The practical arts and methods applied to gamemastering.

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5
votes
4answers
429 views

When are unexpected events “Too much”?

To vent out from the exams the whole group finished not long ago, I'm preparing a simple D&D3.5 game. A mindless dungeon crawler with lots of enemies, loot and the usual stuff with just enough ...
28
votes
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), ...
19
votes
5answers
876 views

Level of detail in description?

There's a trope or two that says you shouldn't bother describing anything unless it's relevant to the story. However, in RPG's where the participants partially shape the story with their actions, any ...
9
votes
2answers
300 views

GMing a combined-groups session

I'm GMing 2 tabletop Changeling campaigns at the moment. One of them takes place in Cambridge, while the other takes place in Inverness. As my birthday approaches, my players asked me to GM a session ...
16
votes
9answers
2k views

GM burn-out concerning worlds and systems

I've been primarily and almost exclusively a GM for long, long years. I still enjoy GMing, and I'd like to keep doing it. However, I've lost interest in practically all of the games and worlds we used ...
16
votes
2answers
2k views

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, ...
6
votes
4answers
454 views

My player characters abandoned an NPC and I want them to feel the consequences

My players abandoned a character amongst a group of raiders. I decided that her fate would be to have her abused both physically and emotionally. (The aspects of her abuse are left behind the ...
19
votes
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 ...
9
votes
4answers
1k views

What should I do if I have one PC that has optimized his character and is throwing off the party's CR?

Tonight out group just finished up our second session into our latest campaign. Everyone is enjoying it and it has been running rather smooth. I have realized, though, that one PC in particular is way ...
7
votes
1answer
254 views

How can Fate Accelerated be adapted to very short game time windows?

I'm running a roleplaying games club, and I have a rather difficult predicament. We have the capacity to meet weekly, but only for the span of about half an hour to forty minutes. The problem is ...
20
votes
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 ...
22
votes
5answers
984 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 ...
7
votes
9answers
669 views

How can I encourage role playing in a custom setting?

Since creating a fully living and breathing world for the players to inhabit is a time-consuming process, I have been feeding them background info as often as possible as it is relevant to the story. ...
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 ...
18
votes
3answers
755 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
votes
4answers
778 views

How do I help a player who struggles with a tactics-focused character?

I'm a fairly new DM with fairly new players. One such player rolled up a warlord, casting the character as a "tactical genius". Unfortunately, she's having trouble getting "moments of glory", because ...
19
votes
7answers
890 views

How to guide a new DM through his first game (as an experienced DM turned player)?

How can I guide and help a new DM through his first campaign (being an experienced DM myself) without having it look like a grab for power or that I think the new DM is incompetent?
7
votes
4answers
283 views

How can my co-GM and I improvise together when running a game?

Here's the background - one of the players have to leave town for an exchange programmee lasting 6 months, but I have already filled his slot with another player. We are thinking of ways to include ...
3
votes
3answers
351 views

Relative difficulty in Savage Worlds skill checks?

I'm a new GM running a Savage Worlds game, and I'm wondering if someone can help me understand the best way to set up a skill check with relative difficulties. Specifically, how do you differentiate ...
4
votes
2answers
181 views

How can I successfully integrate skill challenges without a grid in DnD 4e?

DnD 4e is based on tactical combat on a grid. Yet when I read the dungeon master's guide, I saw skill challenges for situations that don't seem to require a grid. For instance: Urban Chase. The ...
10
votes
5answers
642 views

How do you have interesting events happen after a success?

I know how to make failures interesting. Though recently I have a hard time making the events following a successful roll interesting. For instance, the party is exploring a tomb, where a trap is ...
39
votes
11answers
7k views

Techniques for making undead scary again

Undead used to be scary things: dead, rotting bodies seeking to devour all life, outnumbering their foes, and replacing their fallen with slain enemies. But nowadays players see them and think ...
2
votes
3answers
684 views

How can I explain balanced ability scores

Some of my players wanted to create characters with ability scores higher than 20 as 1st level PCs. I cannot do that as I am running an adventure path which is made for characters with average stats. ...
10
votes
6answers
445 views

How can I help my players get into a vengeful mindset?

I've often attempted to run Hunter: the Vigil (part of the New World of Darkness gameline) for my players. Unfortunately I frequently run into the same problem; namely, when I set up villains with the ...
3
votes
1answer
183 views

How to add roleplayed investigation in a “search for the items” city quest?

The situations is this: the party has to find three rare starship components in order to make its starship fly. These items are a modified computer part, a military motor piece and a century old motor ...
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 ...
7
votes
6answers
492 views

Adjusting Combat Balance

My Problem My players all seem to have +5 defenses and attacks over the monsters, in addition to the health and more deadly abilities... and they're in appropriate gear for their level (+2 gear at ...
19
votes
10answers
1k views

Should I call for an INT check for clever ideas?

