The practical arts and methods applied to gamemastering.

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33
votes
10answers
782 views

Helping new players learn a setting on the go

I started a new Eberron campaign last night, and I quickly ran into the problem of my players not knowing much of anything about the campaign setting. What is the Mournland? Where is the Eldeen ...
9
votes
2answers
151 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 ...
12
votes
3answers
537 views

Non-combat objective: Delay larger enemy force

I'm re-writing the "Battle of Albridge" encounters from The DM-kit's Reavers of Harkenwold. As supplied they are mostly just a rehash of earlier fight-to-the-death skirmishes on re-used maps. Instead ...
27
votes
9answers
2k views

How do you discourage “player knowledge” as a GM?

As a trivial random encounter is winding down, a player thinks "That was too easy... The GM wouldn't give us an encounter that doesn't give XP," and starts searching for hidden bad guys or other ...
36
votes
3answers
628 views

How do I build a sense of wonder in my games?

I guess this is part three of a series of questions, with part I being on building tension, and part II being on building comedy. Greg Stafford has talked of his primary motivation as a gamemaster ...
23
votes
4answers
610 views

How do you handle large scale exploration?

I'm currently running a game where the players are exploring a large ruined city (It happens to be Rathess in Exalted, but the question is more general than that), and I'm looking for techniques to ...
45
votes
14answers
2k views

How do I get the PCs to stop focusing on a red herring?

Okay, I'll cop to it -- this is totally my fault. I get a little excited at the slightest opportunity to expound upon the setting, and in this case I added a small mausoleum to an otherwise boring ...
22
votes
7answers
2k views

Building a good comedy adventure?

I was wondering how to build a comedic adventure for D&D (or at least get some tips on it). The DM guide mentioned the multiple ideas for campaigns and one of them was comedy! I tried to start ...
33
votes
8answers
4k views

What is some good advice for starting Paranoia with a new group?

My roleplaying group is talking about taking a break from our 4e D&D campaign for a bit, and doing some one-offs. We are planning on doing a few sessions with a GURPS game of some sort, and the ...
6
votes
3answers
196 views

How do you handle skill use and spends in GUMSHOE?

I ran a playtest of Pathshoe (a new Pathfinder + GUMSHOE hybrid from Pelgrane Press) for my gaming group last weekend. I have several of the other GUMSHOE games (Mutant City Blues, Esoterrorists, Fear ...
17
votes
6answers
459 views

Techniques for speeding up a game with many players at the table?

I have a table of six players already, and have more people interested in joining my game. I wanted to consult people who had experience with running large tables to see if running for larger groups ...
13
votes
6answers
610 views

Regional Resource Management and Trade Rules

I've been looking at TSR's old Birthright setting lately, searching for an easy way to quantify trade between political entities. I'm thinking about ways for a city or region or planet to develop ...
16
votes
7answers
646 views

How should a GM handle novice players?

In our game, we have 5 players - two are completely new to roleplaying, and one is new to the system we're playing (Pathfinder). At the moment, the GM grants the new players no leeway - if the player ...
29
votes
9answers
2k views

Suggestions for decreasing metagaming and increasing player immersion?

This question is posed in a great way over on the Paizo boards, where I hang out since I play/run a lot of Pathfinder. Immersion is one of the key parts of the RPG experience to me, so I loved the ...
7
votes
4answers
900 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 ...
29
votes
8answers
2k views

Introducing new players to GURPS

So, I have a group of players who have played a variety of other systems - D&D 3.5, D&D 4th, Shadowrun, White Wolf, etc. Some have played GURPS in the past and had some less than ideal ...
31
votes
6answers
931 views

How to maximize the opportunities of roleplaying military rank in a PC group, while minimizing the limitations on the players

Some games come with a predisposition toward the characters having military rank. This is typically an element of the setting material, and is intended to aid immersion, and produce interesting social ...
21
votes
6answers
879 views

What GM tasks can be delegated to players to speed up encounters?

My party's encounters (D&D4e - 13th level) take on average 3-4 hours. We chit chat a lot and are pretty easily distracted, and it's not a huge deal because we're all having fun. But lately we've ...
14
votes
5answers
325 views

What to do when a curse makes a character useless?

It happened in a DnD 4th edition game but it could happen in any game. My group of players fought a Weretiger and the two melee-type characters now have claws and can't use weapons. Since those claws ...
17
votes
8answers
424 views

What are some proven methods of generating attachment to locations/objects in a campaign?

It is a truism that a GM can never really be sure what a group of players will do, or which NPCs they are going to grow fond of. Places and objects, however... are they the same? In games like Star ...
7
votes
3answers
166 views

How can I expand the visceral gore as tell-tale scenery theme beyond dungeons?

On Greywulf's Lair, Lessons learned from Super Meat Boy, the author suggests: Our dungeons should be littered with corpses of past adventurers (or parts of them, at least), and blood stains serve ...
39
votes
10answers
3k views

Techniques for allowing character defeat without character death

Character death can be extremely disruptive to an ongoing RPG, particularly in a game where character agendas are the driving force behind the plot. However, for a good story with a sense of conflict ...
18
votes
8answers
426 views

Practices to mitigate player characters' conflicting agendas

You have a campaign that provides, by design, a high level of freedom for the players to pick the story threads, sides and whatnot for themselves. In the long run, a conflict arises: some player ...
22
votes
6answers
479 views

Techniques for communicating setting and campaign information to the PCs?

