The practical arts and methods applied to gamemastering.

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13
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3answers
1k views

How can I decrease the difficulty of a scene on the fly?

I was a DM for the first time yesterday. It was a lot of fun, and all things considered, I think I've made a pretty darn good first session. It was, however, too difficult. I've based the various ...
12
votes
3answers
402 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 ...
25
votes
5answers
1k 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 ...
32
votes
10answers
3k views

How can a GM justify changing a player's alignment?

Lately, in one of my campaigns, I've been having problems with a character who everyone agrees is acting out of alignment. Everyone, that is, but him. The problem, of course, is that he's playing a ...
12
votes
5answers
546 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 ...
11
votes
6answers
361 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
148 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 ...
10
votes
1answer
716 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 ...
11
votes
3answers
622 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 ...
19
votes
6answers
970 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 ...
5
votes
4answers
790 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 ...
11
votes
6answers
2k views

How much can/should a single owned item be worth at most?

How much can any single possession take up a character's wealth? For this question, I'd like answers that operate under the presumption that wealth-by-level isn't a minimum but instead a target. I've ...
4
votes
2answers
2k 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 ...
11
votes
5answers
420 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 ...
16
votes
8answers
874 views

How can I increase tension during roleplaying?

In my games, I tend to run into a problem at least once per session. My players just seem to follow the dice and make no effort to either engage with combat or chase adventure. They let the dice fall ...
12
votes
5answers
648 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 ...
25
votes
4answers
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 ...
1
vote
1answer
150 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 ...
8
votes
2answers
255 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 ...
15
votes
5answers
640 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 ...
9
votes
3answers
820 views

How do I deal with two players who dislike each other and disrupt the game?

I have lately had a problem with some players in a campaign I am running. Basically, they don't get on well together, for various reasons. I don't really understand it, but then again, I am looking in ...
37
votes
10answers
4k views

How do I handle a group that does not understand the 'assumption rule'?

1st rule of D&D (as of 3rd edition/pathfinder): The GM is the final arbiter on all rules. I understand this, completely, and do not disagree. That said, I'm having trouble with a group that ...
27
votes
6answers
745 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 ...
10
votes
12answers
763 views

How do I design a Christmas-themed horror adventure?

'Tis soon the season and I want to treat my players to a Christmas-themed adventure as part of my ongoing horror campaign. I want to keep the horror element, but I don't mind mixing in a bit of humor ...
12
votes
6answers
1k views

How can I make my adventures more bard-inclusive?

For whatever reason, it seems that no one in my campaigns ever chooses to play a bard. I am beginning to wonder if it has something to do with the adventures I construct as our game's DM. These ...
4
votes
5answers
1k 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 ...
26
votes
8answers
1k views

What should I consider when creating a time travel adventure?

I'm sure that many would advise against doing so at all, but knowing that I will likely try to do so anyway, what are the factors I should consider when creating a time travel adventure? ...
12
votes
3answers
465 views

Single player games suitable for session preparation

I found a demo version of How to Host a Dungeon, and somehow the idea really grew on me. Not just creating dungeons, but actually having methods of making gm prep work into a game. I haven't seen ...
11
votes
8answers
344 views

Using Boardgames or Card Games to improve GMing or Playing [closed]

Do you know of any cases of successfully using props or cards from board games/card games (all kinds) to run a campaign, ease preparing for a session or the playing itself? I am interested both in ...
11
votes
2answers
444 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 ...
98
votes
17answers
8k views

How to deal with players who like to use the local authorities to solve their problems

The problem I have a player in my group which tends to approach local authorities (may it be guards or churches) when facing a threat. He thinks that, given his role (a bard in a medieval world, so, ...
15
votes
5answers
525 views

As a GM, what aids could I use to create adventure scenes on the spot?

As a GM, many a time I run into a situation that I know nothing of, am not prepared about, and need something, NOW! Maybe it is a freeform adventure and plot was not prepared, maybe I prepared some ...
10
votes
3answers
536 views

Avoiding plot pitfalls in Star Trek RPG

We are about to start a Star Trek campaign and I'd like some suggestions on avoiding the obvious plot pitfalls that exist in canon Star Trek. I want the players to think through the plot points and ...
9
votes
4answers
661 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: ...
6
votes
3answers
292 views

When should I separate encounters?

I had a session this week involving a fairly large battle at sea. The encounter involved a couple of boarders while the enemy ship was still at quite a distance, and the larger group still on the ...
13
votes
5answers
330 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 ...
15
votes
12answers
970 views

How can I speed up combat with a large number of enemies?

I'm DMing for a campaign where the player characters will sometimes face small squads of creatures, most recently six ground troops and two archers helping out. In this setting, these creatures ...
47
votes
15answers
3k views

How can I make my PCs flee?

My players never run away or avoid conflict. Ever. I throw them ridiculous encounters, they will stay and fight. If I tell them, "You know you're not gonna make it, just run," they stay and fight and ...
15
votes
5answers
547 views

Adding comic relief

As a GM, I would like to add comic relief to my sessions. Comic relief is the inclusion of a humorous character, scene or witty dialogue in an otherwise serious work, often to relieve tension. ...
8
votes
2answers
187 views

How can I add Character Advancement in Diaspora Without Breaking the Game?

How can I add some measure of mechanical character advancement in Diaspora without breaking the game? I'm considering using Diaspora to run a game idea I've had for a while. I really like many of ...
8
votes
5answers
659 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: ...
19
votes
5answers
875 views

When planning a campaign, should I know what the ending is before we start?

I am planning the next campaign while the current one comes to a close. Our group favours sandbox play and I facilitate that with Icar's event driven system. While writing down the list of events ...
15
votes
8answers
446 views

Should Merits be given as rewards when the accomplishments match?

As a storyteller, are merits acquired only through experience after character creation, or do you reward your players with them for accomplishing their goals? Suppose a situation like the following ...
20
votes
10answers
1k views

Flaws that aren't flaws

What do you do when a system gives points at character creation for flaws/disadvantages when a player can permanently remove the effects of that flaw by buying something or spending other points to ...
2
votes
1answer
219 views

Techniques for Different Length Game Sessions [closed]

I have been both a player and GM for a long time. Currently, life takes up most of my available gaming time. Thus when I do get a chance to game, I'd like to make it as close to optimal as possible. ...
16
votes
3answers
401 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 ...
8
votes
3answers
364 views

System for tracking hunger in a World of Darkness game

I'm GM-ing a WoD setting where the players have a very limited food supply(if any) are there any good methods for making sure that they have to eat to survive and applying penalties if they don't?
43
votes
6answers
3k views

Preventing saturation in a horror campaign

I am currently designing my first horror campaign and what I've come up with so far is pretty dark and gruesome. I worry that if it is gut wrenching the whole way through, eventually the players will ...
3
votes
0answers
166 views

Dealing with power gamers [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: How to Handle a Powergamer / Munchkin I'm pretty sure this was asked before but I couldn't find it How do you deal with power gamers? That player who is clearly maxing ...
11
votes
3answers
368 views

Stopping rule questions from overrunning encounters

A common problem I observe is that the players start flooding the GM with questions regarding rules during an encounter (within and outside their respective turns). From the perspective of a GM, how ...