The practical arts and methods applied to gamemastering.

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4
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1answer
1k views

D&D 4E, Passive Perception or Passive Insight instead of rolling

In my D&D game, I'm unsure whether to allow players to use their Passive Insight or Passive Perception instead of rolling when they are actively trying to inspect something. Do I make them roll ...
5
votes
4answers
775 views

Is it possible to run a simulationist sandbox game? [closed]

Context I grew up playing video games like Morrowind or Baldur's Gate where all the content is already there and all you do is go out there and interact with it, with all the limitations of having a ...
5
votes
4answers
457 views

When are unexpected events “Too much”?

To vent out from the exams the whole group finished not long ago, I'm preparing a simple D&D3.5 game. A mindless dungeon crawler with lots of enemies, loot and the usual stuff with just enough ...
20
votes
5answers
1k views

Level of detail in description?

There's a trope or two that says you shouldn't bother describing anything unless it's relevant to the story. However, in RPG's where the participants partially shape the story with their actions, any ...
21
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8answers
8k views

How do I design exciting, fun boss fights for my players?

So I've DM'd three separate games, of which one that I'm largely happy with. However, one consistent problem I run into is designing fun, exciting, and interesting boss fights. I've run into two major ...
12
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5answers
2k views

How can I successfully run one-on-one adventures in D&D 4E?

It seems clear that 4E really wants the party to have at least four PCs, so that all four roles can be covered. The official rules give tips on what to do when you can only have three PCs, but when ...
21
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5answers
3k views

How to make a countdown?

How can I properly measure "ingame" time to make a countdown? I'll explain it with an example: The party encounters a small ghost ship, and they board it to investigate/salvage. When they get to the ...
22
votes
7answers
1k views

Difference between writing a one-off scenario and writing a quest for a campaign?

I want to get some of my friends into roleplaying by running a self-contained single-session game with them rather than an actual campaign opener (for lack of a better term, I'll refer to this sort of ...
23
votes
11answers
2k views

Excuses for opponents using nonlethal force?

In plotting out low-level encounters at the start of a campaign (especially with new players) I prefer to create opponents who don't want to kill the PCs right away. Instead, I generally have them ...
44
votes
12answers
8k views

Unhate-able Villains

There are so many guides on how to make a villain your players will truly hate, but I am trying to make a villain that the characters will feel for. How can I create a "good" villain, like someone who ...
8
votes
4answers
186 views

How to effectively run a “Petal” trip or other dream-like sequences

A little background: Eclipse Phase has a drug in the setting that creates a shared hallucinated experience among participants. These drugs, called Petals, are also designed to have some sort of ...
10
votes
6answers
487 views

How can I help my players get into a vengeful mindset?

I've often attempted to run Hunter: the Vigil (part of the New World of Darkness gameline) for my players. Unfortunately I frequently run into the same problem; namely, when I set up villains with the ...
15
votes
4answers
632 views

What if the GM knocks over the tower during a game of Dread?

In Dread, the status of the tower is pretty much the entire game. If it falls over accidentally, it really sort of ruins everything. Obviously the GM stays as far away from it as possible to avoid the ...
8
votes
1answer
414 views

What are the potential pitfalls and errors as a first time DM of a Dread Game?

I am getting ready to run my first session. We are going to run a game of Dread. I have read the Dread book and am planning on running the first published scenario. What kind of pitfalls should I be ...
10
votes
5answers
664 views

How do you have interesting events happen after a success?

I know how to make failures interesting. Though recently I have a hard time making the events following a successful roll interesting. For instance, the party is exploring a tomb, where a trap is ...
20
votes
9answers
651 views

What makes a good pitch for a new game?

What should make up a pitch about a new game to a prospective group of players? What does a good RPG pitch entail? What should go into the case for why a game should be played (and why that GM is the ...
4
votes
2answers
217 views

How can I successfully integrate skill challenges without a grid in DnD 4e?

DnD 4e is based on tactical combat on a grid. Yet when I read the dungeon master's guide, I saw skill challenges for situations that don't seem to require a grid. For instance: Urban Chase. The ...
36
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9answers
4k views

What is 'railroading', and is it a bad thing?

What is 'railroading', and when is it generally considered to be something negative?
39
votes
11answers
7k views

Techniques for making undead scary again

Undead used to be scary things: dead, rotting bodies seeking to devour all life, outnumbering their foes, and replacing their fallen with slain enemies. But nowadays players see them and think ...
25
votes
4answers
900 views

How does a GM fix the rules when they goof?

I think it happens to the best of us. I'm not the best of us, so I get to goof a bit more often. The specific example I'm going to mention was using Dresden Files (a derivative of FATE for those who ...
2
votes
3answers
926 views

How can I explain balanced ability scores

Some of my players wanted to create characters with ability scores higher than 20 as 1st level PCs. I cannot do that as I am running an adventure path which is made for characters with average stats. ...
7
votes
6answers
596 views

Adjusting Combat Balance

My Problem My players all seem to have +5 defenses and attacks over the monsters, in addition to the health and more deadly abilities... and they're in appropriate gear for their level (+2 gear at ...
11
votes
5answers
933 views

How to Determine *Honest* Sincerity

The specific example I am working with is the Sincerity (Honesty) skill in L5R but there is a certain factor of curiosity for any other system: How do you really roll to tell the truth and logically ...
17
votes
8answers
994 views

How can I increase tension during roleplaying?

In my games, I tend to run into a problem at least once per session. My players just seem to follow the dice and make no effort to either engage with combat or chase adventure. They let the dice fall ...
25
votes
12answers
905 views

How to remember all the rules?

