The practical arts and methods applied to gamemastering.

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35
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 ...
22
votes
5answers
955 views

Learning to use spells comfortably

I'm hoping to get a little but of advice. You see, I've been running Rise of the Runelords, although the fact that I'm using Pathfinder probably isn't too relevant. Point is, I'm relatively new to ...
28
votes
12answers
5k views

How to expose information without making a villain monologue

I'm preparing this game of Shadowrun where I have 3 main metaplots driving the campaign. One of them for instance is Seattle hosting the Olympics. Of course in Shadowrun, what the bad guys want is ...
2
votes
1answer
139 views

How to increase difficulty on the fly?

When I started DMing I've had a problem that combat was too difficult for the players. This was a while ago and was mostly connected with D&D 4e. I asked a question and received a lot of great ...
13
votes
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 ...
10
votes
4answers
367 views

How do I prevent retreating to rest and heal from being tedious?

I found an answer to this question for a custom 4e campaign, but was hoping to get some more answers specific to 5e. Background: I'm running the 5e starter set campaign and my group is in the final ...
1
vote
3answers
751 views

What can I do to help a pretty weak Halfling Barbarian?

So, in the Pathfinder Campaign I am running, we decided not to max out everything with "optimal builds". The players had a concept for their character in mind, which led to the group consisting of the ...
2
votes
1answer
124 views

How should I talk about temporally active events with my players?

So, I really like Anima, and I've had a lot of fun playing it. I'd like to GM it but it seems a bit overwhelming compared due to the high powered nature of the game. I've GMed Amber before, but Anima ...
12
votes
3answers
2k views

How do I handle large conversations with multiple NPCs?

To begin I've read How do you handle verbal exchanges between NPCs without taking the PCs out of the spotlight? but I don't believe that it answer my question, because it focuses more on dialog simply ...
26
votes
6answers
2k views

How can I learn how to lay out an “evidence scene”?

I feel like I'm particularly bad at any kind of scene where I want to drop clues. I'm hesitant to use the term "crime scene" because it's not always being investigated by "police", and some of these ...
20
votes
6answers
2k views

How can I get mic-shy players invested in roleplaying over Skype?

My roleplaying group is composed of four friends who roleplay using roll20 as our board and Skype to handle our voice communications. I have one player who is used to roleplaying only in text and ...
0
votes
3answers
133 views

How do you GM well for a party of characters of vastly differing ability and interest [closed]

I'm still looking to be ready to GM an Anima: Beyond Fantasy game and, while my previous problem has still not been solved (shameless plug here), I've run into another one: how to GM for characters of ...
5
votes
7answers
363 views

How to GM and Play a Character fairly [duplicate]

I'm a new player to RPGs and I'm trying to incubate my skills so that I can play in a group one day. I've got a fair grasp of the rules and I've been running one on one campaigns with my wife; both as ...
11
votes
1answer
551 views

How can I help my players be proactive and dramatic together?

We've recently started a Fate Core game, and found that the system delivers on its promise of stories about "proactive, competent and dramatic" characters. Which is great! Except the characters, drawn ...
15
votes
7answers
5k views

How do I deal with Messiah Complex Players?

I have this player, he's a great friend of mine and a psychology student. His goal in life has always been helping others out, and is very enthusiastic when talking about RPG games, however he has ...
2
votes
1answer
111 views

What's a good Difficulty for a 5-aspect 20-skill point FATE game?

I have both played and GMed FATE 2.0 a lot but, while deciding the target number for rolls as a GM has somehow always been easy, knowing what difficulties to expect as a player for a long time was ...
16
votes
9answers
2k views

GM burn-out concerning worlds and systems

I've been primarily and almost exclusively a GM for long, long years. I still enjoy GMing, and I'd like to keep doing it. However, I've lost interest in practically all of the games and worlds we used ...
4
votes
2answers
152 views

What's the best way to deal with a group that combines lazy and proactive players? [closed]

My group has been fun to play with and likable; we're a group of friends that enjoy the hobby and like to adventure into many different genres and settings, however as a Game Master, there's a problem ...
13
votes
3answers
380 views

Techniques to improvise and run interesting social and mundane scenes

Last session (I GM Traveller, a hard science fiction rpg) I realized my lack of skills when I found myself willing to spend some minutes in playing a scene involved a 3 years old child causing trouble ...
20
votes
7answers
1k views

How to keep track of campaign timeline?

Introduction I've been playing table top RPGs for some twelve years now, both as a player and a frequent DM. During this time, I've had maybe half a dozen campaigns and none of them have been ...
1
vote
1answer
184 views

How can I get my players to “go down the rabbit hole”?

So here's where we're at in the game. I've been running prelude to Hunter as if it is actual story. So the outcome is basically set. Two of the PC's are/were related, and the motivation is that the ...
54
votes
22answers
2k views

What approaches are there to lessen or eliminate reliance upon dice in an RPG? [closed]

Is it necessary to use dice all the time in a dice-based RPG system? In other words, are there occasions or means by which you speed up gameplay by either reducing the number of rolls or removing the ...
27
votes
5answers
1k views

Dealing with players who try to run from everything?

