The practical arts and methods applied to gamemastering.

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How does monster hiding work when some players detect them and some don't?

In one of our battles in DnD Next, I had some bugbears hiding in trees trying to attack the players. The bugbear rolled a 21 on its attempt to hide. Four of the players rolled less than 21 on their ...
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2answers
996 views

How to effectively run a sandbox campaign in a weekly 2hrs timeframe

Premise I'm a relative new GM who only run a 2 years long heavily railroaded fantasy campaign that went south for various problems and that I decided to drop. Now I started to run a sci-fi sandbox ...
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1answer
1k views

Resources for 3D printable RPG props?

I would like to introduce more map-based props (figures, terrain, obstacles, etc.) into my game. In particular, I'd like to be able to use a 3D printer to make props specific to whatever encounters a ...
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1answer
878 views

Running Microscope for the first time using online

I'm planning to run a game of Microscope for the first time with players who've never played it before as well (hello deep end!) and it's going to have to be online as my players of choice are ...
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3answers
344 views

How can I import the natural suspense and tension from a game of Dread into a game of D&D?

In Dread the game naturally lends itself to suspenseful play. As the game progresses the tower gets more wobbly and tension builds naturally due to the game's mechanics. I'd like to somehow bring this ...
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4answers
2k views

What should I do if I have one PC that has optimized his character and is throwing off the party's CR?

Tonight out group just finished up our second session into our latest campaign. Everyone is enjoying it and it has been running rather smooth. I have realized, though, that one PC in particular is way ...
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4answers
2k views

How to bring a player to not exclusively rely on his rote spells?

In our first Dresden Files game, one of our players created a warden character, who relied heavily on his evocation rote spells. In fact, due to the high power level we started at (30 skill points, 10 ...
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5answers
2k views

Is it a bad idea to steal characters from other media?

Sometimes I need a character type, say a lawyer and I start thinking about lawyers I know from TV or movies, like Saul Goodman from Breaking Bad. I have this general urge to just straight up rip the ...
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4answers
942 views

How do you enforce “niche protection” in one-shots with multiple PC options?

I usually GM point-based games without classes (like Star Wars D6, WoD -- Mage the Awakening or Wraith -- etc.) When I prepare an adventure for 5 players, I usually make more than 5 PCs to have some ...
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3answers
461 views

How do intelligent enemies attack based on player threat?

How do I determine how intelligent enemies attack? For beasts and plants and such, I usually roll to randomly determine a player, then attack based off that. But intelligent, even semi-intelligent ...
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10answers
1k views

Creating a campaign everyone can DM in?

So I have a group of players I'm playing D&D 4e with. Two of them are hardcore gaming nerds, my brother and his friend. His friend actually has a job but it's not intensive, my brother on the ...
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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, ...
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3answers
913 views

Using a NPC to fill a vacant role in the party

The newly started scenario places my players on their own spaceship, but they are lacking a competent mechanic among them since they are only two; a pilot and a computer operator. I am considering ...
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3answers
1k views

Should a quest completed be its own reward?

My players have become entangled in a murder mystery in 1748 Prussia (using the Götterdämmerung system), and are trying to work out who the killer is while trying to both stay alive and avoid ...
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5answers
670 views

How can I as GM handle situations where players bicker about tactics?

I'm current running 13th Age, and there are two players who are quite tactical. The issue is both of them thinks differently and one is pushy, and the other is stubborn. Every now and then the both of ...
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4answers
368 views

Are there any problems with spies amongst the players?

As GM, I'm planning to, at some point, invite a friend from out of town who plays RPGs, to join our game with a appropriately levelled character. This character (and the new player) is actually a spy ...
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2answers
924 views

Making relaying information less awkward

I recently started DMing for a group of friends that are new to pathfinder. Combat and group conversations went well, but after having the characters roll perception for what they see or after ...
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2k views

“Epic Level” Shadowrun

Recently I've run into an issue with my Shadowrun campaign for a number of reason, the most key of which is that my players have hit the 180-250 karma level where they've started to ascend to levels ...
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3answers
905 views

Do you make death saving throws out of combat?

Death saving throws are made on each turn where you are dying and not stable. However, the rules specifically talk about making saves during combat rounds - so what about after combat? Two PCs are up, ...
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4answers
269 views

How can a GM aid switching between the immersion and the meta level?

In recent adventures, I've often employed and supported using the meta level (i.e. thinking, joking and referencing about the game's contents with reference to our cultural context) for everyone's ...
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7answers
626 views

What techniques are there for balancing power gamers with story gamers in D&D 4E?

In my current D&D 4E game, I have a fairly large number of players with differing preferences for play style. As they have progressed through levels, differences between the characters with ...
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5answers
695 views

How can I get my players to ask the right questions so that I can tell them important stuff?

I GM a campaign for a newbie party. For now everything is fine: they roleplay well, they don't solve their problems with violence, etc. In their scenario, they came from a relatively small city ...
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2answers
1k views

How do I run a single player 4e essentials game for a Drow Hunter?

I am trying to create a set of encounters for my wife. She will be playing a Drow Hunter (controller) from the Essentials line of DnD 4e. I'm looking for advice on how to make encounters (2 levels ...
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3answers
255 views

Encouraging players to play games they normally wouldn't?

So one of my traditional groups has a member who's gone through a pretty serious health crisis, and in addition to that the remainder of the group is going on some traveling soon. Eventually we'll get ...
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2answers
252 views

How to execute horror when there is safety in numbers

Questions such as this one and this one cover how to execute horror in a role-playing game fairly thoroughly. This process must be modified, however, when the traditional trappings of a game session ...
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4answers
1k views

How do you keep track of the Moon?

