The practical arts and methods applied to gamemastering.

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16
votes
7answers
3k views

How do I balance an all-spellcaster party?

This here campaign I'm about to unfold is going to feature 2-3 players, 2 of which definitely want to get spellcasting characters and the third is very likely to go down the same path. Q: How do I ...
2
votes
1answer
95 views

If the Wealth-By-Level is an indication of the value of Magic Items for Player Characters, does the WBL for NPCs have the same purpose?

If the Wealth-By-Level is an indication of the value of Magic Items for Player Characters to use in combat, does the WBL for NPCs have the same purpose, or is it there for some other purpose (to ...
43
votes
9answers
5k views

How to handle players who make unmotivated characters

I'm a relatively new GM, and I'm having trouble getting my (also new) players to create motivated characters. I don't mean that the players themselves are unmotivated, but the characters they create ...
7
votes
2answers
212 views

Character power

I am in a pathfinder campaign where the GM has straight up told me that our martial characters are too powerful and making the game unbalanced for everyone. We are currently level 3 and our characters ...
28
votes
8answers
4k 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 ...
26
votes
5answers
2k views

How can I keep surprising my co-GM when he's playing in my campaign?

I recently started a D&D 5e campaign with my gaming group and one of my friends has decided he wants to GM also. The setting we're playing in is a homebrew setting; I created the general outline ...
2
votes
0answers
103 views

How to handle multiple main villains in your campaign [closed]

I was hoping to pick your collective brains in preparation for my new 5e Eberron campaign starting in a few months. Most of the blogs/books etc I've looked through look at campaign design with one ...
28
votes
14answers
4k 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 ...
12
votes
3answers
2k views

Player Turned Sensitive About Failure, PC Injury

While I have been DM/GM'ing for a long time I have had a player suddenly change their attitude towards the game. They are not an experienced player, but they are not new to the entire role-play ...
6
votes
1answer
301 views

How can you handle PvP Combat so everyone has fun?

Recently my group's campaign in Anima: Beyond Fantasy took a turn towards a combination political intrigue/martial arts tournament that inevitably ended up resulting in PvP matches. The first of these ...
6
votes
5answers
416 views

Dice results hidden from the players? [duplicate]

Does it make any sense to specifically hide the results of a player's dice roll from the said player? This method is based on my assumption that many actions do not immediately reveal themselves as ...
20
votes
6answers
14k views

How do I build interesting dungeons? [closed]

I'm a new GM and I need to undestand how to build enjoyable locations. I don't get how to build interesting dungeons. For example, I need to explore a castle. But a castle is not as complicated as ...
7
votes
4answers
592 views

My players want to resolve conflicts nonviolently. How do I tell them it won't work?

When I'm GMing and trying to create tension by having a big boss fight, invariably one of the players will ask me if his character can, instead, bribe the big boss or try to smooth talk him or make ...
4
votes
2answers
98 views

How do you handle different difficulties at the same task? [duplicate]

In a game of Dungeon World, how do you handle different difficulties at the same task? A few examples: climbing a wall with easier handholds vs. climbing a smoother wall pushing a heavy cabinet out ...
17
votes
5answers
3k views

How does Lost Mines of Phandelver expect PCs to take on side quests without demanding pay?

Note: my question is specific to the LMoP adventure. I am not asking for general advice on motivating players. I've recently begun a new campaign in 5e with my group of players. We are all new to ...
24
votes
6answers
1k views

How can I make puzzles a challenge for the character, rather than the player?

I'm designing an adventure, in which at one point the party meets a giant who will only let them pass if they solve some puzzles. However, the problem is that the riddles are a test for the player, ...
5
votes
4answers
464 views

How to handle initiative when a new force joins a combat in progress

I am DMing a small hunger-games-like adventure where there are multiple parties of NPC who also are participating. It is pretty likely that the PCs will happen upon some of the NPCs fighting some ...
56
votes
7answers
13k views

A player was bucking my style and I lost my temper. What can I do from here?

