The practical arts and methods applied to gamemastering.

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How can I use improvised consequences to make combat more interesting?

In DnD 4e, the consequences for being hit by basic attacks are a simple loss of HP, and narration is what gives the basic attacks their 'spice'. The use of encounter and daily powers is the main ...
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277 views

Do I need to stat out & measure everything?

I am preparing a session that contains a fair amount of absurdity. Many of the creatures and situations that my players will encounter will probably not be encountered again. On the one hand, I know ...
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I want to run a trial in D&D 3.5, but how can I avoid invalidation by magic?

The Background I'm a pretty new DM, and I'm running a casual game of D&D 3.5 (with some rulings from Pathfinder added to the mix, for practical reasons) and I like doing special things for my ...
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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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641 views

Differing Starting Points Levels

The GM of a GURPS game I'm playing in has set the game's point level at 150. However, he has also made the option available to take 250 or 75 points at the beginning, with the understanding that the ...
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How can I create a more serious atmosphere when playing with siblings?

At our gaming table the players are always making jokes, and some make nonsense noises for some strange reason. My players generally act like hooligans. Getting a new group is not an option – they're ...
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401 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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334 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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487 views

How can I avoid making extended/prolonged encounters boring?

I have run this campaign for just over a year. Many encounters later, I have come to one snag; If I run an encounter that lasts for more than a few rounds, I lose all my flair. I just resort to "hit" ...
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825 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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684 views

What do I do when no rules cover what players improvise, and I don't know from real life? [duplicate]

I'm a fairly new DM running my first campaign. What do I do when players try something, but there are no rules for it, and my real-world knowledge doesn't help me figure out what would happen? For ...
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How to handle a Summoner with his Eidolon having too much “stage time”?

In the group of six players I am GMing (all on level 1), there is a player using a summoner who chose his eidolon to look like a human. The result is, that he has a lot of stage time (once for the ...
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How can I emulate TV Shows with only 2-3 main characters?

I watch a lot of TV. Probably too much. Shows like Buffy the vampire slayer and Firefly have a whole slew of characters, which is perfect for a gaming party as you fill in the slots to the point you ...
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185 views

Any advice for writing a historically accurate adventure?

I have some players who are requesting that I write some historical adventures. However, I am having a bit of a hard time keeping things historically accurate while still allowing there to be things ...
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828 views

How much should a campaign be adapted to a player/character, and vice versa?

Background first: we're several casefiles through a Dresden Files RPG. We're a small group and new to the FATE/Dresden system, but most of us have some RPG experience. I'm the co-GM (I do most of the ...
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How to GM a zombie-apocalypse game?

I was asked, not a long time ago, to GM a zombie-apocalypse one-shot. Being versed in horror-GMing, I decided to approach the genre as I approach most other genres of horror, but I've encountered a ...
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376 views

How can I GM for more tactically-minded players?

I've been GMing a Dungeon World campaign for about a year now, and consider myself an intermediate at understanding the system. My group has recently told me that they miss D&D's tactical combat. ...
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576 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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621 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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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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526 views

How do I keep new players engaged when I have to postpone games?

I'm currently running two weekly games, one intended to be a long-running game with a small group of regular players, the other a modular game that I'm trying to structure so that people take turns ...
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385 views

Running an RPG with fast Drop-In-Drop-Out capability for an open day

Our university will have some Open Days for prospective students over summer, and our gaming society wants to present itself. Any somewhat traditional way of playing an RPG will take too much of ...
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513 views

Managing plots with multiple simultaneous GMs

I'm working with some fellow GMs to prepare a campaign in which we each host separate groups of players, but in the same shared world. This means that the actions of my players might actually ...
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759 views

What is the best way to create custom weapons and armor for your PCs?

After quests have been completed, or during the course of completing them, my Player Characters might pick up new armor or weapons that I've put placeholders in for, but eventually I reach a point ...
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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 ...
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201 views

Dealing with fractional CRs in the table on DMG 274

This has been driving me crazy as I've been trying to create monsters and NPCs for my characters to encounter in D&D 5th Edition. Say I've got an NPC with 48 hit points and Armor Class 16. That ...
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338 views

How to Use Module Maps

I found a module I'd like to run. It includes some great maps. What's the best way to use them in a gaming session? They're too small to use as-is, so I'm wondering how other people use maps from ...
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310 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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287 views

How do you convey the feeling of a crowded area?

Recently, one of my players suggested that streets and buildings felt too empty when we are playing Shadowrun. Other than many RPG, a lot of Shadowrun takes place in crowded cities, with the ...
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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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283 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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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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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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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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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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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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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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965 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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492 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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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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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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710 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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448 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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920 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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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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720 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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523 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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315 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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658 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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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 ...