The practical arts and methods applied to gamemastering.

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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 ...
8
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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 ...
6
votes
4answers
951 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, ...
26
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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 ...
18
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3answers
757 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 ...
16
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2answers
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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, ...
16
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7answers
646 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 ...
14
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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
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5answers
595 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
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0answers
291 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
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2answers
271 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, ...
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7answers
1k 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. ...
98
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17answers
8k 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, ...
61
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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 ...
42
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 ...
58
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21answers
12k 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 ...
47
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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 ...
37
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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 ...
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8answers
5k 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
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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
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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 ...
35
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8answers
7k views

What are the essential features of a successful evil campaign?

Until this point, I have demanded that my players not build characters with evil alignments, as I am familiar with how to design campaigns and adventures around "good" or "redemption" themes. ...
33
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5answers
717 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
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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
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10answers
1k 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, ...
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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 ...
26
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5answers
995 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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
17
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7answers
615 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
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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
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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 ...
37
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16answers
6k 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 ...
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14answers
3k views

How can I replace a player character with an impostor without alerting the group?

I recently picked up a book of example NPCs (the Pathfinder NPC Codex, incidentally) and came across an entry for a "master spy". In the flavor text, it describes how his "secret identities have ...
26
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7answers
1k 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 ...
21
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5answers
1k views

As a GM, how do I keep Dungeons & Dragons more interesting for young players?

Currently, my group of players is my children, ages 7+ through 14+ (and several in between). They all are really excited about playing, but I am having great difficulty keeping them all interested ...
15
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3answers
961 views

Solo player: best way to mitigate tiny party size? [duplicate]

I'm looking to start a solo DnD adventure with my wife as the only player. She's a total novice. Which is generally the most successful way to handle the single-PC issue in your experience: NPC ...
34
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8answers
2k views

How do I discourage or work with “nuke it from orbit” solutions?

Here's the issue: some of the players in my group tend to be pragmatic...a little too pragmatic. They are the type who'll figure out the most efficient and cleanest way to take care of any problems, ...
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8answers
1k views

Can party betrayal be done successfully?

After reading How much experience should a PC be worth? I was wondering if and how party betrayal can be done successfully, especially since it's a real possibility in my campaign. Criteria for ...
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10answers
3k views

How to make magic items more interesting?

We all read about the little person finding a magical ring and the GM basing his whole plot on that little ring. That was a cool example of a MacGuffin. Earthdawn has a system in which characters ...
25
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14answers
776 views

Story Arc vs. Player Creativity

I want to put the players in a challenging spot by putting them in a no win situation and having them captured and stripped of their equipment (assuming they might get it back as they make their ...
22
votes
7answers
675 views

How can I convey the nonsensicality of a dream world?

Soon I will be GMing a campaign that allows the players to move freely back and forth between the "real" world and the "dream" world. I do not want this to be a secret or try to confuse the players; ...
18
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5answers
456 views

What techniques can I use to improve flavor text?

I've been improving my GM skills lately, but there is one area in which my skills are very weak, and that is flavor text. For example, if my players go into the woods, I tend to say something stupid ...
17
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4answers
922 views

How can I recognise when a Scene should be skipped?

There is a mode of thought that says RPGs should be like a movie or a TV show. We don't give screen time to the boring stuff. I had a scene play out where the players had to let a NPC know they were ...
17
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5answers
943 views

How to handle the PCs within a large military?

On some level, this might actually be getting closer to RPGs’ roots: I want to try a campaign where the PCs are members of a larger military. There may be need for them to coordinate with other ...
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11answers
1k views

How do you keep the party on the map?

I'm running a fairly sandbox game, where the party can wander around easily from place to place. When the party visits areas I've prepared something for, they generally have a good time. When they ...
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4answers
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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 ...
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4answers
2k views

How to get my Paranoia players to stop cooperating and start killing each other?

I've read some of the questions and answers on paranoia here, but I seem to be missing some kind of key element to play. I ran Robot IMANA-665-C and I didn't seem to be able to get the players to ...
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5answers
1k views

How can I bring a player back to immersion and away from the distraction he brings to the table?

Currently, one of my players brings his 3DS to the table. He picked up a new game, and insists that he's "just grinding," and that he's paying attention (and to his credit, for the most part he is), ...
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7answers
5k views

How do I run a successful and engaging campaign without combat?

I'm thinking of starting my own campaign with a few of my friends with me as DM, primarily because I wasn't extremely impressed with the campaign my friend was DMing. When I started thinking about the ...