Let's say someone is playing a character that has really low intelligence, but then the player comes up with a clever idea for a way for his dumb character to overcome some obstacle. Should I make him ...
4
votes
3answers
400 views

How to introduce others to Pathfinder?

My school just started a Pathfinder club at the school after I got a petition to the principal. Because it is in the voluntary "activity block" of our schedules, it will mean that some people ...
56
votes
15answers
4k views

When should I fudge dice rolls?

When I started my first D&D campaign as a DM, I accidentally rolled and confirmed a crit on a PC from a goblin. It was an instant kill as our campaign had no cleric. That time I decided to fudge ...
20
votes
5answers
1k views

Sometimes, losing a big conflict is the better plotline. For D&D, how do you encourage this result?

It is practically an old adage that D&D parties will never let a fight end in a loss (short of a TPK.) And that the game mechanics (especially later editions) encourage this thinking. But ...
13
votes
9answers
502 views

Too many divergent side quests. What do I do?

I'm running a D&D 4e campaign taking place in Forgotten Realms (in 3e timeframe as I'm more familiar with it). My plan for the campaign was for the group of PCs to arrive in Waterdeep, where, as ...
52
votes
13answers
5k views

Is it wrong to ask a player to justify their character's actions?

When a player has their character do something completely outside of the perceived norm for that character, is it okay to ask them for a justification? If they can not give satisfactory ...
17
votes
8answers
1k views

How to get players to care about their and each others characters and play them like they are actual people

This question made me think about a problem I have been having that was brought up last night during a session. This session was the first of a new campaign I was running, with the party meeting ...
7
votes
4answers
289 views

Intelligent PC's and differing realms of knowledge

I'm GMing for a group. One of my PCs is highly scholarly (scholarship 4), and the character is a doctor - all aspects point to this. I would assume the doctor's knowledge is more focused on medical ...
8
votes
7answers
2k views

1st-level Pathfinder group without healer

I am a GM, and I just started a campaign of Pathfinder with a group formed by a rogue, a warrior, and a ranger. I came from Vampire and WoD games, so I don't have experience with a balanced game like ...
10
votes
3answers
636 views

Divided party on a deserted island

My gaming group (and some NPCs) are shipwrecked on a deserted island. I'd like the characters cooperate to survive in this hostile environment, because I want to make the game world really dangerous ...
6
votes
4answers
208 views

How does the GM effectively help players find Traits?

I've encountered a problem in Burning Wheel in the past, and I'm looking for a better way to address it in the future. The default Traits List in the Burning Wheel Gold rulebook (p310-355) contains, ...
4
votes
4answers
236 views

Introducing new players to a Campaign

I am running a campaign where all of the players are members of an army, and the small group acts almost as a form of "special forces" in this Pathfinder campaign, taking on enemies that no one else ...
11
votes
1answer
326 views

Can Paranoia be revamped to be a cooperative game?

So, some of you may or may not remember a previous question that I had asked on this site. Now I may be asking for the exact opposite. My group wasn't very impressed with the whole "we're playing ...
4
votes
5answers
318 views

How should a DM act with the Avenger's Avenging Echo power?

There has been a small discussion in my D&D group about two powers of the Avenger class. The two powers have similar attacks. Bond of Retribution Hit: 1[W] + Wisdom modifier damage. The ...
11
votes
6answers
645 views

Tips for running a campaign in a lawful-evil setting which still feels heroic

I've been playing Iron Kingdoms now for a few months as a player in the largely generic region of Llael. Now I want to start running my own game in the Iron Kingdoms, which I haven't ran before ...
17
votes
6answers
1k views

How do I prevent my players from immediately recognising an ambush?

I'm absolutely new to DnD, as my whole group is, and I am the DM. For an easy introduction to the game I chose the H1 adventure (Keep on the Shadowfell). In the first and second combat encounter the ...
10
votes
2answers
677 views

How to salvage evil loot?

I'm currently running a premade scenario for Pathfinder where the author gives out rather powerful magic items for character levels 3, but they're almost the only treasure to be had in the scenario. ...
3
votes
0answers
110 views

Running Large Groups [duplicate]

In a few months I'm going to be taking control of a group and running through a campaign of my own creation. The campaign we're running right now only has 3 PCs and the DM, so a fairly small group. ...
12
votes
3answers
368 views

Contacts, and how to use them?

I'm starting a 5e shadowrun campaign for the first time and running into some issue with what I've read on how contacts function. Basically, I'm trying to find out how to leverage the contacts of ...
6
votes
4answers
374 views

How does a DM handle time limits in-game?

An upcoming arc I have planned requires a thirteen-hour time limit to escape from an area. How do I plan for that in game time, and how do I keep the players aware of the time? I usually run six ...
28
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 ...
27
votes
12answers
3k 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 ...
4
votes
3answers
380 views

How to improvise [closed]

I've read a short passage on GMing noting that improvisation is very important. But I can't seem to do it right. Does anyone have any suggestions for me that could help me improvise better? As in, is ...