Ask @TheAngryDM:

The Angry DM
Latest answers

It's been months since your last update. Are you still there?

Not really. If you'd like to ask me a question, you can check out my Ask Angry column on my website at . I don't do Ask.FM anymore.

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What is the last thing you forgot?

I don't remember. This is a stupid f$&%ing question.

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How do you run your 1st session? Do you have a plan? Do you just throw a bunch of random things at the players in an attempt to figure out what they want? What does a 1st session at Angry's table look like?

The first game of any campaign I run is always the worst game in that campaign. And I don't that for a very important reason. The first game isn't ABOUT me. I mostly need to get out of the way.

See, the players need to figure a lot out. And they need to figure it out quick. They need to figure out how to work together, they need to find their characters and their voices, they need to establish their relationships, they need to figure out mechanically how to use their characters, and so on and so forth. I'm going to have a lot of future sessions to establish the world, set up the stories, and so on and so forth. But I need that party functioning first. So I need to get out of the way. I let the players take their time, chat with each other in character, and if they start having interesting conversations, I don't interrupt that s$&%. I let it go. I basically let the players set the pace.

Obviously, if it is a group of people completely new to RPGs and D&D, I do things completely differently mind you.

Usually, I launch a campaign with a strong hook, even if it is only a short term hook. There's some sort of definite goal right in front of the party. And I keep it straightforward and simple. Maybe even a little cliched. The first session of my campaigns is usually "a journey." The party travels overland to get to the location where the goal will be achieved. That is a good adventure to let them set them the pace with. Meanwhile, I can drop all sorts of encounters in the way. A combat, an encounter with friendly NPCs, an encounter with something to investigate or poke and prod around with, maybe a few bits of foreshadowing, an obstacle that has a bunch of different ways to engage, and so on. That way, I can simultaneously let the party feel out how they will work together and get a sense of which players are interested in what.

So, really, the first session of an Angry Campaign is a herky jerky series of the players awkwardly feeling one another out while they walk from point A to point B while random things happen on the road. And it works REALLY well.

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DTRPG has released a statement in regards to the GG card game (link will be after the question). What are your thoughts about what they have said?

I'm going to be brief here: I think they have lost a customer. I will no longer purchase products on DTRPG, nor will I share links to products on DTRPG. They can join Evil Hat on the list companies I no longer support. That's my choice.

But, I want to say something else. This isn't about the DTRPGs and Targets of the world. They make their business decisions, I make my purchase decisions. End of f$&%ing story. But I want to talk about the OTHER people in this story.

I want to talk about the hand-wringing whinging assholes who think they have some sort of moral right or imperative to decide what products can and can't be sold where. The idea that, because a product is offensive to them, they have a right to call for it's removal from shelves. This is an evil idea. Those people are my enemy. And henceforth, I am at war with them.

The only thing that should determine whether a product exists and can be sold is whether someone has the willingness and ability to create said product. Except in cases where a product causes a provable, demonstrable, actionable harm to human beings. And OFFENSE is not harm. I mean products that explode and kill people. You have no right not to be offended. That's not a thing you are protected from.

Likewise, we have to have some rules in place for stuff sold to kids. But if it's only being sold to adults, that's off the table.

The existence of a product you find offensive that you are not forced to consume causes you NO HARM WHATSOEVER. If you find the idea that I, a legal adult, might be playing a violent video game or a card game you find offensive or something involving goddamned tenctacle porns or Nazis in the privacy of my home is so galling and reprehensible that you cannot live, the problem is you. Not me. I am only a problem if I actually kill people or rape people or summon tentacle monsters to rape and kill people. And until I do those things, I am guilty of nothing.

And the thing is, if I called for the removal of Mass Effect or Dragon Age Whatever because it had gay options and I found that personally offensive, you would laugh yourself shitless and tell me to fuck off. And you'd be right. People frequently send me those pictures of "what if video game men looked like women" and there's these guys in hypersexualized costumes and poses. And I'm like, cool, if you want, go make that game. Am I supposed to be upset? Hell, I save those pictures. I'm bisexual. Some of them are pretty hot.

