The practical arts and methods applied to gamemastering.

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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
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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 ...
10
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6answers
748 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 near-...
6
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4answers
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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, ...
35
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7answers
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How much do I tell new players about new monsters?

Background I am a brand-new DM, about to lead a game for brand-new players. I have a lot of knowledge of rules from playing Baldur's Gate and Neverwinter Nights over and over, leafing through a ...
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12answers
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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
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8answers
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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 ...
26
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6answers
3k views

Dealing with players of vastly different skill levels?

In my latest campaign (D&D 3.5), I have a player (let's call him P). P is on his fifth character. Yes, fifth. Except for P, only one other player has lost a character. The world P lives in is ...
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6answers
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Dealing with Argumentative Players

I am currently a GM running a four person campaign that has been going for a couple months. I have one player in particular that is fairly inexperienced and has this habit of skimming technical ...
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3answers
1k 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 selection?...
17
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7answers
793 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
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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, "It'...
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9answers
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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
770 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
311 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 ...
11
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1answer
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How can GMs quickly calculate the effects of level drain?

I've GM'ed a few Pathfinder games, and while I really enjoy the setting, I just can't wrap my head around some of the crunchy mechanics. In particular, how do you (quickly) deal with effects like ...
8
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2answers
325 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, ...
86
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11answers
10k 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 ...
54
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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. ...
53
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11answers
4k 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 a ...
50
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11answers
4k 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 ...
44
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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 ...
38
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15answers
3k 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 ...
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11answers
3k views

How do I learn enough about military tactics to run credible military-type NPCs in combat?

I'm the GM of a Shadowrun Campaign and have difficulties letting the NPCs move in a battle like they would in real-life. Two of my players are pretty informed about how military or police would act ...
47
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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 ...
53
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13answers
7k 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, ...
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6answers
2k 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 ...
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2answers
1k 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 ...
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17answers
3k views

How can I help my PCs remember clues that they found?

I'm a new DM running my first adventure in D&D 4e. I've heard of the "three clue rule", that there should be at least three independent pointers to any plot element you want the PCs to take note ...
55
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11answers
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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 & ...
29
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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 ...
26
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10answers
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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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13answers
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How to begin a role-playing scenario in medias res?

If I am running a pre-planned role-playing scenario, how and when can it work to start the session in medias res? The narrative technique can work so well in literature, film and video to increase ...
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5answers
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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 ...
40
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17answers
9k 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 ...
19
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7answers
838 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 ...
78
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10answers
10k views

Should I warn my players when they're about to do something stupid?

As a GM, I occasionally run into situations where the players want to do something very poorly thought-out. Honest mistakes, not intentional derailing. In these situations, I often feel the urge to ...
71
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15answers
4k views

How should a GM deal with “standing orders?”

I have a player who always tells me whenever he goes into a dungeon or other hazardous location, I am always checking for traps wherever I go. Assume that I am always looking around, wary and ...
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9answers
5k views

How to handle players who make unmotivated characters

I'm a relatively new GM, and I'm having trouble getting my (also new) players to create motivated characters. I don't mean that the players themselves are unmotivated, but the characters they create ...
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5answers
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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 ...
31
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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 ...
27
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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 ...
22
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6answers
707 views

How can I close my sessions better?

A big principle of group practices (facilitation, meeting management, etc) is Opening and Closing. Opening is creating a comforting environment where people feel invited and welcome. Closing is about ...
21
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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 ...
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7answers
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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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3answers
2k 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 ...
44
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17answers
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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 ...
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8answers
3k 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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10answers
4k 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 ...
21
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6answers
15k views

How do I build interesting dungeons? [closed]

I'm a new GM and I need to undestand how to build enjoyable locations. I don't get how to build interesting dungeons. For example, I need to explore a castle. But a castle is not as complicated as ...