The practical arts and methods applied to gamemastering.

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20
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
836 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
509 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
255 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
92 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
172 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 ...
39
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
254 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
684 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
806 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
174 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
945 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
640 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
37k 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. ...
39
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
675 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 ...
26
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
315 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
835 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
317 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, ...
18
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
342 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 ...
28
votes
9answers
2k views

How do I run a game for a larger group?

I am currently running a Dungeons and Dragons 4 campaign for a group of 9 players. Whittling the group down to a more manageable size is not really an option since they are all family. When we do ...
8
votes
5answers
669 views

Keeping a group together in a Zombie RPG

Being fairly new to GMing I am having trouble with keeping my PC's from turning on each other, and every thing in sight. It doesn't matter how much I punish them for killing obvious allies, or ...
9
votes
4answers
608 views

How best to progressively reveal the layout of a location to players?

I have been gamemastering tabletop RPGs for years now, but I'm still wondering what is the best way to deal with this. Specifically: how to graphically describe to your players their surroundings ...
15
votes
4answers
1k views

How to deal with the previous DM's broken homebrew items?

I joined a campaign around the start of paragon tier and now at level 17 the DM is unfortunately moving away. I'm the only one who's DMed before so I was chosen to take over after he's gone. The ...
2
votes
0answers
305 views

How much should I prepare as a new DM for a play session? [closed]

I'll be a DM for a group of my friends soonish for a play through of the D&D 5 starter set campaign. I've played with this group for a few months but some more experienced players have been taking ...
7
votes
4answers
782 views

Mitigating conflict in a 'mixed' nWoD game

The last (and only) time I ran a mixed game (containing Changeling, Mage and Vampire characters) for nWoD, I explained at length that nWoD started with a clean sheet and no one 'instinctively' hated ...
3
votes
1answer
117 views

How to decide the level of new monsters? [closed]

I'm running a D&D sandbox (with my own variant of D&D, of course, but it is reasonably compatible with old versions of D&D and various retroclones), and I use several adventure modules and ...
64
votes
21answers
14k 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 ...
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 ...
11
votes
5answers
1k views

How to make spell components relevant again?

The spell components mechanic has always seemed a bit ham-fistedly handled in D&D since 2nd edition. What should be an interesting way of defining a wizard generally becomes "I have my pouch" and ...
10
votes
2answers
2k views

I can't seem to kill my party, help? [duplicate]

BEFORE YOU SAY "The idea is not to kill the party" PLEASE READ THIS I am a fairly new DM, I have Dm'd about 6 groups, all around the levels 1 - 4 and that was because of problems within the group ...
1
vote
0answers
120 views

Armor and weapon enhancments [closed]

I'm a new DM and I'm starting a new 5th edition campaign which will be a modification of the starter set i.e. set in Faerun on the Sword Coast. I wanted to start my group out with the choice of a +1 ...
11
votes
1answer
360 views

How to set up a battle with a God?

I have a campaign (D&D 2nd Edition) that has been running on and off for about 22 years (real life). Characters have finally reached super-high levels (some are 30, multi-classes are lower). I'm ...
13
votes
3answers
901 views

How to make a great villain who your players hate more than anything else? [closed]

I'd love to hear from you guys what you consider to be the best way to make the motive that drives the players to defeat the villain to be something personal and even passional. I believe a villain ...
20
votes
10answers
1k views

How to determine how much plot guidance is too much? [closed]

I've played in many games that were extremely railroaded. There was basically only one feasible course of action and we, as players, were expected to take that route. (The GM would get very upset if ...
37
votes
9answers
3k 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 ...
26
votes
4answers
1k views

How much to bend “the rules” about populating a world?

All right, I have a question about creating a world and populating it with appropriate monsters, etc. I created a world a little while back, loosely based off of the world found in Michael ...
44
votes
13answers
2k views

How to communicate to the players that an encounter can be solved also through diplomacy?

When you play D&D, you are not supposed to chat with the enemy during encounters. The system is made for fighting. However, in some circumstances, it would be nice to make the players conscious ...
13
votes
4answers
525 views

How can I resolve dangerous journeys without playing out every battle in detail?

Here's the situation: The PCs are investigating a mystery far from town, in the dangerous wilderness. Against my expectations, they decide to go back to town, recruit some help, and return to continue ...