So here's the thing. If you demand a product be removed as an option FOR EVERYBODY because you personally find it offensive, you are my enemy. Because someday (in the near future), I'm going to be publishing shit. And I don't want anyone but the market deciding whether or not my product can exist.

If I ever catch you calling for the removal or banning or destruction of a product just because it offends you, I'm at war with you. Done and done. Fuck you. This needs to STOP.

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A high level unarmoured character, especially a bad guy, taking half a dozen arrows without dying hurts me in the verisimilitude. Have thought that a 5+ roll on damage could give advantage on attacks against the target due to his wounds, but big monsters and armour?

You probably shouldn't be playing D&D. But hey, if you want to start f$&%ing with the system, go to town.

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I always felt races in D&D had to little an impact on characters, mechanics-wise, specially at later levels. How would you do races if you were designing a system? Do you think there is a problem with the way D&D handle races?

There's not PROBLEM with the way D&D chooses to handle race and the impact it has on the character. Because that's a choice the game makes. So, whether I agree with it or disagree with, I'm not calling a f$&%ing problem. A problem is when the game intends to do one thing and does another instead. There's no sign of that here. So no. Not a problem. I don't throw around words like "problem" and "broken" casually.

Thing is, you could actually make a case that there's this neat story thing that happens when the impact of race gets overwhelmed by the impact of things like feats, class, build, and so on. It shows that the choices the character makes in life are more important and defining than who that character was born as. And that's kind of a neat thing, I suppose. If that's what you want.

Me, I'm in your camp, though. I would like race to have more of a say. Or for there to be more of a reminder of your race throughout the game. Because race is sort of a complicated beast to begin with. At many games I've been a part of, after a few sessions, it's pretty easy to forget who is playing what race. It gets lost and forgotten pretty quickly and easily unless the player is very skilled at emphasizing it and most players are not. It kind of falls in line with genderbending. Ultimately, unless the player is very good at reminding people of who their character is (and that is a skill that takes practice), most players at the table forget that you are playing anything at all. They just see the character as an extension of you. This is further complicated by the fact that, in the end, people can only think like people. Elves, honestly, for living for thousands of year and having their origins in an unchanging magical otherworld, should have a very alien mindset. Dwarves should too. But we can't do that because our brains are still fundamentally human. Which is why we have to fake.

I honestly would have liked to see the personality trait/inspiration system work more with race than background. Like, maybe each race has a set of trait tables too? And you have to choose a balance of traits from your race OR your background (or make up appropriate ones in line with your race and your background). That would have been kind of neat except the inspiration system kind of sucks anyway. Yeah, I'm not going to stop harping on that.

But yes, I am with you. I would like race to matter more in some sort of mechanical and story way that makes it impossible for you to NOT play your race, even if you are not a skilled actor and role-player and not trying to play it to the hilt. Otherwise, it's just a set of bonuses you choose at character creation and means nothing.

And yes, I know the DM and the story SHOULD also emphasize race if they want to make it important. Don't even start on that s$&%. But I'd like some hardcoded incentives too. I hate that "well, the DM can fix it" bulls$&%.

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Clerics in 5E have a lot of domain choices. Have you given any thought to homebrewing a Pancake domain?

What the motherloving f$&% is wrong with you?!

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How do you deal with a crappy DM? He is attempting to run a "5e campaign" but really only used it to dictate our char. creation and has mostly thrown its mechanics to the wind. Also, each time we come up with character motives/backstory, he eliminates that storyline someway to continue his plan.

You leave. Holy f$&%, how many times do I have to answer the same questions. Talk it out or walk it out. That's it. That's all you can do. Hey, can you run a game? Maybe try that.

I don't mean to trivialize things, but that's really all you can do. You tell the person you aren't having any fun and tell them why. Maybe you will get lucky and they will listen. But likely they won't. Because if they were that aware of the happiness of people around them, they wouldn't run games that make people unhappy. Or maybe he thinks that's the way to run games. I don't know. But you can't make someone receptive if they are not receptive. So, if a rational, reasonable, polite conversation doesn't work it out, decide whether you can stick it out or not.

