The practical arts and methods applied to gamemastering.

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15
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2answers
1k views

How to cut back on pre-game joking?

When preparing for a new game (be it a one shot or a campaign) our party, yours truly included, often slips into a humorous mode. It's usually light-hearted fun, and most of us like it, but some, ...
15
votes
5answers
549 views

How to abstract a trial?

A session I am writing for my gaming group will take the characters through a murder trial. One of the players is the accused, and he and his companions will need to build a case and defend ...
13
votes
3answers
269 views

What kinds of player contributions work well and under what circumstances?

Introduction In Amber diceless roleplaying game players get extra points for building their characters by committing to player contributions, such as: Writing a diary, writing game reports, drawing ...
12
votes
5answers
624 views

How can I let players make more choices during combat?

When my players are in combat, they mostly spend a moment figuring out what the most effective target is for each of them, and how to attack it, and then everyone rolls until combat is over. They ...
12
votes
3answers
508 views

How do I respectfully make use of non-Western accents?

I pretty much exclusively alter my voice to represent characters' speech in-game, both as player and GM. I have a pretty good handle on most of the numerous Western accents - probably due to the ...
11
votes
7answers
793 views

Ending combat: should I “kill” monsters prematurely?

Out of time constraints (my group can generally only meet for 3-4 hours every other week), as a GM I frequently find myself prematurely "killing" off monsters when it seems clear to me that the ...
11
votes
2answers
736 views

Tips for keeping track of NPC stats and conditions

Is there a good paper based solution to keep track of NPC stats so they are avaliable when you need them in-game but don't take hours to keep up to date? I have a bunch of NPC notes and lists of ...
10
votes
5answers
338 views

How to Use Module Maps

I found a module I'd like to run. It includes some great maps. What's the best way to use them in a gaming session? They're too small to use as-is, so I'm wondering how other people use maps from ...
9
votes
3answers
440 views

How to handle a fair contest between PCs in Apocalypse World?

Assuming that (for whatever reason) two PCs decided to settle their disputes by means of a fair contest it seems like it would be difficult to determine which character had the 'initiative' to take ...
9
votes
4answers
1k views

How do you keep track of the Moon?

The current phase of the Moon is slightly important in a werewolf game, how do you keep track of it in your game? this seems more problematic for me because I mostly haven't cared much about how much ...
8
votes
3answers
630 views

How to develop arcs for player characters

If you've got a vague idea for an overall plot arc, how do you go about developing individual plot arcs for player characters (if that's something you do)? I'm running two Savage Worlds campaigns, ...
8
votes
2answers
562 views

Creating encounters for a DFRPG party

I've got a 2-person party and i'm having some difficulty with balancing encounters for them. It seems that what i'm making is either way too easy, or harder than i really want it to be (ie, they're ...
7
votes
3answers
977 views

How to recover when players go the “wrong” way?

I'm GMing some Shadow of Esteren games with friend. If you do not know that RPG just take a look it's very cool :-). I'm following the scenarios given in the official book (don't have time to set up ...
7
votes
6answers
365 views

How do you come up with attribute values and skills for your NPCs [closed]

I have been playing PnP for some years now and also had one session GMing (my first) and I discovered that my biggest problem wasn't creating a world, inventing scenes or reacting fast if my players ...
5
votes
3answers
523 views

How to reveal plot hooks & other information when NPCs' survival depends on secrecy?

I think that these two problems have a common element that's not being addressed in their answers. The things that the PCs are pursuing basically exist as part of secret societies, in which divulging ...
5
votes
6answers
1k views

How do I make random adventures relevant to player motivations in a Sandbox Hexcrawl Campaign?

I've spent my vacations planning my very first sandbox, however, I noticed that, being a hexcrawl, most of the time my players will be exploring the world and sometimes, they might spend a lot of time ...
37
votes
7answers
6k views

My party bypassed a combat encouter. Should they still get XP?

Some thug bandits set up a road block on the main road to extract a toll from passerbys. It was twilight when my party encountered them. They used the Rogue to scout ahead, and they ultimately decided ...
26
votes
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 ...
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 ...
22
votes
10answers
353 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 ?
21
votes
6answers
1k views

How do I get the party back together after a major PvP conflict?

In the previous adventure, the characters left on bad terms after the Monk betrayed the other two party members by trying to take their captured criminal back to her (equally criminal) monastery ...
20
votes
6answers
1k views

What should a DM do if a player wants to do something impossible?

If a player wants to do something a little out of the ordinary such as punching down a wall with his bare fists, what should I do? Do I make a DC for it? Do I make it so that no matter how much he ...
18
votes
2answers
871 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 ...
18
votes
4answers
967 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 ...
18
votes
5answers
863 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 ...
16
votes
3answers
528 views

Reducing Preparation time for Gumshoe GMs

As a new player in a game of Mutant City Blues, it has struck me that the GM has a very large workload when prepping the investigation scenes if there is to be any real interaction with that scene for ...
15
votes
2answers
839 views

How to respond to “stress tracks / narrative consequences are arbitrary”?

Fate is admittedly an acquired taste. Interestingly, my players don't mind facing off against powerful enemies with stunts and skills that they themselves could not gain any time soon (full immunity ...
15
votes
6answers
2k views

What do I do when I suspect players may be fudging rolls online?

