Techniques game masters use to prepare for a game session. (For preparing a campaign, use the [campaign-development] tag instead.)

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Generic systems for intrigues, politics, secrets construction [on hold]

Wanting to make a campaign relying heavily on intrigues and politics, I am looking for a set of rules and tools that helps the GM to create and handle intrigues, struggles of power, the webs of NPC ...
10
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1answer
336 views

How can I balance loot distribution for my players?

Im having a bit of trouble getting a general sense of what amount of loot my players should receive during their sessions. They are started as 3rd level, mostly new players to the DnD universe. I ...
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3answers
226 views

Limiting player freedom in introductory scenarios

As discussed in Would GURPS be a good choice for a non-magic, 19th century tech level, roleplay focused campaign?, I am planning to introduce a couple of friends to pen & paper tabletop RPGs. I am ...
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2answers
320 views

How to run short sessions?

I am currently DMing for a group of people whom I only recently met. We've been playing for some time, but we have a bit of trouble getting together regularly, but since everyone seems to enjoy that, ...
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0answers
201 views

How much should I prepare as a new DM for a play session? [closed]

I'll be a DM for a group of my friends soonish for a play through of the D&D 5 starter set campaign. I've played with this group for a few months but some more experienced players have been taking ...
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2answers
250 views

How to manage play in a zombie RPG pre outbreak

I am planning on starting my newest campaign about the end of the world: a Zombie Apocalypse, with the game starting before the outbreak has occurred. Every zombie RPG I have encountered so far has ...
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1answer
218 views

Where can I find free horror-themed stock audio for zombie campaigns?

Does anyone know where I can find free stock audio to enhance my campaign? I am working of my first zombie RPG and all the places I normally go for stock sounds don't have any horror stuff. I'm ...
33
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2answers
551 views

How can I manage my campaign digitally, without using a screen at the table?

For big campaigns I keep my campaign information — maps, keys, session notes, reference tables, etc. — in binders and duotangs which I can reference and annotate at the table. Their content only ...
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4answers
464 views

How best to progressively reveal the layout of a location to players?

I have been gamemastering tabletop RPGs for years now, but I'm still wondering what is the best way to deal with this. Specifically: how to graphically describe to your players their surroundings ...
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1answer
148 views

Does the “Primordial Soup Kitchen” Campaign from Andy Hopp's “Low Life” need much updating for Savage Worlds Deluxe rules?

I'm planning to introduce my players to the Low Life setting, and I'd really like to go through the "Primordial Soup Kitchen" campaign that is in the back of the old setting book. Since that book came ...
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3answers
186 views

How do you GM well for a party of characters of vastly differing ability and interest [closed]

I'm still looking to be ready to GM an Anima: Beyond Fantasy game and, while my previous problem has still not been solved (shameless plug here), I've run into another one: how to GM for characters of ...
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3answers
641 views

How often should I plan for the players to make camp?

This question is meta, linking ingame-time to real-time: How often to make camp in Dungeon World? The desired answer is something like "plan to let them make camp every x hours of playing." The ...
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5answers
1k views

How to adjust Hoard of the Dragon Queen for a 1st-level party?

TL;DR: I've already 'cheated' a lot to help the group survive the first mission, and it seems like I'll have to cheat even more if they'll make it to the Keep. Did I do something wrong? What can I do ...
8
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2answers
1k views

How to adjust Hoard of the Dragon Queen for more players?

I (newbie GM) will be running the 1st episode of HotDQ for a party of 6. While the intro states that the difficulty of the encounters can be adjusted for parties != 4, it offers no guidelines to do so ...
17
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7answers
2k views

Overcoming setting complexity paralysis as a GM

The problem What are the best practices to overcome that certain “complexity paralysis” that may strike a GM when trying to learn and immerse himself in a setting that has a lot of intricate ...
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3answers
9k views

How do I upgrade older D&D adventures to 5th edition?

