Looking Back, Looking Forward: A Year in Angry

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Hey.

Yeah, yeah, I know. It’s been two f$&%ing weeks since you heard from me. How dare I walk in here and just say “hey” like nothing is up. Well, truth is, a lot is up. My life became a maelstrom about two weeks ago, chaos ensured, and well, here we are again. But, this was a good maelstrom. Sort of. It’s complicated. And I’m going to explain. That’s what this is all about. But, I’m going to do something un-f$&%ing-precedented. I’m going to cut to the chase first and then cover the details. So, by the end of this introduction, which is neither long nor rambling, you will know the big change in store for the site. And then, I’m going to explain the personal details of my life that have gotten me there. Those details are skippable. After those details (which you can skip), you’ll find details about the update schedule for the rest of January and then for the near future. That’s right, it’s time for my annual State of the Anger Address.

So, here it is, the big news: as of today, being The Angry GM is my full-time job. I’ve left the day job. There is nothing weighing on my time except being The Angry GM. And that means a regular schedule, the return of some back-burnered projects, and some exciting NEW possibilities coming soon. If you want to know the details, you can read the personal details in the next section. Instead, if you just want to know what to expect for January and beyond, you can skip the personal details. But either way, I do want to say this right up front: this was not an easy decision and it entails a big risk, though not as big as it could have been, and my girlfriend and I are both going to be working very hard to make this work. But it wouldn’t even be possible without YOUR support. Those of you who support me on Patreon have allowed me to take this big chance on taking The Angry GM to the next level. And those of you who don’t have the means to support me are still supporting me. Just knowing how many people are reading this site and seeing the e-mails and messages thanking me for all of my hard work has made this a decision worth making. So, if you are reading this, you’re making this happen. Thank you.

2016: An Angry Retrospective

Okay, this is the part about the personal details of my life. Feel free to skip this crap. Because it really is crap. But some people actually seem to care about what’s going on in my life and I figure you deserve to know if you want to know. After all, you people are paying for this s$&%. So, here it goes.

Let me begin by saying this: you cannot move across the country and expect to be settled in a month. You can’t even expect to be settled in six months. That was a big mistake. I mean, it’s been eighteen months since I packed up all of my stuff and moved 800 miles from New York to Chicago alone. And I figured I would be settled and pay down all the expenses and everything in, oh, about two weeks. Even without including robberies, having my identity stolen, two major computer failures, an exploding stove, a plumbing disaster, and everything else that happened, I wouldn’t have been settled for a few months. But then, I also met an amazing person and decided to drag her into this maelstrom. So, just when I was starting to feel settled, almost nine months after the move, I got myself into a relationship with @TheTinyGM. And, while that has been going amazingly well and even my marketing and brand team thinks it has been an overall positive step, it kept everything from settling. Especially when five months ago, we decided to move her a couple hundred miles down to Chicago so we could move in together. Another expensive, unsettling move. And, of course, more disasters. Some building damage. Unexpected expenses. A few debt issues.

Through all of this, despite the success of my Patreon (thank you), it was necessary to maintain a job. It started as a part-time job for some extra spending cash and health insurance. But, as expenses, debts, and disasters grew, I took on more hours to make ends meet. And the simple little part-time job quickly became all-consuming. It was also surprisingly stressful and grew to involve far more responsibility than it should have. It was becoming clear that my situation was unsustainable. I needed the money, but the hours and the stress and the random nature of the schedule with lots of sudden, last minute changes were making it impossible to maintain my site. When it became clear that something needed to change, I enacted Operaton Catch the F$&% Up. And that lasted for about a month before two major tragedies struck at work and pushed me from part-time to full-time. And because of Tiny’s and my joint financial struggles and her difficulty with finding a good job, I had to accept the hours. And then things started to go very bad.

I can’t talk about details. But the place I was working at ran into some problems and some of the people in power were breaking some rules. Morale was at a low, staff turnover was ridiculous, and I ended up working through the holidays. Ultimately, I had to blow the whistle on some issues, and that was when I knew my days there were numbered. I was in a deep funk. I had to work through the holidays. I wasn’t gaming anymore. I wasn’t doing anything except working, stressing, and coming home. It had been almost a year since I had run anything beyond a one-shot game. My creative energies were shot. And my health was bottoming out. My issues with diabetes and high blood pressure were reemerging and I was putting weight on again.

