The practical arts and methods applied to gamemastering.

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5
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4answers
481 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
12k 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
310 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
6k 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 ...
46
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
177 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
231 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
4k 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 ...
25
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
104 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
227 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
12k 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
150 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 ...
89
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
78 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
119 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
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 in-...
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 ...
34
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
85 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
313 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) ...
15
votes
6answers
2k views

What do I do when I suspect players may be fudging rolls online?

I suspect my players may be fudging their rolls in an online IRC and Skype game. While I can't confirm this (for obvious reasons), I'm highly suspicious. I logged all their rolls over the course of ...
10
votes
2answers
389 views

How can I GM for more tactically-minded players?

I've been GMing a Dungeon World campaign for about a year now, and consider myself an intermediate at understanding the system. My group has recently told me that they miss D&D's tactical combat. ...
25
votes
4answers
1k views

How do I explain stress to a d20 crowd?

In the next month or so I'm going to start running the Dresden Files RPG soon with a group that has most of its experience in D&D 3.5 and 4e. We're all new to FATE, and I tried to explain the ...
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 ...
7
votes
0answers
145 views

How to give a ''secret agent'' feel to a game? [closed]

I am planning a one on one Fate game and I want it to feel and play like a secret agent story (think James Bond, Bourne, Taken, etc. maybe even a hint of heist movies as well, aka Ocean's eleven) My ...
2
votes
1answer
156 views

How does this mob grapple?

The party is teleported into the middle of a dretch mob in the adventure Fortress of the Yuan-ti (48). How many creatures can this dretch mob grapple? Does this dretch mob's grapple check suffer a −...
10
votes
1answer
210 views

Dealing with fractional CRs in the table on DMG 274

This has been driving me crazy as I've been trying to create monsters and NPCs for my characters to encounter in D&D 5th Edition. Say I've got an NPC with 48 hit points and Armor Class 16. That ...
17
votes
4answers
1k views

How do you tell your PCs about something that only one of them senses?

I'm trying to determine the best way to deal with keen observers vs. unaware back-seaters. Maybe there's really nothing to do though. Ex 1. A rogue loots a corpse but doesn't want to split the gold. ...
26
votes
6answers
5k views

How do I convey that players can solve problems in ways that don't involve punching them?

I'm currently running an exalted 2e campaign, and the party (three solars and one lunar) got beaten horribly by a single infernal who wasn't much more powerful than any single one of the PCs. This ...
14
votes
2answers
2k views

Metagaming and Collusion while Gaming in Roll20

Metagaming has always been a facet of tabletop RPGs, for good or for ill. The impact that metagaming has on game itself can run from highly beneficial, such as when a group acts on player information ...
8
votes
2answers
240 views

How to effectively divide spotlight time with a split party?

In a campaign I was testing, the party got split. They are now in separate parts of the world, without any long range communication. Now, we have only one day a week to play D&D, so separate ...
79
votes
21answers
17k views

How to deal with player MacGyver-ism?

Role playing is an excellent hobby to train your problem solving skills. You learn to look at situations from different view points (i.e. the characters) and you have various skills and resources at ...
6
votes
3answers
342 views

How to get players to get familiar with the rules? [closed]

So I read this post: How do you help players not focus on the rules? and I can of course see the point that story is the main source of fun. I would like to ask the opposite question though: what if ...
7
votes
1answer
363 views

Identifying potion by tasting them. How *should* it work?

A classic method of identifying potions (especially in OSR games) is by sipping them. This method is attractive to me for the potential fun involved in experimenting with unknown effects. However, I ...
10
votes
5answers
344 views

How to Use Module Maps

I found a module I'd like to run. It includes some great maps. What's the best way to use them in a gaming session? They're too small to use as-is, so I'm wondering how other people use maps from ...
4
votes
2answers
786 views

Should I replace the swarm with the individual creature after enough damage?

So one thing I found odd in the DM's Basic Rules v0.1pdf was a large list of animals that seemed so insignificant as to wonder why it was included in the PDF. For example, the "Rat" monster, has 1 ...
16
votes
4answers
2k views

What do you do when avoiding railroading just gives you stuck players?

I'm seeking some newbie GM advice. I'm an experienced rpg player, but am much less experienced as a GM I was recently running an D&D 5e adventure, where the players would be investigating in a ...
7
votes
2answers
209 views

How can I keep players occupied so they stay motivated, interested & on topic when I'm reading published materials during a session?

I'll be running a new system in my next session; Trail of Cthulhu. I expect I'll be needing a few minutes between scenes to read up on what happens next... I'm not going to memorize the published ...