But, look, if you try to talk it out, always give the benefit of the doubt. Remember, DMs put a lot of effort and a lot of themselves into their games and you have to be sensitive to that. The DM might not realize the game is not fun or he might not understand what he's doing wrong. And if you don't approach it with sensitivity, the DM is probably going to get receptive. The game is a very personal thing to a DM and perceived judgment can be devastating. So, be cool, be calm, and be polite. Do not have a bitch session, do not make the DM feel attacked. Or else nothing is definitely going to change.

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3.5, Pathfinder and 5E have the reputation of being unbalanced beetween casters and non-caster classes. What do you do in your games to make the classes more balanced and the players feel like they can contribute equally to the challenges you present?

Nothing. Seriously. This is one of those things that people just keep pissing and moaning about. It's gotten blown out of all proportion. This whole thing is a tempest in a teapot. I ran 3.5 for eight years, I've run Pathfinder for four years, I've been running D&D 5E officially for three months. And I deal with it by not noticing it or caring.

Look, here's the thing, if you boil every challenge down to a standard, simple combat and never ever challenge the players in any other way, yeah, you're probably going to notice a mechanical mismatch. But it really doesn't take over until higher levels and most people don't play at very high levels. You'll find someone out there who will insist their game was absolutely ruined because they played a fighter and "all they could do was hit things," but ultimately, if the whole game is about hitting things, then, yeah, all anyone can do is hit things. And wizards have lots of different ways to hit things.

So? How do you deal with it? By running good games. Even a dungeon crawl should be a mix of different encounter types and even your combats should be varied and emphasize different things. And there should be choices and rewards for clever thinking. My game isn't about mechanically reducing the hit points of things to zero, even though I do run an action heavy game. That's how I deal with it.

But seriously: stop f$&%ing worrying about it. As Nishki said in that TV show Serenity, "but now I am not just reputation, something about solid, something something gossip." Don't sweat the f$&%ing reputation.

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Should guys wear a beard and what kind?

No. Facial hair is terrible.

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I've been exploring a lot of different systems lately like Savage Worlds, Dungeon World, Fate, DCCRPG, Microlite74 among others. If you removed all nostalgia attached to D&D, and chose only based the mechanics of the system, which game system would you say is your favorite to run.

D&D. D&D 3.5, though I admit 5E is growing on me and I have to give an honorable mention to Pathfinder. And, look, because people are obsessed with getting to talk about non-D&D s$&% lately, I'll throw you a bone: after D&D/PF, it'd probably be Savage Worlds. But, the reason I run D&D and Pathfinder and write about D&D and Pathfinder and talk about D&D and Pathfinder and call myself a DM instead of a GM is because I have a genuine love of D&D. And it isn't nostalgia fueled. I don't believe in nostalgia. Nostalgia doesn't stir my heart because I'm cold and bitter and hated my childhood. That's why I don't get the urge to go back to Basic D&D or AD&D 2E. Those games were fun at the time, but we f$&%ing know better. Fond memories are just memories. And those games are a mess in the cold light of modern design. Hell, I'll run 4E before I'll ever go back to AD&D 2E.

Every so often I get a question like this where someone implies that I have some weird sort of external factor that is the only reason I keep playing and running and tying my identity to D&D. I don't know why. D&D is a really, really good game that is a lot of fun. It's the game I WANT to run. I don't have many years left (as my doctor keeps reminding me as she checks my blood pressure); I no longer have time to waste running games I don't want to run. I'm done with that s$&%.

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Have you ever played "Aye Dark Overlord"? For some reason I think you would like the role of the Overlord.

I have not. But it looks like fun. Buy me a copy and send it to me.

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I mostly enjoy D&D from a distance, and have noticed that many people seem to be either hesitant, or confused, or repugnant whenever the topic of psionics is breeched. Why does this topic seem to rustle everyone's jimmies?

"Rustle everyone's jimmies?" Seriously? What does that even mean?! Are you British or Australian or something? "Rustle everyone's jimmies." Ha. What even are "jimmies?" Hahaha.

Okay... seriously. I don't know. I can't speak for anyone but myself. But psionics does "rustle my jimmies" (hahahaha). So, I can theorize, but in the end, it's just me guessing, I'm not even really sure why I hate psionics.

