The practical arts and methods applied to gamemastering.

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64
votes
12answers
6k views

Is it wrong to ask a player to justify their character's actions?

When a player has their character do something completely outside of the perceived norm for that character, is it okay to ask them for a justification? If they can not give satisfactory ...
5
votes
2answers
184 views

How many GMs is enough to run a Mega-Game?

My two friends and I are going to spend quite a bit of time preparing a mega-game. It will be a weekend long gaming session with around 20 players, and the three of us as GMs. We are trying to figure ...
1
vote
1answer
142 views

Example implementations of time limits on player actions in combat [closed]

Several questions (like this one) suggest imposing time limits on players to speed up combat. Those suggestions usually lack expertise on the topic. I’m looking for your experience on that matter. ...
8
votes
4answers
342 views

How to create a “TV Series”-style campaign with “episode” scenarios?

Followup of this answer to a question about short-stories lasting about one 4h play session or two max. I master a game of Vampire: The Masquerade, and I would like to find (and modify) or write ...
71
votes
10answers
9k views

Should I warn my players when they're about to do something stupid?

As a GM, I occasionally run into situations where the players want to do something very poorly thought-out. Honest mistakes, not intentional derailing. In these situations, I often feel the urge to ...
7
votes
3answers
392 views

How do I get a fairly new player interested in playing longer adventures?

My girlfriend is fairly new to roleplaying, having tried a bit of LARP as murder parties (one INSMV and one XFiles-style game, she loved each one), and playing in a Cthulhu campaign I have been GMing ...
15
votes
6answers
1k views

Are there negative impacts to having characters advance at different rates?

It's my first time running a campaign (D&D 3.5), and I'm trying to figure out how to assign XP to the players. I am used to playing in games where everyone gets exactly the same XP, whether they ...
8
votes
6answers
1k views

How should I award XP for traps?

I'm creating an encounter and planning to use traps. The section of the DMG that provides trap rules and sample traps (120-123) does not provide XP guidelines for traps. Noncombat Challenges on page ...
19
votes
4answers
2k views

How do I deal with high speed, blunt action declaration outside of combat?

Here's an example from a one-on-one playtest I've had, to better illustrate my question: My rogue player got a minor quest from a blacksmith to retreve an item. He instructs her that the road to ...
5
votes
3answers
330 views

How much creative and descriptive power should I offer my players? Is it different for sandbox campaigns? [closed]

I know that as a GM you have to have some skill with your words to make the descriptions really come to life. However, as I think more and more about my next sessions, which are probably going to be ...
14
votes
8answers
3k views

How do I introduce a larger-than-the-game villain (so that the players can beat him one day)?

I have a cool villain I really like. I mean, I love that character. I would squeal with excitement if my players could meet him, figure him out, confront him and foil his plans and maybe even kill ...
4
votes
1answer
274 views

How to handle a group of inexperienced players who split their party more often than I can handle

Recently I ran a steampunk themed one-shot where three of the five players were brand new to roleplaying. The session was successful, everyone enjoyed it and told me they'd like to play again. ...
6
votes
3answers
313 views

Mechanics for player retconning

I'm thinking of running a game based on the television show "Leverage". In the show, the characters run an elaborate scam on some rich and powerful bad guy. The episode shows how things look ...
6
votes
1answer
101 views

What is a good way to introduce D&D 4e at a mini-con?

I've been asked by my library to host an introduction to D&D at the Summer Reading Program Mini-Con. Last year, most of the people were new to the game (as in, "the cover art looked cool", or "I ...
1
vote
1answer
169 views

Creating an artifact that the heroes must destroy? [closed]

I'm on a Lord of the Rings kick, so I'm curious how you'd create a major plot device that is both the main antagonist and the strongest weapon they have without killing the party with Ring Wraiths (or ...
4
votes
2answers
1k 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
2answers
178 views

How to turn an ex-PC into a narrative device? [closed]

One of the players recently left the game and agreed to have me control her former character. I would really like to use that character and have permission to do so from the original creator. What I ...
15
votes
3answers
1k views

How to relay a game mechanic in character

This question came up during a round of Lamentations of the Flame Princess. Depending on the system this kind of question may already be answered in the rules. But I figure it's more of a general ...
14
votes
3answers
268 views

How do you turn a plot seed into a scenario

Given a plot seed, how do you turn that into a scenario complete with clues, conflicts, NPC's, places, etc.? e.g., players are Delta Green-style or Hunter the Vigil anti-supernatural secret agents, ...
19
votes
8answers
1k views

How can I make downtime interesting?

My group is running a set of published adventures, so there's a pretty linear path between them. But between modules, there is the opportunity to go back to town, spend some money, and get some good ...
15
votes
5answers
850 views

How would you play test an RPG before all of its rules are complete?

I've been writing my own RPG, mainly to address some of the flaws / frustrations I've come across in other games. Luckily, I've found a few willing participants to help test the rules and mechanics in ...
8
votes
6answers
518 views

How to keep the group engaged when the party is split?

I recently pitched a game to my group, to which they were receptive. However they pointed out some problems I would have to solve before the game started. The Pitch The game is set in the ...
17
votes
4answers
2k views

How to easily come up with improvised dialogue

I'm a new GM, working with a few friends in a sci-fi campaign that I wrote using GURPS 4e. I think its going well, but the glaring flaw I've noticed in my work is that I can't come up with good, ...
6
votes
3answers
257 views

Using a 'confidence' buff to reduce party splitting up

I am GMing a game for the first time and we are 2 sessions in. We are playing D6 star wars, and its tending to be comic, which is great. There are 5 players, which manageable but quite busy. They are ...
10
votes
3answers
1k views

How can a DM run D&D 4e combat as theater of the mind rather than a grid?

