The practical arts and methods applied to gamemastering.

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87
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17answers
6k views

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

Preface I apologize beforehand if this question has been asked before, I was not able to find one, except this, which may be related: Dealing with players who try to run from everything?. Also I'd ...
78
votes
19answers
3k 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. ...
62
votes
16answers
3k views

Total Party Kill - What do I do as a GM?

Your party has had a streak of bad luck and/or made a poor choice and are now staring down death. The rules were followed to the letter and loss is assured. How do you handle this as a GM? Does ...
56
votes
10answers
6k views

Betrayed by my GM; how can I respond?

I was introduced to D&D three months ago and really delved into the world. I had so much fun creating my character and tried very hard to roleplay him differently from myself. I did my very best ...
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 ...
53
votes
21answers
2k views

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

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 ...
52
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 ...
51
votes
14answers
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 ...
50
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 ...
50
votes
9answers
2k views

How can DMs effectively telegraph specific dangers in D&D?

There are some play-styles of D&D in which the spectre of player-character death is considered a feature of the game rather than a bug. For my own reasons (which aren't the point of the question), ...
48
votes
7answers
1k views

How can I make my game more “noir” as a GM?

I ran a couple of Shadowrun games at Dexcon, my first time GMing at a con. It's not my first time running Shadowrun; I based the games off of a couple jobs my players did in a then-ongoing campaign. ...
47
votes
11answers
3k views

How can a GM prevent growing disillusioned with their own game?

I recently began a new game in which I gave the players much more free reign in designing their characters than I might have in the past. What I wound up with was a very morally-diverse party, with ...
47
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 ...
47
votes
14answers
4k views

How can I get players to realize that their enemies aren't evil?

For an upcoming game, I'm planning on making one of the early hooks a standard-seeming "tribe of monstrous humanoids (in this case, lizardfolk, if that makes a difference) is bothering us, go deal ...
46
votes
13answers
2k 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 ...
44
votes
9answers
1k views

Running games for a constantly unreliable group

My RP club has been going on for many years, which has the unfortunate effect of us getting older. Many members of my club have started to acquire something called a 'real life'. I'm not entirely sure ...
43
votes
15answers
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 ...
43
votes
6answers
2k 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 ...
43
votes
13answers
2k views

How do I deal with GM burnout?

There are groups that share the role of GM/DM/Storyteller/Ref, and there are those that don't. In either type there is always the threat of burnout - too much responsibility is put into the hands of a ...
42
votes
14answers
2k views

How do I get the PCs to stop focusing on a red herring?

Okay, I'll cop to it -- this is totally my fault. I get a little excited at the slightest opportunity to expound upon the setting, and in this case I added a small mausoleum to an otherwise boring ...
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 ...
42
votes
12answers
1k 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 ...
41
votes
17answers
6k views

Metagaming when there isn't actually anything there?

So, it's a fairly common question of how to keep players from metagaming. Typically, these questions are of the sort that a player knows monster x is weak to y despite their character not having ...
40
votes
15answers
2k 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 ...
40
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 & ...
40
votes
13answers
1k views

How to communicate to the players that an encounter can be solved also through diplomacy?

When you play D&D, you are not supposed to chat with the enemy during encounters. The system is made for fighting. However, in some circumstances, it would be nice to make the players conscious ...
40
votes
12answers
8k views

Unhate-able Villains

There are so many guides on how to make a villain your players will truly hate, but I am trying to make a villain that the characters will feel for. How can I create a "good" villain, like someone who ...
39
votes
7answers
980 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 ...
38
votes
6answers
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... ...
37
votes
9answers
2k views

How do I avoid clichés while improvising?

Tropes are not bad, but clichés usually are. Sadly, when I need to come up with something on the fly it's much easier and faster to use clichés: if I suddenly need a barkeep, he's probably fat with a ...
37
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, ...
37
votes
13answers
1k views

As a GM, how does one deal with all of the players playing nearly identical characters?