Thing is, psionics is kind of pseudo-sciency. It's a sci-fi thing. Really. Psychic powers are what you add to something sci-fi because adding magic feels silly. That's why Star Trek had mind melds and empathic betazoids rather than wizards and sorcerers. That's also why Star Wars had mystic powers and why people got mad when the Force got explained via midichlorions. Psionics and magic are basically the same thing, but one is fantasy and one is sci-fi. On a deep, subconscious level, that's just how it is. Now, some people are okay with sci-fi in their fantasy and I bet the same people who are okay with Barrier Peaks are perfectly fine with psionics in D&D.

On top of that, you've already got at least two different primary expressions of magic in D&D with numerous subdivisions (divine and arcane, paladins and clerics, warlocks and wizards and sorcerers and witches and eldritch knights and incarnates and on and on and on). Psionics is just one two many forms of magic, I think. Especially because divine and arcane magic are two sides of the same coin. They both work basically the same way, variations on a theme, with different sources. Which implies that's just how magic is. But then psionics comes along doing basically the same thing as magic, being magic, but being completely different from both perfectly good systems of magic that already exist.

And further, in some way, psionics has always been treated as a one off. Separate. Supplemental. In Basic D&D, it was barely mentioned. In 2E, 3E, 4E, and now 5E, it's not even a part of the core rules. It is always relegated to a supplement. Usually a supplement that gets resupplemented a couple of times during an editions run. So the system itself kind of treats it as a weird mutant outsider one-off. It's never really part of the core.

And further further, the rules for psionics are frequently clumsy, confusing, or just overly complicated. Again, it's just another form of magic. Why does it need it's own set of rules that are twice as complicated? It's a pain in the a$&.

So, thematically, psionics doesn't fit the fantasy ouvre. It's extraneous, it overlaps magic, it's overly complicated, and it's often tacked on. Some people love it, sure. But some people also love orange shag carpeting and Pacific Rim and spherical droids and dragonborn with tits. Find those people and slap them.

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Torchlight is terribly impractical; lots of open flame, lots of smoke (they were made of pitch and such), and they didn't last long. How do you reconcile that with underground dungeons and their lack of natural light without basically shrouding players in darkness or giving them uber-torches?


By not f$&%ing caring.

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"I’ll do a whole article about describing scenes someday. I promise." This is from your Four Things You've Never Heard of That Make Encounters Not Suck article. Has this happened yet and I missed it? If it hasn't I'm looking forward to it!

You didn't see it because I hid it on a completely different website. That's what you get for not following absolutely everything I do on every outlet ever. Angry Rants: Box Text

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So how did you make that special Elite Guardian Armor? Really I'd like to know how you figured out CR and decided on HP values. It's pretty cool and I'm excited to see more.

I will reveal all in time. I'm working on an article about Project Hydra. I have a little more play testing this week just to make sure I don't release crap. You know. Expect to hear more about it after Thanksgiving.

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When will you start your official Dungeon World blog?

If there was a way to send punches over the Internet, you'd have seven new unread messages from me right f$&%ing now.

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What makes a good DM?

The same things that make a good anything: passion, talent, and practice.

A good DM is someone who wants to be a good DM and is willing to work at being a good DM and constantly work to make themselves a better DM. So, passion and practice. Right?

Most people don't like to hear this, but there's a certain amount of natural talent involved too. Some people are just naturals at certain things. Others have to work harder and practice more to get good. And then there are people who just can't wrap their head around something, that will never ever be good at something. The amount of practice they need is either prohibitive or frustrating or just impossible. Sad to say because I know we all like to imagine we can be good at anything we work at, but talent IS a factor.

Now, DMing is more forgiving when it comes to talent because there are a lot of different skills that go into it and therefore a lot of different talents that can give you the head start you need to pull off being a good DM.

End of the day, though, you can't do anything about natural talent. It's either there or it's not and you never know until you try to unlock it. And passion is something you discover, not something you just have. You do something and start to love it, start to feel good doing it, and that drives you to keep doing it and doing it better. So, the only thing you can really do anything about is the practice thing. DM. Run a f$&%ing game. And keep running games. If you're meant to be a DM, it'll feel good and you'll get better. If you aren't, it won't get better and, if you're smart, you stop doing it because it hurts.

