The practical arts and methods applied to gamemastering.

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3
votes
3answers
247 views

How can I quickly come up with random encounters and puzzles?

I'm DMing my first campaign in D&D 4e using my own setting, and I need to create some random encounters throughout the map surrounding the starting village. I only have a week available between ...
8
votes
7answers
507 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 ...
7
votes
3answers
335 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 ...
6
votes
4answers
400 views

My player characters abandoned an NPC and I want them to feel the consequences

My players abandoned a character amongst a group of raiders. I decided that her fate would be to have her abused both physically and emotionally. (The aspects of her abuse are left behind the ...
17
votes
6answers
1k views

When to give up on an obstacle

I had a situation in a recent game where the PCs (who are all robots, in a setting where humans are long dead) came across a rusted-out android in a dilapidated shack on a small dock. They needed fuel ...
13
votes
9answers
3k views

How do I force a party from the Astral Plane?

I am running a high-level, low magic campaign, currently 13th level. When the seas iced over thanks to a Levistus activating an elder relic, the possessed warlock of the party spent some time ...
22
votes
10answers
721 views

How do I transition my players from roll-playing to role-playing?

The context for this question is the same as this related question about spending time in town, but I am looking for sufficiently different advice so I thought it warranted its own question. I've ...
6
votes
2answers
481 views

Increasing experience gain in session

I want to increase the experience gain per game season for several reasons: My group does not play too often, something like once a month, therefore some players seem to loose sense of achievement ...
47
votes
7answers
7k views

How can I effectively drop clues of corruption in my campaigns?

In many games I GM, corruption plays a big role. Either in my fantasy games with a church with a firm hand on the king or dystopian future like Shadowrun. Almost every time in my games, corruption is ...
4
votes
5answers
254 views

How do I design well-balanced homebrew items?

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 ...
6
votes
3answers
294 views

Unconcerned Players (Players getting bored / distracted)

So, this question is kind of meta... Hopefully a reasonable question to ask. My group have been playing various D&D style games for a few years, I have one player however that often will drift ...
8
votes
7answers
2k views

Turning a Campaign Evil Leads To “Problems”

Prologue : So, the campaign I'm running right now has a noble-kinda purpose. To kill the Evil Witch and save the world etc, you get the point. As a plot twist I am thinking to turn the campaign to ...
4
votes
4answers
882 views

Changing Type Of Enemy During Combat

Hypothetic scenario: A ranger does a stealth check and succeeds. While moving he notices two patrols and decides to attack them using Two Fanged Strike. The patrols are normally minions. He gets to ...
1
vote
2answers
131 views

What are the implications and complications of adding new players?

The game I've been playing started with 4 players. One of them had to take a hiatus for schoolwork, but they'll be coming back very soon. We recently filled that player's spot with a new player, which ...
31
votes
19answers
2k views

How to handle a rules-lawyer player?

As a game master, what strategy/strategies seem to work well for handling players that have spent more time reading through the rule books than you have? While it's helpful at times to have the ...
5
votes
3answers
292 views

How long can I estimate a combat to take, and how long should an average dungeon be?

Upon going back and looking at the dungeons I've created in the past, many of them have lasted for too long. I want to create a feeling of scope and adversity, and I don't want it to feel like a slog ...
4
votes
1answer
93 views

What style of campaign works best for a large group? [closed]

I am going to be running with nearly 10 players. We had 10 for a test run last night. It seems to me that 10 players makes it very difficult to do much role playing because most everyone would have ...
7
votes
1answer
135 views

How can Fate Accelerated be adapted to very short game time windows?

I'm running a roleplaying games club, and I have a rather difficult predicament. We have the capacity to meet weekly, but only for the span of about half an hour to forty minutes. The problem is ...
6
votes
4answers
568 views

Being a more “flexible” Dungeon Master [closed]

[The following question is about avoiding to railroad the players, and has nothing to do with breaking or following rules.] I am playing a campaign of my own with my friends, and the thing is that I ...
4
votes
2answers
159 views

Introducing Roleplaying in Combat [duplicate]

I am the kind of gamer that mostly enjoys the story and I love roleplaying. However this time I am the Dungeon Master and not a player. How can I encourage my players to roleplay during combat ...
14
votes
8answers
3k views

Can I roll for a PC in secret?

As a GM, can I roll in secret so my players don't even know I rolled? For example, a PC walks past a secret door; if I ask the player to roll perception he may suspect there is something. Can I roll ...
30
votes
14answers
2k views

How can I help a player craft a backstory that gives me plot hooks?

I have a new player joining my game soon, who has taken the place of another player. Unfortunately, this character's backstory is lacking. It doesn't tell me a lot about the character. Because I draw ...
20
votes
5answers
3k views

How does wandering within a city work?

I'm new to RPGs, and I've tried to read some transcriptions or watch some podcasts, but I don't understand how the game works outside a dungeon. Does the city has to be a real city or just a group of ...
26
votes
6answers
3k views

How do you deal with metagaming based on die results?

