The practical arts and methods applied to gamemastering.

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43
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10answers
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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 a ...
42
votes
20answers
6k 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 ...
42
votes
14answers
7k views

How to handle wealthy player characters as a GM?

One of the long-standing settings our group keeps returning to is classic medieval fantasy. (Examples are MERP, Rolemaster, The Dark Eye -- But this question is aimed to be system agnostic and is ...
41
votes
12answers
4k views

How can I prevent a TPK without obvious Deus Ex Machina?

I've gotten into a situation in my Pathfinder game where I will certainly kill my entire party (perhaps excepting one or two who can flee quickly) if I let the situation play out. We arrived in this ...
40
votes
17answers
9k views

In D&D, A PC became king. How do I keep him in check?

I'm running a D&D 4e campaign. There, a player has worked very hard and somehow tricked me into becoming a king of an evil kingdom (the population is 100,000+). The area he became king of is a ...
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 ...
40
votes
12answers
5k views

Risk of a TPK vs realistic NPCs

I am a novice DM running a game for an even more novice group of players and I beginning to think that my next session may result in a TPK (total party kill, for the uninitiated). Is this something I ...
40
votes
9answers
4k 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 ...
40
votes
6answers
2k views

GMing a setting when your players are more familiar with it than you

My players often ask me to GM games in specific settings we all like. Most of the time, they know FAR more than me about that setting. They will object to events I have happen or how I play an NPC, ...
40
votes
11answers
7k views

Techniques for making undead scary again

Undead used to be scary things: dead, rotting bodies seeking to devour all life, outnumbering their foes, and replacing their fallen with slain enemies. But nowadays players see them and think ...
40
votes
5answers
2k 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 ...
40
votes
4answers
5k 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 ...
39
votes
14answers
4k 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 ...
39
votes
6answers
3k 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 ...
39
votes
8answers
8k 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 ...
39
votes
7answers
2k views

How can I quickly get a player back into a session after their character dies?

As a GM, what kind of techniques could I use to help a player re-join the gaming session after their character dies? I want to avoid any major interruptions to the flow of the adventure. I would also ...
38
votes
9answers
9k 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 ...
38
votes
13answers
6k views

How should I handle retconning (or not) a session with a drunk player and character deaths?

What Happened Tonight, one of my players began the session pretty drunk. That's not the problem I need help with; it hasn't happened before, and if it becomes a thing then I can deal with that. But I ...
38
votes
9answers
2k views

How to deal with a Batman PC as a DM?

I'm running one of the D&D Encounters tables at the local game shop. In Chapter 3 the players can create their own characters. Everyone had normal characters with the exception of one player who ...
38
votes
9answers
7k views

How to get a new group into the spirit of the game Paranoia?

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 ...
38
votes
6answers
2k 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 ...
38
votes
15answers
3k 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, the character's backstory is lacking. It doesn't tell me a lot about the character. Because I draw ...
38
votes
3answers
826 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 ...
37
votes
14answers
3k views

How to get out of a story deadlock

As with most of my questions, this is more of a general "how to handle a special situation" and not a plea to solve an existing problem. What is the best way to handle story deadlocks (as in: The ...
37
votes
8answers
3k views

How do I discourage or work with “nuke it from orbit” solutions?

Here's the issue: some of the players in my group tend to be pragmatic...a little too pragmatic. They are the type who'll figure out the most efficient and cleanest way to take care of any problems, ...
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 ...
37
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9answers
5k views

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

What is 'railroading', and when is it generally considered to be something negative?
37
votes
7answers
6k views

My party bypassed a combat encouter. Should they still get XP?

Some thug bandits set up a road block on the main road to extract a toll from passerbys. It was twilight when my party encountered them. They used the Rogue to scout ahead, and they ultimately decided ...
36
votes
9answers
3k 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 ...
36
votes
6answers
11k views

How to kill a character without making their player too angry

I have been DMing a game for a group of friends. In between two sessions, which ended with them facing a few enemy NPCs, I realized that these intelligent opponents had a very good way to kill one of ...
35
votes
10answers
6k 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 ...
35
votes
7answers
3k views

How much do I tell new players about new monsters?

Background I am a brand-new DM, about to lead a game for brand-new players. I have a lot of knowledge of rules from playing Baldur's Gate and Neverwinter Nights over and over, leafing through a ...
35
votes
5answers
1k views

How can we make overcoming a language problem interesting?

I am currently involved in a game of Fate Accelerated, and one of our goals is learning the system and experimenting with it. In this game, two characters may have a language barrier to overcome. One ...
34
votes
14answers
4k 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) ?
34
votes
10answers
891 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 ...
34
votes
12answers
1k 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 ...
34
votes
8answers
6k views

How should I respond to a player who roleplays too selfishly?

In our last session, a player of mine spent the last 30 min blowing up on me for "restricting" her character's story, and the story of the campaign, when I would not allow her to bring back another ...
34
votes
12answers
4k 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 ...
34
votes
6answers
3k 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 ...
34
votes
5answers
999 views

How to support useful Intraparty Conflict

This is a question calling for tried and tested methods for facilitating entertaining CvC intraparty conflict. Although Player versus Player (PvP) seems to be the accepted term among a large ...
33
votes
15answers
2k 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 ...
33
votes
10answers
4k views

Using a rash decision to move gameplay forward

I DM'd my first game recently, I'm pretty happy with how it turned out, and most of the group were pretty lax about the quality of it all, so it all went fairly smoothly. However, there is one thing ...
33
votes
9answers
1k views

How can I cut short a doomed fight?

Occasionally one of my PC's wanders off and gets himself into a battle he simply cannot win. I know the player wants to play out the battle to see if they can somehow pull it out, but it's boring for ...
33
votes
9answers
3k 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 ...
33
votes
9answers
3k 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 ...
33
votes
6answers
2k views

How can I learn how to negotiate as an NPC?

I'm a new GM in D&D 4e. I've quickly found that I perform very poorly when I'm portraying a negotiation between the PCs and one or more NPCs. Even when they have common ground and could easily ...
33
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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 ...
33
votes
7answers
8k views

How do I get my players to form a PC party without just forcing them to?

I believe that it is generally a good thing that all the PCs travel together, as a "party". This way the GM has to manage one environment – not, say, five. The problem is how the GM can ensure such a ...
33
votes
7answers
1k 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 ...
33
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10answers
1k 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 ...