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Which word do you want everyone to stop using?

Nice try. I saw what happened when Time Magazine asked that question. People were NOT happy with how that went down. I'm keeping my mouth shut.

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What the motherloving f$&% even is that? I don't understand. Is there sound that I'm missing? I mean, even with sound, I don't think this would make any more sense. Unless there's a voice over that says something like "what do you think of the weapon tables in D&D 5E or something." Seriously. What the hell?

As a side note, what really baffles me in this video is the opening moment where the two ladies are standing face to face and take a single side-step toward the camera. I kind of understand the rest of the narrative. Here we have two friends. One is stuck up, overly serious, kind of a killjoy. The other one wants to stay in touch with her childhood whims, jumping into a pile of a leaves just for the sheer, unadulterated hell of it, laughing all the while. It's kind of a sad moment, really. I wonder what happened to the one lady. She's so vehement about that "no!" "No, I will not jump into that pile of leaves and you'd better not either. Seriously, other lady, what is wrong with you?" Her whole expression, her whole body is thrown into that refusal. She's not just dismissive of the leaf-jumping tomfoolery. She's actually angry at her friend. Why? What is so wrong with jumping into a pile of leaves.

And that's what makes the first moment of the video more confusing. Because it seems like they are having a confrontation when the video opens. They are facing each other, open body language as if daring the other to make a move and refusing to back down. And they take that side step to say "wherever you go, I'm going to be here, opposing you." What the hell is happening there? That's the moment. All the rest of the video, I can understand. I think the angry lady is overeacting to the leaf lady, but I can accept that at least. But what is happening in that first moment? It doesn't fit the rest. What happened to lead those two ladies to that confrontation? And how does that make any sense alongside the rest.

And, more to the point, why the f$&% would you post this to my Ask.FM. Do you not know what Ask.FM is for? It's for asking questions. You ask a question and I answer it. It's a simple social transaction. You clearly don't get it. I don't know what you're trying to convey or what you're hoping to get out of this. I really have no idea what is happening inside your brain.

Also, what the f$%& is that :3 at the end. I understand emoticons, but I have no f$&%ing clue what that emoticon is supposed to represent.

Nothing about this makes any f$&%ing sense!

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Have you ever played Dragon Age RPG? If so what did you think of it?


Eh... it's OKAY. I know a lot of people liked it, but I was kind of cool on the whole thing. In the end, I found it pretty bland.

My biggest problem with it was all the good tactical meat was in the stunts and the stunts were doled out at random. If you rolled right, you got stunt points and depending on how many of those you got, you could do some neat things in combat. Otherwise, the options in combat were pretty bland. And I have a real problem with handing out tactical choices based on random chance. See, I like good strategic combat. And strategic combat relies on being able to pick a strategy and utilizes tactics that support that strategy. But if your tactical options are determined at random, then you can't choose a strategy. Too much of what was really interesting in the game lived in the stunt tables for my taste. And I know people loved the stunt system, but to me, it was kind of like loving a game because it had really cool critical hit tables.

The rest of the system was just a simple d20 action resolution (ability check + bonus for training in things) with the d20s replaced with 3d6s. That meant the results were less swingy and more predictable. Fine and dandy. Nothing to write home about.

As for the world of Dragon Age, it's pretty cool, but I can run that world in any fantasy system really. The mechanics didn't do anything truly special to emphasize the world and the world wasn't so specialized that I couldn't just port it to any fantasy system and call it a day. So the system gets no points for the world. Sorry. It could have run any generic fantasy game. And, in that light, the options in the Dragon Age RPG are pretty limited.

Still, it's lightweight and it's the sort of thing you can throw together pretty quickly. So, if you've got friends over and you're in the mood for a fantasy adventure, it's a decent on-the-fly game.

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Is it okay to omit or largely differ from a system's recommended way of building adventures? Specifically DW now, but I guess it can be applied to other systems too. What could be the unwanted/unforseen consequences? What to watch out for?