I suspect my players may be fudging their rolls in an online IRC and Skype game. While I can't confirm this (for obvious reasons), I'm highly suspicious. I logged all their rolls over the course of ...
14
votes
6answers
2k views

How to end a game session smoothly

After my first (failed) attempt at playing tabletop RPG two years ago, I'm going to give it another try. Still as a GM. One thing I didn't do quite well last time was ending the game. I didn't know ...
14
votes
8answers
1k views

Non-magical encounter suggestions

I'm once again turning to the good folks at Stack Exchange for help regarding my non-magical campaign. I've written several encounters in which the PCs fight the main bad guys and their followers ...
14
votes
4answers
256 views

Is there a method for sliding seamlessly from one system into another during a campaign?

Has anyone changed system/setting/genre but kept the characters during a campaign? Players can become very attached to their characters, even when the campaign/setting/genre or system is getting ...
13
votes
3answers
670 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 ...
13
votes
5answers
394 views

As a GM, how do I encourage PCs to share and play out their backstories?

My players have trouble creating deep backstories for the characters. I have decided to go with that, but provide opportunities in-game for filling out the gaps. I'm considering leading some ...
13
votes
5answers
419 views

How to handle lack of PC communication?

I've currently got a DFRPG group, and it's struggling a little bit. The main issue right now is that there's a good lack of communication between PC's. How can I encourage the players to communicate ...
13
votes
9answers
1k views

Out-Of-Control Characters [closed]

As I review the suggestions in the D&D 4E DMG (pg32), I wonder what other suggestions that are realistic. I know that if a player is out of control (ie: killing masses for no reason) a DM would ...
12
votes
8answers
2k views

What to do when a player dislikes his character, that is vital for the story?

One of the PCs (a greedy, quirky dwarf fighter) in the game I am hosting recently died, and his player chose to join the group as a new character, a human paladin. After two sessions the player is not ...
12
votes
2answers
518 views

How do I encourage players to use Fate Points for declarations?

I have hacked Fate Points into my 13th Age game and I notice two things that are happening - the players hoard them, and often use them for the re-roll effect instead for declarations. (Irrelevant ...
12
votes
9answers
2k views

How to help players who roll really badly? [duplicate]

Scenario: player rolls to attack, rolls a 1. Next round, rolls a 1. Round after that, rolls a 1. Fourth round, rolls a 2. This really happened today. He was going back and forth between two different ...
12
votes
5answers
3k views

How can I successfully run one-on-one adventures in D&D 4E?

It seems clear that 4E really wants the party to have at least four PCs, so that all four roles can be covered. The official rules give tips on what to do when you can only have three PCs, but when ...
11
votes
9answers
2k views

How can I avoid focusing too much on one player character?

Currently in the game I'm running, one of my players is constantly excited about the game. Outside of the game, he writes pages and pages of material about his character, and consistently adds new ...
11
votes
3answers
4k views

How do I keep me and my player happy in a one-on-one game?

As a GM, my comfort zone is a group with about 3-5 players. I like the diversity of having multiple players. When I only have a single player, I feel I can already predict my player's actions, and we ...
10
votes
4answers
661 views

As a GM, how do I encourage a party to interact with each other?

Background: I'm a fairly inexperienced GM and I'm working with a group that has wildly varying experience with role-playing - the game is intended as a teaching campaign to help a couple new players ...
9
votes
4answers
484 views

Advice for Running the “In Between Times”

I usually run published adventures which may or may not be related to each other. During and in between the adventures there are often times when the two main facets of RPGs, story role-playing and ...
9
votes
3answers
602 views

Ending a Campaign Gracefully (With a Newbie In Tow)

My Shadowrunners have been going on a five (real-life) month streak of destruction and have gotten immensely powerful to the point where they are near gods, but also gotten incredibly shafted due to ...
9
votes
2answers
342 views

What are good techniques to adapt module maps to 3D terrain and/or 2D tilesets?

This is slightly related to How to Use Module Maps but instead of being about how to adapt published small maps to 1" scale or using playmats, I'm interested in technique for adapting to pre-published ...
6
votes
2answers
245 views

How many GMs is enough to run a Mega-Game?

My two friends and I are going to spend quite a bit of time preparing a mega-game. It will be a weekend long gaming session with around 20 players, and the three of us as GMs. We are trying to figure ...
6
votes
4answers
467 views

How to avoid the feeling of railroading in my campaign pregame?

This question is related to my other question. Please see that one for campaign background, rather than me repeating it all here. I don't want the players to feel "trapped" and forced into a ...
6
votes
4answers
393 views

What are the steps that you as GM's and PC's take to develop a Level 1 character?

This is for the basic character creation at level 1. I know the PHB goes into some detail on character creation and the steps for doing so. What I want to know is how you as GMs or players create ...
35
votes
5answers
2k views

How can we make overcoming a language problem interesting?

I am currently involved in a game of Fate Accelerated, and one of our goals is learning the system and experimenting with it. In this game, two characters may have a language barrier to overcome. One ...
28
votes
5answers
3k views

How to deal with overzealous questioning from one player?

So I'm playing a home brew scifi game where one of the players is playing a scientific character who collects a bunch of samples. That's all fine and good, but the problem is that he want really ...