As we came toward the new year, I knew I would be leaving that job. I had to. I would probably need a different part-time job, but I would be more careful about accepting something that would be more compatible with my plans for the site. And I would have to make some other changes for my life. Tiny and I made a pact to both improve our working situations before January 31. And the clock was ticking because we were also going a trip to New York so I could see my family for my birthday.

And then everything sort of happened at once. It was my intention to take the first work of January off since I could still get four features up because the 31st was a Tuesday. And it was my intention to post an update on the 9th and let people know what the hell was going on. But on the morning of the 9th, a whole lot of things happened at once. Actually, just one thing. But it was big enough to trigger a whole bunch of dominoes. Basically, without going in to some personal details, Tiny got offered a new full-time job. She’d been waiting almost two months for this one. It was a big one. Big enough that we could support ourselves on it and my Patreon and still be comfortable and save money. See, we are planning to move out of Chicago in eighteen months and Tiny is planning to finish college. So, we need to be able to do all of those things. But what that meant is that, for the next eighteen months, I could focus on taking The Angry GM to the next level.

But, the new job caused a problem. Because the mandatory orientation and training fell right smack dab in the middle of our New York trip. And moving the trip would cause a problem because she’d be unable to give her current job any notice. And I would be completely unable to move the trip with my current job because the schedule was already posted and with one of my peers out for surgery already, it’d be impossible to get my shifts covered. And moving the trip would be expensive.

And so, we quit our jobs. That night. We both went into work and quit our jobs. And two days later, we were on a plane to New York. And, sure, we have to live on Ramen noodles for two weeks now, but she got the job, I got to go home for a week and a bit, and she got to see New York and meet my family for the first time. And now, the day after I’ve returned from that trip, the day of my actual birthday, here I am to tell you the good news.

The last year was supposed to be a great year for The Angry GM. And several great things were supposed to happen. None of it did. Life got in the way. I made big plans, I overpromised a lot, and in the end, I couldn’t deliver. I went through a major crisis and realized I should probably give this s$&% up and go get a real job. But now, as this year starts, I have eighteen months to focus solely on The Angry GM and to build it into something sustainable. Beyond that, I don’t know. I’ll see what happens when I get closer to that point. But I really, truly don’t want this to go away. I want it to be more.

That said, I want to be cautious. I don’t want to overpromise. I need to set better priorities and focus on a sustainable workflow now, while I have the time, so that if this does go back to being a part-time venture, I can keep it up. So, even though I do have some big plans, I’m not going to talk about all of them. I’m going to stay cautious and practical right now.

So, that’s the 2016: A Year in Anger.

2017: Furiously Looking Forward

So, what can you expect in 2017? Well, let’s take it bit by bit. First, let me tell you about my plans for January and then we’ll talk bit by bit about what else to expect.

A January Blitz

Even though the beginning of January was a chaos of job hunts, job disasters, and the sudden rescheduling of trips, you WILL still get four Angry feature articles. I haven’t failed to deliver them yet and I don’t plan to start now. They will be released on Friday, January 20th; Wednesday, January 25th; Friday, January 27th; and Tuesday, January 31st. They are going to happen. You’ll also get two more Words of the Week in January, on Friday, January 20th and Friday, January 27th. And then, after that, the schedule will normalize.

Feature Articles in 2017

Lately, I’ve been writing all of my feature articles very close to the deadlines. Well, actually, the deadlines have been kind of random anyway. So, I’ve basically been writing, editing, revising, and publishing in very quick sequence. And that does work. I can post content that way. But it causes a few problems.

First of all, I miss a lot of errors. My posts lately have been pretty typo-laden and messy. Expect that to change. I might even have some help on the back-end editing front. Second of all, it means that I can’t get awesome original art for my feature articles from @BigJonMosley. And that art is amazing. I’ve already met with Jon about resuming his work for the site. So, expect more art. Third of all, it means that certain TYPES of articles can’t happen. Meaty, crunchy, mathy articles just don’t fit into that cycle. Neither do articles that requires lot of examples or images. Nor does a certain article about writing and running an adventure for complete newbies because I’d like to include an example of how to make pregen characters newbie friendly and even a skeleton outline of a module. Yeah, that’s why THOSE articles haven’t been happening. Similarly, rules hacks articles rely on me actually running games and experimenting. And without running games, I’m not experimenting. So expect more meaty, crunchy articles with examples and new rules ideas and new actual content.

