at will. This tight coupling of gold and magic results in less control by the DM about what enters his campaign (without resorting to rule 0 of course). So the 1st Edition goal of a DM controlling the flow of gold and magic pretty much went out the window. He has to control both to control either one which is often non-optimal.
3. Most players buy and read the Monster Manual and the Dungeon Masters guide. Nothing discourages this in the rules. In fact in 4th edition the magic items are being put in the players handbook. Is knowledge of every magic item common knowledge in the default setting? Apparently so..
4. DMs are typically assumed to be running in a commercial setting. Modules are often specifically for a setting. I know they tell you you can modify it for any setting and I don't disagree. The difference is that now they put the work on the DM who is not in that setting.


Now this all this does not affect me at all. I've been running campaigns for some time and I've always enforced the 1st edition approach. Rule 0 is always in effect. Unfortunately new DMs coming in are being led down the path of destruction because they are starting with the faulty 3rd/4th edition approach.

Now I'm sure some of you will whine that I'm ruining the players fun. Well my personal experience has been that those DMs using a 4th edition approach are not nearly as sought after as those using the 1st edition approach. The reason is that a good DM is already trying really hard to make the world interesting, mysterious, and fun. He analyzes his groups and tries to create challenges that suit their interests. So a good DM is a benevolent dictator. Anyone who isn't benevolent doesn't have a group. I've never really had any trouble getting a group.

A case in point. If a DM introduced a magic sword that forced enemies to save vs DC 50 or be disentegrated I haven't met the player or group that would refuse it. They may admit long after the campaign is over that they thought it too powerful. Players though are focused on their own characters and not the campaign as a whole.

Do you even believe the points you just made?

The DM alwase has controle, makeing the rules smoother and less reliant on DM interpretation does nothing to reduce his power as DM.

Point by point
1: Rule 0 will alwase exist, it doesn't need to be written. The DM is needed to run the game, that alone tells you everything you need to know.

2: The DM controls how much gold the PCs have to make magic items with, he also determines if and when they are in a suitable place to make or sell magic items. A cleaner magic item creation system does nothing to limit DM power.

3: What rules would you suggest 4E contain, which would somehow restrict a free citizens right to buy and read his/her own books? The only thing that can be done is not a rules matter, but one of DM/Player respect and communication.

4: Modules and settings are ment to make a DMs job easier, that said the work of customizing them to fit a specific DMs game has fallen on DMs in every edition of the game.

5: A DM is not [and should never be] a dictator. He is democratically elected by the group to exercise his powers for there best interests, power given in good faith and taken away just as quickly should that faith be violated in the eyes of a group majority.
In the end the DM is just a player like everyone else, he just has a different role to play.
Hey, as long as I never have to have a debate with a player over whether any layer of a Prismatic Sphere protects against a cow falling from orbit (my prefered Rule 0 "you boned my campaign and now you get yours" mechanic), I'll be happy.

I can imagine how it would go.

Me: (throws away notes) "Okay, campaign boned. Cows fall, everyone dies."

Player: "I cast prismatic sphere."

Me: "What?"

Player: "Prismatic sphere. The cow needs to get through. . ."

Me: "Prismatic sphere, huh? Guess what, it's a PRISMATIC COW."

Player: "But. . ."

Me: "COWS FALL, EVERYONE DIES. Thanks for playing. I'll email you all when I decide how we're gonna go from here. . . maybe we'll roll up new characters and play a post-apocalyptic, 'After six guys totally blew up the world, everything sucks' campaign. . ."
Me: "Prismatic sphere, huh? Guess what, it's a PRISMATIC COW."

Oh, if only I had your presence of mind.

It was only the one character that had to go, so it was just one cow. At first.

The first one hits, he reminds me of Prismatic Sphere, the cow vaporizes.

Then one of the elder deities of the setting decides he doesn't like Magic anymore and the world becomes an anti-magic field for about a third of a second, long enough for a second cow to hurtle to earth at near light speed.

Fortunately for the rest of the party, the god responsible was then quickly beaten down (like I said, about a third of a second) by the other members of the pantheon and order was restored.
Some of you have made some good points about how the 4th Edition is going to improve the life of a DM. I wholeheartedly agree that the new rules are cool and will make many aspects of DMing a lot easier. This is definitely NOT a "I hate 4th edition" thread. If anything I'm a near fanboi. I just lamented one aspect of the games progression over the years. Every edition in spite of this trend still was an improvement over the previous editions.

My only point is that the 1st Edition DM's guide is still very very useful in many ways even for players today. Obviously the rules have almost completely changed. This guide though goes into some detail about how a DM should manage a campaign to maximize everyones fun. I also know that rule zero solves nearly anything and it will definitely cover any difficulties I might encounter. I agree with the guy who said capricious last second rule 0'ing is bad. Agree.

But here is an example: Suppose you've designed a lengthy series of adventures almost a mini-compaign if you will. Part of the assumption of this campaign is that the characters will travel overland between each dungeon site. Perhaps along the way you've placed some valuable clues and maybe some interesting NPC interactions.

