The practical arts and methods applied to gamemastering.

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31
votes
12answers
664 views

How do I allow player agency in situations with predetermined outcomes?

One of the current members of our group joined a little later than everyone else. His character's history wasn't developed too well, so I am running a one-off session so that the group can play out ...
31
votes
8answers
3k 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 ...
31
votes
6answers
1k views

How can I check whether an extremely adult/mature plot idea would be accepted by players without revealing any details of the idea itself?

I am running a post-apocalyptic zombie game with a dark and mature story, exploring a number of adult themes. I have complete buy-in from the players; some of them have stated it is their favourite ...
31
votes
7answers
1k views

What to do when a player character does something suicidal?

Every now and then a player character does something extremely risky because "it would be fun." What are some good ways to handle this as a GM, for the different styles of play? I like playing ...
31
votes
7answers
850 views

Using a Time-Skip as a Plot Device

In the game that I'm currently running, the PCs have traveled to the Realm of the Fae to gather information on their (im)mortal enemy, a Lich. When they emerge from the Fae Realm, I was planning on ...
31
votes
11answers
462 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 ...
31
votes
10answers
625 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 ...
31
votes
4answers
1k views

Resources for Complex Puzzle-Traps

I'm looking for resources for designing complex challenges - something that's not quite a puzzle and not quite a trap, but somewhere in between. There are tons of resources for really complex or ...
30
votes
15answers
1k views

How do I keep NPCs from just sounding the alarm?

When I design adventures, I often come up with situations where the NPCs could realistically thwart the PCs quickly by sounding an alarm. This is especially common in science fiction settings, where ...
30
votes
15answers
1k 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) ?
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 ...
30
votes
2answers
392 views

How can I make things easier on my dyslexic and high-functioning autistic players?

I have other players read out information from my dyslexic player's character sheets when necessary, and I use non-verbal visual aids whenever possible. I generally give out copies of any important ...
29
votes
16answers
1k views

How do I get the PCs to visit scary places at night?

Sometimes when I design scenarios, I realize that my mental image of the adventure is only exciting because it takes place at night. When the players actually play through the adventure, they might ...
29
votes
9answers
952 views

How can I more effectively use darkness in a dungeon?

In more than one of my D&D campaigns, I've found myself feeling disappointed at my inability to make the darkness of the dungeon matter. Everyone has enough torches, and I'm not likely to be able ...
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 ...
29
votes
10answers
3k views

How can I efficiently run a morally challenging campaign?

I recently started running a DnD 4e campaign of my own. My goal was to make it an ethical dilemma for the players, to really give them a chance to play a game where character/personality based choices ...
29
votes
6answers
695 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 ...
29
votes
11answers
1k views

How do I create a great fantasy villain?

In my early years of GMing it was simple enough to say that the badguys were evil and that was all the justification we needed. They are attacking the village because they are evil, they are stealing ...
28
votes
12answers
2k views

“Punishing” characters for stupid actions

I'm currently running a 6 person World of Darkness campaign, which is heavily social based. 5 of the players I am happy with, but one of them keeps doing stupid things, such as pushing himself to the ...
28
votes
14answers
372 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 ...
28
votes
8answers
1k 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 ...
28
votes
9answers
2k views

What qualities are important when creating a fantasy RPG campaign? [on hold]

Creating custom game play content for a group can be challenging for even the most experienced GM. Understanding how your group members' play and understanding what they want to experience is ...
28
votes
4answers
787 views

How do I keep a long-range plot cohesive and coherent?

I enjoy GMing but I much prefer to to have some sort of long running plot (or meta-plot) rather than having a series of unconnected unfortunate events afflict my PCs. For example, I would love to ...
27
votes
9answers
2k views

How can I replace a player character with an impostor without alerting the group?

I recently picked up a book of example NPCs (the Pathfinder NPC Codex, incidentally) and came across an entry for a "master spy". In the flavor text, it describes how his "secret identities have ...
27
votes
9answers
3k views

How do I handle a group that does not understand the 'assumption rule'?

1st rule of D&D (as of 3rd edition/pathfinder): The GM is the final arbiter on all rules. I understand this, completely, and do not disagree. That said, I'm having trouble with a group that ...
27
votes
7answers
4k views

How do I run a successful and engaging campaign without combat?

