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

learn more… | top users | synonyms

1
vote
1answer
72 views

Getting started with a small group? [closed]

I'm looking to GM a game with a few friends (2 players total besides myself, with maybe an occasional 3rd thrown in.) I have some familiarity with D&D 5E, but the mechanics in that are balanced ...
14
votes
5answers
476 views

How can I GM a deal with the devil without a law degree and without reducing it to just a roll?

The players in my campaign want to go up against a noble family that's been dealing with a particularly high ranking contract devil. When they reach him, I want to be ready to offer them a deal, and ...
4
votes
4answers
266 views

How can we play every week when the DM can only run the game every two weeks?

My gaming group really enjoys playing every week, but I can only DM every two weeks (due to preparation time limits, not availability), and no one else wants to DM for those weeks. How can we play ...
3
votes
1answer
108 views

What resources are available for DMs running high-level encounters, in particular tips for running high-level combats? [closed]

My ongoing campaign has hit the third tier of play, with characters from 13th to 15th level. The published materials that I've seen top out at 15th level. I started out using materials from published ...
1
vote
4answers
232 views

How can I generate a lot of characters?

How can I make 20 pregen characters (level 2 or 3 so their class traits are apparent) in a short amount of time? I have Hero-lab, but even that takes a fair bit of time to set up.
12
votes
5answers
1k views

How can I tell if my prep is right for a session's length?

Because I have a group that acts unpredictably, I stay away from laying out the whole adventure - let alone the campaign - beforehand. Instead I write each new session as a response to their actions ...
9
votes
2answers
851 views

How do I make the Tarokka Deck reading in Curse of Strahd suitably dramatic?

I'm going to be running Curse of Strahd for my regular group. I'm usually a player and have only DM'd once to give our usual DM a break. This is my first time with a published adventure. I finished ...
14
votes
10answers
2k views

How to play with friends who don't want to read the rules?

I want to play an RPG with my friends. However, they are a bit impatient, and I'd have to wait forever before they'd read the rule-book. I've read it all, because I found it interesting. They kind of ...
5
votes
2answers
144 views

What player character scores do I need for reference when DMing? [closed]

I know I need each character's Passive Perception score in order to make secret checks to see if they discover hidden things by accident. But what other data do I need, as a DM, to be fully prepared ...
4
votes
2answers
202 views

What and How to Prepare In Advance For the Next Session? [duplicate]

So I'm starting a new campaign with a group this week, I'm the DM with 4 PC's (2 are long-time RPers and 2 are fairly new to D&D). I've got notes made for the first session, how the party meets, ...
9
votes
4answers
690 views

What can I do to help me remember details about the area the PCs are exploring?

I've recently started DMing Curse of Strahd. The players took the bait and ended up in the Death House. Our currently first and only session of this module ended with the party just reaching the third ...
2
votes
1answer
99 views

If the Wealth-By-Level is an indication of the value of Magic Items for Player Characters, does the WBL for NPCs have the same purpose?

If the Wealth-By-Level is an indication of the value of Magic Items for Player Characters to use in combat, does the WBL for NPCs have the same purpose, or is it there for some other purpose (to ...
26
votes
5answers
2k views

How can I keep surprising my co-GM when he's playing in my campaign?

I recently started a D&D 5e campaign with my gaming group and one of my friends has decided he wants to GM also. The setting we're playing in is a homebrew setting; I created the general outline ...
1
vote
0answers
99 views

What size could be a gigantic water Pokémon? [closed]

I'm going to be a GM with 3 players, and we will be playing with the Pokémon Tabletop United rules. In these rules, there's a whole part about Shiny Pokémon, that aren't just Pokémon with another set ...
4
votes
1answer
217 views

What is the CR calculation for an NPC with class levels?

I found this related question: What is the CR/XP-Character Level relationship for opponents? but it was asked before the DMG was released and it does not appear to have been updated to include ...
4
votes
1answer
120 views

Sagas of the Icelanders in a short one-shot

I am considering running a short one-session game of Sagas of the Icelanders in the near future. I am aware of some good ideas to kickstart a session of that game, like the Juicy GM tidbits or the One-...
14
votes
2answers
310 views

What planning and division of labour is necessary to have two GMs in a campaign?

One time, me and one of my groups had decided to play an entire weekend. But on the first day one of the players, who also alternates as GM with our standard GM, sacrificed himself to save the group. ...
1
vote
1answer
82 views

What's the APL for 3 level one characters?

When determining the average party level, it says to add 1 if the party has six or more players and subtract 1 if there's 3 or less. The party as of this Saturday is going to be 3 level 1 characters ...
6
votes
2answers
323 views

As an inexperienced GM, how can I avoid killing PCs my first time GMing in Pathfinder Society?

