The practical arts and methods applied to gamemastering.

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12
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2answers
635 views

How can I keep the nature and capacity of NPCs hidden to generate a fear of the unknown?

In traditional games such as D&D, the mechanics of the NPCs you face are generally an unknown quantity. The players and the characters only have a rough idea of what an NPC is capable of, based on ...
12
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3answers
490 views

How can I build open-ended questions into a scenario in a GM driven world?

Inspired by this question. In a game where the GM has the traditional role of answering all the questions about the world, what is the benefit of building open-ended questions into the scenario for ...
12
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3answers
562 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 ...
12
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4answers
238 views

How to communicate genre tropes for better player buy-in to the genre?

Some games fail to be all that they could be, not because of a lack of engaging play, or clever players, but because of a lack on one or both sides of the GM screen of understanding of the genre being ...
12
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2answers
538 views

How can I work on my improvisation skills in regards to running a campaign?

I'm writing a campaign for 3.5 at the moment and, as a new DM, it's been hard for me to decide what I need to write now, and what I'll need to write later. Because it's going to be my first campaign ...
12
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2answers
1k 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 ...
12
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2answers
285 views

Playing a pregame, how to keep sense of continuity in campaign

My players and I are currently playing a "pre-game" for a whole campaign I have written. I want the players to be aware of the "how did it get to be this way", so I make them play two games 4000 and ...
12
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2answers
399 views

What is useful to delegate to Assistant DMs, and how many is it useful to have?

I have a 5e D&D campaign right now that is very successful. Right now I have 10 players in two groups, each group playing once a week. However, recently I have had 6 more people who want to make a ...
12
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0answers
311 views

As a GM, how can I create and role-play diverse NPCs better? [duplicate]

I am new to GMing (and role-playing in general, for that matter) and I am having a somewhat difficult time making plausible and interesting NPCs. This is especially true with NPCs who are not "typical ...
11
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9answers
2k views

How can I avoid focusing too much on one player character?

Currently in the game I'm running, one of my players is constantly excited about the game. Outside of the game, he writes pages and pages of material about his character, and consistently adds new ...
11
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4answers
974 views

Divided party on a deserted island

My gaming group (and some NPCs) are shipwrecked on a deserted island. I'd like the characters cooperate to survive in this hostile environment, because I want to make the game world really dangerous (...
11
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6answers
3k views

How much can/should a single owned item be worth at most?

How much can any single possession take up a character's wealth? For this question, I'd like answers that operate under the presumption that wealth-by-level isn't a minimum but instead a target. I've ...
11
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5answers
1k views

How do I deal with two players who dislike each other and disrupt the game?

I have lately had a problem with some players in a campaign I am running. Basically, they don't get on well together, for various reasons. I don't really understand it, but then again, I am looking in ...
11
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7answers
798 views

Ending combat: should I “kill” monsters prematurely?

Out of time constraints (my group can generally only meet for 3-4 hours every other week), as a GM I frequently find myself prematurely "killing" off monsters when it seems clear to me that the ...
11
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5answers
1k views

How can a PC craft armor?

I am DMing a dnd-4e game, and there was a wolf in the party's first encounter. After they defeated the enemy, the rogue wanted to skin the wolf in order to use it's hide for armor. I know there are ...
11
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6answers
825 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 (...
11
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5answers
2k views

How to make spell components relevant again?

The spell components mechanic has always seemed a bit ham-fistedly handled in D&D since 2nd edition. What should be an interesting way of defining a wizard generally becomes "I have my pouch" and ...
11
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4answers
289 views

Introducing Guest-Stars in Ongoing Campaigns

I've got a situation I'm dealing with tonight and that I've dealt with before, but I've never had rpg.se to ask about it. So here goes: Are there any tried-and-true methods for dealing with ...
11
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5answers
4k views

Standard monster tactics for 4E D&D combat

In a similar vein to a question on tactics sources, I'm interested in knowing what are common tactics for monsters to use. The DMB and the MV mention monster groups, which are very useful, but I want ...
11
votes
5answers
417 views

Variants of letting players shop for items

During a game (at least during DnD), there always comes a time when characters need to re-supply, sell stuff, and buy or upgrade their items. I've seen a couple of different variations of how to do ...
11
votes
3answers
447 views

Does an emissary of power HAVE to be known?

The Emissary of power power states that people recognize you as the arbiter of the entity that gave you the power. Could you play it though as if the entity of the power is unknown, and not easily (...
11
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3answers
2k views

How can PCs find how to restore Horrifying Visage aging?

The Horrifying Visage attack of a D&D 5e ghost involves a Wisdom saving throw with a haunting failure ramification: If the save fails by 5 or more, the target also ages 1d4*10 years. ...
11
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8answers
2k views

How can I make the daily lives of the PCs interesting?

I'm going to start a new campaign soon and my players and I are looking for a campaign that is somewhat close to the feel of the Buffy: The Vampire Slayer TV series. With that I mean a campaign that ...
11
votes
6answers
430 views

What are the pitfalls when swapping characters between players?