The current phase of the Moon is slightly important in a werewolf game, how do you keep track of it in your game? this seems more problematic for me because I mostly haven't cared much about how much ...
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7answers
539 views

How can I encourage my players to give me plot hooks?

Related: How can I help a player craft a backstory that gives me plot hooks? This question is about generating new plot hooks during play, rather than part of character generation, however. I ...
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1answer
584 views

Fantasy accent and dialect, or how do I speak like Tom Hanks in Cloud Atlas?

For example, inhabitants of Planescape setting say things like "chant" for news or gossip, "berk" or "cutter" for a kind of adventurer, "barmy" for crazy, etc. I want to portray a guy from a far away ...
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4answers
872 views

Plot granted special ability standards?

For the campaign in question, I'm running one person through a dungeon inspired by Vagrant Story. Clearly some things from the video game can't be emulated, and many of those are integral to the game: ...
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5answers
560 views

How can I discover if players would react positively to a change of tone for a game without them knowing of the change?

I'm currently running a game of Cyberpunk 2020 for a couple of friends. Things are incredibly silly so far and the group seems to really like it. To get an idea of what I've run them through so far: ...
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3answers
455 views

How do I teach players to engage with a game in a rules-first way?

Among other ways, I often like to play in a rules-centric way1, where the rules are the "physics" of reality and dictate what can and cannot be true within the fiction. I especially like this for PvP ...
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5answers
505 views

Good ways to handle presenting information to one or some members of the group?

What are some good methods for presenting information to a limited number of players in a gaming group so as to allow them to control when and how that information gets released to the rest of the ...
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7answers
759 views

Giving Players the Game They Want

Currently I am running a game of Legend of the Five Rings, 4th Edition that is an extension of my 3rd Ed campaign. The current setting is a courtly endeavor, which dredges up certain problems. When ...
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2answers
230 views

How can I add Character Advancement in Diaspora Without Breaking the Game?

How can I add some measure of mechanical character advancement in Diaspora without breaking the game? I'm considering using Diaspora to run a game idea I've had for a while. I really like many of ...
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3answers
432 views

New GM to a Laundry RPG game [closed]

What should a new (and not so experienced) GM watch out for when starting to run a game set in Charles Stross's Laundry universe? Note that all this could be applied to a Call Of Cthulhu game as well ...
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2answers
317 views

GMing a combined-groups session

I'm GMing 2 tabletop Changeling campaigns at the moment. One of them takes place in Cambridge, while the other takes place in Inverness. As my birthday approaches, my players asked me to GM a session ...
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3answers
406 views

Ending a Campaign Gracefully (With a Newbie In Tow)

My Shadowrunners have been going on a five (real-life) month streak of destruction and have gotten immensely powerful to the point where they are near gods, but also gotten incredibly shafted due to ...
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1answer
288 views

How can I estimate difficulty in a FATE based game?

In a recent game of Diaspora, I pitted three of my "5 cap" player characters against four "3 cap" and one "4 cap" character in physical combat, and was surprised to see that the characters came away ...
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4answers
654 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 ...
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1answer
238 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 ...
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2answers
1k views

How do I implement Social Combat into a D&D/D20/Pathfinder game?

One of the coolest parts of White-Wolf games, in my opinion, is that they usually offer the ability for Social Combat to be just as exciting as physical or mental combat. How can I run Social Combat ...
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5answers
420 views

How can I encourage my group to seek success, rather than entertaining failure?

Our weekly group has a tendency toward playing into escalating spirals of self destruction, regardless of the system or genre. Players will look for opportunities to fail, or to set up other player's ...
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1answer
116 views

How to handle combination attacks

This is a topic that the book doesn't really talk about, or if it does i missed it. During one of our fights, our siccomancer (air magic) used a spell to launch our were-tank (he's got a ring that ...
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2answers
307 views

What are good techniques to adapt module maps to 3D terrain and/or 2D tilesets?

This is slightly related to How to Use Module Maps but instead of being about how to adapt published small maps to 1" scale or using playmats, I'm interested in technique for adapting to pre-published ...
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2answers
161 views

How do I create locally focused play?

As a GM, I find using certain settings (such as the setting for Talislanta) to be somewhat challenging. These settings have a large assortment of eclectic characters that can be played and almost ...
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2answers
261 views

What kinds of considerations can be made in a base building campaign?

My Edge of the Empire game has shifted focus away from traveling around taking odd jobs as the group has joined the Rebellion formerly. They have asked that I slow the pace of the game down so they ...
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3answers
709 views

Should “resistance to damage from non-magical weapons” continue to affect monster CR once the party has magical weapons?

My 5e group has reached level 5 and all have acquired +1 weapons. This renders the monster ability of "resistant to bludgeoning, piercing and slashing damage from non-magical weapons" a moot point. ...
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6answers
3k views

How to run a D&D urban campaign

I'm currently in the middle of DM'ing a city campaign. I've found it's quite a bit more difficult than a dungeon. I have the city mostly planned out (type of city, the ruler, the districts, centers of ...
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5answers
1k views

How to follow up the adventure if the party split?

In the last session, the party I'm DMing got into a great fight against the spirit of the valley (a big dire wolf). In the heat of the fight the cleric was bitten to the point that he dropped to 0 hp ...
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6answers
433 views

How to make a confinement situation interesting without railroading players?

There are many scenarios where players will be confined for a period of time in a location: Prison, castle under siege, mega dungeon adventure (like Undermountain) or a labyrinth. I'd like to play the ...