The practical arts and methods applied to gamemastering.

learn more… | top users | synonyms (2)

18
votes
8answers
877 views

How can I make downtime interesting?

My group is running a set of published adventures, so there's a pretty linear path between them. But between modules, there is the opportunity to go back to town, spend some money, and get some good ...
18
votes
9answers
2k views

How to approach sexual violence so that it adds to the narrative?

The popularity of this question has left me a bit confused as how exactly a GM can include sexual violence in their game. Let's assume that you have a mix of male and female players and characters and ...
18
votes
3answers
746 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 ...
18
votes
8answers
675 views

What happens in adventure locations between adventures?

I'm running a sandbox with several adventure locations that have been visited, but not entirely cleared, and ones that have been left open for new residents to arrive. I'm looking for a method for ...
18
votes
8answers
423 views

Practices to mitigate player characters' conflicting agendas

You have a campaign that provides, by design, a high level of freedom for the players to pick the story threads, sides and whatnot for themselves. In the long run, a conflict arises: some player ...
18
votes
6answers
583 views

How to implicate the players in the horror?

Good horror implicates the watcher/reader, at least in drama. There is always moment when the audience should cry out, "no, stop, don't!" but of course we don't because we're a well-behaved audience, ...
18
votes
5answers
313 views

How to fight the unseen, and still keep things interesting?

In a horror themed campaign with a lovecraftian feeling, a big part of the game is to be in a constant feeling of being threatened, but without any visual stimuli other than glimpses, or sounds ...
18
votes
8answers
965 views

How valid is lying to players about the rolls they are making in The Dresden Files?

In last weeks Dresden Files game, the players followed the bad guy using a tracking spell, and found him in the projects at an apartment that they knew little about. Seeing his car, they decided to ...
18
votes
3answers
582 views

Do you have to reveal your NPC's aspects?

Important NPCs may have hidden aspects that PCs are supposed to assess somehow before using them: can such a NPC invoke one of his hidden aspects without the GM revealing it to the players? Example: ...
18
votes
5answers
665 views

Good techniques for getting player-character backgrounds integrated into the game?

So I'm starting a new campaign for an existing gaming group soon, and I'd like to actually incorporate character backgrounds that the players will be creating (eventually). These aren't epic-novels or ...
18
votes
4answers
1k views

Designing puzzle-based mysteries

I'm currently watching the BBC series Sherlock. In this episode, the central mystery is fascinating: first, there are symbols scrawled on the wall; next, these turn out to be a cipher; then, the ...
18
votes
5answers
445 views

What techniques can I use to improve flavor text?

I've been improving my GM skills lately, but there is one area in which my skills are very weak, and that is flavor text. For example, if my players go into the woods, I tend to say something stupid ...
18
votes
1answer
1k views

How is a play-by-email game actually played?

I'm currently interested in learning more about play-by-email RPGs. Searching the Web, I've found many forums and sites promoting PbeM campaigns (Aelyria and Blue Dwarf, for instance), but nothing ...
18
votes
3answers
474 views

What are the main factors to consider when a PC gains a major airport in V:tM?

Depending on the type of Vampire: the Masquerade campaign, PC's may experience unusual growth in resources. This should generally come with a (potentially complicated) system of pros and cons as well ...
18
votes
4answers
1k views

How to make a dense, immersive horror atmosphere?

I'm currently narrating a horror-esque campaign set in a dystopian future based on the Lovecraft Mythos. My problem is that my players break their own sense of immersion often, making the game seem ...
18
votes
2answers
263 views

Apocalypse World without Fronts: Are we missing out?

I've been playing Apocalypse World in a few different groups, both as a GM and a normal player. While I love the game, I found defining Fronts a pain and therefore decided to only introduce them in ...
17
votes
11answers
1k views

How do you keep the party on the map?

I'm running a fairly sandbox game, where the party can wander around easily from place to place. When the party visits areas I've prepared something for, they generally have a good time. When they ...
17
votes
8answers
482 views

Treasure that's hard to put a price on

(We've been playing D&D, but for this answer I'm looking for a system-agnostic answer that works for a premodern setting. Let's say 1500 AD or earlier.) Most of the treasure the party gets from ...
17
votes
4answers
1k views

Please stop giving the town sheriff a noogie!

Related to this question but more closely related to this question. How can I get my PCs to not cause a single or small handful of characters to become the butt of a joke when that humor could easily ...
17
votes
8answers
2k views

How can a GM give treasure to DnD players who overcome challenges without combat?

I'm currently playing a character in a DnD 3.5 Eberron campaign. During the first few sessions, our characters overcame several obstacles without combat. Our GM complained that this made it hard for ...
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 ...
17
votes
4answers
1k views

How do I compensate players who do not get to use the potent plot-important artifact?

Situation: the campaign deals around the players lugging around a plot-important artifact that makes the user significantly more powerful than their peers (like the Rod of Seven Parts, a fragment of ...
17
votes
8answers
883 views

My necromancer keeps dying (and can't raise himself)!