I am DMing a new 4e group, and I am interested in approaching the game as a "theater of the mind" style combat rather than the traditional grid format. We are locked into doing D&D 4e because of ...
3
votes
0answers
94 views

How to deal with stubborn player who does not participate in missions? [duplicate]

One of the members of our group likes to choose characters with personal agendas or secret motives that prevent him from cooperating with the rest of the team. He will sit out of missions entirely if ...
4
votes
2answers
176 views

When to and when not to apply comic relief? [closed]

A recent talk with my players revealed that they wanted me to add characters akin to a comic relief character I presented in an earlier campaign. While I have really wanted to add more comic relief ...
40
votes
17answers
8k 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 ...
4
votes
3answers
262 views

How to Run a Trial Based on Skills? [closed]

So I will be putting my group through a final exam in their knight training. I wanted to have each trial in the exam based off of one of the six Dungeons and Dragons attributes. I figured that ...
9
votes
4answers
2k views

How to bring a player to not exclusively rely on his rote spells?

In our first Dresden Files game, one of our players created a warden character, who relied heavily on his evocation rote spells. In fact, due to the high power level we started at (30 skill points, 10 ...
9
votes
5answers
695 views

How can I get my players to ask the right questions so that I can tell them important stuff?

I GM a campaign for a newbie party. For now everything is fine: they roleplay well, they don't solve their problems with violence, etc. In their scenario, they came from a relatively small city ...
11
votes
3answers
817 views

How to find the line between an investigation and railroading

I'm a fairly experienced GM creating and running a series of Delta Green games (a modern supplement for Call of Cthulhu). While my players and I enjoy the game, there are parts that bog down and get ...
2
votes
0answers
175 views

How can I effectively connect ingame and real life experience [closed]

I would like to understand how to effectively implement physical techniques in my game where I can blur the lines between what the players and characters are feeling. I'm focused more on physical ...
13
votes
6answers
1k views

Tools for tracking NPC/PC relationships and attitudes

I have always had difficulty keeping track of NPCs, their attitudes and their relationships with each other and the PCs. I find relationship webs/diagrams are helpful, but find them difficult to keep ...
10
votes
2answers
996 views

How to effectively run a sandbox campaign in a weekly 2hrs timeframe

Premise I'm a relative new GM who only run a 2 years long heavily railroaded fantasy campaign that went south for various problems and that I decided to drop. Now I started to run a sci-fi sandbox ...
19
votes
9answers
2k views

How can a GM give treasure to DnD players who overcome challenges without combat?

I'm currently playing a character in a DnD 3.5 Eberron campaign. During the first few sessions, our characters overcame several obstacles without combat. Our GM complained that this made it hard for ...
8
votes
3answers
709 views

Should “resistance to damage from non-magical weapons” continue to affect monster CR once the party has magical weapons?

My 5e group has reached level 5 and all have acquired +1 weapons. This renders the monster ability of "resistant to bludgeoning, piercing and slashing damage from non-magical weapons" a moot point. ...
40
votes
9answers
2k 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 ...
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. ...
40
votes
20answers
4k 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
695 views

Addings things to a story and how to deal with players who have issues with it [closed]

I am currently running a long, in-depth, story-focused campaign that has been going on for months and seems to be well-liked among my group. As you might imagine, creating a world that we play in for ...
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 ...
27
votes
5answers
4k views

How to build an evil campaign

I'm going to start DM'ing for the first time next week. When I got together with my group to figure out what type of game to play, when we got to alignment, I told them they either all needed to be ...
5
votes
2answers
325 views

How can I retain a classical (rather than medieval) feel in my game?

I'm running a campaign (D&D 3.5, moderately houseruled, but my question is general) set in a world in a classical era. You might compare it to the Han dynasty, or to the Roman Republic--Roman ...
19
votes
2answers
861 views

How to make your players hate your villain, but not your game

How does one build the character of a villain such that the players (playing heroic characters) hate the villain as much as possible without detracting too much from the quality of the game? What ...
16
votes
5answers
2k views

Making PCs suffer insanity without seizing character control

My party in Apocalypse World takes a lot of advantage of the "Psychic Maelstrom". My version of the Maelstrom is an endless fountain of knowledge, but also of insanity; many of my more deranged NPCs ...
21
votes
6answers
2k views

How can I get mic-shy players invested in roleplaying over Skype?

My roleplaying group is composed of four friends who roleplay using roll20 as our board and Skype to handle our voice communications. I have one player who is used to roleplaying only in text and ...
6
votes
4answers
323 views

How can you convey that the majority of the world isn't supernatural?

In games that exist within a supernatural/urban fantasy/modern horror setting, usually only a very small percentage of the population is actually supernatural. Using World of Darkness as an example, ...
19
votes
5answers
4k views

How to play boring everyday tasks

I am about to run a Traveller rpg game using the Outer Veil setting by Spice publishing. I am having the players be very much like the firefly crew, needing to work to keep their ship barely flying. ...
11
votes
2answers
350 views

What is useful to delegate to Assistant DMs, and how many is it useful to have?

I have a 5e D&D campaign right now that is very successful. Right now I have 10 players in two groups, each group playing once a week. However, recently I have had 6 more people who want to make a ...