The practical arts and methods applied to gamemastering.

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22
votes
6answers
425 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
166 views

How can I gauge the strength of my PCs in Legend?

I've been trying to run Legend on and off lately, and I find myself faced with a frustration. Though I find the Mook rules easy enough to comprehend, I can't seem to create appropriate challenges for ...
21
votes
9answers
944 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 ...
8
votes
5answers
595 views

How do I reduce the number of encounters in D&D 4E without reducing the difficulty?

4E is setup very well for long chains of battles, especially in the form of a dungeon crawl. However, sometimes it doesn't make sense to constantly be in chains of combat. Here are but a few examples: ...
9
votes
4answers
563 views

Making epic combat interesting and challenging but not complicated

I'm running up on the tail end of a year-and-a-half 4e campaign, and epic levels are exhausting to GM. Everyone has more weird powers than you can shake a dragon at, and that includes the NPCs ...
12
votes
3answers
373 views

Tips and pitfalls for a variable-size group

My gaming group has very fluid attendance. From week to week it's been known to fluctuate between ten and two players, usually hovering around three to five. I've become reasonably adept at building ...
11
votes
7answers
564 views

Could a “Fog of war” prop break a game in any way?

I'm going to run the Pathfinder's Beginners Box scripted adventure that has a dungeon map printed. This is not only the first time GMing, it's my first time playing an RPG. All of the party are new ...
1
vote
6answers
799 views

GM developed recurring villain

I have started my first 3.5 campaign and had the idea that as the GM I could still enjoy playing by making a character using the normal rules and running it as the villain. It would gain the same ...
16
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 ...
14
votes
7answers
346 views

Advantages and disadvantages in using a one-shot pre-gen to introduce a new system

In questions about how to learn new systems, or teach them, a common suggestion is to run a single-session game with pre-made characters and a pre-made scenario. In your experience as a GM and/or ...
9
votes
2answers
246 views

What should be considered when deciding if and how to use props?

GMs and players who have experience with props in their games, what do you think about when considering props to use and how to use them? How might props be used to further the game, instead of ...
24
votes
6answers
1k views

How to deal with overly cautious players?

Recent encounters with hard to hurt opponents have left the party pretty beat up. The player is now seemingly scared by similar encounters and prefers fleeing. I'm GMing a solo game of Pathfinder for ...
7
votes
1answer
196 views

How much, and what kind of, advance planning is appropriate for a sandbox campaign?

New ZM attemping to get ideas for a campaign down something similar to a tabletop fallout game. How much info is too much info for general prep? Can there ever be too much? Or is there a general ...
10
votes
2answers
568 views

DM organization ideas for Sandbox campaign

I have over the past couple months been putting together Ideas on how I would run an All Flesh Must Be Eaten campaign. How do other DMs organize their Bads or Locations that the PC's might wish to ...
4
votes
3answers
621 views

DM going from D&D 3.5e to AD&D 1st edition [closed]

I recently purchased the following seven AD&D books: Player Handbook, Monster Manual, Dungeon Master's Guide, Fiend Folio, Monster Manual 2, Unearthed Arcana, and. Deites and Demigods. Based on ...
13
votes
1answer
372 views

What concrete rules can you point a GM to that is stuck in non-storytelling paradigms for Fate?

Inspired by a response to my answer to Can you concede by dying in Dresden Files?, I was wondering what concrete rules can you point a GM to that is stuck in non-storytelling paradigms in Fate? I ...
10
votes
5answers
389 views

How can I create a more serious atmosphere when playing with siblings?

At our gaming table the players are always making jokes, and some make nonsense noises for some strange reason. My players generally act like hooligans. Getting a new group is not an option – they're ...
15
votes
5answers
581 views

How can I add story to every encounter so that they don't seem like I'm just piling monsters on the characters for xp?

I am running a Viking themed 3.5 adventure and the party is traveling to confront a barbarian king on the way though they have just been fighting wild animals and it feels like these encounters don't ...
19
votes
8answers
607 views

Systems giving XP based on roleplay - How to avoid jealousy/party balance problem

I used to play systems where XP is usually allowed to the group and shared equally no matter how well the players roleplayed or got involved in the story. But now I started Shadowrun and karma (or XP) ...
10
votes
5answers
391 views

How to go from a humorous campaign to a more serious one?

I am currently running a D&D 4E game. The game started off kind of goofy (we have a thrikreen rogue with glowing blonde hair, an ale-obsessed dwarf battlemind, a ditzy human wizard, and a dwarf ...
70
votes
19answers
2k views

How do you help players not focus on the rules?

Background - My Group's Gaming Style When I GM, I run games loosely from a rules standpoint, and do not feel bound to adhere to what the rulebook says when it doesn't make sense in a given situation. ...
14
votes
8answers
729 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 ...
9
votes
1answer
222 views

How can I estimate difficulty in a FATE based game?

In a recent game of Diaspora, I pitted three of my "5 cap" player characters against four "3 cap" and one "4 cap" character in physical combat, and was surprised to see that the characters came away ...
5
votes
2answers
333 views

Plot granted special ability standards?