New DM here. Under a year of experience, but I have learned alot from my friend who has helped guide me through the basics of DMing. Basically the only games that I have run have been with my close ...
40
votes
16answers
8k views

Is it appropriate to punish a PC who snatches things from under the other PCs?

My players and I often have a bit of conflict or frustration in our games because one player in particular is quite controlling, and feels that they can have their character just snatch up what they ...
22
votes
9answers
11k views

How do I design exciting, fun boss fights for my players?

So I've DM'd three separate games, of which one that I'm largely happy with. However, one consistent problem I run into is designing fun, exciting, and interesting boss fights. I've run into two major ...
14
votes
2answers
303 views

What planning and division of labour is necessary to have two GMs in a campaign?

One time, me and one of my groups had decided to play an entire weekend. But on the first day one of the players, who also alternates as GM with our standard GM, sacrificed himself to save the group. ...
27
votes
8answers
5k views

How do I use Passive Perception to have some characters notice parts of the environment?

I'm new to DM'ing and have an issue I'm not sure how to deal with. The situation is this: It's pitch black outside and the PC is walking, with a lantern in hand, toward a building. A bird is ...
149
votes
14answers
17k views

Managing a Medieval Low Orbit Ion Cannon

Sometimes I hate my players. My table is currently composed of five diabolically inventive players. They come from a mixed IT/Engineering background, so more often than not, I have to deal with some ...
45
votes
9answers
6k views

Make the player roll even if there is no chance of success?

Let's say you're the GM and the player attempts to do something, but you already know that given his current stats, it's impossible for him to succeed at it. Do you make him roll anyway, or do you ...
0
votes
2answers
171 views

How to let players roll perception checks without suspicion? [duplicate]

I am a new GM playing Pathfinder. I am curious about perception. How can I have the players roll for perception without making them really suspicious? For example, if a trap is in the middle of a room ...
2
votes
1answer
209 views

Is 'reversing' healing so that it actually does damage a legitimate mechanic for the DM? [closed]

Some time ago we were in a final battle with a end boss for a dungeon. The fight went pretty well in our favor but when the boss hit his bloodied value, our DM described that he emitted a dark shroud ...
26
votes
8answers
3k views

What should I keep in mind when running a game intended to subvert the players' expectations?

Many of my favorite works of fiction are either explicitly deconstructive in nature, or at least feature elements or scenes that unexpectedly subvert the audience's expectations. Often these are some ...
55
votes
11answers
4k views

How do I deal with PCs who use kidnap and torture as an investigative technique?

I'm running a game in a modern setting with emphasis on the paranormal (Conspiracy X). The player characters are part of a secret government organization and are tasked with investigating & ...
49
votes
11answers
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 ...
68
votes
18answers
12k views

What can I do when I accidentally gave out an overpowered item?

In our last game, the players worked their way through a series of fiendish traps into a high security vault, where they recovered a Staff of the Magi. After the game I looked at the stats, and ...
24
votes
12answers
4k views

How can an experienced GM improve without watching other GMs?

I've been running role-playing games on and off for years, mostly D&D going all the way back to first edition. I was the first person in my town to get the hobby bug when I was a boy, and so I was ...
18
votes
6answers
1k views

How to make large number of NPCs manageable to the GM?

I'm planning a game where there is about a dozen important NPC actors, with some more less important ones. "Important" means that even if they are not directly involved in current events, they play a ...
1
vote
1answer
103 views

How to make large number of NPCs manageable to players? [closed]

I'm planning a game where there is about a dozen important NPC actors, with some more less important ones. "Important" means that even if they are not directly involved in current events, they play a ...
76
votes
16answers
6k views

When should I fudge dice rolls?

When I started my first D&D campaign as a DM, I accidentally rolled and confirmed a crit on a PC from a goblin. It was an instant kill as our campaign had no cleric. That time I decided to fudge ...
33
votes
7answers
2k views

How can I screen new players to make sure they are a good fit for my game?

