The practical arts and methods applied to gamemastering.

learn more… | top users | synonyms (2)

15
votes
3answers
1k views

How to run time-limited one shots

I and some friends are determined to try for this winter running only one-shots. rotating the GM for each one different characters each time the adventure must be completed in a single session one ...
15
votes
12answers
1k 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 ...
12
votes
4answers
1k views

How can I get my players to “do their homework”?

I've noticed a problem with my PC's lacking rich backgrounds, or players lacking knowledge of the mechanics of their own characters. This has lead to me giving the players "homework", which I have ...
11
votes
8answers
2k views

When should a GM roll behind the GM Screen?

I was wondering what is the point to roll behind a screen as a GM? If nobody can see the roll then I could claim that i rolled any number I require, right? If I would have to show the roll, then why ...
10
votes
2answers
672 views

What should be considered when deciding if and how to use props?

GMs and players who have experience with props in their games, what do you think about when considering props to use and how to use them? How might props be used to further the game, instead of ...
7
votes
4answers
754 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 ...
22
votes
7answers
1k views

Difference between writing a one-off scenario and writing a quest for a campaign?

I want to get some of my friends into roleplaying by running a self-contained single-session game with them rather than an actual campaign opener (for lack of a better term, I'll refer to this sort of ...
21
votes
8answers
974 views

What to do when your PCs skip an important part of the story line

In the earliest stage of my new duet campaign, I thought I had "rail-roaded" the PC into the first important encounter, one that leads to a major story line for the campaign. Specifically, the PC was ...
18
votes
10answers
4k views

Can I roll for a PC in secret?

As a GM, can I roll in secret so my players don't even know I rolled? For example, a PC walks past a secret door; if I ask the player to roll perception he may suspect there is something. Can I roll ...
18
votes
8answers
932 views

My necromancer keeps dying (and can't raise himself)!

Sometimes in the course of running an adventure you will run into an encounter that calls for a summoner to bring on a horde of undead (often minions). I have a simple problem: My summoners die in ...
17
votes
3answers
358 views

Is buying game ebooks practical?

I am looking into buying some game rules books as ebooks, but I want to know if anyone else has done this. Ebooks/PDFs are cheaper and easier to get, but I am wondering if that is worth the trade off ...
14
votes
1answer
565 views

What concrete rules can you point a GM to that is stuck in non-storytelling paradigms for Fate?

Inspired by a response to my answer to Can you concede by dying in Dresden Files?, I was wondering what concrete rules can you point a GM to that is stuck in non-storytelling paradigms in Fate? I ...
12
votes
2answers
490 views

Tasks for a split party

I'm running a 4th ed game, but I don't think that makes a difference in this case. Last session my party decided to split up for a couple tasks. The hybrid bard/rogue and the avenger (affectionately ...
11
votes
5answers
866 views

How to Determine *Honest* Sincerity

The specific example I am working with is the Sincerity (Honesty) skill in L5R but there is a certain factor of curiosity for any other system: How do you really roll to tell the truth and logically ...
10
votes
10answers
1k views

Is It OK To Sic Assassins On My PCs?

L5R has the most specific example in my immediate memory. In one game, the players were in a diplomatic situation and a Shosuro Shinobi (ninja) was sneaking around to stir the pot. This was a ...
6
votes
4answers
2k views

Are there rules for dropping on an enemy as an attack?

In our current campaign, our ninja decided to try to drop on a monster from a ledge 25 feet up, blade first. I house ruled that it would require an extra 10 to the Tumble of falling without damage, ...
32
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 ...
26
votes
8answers
2k views

How to deal with overly cautious players?

Recent encounters with hard to hurt opponents have left the party pretty beat up. The player is now seemingly scared by similar encounters and prefers fleeing. I'm GMing a solo game of Pathfinder for ...
20
votes
3answers
882 views

Shouldn't The Doctor almost always be an NPC?

I'm considering GMing Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space, but there's something I fundamentally don't understand: Why is The Doctor a player-character option? And why is it the default ...
17
votes
7answers
692 views

How should a GM handle novice players?

In our game, we have 5 players - two are completely new to roleplaying, and one is new to the system we're playing (Pathfinder). At the moment, the GM grants the new players no leeway - if the player ...
16
votes
2answers
2k views

Are DCs supposed to be secret?

Are players not supposed to ask what is the DC for a roll? If you're the DM and someone asks, would you tell them you can't say? Would you instead tell them the difficulty in relative terms like, ...
14
votes
9answers
4k views

How do I force a party from the Astral Plane?

I am running a high-level, low magic campaign, currently 13th level. When the seas iced over thanks to a Levistus activating an elder relic, the possessed warlock of the party spent some time ...
14
votes
5answers
661 views

Should the DM try to actively fix party wealth in a sandbox game?