While I have experience DM'ing 3.5e, I have far less experience in pathfinder and have not yet GM'd a PFS game. I'm currently preparing to run the Rise of the Runelord's first module (Thistletop) ...
7
votes
0answers
152 views

How to give a ''secret agent'' feel to a game? [closed]

I am planning a one on one Fate game and I want it to feel and play like a secret agent story (think James Bond, Bourne, Taken, etc. maybe even a hint of heist movies as well, aka Ocean's eleven) My ...
3
votes
1answer
95 views

As a DM, what are some good ways to study in preparation for an Adventure module? [closed]

I'm a new DM and I'm in the process of running my friends through the 5e LMoP starter adventure. We're a few sessions in and everyone is telling me that they're having a great time (yay!). However, we'...
6
votes
1answer
265 views

Need a wide variety of Iron Kingdoms NPCs

I am starting an Iron Kingdoms campaign with two teams: the first one has to protect Highgate the second one the region outside the walls. As a result I find myself in need of a wide variety ...
4
votes
1answer
99 views

How do you judge the difficulty of an encounter in Strands of Fate?

I recently found Strands of Fate and it looks like a really fun system; so, naturally, I want to run a short campaign in it to try it out. Unfortunately, the book doesn't seem to give any tips for how ...
2
votes
1answer
160 views

How to set up a Castle Siege? [closed]

I am running a war, for my players. They have won a battle pushing their opponent back into a citadel within the cliffs. I am looking for stories, suggestions, or more importantly rules on how to ...
10
votes
3answers
514 views

How can I avoid making extended/prolonged encounters boring?

I have run this campaign for just over a year. Many encounters later, I have come to one snag; If I run an encounter that lasts for more than a few rounds, I lose all my flair. I just resort to "hit" ...
17
votes
4answers
1k views

How do I balance detailed encounter maps with not wanting to give away my dungeon layout?

I'm in the process of designing a Megadungeon, and it seems like people run large dungeons like this using the theater of the mind to avoid giving the layout away and allow players to explore, get ...
0
votes
1answer
157 views

How do you get a published adventure started? [closed]

I have a bit of experience playing 3.x with some friends. But I wanted to make the plunge into 5e for a couple reasons. A couple of the players I didn't want to include (due to always having to have ...
7
votes
1answer
445 views

How do I create pre-generated characters for a science fiction Fate Accelerated RPG one-shot?

I am running a one shot under the Fate Accelerated RPG system with a science fiction theme this weekend in lieu of our normal game. The characters will wake up on a ship that is derelict and on a ...
9
votes
4answers
1k views

How would I classify a “disease” for an NPC that's not really a “disease” in Pathfinder?

I am in the process of planning a campaign but I am not sure how to classify this sickness/disease. The whole point of the campaign is to rescue a person who has been held captive for about 5 years....
8
votes
1answer
735 views

What essentials are required to build a Fate Core session/campaign expediently?

"How about tomorrow?" A GM's nightmare. A group that has a planning horizon of twelve hours (sometimes even "how about right now?"). A group in want of a Fate game. And a group that isn't into the ...
20
votes
3answers
1k views

How to transfer control of a campaign that is mostly “make it up as you go”?

For the last year I've been DMing a campaign that has included a lot of "making it up as I go", but right now I don't even have time for that. We've decided that I'll transfer the campaign to another ...
8
votes
1answer
395 views

My players know the world/galaxy/universe better than I do [closed]

A bunch of friends decided they wanted to try RPG. As the only person with any RPG experience I offered to GM. We have had the first few sessions and so far it's a laugh! I am quite new to GMing and ...
21
votes
7answers
2k views

I keep forgetting about lighting in the heat of a session. How do I remember my notes?

One thing I’ve been struggling with as a newbie GM is keeping track of how light or dark a certain room is. My players and I have been playing a D&D 5e starter campaign with me as the GM. I might ...
16
votes
4answers
17k views

What sort of cheat sheets should a new DM have for a better flowing 5e game of Dungeons and Dragons?

The question is, what should a DM screen essentially have? I'm new at playing and DMing, altough a lot of experience watching games, just got a group to play with now. Started with the starter set ...
12
votes
2answers
843 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 ...
8
votes
3answers
315 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 ...
9
votes
2answers
569 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, ...
2
votes
0answers
559 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 ...
9
votes
3answers
886 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
444 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 ...
34
votes
2answers
1k 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 ...
10
votes
4answers
1k 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 ...
9
votes
1answer
190 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 ...
0
votes
3answers
287 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 ...
0
votes
3answers
722 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 ...
6
votes
6answers
4k 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
votes
2answers
2k 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 ...
21
votes
8answers
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 ...
1
vote
1answer
265 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 ...
9
votes
2answers
593 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 ...