The Game Master runs the game, including having final say over how actions are resolved. Also referred to as Dungeon Master (DM), Referee, Storyteller, Master of Ceremonies (MC) or other titles, depending on the game.

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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 ...
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... ...
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 ...
35
votes
16answers
910 views

Your friend wants to learn the ways of the Dungeon Master, what do you do?

I believe that all tabletop role playing gamers should at one point or another try their hand at Dungeon Mastering. However, it's a goal that at times can feel overwhelming. What advice would you ...
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 ...
30
votes
6answers
3k views

How do you deal with metagaming based on die results?

I ran into this problem in a session I had earlier today. My characters were going through a dungeon and after a fairly lengthy fight with a person who lived there, they decided they would question ...
28
votes
14answers
389 views

How do I retain momentum in an irregular game?

For years I have had a regular weekly evening group but as we've all aged, it has become more difficult to meet. I tend to get the same players but we do not play every week. Long gaps mean that it is ...
27
votes
5answers
1k views

GM Help - Bump on a log player

I GM a World of Darkness group every other weekend, and I've come across what I like to call a "Bump-on-a-log" player. This player has been with my game since I started it up, and we're now ...
25
votes
14answers
732 views

Story Arc vs. Player Creativity

I want to put the players in a challenging spot by putting them in a no win situation and having them captured and stripped of their equipment (assuming they might get it back as they make their ...
24
votes
8answers
781 views

How do I run a game for a larger group?

I am currently running a Dungeons and Dragons 4 campaign for a group of 9 players. Whittling the group down to a more manageable size is not really an option since they are all family. When we do ...
23
votes
19answers
2k views

What role-playing games have good gamemaster advice sections? [closed]

Which RPG's, in your experience, have good advice for gamemasters in their rulebooks, both for novice and experienced gamemasters? Please keep in mind that this question is not about good games for ...
23
votes
9answers
890 views

Third-Person Limited Narration or Third-Person Omniscient Narration?

What are the advantages/disadvantages to using either a kind of "Limited Narration" or an "Omniscient Narration" style when running a game? i.e. Does saying... None of the characters notice the ...
21
votes
7answers
1k views

How can I screen new players to make sure they are a good fit for my game?

I'm looking to start a new Savage Worlds campaign and I need a full set of players for it. I've played in games before and ran a couple of one-shots, but I've never GMed a full campaign. There's ...
21
votes
8answers
442 views

How do I help create story around the table without writing it?

I love RPGs. I think they can create some of the most fun and enjoyable stories, both from an out-of-game and in-game standpoint. I also realize that "story" is the result of the game played by the ...
21
votes
4answers
656 views

Transitioning from GM to Player; or how to recover from GM burnout

A few months ago, I reached the point of "GM burnout." Having been (almost) the exclusive GM for our group for several years, and seeing the number of players and their commitment dwindle combined ...
20
votes
10answers
385 views

Campaign is on hiatus. How do I keep it on life support?

My regular campaign has ground to a halt due to scheduling problems. At this point, we don't really know how long it will be until we play again. Everyone is still interested, at least for now. Is ...
18
votes
9answers
743 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 ...
16
votes
7answers
576 views

Techniques for skimming through travel (fast travel) without meta-teleportation

In most of my group's campaigns, we spend a lot of time traveling. Unfortunately, this leans one of two ways: Uninteresting or distracting obstacles. If you want to spend time but keep it fresh, ...
16
votes
6answers
430 views

Techniques for speeding up a game with many players at the table?

I have a table of six players already, and have more people interested in joining my game. I wanted to consult people who had experience with running large tables to see if running for larger groups ...
16
votes
4answers
448 views

How would I quickly put together a believable map of an area?

As part of my "Closed Circle" campaign, I'm looking for ways to quickly put together a believable map of a college campus and surrounding area, complete with believable building placement. "Quickly" ...
15
votes
9answers
669 views

Does GMing diminish or detract from being a player in games?

I started playing RPGs last year with the Pathfinder Beginner Box. I have been GMing and writing a campaign, but have also encouraged members of the party that are interested to run a one-off Beginner ...
15
votes
7answers
2k views

Can PCs hide motivations from the DM?

So, one of my PCs is a Lawful Neutral Knight, coming from a small landless noble family. From the beginning of the campaign he told me that he wanted a lord to serve under, and to enhance the ...
14
votes
8answers
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 ...
13
votes
8answers
981 views

Out-Of-Control Characters

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 ...
13
votes
7answers
393 views

What major differences are there between convention DMing and home DMing?

I've been DMing for a while in 4th edition D&D, but I've only been DMing for Living Forgotten Realms and D&D Encounters. Now I'm thinking of starting to do some home games in various systems. ...
12
votes
4answers
417 views

How do DM's avoid burning out? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: How do I deal with GM burnout? Currently I am the single DM of a smallish group of irregular players. Although I enjoy DM'ing, I'm beginning to burn out and really wish ...
12
votes
2answers
5k views

Dungeons and Dragons Treasure Parcels

I'm new to D&D and would like to distribute treasure evenly in my dungeon for my level 1 PCs. I've read up briefly on the treasure packages but am still a little fuzzy on how they exactly work and ...
11
votes
5answers
1k 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 ...
11
votes
3answers
268 views

How do GM Moves in Dungeon World work in practice?