Do you have tricks or techniques to remember all the rules to the games you're playing? I would like to run my first game as a gamemaster, but I'm struggling with remembering all the feats and ...
3
votes
1answer
210 views

How to add roleplayed investigation in a “search for the items” city quest?

The situations is this: the party has to find three rare starship components in order to make its starship fly. These items are a modified computer part, a military motor piece and a century old motor ...
18
votes
5answers
775 views

Good techniques for getting player-character backgrounds integrated into the game?

So I'm starting a new campaign for an existing gaming group soon, and I'd like to actually incorporate character backgrounds that the players will be creating (eventually). These aren't epic-novels or ...
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 ...
19
votes
10answers
1k views

Should I call for an INT check for clever ideas?

Let's say someone is playing a character that has really low intelligence, but then the player comes up with a clever idea for a way for his dumb character to overcome some obstacle. Should I make him ...
4
votes
3answers
688 views

How to introduce others to Pathfinder?

My school just started a Pathfinder club at the school after I got a petition to the principal. Because it is in the voluntary "activity block" of our schedules, it will mean that some people ...
31
votes
9answers
2k views

How do you discourage “player knowledge” as a GM?

As a trivial random encounter is winding down, a player thinks "That was too easy... The GM wouldn't give us an encounter that doesn't give XP," and starts searching for hidden bad guys or other ...
17
votes
8answers
1k views

How to get players to care about their and each others characters and play them like they are actual people

This question made me think about a problem I have been having that was brought up last night during a session. This session was the first of a new campaign I was running, with the party meeting ...
13
votes
9answers
609 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 ...
14
votes
3answers
1k views

Dealing with a disgruntled player leaving my campaign

So I've been running a game of Shadowrun over the internet for the past few weeks online, and I've had a hectic personal schedule, so I haven't been able to do lengthy sessions. I've got a player who ...
15
votes
3answers
1k views

How to run time-limited one shots

I and some friends are determined to try for this winter running only one-shots. rotating the GM for each one different characters each time the adventure must be completed in a single session one ...
6
votes
4answers
285 views

How does the GM effectively help players find Traits?

I've encountered a problem in Burning Wheel in the past, and I'm looking for a better way to address it in the future. The default Traits List in the Burning Wheel Gold rulebook (p310-355) contains, ...
28
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 ...
38
votes
6answers
3k views

How can I check whether an extremely adult/mature plot idea would be accepted by players without revealing any details of the idea itself?

I am running a post-apocalyptic zombie game with a dark and mature story, exploring a number of adult themes. I have complete buy-in from the players; some of them have stated it is their favourite ...
8
votes
7answers
2k views

1st-level Pathfinder group without healer

I am a GM, and I just started a campaign of Pathfinder with a group formed by a rogue, a warrior, and a ranger. I came from Vampire and WoD games, so I don't have experience with a balanced game like ...
4
votes
4answers
287 views

Introducing new players to a Campaign

I am running a campaign where all of the players are members of an army, and the small group acts almost as a form of "special forces" in this Pathfinder campaign, taking on enemies that no one else ...
37
votes
9answers
2k views

How to deal with a Batman PC as a DM?

I'm running one of the D&D Encounters tables at the local game shop. In Chapter 3 the players can create their own characters. Everyone had normal characters with the exception of one player who ...
11
votes
6answers
748 views

Tips for running a campaign in a lawful-evil setting which still feels heroic

I've been playing Iron Kingdoms now for a few months as a player in the largely generic region of Llael. Now I want to start running my own game in the Iron Kingdoms, which I haven't ran before ...
4
votes
5answers
411 views

How should a DM act with the Avenger's Avenging Echo power?

There has been a small discussion in my D&D group about two powers of the Avenger class. The two powers have similar attacks. Bond of Retribution Hit: 1[W] + Wisdom modifier damage. The ...
49
votes
11answers
3k views

How can a GM prevent growing disillusioned with their own game?

I recently began a new game in which I gave the players much more free reign in designing their characters than I might have in the past. What I wound up with was a very morally-diverse party, with ...
6
votes
2answers
373 views

How do you scale up a premade adventure's difficulty when you have additional PCs?

I am going to be running the D&D 4e Redbox premade adventure and a couple other premade adventures for 5 PCs. However at the beginning of the explanation for the adventures they say it is for a ...
17
votes
6answers
1k views

How do I prevent my players from immediately recognising an ambush?

I'm absolutely new to DnD, as my whole group is, and I am the DM. For an easy introduction to the game I chose the H1 adventure (Keep on the Shadowfell). In the first and second combat encounter the ...
10
votes
2answers
753 views

How to salvage evil loot?

I'm currently running a premade scenario for Pathfinder where the author gives out rather powerful magic items for character levels 3, but they're almost the only treasure to be had in the scenario. ...
3
votes
0answers
117 views

Running Large Groups [duplicate]

In a few months I'm going to be taking control of a group and running through a campaign of my own creation. The campaign we're running right now only has 3 PCs and the DM, so a fairly small group. ...
6
votes
4answers
439 views

How does a DM handle time limits in-game?

An upcoming arc I have planned requires a thirteen-hour time limit to escape from an area. How do I plan for that in game time, and how do I keep the players aware of the time? I usually run six ...
9
votes
1answer
405 views

How do I get my players to make their own decisions?

I'm GMing a Dungeon World campaign with players completely new to tabletop RPGs. Every time I present them with a situation and ask them what they do next, none of them ever arrive at a conclusion, ...