I ran into this problem in a session I had earlier today. My characters were going through a dungeon and after a fairly lengthy fight with a person who lived there, they decided they would question ...
4
votes
1answer
145 views

D&D 4E, Passive Perception or Passive Insight instead of rolling

In my D&D game, I'm unsure whether to allow players to use their Passive Insight or Passive Perception instead of rolling when they are actively trying to inspect something. Do I make them roll ...
5
votes
4answers
444 views

Is it possible to run a simulationist sandbox game? [closed]

Context I grew up playing video games like Morrowind or Baldur's Gate where all the content is already there and all you do is go out there and interact with it, with all the limitations of having a ...
8
votes
2answers
236 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 ...
8
votes
5answers
417 views

What strategies can I use to award treasure on the fly?

Due to a combination of tight scheduling and plain laziness, I never prepare any of my sessions ahead of time. At first it was hard to play this way, and the game was a bit sluggish, but now I think ...
5
votes
4answers
369 views

When are unexpected events “Too much”?

To vent out from the exams the whole group finished not long ago, I'm preparing a simple D&D3.5 game. A mindless dungeon crawler with lots of enemies, loot and the usual stuff with just enough ...
34
votes
9answers
2k views

How To Divide Up Loot?

I've been GMing a very successful (Pathfinder) campaign for quite a few months now, but we've developed a bit of a problem I'm not sure how to resolve: loot distribution. None of my players are ...
14
votes
8answers
2k views

GM burn-out concerning worlds and systems

I've been primarily and almost exclusively a GM for long, long years. I still enjoy GMing, and I'd like to keep doing it. However, I've lost interest in practically all of the games and worlds we used ...
18
votes
5answers
755 views

Level of detail in description?

There's a trope or two that says you shouldn't bother describing anything unless it's relevant to the story. However, in RPG's where the participants partially shape the story with their actions, any ...
21
votes
5answers
708 views

Learning to use spells comfortably

I'm hoping to get a little but of advice. You see, I've been running Rise of the Runelords, although the fact that I'm using Pathfinder probably isn't too relevant. Point is, I'm relatively new to ...
18
votes
8answers
3k 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 ...
11
votes
5answers
1k 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 ...
20
votes
5answers
3k views

How to make a countdown?

How can I properly measure "ingame" time to make a countdown? I'll explain it with an example: The party encounters a small ghost ship, and they board it to investigate/salvage. When they get to the ...
21
votes
7answers
801 views

Difference between writing a one-off scenario and writing a quest for a campaign?

I want to get some of my friends into roleplaying by running a self-contained single-session game with them rather than an actual campaign opener (for lack of a better term, I'll refer to this sort of ...
35
votes
10answers
2k views

How can I invoke actual fear in my players?

I'm a DM that focuses heavily on story, description and setting. My goal is to send players home wanting -- no, longing -- to actually be part of the mythos I've created. The ultimate goal for me as ...
6
votes
8answers
554 views

How can I encourage role playing in a custom setting?

Since creating a fully living and breathing world for the players to inhabit is a time-consuming process, I have been feeding them background info as often as possible as it is relevant to the story. ...
21
votes
11answers
1k views

Excuses for opponents using nonlethal force?

In plotting out low-level encounters at the start of a campaign (especially with new players) I prefer to create opponents who don't want to kill the PCs right away. Instead, I generally have them ...
39
votes
12answers
7k views

Unhate-able Villains

There are so many guides on how to make a villain your players will truly hate, but I am trying to make a villain that the characters will feel for. How can I create a "good" villain, like someone who ...
7
votes
4answers
157 views

How to effectively run a “Petal” trip or other dream-like sequences

A little background: Eclipse Phase has a drug in the setting that creates a shared hallucinated experience among participants. These drugs, called Petals, are also designed to have some sort of ...
8
votes
6answers
362 views

How can I help my players get into a vengeful mindset?

I've often attempted to run Hunter: the Vigil (part of the New World of Darkness gameline) for my players. Unfortunately I frequently run into the same problem; namely, when I set up villains with the ...
13
votes
7answers
2k views

How to voice an NPC?

As a GM should I put a different voice if, for instance, the NPC is an old sick man, or if it's a kid or even a member of the opposite sex? What advices can you give me to enrich NPC acting?
17
votes
7answers
532 views

Speed up campaign development

I'm making a campaign, and it's going fairly nicely. However, I found out that my group is able to meet this week, which I didn't expect. So instead of having 9 days to find time to prepare, I have 2 ...
32
votes
7answers
1k views

How do I avoid clichés while improvising?

Tropes are not bad, but clichés usually are. Sadly, when I need to come up with something on the fly it's much easier and faster to use clichés: if I suddenly need a barkeep, he's probably fat with a ...
16
votes
5answers
522 views

How to guide a new DM through his first game (as an experienced DM turned player)?

How can I guide and help a new DM through his first campaign (being an experienced DM myself) without having it look like a grab for power or that I think the new DM is incompetent?
13
votes
4answers
563 views

How do I help a player who struggles with a tactics-focused character?

I'm a fairly new DM with fairly new players. One such player rolled up a warlord, casting the character as a "tactical genius". Unfortunately, she's having trouble getting "moments of glory", because ...
21
votes
8answers
1k views

How to balance a very-low magic campaign

Recently, my players and I got kind of bored with the fact that Pathfinder relies heavily on magic items than martial prowess for fighting classes. I realize and accept the fact that spellcasters are ...
2
votes
3answers
174 views

Relative difficulty in Savage Worlds skill checks?

I'm a new GM running a Savage Worlds game, and I'm wondering if someone can help me understand the best way to set up a skill check with relative difficulties. Specifically, how do you differentiate ...