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

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13
votes
2answers
404 views

Could a mouse kill a bear?

I'm planning for a Mouse Guard game that will culminate in the players facing down a bear! The rules cover this far too briefly, only stating that you need 20,000 mice to do so (via the War skill). ...
9
votes
2answers
268 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
142 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
178 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, ...
7
votes
3answers
616 views

What can I do to help me remember details about the area the PCs 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 ...
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 ...
2
votes
1answer
95 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
91 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
94 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 ...
14
votes
2answers
303 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. ...
4
votes
1answer
169 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
74 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
295 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
141 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
85 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, ...
6
votes
1answer
233 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 ...
9
votes
5answers
1k views

How do you transition from 1-page dungeon map to battle mat?

I have a bunch of different ways I use to make maps for my tabletop game. Sometimes I draw one on graph paper. Sometimes I use Dungeonographer. Sometimes I copy a map from a published adventure or ...
24
votes
10answers
488 views

How to encourage the GM-curious?

I have a couple of players who might be interested to try GMing, but have so far been reluctant to "take the plunge" and start up their own games. I think this is mostly because they're not sure that ...
10
votes
3answers
485 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" ...
7
votes
1answer
413 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 ...
4
votes
0answers
92 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
124 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 ...
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
153 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 ...
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 ...
8
votes
1answer
712 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 ...
19
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 ...
8
votes
1answer
384 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 ...
14
votes
3answers
581 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, ...
38
votes
9answers
9k 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 ...
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 ...
14
votes
3answers
1k 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 ...
9
votes
3answers
833 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 ...
15
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 ...
16
votes
4answers
14k 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
5k 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 ...
7
votes
3answers
448 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 ...
11
votes
1answer
742 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
276 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 ...
8
votes
3answers
306 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
525 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, ...
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 ...
2
votes
0answers
523 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
432 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
187 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
271 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
650 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 ...