So I was reading about the GM Moves in Dungeon world and I started to have a string of questions running through my mind... It went something like this (all within about 20 minutes) Am I going to get ...
10
votes
7answers
484 views

Best way to get players to think about their backgrounds within the game?

I'm a new DM playing with a group of 5 new players. (We're playing D&D 4e but more general answers are acceptable.) So far we have done 3 sessions, where we've mainly focussed on learning the ...
10
votes
4answers
224 views

Introducing Guest-Stars in Ongoing Campaigns

I've got a situation I'm dealing with tonight and that I've dealt with before, but I've never had rpg.se to ask about it. So here goes: Are there any tried-and-true methods for dealing with ...
9
votes
2answers
329 views

Managing plots with multiple simultaneous GMs

I'm working with some fellow GMs to prepare a campaign in which we each host separate groups of players, but in the same shared world. This means that the actions of my players might actually ...
9
votes
3answers
359 views

New GM to a Laundry RPG game [closed]

What should a new (and not so experienced) GM watch out for when starting to run a game set in Charles Stross's Laundry universe? Note that all this could be applied to a Call Of Cthulhu game as well ...
8
votes
1answer
321 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 ...
7
votes
6answers
528 views

Make NPCs hard to interrogate

So my ~11th level party is going to be interrogating a prisoner (demon, if it makes any difference) to try to get them to reveal their master's evil plan. Ultimately, I would like for this to be ...
6
votes
4answers
427 views

How to teach 5 people how to be a DM

My school started this RPing club, but in my school right now only 2 people know how to DM and do it effectively, including me. As the teacher running the club knows nothing about Pathfinder, it seems ...
6
votes
7answers
272 views

Need some recommendations for monster manuals

I run and play lots of indie-style games (Burning Wheel and Apocalypse World in particular). Perhaps the one thing they lack that I miss from my D&D days is the tomes full of monsters to excite ...
6
votes
4answers
1k views

What information a DM should have at hand when in an encounter?

I am currently playing D&D 4th edition and will be DMing soon. The party consists of 7 characters (mine included, even though I am a DM). I will be running a quest that I created myself and ...
6
votes
4answers
257 views

Balancing encounters for faster feat progression

I'm DMing a group right now in Eberron (so I already have to take Action Points into account for encounter design), and my players, who are fairly new, are super intrigued by all of the interesting ...
6
votes
2answers
784 views

Are there Pathfinder rules that restrict a new PCs magic item purchases?

Let's say a player rolls a new character that's Level N (where N is greater than 1). My understanding is that they should have wealth equal to the amount in the Character Wealth by Level table. So, ...
6
votes
2answers
163 views

How to Use Module Maps

I found a module I'd like to run. It includes some great maps. What's the best way to use them in a gaming session? They're too small to use as-is, so I'm wondering how other people use maps from ...
6
votes
6answers
651 views

Approaches to GM-less (or lessened GM reliance in) RPGs

A question about transitioning players to GM-less gaming already exists (and it's a good one). I, however, am looking for a more exhaustive description (thus CW) of approaches to GM-less gaming. As ...
6
votes
2answers
217 views

How to create an only skill challange quest?

First time playing D&D, first time DMing and first time creating a quest. The plot is simple: the players arrive at a town, they hear about a treasure and off they go to collect their riches... ...
6
votes
1answer
153 views

Treasure tables with mixed groups

In reference to this Treasure tables in 3.5, how does the system expect a GM to handle groups with mixed treasure types?
6
votes
4answers
202 views

IRC Client especially geared to RPGs?

Anyone know of an IRC client especially geared toward RPGs? I know, Roll20 is essentially the same thing, but certain other questions on here made me think that having a desktop app that was ...
6
votes
0answers
182 views

How do I effectively portray multiple characters in conversation? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: How do you handle verbal exchanges between NPCs without taking the PCs out of the spotlight? You should be familiar with this set up: All the characters are at a party ...
5
votes
10answers
2k views

Is bringing a major villain back from the dead a bad idea? [on hold]

I have a major villain that the players killed a long time ago* in a previous campaign. Is it too clich├ęd to bringing her back? Is there anything I should avoid if I do so? Is it just lazy? I am ...
5
votes
4answers
321 views

Building Campaigns to Characters' Strengths and Weaknesses

When I GM a game, I try to make sure that the skills the characters have can be used. If someone takes "Music", then I make sure there's a point in the campaign where someone needs to impress someone ...
5
votes
2answers
239 views

What's the best practice for an Indie-LARP?

I'm starting a Sci-Fi LARP near where I live and so far only my close friends are going to attend, What would be the best way to increase my player-base? Also it'll be my first event that I've ...
5
votes
4answers
861 views

Should I announce to the players they are in a skill challenge?

I am completely new to DMing and I am considering including a skill challenge in my next game. Most of the players are new to 4e and one of them is new to D&D in general. Should I explain to them ...