The practical arts and methods applied to gamemastering.

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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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2answers
433 views

How to handle a group of inexperienced players who split their party more often than I can handle

Recently I ran a steampunk themed one-shot where three of the five players were brand new to roleplaying. The session was successful, everyone enjoyed it and told me they'd like to play again. ...
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4answers
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
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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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289 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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649 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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763 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
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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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281 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
308 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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1answer
644 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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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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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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508 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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800 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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551 views

How can I prepare the map for a combat without alerting the players that combat is about to begin?

I am running an adventure in Pathfinder and I use a very large square board and some homemade model walls to define areas such as dungeons or houses and other stuff. However, building maps on the ...
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447 views

Advice for Running the “In Between Times”

I usually run published adventures which may or may not be related to each other. During and in between the adventures there are often times when the two main facets of RPGs, story role-playing and ...
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3answers
305 views

How to handle a fair contest between PCs in Apocalypse World?

Assuming that (for whatever reason) two PCs decided to settle their disputes by means of a fair contest it seems like it would be difficult to determine which character had the 'initiative' to take ...
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2answers
254 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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4answers
1k views

Exalted Limit Breaks - How do I get them to occur more often?

So one of the biggest problems I have had with GMing an Exalted game is getting the players to actually limit break. Flavor wise, it is one of the biggest flaws of an Exalt, Solars in particular, but ...
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3answers
458 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
322 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
549 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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4answers
911 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
249 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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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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437 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
214 views

How can I make the most out of a reliable, close, helpful player in a group of players new to the system?

I have little experience GMing Fate. In fact, my only experience so far is a "twosie"/one-on-one one-shot with my best friend, Z. I've been researching an enormous amount of materials, as well as ...
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3answers
682 views

How to manage play in a zombie RPG pre outbreak

I am planning on starting my newest campaign about the end of the world: a Zombie Apocalypse, with the game starting before the outbreak has occurred. Every zombie RPG I have encountered so far has ...
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1answer
119 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
334 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
168 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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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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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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6answers
444 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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757 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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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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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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421 views

Inducing paranoia between player characters

I have a situation. My group is heading towards an elven kingdom in pursuit of a plot coupon. Unbeknownst to them, the plot coupon is evil and corrupted and is turning the royal elven family paranoid, ...
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472 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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721 views

How do I encourage players to make characters appropriate to the tone and theme of a game?

I have been a GM for many years and have experience with many different systems and settings of different themes and moods, but my current group seems to be having issues I've never had to deal with ...
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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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4answers
671 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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703 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
298 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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278 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 ...
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How should I award XP for traps?

I'm creating an encounter and planning to use traps. The section of the DMG that provides trap rules and sample traps (120-123) does not provide XP guidelines for traps. Noncombat Challenges on page ...
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632 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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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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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 ...