The practical arts and methods applied to gamemastering.

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26
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8answers
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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, ...
26
votes
5answers
928 views

How to get players to be curious and ask questions?

I have recently noticed that my players don't really try to find out much about the world and story beyond the direct "what do we see?" I want to have them interact more with their environment and ...
26
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9answers
2k views

How can I create within-party intrigue without destroying group cohesion?

I am a novice GM playing with several more experienced D&D players (who happen to be good friends). I wanted to spice up the game for them and take advantage of their own intelligence/experience ...
26
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8answers
3k 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 ...
26
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5answers
2k views

Problems with a party of only Spellcasters?

Given a party of only spellcasters (and only unique classes, i.e. only one character can take any specific class), what are possible roadblocks or problems the group may run into? Should they be ...
26
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8answers
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How can I deal with character classes and builds so specific they don't fit in with the group?

This is a problem I've been having in general so far as a Game Master; some character classes seem to be designed not for party play, but to be "loners" and shine only in specific situations. Some ...
25
votes
14answers
927 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 ...
25
votes
4answers
954 views

How does a GM fix the rules when they goof?

I think it happens to the best of us. I'm not the best of us, so I get to goof a bit more often. The specific example I'm going to mention was using Dresden Files (a derivative of FATE for those who ...
25
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10answers
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As DM, what should I do when players roll perception where there is nothing to be found?

I had my first session as Dungeon Master (DM) yesterday playing pathfinder ("First Steps In Lore" from the "Pathfinder Society" series) with a group of first-time tabletop RPG players (myself ...
25
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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 ...
25
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8answers
9k views

How to make a game enjoyable for a monk?

One of the players in my campaign decided to play monk. We are all pretty new, so I couldn't have alerted him to this, but from what I understand now, monks are weak. Very weak. This player in ...
25
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10answers
2k views

How do I hint at events outside the scope of the current quest?

I'm GMing a long-term game with some friends, and they are the sort who, as soon as I drop a hint about anything, go "Let's investigate that!" I want there to be an overarching story arc, but it's ...
25
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14answers
3k 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 ...
25
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8answers
1k views

Creating emotions

In the group that I GM, I ran an adventure a few months back that was generally considered very good by everyone involved (Including myself, which does not happen often). It included a little girl ...
25
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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 ...
25
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4answers
1k views

How do I explain stress to a d20 crowd?

In the next month or so I'm going to start running the Dresden Files RPG soon with a group that has most of its experience in D&D 3.5 and 4e. We're all new to FATE, and I tried to explain the ...
24
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18answers
3k views

When GMing a game, how much should you prepare in advance?

Obviously you need to have some high level idea of what's going on in the world around the players, and where you are heading with the story, but in an ongoing game at some point players will be ...
24
votes
6answers
3k views

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 ...
24
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10answers
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How do I transition my players from roll-playing to role-playing?

The context for this question is the same as this related question about spending time in town, but I am looking for sufficiently different advice so I thought it warranted its own question. I've ...
24
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5answers
1k views

How do I encourage new players to be more descriptive in their actions and intents?

I have a party of new players, who are enjoying a sporadic session of Fate Accelerated. I'm learning a significant amount from the experience, and I hope they are too. In addition to some problems ...
24
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5answers
2k views

How to manage a mute PC?

I am GM in a custom universe I created (medieval fantastic), and a player asked me if he could create a mute character. I refused because I was afraid it would be too hard to manage, and not fun for ...
24
votes
3answers
1k views

How do I cater to the Three Stooges and good roleplayers at the same time?

As a little background, in case it matters: most of the players in my group (but not all) are college aged, and all of them are personal friends of mine. We're playing D&D 3.5. I myself am the ...
23
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19answers
2k views

What role-playing games have good gamemaster advice sections? [closed]

Which RPG's, in your experience, have good advice for gamemasters in their rulebooks, both for novice and experienced gamemasters? Please keep in mind that this question is not about good games for ...
23
votes
6answers
974 views

When GMing in a high-tech game world how do you handle potentially disruptive tech?

This question stems from my Eclipse Phase campaign, but applies to any high-tech setting. While the setting books describe a wealth of technology, there are plenty of tools that are not listed. That's ...
23
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13answers
2k views

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 ...
23
votes
11answers
946 views

Dealing with skill rerolls by several players

I could use some advice as a GM on how to handle rolls which get repeated by several players one after the other. Example 1 The PCs stand in front of a locked door and try to force it open. The ...
23
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10answers
1k views

How do I find and eliminate plot holes?

