The practical arts and methods applied to gamemastering.

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24
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5answers
4k 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 ...
24
votes
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 ...
24
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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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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 ...
23
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18answers
2k 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 ...
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
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6answers
938 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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11answers
923 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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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
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6answers
2k 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
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3answers
2k 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
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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 ...
23
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9answers
972 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
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10answers
1k views

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 ...
23
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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
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4answers
644 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
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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 ...
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
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12answers
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 ...
22
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 ...
22
votes
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
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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
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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, ...
22
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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
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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
620 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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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
votes
7answers
630 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
539 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
votes
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
votes
7answers
720 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; ...
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
votes
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 ...
22
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10answers
335 views

Keeping a published module interesting when some players have already played.

When running a published adventure which some players have already played, such as a RPGA module, are there any suggestions for keeping it interesting for all involved ?
22
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5answers
1k views

Learning to use spells comfortably

I'm hoping to get a little but of advice. You see, I've been running Rise of the Runelords, although the fact that I'm using Pathfinder probably isn't too relevant. Point is, I'm relatively new to ...
22
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5answers
924 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 ...
22
votes
4answers
501 views

How do I construct an individual session as part of a larger campaign?

I've been GMing/DMing on and off for years. I prefer playing. Mainly because when I run a game, I'm more a fly by the seat of your pants kind of dm, and it works sort of.. My problem is that, while I ...
21
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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 ...
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 ...
21
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10answers
3k views

How do I rein in a character's backstory without discouraging the player?

I'm planning to start a game of Rogue Trader with a number of new players that are new to RPGs. I've helped the players generate their characters and have given them a very very basic backstory to ...
21
votes
8answers
8k 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 ...
21
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8answers
1k 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 ...
21
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5answers
2k 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 ...
21
votes
6answers
947 views

What GM tasks can be delegated to players to speed up encounters?

My party's encounters (D&D4e - 13th level) take on average 3-4 hours. We chit chat a lot and are pretty easily distracted, and it's not a huge deal because we're all having fun. But lately we've ...
21
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5answers
897 views

GMing against type: adding levity

When I GM, I tend to make the scenarios/campaigns "serious" -- they're grim and gritty, much more about drama (and violence) than anything else. In addition, I tend to focus on some degree of realism ...
21
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6answers
2k views

How can I get mic-shy players invested in roleplaying over Skype?

My roleplaying group is composed of four friends who roleplay using roll20 as our board and Skype to handle our voice communications. I have one player who is used to roleplaying only in text and ...
21
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3answers
967 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 ...
20
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6answers
4k views

How can you deal with players asking the wrong questions?

I feel like my players ask the wrong questions. For example thy went to the strip club, they're trying to hunt a vampire who they "know" came south from Chicago. Their questions aren't necessarily ...
20
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3answers
3k views

How to deal with players breaking the game mood by overplaying their characters

Following this question Imagine, that you are trying to create a dark and scary situation: haunted mansion, spooky forest, ancient crypt... There is something out there that definitely is malevolent ...