The practical arts and methods applied to gamemastering.

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21
votes
8answers
446 views

How do I help create story around the table without writing it?

I love RPGs. I think they can create some of the most fun and enjoyable stories, both from an out-of-game and in-game standpoint. I also realize that "story" is the result of the game played by the ...
18
votes
5answers
593 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 ...
15
votes
5answers
586 views

How would you play test an RPG before all of its rules are complete?

I've been writing my own RPG, mainly to address some of the flaws / frustrations I've come across in other games. Luckily, I've found a few willing participants to help test the rules and mechanics in ...
8
votes
3answers
733 views

Structure for a political sandbox game

I am looking for a fairly structured approach to creating, preparing for, and running a political game. To be more precise, I am looking for the following: A structured approach or even a game ...
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
325 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 ...
26
votes
9answers
1k views

How do you discourage “player knowledge” as a GM?

As a trivial random encounter is winding down, a player thinks "That was too easy... The GM wouldn't give us an encounter that doesn't give XP," and starts searching for hidden bad guys or other ...
17
votes
8answers
978 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 ...
13
votes
9answers
477 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 ...
14
votes
3answers
784 views

Dealing with a disgruntled player leaving my campaign

So I've been running a game of Shadowrun over the internet for the past few weeks online, and I've had a hectic personal schedule, so I haven't been able to do lengthy sessions. I've got a player who ...
15
votes
3answers
704 views

How to run time-limited one shots

I and some friends are determined to try for this winter running only one-shots. rotating the GM for each one different characters each time the adventure must be completed in a single session one ...
6
votes
4answers
192 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, ...
26
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 ...
33
votes
6answers
2k views

How can I check whether an extremely adult/mature plot idea would be accepted by players without revealing any details of the idea itself?

I am running a post-apocalyptic zombie game with a dark and mature story, exploring a number of adult themes. I have complete buy-in from the players; some of them have stated it is their favourite ...
7
votes
4answers
270 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 ...
37
votes
4answers
1k views

How to get my Paranoia players to stop cooperating and start killing each other?

I've read some of the questions and answers on paranoia here, but I seem to be missing some kind of key element to play. I ran Robot IMANA-665-C and I didn't seem to be able to get the players to ...
10
votes
3answers
565 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 ...
8
votes
7answers
1k 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 ...
4
votes
4answers
220 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 ...
34
votes
14answers
3k views

How to Handle a Powergamer / Munchkin

What are some strategies that I can employ to handle a power gamer that constantly outshines the rest of the party? This is a friend of us all and we don't want to boot him, but combat simply isn't ...
36
votes
9answers
2k views

How to deal with a Batman PC as a DM?

I'm running one of the D&D Encounters tables at the local game shop. In Chapter 3 the players can create their own characters. Everyone had normal characters with the exception of one player who ...
11
votes
6answers
613 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 ...
4
votes
5answers
264 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 ...
47
votes
11answers
3k views

How can a GM prevent growing disillusioned with their own game?

I recently began a new game in which I gave the players much more free reign in designing their characters than I might have in the past. What I wound up with was a very morally-diverse party, with ...
6
votes
2answers
251 views

How do you scale up a premade adventure's difficulty when you have additional PCs?

I am going to be running the D&D 4e Redbox premade adventure and a couple other premade adventures for 5 PCs. However at the beginning of the explanation for the adventures they say it is for a ...
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
626 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
105 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. ...
10
votes
3answers
307 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 ...
5
votes
4answers
351 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 ...
4
votes
3answers
324 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 ...
7
votes
1answer
331 views

How do I get my players to make their own decisions?

I'm GMing a Dungeon World campaign with players completely new to tabletop RPGs. Every time I present them with a situation and ask them what they do next, none of them ever arrive at a conclusion, ...
14
votes
7answers
832 views

As a DM, how to save a creature from being killed by players and not be cheap?

If you put a creature you want to use at a later date in an encounter, how could I save that creature near the end of the battle without sounding cheaty. E.g. The evil mage has only 1 hit point left ...
11
votes
5answers
637 views

What's the likely law enforcement response to my PCs in Nidal?

This question is fairly specific to the shadow-haunted, torture-porn, evil Cenobite god worshiping country of Nidal in Paizo's world of Golarion, but could also apply to other "lawful evil nations" ...
16
votes
7answers
2k views

How Can I Make Supplies Matter In D&D 3.5e?

On long journeys we always forget to track supplies so I am looking for a way to make supplies actually matter in D&D 3.5.
7
votes
1answer
271 views

How can I add a cultural game mechanic to Pathfinder?

I was reading this article on how most people play all races exactly the same. The author hinted at replacing races in Pathfinder with a culture mechanic, but didn't really go into the details. I ...
7
votes
4answers
416 views

How to deal with dead characters' gear?

A few of my PCs have died. It happens. But now what? Specifically, now what happens to their items? They are rolling up some new characters and I assume they should follow the character wealth ...
15
votes
4answers
738 views

Unknowingly improving my players' luck

As a GM, I'd like to give my players a lucky item, one that improves their dice rolls. However, I don't want them to immediately realize that the item is improving their rolls. One thought I had was ...
19
votes
3answers
1k views

How does “failure” work in Dungeon World? How does it move the story forward?

I am having trouble understanding the specifics of failure Dungeon World. According to the rules, a GM should "make a move" against players when they fail, and that's alright, I get that. What I ...
23
votes
10answers
3k views

Traps specifically for Smart characters

Does anyone have examples or suggestions on creating traps that are harder for Smart (High INT/WIS) characters? Example: My NPC necromancer has set up his lair. In his arrogance he believes that ...
25
votes
10answers
1k views

How can I fool my players into being pawns for the villain?

Concept I want to get a generally benevolent party to unwittingly further the villain's motives. More than parcel delivery - I'd like to tap into their sense of right/wrong, justice, vigilantism, ...
63
votes
16answers
3k views

Total Party Kill - What do I do as a GM?

Your party has had a streak of bad luck and/or made a poor choice and are now staring down death. The rules were followed to the letter and loss is assured. How do you handle this as a GM? Does ...
24
votes
7answers
4k views

How do I use Passive Perception to have some characters notice parts of the environment?

I'm new to DM'ing and have an issue I'm not sure how to deal with. The situation is this: It's pitch black outside and the PC is walking, with a lantern in hand, toward a building. A bird is ...
15
votes
3answers
680 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
187 views

Unkillable Advantage and the afterlife

In a GURPS 4e campaign, when a character dies, I want it to run through an afterlife, which would be easy to escape (maybe a combat or a few puzzles, like a variation on the Halls of Mandos), and then ...
11
votes
2answers
442 views

How can I keep the nature and capacity of NPCs hidden to generate a fear of the unknown?

In traditional games such as D&D, the mechanics of the NPCs you face are generally an unknown quantity. The players and the characters only have a rough idea of what an NPC is capable of, based on ...
8
votes
1answer
563 views

Running Microscope for the first time using online

I'm planning to run a game of Microscope for the first time with players who've never played it before as well (hello deep end!) and it's going to have to be online as my players of choice are ...
22
votes
4answers
410 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 ...
32
votes
15answers
2k views

How do I keep NPCs from just sounding the alarm?

When I design adventures, I often come up with situations where the NPCs could realistically thwart the PCs quickly by sounding an alarm. This is especially common in science fiction settings, where ...
22
votes
7answers
1k 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 ...