I have a plot hook that I want to use where the entire player character team gets gassed and wake up feeling "different". I want to simulate that by swapping characters between the players for one ...
11
votes
2answers
975 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 ...
11
votes
3answers
913 views

How do you determine what good roleplaying is? [closed]

How can I determine if players are roleplaying well? World of Darkness (not the only system that does this) offers the option of giving experience for good roleplaying, but how do I as a GM determine ...
11
votes
5answers
657 views

What can be done to encourage players/character to use rituals more?

An on going issue I have is with my players is that they leave a very large amount of power untapped in the arsenal of things they can do, namely rituals. As a DM I use them all the time, but the ...
11
votes
3answers
435 views

Stopping rule questions from overrunning encounters

A common problem I observe is that the players start flooding the GM with questions regarding rules during an encounter (within and outside their respective turns). From the perspective of a GM, how ...
11
votes
4answers
1k views

Making epic combat interesting and challenging but not complicated

I'm running up on the tail end of a year-and-a-half 4e campaign, and epic levels are exhausting to GM. Everyone has more weird powers than you can shake a dragon at, and that includes the NPCs --...
11
votes
3answers
878 views

How to find the line between an investigation and railroading

I'm a fairly experienced GM creating and running a series of Delta Green games (a modern supplement for Call of Cthulhu). While my players and I enjoy the game, there are parts that bog down and get ...
11
votes
3answers
4k views

How do I keep me and my player happy in a one-on-one game?

As a GM, my comfort zone is a group with about 3-5 players. I like the diversity of having multiple players. When I only have a single player, I feel I can already predict my player's actions, and we ...
11
votes
2answers
658 views

How often should the players roll Bluff when interacting with NPCs

My party had secretly infiltrated a stronghold and we were Disguised (using magic) as the leadership of the place after eliminating the real leadership. While rifling through the head honchos stuff ...
11
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5answers
920 views

How do I encourage player-GM storytelling collaboration without “breaking” my game?

I've DM/GM'd for several gaming groups, young and old, and have found that one of the things that separates my younger players from older players is their eagerness to elaborate/collaborate in the ...
11
votes
4answers
291 views

How do you handle the use of unrelated skills in the Dresden Files?

Back into the breach with our weekly Dresden Files game, and because of the lapse in time between sessions/people missing as much as anything else, I had some unique situations occur. One of the ones ...
11
votes
2answers
2k views

How do you run a political campaign?

Although it's a fair way off yet there's a decent chance that my campaign is heading towards becoming very political. I've considered running political games before, but it seems like it would ...
11
votes
5answers
810 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: ...
11
votes
5answers
13k views

Playing Dnd 5e with two players

My girlfriend and I want to get into roleplaying games, we've both been interested in trying out Dungeons and Dragons. She has never played a pen and paper RPG before, I've played the Swedish Drakar ...
11
votes
3answers
687 views

The World Will End, But Not Tomorrow (or How to Manage Unwarranted Urgency in Players)

For the last couple of years my group’s been playing two high-tempo D&D 3.5 campaigns (I’m the DM in one of them). The PCs, their families, their homelands and their worlds have been constantly ...
11
votes
1answer
622 views

How can I help my players be proactive and dramatic together?

We've recently started a Fate Core game, and found that the system delivers on its promise of stories about "proactive, competent and dramatic" characters. Which is great! Except the characters, drawn ...
11
votes
1answer
2k views

How can GMs quickly calculate the effects of level drain?

I've GM'ed a few Pathfinder games, and while I really enjoy the setting, I just can't wrap my head around some of the crunchy mechanics. In particular, how do you (quickly) deal with effects like ...
11
votes
3answers
2k views

Challenging Talkers in SIFRP

I have a Song of Ice and Fire (SIFRP) game running right now. Each player has 2 PCs: An adventurer - a character designed for traditional RPG activities like fighting and sneaking and hunting A ...
11
votes
8answers
471 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
752 views

Tips for keeping track of NPC stats and conditions

Is there a good paper based solution to keep track of NPC stats so they are avaliable when you need them in-game but don't take hours to keep up to date? I have a bunch of NPC notes and lists of ...
11
votes
3answers
321 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 ...
11
votes
1answer
446 views

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 ...
11
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3answers
398 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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votes
10answers
1k views

Is It OK To Sic Assassins On My PCs?

L5R has the most specific example in my immediate memory. In one game, the players were in a diplomatic situation and a Shosuro Shinobi (ninja) was sneaking around to stir the pot. This was a ...
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votes
4answers
4k views

Responding to players paying exclusively with gold coins

I noticed that my players would pay everything in gold. A simple piece of bread? 1 copper. "Here, have a gold and keep the change." They get into a tavern. A beer! Here, have a gold coin and keep the ...
10
votes
2answers
3k views

I can't seem to kill my party, help? [duplicate]

BEFORE YOU SAY "The idea is not to kill the party" PLEASE READ THIS I am a fairly new DM, I have Dm'd about 6 groups, all around the levels 1 - 4 and that was because of problems within the group ...
10
votes
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 ...