The practical arts and methods applied to gamemastering.

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17
votes
9answers
659 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 ...
11
votes
5answers
360 views

Variants of letting players shop for items

During a game (at least during DnD), there always comes a time when characters need to re-supply, sell stuff, and buy or upgrade their items. I've seen a couple of different variations of how to do ...
14
votes
9answers
1k views

How to have a realistic set of languages without making adventuring prohibitively difficult?

"Do you speak Common?" "Of course I do! Everyone speaks Common..." My group is starting a somewhat experimental campaign. We're using a setting that is neither canon (e.g. described in a book) nor ...
12
votes
9answers
1k views

How do I help my players figure out how to stay alive in a realistically-deadly sandbox campaign?

Related: What to do when a player character goes suicide and How can DMs effectively telegraph specific dangers in D&D? I like playing sandbox-style RPGs (whether pen and paper or ...
32
votes
7answers
2k views

What to do when a player character does something suicidal?

Every now and then a player character does something extremely risky because "it would be fun." What are some good ways to handle this as a GM, for the different styles of play? I like playing ...
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 ...
17
votes
7answers
570 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 ...
26
votes
17answers
1k views

Introducing an unorthodox setting the players know NOTHING about

Just a while back, there has been a question concerning GMing a setting the players know better than the GM. Now, let me ask you sort of an inverse of that question. I.e. how to introduce and ...
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 ...
19
votes
10answers
836 views

How much plot guidance is too much?

I've played in many games that were extremely railroaded. There was basically only one feasible course of action and we, as players, were expected to take that route. (The GM would get very upset if ...
25
votes
4answers
770 views

How does a GM fix the rules when they goof?

I think it happens to the best of us. I'm not the best of us, so I get to goof a bit more often. The specific example I'm going to mention was using Dresden Files (a derivative of FATE for those who ...
38
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, ...
28
votes
6answers
2k views

How to deal with players not taking things seriously?

As both a player and GM I play with my group of players (and close friends) on multiple occasions and they will often make fun of either my characters, NPC or a specific situation and won't stop ...
9
votes
5answers
3k views

Standard monster tactics for 4E D&D combat

In a similar vein to a question on tactics sources, I'm interested in knowing what are common tactics for monsters to use. The DMB and the MV mention monster groups, which are very useful, but I want ...
2
votes
4answers
332 views

How would society adjust if use of fire is reserved for the elite?

This is an extraction of one of the central questions arising from my original (overly broad) question. In a society where the use of fire has been restricted, due to religious indoctrination, to the ...
12
votes
3answers
329 views

Are there tips on reconciling the playing differences in this group?

My Werewolf game is going along quite swimmingly to the point that the players will ask that I keep the server (We play using maptools) open so they can discuss the plotline for hours after each ...
4
votes
1answer
293 views

How can I represent the use of fire being misrepresented in a campaign?

This is an extraction of one of the central questions arising from my original (overly broad) question. I would like to know how to best represent the concept that there is a god who is, through a ...
8
votes
2answers
260 views

How to make rituals a part of everyday life

I would like to know how to make it clear that little, non-magical rituals such as a blessing before eating, drawing water, harvesting grain, starting a fire and the like are a part of everyday life, ...
8
votes
5answers
1k views

Starting a campaign at higher level

It's been difficult for me to start a game at higher level than level 1-4 in Pathfinder. At higher level, the scale of the game changes. In the beginning of level 1-4 you save a village or a clan ...
23
votes
4answers
843 views

How much to bend “the rules” about populating a world?

All right, I have a question about creating a world and populating it with appropriate monsters, etc. I created a world a little while back, loosely based off of the world found in Michael ...
29
votes
6answers
981 views

How can I learn how to negotiate as an NPC?

I'm a new GM (the system is DND 4.0 but that's not relevant here). I've quickly found that I perform very poorly when I'm portraying a negotiation between the PCs and one or more NPCs. Even when they ...
13
votes
2answers
497 views

How can I efficiently manage Ship to Ship Tactical Combat and Boarding?

I'm planning a campaign that will involve a fair amount of ship to ship combat and boarding. My group is accustomed to using a square grid battle mat, and I'm concerned about the mechanics of the ...
19
votes
5answers
724 views

How to handle diverging expectations on “background density”?

Sorry, this is lengthy, but I want to put this into context. After many years (try 15) of not GM'ing a group of my own, I recently made an attempt to return to the head of the table and shake off ...
55
votes
16answers
2k views

How can I help my PCs remember clues that they found?

I'm a new DM running my first adventure (it's D&D 4.0 but that's not relevant to my question). I've heard of the "three clue rule", that there should be at least three independent pointers to any ...
21
votes
5answers
668 views

How do I learn to do accents?

