The practical arts and methods applied to gamemastering.

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32
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16answers
1k views

How do I get the PCs to visit scary places at night?

Sometimes when I design scenarios, I realize that my mental image of the adventure is only exciting because it takes place at night. When the players actually play through the adventure, they might ...
32
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 ...
32
votes
7answers
3k 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 ...
32
votes
9answers
2k views

How can I more effectively use darkness in a dungeon?

In more than one of my D&D campaigns, I've found myself feeling disappointed at my inability to make the darkness of the dungeon matter. Everyone has enough torches, and I'm not likely to be able ...
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 ...
32
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6answers
1k views

How to maximize the opportunities of roleplaying military rank in a PC group, while minimizing the limitations on the players

Some games come with a predisposition toward the characters having military rank. This is typically an element of the setting material, and is intended to aid immersion, and produce interesting social ...
32
votes
9answers
3k 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 ...
32
votes
6answers
2k views

How do I emphasize role-playing during combat?

Right now, the group that I GM for is very, very tactical-combat focused. To some extent, we may as well be playing a dungeon crawl board game for all the role-play we manage. Now, in and of itself ...
32
votes
5answers
2k 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), ...
32
votes
11answers
586 views

How to get better feedback from players?

OK, we started a new campaign yesterday and I really want to take quality feedback from my players. When I ask, "How was it? Do you like it?", I generally get some vague answers like "It was good, I ...
32
votes
5answers
3k views

Dealing with players who try to run from everything?

I DM for a group with a guy who always suggests leaving the dungeon, area, or wherever the party is. It seems like no matter what I try or do to the setting he just won't relax and play the game – he ...
32
votes
2answers
593 views

How can I make things easier on my dyslexic and high-functioning autistic players?

I have other players read out information from my dyslexic player's character sheets when necessary, and I use non-verbal visual aids whenever possible. I generally give out copies of any important ...
31
votes
12answers
7k views

How to balance a very-low magic campaign

Recently, my players and I got kind of bored with the fact that Pathfinder relies heavily on magic items than martial prowess for fighting classes. I realize and accept the fact that spellcasters are ...
31
votes
19answers
2k views

How do I add a recurring fantasy villain without frustrating the players?

I am currently running a campaign which is still in its early stages, and I plan to introduce a recurring villain. However, if the villain is always the main "big bad" behind every session and he gets ...
31
votes
5answers
6k 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 ...
30
votes
12answers
3k views

“Punishing” characters for stupid actions

I'm currently running a 6 person World of Darkness campaign, which is heavily social based. 5 of the players I am happy with, but one of them keeps doing stupid things, such as pushing himself to the ...
30
votes
5answers
5k views

How to explain to a new player that metagaming is encouraged in this group

I am part of a social board games group that meets most weekends to play short (max one session) games that usually involve role playing of some kind. Recently someone invited a friend from another, ...
30
votes
12answers
5k views

How to expose information without making a villain monologue

I'm preparing this game of Shadowrun where I have 3 main metaplots driving the campaign. One of them for instance is Seattle hosting the Olympics. Of course in Shadowrun, what the bad guys want is ...
30
votes
11answers
5k 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 ...
30
votes
14answers
9k views

How can I add sound to our sessions?

I've been toying with the idea of adding sound to our typical sessions. I was thinking about throwing in some sounds for atmosphere's sake, like some of the following: Birds chirping/water running ...
30
votes
6answers
5k views

How to deal with a player who “jumps the gun” with premature rules-lawyering?

My question is somewhat similar to this question, however I feel I have a different situation in which my question is not covered by the answers stated. I have a player in my campaign group of 5 ...
30
votes
9answers
4k views

How can I efficiently run a morally challenging campaign?

I recently started running a DnD 4e campaign of my own. My goal was to make it an ethical dilemma for the players, to really give them a chance to play a game where character/personality based choices ...
30
votes
6answers
2k views

How can I learn how to lay out an “evidence scene”?

I feel like I'm particularly bad at any kind of scene where I want to drop clues. I'm hesitant to use the term "crime scene" because it's not always being investigated by "police", and some of these ...
30
votes
5answers
2k views

How can I make an overbearing government's unwelcome attention convincing without it dominating screen time?

My players are newly awakened mages (Mage: the Ascension 2nd edition) living in a near future in a metropolis in the European Union which is developing into a surveillance and military state union—a ...
30
votes
9answers
1k views

How to add a player who joined after the campaign started?

