The practical arts and methods applied to gamemastering.

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19
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 ...
8
votes
2answers
104 views

What kinds of considerations can be made in a base building campaign?

My Edge of the Empire game has shifted focus away from traveling around taking odd jobs as the group has joined the Rebellion formerly. They have asked that I slow the pace of the game down so they ...
16
votes
5answers
804 views

How to present players with options without railroading them?

We're playing Dungeons and Dragons 4th edition. I'm a new GM, mastering a party of mostly new players. I take campaign design rather seriously, and I hate railroading. I love coming up with crafty ...
7
votes
1answer
286 views

How to GM a haunted house?

In some Pathfinder campaign there is a house, where there are a lot of haunted things. The description of such a haunt says something like this: CE obsessed haunt (around the bed) Caster Level 3rd ...
16
votes
8answers
3k views

The players focus too much on NPCs and ignore the plot, what do I do?

I'm currently playing a young supers game with friends using Savage Worlds as our favored system. The plot really hyped them, they loved the first allied extras, and with time they asked me for more ...
2
votes
2answers
117 views

How do I get players to Name a Horror? [on hold]

I'm running an Earthdawn campaign and the party's current adversary is an unNamed Horror. In Earthdawn, Horrors fall somewhere between a demon in D&D and an Elder God in Cthulhu. It's important ...
3
votes
3answers
287 views

Relative difficulty in Savage Worlds skill checks?

I'm a new GM running a Savage Worlds game, and I'm wondering if someone can help me understand the best way to set up a skill check with relative difficulties. Specifically, how do you differentiate ...
6
votes
1answer
339 views

Does a GM ever want to kill the player characters? [closed]

I'm in the process of learning as much as I can about being a GM with a view to running a game at some point. One thing that has struck me is that killing the PCs probably isn't very good for the ...
20
votes
18answers
1k views

When GMing a game, how much should you prepare in advance?

Obviously you need to have some high level idea of what's going on in the world around the players, and where you are heading with the story, but in an ongoing game at some point players will be ...
4
votes
3answers
127 views

How should I handle gang casualties in Apocalypse World?

In Apocalypse World, many characters have gangs or other followers. In my current game, one of the player characters is a Hocus who, in an act of desperation, ordered his followers to attack a group ...
8
votes
4answers
884 views

How do you keep track of the Moon?

The current phase of the Moon is slightly important in a werewolf game, how do you keep track of it in your game? this seems more problematic for me because I mostly haven't cared much about how much ...
13
votes
3answers
789 views

Solo player: best way to mitigate tiny party size? [duplicate]

I'm looking to start a solo DnD adventure with my wife as the only player. She's a total novice. Which is generally the most successful way to handle the single-PC issue in your experience: NPC ...
23
votes
8answers
860 views

How can I deal with character classes and builds so specific they don't fit in with the group?

This is a problem I've been having in general so far as a Game Master; some character classes seem to be designed not for party play, but to be "loners" and shine only in specific situations. Some ...
12
votes
6answers
991 views

How do you encourage group decisions over individual actions?

In my campaign (4th edition Dungeons & Dragons, but I've encountered the same problem in other systems) we sometimes arrive at a point where the group should make a decision, for example "should ...
11
votes
5answers
918 views

Are balanced groups important in D&D 5e?

In my 4e campaign the group (4 players) often ran into trouble in combat if they didn't have one person was in each role of Striker, Defender, Controller & Leader (especially for published ...
4
votes
2answers
93 views

Techniques for fast paced storytelling [closed]

I'm a long time GM who is a storyteller at heart. Thus when characters wander through a city and try to haggle for prices I like playing that out. Now what I have observed the last year is that my ...
2
votes
0answers
131 views

How to master a game where the player group is not a group IG [closed]

So, I've had this crazy idea of making a new type of pen and paper RPG, the goal is to enforce two principles : The players are important in their own, not as a group There is no prerequisite for ...
10
votes
4answers
829 views

How to handle a Summoner with his Eidolon having too much “stage time”?

In the group of six players I am GMing (all on level 1), there is a player using a summoner who chose his eidolon to look like a human. The result is, that he has a lot of stage time (once for the ...
1
vote
2answers
88 views

How can I improve my pregame introduction? [duplicate]

I've been running a game for three sessions now, and each time I feel uncertain as to how to raise the curtains, so to speak, to let everyone know that we're entering the magic circle and it's time ...
8
votes
5answers
1k views

How to run a D&D urban campaign

I'm currently in the middle of DM'ing a city campaign. I've found it's quite a bit more difficult than a dungeon. I have the city mostly planned out (type of city, the ruler, the districts, centers of ...
4
votes
1answer
167 views

How do I create and use NPCs that actually matter?

My players love to interact with my NPCs, make friends, allies, enemies, make characters fall in love, etc. But I always end up with either bland NPCs that don't matter much to the game and get ...
3
votes
2answers
215 views

Making the most of Adventure Bonds

D&D 5e has a new D&D concept called Bonds. Bonds are pieces of your background that tie you to the campaign world. These can either be connections to NPCs, or a homeland, or even a particular ...
36
votes
14answers
2k views

How can I replace a player character with an impostor without alerting the group?

I recently picked up a book of example NPCs (the Pathfinder NPC Codex, incidentally) and came across an entry for a "master spy". In the flavor text, it describes how his "secret identities have ...
38
votes
15answers
2k views

How can I help a player craft a backstory that gives me plot hooks?

I have a new player joining my game soon who has taken the place of another player. Unfortunately, the character's backstory is lacking. It doesn't tell me a lot about the character. Because I draw ...
20
votes
10answers
3k views

How can I create a world with realistic demographics that won't overwhelm my level 1 PCs?

