The practical arts and methods applied to gamemastering.

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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
957 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
407 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 ...
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5answers
2k views

Starting a campaign at higher level

It's been difficult for me to start a game at higher level than level 1-4 in Pathfinder. At higher level, the scale of the game changes. In the beginning of level 1-4 you save a village or a clan ...
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5answers
507 views

Keeping a group together in a Zombie RPG

Being fairly new to GMing I am having trouble with keeping my PC's from turning on each other, and every thing in sight. It doesn't matter how much I punish them for killing obvious allies, or ...
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8answers
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Chess Trap Variant

I'm planning to run a Dungeon World campaign based on a classic D&D Super Endless Quest book called The Ghost Tower which, in turn, is based on a classic D&D module called The Ghost Tower of ...
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3answers
380 views

System for tracking hunger in a World of Darkness game

I'm GM-ing a WoD setting where the players have a very limited food supply(if any) are there any good methods for making sure that they have to eat to survive and applying penalties if they don't?
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3answers
559 views

How do I safely break stereotypes in my games?

In the LARP system I play, there are some stereotypes heavily in-grained into the player base. For instance, goblins are squeaky-voiced, hyperactive, and (often) violent humanoids. These sorts of ...
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5answers
610 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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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 ...
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3answers
189 views

How do I make players more comfortable in an unusual historical setting?

I run a lot of games/write systems set in specific historical/cultural contexts, because I like rpgs as a way to explore them and think they provide a great sense of place. However, I tend not to ...
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4answers
516 views

How do I run a dungeon crawl, communicating how various rooms/passages look?

I have never run a dungeon crawl before, such as the one linked here. How do you tell the players what they see? Some examples from older ROG books I have have description in the form of "You come to ...
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3answers
228 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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5answers
665 views

How do I reduce the number of encounters in D&D 4E without reducing the difficulty?

4E is setup very well for long chains of battles, especially in the form of a dungeon crawl. However, sometimes it doesn't make sense to constantly be in chains of combat. Here are but a few examples: ...
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2answers
272 views

How to make rituals a part of everyday life

I would like to know how to make it clear that little, non-magical rituals such as a blessing before eating, drawing water, harvesting grain, starting a fire and the like are a part of everyday life, ...
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5answers
552 views

How to get the most out of an encounter by combining foes

I am an new GM playing DnD-4E and i am looking for advice on how to compose challenging encounters. I have played with my group ~10 times so far and what i really like is to challenge them. Not a TPK ...
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3answers
633 views

As a GM, how do you deal with or manage Stirges?

As a GM, how do you deal with or manage Stirges? Equally, how do you make use of them? For them to be a relevant threat, do they have to be in such numbers that they become unmanageable?
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4answers
986 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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6answers
2k views

What strategies can I use to award treasure on the fly?

Due to a combination of tight scheduling and plain laziness, I never prepare any of my sessions ahead of time. At first it was hard to play this way, and the game was a bit sluggish, but now I think ...
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3answers
302 views

So I'm finishing a campaign…what now?

The D&D campaign I mentioned in another question has been ongoing for 2 1/2 years and the next session is the last. While we're waiting for everyone to be available for said session, we're playing ...
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3answers
674 views

How to write in-character introduction to new players for a new game background

So, I have this uber cool game world and I want to run a super cool game in it. It should not really matter what genre for this, but let us assume it is fantasy. Instead of either a long conversation ...
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3answers
1k views

Role playing/plot focused one shot sessions

I am faced with a challenge with creating a one shot session for a couple of friends. From experience I can see that it is difficult to indulge players into setting, plot, world, characters in a ...
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2answers
488 views

Creating encounters for a DFRPG party

I've got a 2-person party and i'm having some difficulty with balancing encounters for them. It seems that what i'm making is either way too easy, or harder than i really want it to be (ie, they're ...
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3answers
379 views

How can I GM in Faerie with True Fae PCs?

I'm running a game where the PCs discover that they're actually Fae. Obviously this isn't strictly canonical - Fae in CtL leave fetches in place of children, not their own young - but I'm otherwise ...
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3answers
1k views

How can a DM run D&D 4e combat as theater of the mind rather than a grid?