I'm looking to start a new Savage Worlds campaign and I need a full set of players for it. I've played in games before and ran a couple of one-shots, but I've never GMed a full campaign. There's ...
9
votes
3answers
225 views

Managing OOC player knowledge when using one-shot games as a prologue for a longer campaign

I have a situation where our group is a mix of people who are still at University and others have already graduated. Those of us who are finished all have jobs but live fairly close together and can ...
11
votes
5answers
11k views

Playing Dnd 5e with two players

My girlfriend and I want to get into roleplaying games, we've both been interested in trying out Dungeons and Dragons. She has never played a pen and paper RPG before, I've played the Swedish Drakar ...
1
vote
0answers
145 views

Switching from dead characters mid-game [closed]

As a GM, how do I wrap game-caused character switching into the story? Suppose I had to murder one of the PCs for great ju... didactic purposes. For example, my players refuse to understand the idea ...
86
votes
13answers
7k 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), ...
2
votes
0answers
74 views

What is a good way to introduce new players to Pathfinder without making things too linear? [closed]

I wanted to create a dungeon to get a new group of players together and teach them pathfinder, but I felt I wanted something more than 'go to the goblin cave and get the macguffin' for this first ...
1
vote
0answers
113 views

What are some good resources for designing maps (regional, provincial, dungeon, etc)? [closed]

Alright, I hope this question is narrow enough in scope that it's alright for RPG.SE. What I am asking for is a list of resources such as essays, books, blog posts, articles, how-to's, etc., that ...
29
votes
8answers
5k views

I want to run vast and realistic dungeons, but my players get frustrated trying to search every room

Because my players' suspension of disbelief began to suffer when exploring more "normal" dungeons, I have created some big dungeons which are based on bigger, realistic structures: castles, towns, ...
6
votes
6answers
2k views

How do I design well-balanced homebrew items? [closed]

I have previously run into issues with homebrew items throwing off the balance of my game, and I'm trying to anticipate any issues I might run into by giving my players certain items. My players enjoy ...
16
votes
10answers
2k views

One-shot sessions as part of a larger campaign

My DnD group only plays perhaps once a month and occasionally one of them won't be able to make it. I (DM) home-brewed our last campaign and, whilst fun, the big story arcs and multiple NPCs did not ...
16
votes
4answers
3k views

How can I explain the lack of characters' in-game knowledge?

I am currently DMing two D&D 5e campaigns. I was wondering of some good ways to start off a campaign and explain to the players that their characters have, essentially, no knowledge of the ...
73
votes
16answers
6k views

How can I make my PCs flee?

My players never run away or avoid conflict. Ever. I throw them ridiculous encounters, they will stay and fight. If I tell them, "You know you're not gonna make it, just run," they stay and fight and ...
33
votes
5answers
5k views

Punishing a player for instant-actioning

I GM a home-made D&D-style game which my friends and I play, and we had a scenario go as follows: After a player-character threw something at the wall, the players rolled a one and I was ...
2
votes
1answer
82 views

Storied ways to boost a character's ability scores (Pathfinder) [closed]

So this is my first time acting as a GM for a campaign (taking over for a friend). Improperly built characters at the start of their campaign has lead to 2/5 character having very high stats. Because ...
32
votes
10answers
2k views

How can I help the party survive a rather tough adventure?

The party is on an implicitely timed mission: children have been abducted by bad guys and it is now known that they're in danger of being sacrificed in the near future. The module I'm using doesn't ...
5
votes
2answers
292 views

As an inexperienced GM, how can I avoid killing PCs my first time GMing in Pathfinder Society?

While I have experience DM'ing 3.5e, I have far less experience in pathfinder and have not yet GM'd a PFS game. I'm currently preparing to run the Rise of the Runelord's first module (Thistletop) ...