The practical arts and methods applied to gamemastering.

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23
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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 ...
13
votes
7answers
476 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
374 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 ...
5
votes
6answers
641 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
2k 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!
12
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
626 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 ...
29
votes
10answers
5k 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
811 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
577 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
420 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
38k 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. ...
21
votes
5answers
2k views

As a GM, how do I keep Dungeons & Dragons more interesting for young players?

Currently, my group of players is my children, ages 7+ through 14+ (and several in between). They all are really excited about playing, but I am having great difficulty keeping them all interested ...
23
votes
14answers
3k views

How do I run a maze scenario without using a map?

Inspired by a question on another site, what's the best way to add a labyrinth to an adventure scenario without making the challenges contingent upon player skill at mapping or navigation? I'd like ...
22
votes
6answers
620 views

How can I close my sessions better?

A big principle of group practices (facilitation, meeting management, etc) is Opening and Closing. Opening is creating a comforting environment where people feel invited and welcome. Closing is about ...
10
votes
4answers
274 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 ...
18
votes
4answers
1k views

Designing puzzle-based mysteries

I'm currently watching the BBC series Sherlock. In this episode, the central mystery is fascinating: first, there are symbols scrawled on the wall; next, these turn out to be a cipher; then, the ...
14
votes
0answers
370 views

How does a GM know they have done enough prep? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: When GMing a game, how much should you prepare in advance? How do you, as a GM, keep from getting into an endless prep loop and to know when you have enough to run a ...
18
votes
6answers
706 views

How to implicate the players in the horror?

Good horror implicates the watcher/reader, at least in drama. There is always moment when the audience should cry out, "no, stop, don't!" but of course we don't because we're a well-behaved audience, ...
37
votes
14answers
2k views

How can GMs make their game worlds more inclusive?

Many published roleplaying settings reflect our own cultural biases, for example, by putting white people in the "core" of the setting with "exotic" (i.e., not white) cultures around the less-detailed ...
26
votes
9answers
1k views

How can GMs evoke the tone of danger in an RPG?

Forked from this question which focuses more on exploring signals of specific danger. Here, my question is: how can a GM evoke the feeling of danger during a game? How can they create tension that ...
67
votes
9answers
4k views

How can DMs effectively telegraph specific dangers in D&D?

There are some play-styles of D&D in which the spectre of player-character death is considered a feature of the game rather than a bug. For my own reasons (which aren't the point of the question), ...
45
votes
7answers
1k views

What is a good way to become a better NPC/monster actor?

One of the biggest problems I have as Game Master, (going on 30+yrs) is in portraying NPC and Monsters in any RPG. Is there a good resource for becoming a better 'actor'? Instead of just saying... ...
20
votes
9answers
656 views

What makes a good pitch for a new game?

What should make up a pitch about a new game to a prospective group of players? What does a good RPG pitch entail? What should go into the case for why a game should be played (and why that GM is the ...
18
votes
5answers
614 views

What techniques can I use to improve flavor text?

I've been improving my GM skills lately, but there is one area in which my skills are very weak, and that is flavor text. For example, if my players go into the woods, I tend to say something stupid ...
25
votes
12answers
908 views

How to remember all the rules?

Do you have tricks or techniques to remember all the rules to the games you're playing? I would like to run my first game as a gamemaster, but I'm struggling with remembering all the feats and ...
29
votes
11answers
4k views

Should a GM be a Player?

Game Masters have plenty to do; no need to enumerate the tasks here. But should a non-player character be a 'regular' in a party? By gaining a voice in the in-character interactions, the GM taps a ...
12
votes
4answers
252 views

Building a sense of desperation

For a GUMSHOE game I want to build up the suspense through the more subtle, but very effective, buildup of a sense of desperation. This is a medical drama and the characters will be in quarantine. I’m ...
44
votes
13answers
2k views

How to communicate to the players that an encounter can be solved also through diplomacy?

When you play D&D, you are not supposed to chat with the enemy during encounters. The system is made for fighting. However, in some circumstances, it would be nice to make the players conscious ...
20
votes
10answers
432 views

Campaign is on hiatus. How do I keep it on life support?

My regular campaign has ground to a halt due to scheduling problems. At this point, we don't really know how long it will be until we play again. Everyone is still interested, at least for now. Is ...
3
votes
4answers
367 views

What props or other tools can I use to improve pacing?