Before I get into the details I just want to mention that I'm working in a remote area right now and don't have access to the 5e Starter Set, just the downloadable PDFs. I'm looking for advice on how ...
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1answer
204 views

How far ahead do you plan? [closed]

Iv written a simple intro session for my group that has not played for over a year. I took the time to set it up so the characters are part pre gened and you need only make 3 simple choices before we ...
8
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2answers
324 views

Hidden Moves in Dungeon World

In an upcoming conflict (partly being a battle, but there shall be more than fighting, the time horizon will be not more than a few day in-game time) between two religions, I expect one of my PCs will ...
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4answers
1k views

How to get to know my players' expectations?

I am soon starting a new game with a bunch of new people that I have never played with - and some of them I barely spoken to. I am going to be the GM and will introduce them into the setting that they ...
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3answers
251 views

How do I avoid “prepping too much”? [duplicate]

I'm prepping a hexcrawl-style game, my first sandbox game ever, and I'm expending all the online resources I can to learn how to run them and prep them. I'm actually having a lot of fun (and work) ...
6
votes
2answers
735 views

Build A Better Swarm

I am currently GM'ing an urban based campaign and one of the plot hooks I've come up with is the city's rats getting more and more violent, attacking people on the street in broad daylight. Eventually ...
8
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3answers
777 views

When designing a campaign plot, how can I test it for complexity?

I am creating plot threads for my ongoing science fiction campaign. I know my players pretty well and they do like a well interwoven set of plots. I want to make sure that the plot threads I am ...
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8answers
1k views

How to Format a DM's Notebook for an Open World Game

I've been DM'ing a homebrew sandbox-style D&D 4e game for the past few months, and it's been going well so far. However, the players have finally left the "starting area" of bouncing between three ...
9
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1answer
219 views

Transitioning from a long running successful campaign to a new game with the same group of players

I have recently completed running an extremely successful, long running campaign that lasted over two and a half years. All the players absolutely loved it, and by the end they were each deeply ...
6
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2answers
163 views

What are the consequences of different speeds of time interacting?

How do different flows of time interact? In a moment of improvisation, I created an extremely dangerous orb that is frozen in time by a spell. The next session will be in a couple of weeks because of ...
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3answers
794 views

Shapeshifter Villain travelling with Party

Where to start? First of all, I'm planning on running a Homebrew Pathfinder campaign of my own. I've already got the plot laid out and ideas for various NPCs. The problem is I'm running into an issue ...
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9answers
1k views

How can I plan, prepare, and enforce an episodic structure?

I have more or less always run my campaigns as very continuous affairs, in which each game session picks up, in game, only moments or hours after the previous session ended. If the party ends play in ...
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6answers
2k views

As a GM, how can avoid pitfalls common to Generic Point Build Systems?

I'm well aware that point-buy systems (HERO System, GURPS, Mutants & Masterminds, Wild Talents) tend to have a set of common pitfalls associated with them. Players will usually choose Combat ...
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3answers
202 views

Reading material to present to completely new players

I'm about to start running a game for a completely new group. I've been playing DnD for over a decade, and have a lot of experience as a DM, but my group is completely green. I believe one person has ...
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5answers
2k views

Generate an engaging and “realistic” tribe of orcs (also one of ogres)

My players recently turned a slaughter of low-level orcs & ogres (separate situations) into a massive recruitment drive. Given the choice between death and lucrative mercenary work, most chose to ...
13
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5answers
3k views

How can I give strong weapons to enemies without the players looting them?

If I give an enemy NPC a Meltagun in combat, nothing prevents the players from taking the weapon after they kill him, which leads to the inevitable snowballing: they get stronger, I need stronger ...
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4answers
845 views

Is it a good idea to give our GM ideas/puzzles/riddles for his campaign?

Is it a good idea to give our GM ideas/puzzles/riddles for his campaign? If it is, how do I bring up my idea without offending our GM? I don't want him to think that I don't like his campaign or ...
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3answers
379 views

How can I quickly come up with random encounters and puzzles?

I'm DMing my first campaign in D&D 4e using my own setting, and I need to create some random encounters throughout the map surrounding the starting village. I only have a week available between ...
22
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5answers
3k views

How does wandering within a city work?

