Traps Suck

Traps suck in D&D. They just do. Which is a shame, because everyone feels like they have to use them. So, if you must have traps, here’s how to make them suck less. BONUS: As a result of a poop, you also get a proposed experimental way to change the rules.

Systematic InterACTION!

A long, long time ago, I promised to teach you a cool, simple system for designing and running social interaction encounters. Well, today’s the day. And it’s only a few years late!

Death Sucks

Lots of things piss me off. But one thing pisses me off more than any other for the purposes of this article: when people ask me how to punish PC death. Isn’t death punishment enough? Why do GMs have such a hard time dealing with death?

Keeping Pace

Pacing: it’s one of those words that everyone thinks they know. And they don’t. Let’s talk about Pacing, Flow, and how to build a good pace into your adventure.

When Episodes Ain’t Episodes: How to Structure a Session

Tabletop RPG sessions are a lot like TV shows. The problem is the one very important way in which they are not at all like TV shows. If you always want to leave your players hungry for more, you have to learn how to structure your SESSIONS like episodes, NOT your adventures.

Previously, On The Angry GM: The Art of the Recap

GMs suck at giving recaps. They give too much information or too little information or the wrong information or they make it boring or they let the dumba&$ players do it or they do it by e-mail. Recaps are a very powerful that no GM understands, let alone uses well. Except me. Because I’m a genius.

A Plot, B Plot; One, Two, Three Plot (An Ask Angry Special)

It started as a simple question about how to juggle two plot lines. It became an entire treatise on building campaigns with multiple plot arcs. This article is the first ever article under the category “How to Build a F$&%ing Campaign.”

Getting There is Half the Fun

They say that the journey is its own reward and that getting there is half the fun. Yeah? Well, not in D&D. Overland travel in D&D sucks. But here I come to unsuck it. Or to help you just get rid of it altogether. Either way is fine. Just pick one.

Don’t Roll the Dice When You Can Hide Them Instead

We play games because we don’t know how they are going to turn out. And games use several tricks to keep us from knowing the outcome. The problem is GMs only ever use one of those tricks. And it’s the worst one.

Hide and Seek: Traps

There’s lots of things GMs might hide in their adventures. For example, traps. But how does D&D handle traps? Why does D&D suck at handling traps? And how should it handle traps?

How to XP Good

Why don’t people understand why character advancement is important? Why don’t people see the value of point-based character advancement? Why is it so hard to handle XP right? Well, when even Mike Mearls can’t get it right, there’s no hope for you. At least, there wasn’t. Until I came along to tell you How to XP Good.

How NOT to Teach Newbies D&D

If you give a newbie a game, he’s going to want to a campaign. If you give the newbie a campaign, you’ll be stuck with a terrible player for life. Don’t make that mistake.

Puzzles Suck

I’m sick of dealing with questions about how to implement puzzles properly from GMs who insist that puzzles just suck. So, it’s time for me to act. By writing 5,000 words about it and then walking away.

Don’t Bring Me Solutions, Bring Me Problems

There’s a difference between a puzzle and a problem. And most GMs don’t understand the difference. That’s a shame because most GMs who think they want puzzles in their game actually want problems. And problems work better.

Narrative Structure for Morons

The only thing worse than a GM with no sense of narrative structure is one who just learned some new form of narrative structure in school. This is an open letter to GMs obsessed with the three-act structure, the five-room dungeon, and Joseph Motherf$%&ing Campbell to PLEASE STOP E-MAILING ME.

Narrative Structure for REAL Morons

This article EVENTUALLY builds a basic narrative structure for gamers. But first, it has to spend a time on some remedial lessons. Apparently, some things didn’t sink in the first time I discussed narrative structure.

Narrative Structure for Advanced Morons

Having developed a nice list of story turning points in previous articles, it’s time to turn our attention to Joseph Campbell’s monomyth and see what additional turning points he’s got to offer. And to see if there’s anything MORE IMPORTANT people overlook when talking about Campbell. Hint: there is.

Ideological Wars: Themes, Conflict, and RPG Settings

You can get a lot of mileage out of themes. Especially when you set up some thematic conflicts. You just have to know what themes are and how to set up their conflicts. And why “good versus evil” doesn’t count as a conflict.

An Angry Guide to Practical Cartography

People keep asking me how to draw good maps. Well, I can’t teach you how to draw pretty maps, but I can teach you how to draw useful maps. The trick is to stop trying to draw maps and start presenting information instead.