I've always enjoyed playing in games where the GM/DM/ST makes use of a variety of accents to differentiate between NPCs. I've always wanted to learn how to do that, but I realize that I'm not ...
14
votes
0answers
185 views

How can a GM calm down the group when they're chatty? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: When and how should I get the players to cut back on their out of character chatter? Now and then the groups I play in or GM can get rather chatty. They're talking and ...
9
votes
1answer
340 views

How does monster hiding work when some players detect them and some don't?

In one of our battles in DnD Next, I had some bugbears hiding in trees trying to attack the players. The bugbear rolled a 21 on its attempt to hide. Four of the players rolled less than 21 on their ...
26
votes
5answers
939 views

Dealing with people who turn up late for sessions

I run sessions every Monday evening at a pub in the centre of London, and most people come to play straight from work. Up until recently we were attempting to start at 7pm, but there were one or two ...
8
votes
3answers
290 views

So I'm finishing a campaign…what now?

The D&D campaign I mentioned in another question has been ongoing for 2 1/2 years and the next session is the last. While we're waiting for everyone to be available for said session, we're playing ...
21
votes
7answers
903 views

Difference between writing a one-off scenario and writing a quest for a campaign?

I want to get some of my friends into roleplaying by running a self-contained single-session game with them rather than an actual campaign opener (for lack of a better term, I'll refer to this sort of ...
10
votes
6answers
1k views

How do I pick monsters of appropriate CR for parties with superior armour?

As background, my low-level PCs managed to come into a "king's ransom's" worth of cash (due to poor planning on my part as DM, I'll admit) and now have purchased armour/enchantments that give them ...
14
votes
8answers
825 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 ...
13
votes
7answers
2k views

How can I deal with a “goof-ball” player in my WoD group?

I am a storyteller in a World of Darkness group, and I'm about to start designing a new scenario. However one of my players (let's call him Eric) is worrying me. Eric usually goes the goofball route ...
18
votes
8answers
659 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 ...
22
votes
9answers
1k views

How can I create within-party intrigue without destroying group cohesion?

I am a novice GM playing with several more experienced D&D players (who happen to be good friends). I wanted to spice up the game for them and take advantage of their own intelligence/experience ...
16
votes
3answers
1k views

How do I help my players get more engaged in the story?

I play in a group where we routinely switch out GMs. When I GM I tend to prefer story-based games with lots of character building and descriptive role play. We tend to run Paizo's Adventure Paths ...
9
votes
4answers
181 views

How can I make sure I'm awarding the right amount of honor at the end of a session?

In the new version of Hackmaster, it suggests that you award -12 to +16 honor to each character over the course of a level. It suggests doing this by rating the character as per the 1-10 rating and ...
5
votes
4answers
329 views

World Development - A Fresh Start

If this is not the place for this type of question, redirect me - I am new here, and apologize in advance. So. My group is looking for something new. Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 in my own setting is our ...
42
votes
9answers
2k views

How do I deal with PCs who use kidnap and torture as an investigative technique?

I'm running a game in a modern setting with emphasis on the paranormal (Conspiracy X). The player characters are part of a secret government organization and are tasked with investigating & ...
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 ...
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 ...
21
votes
8answers
837 views

What to do when your PCs skip an important part of the story line

In the earliest stage of my new duet campaign, I thought I had "rail-roaded" the PC into the first important encounter, one that leads to a major story line for the campaign. Specifically, the PC was ...
12
votes
3answers
405 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 ...
39
votes
7answers
1k views

How can I quickly get a player back into a session after their character dies?

As a GM, what kind of techniques could I use to help a player re-join the gaming session after their character dies? I want to avoid any major interruptions to the flow of the adventure. I would also ...
15
votes
4answers
396 views

How do I signal a flashback?

I have several flashbacks planned that introduce the characters to a backstory that is too complex for a typical plot dump. The problem is that the flashbacks are triggered in the context of the ...
14
votes
4answers
476 views

How to succesfully make one quest naturally lead to the next?

My old GM used to make our quests highly modular and separated. While this had some advantages, it gave the feeling of running through a video game with discrete levels where we just popped from one ...
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 ...
12
votes
2answers
1k views

How can characters with low Fighting and Shooting contribute in combat?

I've run a few rounds of Savage Worlds, and I like the quick character generation and minimal bookkeeping. I'm a little frustrated with a phenomenon which is hardly unique to the system: in combat, ...
8
votes
1answer
564 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 ...
9
votes
7answers
607 views

Giving Players the Game They Want

Currently I am running a game of Legend of the Five Rings, 4th Edition that is an extension of my 3rd Ed campaign. The current setting is a courtly endeavor, which dredges up certain problems. When ...