While creating the world for my sandbox campaign, I saw that the demographics in the DMG allowed for the existence of quite powerful NPCs. Their existence is logical of course, but it might pose a ...
11
votes
5answers
2k views

Too many magic rings and trinkets

I am a DM, and I have two player's who love +1 Ac Rings, or any kind of ring or trinket to help with AC. Every bit of gold or other item of any value they use it to trade for it. I try not to be mean ...
6
votes
6answers
150 views

How to make my session Faster

What are good ways to make my sessions move faster and my plot to develop quicker? I like to keep a balance between roleplay and dungeoncrawling, and don't mind spending hours in a dungeon on purely ...
52
votes
7answers
7k views

How can I effectively drop clues of corruption in my campaigns?

In many games I GM, corruption plays a big role. Either in my fantasy games with a church with a firm hand on the king or dystopian future like Shadowrun. Almost every time in my games, corruption is ...
10
votes
3answers
471 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 ...
55
votes
23answers
3k views

How can a GM quickly create interesting, engaging NPCs?

What techniques do people have for coming up with interesting personalities and histories for non-player characters? I'm mostly interested in the GM side of things. I don't want to do a ton of prep. I ...
50
votes
13answers
4k views

Is it wrong to ask a player to justify their character's actions?

When a player has their character do something completely outside of the perceived norm for that character, is it okay to ask them for a justification? If they can not give satisfactory ...
89
votes
17answers
7k 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, ...
55
votes
15answers
4k views

When should I fudge dice rolls?

When I started my first D&D campaign as a DM, I accidentally rolled and confirmed a crit on a PC from a goblin. It was an instant kill as our campaign had no cleric. That time I decided to fudge ...
15
votes
8answers
2k views

How can a GM give treasure to DnD players who overcome challenges without combat?

I'm currently playing a character in a DnD 3.5 Eberron campaign. During the first few sessions, our characters overcame several obstacles without combat. Our GM complained that this made it hard for ...
4
votes
2answers
426 views

Should I replace the swarm with the individual creature after enough damage?

So one thing I found odd in the DM's Basic Rules v0.1pdf was a large list of animals that seemed so insignificant as to wonder why it was included in the PDF. For example, the "Rat" monster, has 1 ...
-1
votes
1answer
210 views

How would you handle a D&D 4e Total Party Kill without killing them? [duplicate]

I have a lot of story planned and it's just as lame for me as it is for them. I accidently threw a couple Mud Lashers that were too difficult after they had defeated the huge Mudbeast. This was ...
32
votes
5answers
668 views

How to support useful Intraparty Conflict

This is a question calling for tried and tested methods for facilitating entertaining CvC intraparty conflict. Although Player versus Player (PvP) seems to be the accepted term among a large ...
7
votes
2answers
176 views

How to effectively run a sandbox campaign in a weekly 2hrs timeframe

Premise I'm a relative new GM who only run a 2 years long heavily railroaded fantasy campaign that went south for various problems and that I decided to drop. Now I started to run a sci-fi sandbox ...
30
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 ...
2
votes
2answers
113 views

How should I handle Brash Assault?

Brash Assault is a 1st level Warlord at-will power, the Hit line is equivalent to a melee basic attack, but the Effect is more interesting: Effect: The target can make a melee basic attack against ...
12
votes
2answers
619 views

How to respond to “stress tracks / narrative consequences are arbitrary”?

Fate is admittedly an acquired taste. Interestingly, my players don't mind facing off against powerful enemies with stunts and skills that they themselves could not gain any time soon (full immunity ...
5
votes
1answer
170 views

How to generate requests to PC with decision power and keep track of their conclusions

Background My players are officially recognized deputies, underlings of clan capital's chief magistrate, the most likely pretender to being next clan chief magistrate (same position but for whole ...
26
votes
12answers
3k views

How to balance a very-low magic campaign

Recently, my players and I got kind of bored with the fact that Pathfinder relies heavily on magic items than martial prowess for fighting classes. I realize and accept the fact that spellcasters are ...
5
votes
3answers
317 views

Increase power of or control over accidentally discovered abilities? [closed]

TL;DR: PCs discovered magical powers by accident, should further practice increase control or power? Magic is often something that either exists or doesn't, but I find it much more intriguing to ...
9
votes
4answers
1k views

What should I do if I have one PC that has optimized his character and is throwing off the party's CR?

Tonight out group just finished up our second session into our latest campaign. Everyone is enjoying it and it has been running rather smooth. I have realized, though, that one PC in particular is way ...
8
votes
5answers
496 views

How to get the most out of an encounter by combining foes

I am an new GM playing DnD-4E and i am looking for advice on how to compose challenging encounters. I have played with my group ~10 times so far and what i really like is to challenge them. Not a TPK ...
18
votes
8answers
821 views

How can I make downtime interesting?

My group is running a set of published adventures, so there's a pretty linear path between them. But between modules, there is the opportunity to go back to town, spend some money, and get some good ...
10
votes
3answers
698 views

How do you determine what good roleplaying is? [closed]

How can I determine if players are roleplaying well? World of Darkness (not the only system that does this) offers the option of giving experience for good roleplaying, but how do I as a GM determine ...
13
votes
9answers
1k views

Out-Of-Control Characters [closed]

As I review the suggestions in the D&D 4E DMG (pg32), I wonder what other suggestions that are realistic. I know that if a player is out of control (ie: killing masses for no reason) a DM would ...
41
votes
7answers
1k views

What is a good way to become a better NPC/monster actor?

One of the biggest problems I have as Game Master, (going on 30+yrs) is in portraying NPC and Monsters in any RPG. Is there a good resource for becoming a better 'actor'? Instead of just saying... ...