I'm running a Deadlands campaign with players who come entirely from D&D and have never played Savage Worlds before. All five people in the group have made nearly identical characters ...
37
votes
11answers
6k views

Techniques for making undead scary again

Undead used to be scary things: dead, rotting bodies seeking to devour all life, outnumbering their foes, and replacing their fallen with slain enemies. But nowadays players see them and think ...
37
votes
5answers
1k views

GMing for [dis]abled players, specifically blind players?

What kind of measures should one take when running a game which includes a [dis]abled player (or players) such as a blind of deaf player? Are there any technologies or styles which are particularly ...
36
votes
14answers
2k views

How to get out of a story deadlock

As with most of my questions, this is more of a general "how to handle a special situation" and not a plea to solve an existing problem. What is the best way to handle story deadlocks (as in: The ...
36
votes
14answers
2k views

How can GMs make their game worlds more inclusive?

Many published roleplaying settings reflect our own cultural biases, for example, by putting white people in the "core" of the setting with "exotic" (i.e., not white) cultures around the less-detailed ...
36
votes
10answers
2k views

How can I invoke actual fear in my players?

I'm a DM that focuses heavily on story, description and setting. My goal is to send players home wanting -- no, longing -- to actually be part of the mythos I've created. The ultimate goal for me as ...
36
votes
4answers
1k views

How to get my Paranoia players to stop cooperating and start killing each other?

I've read some of the questions and answers on paranoia here, but I seem to be missing some kind of key element to play. I ran Robot IMANA-665-C and I didn't seem to be able to get the players to ...
36
votes
10answers
2k views

Techniques for allowing character defeat without character death

Character death can be extremely disruptive to an ongoing RPG, particularly in a game where character agendas are the driving force behind the plot. However, for a good story with a sense of conflict ...
35
votes
9answers
2k views

How to deal with a Batman PC as a DM?

I'm running one of the D&D Encounters tables at the local game shop. In Chapter 3 the players can create their own characters. Everyone had normal characters with the exception of one player who ...
35
votes
3answers
576 views

How do I build a sense of wonder in my games?

I guess this is part three of a series of questions, with part I being on building tension, and part II being on building comedy. Greg Stafford has talked of his primary motivation as a gamemaster ...
34
votes
16answers
5k views

In D&D, A PC became king. How do I keep him in check?

I'm running a D&D 4e campaign. There, a player has worked very hard and somehow tricked me into becoming a king of an evil kingdom (the population is 100,000+). The area he became king of is a ...
34
votes
14answers
2k 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 ...
34
votes
9answers
2k views

How To Divide Up Loot?

I've been GMing a very successful (Pathfinder) campaign for quite a few months now, but we've developed a bit of a problem I'm not sure how to resolve: loot distribution. None of my players are ...
34
votes
9answers
2k views

What is 'railroading', and is it a bad thing?

What is 'railroading', and when is it generally considered to be something negative?
33
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 ...
33
votes
10answers
741 views

Helping new players learn a setting on the go

I started a new Eberron campaign last night, and I quickly ran into the problem of my players not knowing much of anything about the campaign setting. What is the Mournland? Where is the Eldeen ...
33
votes
8answers
4k views

What are the essential features of a successful evil campaign?

Until this point, I have demanded that my players not build characters with evil alignments, as I am familiar with how to design campaigns and adventures around "good" or "redemption" themes. ...
33
votes
8answers
3k views

What is some good advice for starting Paranoia with a new group?

My roleplaying group is talking about taking a break from our 4e D&D campaign for a bit, and doing some one-offs. We are planning on doing a few sessions with a GURPS game of some sort, and the ...
33
votes
5answers
1k views

How can we make overcoming a language problem interesting?

I am currently involved in a game of Fate Accelerated, and one of our goals is learning the system and experimenting with it. In this game, two characters may have a language barrier to overcome. One ...