I'm thinking of starting my own campaign with a few of my friends with me as DM, primarily because I wasn't extremely impressed with the campaign my friend was DMing. When I started thinking about the ...
27
votes
8answers
801 views

What should I consider when creating a time travel adventure?

I'm sure that many would advise against doing so at all, but knowing that I will likely try to do so anyway, what are the factors I should consider when creating a time travel adventure? ...
27
votes
5answers
719 views

How do I emphasize role-playing during combat?

Right now, the group that I GM for is very, very tactical-combat focused. To some extent, we may as well be playing a dungeon crawl board game for all the role-play we manage. Now, in and of itself ...
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!
26
votes
11answers
2k 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 ...
26
votes
8answers
1k views

Can party betrayal be done successfully?

After reading How much experience should a PC be worth? I was wondering if and how party betrayal can be done successfully, especially since it's a real possibility in my campaign. Criteria for ...
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 ...
26
votes
8answers
2k views

How do I learn to become a good GM?

I have played and tried to GM games since I was in elementary school, beginning with games like Shadowrun, Earthdawn, and Champions. Recently, I've gotten dack into gaming with a variety of other ...
26
votes
8answers
2k views

How can a GM justify changing a player's alignment?

Lately, in one of my campaigns, I've been having problems with a character who everyone agrees is acting out of alignment. Everyone, that is, but him. The problem, of course, is that he's playing a ...
26
votes
9answers
835 views

What can I do to give the players the same feel their characters would have about wilderness travel?

I find that in a lot of our group's games, traveling long distances through wilderness is too easy. In real life, it's quite arduous traveling overland. No one who's just walked a hundred miles is ...
26
votes
6answers
790 views

How do you handle verbal exchanges between NPCs without taking the PCs out of the spotlight?

One of the assumptions I make as GM is that the players should always be in the spotlight. Sometimes the players find themselves in a situation where they watch NPCs speak to each other. I don't ...
26
votes
5answers
484 views

How many sessions is enough to judge a game fairly?

I want to introduce some new games to my group. But when I broach the topic like, "Howdja like to play Dogs in the Vineyard?" they balk - not at the prospect of trying something new, but at the ...
26
votes
9answers
1k 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 ...
25
votes
14answers
705 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 ...
25
votes
9answers
1k views

How do I escape the Quicksand Box?

I have a very significant problem whenever I try GMing any given game; I try to provide a world with a lot of wiggle room for the characters as well as factions/NPCs they interact with. Oftentimes my ...
25
votes
10answers
3k views

How to deal with players asking for an “infodump”

I read some questions about how to have players ask questions, but I happen to have the opposite issue. While players asking questions is nice, I often am in the situation where they ask too much ...
25
votes
10answers
1k views

How can I fool my players into being pawns for the villain?

Concept I want to get a generally benevolent party to unwittingly further the villain's motives. More than parcel delivery - I'd like to tap into their sense of right/wrong, justice, vigilantism, ...
25
votes
18answers
2k views

How do I add a recurring fantasy villain without frustrating the players?

I am currently running a campaign which is still in its early stages, and I plan to introduce a recurring villain. However, if the villain is always the main "big bad" behind every session and he gets ...
25
votes
9answers
830 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 ...
25
votes
5answers
757 views

Dealing with people who turn up late for sessions

I run sessions every Monday evening at a pub in the centre of London, and most people come to play straight from work. Up until recently we were attempting to start at 7pm, but there were one or two ...
25
votes
6answers
1k views

How to deal with players not taking things seriously?

As both a player and GM I play with my group of players (and close friends) on multiple occasions and they will often make fun of either my characters, NPC or a specific situation and won't stop ...
25
votes
5answers
870 views

How can I bring a player back to immersion and away from the distraction he brings to the table?

Currently, one of my players brings his 3DS to the table. He picked up a new game, and insists that he's "just grinding," and that he's paying attention (and to his credit, for the most part he is), ...
24
votes
12answers
684 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 ...
24
votes
4answers
706 views

How does a GM fix the rules when they goof?

I think it happens to the best of us. I'm not the best of us, so I get to goof a bit more often. The specific example I'm going to mention was using Dresden Files (a derivative of FATE for those who ...
24
votes
6answers
2k views

How to make a game enjoyable for a monk?

One of the players in my campaign decided to play monk. We are all pretty new, so I couldn't have alerted him to this, but from what I understand now, monks are weak. Very weak. This player in ...