Right before this campaign starts, one of the players announces that he is going to create a flying carpet. You realize that with a flying carpet your whole overland adventure may turn out to be boring and perhaps the group won't even "discover" what they need to discover along the way. A well trained DM will find a way to prevent the players from laying their hands on that flying carpet. An inexperienced DM will allow the players to railroad him into allowing the item because its in a book somewhere for a specific price.

I believe a good DMG should point these things out. It should warn the DM that blind allegiance to random treasure tables is a bad idea. My gut is that no DMG since the 1st has really covered these topics very thoroughly. The 3rd was better than the 2nd. I have high hopes the 4th will be a lot better.

I just think when you institutionalize right in the players handbook a list of magic items with prices you encourage trouble. In fact I have on occasion created completely unique wondrous items. They might in fact resemble in some ways the items in the book. I've done this to offset meta-game knowledge. A sense of wonder is half the fun. I know when I played I enjoyed a sense of wonder and mystery.

I don't want this discussion to devolve into a magic item debate either. All I'm saying is that there is an underlying philosophy that I don't see abating any time soon. I just wish they worked harder to teach DMs not to drive over a cliff just because the rules say so.

Again let me reiterate--THIS IS ABOUT A TREND-- I am not a hater of 4th Edition. I'll have all 3 books the second they come out.

Also I agree you've made some valid points. Perhaps 4th will be better than 3rd but still not as good as 1st. Or maybe it will be better than all the previous editions. I'm not optimistic. When James Wyatt tells me flat out that the default rule for magic item creation is -- 1 ritual + x gp = any magic item then thats a bad sign.
Actually, it was mentioned that Rituals of all kinds will need to be purchased (like purchasing a scroll in previous editions) before they can be learned. So in order to learn the Ritual of Magic Item X, the party Wizard will need to research/purchase that Ritual, which places final control in the hands of the DM. This also applies to planar travel.

I haven't been DM'ing for as long as others (only about 7 years), but the trend I see in 4th Edition gets me extremely excited. It looks like I'll actually have FUN running encounters, instead of feeling discouraged as my BBEG can't hit the Psychic Warrior because he has 60-something AC. I'll actually have fun because my well thought out encounters won't be over in a few rounds, that I'll get to play my monsters with cruel intent, confident that the players won't be killed in a matter of moments, that they'll have time to react and adapt. I'm excited because calculating XP and encounters has been made simple and elegant, that I can focus more on storytelling then on math.

Really, I just don't see this trend you speak of. 3rd edition was nightmarish to DM in, the players were insanely powerful (were able to plane travel at a whim, and change their feats/skills [had a psion in the party] to adapt to any challenge), the time required to calculate XP, CL, and ECL was ridiculous, and the battles were extremely short and swingy. 4E seems to be changing this.
I always thought that D&D was a group story telling game.

The DM's responsibility is to create a setting, judge questionable rules, and make sure the players are having fun.

Too much DM control is BAD (as are linear storylines).

The world should be a living breathing creation of everyone involved...
NOT just the DM.
You realize that with a flying carpet your whole overland adventure may turn out to be boring and perhaps the group won't even "discover" what they need to discover along the way. A well trained DM will find a way to prevent the players from laying their hands on that flying carpet. An inexperienced DM will allow the players to railroad him into allowing the item because its in a book somewhere for a specific price.

My interpretation of a "well trained" DM is that he would have forseen this, and be able to revise his campaign on the fly, such that the PCs can still have their interactions while flying through the air on their carpet, rather than "railroad" the players through a preset route by limiting their options.

"No - you cannot fly overhead. You cannot make a detour. You must go right through this stretch of 5 dungeons I have created". Yeah - that sounds real pro to me...

I just think when you institutionalize right in the players handbook a list of magic items with prices you encourage trouble.

I just wish they worked harder to teach DMs not to drive over a cliff just because the rules say so.

The rules are there to facilitate the DM's job. For example, in 3e, the assumption underlying the concept of cr was that the foe was presumably a fair fight for 4 PCs adequately equipped for their wealth guidelines. The magic item list allows a DM to quickly and efficiently equip the party and know that it is balanced and enough to meet future challenges.

For me at least, I never had to worry (well, most of the time) about whether a certain item was priced incorrectly.

When James Wyatt tells me flat out that the default rule for magic item creation is -- 1 ritual + x gp = any magic item then thats a bad sign.

I have honestly never understood why DMs have such an issue with allowing PCs to access whatever magic items they want. Maybe it is just me, but I have never had a problem with it. It keeps them happy, since they have the custom gear they like to properly trick out their characters. Which in turn makes adventuring more fun, since the fighter specializing in greatswords has that magical greatsword he needs, not some crummy longsword he found in a random stash.:P

Personally, I have no idea where the idea of "The DM is the ultimate GOD" came from. IMO, it is the players' game as much as it is the DM's. He should be working with them, not against them.
I have honestly never understood why DMs have such an issue with allowing PCs to access whatever magic items they want. Maybe it is just me, but I have never had a problem with it. It keeps them happy, since they have the custom gear they like to properly trick out their characters. Which in turn makes adventuring more fun, since the fighter specializing in greatswords has that magical greatsword he needs, not some crummy longsword he found in a random stash.:P.