Beyond that, I will be returning to a regular publishing schedule in February. Starting February 8, a new feature article will go live every Wednesday morning at 5 AM CST with only occasional variations due to the way months fall. For example, you’ll get a feature on Tuesday, February 28th, so I get four in in February.

Otherwise, I will continue my pledge of four feature articles every month. That, after all, is what my supporters are ultimately paying for.

Ask Angry

Starting in mid-February, Ask Angry will become it’s own column, but the columns will be shorter. I’ll answer one question each week, posted on Tuesday at 5 AM CST. I will still occasionally coopt a really good Ask Angry question for a Feature Article, but I won’t be doing any more Feature Articles that consist of three Ask Angry articles crammed together.

The GM Word of the Week

I need to explain a little bit about the GM Word of the Week. In case you don’t know, I write the script for a weekly, 20-minute podcast called The GM Word of the Week. Each week, we start with a single word and take a journey through gaming culture, history, science, mythology, sociology, biology, and pop culture using that word as a starting point. The idea was to create a sort of Audio Word-a-Day Calendar for gamers. Of course, it actually started as a little side-blog I used to write that nobody ever read. And the GM Word of the Week has become very popular.

However, the project ISN’T mine. I gave away the rights to produce and distribute the podcast to my good friend and the former editor-in-chief of The Mad Adventurers Society, Brian “Fiddleback” Casey. It is actually his project, not mine. I just write and research. I mean, we’re partners. But it isn’t an Angry GM project. In case you are wondering, that’s why I only post links to the podcast and why I don’t advertise MY Patreon on the GM Word of the Week posts. And that’s also why I can’t give you transcripts.

But things changed for Brian this year too. He shut down the Mad Adventurers Society. We are now continuing the GM Word of the Week as its own project and it has its own website now at http://www.gmwordoftheweek.com.

The GM Word of the Week is supported by its own Patreon, which helps us pay the production and hosting costs. When and if it becomes profitable, I will benefit from that profit, but as it stands right now, that project is entirely separate from The Angry GM. If you only want to support the GM Word of the Week, you can do so via that site’s Patreon. If you want to support everything else I do here, that’s done through my Patreon. But the two are entirely separate, with their own rewards and goals.

That said, if you like gaming and nerdy word play, you absolutely should check out the GM Word of the Week. And you should consider rating and reviewing it too so that more people can find it. Yes, those reviews and ratings DO help it show up in other people’s searches and iTunes and things. And we’ve also made the decision to submit it for an Ennie award this year. Because SOMEONE has to compete with Ken and Robin. So, when it comes time to do whatever it is people do to make Ennies happen, be ready to do your part.

The Megadungeon

Okay, I know everyone wants to hear about this. Honestly, I didn’t expect this project to become so f$&%ing popular. Part of me wishes I never decided to make it a design blog. Then, I could work on it quietly in the background in my leisure.

The Megadungeon is a weird project because the project and the articles are two separate things. I work on the design and then I write about it. So, it takes twice as much time as anything else I do. And, because of my major personal time and stress issues, I just didn’t have that time to invest. But now, I do.

Starting in late February, the Megadungeon will return. And it will continue to be updated every Monday for the foreseeable future.

Patreon Rewards and Online Games

I’ve REALLY been dropping the ball on Patreon rewards. The Secret Stash seemed like a good thing to promise when I was running regular games and producing a lot of my own content. But as I’ve been between games, suddenly, it’d require me to create content specifically for it. There are two changes coming for that. First of all, it appears I will be running a regular game starting in the near future. So there will be more general content. But second of all, I’ve been outlining and started creating a freebie product I intend to give to all of my $4 and $5 Patreon supporters by way of thank you. It’s a simple, short supplemental thingy I’ve wanted to do for a while and it should be ready by mid-March. It isn’t super fancy or anything. Just some lore, monsters, and background for you to use in your game. But if it comes out okay, I plan to do more.

