I'd planned on doing a review of Dungeon Master's Guide 2, but ended up getting double-whammied by illness (strep and swine flu: do not want!), which when coupled with my Japanase and Multimedia classes flaring up and an onset of work (both paid and D&D) left me with nil time. So since I have some downtime today, I'm just going to highlight the parts that I've both managed to read and enjoy.
Vignettes (pg 22)
I'm doing this in my adventure arc, At The Mines of Madness, where the players get to play some of the victims, and actually decided on this when I saw it in a DMG2 preview on Wizards.com. Having read the entire section (again?), I'm going to do some flashback sequences in Songs of Erui for when Greymalkin met Grynn for the first time, and maybe even when adventurers arrive to take down Grynn's tribe and master, allowing the group to see first hand Gribbeth's capabilities.
I think its a good way to not only roll through a given character's background, but to ensure that the DM and players are all on the same page. Its kind of a pain when I as a DM drop some info on something and it confuses the player its intended for, giving you one of those, "No, my father was supposed to be dead, remember?" moments that stops the game as the DM and player fiddle through the details again.
Companion Characters (pg 27)
I had a player who wanted to play D&D via chat, but only him and his girlfriend were available. Since a pair makes for a poor party and neither wanted to play a fighter or paladin, they ended up getting a big-ass dog that would work as a defender. It was mostly like a monster stat block, but was on par with their own defenses and attack bonuses and the like (plus it could also get more powers and feats).
I think companion characters are cool and can be a fun roleplaying tool. The baby owlbear in the The Whispering Cairn made for an awesome bit of social roleplaying as the party argued over taking care of it, selling it, or training it as a guard animal (even though one of the players kept telling him that you cant train them like that). They ended up selling it to Allustan, since they were having a hard time taking care of it while adventuring, but I could see parties having semi-regular companions making appearances, such as Mouse in The Dresden Files.
Terrain (pg 58)
Provided quite a few ideas for me, and I ended up using a blood midge cloud in the next adventure I ran. Not much to say about the normal terrain: you get some new terrain and mechanic information on how it works, so hopefully this guides DMs on how to do their own stuff.
Now, the section on terrain powers was too cool and too short. There's only seven, and that makes for a sad Antioch... I'm happy to say that at least I did the wall-pushing bit mostly right. I'd used something like that in The Hounds of Ulster, where the players could crush phase spider swarms under rocks (counted as a blast attack, so it deal bonus damage) while breaking phase spider webs that were blocking line of effect for teleporting. It required a skill check but affected a smaller area of effect. T.T
The Entire Fucking Chapter On Customizing Monsters (pg 102)
I'm a sucker for making thematic adventures, and when I was in a kid I'd done the elemental dungeon with lots of fire things here, water things there, etc. Nowadays I like to keep things...consistent, lets say. If I use goblins, then likely most of its going to be goblins unless I've got a good reason to swap them out. Not in the Keep on the Shadowfell sense where they "upgrade" to hobgoblins, oh no: I'll just use higher level goblins.
Monster themes really grab me since my current campaign uses a lot of primal elements. With the Feywild Denizen themes, I can reflect the subtle influence of Erui and the Feywild on their inhabitants much, much better now. I'm also going to rework several monsters in At The Mines of Madness to include elements from the Those Who Hear theme...
Divine Boons (pg 139)
Me likey. Granting characters special gifts that are not just material treasure is awesome. I'm going to use this when characters start getting rewards from spirits or the fey courts.
Item Components (pg 146)
I like this because I was already doing it since 2nd Edition, I just didnt have an exact set of mechanics for it. ^_^
I like this second interation a looot more than the first one, mostly because much of the information out of DMG had been drilled into my brain from years of playing games, reading about running games, and listening to my group bitch about the shitty games they'd been in. This one does go through some of the old motions that I'm used to (mostly with player personalities and motivations), but it seems to focus on more veteran aspects of the game.