I am DMing a new 4e group, and I am interested in approaching the game as a "theater of the mind" style combat rather than the traditional grid format. We are locked into doing D&D 4e because of ...
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3answers
484 views

How to develop arcs for player characters

If you've got a vague idea for an overall plot arc, how do you go about developing individual plot arcs for player characters (if that's something you do)? I'm running two Savage Worlds campaigns, ...
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2answers
358 views

What are your play experiences with The Secret Lives of Gingerbread Men? [closed]

I'm going to run a session or two of The Secret Lives of Gingerbread Men for my wife and kids. We're all experienced roleplayers, but we haven't tried this system before. What kinds of adventures have ...
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3answers
250 views

Introducing a complex game world to players unfamiliar with its fiction whilst still hitting the ground running with character creation?

I am preparing to start up a Hellfrost game using the Savage Worlds system. Although I've run Hellfrost before, it has always been for people who are already familiar with its fiction and fluff. In ...
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2answers
257 views

Mechanics and methods for playing a quantum-superposition of worlds

I'm looking for game mechanics and story telling methods that convey the atmosphere that characters don't just live in one world, but in a multiverse adhering to something similar to the many-worlds ...
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4answers
412 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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2answers
565 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
179 views

How do I go about setting up a trial/investigation mission?

I have been running a freeform (no system, basic rules and sheets designed by yours truly), sandbox RPG with a friend of mine for about half a year now. It's my first GM experience and it's been ...
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3answers
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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 ...
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4answers
174 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 ...
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0answers
458 views

Help with an apparently bored player [duplicate]

I have a group of 5 players, 3 are long time veterans and we have been playing together for 15 years, the other is a newcomer who is actually liking the game a lot, and there's a 5th player that ...
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5answers
803 views

How does one work a druid into a campaign?

I am a novice GM and this is my first time using Pathfinder. One of my players wants to be a druid but I don't know how to work him into the campaign. It starts in a typical tavern with the owner ...
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9answers
683 views

How can I encourage role playing in a custom setting?

Since creating a fully living and breathing world for the players to inhabit is a time-consuming process, I have been feeding them background info as often as possible as it is relevant to the story. ...
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7answers
493 views

Balancing character intelligence against players wits

This might be a broad topic, so let me focus on one scenario, where I would like to hear which actions and methods fellow GMs use. A fantasy campaign runs along. BLUE plays a character who is dumb as ...
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7answers
628 views

Arbitrary timer on a breach and clear style scenario

I'm writing up a scenario base on the idea of a breach and clear of a hostage situation. I imagine it being a failure if it lasts more than about 30 seconds and as a round is about 5 seconds i ...
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5answers
748 views

Dealing with Character Advancement in a Game with Rotating GM's

I am part of a group, we are going to be playing Fate Core. There are going to be 4 of us playing. We want to be able to rotate the role of Game Master. We envision playing in an episodic format. ...
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1answer
359 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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4answers
701 views

How much custom content is too much

So, I'm a relatively new GM (having only run a quick foray into the Tomb of Horrors for fun) and I've got an idea for a city-based custom campaign. I feel pretty good about my story telling abilities ...
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3answers
1k views

How to roleplay the Tengu (D&D 3.5 and Pathfinder race)?

I am currently DM-ing a Pathfinder game (it's a system based on 3.5e D&D). I am planning to introduce a Tengu character to the story. I've done some research, however I'm still not entirely sure ...
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6answers
521 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 ...
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4answers
618 views

How do you make an encounter actually match its CR level?

I recently started using encounter generators and tables. I've noticed that there are encounters like "8 Cave Spiders" or similar. While the number of enemies will result in an encounter that "should" ...
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8answers
843 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 ...
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6answers
325 views

How do you come up with attribute values and skills for your NPCs [closed]

I have been playing PnP for some years now and also had one session GMing (my first) and I discovered that my biggest problem wasn't creating a world, inventing scenes or reacting fast if my players ...
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5answers
370 views

How to keep the group engaged when the party is split?

I recently pitched a game to my group, to which they were receptive. However they pointed out some problems I would have to solve before the game started. The Pitch The game is set in the ...
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2answers
255 views

When players have settled into “routines” for runs, how to break them out of the rut?

One way or another almost 95% of all the Shadowruns I either played or was GM in, somehow got to the point where the players would either: gather building plans and/or use their existing collection ...
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6answers
263 views

What are good techniques help remember the interrupts of DND 4e monsters?

For new and experienced 4e DM's alike, a recurring challenge is activating all of the appropriate interrupt powers on monster sheets. It gets really easy to miss something when solo monsters can have ...