The practical arts and methods applied to gamemastering.

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32
votes
10answers
2k views

How can I prevent a TPK without obvious Deus Ex Machina?

I've gotten into a situation in my Pathfinder game where I will certainly kill my entire party (perhaps excepting one or two who can flee quickly) if I let the situation play out. We arrived in this ...
9
votes
4answers
969 views

“Epic Level” Shadowrun

Recently I've run into an issue with my Shadowrun campaign for a number of reason, the most key of which is that my players have hit the 180-250 karma level where they've started to ascend to levels ...
17
votes
8answers
817 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 ...
10
votes
2answers
801 views

Challenging Talkers in SIFRP

I have a Song of Ice and Fire (SIFRP) game running right now. Each player has 2 PCs: An adventurer - a character designed for traditional RPG activities like fighting and sneaking and hunting A ...
22
votes
7answers
527 views

It is possible to have one player lose control of their actions (get possessed) and have the other players not know it?

One of the players in my group is getting rather fond of a very powerful and clearly evil sword that gives them great increases to strength and magical ability. As a consequence, I would love to have ...
10
votes
3answers
376 views

In Lady Blackbird, how do you NPC the characters people haven't picked?

My normal Apocalypse World crew was down a player this week, so I ran Lady Blackbird for 'em. It was my first time running the game (and we all had a blast), but I got rather confused when playing the ...
10
votes
4answers
212 views

How do you handle the use of unrelated skills in the Dresden Files?

Back into the breach with our weekly Dresden Files game, and because of the lapse in time between sessions/people missing as much as anything else, I had some unique situations occur. One of the ones ...
17
votes
5answers
515 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 ...
13
votes
5answers
263 views

How to I create material (on the fly) to support plot changes?

In both pre-plotted adventures and more story-telling ones, a lot of situations occur where monsters/npcs/magical items/geography appear, which wasn't thought of beforehand. I.e. I do not have the ...
18
votes
3answers
496 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: ...
13
votes
8answers
370 views

How does one get players to explore more?

In a comment in my answer within What qualifies exploration gaming? Javafueled commented: It almost begs me to ask the question: How do I get players to explore more? :) – javafueled In order ...
7
votes
3answers
252 views

How can I GM in Faerie with True Fae PCs?

I'm running a game where the PCs discover that they're actually Fae. Obviously this isn't strictly canonical - Fae in CtL leave fetches in place of children, not their own young - but I'm otherwise ...
13
votes
4answers
495 views

Maintaining balance with a very large group

I played DnD 3.5 while in the military and due to a shortage of DMs, was constantly flooded by players. Some of my games would include up to 10 or 11. I discovered quickly that balancing for this in ...
9
votes
4answers
573 views

How to make spell components relevant again?

The spell components mechanic has always seemed a bit ham-fistedly handled in D&D since 2nd edition. What should be an interesting way of defining a wizard generally becomes "I have my pouch" and ...
18
votes
5answers
299 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 ...
10
votes
1answer
726 views

Resources for 3D printable RPG props?

I would like to introduce more map-based props (figures, terrain, obstacles, etc.) into my game. In particular, I'd like to be able to use a 3D printer to make props specific to whatever encounters a ...
21
votes
10answers
801 views

How do I find and eliminate plot holes?

I'm still a pretty new GM. Even though I enjoy coming up with plots and writing the overarching story-line, when I tell my wife (who does not play) how the adventure should progress (the long-view, ...
29
votes
9answers
948 views

How can I more effectively use darkness in a dungeon?

In more than one of my D&D campaigns, I've found myself feeling disappointed at my inability to make the darkness of the dungeon matter. Everyone has enough torches, and I'm not likely to be able ...
14
votes
4answers
345 views

Tips for organising a short campaign?

I'm planning on fitting as much roleplay into my university's intersemester break (ISB) as I can. I've got ideas for campaigns in my head, and I'm reasonably comfortable jotting down a few stats and ...
13
votes
7answers
398 views

How can I bring in new players on the fly?

How can I smoothly bring in a new player and character with little or no notice? I run a semi-public game shop pathfinder game, and I sometimes have people show up to play I hadn't planned on. Often ...
7
votes
4answers
329 views

How do I get my dresden files players involved in city creation?

I've tried to involve my players in city creation a few times through the course of the game, usually whenever they are about to finish up a story arc, but I usually all I get are just get a few ...
11
votes
6answers
246 views

How can I add underworld intrigue to my Dresden Files game?

In D&D/Pathfinder/RIFTS/Shadowrun-type games I've played in the past, corrupt nobles/merchants, thieves' guilds, megacorps, ancient evils, and various religions with a flakey axe to grind were all ...
41
votes
14answers
2k views

How do I stop my PCs from acting like insomniac monkeys on crack?

