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

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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 ...
7
votes
1answer
555 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 ...
16
votes
6answers
1k 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 ...
7
votes
1answer
320 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 ...
13
votes
3answers
489 views

What essentials do I need on the site of my LARP?

I am planning on holding a 20-50 person LARP near my home in England. I would like to know other than notifying the Emergency services (police/ambulance) that I'm holding the event and where it is, ...
34
votes
9answers
7k views

How do I run a successful and engaging campaign without combat?

I'm thinking of starting my own campaign with a few of my friends with me as DM, primarily because I wasn't extremely impressed with the campaign my friend was DMing. When I started thinking about the ...
6
votes
6answers
2k 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 ...
19
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
101 views

What should I put on my GM screen? [closed]

I made a homemade GM screen with a huge amount of blank space on the inside, and blank space on the outside. My question is, what tables do you find most useful to have in front of you while running ...
12
votes
3answers
774 views

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

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 ...
8
votes
3answers
423 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 ...
14
votes
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 ...
12
votes
4answers
1k 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 ...
15
votes
9answers
4k views

How do I select background music for my RPG campaign?

Music is an essential component of my games. When running games set in the Star Wars universe, the music of John Williams adds a new dimension to the experience, both for me and for my players. Now ...
5
votes
3answers
415 views

Is there any good place on the internet that hosts monster playtests?

I've been a DM for a while for 3.5. I've run many NPC characters, however only a small fraction of monsters out of the books (comparatively). Also, I like to use templates liberally as well as advance ...
5
votes
2answers
273 views

Where can I find online playtesters to test encounters before presenting them to my group?

I'm setting up the end of my campaign and I have 4 "mini-boss" fights (& Final BOSS fight) that I'm trying to make extremely tough but also winnable. I don't want to just slaughter my PCs after ...
10
votes
1answer
443 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 ...
10
votes
2answers
269 views

How to develop effective storylines to ease adding another player to the game?

I just ran my first two sessions as GM and we are probably going to be adding a 4th player to the group soon (making 5 of us total). I'm trying to think of a good premise for the party to meet the new ...
7
votes
3answers
262 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 ...
8
votes
2answers
408 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, ...
9
votes
4answers
612 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 ...
2
votes
0answers
308 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 ...
34
votes
2answers
685 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
266 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 ...
9
votes
1answer
161 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
226 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 ...
12
votes
5answers
597 views

How do I keep track of “hidden” in game variables without getting bogged down?

I'm currently designing a campaign that has a monumental amount of in-game variables to keep track of, which I'll need to check every time a certain kind of event happens. Reducing the number of ...
11
votes
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 ...
0
votes
3answers
664 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 ...
15
votes
4answers
884 views

Writing new campaign, is it fine to “make it up as we go along”?

I'm making new fantasy Dungeons and Dragons third edition game. I wrote out the entire first situation with most general situations in mind. Should I try and just "ole" the whole creative process ...
11
votes
3answers
318 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 ...
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 ...
3
votes
3answers
411 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
votes
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 ...
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 ...
9
votes
3answers
551 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 ...
13
votes
3answers
12k 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
229 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
376 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 ...
8
votes
2answers
510 views

How much, and what kind of, advance planning is appropriate for a sandbox campaign?

New GM attemping to get ideas for a campaign down something similar to a tabletop fallout game. How much info is too much info for general prep? Can there ever be too much? Or is there a general ...
1
vote
3answers
331 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) ...
7
votes
8answers
982 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
849 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
votes
3answers
818 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 ...
8
votes
5answers
234 views

How do you keep the book keeping/game management work balanced between players?

For most games, the work required in running a game is, by default, distributed unevenly between a "master" and the "player characters". In our group, many/most of the group members have had ...
10
votes
2answers
324 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 ...
9
votes
1answer
166 views

Do I need both DMG1 and 2 to create adventures?

I'm working on my first custom campaign for my players and I am wondering if I should read both DMG1 and 2 or if it's possible to just use DMG2 as a guideline. I have previously run modules out of ...
10
votes
4answers
861 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 ...
20
votes
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 ...