For the campaign in question, I'm running one person through a dungeon inspired by Vagrant Story. Clearly some things from the video game can't be emulated, and many of those are integral to the game: ...
21
votes
6answers
774 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 ...
16
votes
2answers
1k 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 ...
14
votes
2answers
448 views

How can I make diseases non-trivial?

As noted here, diseases in 4e seem more trivial than I think they were intended: they rarely last more than one increment! What rules can I make/break, or what actions can I take, so that contracting ...
1
vote
2answers
548 views

Good RPG System/Game/style for just a single DM and single Player? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: 1 GM and 1 Player games and game systems? I am looking for a system or style of play (or even contained game/game module) which would be fun for just one player---myself ...
4
votes
1answer
338 views

How to upgrade Pathfinder Beginner Box games and characters to Pathfinder Core Rules?

Similar to this question on Red box to 4e core rules upgrade, what problems are there overcome with or good ways to achieve moving games and characters from the Beginner Box rules to Pathfinder Core ...
11
votes
5answers
584 views

How do I encourage player-GM storytelling collaboration without “breaking” my game?

I've DM/GM'd for several gaming groups, young and old, and have found that one of the things that separates my younger players from older players is their eagerness to elaborate/collaborate in the ...
16
votes
4answers
430 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" ...
11
votes
5answers
370 views

How can I stop a large level disparity from being a problem?

In my campaign, my players each have several different characters at the home base. Every session, they pick which one they want to play. However, some players always use the same one and so have more ...
12
votes
3answers
349 views

How can I build open-ended questions into a scenario in a GM driven world?

Inspired by this question. In a game where the GM has the traditional role of answering all the questions about the world, what is the benefit of building open-ended questions into the scenario for ...
36
votes
14answers
2k views

How to get out of a story deadlock

As with most of my questions, this is more of a general "how to handle a special situation" and not a plea to solve an existing problem. What is the best way to handle story deadlocks (as in: The ...
14
votes
4answers
233 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 ...
8
votes
3answers
337 views

How do I keep track of “hidden” in game variables without getting bogged down?

I'm currently designing a campaign that has a monumental amount of in-game variables to keep track of, which I'll need to check every time a certain kind of event happens. Reducing the number of ...
9
votes
6answers
294 views

What are the pitfalls when swapping characters between players?

I have a plot hook that I want to use where the entire player character team gets gassed and wake up feeling "different". I want to simulate that by swapping characters between the players for one ...
5
votes
3answers
133 views

When should I put an NPC card on the table?

I'm running a game of Diaspora, which is my first FATE based game. The manual talks about playing with everything in the open and I'm all for that, but when should I actually make up a card for an ...
29
votes
16answers
1k views

How do I get the PCs to visit scary places at night?

Sometimes when I design scenarios, I realize that my mental image of the adventure is only exciting because it takes place at night. When the players actually play through the adventure, they might ...
15
votes
4answers
647 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 ...
9
votes
3answers
369 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 ...
9
votes
1answer
400 views

How can GMs quickly calculate the effects of level drain?

I've GM'ed a few Pathfinder games, and while I really enjoy the setting, I just can't wrap my head around some of the crunchy mechanics. In particular, how do you (quickly) deal with effects like ...
5
votes
4answers
523 views

How do I deal with absent players?

If a player is absent and nobody chooses to play this absent character and instead I let it vanish for a while with a suitable reason or excuse, does this missing player gain levels and XP with the ...
4
votes
2answers
1k views

Pathfinder monster races: Broken?

I've played an ogre barbarian/fighter with a one-hit-one-kill concept, and he can put out more damage than anything in the party. I've played a serpentfolk wizard whose DCs were so high, creatures 10 ...
4
votes
5answers
962 views

How to impose consequences for breaking the Paladin's Code without coming off as a insensitive GM? [closed]

It all started when we were going through a premade adventure's flavor text and got to the bit when the party walked into the town of Night Falls. One PC, a paladin, used his class ability to detect ...
12
votes
5answers
588 views

What is a challenge to a Perfect character?

Solars are Perfect at whatever skills they choose to develop and use. This doesn't make the job of the storyteller easy. Perfect in this case means a charm that allows them to avoid a roll entirely ...
0
votes
1answer
127 views

How many XP points should an enemy have?

How can I assign an amount of XP points to an enemy that I have created for a campaign that I am writing? What would be a good way to decide, and still be fair? The campaign that I wrote is for the ...
36
votes
6answers
1k views

GMing a setting when your players are more familiar with it than you

My players often ask me to GM games in specific settings we all like. Most of the time, they know FAR more than me about that setting. They will object to events I have happen or how I play an NPC, ...
8
votes
2answers
239 views

Mechanics and methods for playing a quantum-superposition of worlds

I'm looking for game mechanics and story telling methods that convey the atmosphere that characters don't just live in one world, but in a multiverse adhering to something similar to the many-worlds ...
18
votes
5answers
480 views

What field-specific puzzles can I give to engineering and psychology students?

A few sessions ago, I gave my players a puzzle that involved converting a decimal number to binary to figure out the correct sequence to open a door. Since my group consists primarily of computer ...