The practical arts and methods applied to gamemastering.

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19
votes
10answers
850 views

How much plot guidance is too much?

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 ...
8
votes
0answers
451 views

Help with an apparently bored player [duplicate]

I have a group of 5 players, 3 are long time veterans and we have been playing together for 15 years, the other is a newcomer who is actually liking the game a lot, and there's a 5th player that ...
4
votes
0answers
143 views

How do I handle information in Investigations without “bottlenecking” clues? [duplicate]

I'm playing a "Monster of the Week" style campaign with friends based on shows like Supernatural but with lots of gritty combat, using Savage Worlds as our system because of the fighting scenes. I've ...
5
votes
5answers
429 views

Bringing the Team together

Here is the Team Concept: All characters are currently mortal but they'll be transitioning soon, so I've noted what they want to change into. How do I get them to work together? My original approach ...
18
votes
4answers
1k views

How to make a dense, immersive horror atmosphere?

I'm currently narrating a horror-esque campaign set in a dystopian future based on the Lovecraft Mythos. My problem is that my players break their own sense of immersion often, making the game seem ...
6
votes
6answers
741 views

How do I make random adventures relevant to player motivations in a Sandbox Hexcrawl Campaign?

I've spent my vacations planning my very first sandbox, however, I noticed that, being a hexcrawl, most of the time my players will be exploring the world and sometimes, they might spend a lot of time ...
9
votes
7answers
614 views

Giving Players the Game They Want

Currently I am running a game of Legend of the Five Rings, 4th Edition that is an extension of my 3rd Ed campaign. The current setting is a courtly endeavor, which dredges up certain problems. When ...
25
votes
5answers
3k views

How do I prevent my players from hopping on a railroad when I'm not railroading?

All my previous GMing experience is with tightly-plotted railroads, and my players are used to (and generally happy with) riding the rails. Right now I'm setting up a sandbox campaign to break out of ...
28
votes
7answers
2k views

How do I deal with a player who takes things personally?

Been running a great campaign for a few months now with very in-depth story and characters and, generally, everything goes pretty well. Unfortunately, I have a particular problem that, for a long ...
3
votes
2answers
122 views

Starting kit in RoleMaster during an unusual start

In RM players tend to start out with gear that they choose (or can afford to buy based on their wealth roll) to a limited degree and get rolls on the Special Items tables and what have you. I'm ...
0
votes
4answers
153 views

Arch-enemy or situational obstacle? [closed]

I am running a campaign where my players have a set arch-enemy. A person dedicated to the same goal as the players, but does everything in his power to stop the PCs getting to it first. He would even ...
26
votes
10answers
4k views

How do you make hacking useful without excluding other players?

My Shadowrun group has a reasonably typical composition: "face", technomancer, rigger, mage, adept, and street samurai. The problem I have is making sure that the technomancer can use her skills ...
6
votes
1answer
440 views

How can I help my players be proactive and dramatic together?

We've recently started a Fate Core game, and found that the system delivers on its promise of stories about "proactive, competent and dramatic" characters. Which is great! Except the characters, drawn ...
31
votes
11answers
3k 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 ...
49
votes
15answers
3k views

How do I stop my PCs from acting like insomniac monkeys on crack?

An issue came up in the last session of my Pathfinder campaign - that of chronic PC impatience. It happens especially when they go to cities and between major adventures. They go into a frenzy of ...
11
votes
3answers
449 views

How can I make puzzles a challenge for the character, rather than the player?

I'm designing an adventure, in which at one point the party meets a giant who will only let them pass if they solve some puzzles. However, the problem is that the riddles are a test for the player, ...
16
votes
7answers
643 views

As an experienced GM, what pitfalls should I watch out for? [closed]

I've been GMing for 20 years and have recently started to question if I need a GM-makeover. We are still having fun but could the game be more fun if I shed some bad, and well ingrained habits? I ...
7
votes
4answers
352 views

How do you make an encounter actually match its CR level?

I recently started using encounter generators and tables. I've noticed that there are encounters like "8 Cave Spiders" or similar. While the number of enemies will result in an encounter that "should" ...
7
votes
2answers
309 views

How can I make non-violent combat alternatives actually fun and interesting? [closed]

Most of my group and I share a trait: We all hate the idea of monsters who can be talked or negotiated with, it kills the scary, dangerous part of a monster; that combined with the fact I suck at ...
13
votes
7answers
475 views

How can I run a campaign in isolation without restricting access to items?

I'm running a game where an entire village, the PCs and its people has been swallowed into the earth by a cataclysmic earthquake. This happened in the first session, and it was explained beforehand ...
13
votes
2answers
526 views

Game design process to create a White-Wolf-like setting?

I have noticed that there seems to be a pattern at work in most oWod/WoD products, which when followed results in settings with the following properties: Each new PC starts with many possible ...
15
votes
6answers
1k views

What are possible ways to deal with a player who frequently switches characters?

I have had problems in the past with players who are serial character creators. What I'm referring to are the players who cannot seem to stick with a character more than two sessions at a time without ...
19
votes
3answers
2k views

How can I play monsters and NPCs up to their potential?

In many cases discussions about balance in 3.5 will, inevitably, involve one side or another invoking an anecdote of the time they fought this monster, or a member of that class, and they didn't ...
19
votes
5answers
763 views

When planning a campaign, should I know what the ending is before we start?

I am planning the next campaign while the current one comes to a close. Our group favours sandbox play and I facilitate that with Icar's event driven system. While writing down the list of events ...
8
votes
1answer
147 views

How do I go about setting up a trial/investigation mission?