I DM for a group with a guy who always suggests leaving the dungeon, area, or wherever the party is. It seems like no matter what I try or do to the setting he just won't relax and play the game – he ...
27
votes
6answers
731 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 ...
53
votes
16answers
3k 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 ...
38
votes
11answers
5k views

How to ease down the munchkin factor?

I've been playing RPGs since the early eighties and have come to terms with the fact that not everyone enjoys this hobby for the same reasons as myself. I'm into it for the sake of the adventure, the ...
59
votes
21answers
12k views

How to deal with player MacGyver-ism?

Role playing is an excellent hobby to train your problem solving skills. You learn to look at situations from different view points (i.e. the characters) and you have various skills and resources at ...
12
votes
5answers
523 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 ...
36
votes
15answers
3k views

How to Handle a Powergamer / Munchkin

What are some strategies that I can employ to handle a power gamer that constantly outshines the rest of the party? This is a friend of us all and we don't want to boot him, but combat simply isn't ...
11
votes
2answers
216 views

Playing a pregame, how to keep sense of continuity in campaign

My players and I are currently playing a "pre-game" for a whole campaign I have written. I want the players to be aware of the "how did it get to be this way", so I make them play two games 4000 and ...
83
votes
20answers
4k 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. ...
9
votes
5answers
2k views

Is it a bad idea to steal characters from other media?

Sometimes I need a character type, say a lawyer and I start thinking about lawyers I know from TV or movies, like Saul Goodman from Breaking Bad. I have this general urge to just straight up rip the ...
7
votes
2answers
224 views

When players have settled into “routines” for runs, how to break them out of the rut?

One way or another almost 95% of all the Shadowruns I either played or was GM in, somehow got to the point where the players would either: gather building plans and/or use their existing collection ...
5
votes
4answers
277 views

How do I help players engage with plot despite giving me no good background hooks?

Two of my players are very excited about the game ("Super-Assassins Take On the Mafia, Ancient Evil") and made backgrounds with lots of good hooks I can use to tie them into the plot. The other two ...
7
votes
3answers
337 views

Is encounter balancing/creation in 5e different to previous editions?

I have been GMing for a group for a few sessions now and I have had a lot of trouble balancing encounters. I go by the rules that it should be the xp the party needs to level as a "balance" and you ...
28
votes
8answers
2k views

How to handle wealthy player characters as a GM?

One of the long-standing settings our group keeps returning to is classic medieval fantasy. (Examples are MERP, Rolemaster, The Dark Eye -- But this question is aimed to be system agnostic and is ...
56
votes
14answers
3k views

How should GM deal with 'standing orders'?

I once got this scenario. This is what the player says as he infiltrates an enemy NPC's mansion. I am always checking for trap wherever I go. Assume that I am always looking around me wary and ...
46
votes
10answers
3k 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 & ...
17
votes
6answers
1k views

What to do in the first session of a campaign?

The first session of my new D&D 4e campaign is coming up pretty soon and I'm not quite sure how to go about the introduction into this new campaign. I have the geography and landmarks and things ...
36
votes
11answers
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 ...
5
votes
3answers
338 views

Revealing game world information

A player asked me the other night: "In the World of Darkness are Vampires able to enter without being invited in?". The answer to the question is, yes, and even if they weren't the area was a public ...
6
votes
7answers
425 views

Balancing character intelligence against players wits

This might be a broad topic, so let me focus on one scenario, where I would like to hear which actions and methods fellow GMs use. A fantasy campaign runs along. BLUE plays a character who is dumb as ...
26
votes
8answers
4k views

How to make a game enjoyable for a monk?

One of the players in my campaign decided to play monk. We are all pretty new, so I couldn't have alerted him to this, but from what I understand now, monks are weak. Very weak. This player in ...
8
votes
3answers
353 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 ...
9
votes
2answers
297 views

GMing a combined-groups session

I'm GMing 2 tabletop Changeling campaigns at the moment. One of them takes place in Cambridge, while the other takes place in Inverness. As my birthday approaches, my players asked me to GM a session ...
20
votes
4answers
29k views

Calculating and balancing challenge ratings

Are there standard rules for calculating CR of groups? For example, in my Pathfinder bestiary, a single Stirge is listed as CR 1/2, and a group of 2d4 (average 5) of them is listed as an average CR 4. ...
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 ...
12
votes
3answers
889 views

How do you tell your PCs about something that only one of them senses?

I'm trying to determine the best way to deal with keen observers vs. unaware back-seaters. Maybe there's really nothing to do though. Ex 1. A rogue loots a corpse but doesn't want to split the gold. ...
36
votes
9answers
6k views

I failed to open a lock. Now what?

Picking a lock typically requires a DC 15 Dexterity check (Basic rules, p. 49). Likewise for manacles (p. 50), which can alternately be escaped with a DC 20 Dexterity check or broken with a DC 20 ...
1
vote
0answers
115 views

Do you share your story titles with players? [closed]

I've started to taking to naming my stories, even for no other purpose than record keeping. However I've been thinking about sharing the names of the stories with the players. If you do it do before ...