Techniques gamemasters use to prepare for a game session.

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28
votes
7answers
4k 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 ...
26
votes
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 ...
23
votes
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 ...
20
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 ...
19
votes
8answers
963 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 ...
17
votes
9answers
317 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 ...
16
votes
4answers
448 views

How would I quickly put together a believable map of an area?

As part of my "Closed Circle" campaign, I'm looking for ways to quickly put together a believable map of a college campus and surrounding area, complete with believable building placement. "Quickly" ...
15
votes
5answers
570 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 ...
14
votes
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 ...
14
votes
11answers
3k 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 ...
13
votes
5answers
2k 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 ...
13
votes
2answers
336 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, ...
13
votes
4answers
248 views

Megadungeon or modules for a weekend of play?

I've been having gaming/camping weekends with some friends and we've only played Call of Cthulhu so far, using modules. This time I plan on running an OSRIC/1e game, and would like to run the ...
13
votes
9answers
464 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 ...
12
votes
3answers
467 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 ...
12
votes
2answers
286 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). ...
12
votes
3answers
432 views

Single player games suitable for session preparation

I found a demo version of How to Host a Dungeon, and somehow the idea really grew on me. Not just creating dungeons, but actually having methods of making gm prep work into a game. I haven't seen ...
11
votes
5answers
580 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 ...
11
votes
3answers
552 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 ...
11
votes
3answers
225 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 ...
11
votes
8answers
329 views

Using Boardgames or Card Games to improve GMing or Playing [closed]

Do you know of any cases of successfully using props or cards from board games/card games (all kinds) to run a campaign, ease preparing for a session or the playing itself? I am interested both in ...
11
votes
2answers
766 views

DM organization ideas for Sandbox campaign

I have over the past couple months been putting together Ideas on how I would run an All Flesh Must Be Eaten campaign. How do other DMs organize their Bads or Locations that the PC's might wish to ...
10
votes
4answers
804 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 ...
10
votes
3answers
225 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 ...
10
votes
4answers
4k views

Is there a Masterplan-like tool for 3.5?

I'm looking for a tool like Masterplan or something near, but for a 3.5 / Pathfinder d20 game. I don't mind if you know of something better ;)
10
votes
3answers
4k views

What is a good starting point for GMing Pathfinder Society Games?

I am considering GMing a few Pathfinder Society (PFS) modules (probably home games at first), and I was wondering where a good place to start would be. I am not new to GMing in general, just to ...
9
votes
3answers
416 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 ...
9
votes
2answers
268 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 ...
9
votes
1answer
152 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 ...
9
votes
1answer
182 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 ...
9
votes
2answers
255 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 ...
8
votes
7answers
7k views

Designing my own D&D Adventure

Currently I am part of a my first campaign of D&D(4E) as a player and been having fun. Sometime in the near future I would like to host my own game of D&D with my own adventure. So far I ...
8
votes
3answers
376 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 ...
8
votes
6answers
205 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 ...
8
votes
3answers
685 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 ...
8
votes
0answers
129 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 ...
7
votes
8answers
640 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 ...
7
votes
2answers
283 views

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

New ZM 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 ...
6
votes
4answers
1k views

How can a PC change their class in middle of an Adventure?

I have a little problem here, this week I'm starting a new D&D next adventure using the ongoing Basic Rules, I'm planning on buy the PHB next month and PC already asked me if they can change their ...
6
votes
2answers
415 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 ...
6
votes
3answers
704 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
567 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
128 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 ...
6
votes
1answer
101 views

How can I balance and blend spotlight time between PCs of different Lodges?

Recently, one of the players in my Werewolf game has taken on the Lodge of Spires, which is effectively "Batman: The Lodge". One of the benefits of this lodge (for those who don't play, consider a ...
6
votes
1answer
125 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 ...
5
votes
3answers
320 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
197 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 ...
5
votes
3answers
166 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 ...
3
votes
3answers
295 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 ...
3
votes
0answers
74 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 ...