The other thing I have in the works – because I NEED to be running some games – is the start of running some semi-regular online games. In February, I will be reaching out to my $5 Patreon supporters with details about how to get into some online Angry One Shots. While they will be individual adventures with no continuity, they will also be a sort of “testing the waters” thing to see if I can do something more substantial.

An Angry Book?

I’ve gotten VERY NUMEROUS e-mails and messages about compiling my website into a book. People want my stuff in a book. And, look, the answer is no. No, I will not compile my website articles into a book. Because I’ve had a different plan in the background for a while I can now resume. I AM putting out a book. But it’s going to be written from scratch. It’ll be a book for new and inexperienced GMs to learn how to run a game in a way no DMG will ever teach. It’ll be cleaned up, well-ordered, original content. Sure, it’ll cover a lot of the same ground I’ve covered on my site, but it will include some new material as well. I don’t want to reveal too many plans, but if all goes well, we’ll be talking more about how you can get a copy this summer.

Beyond…

Now, look, we all know I’m working on other things. One little itty bitty book is not the be-all and end-all of my plans. I’ve got other things in the works. But I still don’t want to overpromise. The first quarter of 2017 is focused on getting everything flowing the way it should be and delivering on the things I’m already supposed to be doing. Then comes a book. Then comes… beyond. It’ll be pretty cool, though. I promise.

Acknowledgments

Before I forget all about 2016 and leave the burning wreckage far behind me, I do want to acknowledge a few people. Obviously, I want to thank The Tiny GM for coming into my life and for supporting me and for talking me off the ledge when I was about ready to throw in the towel. She did more to save this website than anyone will ever know. Secondly, I want to thank Brian Casey. He made the GM Word of the Week a success and I didn’t make it easy for him. I’ve been flighty and hard to work with and I know it. He also believed in the project when I didn’t and he forced me to stick to it. And he just does an amazing job. Beyond that, he has been a great personal friend. Third, I want to thank Jon Mosley. We didn’t have much of an opportunity to work together this year, but he’s always waited on the sidelines, ready to pounce when I had the money and lead time to spare. And he was set to jump back in once it became possible. Fourth, I want to thank @NanbanJim. I don’t know who the guy really is, he’s just this Twitter guy, right? But he has gone above and beyond to spread the word about my site, about my charity work, and he’s also provided me a great deal of support and encouragement.

And beyond those three, I want to thank absolutely every last one of you readers and supporters. You’ve made this happen and you’ve made it worth it. Without you, this site would have folded. Without you, I’d have given up. Anything I accomplish in the coming year (and beyond), I only do because I had your support and encouragement. Keep reading, keep commenting, keep asking questions, and, above all, keep gaming.

And I hope your 2017 is as great as mine is going to be.

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44 thoughts on “Looking Back, Looking Forward: A Year in Angry

  1. Welp, that does it. Heading to Patreon to become a supporter. I appreciate your boldness, and love your plans for the future. Life’s too damn short for us to waste it by doing anything other than what we love. You can do this.

      • Dude you should have a wait list so people can see how long before they are up for a game. I’ll probably also become a 5 buck supporter if it gets me into a game. I don’t really care about the other stuff.

  2. Glad to hear your life is finally turning around. I hope 2017 prove to have clearer waters and fewer storms.

    Ps “chaos ensured” might be the best typo ever.

  3. I only hope I can soon be one of those $5 supporters! Angry GM Articles are the most helpful D&D-related product I’ve used since I first learned to play. Thank you @TheTinyGM for helping keep Angry off the ledge! Thanks Angry for keeping everything going, and I look forward to finding out how to teach new GMs better!

    • Actually, is there any way for me to donate MORE? Like, I don’t even need any of the extra stuff that comes with the higher support levels (though it would be cool). The content on this site alone is worth it. Or even a one time donation of more?

  4. Wow, I’ve never had a year like that, so honestly, no, I can’t sympathize…but I do heh. Anyway, I’ve upped my donation level to help you make ends meet. New Angry articles (especially Megadungeon, glad to hear this will be coming back) are one of the things I look forward to most, and I want to see them continue. Take care of yourself, I think everyone’s rooting for you.