I started running a game, and then a friend of mine expressed interest in playing, so I invited him to join us. He created a character and came along to the next session. As the rest of the party was ...
30
votes
8answers
2k views

Introducing new players to GURPS

So, I have a group of players who have played a variety of other systems - D&D 3.5, D&D 4th, Shadowrun, White Wolf, etc. Some have played GURPS in the past and had some less than ideal ...
30
votes
4answers
2k views

How do I keep a long-range plot cohesive and coherent?

I enjoy GMing but I much prefer to to have some sort of long running plot (or meta-plot) rather than having a series of unconnected unfortunate events afflict my PCs. For example, I would love to ...
29
votes
14answers
3k views

How can I deal with the challenges a player having Mind-Reading represents without negating their ability?

As I prepare for a campaign to run, I realize that several of the things I want to do in this campaign may be shortcut by mind reading and telepathy. Unfortunately, many of the solutions to defending ...
29
votes
9answers
4k views

As a group unfamiliar with RPGs, how do I encourage my players to read the rulebook?

A little bit of background: We are a new DnD group, living in a country where DnD is obscure, at best (the Philippines). We have no prior background to any kind of RPGs except in video games and MMOs. ...
29
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 ...
29
votes
11answers
5k views

Should a GM be a Player?

Game Masters have plenty to do; no need to enumerate the tasks here. But should a non-player character be a 'regular' in a party? By gaining a voice in the in-character interactions, the GM taps a ...
29
votes
8answers
2k 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 ...
29
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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, ...
29
votes
4answers
2k views

How does “failure” work in Dungeon World? How does it move the story forward?

I am having trouble understanding the specifics of failure Dungeon World. According to the rules, a GM should "make a move" against players when they fail, and that's alright, I get that. What I ...
29
votes
10answers
5k 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 ...
29
votes
8answers
1k views

How do you DM differently when it's for only one person?

I've just finished running my first session with only one player, and it felt pretty different from running a session for a group. Could someone with more experience in this talk about what one ...
28
votes
5answers
3k views

How to deal with overzealous questioning from one player?

So I'm playing a home brew scifi game where one of the players is playing a scientific character who collects a bunch of samples. That's all fine and good, but the problem is that he want really ...
28
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 ...
28
votes
10answers
2k views

Strategies for dealing with turtle or roach players?

How should GMs deal with players who turtle or roach? By turtle I am referring to players who obviously wanted to play because they joined the game, but when they're actually at the table they keep ...
28
votes
14answers
4k views

How do I run a maze scenario without using a map?

Inspired by a question on another site, what's the best way to add a labyrinth to an adventure scenario without making the challenges contingent upon player skill at mapping or navigation? I'd like ...
28
votes
14answers
509 views

How do I retain momentum in an irregular game?

For years I have had a regular weekly evening group but as we've all aged, it has become more difficult to meet. I tend to get the same players but we do not play every week. Long gaps mean that it is ...
28
votes
4answers
1k views

How do you handle monsters using social skills vs PCs?

I've checked the books and can't find an answer by RAW other than the DM decides, so I'd like to know how people handle this in their games. What happens if a thug tries to intimidate/persuade the ...
28
votes
5answers
775 views

How many sessions is enough to judge a game fairly?

I want to introduce some new games to my group. But when I broach the topic like, "Howdja like to play Dogs in the Vineyard?" they balk - not at the prospect of trying something new, but at the ...
28
votes
8answers
3k views

What should I consider when creating a time travel adventure?

I'm sure that many would advise against doing so at all, but knowing that I will likely try to do so anyway, what are the factors I should consider when creating a time travel adventure? ...
28
votes
8answers
4k views

Building a good comedy adventure?

I was wondering how to build a comedic adventure for D&D (or at least get some tips on it). The DM guide mentioned the multiple ideas for campaigns and one of them was comedy! I tried to start ...
28
votes
6answers
980 views

What field-specific puzzles can I give to engineering and psychology students?

A few sessions ago, I gave my players a puzzle that involved converting a decimal number to binary to figure out the correct sequence to open a door. Since my group consists primarily of computer ...
27
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26answers
2k views

Biggest GM pitfalls for new GMs? [closed]

What are the biggest/most common GM pitfalls (or mistakes) for new GMs? One pitfall per answer, please!
27
votes
6answers
3k views

How can I encourage combat as war-style play in my campaign?

I've recently begun a new D&D 5e campaign with a group of players who have all just come from a Pathfinder adventure path. I was the GM for that campaign and it was a very on-the-rails adventure ...
27
votes
8answers
5k 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 ...
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 ...