An issue came up in the last session of my Pathfinder campaign - that of chronic PC impatience. It happens especially when they go to cities and between major adventures. They go into a frenzy of ...
7
votes
6answers
285 views

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

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 ...
6
votes
4answers
487 views

Bringing a pre-made character to the table or not; pros and cons?

Sometimes a player will have a pre-made character and bring it along to the first gaming session. Other times they will make the character at the table. Sometimes you get a mixed bag. As both a player ...
6
votes
3answers
445 views

Mitigating conflict in a 'mixed' nWoD game

The last (and only) time I ran a mixed game (containing Changeling, Mage and Vampire characters) for nWoD. I explained at length that nWoD started with a clean sheet and no one 'instinctively' hated ...
9
votes
4answers
205 views

How can a GM aid switching between the immersion and the meta level?

In recent adventures, I've often employed and supported using the meta level (i.e. thinking, joking and referencing about the game's contents with reference to our cultural context) for everyone's ...
9
votes
2answers
701 views

How do you run a political campaign?

Although it's a fair way off yet there's a decent chance that my campaign is heading towards becoming very political. I've considered running political games before, but it seems like it would ...
8
votes
3answers
150 views

How do I make players more comfortable in an unusual historical setting?

I run a lot of games/write systems set in specific historical/cultural contexts, because I like rpgs as a way to explore them and think they provide a great sense of place. However, I tend not to ...
22
votes
14answers
2k views

How can I add sound to our sessions?

I've been toying with the idea of adding sound to our typical sessions. I was thinking about throwing in some sounds for atmosphere's sake, like some of the following: Birds chirping/water running ...
13
votes
12answers
776 views

Why would I hire you?

I'm designing a D&D 4E campaign (set in the Forgotten Realms) for my local gaming society, which may or may not spill out into bigger things, rpg.se has given me too many ideas! I want the party ...
21
votes
8answers
413 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 ...
15
votes
7answers
550 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, ...
15
votes
6answers
586 views

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

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 ...
42
votes
10answers
2k views

Is it fair to press the players for decisions during combat?

My group tends to over-analyse during combat, which slows everything down. I press upon my players to make their decision and roll the dice quickly. My players are all experienced in the system and I ...
12
votes
6answers
220 views

Rebalancing Experience Point Totals?

Say that through legal game play some player characters have gained a lot more XP than others. Should the referee take steps to rebalance the player characters, or just let it go as it is part of the ...
9
votes
5answers
1k views

How do I represent semi-realistic gun fire-fights using Pathfinder/D&D 3.5 cover rules?

I am running a sci-fi/fantasy game using Pathfinder. The setting is firearms and future weapons focused. It's also being played on a virtual battle-map with tokens and will be run very tactically. ...
8
votes
2answers
708 views

How do I implement Social Combat into a D&D/D20/Pathfinder game?

One of the coolest parts of White-Wolf games, in my opinion, is that they usually offer the ability for Social Combat to be just as exciting as physical or mental combat. How can I run Social Combat ...
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 ...
7
votes
2answers
180 views

Good storylines to accompany adding another player to the game?

I just ran my first two sessions as GM and we are probably going to be adding a 4th player to the group soon (making 5 of us total). I'm trying to thing of a good premise for the party to meet the new ...
12
votes
6answers
262 views

How to introduce item descriptions

One of the things that I dislike when running a session is how a great majority of the items are bland - a short sword is a short sword, a bow is a bow, an arrow is an arrow. After sitting on it for ...
42
votes
12answers
921 views

How do I make weather an important part of the game?

We're starting up a dark ages fantasy game, using some homebrew rules similar to D&D. As the GM, how can I make weather an important part of the game? To be clear, I'm not trying to just toss in ...
8
votes
3answers
641 views

Role playing/plot focused one shot sessions

I am faced with a challenge with creating a one shot session for a couple of friends. From experience I can see that it is difficult to indulge players into setting, plot, world, characters in a ...
17
votes
8answers
462 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 ...
26
votes
9answers
817 views

What can I do to give the players the same feel their characters would have about wilderness travel?

I find that in a lot of our group's games, traveling long distances through wilderness is too easy. In real life, it's quite arduous traveling overland. No one who's just walked a hundred miles is ...
13
votes
8answers
735 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 ...
12
votes
0answers
278 views

As a GM, how can I create and role-play diverse NPCs better? [duplicate]

I am new to GMing (and role-playing in general, for that matter) and I am having a somewhat difficult time making plausible and interesting NPCs. This is especially true with NPCs who are not "typical ...
22
votes
4answers
360 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 ...
6
votes
0answers
180 views

How do I effectively portray multiple characters in conversation? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: How do you handle verbal exchanges between NPCs without taking the PCs out of the spotlight? You should be familiar with this set up: All the characters are at a party ...
23
votes
7answers
632 views

How to add a player who joined after the campaign started?

I started running a game, and then a friend of mine expressed interest in playing, so I invited him to join us. He created a character and came along to the next session. As the rest of the party was ...