I'm still a pretty new GM. Even though I enjoy coming up with plots and writing the overarching story-line, when I tell my wife (who does not play) how the adventure should progress (the long-view, ...
23
votes
11answers
2k views

Excuses for opponents using nonlethal force?

In plotting out low-level encounters at the start of a campaign (especially with new players) I prefer to create opponents who don't want to kill the PCs right away. Instead, I generally have them ...
23
votes
6answers
3k views

How to deal with players rolling dice before establishing the context of the action?

I've been running a lot of fate and cthulhu-dark games lately, and I've run into a common challenge with several players: They'll roll the dice before we establish what kind of action they're taking ...
23
votes
3answers
3k 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 ...
23
votes
7answers
768 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; ...
23
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7answers
1k views

How do I handle a PC to NPC romance?

Our group consists of two couples. One player seems to like romance (which is just fine). This player's character flirted with her husband's character; he played up the fact that his character was not ...
23
votes
9answers
992 views

Third-Person Limited Narration or Third-Person Omniscient Narration?

What are the advantages/disadvantages to using either a kind of "Limited Narration" or an "Omniscient Narration" style when running a game? i.e. Does saying... None of the characters notice the ...
23
votes
5answers
1k 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, ...
23
votes
4answers
661 views

How do you handle large scale exploration?

I'm currently running a game where the players are exploring a large ruined city (It happens to be Rathess in Exalted, but the question is more general than that), and I'm looking for techniques to ...
23
votes
5answers
1k views

How do I learn to do accents?

I've always enjoyed playing in games where the GM/DM/ST makes use of a variety of accents to differentiate between NPCs. I've always wanted to learn how to do that, but I realize that I'm not ...
23
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3answers
2k views

How to implement a stealth based instant-kill system

I've been playing 4e for a few months now and I'm really interested in creating a dungeon crawl in which the PCs can choose to stealthily kill off certain monsters before they are able to alert other ...
22
votes
10answers
3k views

How can I create a world with realistic demographics that won't overwhelm my level 1 PCs?

While creating the world for my sandbox campaign, I saw that the demographics in the DMG allowed for the existence of quite powerful NPCs. Their existence is logical of course, but it might pose a ...
22
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9answers
2k views

How do I kidnap my characters without bending the rules?

I'm about to start a new arc with my characters and I'd really like it to begin by having them be kidnapped. It would be easy for me to just do this by fiat and say that "You are knocked unconscious ...
22
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4answers
2k views

Effects of war on everyday life and adventuring

Yesterday in my new game of Dungeon World we determined that we are in a great empire under attack by hordes of goblins and as I was taking note of this, I realized I have no clue how to effectively ...
22
votes
5answers
3k views

How does wandering within a city work?

I'm new to RPGs, and I've tried to read some transcriptions or watch some podcasts, but I don't understand how the game works outside a dungeon. Does the city has to be a real city or just a group of ...
22
votes
9answers
1k views

How do I help my players get past an obstacle I didn't intend?

Here's the situation. There's a locked door that prevents any further progress into the dungeon. There's a keyhole in the door and a message basically saying that the key needs to be wished for. In ...
22
votes
6answers
663 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 ...
22
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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 ...
22
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6answers
2k views

How do I let characters share knowledge only they know?

In The Lord of the Rings, when Legolas the elf succeeded on his spot check, he was the one to announce to his friends that he saw riders in the distance. There was no voice from the all powerful DM in ...
22
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7answers
643 views

It is possible to have one player lose control of their actions (get possessed) and have the other players not know it?

One of the players in my group is getting rather fond of a very powerful and clearly evil sword that gives them great increases to strength and magical ability. As a consequence, I would love to have ...
22
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6answers
555 views

Techniques for communicating setting and campaign information to the PCs?

In the past, I've almost always had at least one NPC that would travel with the characters as a type of "lore master" to expand on the story. I've tried to make the character witty and, once the ...
22
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6answers
3k views

Is it appropriate to tell players the expected outcome of a throw?

I'm just getting into Pathfinder, as my first foray into RPGs. Of all the videos, tutorials and podcasts I've listened to, the GM tells the player to throw (for example, a perception check) and ...
22
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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 ...
22
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7answers
3k 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 ...