Wait, you don't kick a Fighter when he is down?
"You can't buy magic items. And you wasted specialization/focus in Greatsword. Now all you will are longswords, Whahaha~."

I think some DMs actually think that way. After all, DMs=nerds, Fighters = Jocks.
Nerds hate jocks. Thus, DMs hate Fighters. And love to torture them. Just a thought.
"If you can't believe in yourself, believe in me who believes in you." and "Go beyond the impossible, and kick reason to the curb" Kamina, from Gurren Lagann
Let's talk about the things we DO know, sheerly from the D&D Experience previews, and blogs online from the developers:

1. Magics such as Fly, teleports, and wishes are being either removed from the game, or pushed back to MUCH higher level. Challenges of environment or positioning that the DM throws at the players are gaining much more strength and prevalence , unlike 3e or even 1e.

2. Monsters are becoming much more durable than before; the "glass cannons" of 3e are being replaced by monsters reminiscent of 2e, with more staying power.

3. The selfsame monsters are being given suites of oddball powers that players either can't get themselves, or which personify the uniqueness of the critter. Mearls mentions things like bugear stranglers, or goblinoids that leap out of the way of an attack, or evil lords that can use their minions as meat shields as immediate actions. All these speak to what used to be known in 1e and 2e as "suspicious-ass DMing", or "DM fiat."

4. healing between battles is more prevalent, but in the pregens we've seen, noticeably absent is anything OTHER than curing magics. No magics for blindness, or energy drains, and apparently the "resist energy" spell is now for something like 10th level PCs by itself.

5. Monster stats are vastly simplified, meaning a DM can run more creatures in less time.

So in a way, I think the pendulum is swinging MORE, not less, back to 1e and 2e in terms of DM aid and power.
The degree of DM control is a matter of social contract. If you needed a book to enforce it, you never had control in the first place.

Also, you're wrong. On all counts. Unequivocably.

Rule 0 is no where to be found. Perhaps in 3.0 there may be some minor references.

This has been pointed out already.

Players are able to translate magic items to and from gold at will.

First of all, the inclusion of rule 0 invalidates this point as the DM can just say no.

Second, you don't even actually need rule 0 here, though. What does one need to make a +1 sword that requires a thousand gold pieces? Where does one find these magical materials?

Most players buy and read the Monster Manual and the Dungeon Masters guide.

Proof? None? I didn't think so.

Also, how does this cause the DM to lose control of the game? The DMG rather pointedly reinforces the idea that the DM is in charge, so if reading it were to have any effect at all, it would actually be the exact opposite.

The real issue is that players have a better idea of what they want. But this isn't a problem unless you have trouble saying no. The only reason why this would be an issue is if you just plain aren't cut out to DM.
I have honestly never understood why DMs have such an issue with allowing PCs to access whatever magic items they want. Maybe it is just me, but I have never had a problem with it. It keeps them happy, since they have the custom gear they like to properly trick out their characters. Which in turn makes adventuring more fun, since the fighter specializing in greatswords has that magical greatsword he needs, not some crummy longsword he found in a random stash.:P

It comes from a passage in the 1e DMG (pg. 92) where Gygax (peace be upon him) says that players should be, more or less, begging to have a magical item, and giving magic items away because the players want them is paramount to hitting the self-destruct button on your campaign because magic items, especially above-your-level items, outright broke the campaign. 3e really was the first attempt at really quantifying magic items in a less byzantine manner, but it didn't work because the magic items themselves were still kinda screwed up. For every edition to date giving your players free reign over their magic items is like asking someone to find a broken combo, or min/max themselves beyond the rest of the party.

In the desert
I saw a creature, naked, bestial,
who, squatting upon the ground,
held his heart in his hands, and ate of it.
I said, "is it good, friend?"
"It is bitter – bitter," he answered;
"but I like it,
"beacuase it is bitter,
"and because it is my heart."

1. Magics such as Fly, teleports, and wishes are being either removed from the game, or pushed back to MUCH higher level. Challenges of environment or positioning that the DM throws at the players are gaining much more strength and prevalence , unlike 3e or even 1e.

Which seems to run counter to the young black dragon entry posted some time back.

It is a 4th lv solo fight, meaning it is supposed to be challenge a group of 4th lv PCs. Yet, it is apparently able to fly, meaning that unless the PCs excel in ranged attacks, it is pretty much a TPK as the dragon repeatedly strafes them with breath attacks. It seemed the only reason why the PCs even stood a chance was because the DM opted not to have it fly. Which meant that if he had let it to the air...

Delayed access to tactics such as flight seems counterintuitive if you consider that foes still retain the same tactics.