For a game, gaslight fantasy meets weird west, I am looking for tangible props to establish the various pacing points (call them beats in Robin's newest fascination). I'm looking for a good idea that ...
14
votes
7answers
505 views

What major differences are there between convention DMing and home DMing?

I've been DMing for a while in 4th edition D&D, but I've only been DMing for Living Forgotten Realms and D&D Encounters. Now I'm thinking of starting to do some home games in various systems. ...
61
votes
23answers
6k views

How can a GM quickly create interesting, engaging NPCs?

What techniques do people have for coming up with interesting personalities and histories for non-player characters? I'm mostly interested in the GM side of things. I don't want to do a ton of prep. I ...
15
votes
6answers
541 views

Dealing with high player churn?

In my current D&D 4e game we have extremely high player churn. Any given night we may have between 2 and 5 players (out of 10 to 12) leave and or join (leaving often takes the form of simply not ...
27
votes
10answers
2k views

Strategies for dealing with turtle or roach players?

How should GMs deal with players who turtle or roach? By turtle I am referring to players who obviously wanted to play because they joined the game, but when they're actually at the table they keep ...
34
votes
14answers
3k views

How to deal effectively with a player unable to lose?

How do you effectively handle a player that overreacts to any loss of his character (level drain, death) ?
9
votes
5answers
505 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 ...
28
votes
8answers
1k views

How do you DM differently when it's for only one person?

I've just finished running my first session with only one player, and it felt pretty different from running a session for a group. Could someone with more experience in this talk about what one ...
15
votes
4answers
633 views

What if the GM knocks over the tower during a game of Dread?

In Dread, the status of the tower is pretty much the entire game. If it falls over accidentally, it really sort of ruins everything. Obviously the GM stays as far away from it as possible to avoid the ...
25
votes
14answers
890 views

Story Arc vs. Player Creativity

I want to put the players in a challenging spot by putting them in a no win situation and having them captured and stripped of their equipment (assuming they might get it back as they make their ...
28
votes
14answers
483 views

How do I retain momentum in an irregular game?

For years I have had a regular weekly evening group but as we've all aged, it has become more difficult to meet. I tend to get the same players but we do not play every week. Long gaps mean that it is ...
74
votes
16answers
5k views

Total Party Kill - What do I do as a GM?

Your party has had a streak of bad luck and/or made a poor choice and are now staring down death. The rules were followed to the letter and loss is assured. How do you handle this as a GM? Does ...
15
votes
4answers
418 views

GM Tips for a Rashomon style game

I want to run a Rashomon style session soon and I'm looking for solid advice, as well as lessons learned from your own experience doing so.
23
votes
19answers
2k views

What role-playing games have good gamemaster advice sections? [closed]

Which RPG's, in your experience, have good advice for gamemasters in their rulebooks, both for novice and experienced gamemasters? Please keep in mind that this question is not about good games for ...
36
votes
9answers
4k views

What is 'railroading', and is it a bad thing?

What is 'railroading', and when is it generally considered to be something negative?
19
votes
7answers
374 views

How do you maintain a balance between mystery and offering clues?

Giving good clues that offer just enough information can be difficult. I think I tend to not give the players enough information and then to overcompensate with a reveal that comes too easily. ...
22
votes
10answers
335 views

Keeping a published module interesting when some players have already played.

When running a published adventure which some players have already played, such as a RPGA module, are there any suggestions for keeping it interesting for all involved ?
52
votes
7answers
2k views

How can I make my game more “noir” as a GM?

I ran a couple of Shadowrun games at Dexcon, my first time GMing at a con. It's not my first time running Shadowrun; I based the games off of a couple jobs my players did in a then-ongoing campaign. ...
55
votes
22answers
2k views

What approaches are there to lessen or eliminate reliance upon dice in an RPG? [closed]

Is it necessary to use dice all the time in a dice-based RPG system? In other words, are there occasions or means by which you speed up gameplay by either reducing the number of rolls or removing the ...
33
votes
10answers
849 views

Is it advisable to rotate the GM role between players?

Is it advisable to run a campaign where the GM occasionally rotates to be a regular player while a player becomes the GM? I've seen some mentions of this strategy to prevent the GM from getting burned ...