The Epidemic Of 💩 DMs!

Finally, something worth being called a hot take.

Shit Dungeon Masters are an epidemic. Why so?

1. Not reading a single Dungeon Master's Guide.

Some people can get away with this, but most can't. The DMGs are there to provide context, explain the rules in a way to prevent foolish rulings, to help you expand your game into more than just a monster-fight simulator, to provide guidelines for custom content creation, to give optional rules that (should) fit well with the system, to assist in worldbuilding, etc.

It's DEPRESSING to see how many Dungeon Masters complain about 5E in ways that they'd know are inaccurate if they read the DMG.

Bottom line, read the damn DMG. It'll make you better.

2. Shit house rules. 

Not all house rules are shit, but many are. Why? Because they are done without a comprehensive understanding of the system at large. In many cases, they're done because something "feels bad" in a particular instance.

The most common shit house rule is the abuse of the bonus action. "Sure, we'll let you drink a potion on a bonus action." Why? Because it feels bad to give up an action.  Now classes that are less dependent on bonus actions are chugging potions like frat hazing rituals while swinging swords.

I've had DMs try to boost my features by making certain actions into bonus actions.

I've had DMs try to remove consequences from using some of my abilities. This leads me to my next one.

3. Too F#@$ing Lenient! 

Too many DMs are absolute jellyfish, catering to the players in ways that cripple them from becoming skilled players, bore skilled players, and take away any sense of legitimate challenge.

This is a skill we have to develop.  DMs do not come out of the gate knowing how to challenge players properly. But there is too much shit advice out there telling DMs that DMing is all about "serving players" and that restrictions and consequences are "bad DMing."

These people's words should be burned and pissed on.  Yes, you do serve the players, by giving them a fair game with lots of fun stuff to do and adhering to a code of honor (don't fudge, don't harass, don't punish IC for OOC behavior, etc).

No, you don't serve them by giving them cool magic items they said they wanted or changing the way the game works so that they can do more cool stuff every round because having an underwhelming turn made them sad or something.

Lows are NECESSARY every now and then to contrast the highs. I've met so many players (other than me) who are starved for real challenge.

4. Too many Dungeon Masters LIE! 

Any kind of fudging, whether it's changing things behind the scenes to prevent undesirable outcomes or faking/ignoring rolls should be completely above board. But it isn't, because many DMs are lying auteur wannabes who think they know what's best for their players. I may be shouting what I think is best for everyone, but at least I'm not a lying coward about it!

A good DM will roll publicly as much as possible and possibly even explain the odds before the roll, so that the players know that the dice have meaning. ALL forms of illusionism, any last-minute-switcheroo on the scenario because the players might have just "ruined the plot" by being too good or failing.. all of this is shit DM behavior. If you feel it's necessary to keep the game moving, you're better off asking the players what they would prefer. At least then they can trust you. A DM you can't trust isn't worth shit.

5. Not knowing how to build or run a dungeon.

WHAT?!?! It's Dungeons & Dragons! The Dungeons are THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF THE EQUATION! (guess where Dragons usually are) Tons of DMs don't know how to track time. They don't know how to build a good random encounter chart. They don't know how long it takes to search a room. They don't know how to even let the players wander!

Guys.. DUNGEON CRAWLING IS FUN! Dungeon Crawling is the ultimate expression in resource management. If the limit of your exploration is barely beyond the 5 room dungeon, you're doing a terrible disservice to the medium.


That's all my bitching for this topic. I'm here for questions and clarifications and general argumentation.

If you're coming in here to say "but Aaron every style is valid and not everybody likes it this way," you can save it. I've heard it, I know, I don't care.


I've seen people complain in 5E about having to wait 20-30 minutes between turns. The solution isn't to give more bonus action options. The solution is to skip characters who aren't ready when their turn starts. If you don't know how your spell works, it fails.

Is it fair that the DM might have to look something up on their turn but the players can't?

Yes. The players have time between turns to look things up and only have to know how their character works. The DM is always-on and has to know how everything works.


  1. I'd add "DMGs giving terrible advice and published adventures setting terrible examples".


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