I have been running a freeform (no system, basic rules and sheets designed by yours truly), sandbox RPG with a friend of mine for about half a year now. It's my first GM experience and it's been ...
7
votes
7answers
605 views

Arbitrary timer on a breach and clear style scenario

I'm writing up a scenario base on the idea of a breach and clear of a hostage situation. I imagine it being a failure if it lasts more than about 30 seconds and as a round is about 5 seconds i ...
26
votes
17answers
2k views

Introducing an unorthodox setting the players know NOTHING about

Just a while back, there has been a question concerning GMing a setting the players know better than the GM. Now, let me ask you sort of an inverse of that question. I.e. how to introduce and ...
8
votes
5answers
911 views

How to follow up the adventure if the party split?

In the last session, the party I'm DMing got into a great fight against the spirit of the valley (a big dire wolf). In the heat of the fight the cleric was bitten to the point that he dropped to 0 hp ...
1
vote
2answers
114 views

When Should Disadvantages be Inflicted on (N)PC's?

I was tempted to add the System Agnostic tag to this, but for today there is a specific game in mind to receive an answer. Regardless of the source of the disad, (Physical, Mental, etc.) there are ...
6
votes
2answers
244 views

How to GM a zombie-apocalypse game?

I was asked, not a long time ago, to GM a zombie-apocalypse one-shot. Being versed in horror-GMing, I decided to approach the genre as I approach most other genres of horror, but I've encountered a ...
13
votes
4answers
767 views

How can I stop being afraid of PC death as a GM? [closed]

Well guys, I've noticed that I have a tendency to hold back too much with my players. All of them have been playing for long, however they're used to linear plot style campaigns, and besides the fact ...
16
votes
6answers
2k views

How to help my low-level spellcaster PCs feel more useful

My party right now consists of a pair of incredibly optimized characters (a half-orc fighter and a ranger/scout), one fairly well optimized character (a swashbuckler who's thinking about mutliclassing ...
6
votes
4answers
233 views

pathfinder: how to handle evil actions

I have a player in my current campaign, who is slaughtering captured goblins. He has encourage other players in the group to join him in considering them to be vermin. And has talked about ...
19
votes
5answers
558 views

How do I tell how long my adventure is going to be?

I'm a new DM starting a campaign I've written myself. I have a party of 4 players right now- three have been playing for years, one has never played before. My problem is I'm not sure how to tell how ...
10
votes
6answers
1k views

How do I help players whose time with previous editions confuses their understanding of D&D 5th Edition?

When I first was teaching D&D 5e to my group, one of my friends (he mostly had experience with 2e and OSR) kept getting confused every time I asked for a saving throw, because he believed he ...
18
votes
10answers
3k views

How do I rein in a character's backstory without discouraging the player?

I'm planning to start a game of Rogue Trader with a number of new players that are new to RPGs. I've helped the players generate their characters and have given them a very very basic backstory to ...
6
votes
3answers
687 views

Should I give players post play insights to assist them in future playing?

Is it ever advisable to tell players about "content" they missed out on because of their actions or inactions? For example, in the game the other night, one of the players has been making nice (while ...
15
votes
12answers
926 views

How can I speed up combat with a large number of enemies?

I'm DMing for a campaign where the player characters will sometimes face small squads of creatures, most recently six ground troops and two archers helping out. In this setting, these creatures ...
15
votes
4answers
1k views

How can I make investigation engaging for the whole party?

I'm about to start a campaign that takes place on a pirate ship. Low magic fantasy setting, loosely based on the Caribbean in the 1600s. Much of the action is going to be centered around various ...
7
votes
1answer
121 views

What guidelines, if any, exist to guide the DM in establishing difficulty level for skill/ability checks?

Reading through the basic set there is a DC Check difficulty table found on page. 58, but aside from the basic description of what a check is and the basic mechanics (d20 + mod/skill + any situational ...
31
votes
12answers
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 ...
12
votes
4answers
1k views

How do I compensate players who do not get to use the potent plot-important artifact?

Situation: the campaign deals around the players lugging around a plot-important artifact that makes the user significantly more powerful than their peers (like the Rod of Seven Parts, a fragment of ...
22
votes
9answers
3k views

How effective are foreshadowing cutscenes that PCs would be unaware of?

So in most story mediums, you will get "cutscenes" that the characters are unaware of, a figure in shadow gives an order to do something, you see the swat team enter the building but the characters ...
3
votes
3answers
192 views

Starting a campaign with travel for new players

I'm starting a campaign with a new group, most of whom have never played a tabletop RPG before. Typically, I'd start with a good old-fashioned dungeon crawl, but due to the overarching plot I'm ...
28
votes
6answers
4k 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 ...
11
votes
8answers
324 views

How can I effectively introduce hooks into a sandbox adventure?

I will soon DM a new D&D adventure. It's in a setting of my creation, and new characters will be created for it, with backstories tied at least in some ways to the setting. I intend to give my ...
15
votes
7answers
413 views

How to I create material (on the fly) to support plot changes?

In both pre-plotted adventures and more story-telling ones, a lot of situations occur where monsters/npcs/magical items/geography appear, which wasn't thought of beforehand. I.e. I do not have the ...
10
votes
8answers
1k views

How can I make the daily lives of the PCs interesting?

I'm going to start a new campaign soon and my players and I are looking for a campaign that is somewhat close to the feel of the Buffy: The Vampire Slayer TV series. With that I mean a campaign that ...
16
votes
5answers
1k views

What to do in the first session of a campaign?

The first session of my new D&D 4e campaign is coming up pretty soon and I'm not quite sure how to go about the introduction into this new campaign. I have the geography and landmarks and things ...
7
votes
8answers
700 views

How can I organize my counter collection?

I have just gotten a large collection of monster counters and am wondering how can I store them neatly and in an organized manner after I have punched them out? I am also thinking of ways to easily ...