  5. Good to have you back, Angry. I’m looking forward to what you create, like I always do. Your tenacity is laudable 🙂

  6. Happy birthday Angry, and congrats, congrats, congrats on throwing off the shackles of wage-labor and following your dreams! You’ve worked your ass off to get here and it’s good to see things pan out. At least as far as my own table top gaming history goes, I see it divided into two main eras: Before Angry, and After Angry. And when I think of all the great learnings I’ve taken from your work, I can’t help but eagerly anticipate the next year of wisdom, anger and great f&@$ing advice!

  7. Thanks for everything Angry. You’ve been one of the inspirations that have lead me to wanting to improve and run better games (heck, run games at all).
    If all goes well, I’ll be able to contribute to your Patreon next month 🙂

  8. So happy for you Angry! (and for me 😉 ) And Mike P. Yep, I’m another one who is definitely ALL about the Mega Dungeon. And Angry — I’m the girl with the message about laying out the Mega Dungeon — I’m not too shabby at books as well, and thrilled to help if you want/need it. 😀

  9. Honestly, I’m not much of internet goer anymore but this sight is one of the few things that continually restores my faith in humanity. Not to sound to much like a kiss @&$ but the fact that you can break this stuff down a make some truly interesting and original content week after week is a %$#@ing inspiration. I never get tired of reading your thoughts and even knowing your personal struggles this last year makes my own seem much more bearable (I also up ended myself to move across the country recently and am now settling in with a new significant other). Anyway this sight is awesome, you’re awesome, and what you do is awesome. I intend to be contributing as much as I can in the near future and I tell every gamer I know about you. Stay Angry, my friend

  10. Any move that takes you out of your community is a big disruption. It takes time to settle in even without the bad luck you’ve had. I hope 2017 goes better for you.

    You have huge plans to get things done on making RPGs better. I hope you can set aside time to take care of your health too. That’s the most important thing.

    I look forward to reading more from you and supporting future projects. 🙂

  11. Congratulations, I’m looking forward to your next articles. I’m not GMing on D&D but most of your ideas are applicable or lead me to other ideas that I can adapt to my own games. Even when they can’t (like the Megadungeon) I enjoy the read a lot.
    You know that not only your readers depend on you: most of us have players who depend on us for their games and they also indirectly benefit from your articles even without reading them. This hidden mob doesn’t appear in your visit count but is several times larger than your followers. Enjoy the pressure 😉

  12. Regarding a new all original book instead of a book publishing your articles in book-form: porque no los dos??

  13. Wait, the book will come out in the summer or you’ll talk about it in the summer? Would love to hear more about the book asap

  14. Long time lurker, first time poster.

    Very glad to hear that things are looking so promising for the year ahead. I cant wait to see what you are planning behind your proverbial GM screen. The return of a regular schedule and Mega Dungeon Mondays have me practically grinning.

    Keep it up. You have loads of people who want to learn from you and support you.
    Now excuse me whilst I go and try signing up to this patreon thingy so I can help you push The Angry GM to it’s next evolution.

  15. I like how you start with stating you don’t want to over promise and then continue with plans for at least one book, a scripted podcast, at least 4 long form articles, an online campaign, some extra online resources, a big ass project like the mega dungeon… 😛

  16. As usual, I’m fashionably late on reading this article, so feel free to poke fun at me for my obsolete response!

    As a friend I’m so excited to hear that your life is finally working out the way you want it to! We’ve kept you in our thoughts and it’s so relieving that you’re starting to get what you deserve.

    As a fan, I’m really looking forward to the new content. You make great stuff and I’ll always be reading along!

  17. Glad to see the Megadungeon will be returning. It’s why I began supporting you in the first place. I kept up my support through its hiatus because your other content was so good, but that was the thing that really hooked me. Congratulations to you and Tiny on all the good things happening for you!

  18. I’ve been quietly lurking on the site for months now, reading the backlog of articles and waiting for new content, and greatly enjoying not only your style but also incorporating the tips and tricks into the planning for the campaign I’m running now for my friends (my maiden voyage as a GM!). Thank you so much for being so passionate about gaming and sharing your knowledge and experience with the internets 🙂 Stay Angry!

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