Sometimes in the course of running an adventure you will run into an encounter that calls for a summoner to bring on a horde of undead (often minions). I have a simple problem: My summoners die in ...
17
votes
6answers
454 views

Techniques for speeding up a game with many players at the table?

I have a table of six players already, and have more people interested in joining my game. I wanted to consult people who had experience with running large tables to see if running for larger groups ...
17
votes
6answers
1k views

What to do in the first session of a campaign?

The first session of my new D&D 4e campaign is coming up pretty soon and I'm not quite sure how to go about the introduction into this new campaign. I have the geography and landmarks and things ...
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 ...
17
votes
8answers
423 views

What are some proven methods of generating attachment to locations/objects in a campaign?

It is a truism that a GM can never really be sure what a group of players will do, or which NPCs they are going to grow fond of. Places and objects, however... are they the same? In games like Star ...
17
votes
7answers
606 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 ...
17
votes
5answers
927 views

How to handle the PCs within a large military?

On some level, this might actually be getting closer to RPGs’ roots: I want to try a campaign where the PCs are members of a larger military. There may be need for them to coordinate with other ...
17
votes
7answers
339 views

How do you maintain a balance between mystery and offering clues?

Giving good clues that offer just enough information can be difficult. I think I tend to not give the players enough information and then to overcompensate with a reveal that comes too easily. ...
17
votes
9answers
697 views

How to help players settle down and focus?

We have a weekly game in the evenings; however, we often don't start playing for a few hours after we get together, if at all. This has been exacerbated recently by other events with the same people ...
17
votes
5answers
600 views

How do I make a single combat in a day challenging and interesting?

4e is a game of resource attrition. I can't find the quote in DMG right now, but from memory and experience, it works best with about 3-5 combat encounters in an adventuring day. That way, some of the ...
17
votes
3answers
343 views

Is buying game ebooks practical?

I am looking into buying some game rules books as ebooks, but I want to know if anyone else has done this. Ebooks/PDFs are cheaper and easier to get, but I am wondering if that is worth the trade off ...
17
votes
3answers
818 views

Playing Fate with competitive players

I've just finished reading the Fate Core book, and I'm really surprised how well this system presents itself. But inevitably, I've started thinking about what-ifs - and one of them is playing with ...
17
votes
4answers
905 views

How can I recognise when a Scene should be skipped?

There is a mode of thought that says RPGs should be like a movie or a TV show. We don't give screen time to the boring stuff. I had a scene play out where the players had to let a NPC know they were ...
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
7answers
611 views

Techniques for skimming through travel (fast travel) without meta-teleportation

In most of my group's campaigns, we spend a lot of time traveling. Unfortunately, this leans one of two ways: Uninteresting or distracting obstacles. If you want to spend time but keep it fresh, ...
16
votes
5answers
3k views

How do I remove a poorly-designed rule without my players feeling cheated?

(This question is inspired by by Neil Slater's answer here: What are the acceptable limits for questions using the probability tag?. Other related questions are: Rules for increasing ability scores in ...
16
votes
6answers
417 views

How to make players care about a community

I've built a lot of villages, some towns and a city or two but I've failed to bring them to life and make the PCs feel like they belong there (maybe not much belong but to just make them care about ...
16
votes
6answers
2k views

When to give up on an obstacle

I had a situation in a recent game where the PCs (who are all robots, in a setting where humans are long dead) came across a rusted-out android in a dilapidated shack on a small dock. They needed fuel ...
16
votes
9answers
537 views

How can I encourage my group to become more well rounded?

My gaming group tends to each go in their own direction for character creation. Sometimes this leads to great games where folks are strongly opposed on dramatic elements and character interaction is ...
16
votes
7answers
489 views

How can I use a frame story and keep a sense of danger and mystery?

I am planning a campaign that I would like to present as a frame story: the heroes are recounting their adventures in a tavern in exchange for drinks (and then picking up the last leg of the adventure ...
16
votes
7answers
647 views

As an experienced GM, what pitfalls should I watch out for? [closed]

I've been GMing for 20 years and have recently started to question if I need a GM-makeover. We are still having fun but could the game be more fun if I shed some bad, and well ingrained habits? I ...
16
votes
5answers
4k views

How do I build interesting dungeons?

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 ...
16
votes
5answers
864 views

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 ...
16
votes
4answers
458 views

How would I quickly put together a believable map of an area?

As part of my "Closed Circle" campaign, I'm looking for ways to quickly put together a believable map of a college campus and surrounding area, complete with believable building placement. "Quickly" ...
16
votes
7answers
644 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
votes
8answers
858 views

How can I increase tension during roleplaying?

In my games, I tend to run into a problem at least once per session. My players just seem to follow the dice and make no effort to either engage with combat or chase adventure. They let the dice fall ...
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, ...
16
votes
5answers
835 views

Setting a table atmosphere that keeps players energetic during long encounters

In an upcoming session, my players will be fighting a really powerful dragon, who acts as the "boss monster" of this part of the story. The players already know where he is and more or less what ...