Oh for the love of f$&%, doesn't Dungeon World have a forum or something somewhere? Can't you go ask Koebel and Latorra these questions. Why the motherloving f$&% are people still asking me about DW. I didn't write the thing and I've only run it maybe a dozen times. Can't you ask a fan? Well, I can understand why you wouldn't want to just ask random DW fans about the game. They can be some of the most obnoxious fanbois of any game ever. I don't know what the f$&% it is with DW.

Anyway... yes. YES. It's your f$&%ing game. It is okay to break the rules or change the rules or go against the system's recommendations or do whatever the f$&% you want. You bought the game, it's yours, do what you want. No one is going to take it away from you. And I met Koebel at GenCon last year. You can probably take him in a fight if he tries to take it away.

BUT... and this is a big but... before you make changes or discard something, you really should understand why the thing is there in the first place. Most designers are smart people and Sage and Adam are no exceptions. They put that s$&% in there for a reason. In the case of Fronts and Grim Portents and all that crap, it's honestly just a way of organizing the game to make improvisation easier, but hidden underneath that is more general advice about how to drive a story forward. See, the genius of Dungeon World is that it really codifies a lot of the basic role-playing gaming crap that other games assume the DM will just sort of figure out. The conversation to resolve actions. How to present a story without forcing it in a specific direction but still providing motive force to keep it moving forward. How to give the players s$&% to react to so they aren't floundering around looking for the fun. Now, if you already know how to do all that stuff, then the adventure building crap in DW is remedial. It's just a system to organize what you already know you need to do. But if you only think you know this stuff (and it's hard to tell whether you really know something or you only think you do), throwing it away is a real missed opportunity. So, maybe give it a try first.

And that's my general advice for f$&%ing with game systems. Try it the way its written first. If only to see what its doing and to see if it has any good ideas you want to rip off. Then start fiddling and poking and tweaking. You'll be more conscious of the consequences that way.

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Do you have any experience or thoughts on the warhammer RPG's and worlds? Both fantasy (Warhammer Fantasy Role Play) or 40k (Dark Heresy)?

I've got a little bit of experience with Warhammer Fantasy RP through the 3rd Edition by Fantasy Flight, but that's all. I really don't know the world too well at all. I liked the mechanics of FFG's version of WHFRP, though they were a little overdone in spots. They definitely laid a great foundation for Star Wars Edge of the Empire and The Rebellion Strikes Back or whatever the new one is called.

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What kind of music do you listen to? Not at the table, just in general?

I'm not really a music guy. In the car and s$&%, I tend to listen to podcasts and audio books. But I often put on background music when I'm writing or working on gaming or whatever. I tend to listen to either classical or soundtracks and stuff. Stuff with lyrics distracts me. So I just need background music. Lately, I've been on a video game music kick. Vurez is really cool , I like Super Metroid Remastered by techux, love the Video Games Live people and The Greatest Video Game Music Volumes 1 and 2 featuring the London Philharmonic , and also Smooth McGroove's acapella arrangements . I'm not one of those people who can listen to chiptunes, though. Overly electronic bleeping, booping s$&% doesn't do it for me at all. I'm glad video games have evolved past that.

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After your explanation on discern realities, how would the "seeing red" fighter's move work? It gives +1 on discerning realities in combat.

That's how it works. Is this a trick question? You roll 2d6 + Wisdom modifier and add one.

The fact that you're in combat doesn't change the basic nature of Discern Realities. You have to stop and actively study an area or foe. That is to say, you have to purposely examine, study, interact with, or feel out a person or thing or place with the sole purpose of trying to figure out what the f$&% is really happening.

Did you see Clash of the Titans? Remember the party where Perseus was in the gorgon's lair and he was just slowly plodding there, listening, watching, waiting, getting ready? That's Discerning Realities. So is feeling an opponent out in a fight. Basically, you stop taking other actions to pay careful attention and study your foes and the surroundings.

That's how Dungeon World moves work. You wait until a player does a thing (like closely studying a situation or person) and then the move happens. Until the player does the thing, the move doesn't happen. And the move can't happen unless the player does the thing. Combat doesn't change anything.

And why the f$&% is this turning into the Dungeon World advice column!

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About The Angry DM:

I'm The Angry DM. I give D&D advice with attitude. Whether you want it or not. I rant. I rage. I am not reasonable. Consider this your warning!

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