I'm new to RPGs, and I've tried to read some transcriptions or watch some podcasts, but I don't understand how the game works outside a dungeon. Does the city has to be a real city or just a group of ...
11
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3answers
274 views

Where can I find an authentic mine layout for use in a historical campaign?

Abandoned Mines have become a staple of Dungeon-crawling over the years, but despite how many times I’ve cleared out monsters from them, I know very little about mining myself. Now I’m in the GM ...
13
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9answers
533 views

Too many divergent side quests. What do I do?

I'm running a D&D 4e campaign taking place in Forgotten Realms (in 3e timeframe as I'm more familiar with it). My plan for the campaign was for the group of PCs to arrive in Waterdeep, where, as ...
9
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3answers
516 views

Should I give skills and full stats to NPCs?

Some friends have asked me to master a game for the first time. We are going to play All Flesh Must Be Eaten (It's fun, easy and rules are not as important as actual roleplaying). I have created the ...
2
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0answers
39 views

GM task manager [duplicate]

Is there a system or application that will help a GM keep stuff more organized? I am look for something that I can download to my computer or phone that can web my stuff together and add new things ...
28
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9answers
2k views

How do I escape the Quicksand Box?

I have a very significant problem whenever I try GMing any given game; I try to provide a world with a lot of wiggle room for the characters as well as factions/NPCs they interact with. Oftentimes my ...
12
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5answers
916 views

Differences Between Freeform and Rules-heavy Roleplay

I am a relatively new DM...okay I actually haven't ever RUN a campaign. The closest I have come to was running a short, 2-encounter dungeon against Manticores and a Raksasha that summoned a Grey ...
8
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0answers
165 views

How can I distill “Expedition to the Barrier Peaks” down to the best 7 or 8 encounters to fit inside one hour? [closed]

On Friday I'll be doing a role play demo for 13 Montessori students between 12 and 14 years old. It's a one hour deal, and this is my second time to do it. Since it is such a short time frame, and ...
6
votes
4answers
2k views

What information a DM should have at hand when in an encounter?

I am currently playing D&D 4th edition and will be DMing soon. The party consists of 7 characters (mine included, even though I am a DM). I will be running a quest that I created myself and ...
7
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8answers
892 views

How can I organize my counter collection?

I have just gotten a large collection of monster counters and am wondering how can I store them neatly and in an organized manner after I have punched them out? I am also thinking of ways to easily ...
8
votes
3answers
1k views

Structure for a political sandbox game

I am looking for a fairly structured approach to creating, preparing for, and running a political game. To be more precise, I am looking for the following: A structured approach or even a game ...
3
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0answers
84 views

What should a new GM know when starting their first Paranoia game? [duplicate]

I am a new relatively new GM (under a year's experience) and have only run/played Pathfinder. For this I have lots of resources: the beginner's box and its GM and player manuals, pawns, play-mat and ...
6
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1answer
158 views

Tips for combining Gumshoe/Lorefinder with improv/Lazy GMing?

The Gumshoe/Lorefinder systems break an adventure into core scenes, with a core clue in each scene leading to the next. I am under the impression that the GM will have to plan each scene. This gives ...
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3answers
252 views

How should I properly lay out the expectations of my players for the campaign, and how do I support these expectations?

I've been planning on running my 1000 point Wild Talents campaign for some time now, and I think it diverges significantly in how it will be played from campaigns we've run in the past. My group has ...
2
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1answer
417 views

Creating NPCs from Real-Life People

I have some friends that would like to be part of my future D&D campaign as NPCs. What I need help with is creating stats for a NPC based on a person. I am a player in this campaign. Our DM will ...
9
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2answers
303 views

Methods for round-robin style DM'ing in AD&D?

Round-robin storytelling has been around for a while, and something I have always been interested in experimenting in AD&D with a variation of GM'ing where players take turns becoming the GM in ...
10
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2answers
646 views

What should be considered when deciding if and how to use props?

GMs and players who have experience with props in their games, what do you think about when considering props to use and how to use them? How might props be used to further the game, instead of ...