10 Rules Pages to Make Your Life Easier as a DM

Hey hey! My vacation from my day job is officially a GO so that means I have more time to do the thing I love: create D&D-related content.

Last night, I was looking through my Dungeon Master’s Guide and I thought to myself, “Dang, some of these optional rules are cool, but I bet they get missed a lot.” So here’s a Top 10 list of rules pages to make your life easier as a DM.

#1 – XP Thresholds by Character Level (DMG p82)

Having trouble balancing your encounters? Fortunately, there’s a couple charts and rules in the DMG that can help you do just that. The first of which is on page 82, the XP Thresholds by Character Level. My adventures live and die by this chart. Of course, these days, I sort of have an intuition for these rules. But still, if you’re just starting out, this is the way to go. This chart will help you balance 6-8 encounters for your party in a single adventuring day.

Note, if you’re looking for epic level encounters, you might want to double the deadly XP threshold.

#2 – Monster Statistics by Challenge Rating (DMG p274)

Want to make your own monster and make sure it’s balanced? That’s what page 274’s awesome chart, Monster Statistics by Challenge Rating is for. I’ve used this chart so much that it’s actually beginning to fade. No kidding. Every single monster I create for the site gets a rundown with this graph.

#3 – Spell Damage (DMG p284)

Another huge resource for creating your own Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition content, the Spell Damage chart on page 284 of the DMG tells you exactly how much damage spells should have when you create them. Plus, this helps you balance out your magic items, too.

#4 – Treasure Tables (DMG p137)

While I love the magic items in this section of the DMG, the most useful section has got to be the treasure tables on pages 137-139). These are crazy useful for balancing adventures and making sure that I hand out enough treasure to my PCs.

#5 – Magic Items Awarded by Rarity (XGtE p135)

Another crazy useful chart when you’re stocking your dungeons is the Magic Items Awarded by Rarity table in Xanathar’s Guide to Everything. This helps you balance out the number of magic items that you’re offering your PC’s so you don’t end up overpowering them too much.

#6 – All of Chapter 8 of the PHB (PHB p181)

If there’s ever a confusion with the rules, the answer is probably found on page 181 of the Player’s Handbook. This has all the movement rules, environment rules, vision, light and cover rules, and so many other things that constantly need looking up, it’s almost worth permanently bookmarking this section.

#7 – Conditions Appendix (PHB p290)

Why this is in the back of the PHB and doesn’t get its own chapter is a mystery to me. Conditions are a major part of the game and really add a lot of variety to encounters. All of the conditions are detailed all the way in the first appendix.

#8 – Monster Statistics (MM p6)

The monster stat blocks have tons of important information that can get confusing. Therefore, it’s worthwhile looking over the introduction at the start of the Monster Manual. Plus, when you’re making your own monsters, you’ll want to reference this section quite a bit.

#9 – Wilderness Survival Rules (DMG p109)

Another way to shake things up with your encounters and games is by throwing in different wilderness elements.  The wilderness section of chapter 5 in the Dungeon Master’s Guide gives you rules for extreme weather conditions, hazards, foraging, and getting lost which adds a whole new dynamic to the game.

#10 – Monster Lists (DMG p303)

This is another one of those “why wasn’t this included in the first place” type things: Appendix B of the Dungeon Master’s Guide, the Monster Lists. This appendix lists all the monsters by environment and then by challenge rating. Later monster books offer this stuff up right away (and even sort by type, too, which is mega-helpful).

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