This question is inspired by this WBL question. The consensus seems to be that WBL is important. But in a sandbox game , where the course of action is determined by the players, what should be DM's ...
12
votes
0answers
297 views

As a GM, how can I create and role-play diverse NPCs better? [duplicate]

I am new to GMing (and role-playing in general, for that matter) and I am having a somewhat difficult time making plausible and interesting NPCs. This is especially true with NPCs who are not "typical ...
8
votes
2answers
277 views

How to make rituals a part of everyday life

I would like to know how to make it clear that little, non-magical rituals such as a blessing before eating, drawing water, harvesting grain, starting a fire and the like are a part of everyday life, ...
103
votes
17answers
9k views

How to deal with players who like to use the local authorities to solve their problems

The problem I have a player in my group which tends to approach local authorities (may it be guards or churches) when facing a threat. He thinks that, given his role (a bard in a medieval world, so, ...
50
votes
7answers
2k views

How can I make my game more “noir” as a GM?

I ran a couple of Shadowrun games at Dexcon, my first time GMing at a con. It's not my first time running Shadowrun; I based the games off of a couple jobs my players did in a then-ongoing campaign. ...
63
votes
10answers
7k views

Betrayed by my GM; how can I respond?

I was introduced to D&D three months ago and really delved into the world. I had so much fun creating my character and tried very hard to roleplay him differently from myself. I did my very best ...
43
votes
12answers
8k views

Unhate-able Villains

There are so many guides on how to make a villain your players will truly hate, but I am trying to make a villain that the characters will feel for. How can I create a "good" villain, like someone who ...
49
votes
11answers
3k views

How can a GM prevent growing disillusioned with their own game?

I recently began a new game in which I gave the players much more free reign in designing their characters than I might have in the past. What I wound up with was a very morally-diverse party, with ...
38
votes
10answers
3k views

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 ...
21
votes
8answers
7k 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 ...
45
votes
14answers
2k views

How do I get the PCs to stop focusing on a red herring?

Okay, I'll cop to it -- this is totally my fault. I get a little excited at the slightest opportunity to expound upon the setting, and in this case I added a small mausoleum to an otherwise boring ...
38
votes
15answers
2k 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 ...
30
votes
6answers
1k 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 ...
50
votes
12answers
6k views

What to do when players bypass plot hooks

I am going to just start out by acknowledging that this is the best possible 'problem' a GM can ever have. My players are awesome, I just didn't know how awesome. They solved months of combat, ...
50
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 & ...
44
votes
12answers
1k views

How do I make weather an important part of the game?

We're starting up a dark ages fantasy game, using some homebrew rules similar to D&D. As the GM, how can I make weather an important part of the game? To be clear, I'm not trying to just toss in ...
33
votes
5answers
798 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 ...
28
votes
9answers
2k views

How do I escape the Quicksand Box?

I have a very significant problem whenever I try GMing any given game; I try to provide a world with a lot of wiggle room for the characters as well as factions/NPCs they interact with. Oftentimes my ...
25
votes
10answers
2k views

How can I fool my players into being pawns for the villain?

Concept I want to get a generally benevolent party to unwittingly further the villain's motives. More than parcel delivery - I'd like to tap into their sense of right/wrong, justice, vigilantism, ...
18
votes
2answers
721 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 ...
37
votes
17answers
7k 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 ...
27
votes
5answers
1k views

Dealing with people who turn up late for sessions

I run sessions every Monday evening at a pub in the centre of London, and most people come to play straight from work. Up until recently we were attempting to start at 7pm, but there were one or two ...
21
votes
5answers
3k views

How to make a countdown?

How can I properly measure "ingame" time to make a countdown? I'll explain it with an example: The party encounters a small ghost ship, and they board it to investigate/salvage. When they get to the ...
20
votes
7answers
1k views

How to keep track of campaign timeline?

Introduction I've been playing table top RPGs for some twelve years now, both as a player and a frequent DM. During this time, I've had maybe half a dozen campaigns and none of them have been ...
19
votes
5answers
955 views

How to present players with options without railroading them?

We're playing Dungeons and Dragons 4th edition. I'm a new GM, mastering a party of mostly new players. I take campaign design rather seriously, and I hate railroading. I love coming up with crafty ...
18
votes
7answers
656 views

Fantasy and magic in a primarily realistic setting

I'm running a game that's best described as "medieval fantasy," in the sense that we're actually trying to have the lives of people in the setting strongly resemble the historical Middle Ages. There ...
61
votes
15answers
3k views

How should GM deal with 'standing orders'?

I once got this scenario. This is what the player says as he infiltrates an enemy NPC's mansion. I am always checking for trap wherever I go. Assume that I am always looking around me wary and ...
43
votes
17answers
6k views

Metagaming when there isn't actually anything there?

So, it's a fairly common question of how to keep players from metagaming. Typically, these questions are of the sort that a player knows monster x is weak to y despite their character not having ...