In the past, I've almost always had at least one NPC that would travel with the characters as a type of "lore master" to expand on the story. I've tried to make the character witty and, once the ...
12
votes
5answers
2k views

How can I successfully run one-on-one adventures in D&D 4E?

It seems clear that 4E really wants the party to have at least four PCs, so that all four roles can be covered. The official rules give tips on what to do when you can only have three PCs, but when ...
13
votes
3answers
361 views

Ubiquity: Best method to excitingly adjudicate the effects of Persuasion (Con/Diplomacy)

In Pulp Adventure games using the Ubiquity Roleplaying System what is an effective method to add tension, and ensure consistency in applying results, when handling social interactions based on Con and ...
13
votes
9answers
1k views

Out-Of-Control Characters [closed]

As I review the suggestions in the D&D 4E DMG (pg32), I wonder what other suggestions that are realistic. I know that if a player is out of control (ie: killing masses for no reason) a DM would ...
13
votes
5answers
290 views

How do I resolve the conflict between realism and uniqueness when designing campaigns?

Whenever I am developing a plot-line, location or an NPC, there are two primary factors I take into account: Realism - Locations should be believable (no redundant corridors, random unfitting ...
38
votes
5answers
1k views

GMing for [dis]abled players, specifically blind players?

What kind of measures should one take when running a game which includes a [dis]abled player (or players) such as a blind of deaf player? Are there any technologies or styles which are particularly ...
16
votes
9answers
539 views

How can I encourage my group to become more well rounded?

My gaming group tends to each go in their own direction for character creation. Sometimes this leads to great games where folks are strongly opposed on dramatic elements and character interaction is ...
15
votes
3answers
2k views

What is all the backstory in an Adventure Path for if the players never see it?

I'm new to tabletop RPGs (although I have been interested for a long time, just had difficulty finding like-minded companions, and the funds required to get some of the stuff). When I was finally ...
6
votes
4answers
412 views

Where can I find/buy/get a detailed output NPC generator tool (digital or paper)?

As a part of my on-going quest to be a better GM, I am looking for a tool, paper based or digital, that can generate solid NPCs rapidly. These could be used as one shots but I am looking primarily ...
85
votes
20answers
4k views

How do you help players not focus on the rules?

Background - My Group's Gaming Style When I GM, I run games loosely from a rules standpoint, and do not feel bound to adhere to what the rulebook says when it doesn't make sense in a given situation. ...
27
votes
5answers
2k views

Dealing with players who try to run from everything?

I DM for a group with a guy who always suggests leaving the dungeon, area, or wherever the party is. It seems like no matter what I try or do to the setting he just won't relax and play the game – he ...
11
votes
5answers
595 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 ...
31
votes
11answers
501 views

How to get better feedback from players?

OK, we started a new campaign yesterday and I really want to take quality feedback from my players. When I ask, "How was it? Do you like it?", I generally get some vague answers like "It was good, I ...
7
votes
6answers
257 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 ...
11
votes
2answers
410 views

Tasks for a split party

I'm running a 4th ed game, but I don't think that makes a difference in this case. Last session my party decided to split up for a couple tasks. The hybrid bard/rogue and the avenger (affectionately ...
21
votes
18answers
2k views

When GMing a game, how much should you prepare in advance?

Obviously you need to have some high level idea of what's going on in the world around the players, and where you are heading with the story, but in an ongoing game at some point players will be ...
12
votes
7answers
425 views

Role-playing within role-playing

Suppose that the PCs are actors that have to play roles in film, television, theatre. Or that they are some sort of spirits that process other people and make them do their bidding without letting ...
8
votes
2answers
343 views

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

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 ...
5
votes
6answers
600 views

Chuck Norris player character - can I keep true to the internet meme while still running a balanced game?

One of my group mates has been quite obsessed with creating a Chuck Norris inspired character. He's playing a martial arts heavy, assassin flavors of Rogue, in a DnD campaign, which works well enough ...
26
votes
26answers
1k views

Biggest GM pitfalls for new GMs? [closed]

What are the biggest/most common GM pitfalls (or mistakes) for new GMs? One pitfall per answer, please!
11
votes
10answers
1k views

Are there good game mechanics/systems for a timetravel-heavy game/character?

What techniques(or systems) can be used to deal with a game (or even a single session) where time travel is a heavy part of the game? For example, I have a player whose character concept has the ...
9
votes
7answers
548 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 ...
26
votes
10answers
4k views

How do you make hacking useful without excluding other players?

My Shadowrun group has a reasonably typical composition: "face", technomancer, rigger, mage, adept, and street samurai. The problem I have is making sure that the technomancer can use her skills ...
8
votes
3answers
562 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?
15
votes
4answers
526 views

How do I create and effectively use silence?

People who have thought about public speaking or presentations usually know that silence is one of the most powerful tools in conversation, speaking and negotiation. Think about any memorable speech. ...
9
votes
5answers
396 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 ...
20
votes
4answers
29k views

Calculating and balancing challenge ratings

Are there standard rules for calculating CR of groups? For example, in my Pathfinder bestiary, a single Stirge is listed as CR 1/2, and a group of 2d4 (average 5) of them is listed as an average CR 4. ...